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SOME GENERAL ADVICE ON DIETS..........

There are many, many kinds of diets and no end of dietary advice available. The first thing to say is that, whatever path you choose to follow it is for you to decide, however it would be not true to suggest that we do not have opinions about a general outlook on food in the climate in which we are seeing people. Diet must be enjoyable and certainly not a punishment or you will not stick to it and you will be causing yourself more damage by eating in a foul mood than you could with the food alone. The Chinese say "a diet that is too healthy is not a healthy diet". That said, a little self denial is a very useful thing and it might well be worth trying various diets that include a little abstinence. It is certainly a good thing to feel the effects of genuine hunger once in a while and whether you choose the 5:2 diet or intermittent fasting (skipping either breakfast or dinner) or a full blown one or two day fast, the effects can be profound.

Until the very recent studies of the Human Biome (the make up of gut bacteria) which was barely mentioned 20 or even 5 years ago, Chinese dietary therapy was a very hard approach to explain. The Western and Chinese models are now, largely, in agreement about the effect and rate of the changes that nutrition can have on every aspect of a person's health. It is really worth considering your digestive system as a living garden or composting heap that you are tending so that it will eventually determine your health and your tastes in a way that suits both you and it. The simple anatomical mechanism of the digestive system is merely the breeding ground and home for the bacteria that will ultimately have the biggest effect on your ingestive abilities and decide how much of what you eat makes it to become part of you. 

There are two diets that seem to have measurable effects on the long term health of people and they appear quite contradictory. One is veganism, the other is a ketogenic diet. Neither is a diet that we would recommend and we should give a broad outline as to why. We find that vegans and vegetarians are often lacking in material substance and may be energetic, but are weaker than they think (although there are exceptions). Women tend to find it hard to nourish their blood (Chinese medicine diagnosis) and the menstruation may be affected amongst other things. There are of course ways around this, but they are not easy and many people are not careful enough with their diet (especially in a Northern climate where nourishment of warm blood is vital) to really make up for the effect. Put very crudely, it is very hard to get vegetables to nourish you and it is very hard for only animal products to keep your blood and bowels flowing and uncluttered. 

The GAPS diet appears to have a sensible approach, suggesting an increase in fat and a severe reduction in sugars including grains. It is also worth noting that this is a quite Northern European type of diet (so if you are Polish, Russian, Estonian, Swedish etc it will not be unfamiliar). On the other hand, if you are in hot countries for a long time, or during the Summer when you need to be carrying a little extra fluid in your tissues, then more fruits, grains and carbohydrates would be a good idea. 

All the diets that seem to be of value at the moment agree on one thing. Processed sugar messes you up. It is quite interesting to see digestive health from the viewpoint of a medicine with as much history as Chinese medicine. As Chinese medicine entered the West and the food production techniques of the 20th and 21st centuries, you can chart the trends in the treatment methods. The English translations of Chinese Medicine text books up to the 80s and 90s described patterns of illnesses and herbal treatment methods of Chinese hospital clinics, which simply did to describe the kinds of patients we were seeing in the West. There was an emphasis on the kind of "substantial" herbs (like roots of plants etc) that, in retrospect, was clearly due to treating a severely undernourished population. As the diagnostic protocols of "TCM" hospital medicine were applied to Western patients, a diagnosis of "liver qi stagnation" and various other "liver" related problems (often comprising digestive, stress, mood or nerves related conditions) became so common as to become a Chinese medicine cliche. It is interesting that Chinese medicine in China did not have this problem (although may increasingly be faced with an increase in these same conditions in modern times). Much of the cause of this, along with the usual suspects of coffee and alcohol, seems to be sugary food, which is eaten in the place of fats. In a poorly fed and very physically busy population, this would not cause many problems, but in a too well nourished, under exercised, population (you know who you are) this becomes a real problem. 

Your liver, which "wants" to be engaged in the honest hard work of turning the food you eat into sugars for immediate muscular energy instead gets the annoying task of dealing with the poisonous effects of the energy rise sugar coming straight into the blood system. The effect on the liver is much like throwing paper on a fire. Rather than the slow burning logs, and the longer term effect throws your metabolism into a dramatic rollercoaster ride. The important thing to note about this rollercoaster effect is that it happens as soon as you eat sugar and lasts for the rest of the day (until you sleep) as your body goes into storage mode triggered by the taste of sweet. This is useful for bears eating late summer fruit to fatten up for the winter, not so good if your waistband is expanding every couple of years. 

alternative coffee

100gr. dried ginger 

100gr. broken cinnamon sticks

50gr cardamom pods

2tbs cloves

250ml almond or rice milk

300ml water 

Boil it . Let it rest for few minutes.

Add 1tbs honey if needed.