The benefits of a balanced diet


Today I will be sharing a personal story and some of my learnings from it.

I have been doing a low carb diet for a few years now with great results. Although never over-weight, I lost excess kilos and went down to around 8% fat, a percentage easily kept all year round. More importantly I have eliminated energy crashes, have increased my energy levels throughout the day and hugely improved my sleep.

By “only” removing sugars and starches from my diet such as sweets, cakes, pasta, rice, breads, a better self of mine has emerged. What was added in my diet in place of the high glycemic index foods was a ton of salads. A huge bowl every day. Fats were increased a bit but not too much. Olive oil, olives, cheese, nuts were always in the menu.

This came with a price. Or so it seems.

The auto-immunity journey

The schedule did run for a few years with no side effects, till about a year ago when some rushes started appearing. After a few weeks of not giving too much notice to them, they started becoming more intense, and found scratching myself quite often.

So I decided I had to see a doctor. The first advice I got was that you never know where such rashes could originate from and that I should try a cream for 3-4 weeks, see the results and then re-evaluate. These creams are mostly cortisone and anti-inflammatory based. After trying this approach for a few weeks the results were mixed. The rashes had been suppressed but not gone. In the mean-time it was summer and I waited to see what effect the sun and sea would have. This did not change much so a visit to another doctor was due. She suggested another cream and was convinced this has nothing to do with my diet.

Once again similar results, so I visited a third doctor. (Side-note : When I started asking him various questions and suggested that I was looking this up on my side as well, he got upset saying “Everyone thinks he can be a doctor these days. Let the diagnosis to us the professionals….”!!) . In any case, he suggested that the placement of the rashes could be a first stage of psoriasis and that my system was probably completely messed-up. Imagine my shock. I was devastated. How could this be? The shock was such that went and directly into a series of tests, x-rays etc. Nothing came-up, and having no other option at that time I went to another round of creams, lotions and the likes. Same results. The rashes where unter control but still there and  I was still scratching.

This was now close to 9 months and I was really worried. This was clearly an auto-immune disease and my body had obviously a strong disagreement with something I was doing. In the mean-time I had been reading a few books on the topic and came across the carnivore diet, hormesis and the side-effects that plant consumption might have on some people.

Having already tried to reduce fats (avocados, nuts etc) with no effect, I decided to reduce my vegetable intake and specifically that of the cruciferous vegetables. And already from the first few days there was a huge difference. Scratching was almost gone and day-by-day the rashes were getting less inflamed (red). After 4 weeks they were completely gone!!! Rashes are just a memory now!

This does not mean I will stop vegetables, but I am experimenting on what is the ideal plan for me. In my case I probably reached my threshold of too much sulforaphane, but this is just a guess. Fact is that plants don’t want to be eaten, so they have developed certain mechanisms to defend themselves with natural parasites (or toxins). Part of the plant defence mechanism is to either have or produce compounds that depending on the amounts can bevery toxic. Cabbage alone seems to have 42 such pesticides. An example of how the mechanism works is that when chewing some plants there is a chemical reaction between stable compounts which interact with enzymes and produce oxidative/toxic substances (e.g sulforaphane) which depending on the consumed amounts can cause various gut disorders. Of-course there could be a varitey of other reasons contributing and especially stress playing a big role.

In the last weeks, I have been talking with many people and researching on the effect of over-consuming different types of food. Even though this is not on the headline of any diet (for obvious reasons) cycling periods through different type of foods is quite important, since even consuming too much of something healthy has to the potential to reach a threshold of deminishing returns and become harmful.

Key Takeaways

  • Everyone re-acts in a different way to certain types of foods and has different thresholds. Since this is not an exact science, it is important to follow a balanced diet and have periods where you reset / balance your system.
  • If you have symptoms you might to cut-out some types of foods from your diet (such a diary, nuts, cruciferous etc) for 4 weeks and see how your body reacts. Do this slowly and one type at a time.
  • This is not a medical report nor a rant against doctors, only my experiences which having battled through them have made me stronger and with more knowledge. Be open, share your experiences and always do your reaseach.

The Cyclical Healthy Diet Pyramid

Lastly, I would like to share with you my version of the Diet Pyramid, what I call Cyclical Healthy Diet Pyramid. I will be providing more details with you in the days to come including a sample of a weekly diet schedule, combination of foods and list of recipes. Download the file here

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