I used to judge the way I look and the way other people look somewhat harshly. Maybe that is part of being a teenager or being female or reading demented fashion magazines… But I no longer look at people and think about whether they are “good looking” or not. The people that I love are gorgeous to me; the people I dislike can be repulsive. But most people are neutral because I don’t know them. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.
I work in a health food store and I attend naturopathic school. So, as one might expect, I am surrounded by people who are in better physical shape and healthier looking than the average population. Yet, these people still fall victim to the body image problems that are far too common in society. Within my class alone, it seems like everyone wants to lose weight, even if it is “just 5 pounds”. At work it is even worse – our customers (mostly women) are always looking for that next “magic” weight loss supplement, but most of them are not overweight! Maybe it’s because I am a triple Taurus (Sun, moon, mercury) and have many other planets in earth signs (more on astrology in another blog!), but I just think that most people aren’t patient enough with themselves, particularly when it comes to health.
I have found (after 4+ years of following the BTD) that I have not lost much weight (didn’t need to), but I have gained more muscle (which is why I weigh nearly the same, but look slimmer) and that the distribution of weight on my body has changed dramatically. I used to hate my legs and think my arms were too skinny, but now I am content with how I look. I feel light, strong, and energetic. There are limits to how much you can change your body shape, but I do believe (and I think I am walking proof) that you CAN change it quite a lot. But, it takes years of consistently eating right, exercising well, getting enough sleep, and dealing with stress healthily. In the short-term, your cells are the same cells you made when you were unhealthy. Or they are cells that don’t regenerate at all, so their health depends on your lifetime of health choices.
Red blood cells have a life cycle of 120 days, while bone (on the other end of the spectrum) takes 7 years to regenerate. Other cells (skin, liver, pancreas, muscle, etc) are in between. Some cells regenerate nicely (epidermis, mucus membranes, liver, fibrous connective tissues, bone), some don’t (kidney, skeletal muscle, cardiac tissue, nervous tissue).
Red blood cells carry oxygen to tissues and remove carbon dioxide. If you start exercising, you may notice improvement quickly, but imagine the results you might achieve after replacing ALL your red blood cells (120 days). Imagine how long you have to wait to see improvement in muscle function as muscle cells receive oxygen more efficiently and can therefore produce energy more efficiently. Imagine how long you have to wait to see improvement once all the cells of your body receive more oxygen more efficiently and regenerate themselves. And that is just from improved oxygenation. Imagine the changes possible for digestion and immune function once intestinal lining cells are healthier and you can break down and absorb everything you eat or drink better…
I’ve heard that 60% of how you look depends on your diet and that 40% depends on physical activity. Well, we already know that’s not quite right because there are other factors, such as sleep, stress, environmental toxins, etc that affect this. But even so, I think diet is much more important than 60%. We literally ARE what we EAT. Our bodies, all of the cells, are made from the materials that we ingest. For me, the best results did not appear even within the first YEAR of lifestyle change (much less overnight). I truly believe it takes years of consistently embracing a healthy lifestyle (rather than spurts of extreme compliance) to work “miracles”.
First, I want to give myself a little pat on the back for managing to combine studying for my midterm tomorrow with writing a blog entry…
It is so much fun to learn things in class that are not only interesting, but also helpful and informative in my life! Every day I am learning to understand the mechanisms behind health, which is a huge privilege. There is so much information available (on the internet, particularly) about health, but how many of us really UNDERSTAND how our bodies use the food and supplements we put in? Before starting school, I was aware that there was a lot for me to learn, but I did not realize that I would learn so much so quickly! I haven’t even started full-time yet! Imagine what I will know in 4 years… Watch out!
This is also a bit scary. Most people don’t have the time or interest to intimately understand the human body and so must rely upon trusted sources. What disturbs me is that many of these sources have an agenda other than just “health”, be it money or whatever. And many of these sources just aren’t credible because they are either opinion based or anecdotal. The human body is so complex and miraculous that I see more and more why it is so important to get GOOD information and not to rely on just one source or one type of bias. I’ve written about the importance of citing sources and using reliable sources on the forum quite a bit, and the more I learn, the more adamant I become about this.
I’ve never taken fish oil and I know that it is not recommended for type O. I think this is because of its blood-thinning effects (something type Os don’t usually need, if in good health). However, I don’t have my copy of LR4YT (as usual, this thing hasn’t been in my possession in over a year), so don’t quote me. In May, I started working part-time at a health food store and one thing that we sell A LOT of is fish oil. And I still didn’t really buy in, because there are lots of supplements that are pushed for everyone as “miracles” and I try to filter my opinions through more objective information (rather than relying on sales pitches, anecdotes, opinions, and hype).
So there’s the background. Now I’m going to get somewhat technical… Today I am studying for a Biochemistry midterm and one of the topics we covered was lipids. In one class we discussed omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the diet and their roles in the body. Here is what I learned. I must warn that this is very general, so I’m not going to pretend that it is perfectly, technically accurate – I’m just starting school, remember!
Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that are formed from unsaturated fatty acids. There are “good” prostaglandins, which do things like reduce inflammation/pain, BP, “bad” cholesterol, blood thickness, etc. The “bad” prostaglandins basically do the opposite.
In the body, omega-6 fats (found in vegetable oils, such as corn and sunflower) are converted to GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), which is then converted to DHGLA (dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid). DHGLA is converted via 2 pathways: series 1 prostaglandins (good) OR arachidonic acid, which is converted to series 2 prostaglandins (bad).
Omega-3 fats (found in flax, hemp, walnuts, and fish) are converted to EPA (eicosapentanoic acid), which is then converted to DHA (docosahexanoic acid). EPA and DHA are converted to series 3 prostaglandins (good). While flax, hemp, walnuts, etc. all have omega-3 fatty acids in them, the conversion rate of omega-3 to EPA from these foods has been found to be only 0-12%. Fish, on the other hand, not only has omega-3 fatty acids, but also EPA and DHA and is considered (at least according to my professor) to be the only good source of these substances for the body.
Now for the connection… An enzyme called delta-5-desaturase works to convert omega-3 fatty acids to EPA, but ALSO converts DHGLA through its 2 pathways. When there are not enough omega-3 fatty acids to convert, this enzyme will preferably convert DHGLA to series 1 prostaglandins (good!), but will ALSO convert it to series 2 prostaglandins (bad!).
The key here is the ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which is ideally 2:1 or 3:1 in the diet. However, because most people don’t eat enough fish to get enough omega-3 fatty acids AND most people easily get enough omega-6 fatty acids, fish oil supplements are recommended quite broadly.
Omega-3 fatty acids, therefore, are useful for reducing the formation of series 2 prostaglandins, but also for maintaining fluidity of cell membranes and for brain function. My professor is a big fan of fish oils and said that her patients can see positive results from taking fish oils within 1-2 weeks.
So, what does this mean to me? Type O people are recommended to get their fish oils through diet, rather than supplements. Realistically, I am probably never going to eat enough fish to get enough omega-3 that way… I rarely eat sushi and even more rarely eat any other fish dishes and I don’t see this changing in the foreseeable future. I plan to do some more research into this topic and look into EPA/DHA supplements not from fish oils. I may also do a little experiment on myself to see if I notice results from taking fish oils for a few weeks. There are some benefits I would like to see, and the best way to find out if something works is to try it!
For more info, here is some information (from a trusted source!) on omega-3 fatty acids.
I’m busy studying for midterms and working my butt off, so here is another list (aka quick blog)! Today’s was inspired by Peppermint Twist’s thread on the forums.
1) I am fully functional physically and can experience the joy of movement.
2) I am fully functional mentally and can experience the joy of learning.
3) I feel safe and secure every day.
4) I have access to and can afford clean, nutritious food.
5) My close friends and family are safe and in good health.
6) I have family and close friends who care about me and prove their worth the most during the hardest times in my life.
7) I have access to the internet and can therefore connect with interesting, talented, caring people I wouldn’t otherwise know.
8) I have a home!
9) I share a kitchen with only 3 other people and can therefore cook and bake whatever and whenever I like.
10) I love the city and country that I live in.
11) I have a job!
12) I have a job at which I am fairly paid, intellectually stimulated, constantly entertained, and cared for by my boss and coworkers.
13) I discovered the BTD 4 years ago, which first sparked my interest in natural health, which is my passion.
14) I’m going to IfHI 2007 and I’m so excited!
15) I am pursuing my dream of becoming a naturopathic doctor – a dream I did not think possible 2 years ago.
16) I have enough free time to pursue interests (eg: astrology, feng shui) that I could never find time for when I was working in a corporate environment full-time.
17) I am currently on top of studying for my classes and feel like I understand the material I am learning!
18) I discovered meditation (via Meditation as Medicine by Dharma Singh Khalsa).
19) I am not in debt! Yet!
20) I haven’t been in a Wal-Mart in 5 months (since I quit my corporate job) and I am enjoying this!
That didn’t take me very long, but I still think it took longer than it should, considering how fortunate I am…
*Many of these quotes have unknown origins (at least to me!). Gold stars to those that can provide sources!*
13. “Vegetables are like sex, if you can't remember the last time you had any, you're not having enough.” - Unknown
12. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always have what you’ve always had.” - Unknown
11. “You will never 'find' time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” - Charles Buxton
10. “Efficiency is intelligent laziness.” - Unknown
9. “Charm: the quality in others that makes us more satisfied with ourselves.” - Henri-Frederic Amiel
8. “That we are not much sicker and much madder than we are is due exclusively to that most blessed and blessing of all natural graces, sleep.” - Aldous Huxley
7. “People who act with courage, clarity, and confidence become instant targets for criticism. If they fail to allow for this, they soon wind up in trouble.” - Jonathan Cainer (astrologer)
6. “Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first it is ridiculed, in the second it is opposed, in the third it is regarded as self evident.” - Schopenhauer
5. “Are you starving? No? Then, let's have a little perspective, shall we.” - Bif Naked (musician)
4. "I've always been the opposite of a paranoid. I operate as if everyone is part of a plot to enhance my well being." - Stan Dale
3. “Anger at lies lasts forever, but anger at truth can’t last.” - Unknown
2. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” - Eleanor Roosevelt
1. “Changing is easy. Not changing back is hard.” - Unknown