Basic nutrition 2021 version.
The harm reduction model.
Blog time : Crikey !, it’s January 2021, how did that happen ?.
In this, my first post of the new year i’m starting off with the second post in my series ‘cyclical theory’ in which i intend to lay out the basic nutritional ideas and models that i will be working with his year now that i have some small idea of what i am trying to do. This year i’m also taking a different approach to the blog in that i’m also going to blog….that is to try and give a commentary about what i’m actually doing and i’ll try and run that over into the Keto group that i run because many folks seem to find it easier to have interaction and conversation there.
I pointed out in the first post of this series that i now don’t think that a ‘one size fits all’ idea, ie a single dietary approach, is the right way to go when different aspects of my health goals seem to need different approaches ; as i said before , fasting is great some of the time but you wouldn’t want to do it every day and equally there are times when i will want to break my usual low carbohydrate approach and disappear off hiking on a moderately high carb diet. There is perhaps though a reasonable single consensus from all ends of the dietary spectrum about what not do….unless you are one of the major ‘food’ (fake food) producing mega corporations that continues to perpetuate the great lie about sugar and that a calorie is a calorie : blah blah.
So, in this post i want to talk about the background basics of nutrition that i intend to mainly live with when i’m not fasting, not packing in the protein for weight training and not yomping gaily across the nearest mountain……i also need to talk about my carbohydrate addiction and the harm reduction model i use for dealing with it so maybe that’s a good place to begin.
Trust me, i’m a nurse…..sort of !
If you’ve visited the blog before and maybe been around for a while and read a few posts you might know that i used to be a registered nurse up until last year when i retired, i would then have said ‘former nurse’ as i then dropped off the nursing register except then the Covid 19 pandemic happened and i signed on again for the duration of the emergency but only on what the NMC are calling the emergency register. For much of last year i was kind-of on permanent standby , especially as a former ICU nurse and specialist in acute care…..however i never got called up again like most of the some 20.000 of us who stepped up.
Between last year and this year so far i have probably put several hundred hours into studying the nutritional aspects of health and disease, although we did have a series of lectures about the subject way back in the 1980’s this would have been very secondhand and i don’t even remember it being as interesting or relevant as other systems. Most of what we had to know was either about the diseases of malnutrition : diseases such as beri-beri, rickets and kwashiorkor still come to mind even if i can’t remember a single thing about them and the modern diseases related to obesity hardly got a mention.
We did have an entirely separate study block in which we looked at diabetes, that would have been the more technical endocrine study block but back then nobody seemed to be joining the dots between the changes in food habits and the explosion in obesity and ill health that was just emerging in the USA. In a way my entire nursing career ran alongside the catastrophic deterioration of public health that is now nothing short of an epidemic and yet which might have the simplest but most addictive cause at it’s center…..this is of course carbohydrate consumption and carbohydrate addiction and also yes….i am one but of those millions although perhaps one in some degree of control and remission.
Sugar, pain and harm.
To move on to my main subject for this post then, i realised quite early on in starting this post that i’m opening a very large and complex subject (addictive behaviours) that needs at least a second, or introductory post just to lay down the basics as i understand them. Well, without writing a too-long post that few will read i just want to kick off with a couple of anecdotes from my 30 years as a nurse that i hope will make an engaging story and a useful introduction to the subject.
In the last stage of my full time nursing career i was working as a specialist nurse in the realm of acute care and in a team that had a too large remit once it was combined with 3 other teams….when i was given our new combined job description it was 17 pages long and i lost the will to live by about page 3 ; i also found from the same job description that i wasn’t even qualified enough in terms of my base education to be doing that job, but as my boss also said “me neither”. In the last 2 years of that team job i largely went from doing one thing which was being a kind-of senior night ‘sister’ to mainly having to deal with acute pain problems when the technically pain specialist guys all upped and left the team : on day 1 of the new team i remember the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) crossly handing me the pain bleep and declaring ‘you’re it now matey”….and me who knew next to nothing about high end pain management except perhaps ‘throw some drugs at it and see what happens’ !. Luckily, 2 things happened ; i got into the subject and took it seriously and secondly i worked for a great consultant who basically taught me and guided me through basic pain management and encouraged me to see patients and report/present them back to him.
My actual point here is that just 2 years before the end of my full time nursing career i was having to learn a new subject right from it’s physiological and pharmacological basics and immediately go out there into the hospital and practice it for real. Iv’e always had a small gift for quickly understanding physiology and biochemistry , much of the physical basis of pain management starts right there and by chance i was already deeply into the study of psychology which represents a large chunk of the ‘other’ aspects of pain.
One way of looking at pain management is that we take originally naturally occurring substances like the opium poppy for instance, concentrate and refine the product and then give that in often increasing doses to get a clinical response. With the opiates, which includes morphine and codeine as 2 examples, we often start low to see what the response is and then usually have to increase the amount until we get a dose response. If the pain we are treating becomes a long term problem then the amount required to get the same response goes up over time, in fact we can quickly get to a point where the opiate receptors are all fully loaded , the patient is ‘maxed-out’ with the one drug and there is no point in giving more, even if that’s what the patient wants, because they have become desensitised to the drug. Of course, it’s not quite that simple but with many of the pain killing drugs that is more like what happens over time and that by continuing to use that drug what we are doing is moving into causing harm.
Most people today will know that many similar drugs are used recreationally because many of them have the side effect of creating a ‘rush’ a high or euphoria, at least for a while…..and many people will know, or think they know that most of those drugs are habit forming, even addictive over time and some of then totally so. What few people know is that sugar acts in a near identical way, it actually has an opiate-like effect, then a strong dopamine stimulating effect just as cocaine does, it creates a need and a dependency just as opiates and other drugs do and is ultimately only a toxic and harmful substance. Sugar has no nutritional value and there is no such thing as an ‘essential sugar’ unlike the other nutrient groups (fat and protein) where there are both essential fatty acids and essential amino acids. Unlike those 2 food/nutrient types sugar doesn’t have a feedback/control mechanism either to tell the body when it’s had enough….rather it does the opposite which is to create a stress response when the amount of it in the bloodstream is dropping : kind-of a double whammy !
Reduce sugar : reduce harm.
Refined sugar as we know it today has only been around and cheaply available in the human diet for about 100 years , much more so in the last 50 : even worse is it’s evil cousin….the bastard offspring of the US corn industry….high fructose corn syrup. That one should have no place in our diet whatsoever because it can only be metabolised in the liver and that it’s metabolic by products are directly causative of just every disease of the modern world that we know about today. That HFCS is present and yet hidden in thousands of food-like products is surely a demonstration of how sick and cynical the corporate world of fake-food production and marketing really is.
The great lie that the same corporate ‘food’ industry would have us all believe is that “a calorie is just a calorie” and that it doesn’t matter where that calorie comes from ; that a calorie from cane sugar or HFCS is just the same as a calorie from butter, or fish, from vegetables or steak or anything else.
Reduce harm then.
It’s the start of another new year and many of us will be thinking about our new year’s resolution, many for instance will be joining a gym or starting a diet, many of the dieters will be as equally confused as i was by the plethora of available advice about ‘diet’ : whether to go vegetarian or even trendier , vegan, or whether to join some of us at the blood soaked opposite carnivore end or maybe even meet at the intelligent center and just eat real food.
A different way of thinking about the new year is with the common consensus that sugar is basically harm and HFCS actively toxic and metabolically poisonous : why not then start simply by stopping or reducing drastically the amount of poison we are feeding our faces with every damned day ?
Why or why not ?…….because sugar and HFCS are the most addictive substances known to man….more addictive that heroin, cocaine or anything else that the pharmacy can provide or the street dealer can sell. With sugar and HFCS easily and cheaply available, even hidden in many pre-made and processed ‘food’ we start with a lot stacked against us and it’s an uphill struggle against sugar/carbohydrate addiction day after day. If we can remove it or reduce it the health benefits are massive though as i found out myself last year. I’ll be starting off the year with a fast and once i’m done with that i will be less concerned whether i am LCHF or keto, intermittent fasting or not (probably will be) or veggie or carnivore……the first thing i want to achieve is a clean sugar free month and take it from there.
In the next post i’m going to talk a lot more about sugar addiction.