Understanding the Healing Crisis Through Nutrition
The body needs a continuous supply of 50 or more nutrients - none of which it can make for itself. Deficiency in any one of these nutrients affects the overall function of the body. Nutrients are raw materials of the body. Chronic deficiency undermines health and promotes degenerative disease.
Indulging in a few too many sodas, juices or other sweet treats, even too much fruit, depletes the body’s mineral reserves in order to process this sugar. Grains, which are a quick, easy source of nutrition and short term energy, actually reduce the absorption of vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. This ultimately results in acidic stress causing inflammation.
Some people may have an unknown sensitivity to wheat, which, over time, may harm their digestive tract, negatively affecting the absorption of nutrients into the body. The latest study has found yet another component in wheat besides gluten, called amylase-trypsin inhibitors, which may cause the development of inflammation in tissues beyond the gut, including the lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen and brain, and can worsen symptoms of pre-existing inflammatory illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, asthma, lupus, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. An anti-inflammatory diet which omits wheat can lessen your body burden and move you in a direction of increased vitality and strengthened immunity.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract has an enormous influence over both the immune system and the brain. More and more studies are coming out on the links between the gut and brain health. 90% of serotonin (a neurotransmitter implicated in mood and emotions) is produced in the intestines. Ideally, the lining of the small intestine is nearly leak proof and only fully digested food molecules are permitted to pass through this lining into the bloodstream and lymph vessels. But this leak proof lining is only one cell layer thick!
Severe emotional stress, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drug use, alcohol abuse, GI tract dysbiosis, junk foods, excessive consumption of sugary foods and food allergies can disrupt this lining, causing a condition known as “leaky gut syndrome.” When enough of these intestinal cells are damaged, molecular debris (undigested and partially digested protein, carbohydrates and fat, as well as fragments from microorganisms) break through to pollute the blood and lymph of the intestinal tract. Some get transported to the liver; others end up circulating through the body. All of this puts a great strain on the immune system, the liver and virtually every other organ and system of the body.
Feeling sick and tired? At the root may be deficiency and toxicity.
As patients resolve to remove foods that stress their bodies, such as sugar and gluten, and increase nutrient dense foods, or if the body decides it can no longer tolerate toxicity and it now has enough nutrients and energy to mount a response, you may find your immune system shifting into high gear, creating a “healing crisis,” in the form of inflammation like fever, pain, redness, swelling, a cold, sore throat or rash. Inflammation helps to breakdown old cells and tissues, and our immune system digests these toxic wastes and debris, expelling mucus to release it from the body.
Holistic pediatricians, like Dr. Lawrence Palevsky or Dr. Philip Incao, see childhood fevers as a tool of rapid growth – “every remodeling job requires some demolition, a breaking down of old cells and tissues resulting in toxic waste and debris, which the body cleans up as it rebuilds new cells and tissues.”
These “expressions of health” are meant to detoxify and heal us. This is the time to rest, take in nutritious vegetable soups, bone broths, teas, and to cut the sugar and dairy, which suppresses the immune system and kicks up even more mucus.
Most people are actually healthier after they’ve had a fever. We then have a choice: do we continue our habits that no longer serve us, or do we decrease our exposure to toxins and increase our ingestion of healing, nutrient dense foods so that our body has more and more energy to rebuild us into stronger, more resilient versions of ourselves?