In this first article in the series, How fit are you, how do you know?, we look at why changing our food alone isn’t paleo enough: that we also need a basic (or paleo) movement standard, and you can discover yours. In fact you should; you’re your own best coach and doctor. That’s the best thing about the paleo template, working things out for your own health, food and movement, from the inside out.
To me ‘paleo’ is interchangeable with ‘basic’ and ‘foundational’: it’s simply admitting the food we’ve grown up thinking was healthy isn’t anymore. It’s a template to begin from, choosing real over processed foods, avoiding grains and dairy and focusing more on whole foods like meats, their accompanying fats, and eating mainly vegetables. I think Michael Pollan says it just right in, ‘Eat food. Mostly Plants. Not too Much’.
I do not advocate one kind of diet, and believe that anyone who ‘knows’ what specific diet is best is either misguided, selling something, or likely both. Rather I think we should be eating how we feel and feeling how we eat, and most importantly, learning how to know those things. Changing your food isn’t paleo enough because we need to be prepared to learn more about ourselves and understand our health in a new way; we need it to be that template, that starting point to investigate our own needs from. We’re all fitbynature.
I have used food and movement as medicine to heal myself of brain cancer. I not only learned to walk but run again, un-carbo-loaded, including a yearly NYC marathon, and fast, to celebrate my life, raise money and awareness of brain cancer and spread the word of a shift in our ‘healthy’ food paradigm. This didn’t happen over night. Much like growing a brain tumour for maybe ten years, recovery has been a commitment of equal tenacity, in the reverse.
Taking food and movement back to basics is the key: balancing and always returning to a check for balance, your balance. As an NTP we use a functional evaluation to test proprioceptively different points of tenderness throughout the body that are linked with organs; the outsides of our body can communicate with the inside. We then use lingual neural testing to taste nutrients and the body tells us which it needs by removing that tenderness, at least for the duration of the test upon which tenderness returns. It is not the cure only a step in the right direction, toward finding root causes. One of the first biggest steps you can take beyond Paleo, real food eating, is a sugar control challenge and, even better, work on your digestion at the same time, especially if you’re changing up your macronutrients (proteins and fats from carbs) so you can train for fat adaptation. Know it won’t happen like some low carb light switch but takes time and is worth it; it’s the way we’re meant to be as primally as we can be. Even then, your sugar dragon could still be breathing fire: stress impacts cravings for sugar and carbs, and simple techniques to tame that dragon can make some of the biggest changes to your health.
There are also movement foundations we must respect and continually return to, to rebalance our body. The definition of functional exercise is what it produces, NOT what it looks like. Using basic assessments, each performed maybe three times if necessary, your body’s strategies for movement can place you in either dysfunctional, functional or optimal (there’s a fourth too, which is pain, and if so you’re bringing a health problem to a fitness one and we need to scale back to rehab you to the basics again) categories. Unless you find the driver of bad movement, and find the thing that changes it, you’re just guessing. From there we can use self-limiting exercises to make us think, and even make us feel more connected to exercise and to movement. They demand greater engagement and produce greater physical awareness. They do not offer the easy confidence or quick mastery provided by a fitness machine, instead require mindfulness and technique. Quality and quantity are intertwined.
With any of these tests, if you can’t you should, and not muscling through or supplementing every vitamin under the sun with the hope of getting it right with one and just eliminating the rest. Your body knows what’s going on we’ve been challenged to learn how to listen.
Self-testing your nutritional health:
- Carb digestion –
o Normal – digestion of carbs begins in brain (thought, smell, anticipation), chew your food to activate more surface area for digestive juices and make less work for the process as it travels down
o Symptoms – heart racing, gas /fermenting
o Test – cocas pulse test. Simply take your pulse before eating a food for 1min, then chew the food 30s, and retake 1min pulse. If it increases 6beats, chances are you’re sensitive to it and might avoid it for better health. Apple Cider Vinegar is the key to beginning health digestion in the stomach. There are some cheeky digestive cheats you can work on too
- Protein digestion –
o Normal – digestion of proteins begins in the stomach, with the right digestion further north from the mount and the activation of HCL and then that HCL working with the proper acidity.
o Symptoms – gas as proteins putrifying, not digesting
- Fat digestion –
o Normal – digestion of fats begins in the small intestine: following the correct acid of the chyme leaving the stomach, the gall bladder squeezes releasing bile for fat emulsification.
o Symptoms – gas / rancidifying; nausea and bile (acv and nausea)
o Test – Transit time – beets and more beets; press the pea like bump in the space of right thumb web: if painful, this is a sign of chronic gall bladder dysfunction, unsurprising after we’ve all eaten low fat for 30 years and bile is made from the healthy fats it digests
Self-testing your movement health:
- Toe touch
- add Walk out and in (TBA)
- Lunge and elbow circle (TBA)
- add cereal box challenge, the best and only use for a cereal box (TBA)