Food, Supplements or Drugs: best way to increase Focus?
Food is the single most frequent intervention our body receives.
Food – when digested, absorbed and metabolized correctly and completely – can
- affect nutrient deficiencies,
- calm inflammation,
- optimize digestion, and therefore
- boost focus, energy, etc.
But because it is the single most frequent intervention, food can also cause inflammation, and damage tissue, cause nutrient deficiencies, increase hyperactivity and so much more.
Pharmaceutical MEDICINE might be more potent and powerful, but this is usually because the target is often at a very high level.
What’s a high-level target?
The best analogy is a band-aid, that does NOT address the root cause of the symptom. This works very well in acute situations, and with varying degrees of efficacy in chronic situations.
ACUTE distress: A cold, a cut, a strong, sudden infection, a disease, etc.
CHRONIC distress: joint pain, Alzheimer’s, headaches (sometimes), obesity, continuing mood issues, brain fog, etc.
What about supplements and biohacks?
Supplements may seem like an easier intervention than food and less toxic than pharmaceutical drugs, however, when our food continues to cause inflammation, reduce digestive ability, affect immunity, even a supplement will become a band-aid. The same is true for biohacks, including something like bulletproof coffee (which I drink regularly) or cold water showers (which I take regularly as well).
When food and lifestyle are nutrient depleting and inflammatory, using supplements and biohacks can become like layering a fancy home on a weak and decaying foundation.
Both supplements and pharmaceutical drugs can be very important and life–saving in the case of the latter, but it important to know the context with respect to when, how long, and what your internal terrain looks like.
What does FOOD (or DIET) do?
Food is not just a source of MACRONUTRIENTS (fat, carbs, protein) and MICRONUTRIENTS (vitamins and minerals).
Let us talk about 5 ways food can make changes that are hard to believe in your body. There is some story telling involved, and you may be tempted to jump into any of these diets as soon as you hear about them. And I am all for empowering you, but please reach out to YOUR doctor before doing so, since I am a PhD but not a medical doctor, specifically not YOUR doctor.
- I want to share a time in my son’s life when he was around 4 years old. My son is now 13 and has multiple disabilities, including diagnoses of Down Syndrome and Autism. He is non-speaking AND a poet. I share this with his permission.
It was a time when he was fully included in a fantastic Montessori school, but despite the initial victory of this achievement, there was a problem. He was constantly maniacally laughing his head off.
Let me assure you that this is not a good thing. I mean he was laughing without the ability to stop for about 5 hours at least in a day. I was at my wit’s end. I had figured out that it was yeast thanks to our great naturopath at that time, and though medications worked initially, they stopped helping.
I had resisted changing his diet, because I felt bad for him. The kid was already going through too much I thought, without it making it obvious to the world that he shares nothing with them, not even the great leveler: FOOD.
BUT when left without a choice, humans will do anything for their kids. So I transitioned him into the deep world of a completely sugar free diet, the Body Ecology Diet, and in a few months into GAPS.
Let me assure you that we never saw yeast as a chronic condition every again, even 9 years since when he is no longer on these diets, but continues to eat a moderate carb anti-inflammatory diet.
- Anti-inflammatory Carbohydrate restricted diets such as SCD and GAPS have been shown to successfully bring remission to patients with IBD. Remember that these are purely dietary modifications in the absence of pharmaceutical treatment of the disease.
Since, gut issues are so common in children with Autism, these diets have also been found to significantly improve symptoms and behavior in children with Autism – at this point, much of this information is anecdotal.
- You may have heard of the amazing Dr. Terry Wahls, whose journey is documented in the must-read book “The Wahls Protocol” who took herself into remission from debilitating MS symptoms: she went from a RECLINING wheelchair to biking several miles independently.
- Intermittent Fasting has proven to be one of the most effective ways to treat Diabetes
- A ketogenic diet is more consistently powerful than single medications in resolving seizures in a majority of people, and often has better outcomes that combinations of medications for some people.
There are two rules about diets that I am going to share right off the bat, since dietary restriction or modification scares so many people.
Rule no. 1: Through restriction comes freedom. Deep (but sensible) changes give great freedom. But … Given a choice of sugar or a life without maniacal laughing, what do you think my son would choose?
Rule no. 2 : A supplement routine cannot out maneuver a sub optimal diet.
A remarkable article published in SCIENCE magazine in 2013 talks about the folly of viewing food as just carbs, protein or fat. The authors say “Viewing food as a hormone could substantially influence how we make dietary recommendations to promote health or treat specific diseases.”
So What DOES food do besides give you energy?
- Directly impact your microbiome [prebiotics]
- Cause or reduce inflammation by interacting with your immune system [leaky gut or intestinal permeability caused by food sensitivities]
- Reduce or increase pathogenic overgrowth [yeast anecdote]
- Create or reduce Oxidative Stress [do you know a food]
- Give you energy!
So, if you have been asking the questions:
Can I get better without addressing food?
Can I lose weight, gain weight?
Can I help my child increase their focus?
With just with medication or supplements?
The answer is NOT SUSTAINABLY, and not without side-effects!
When you change your food, you change your metabolism, your immune system, your microbiome, your oxidative stress. In short, you change your biochemistry!
In today’s world, where there are reports of:
- Lower nutrient density in the same foods our ancestors have been eating for millenia
- Benign foods causing huge allergic reactions, perhaps due to food modification and
- Plethora of processed foods available, which increase inflammation, reduce absorption of nutrients, mess with your gut bacteria, and so on…
The single most effective intervention is to simply eat whole food: you know, food that grows on a plant, or comes from an animal with no more modification. [other than removing the husk and cooking].
If you think you are eating healthy, think again. When you experience chronic inflammation, eating whole foods 90% of the time may not do.
Maintain a 5 day food journal and include everything that goes through your child’s mouth
- Take Notes: how much of this is whole?
- What stands between you and a whole food diet for your family? Make a list of 3 top things and share it if you are comfortable on our facebook page.
- You don’t need a diagnosis of ADHD or Autism to eat a whole foods diet. If you are not, why not? You deserve to know and accept the reason, right?