WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15: My struggle with chronic sinus issues has been ongoing for 20 years. So having regular colds and infections is not new to me.
However, last year, the congestion, headaches, colds and infections increased in number and in severity.
I also noticed that my memory was poor, my concentration levels were appalling and my energy levels were waning badly. Earlier in the year, I ended up with bronchitis followed by yet more bouts of head colds.
Some of this may be explained by the fact that last May, my husband, my four year old son and I welcomed a beautiful set of twins to our tribe.
The following year has been the most physically demanding year of my life. Due to a truly wonderful and supportive husband and family, I have managed to negotiate the bends and twists of the last year with my sanity left somewhat intact.
I then returned to work as a commercial litigation lawyer late last year and I am lucky to have a progressive employer who understands the complexities of parental life.
However, despite all of this support I was constantly run down and struggling to cope with the pressures and demands of work and home life.
Now although the pregnancy could easily explain the lapse in memory and concentration (research by the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London has shown that women’s brains shrink during pregnancy), I realised that just pushing through each day taking regular pain medication and antibiotics was not the way forward.
Some chance discussions with some friends, an eye opening retreat day at Bermuda’s Spirit House, a meeting with a local naturopath and quite a bit of research, has since led me on a path that has had a dramatic impact, not only on me, but on my family also.
The main changes have been giving up dairy and gluten.
At first I scoffed at the idea. However, after doing my own research and facing the cold hard facts, I would have been a fool to not give it a go.
People feel strongly about dairy. We drink gallons of it. We give it to our children.
We produce many delectable dishes with it. However, the research suggests our reliance on milk may not be as sensible as we think.
Relying on dairy products is likely to lead to magnesium deficiency and imbalance. Patrick Holford in his book The Optimum Nutrition Bible explains that the ideal calcium to magnesium ratio is 2:1. Milk’s ratio is 10:1. Cheese is 28:1.
Manganese, chromium, selenium and magnesium are all found in higher levels in fruit and vegetables.
Calcium found in milk is often cited as a great source of bone protection yet research shows that countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.
Milk has also been shown to increase mucus production.
This aside, milking cows in the western world are generally given antibiotics and most are also injected with a genetically engineered form of bovine growth hormone.
This hormone increases blood levels of insulin and are linked to several cancers.
Faced with this evidence, the “Fahy cheese drawer” was forced to go unreplenished. I thought giving up milk would be difficult. But within a few days I had adjusted to the taste of almond milk and other alternatives.
Gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley) is not as controversial as milk.
However, it remains the most consumed carbohydrate. In a book called Dangerous Grains by Dr James Braly and Dr Ron Hoggan, research shows that celiac disease (a digestive disorder caused by sensitivity to gluten) affects almost one in a hundred people, while gluten sensitivity affects possibly as many as one in ten, often with no digestive symptoms at all.
For some, gluten sensitivity means feeling tired all the time, having upper respiratory tract problems and sometimes even depression.
Certainly the description of the allergic reactions to gluten resonated loudly with me.
I have not gone totally hard-core but the majority of gluten has been eradicated from my diet except for special occasions.
Our stores have a decent selection of gluten free products including a good range of breads.
Quinoa (a plant based grain, which is also used in pasta), rice and potatoes are our replacements for wheat based food. In short giving up gluten has not been the “big great challenge” I thought it would be.
Going dairy and gluten free has also prompted me to look seriously at what I was actually putting in my body.
While I was pregnant with twins I lived with the mantra of “never eat an empty calorie.”
There was certainly no reason to stop after the babies arrived.
However, my preoccupation with all things sweet certainly needed more thoughtful examination.
Sugar has been found to be a significant contributor to suppressed immune systems.
This should not come as a surprise if you consider how chemicals released by sugar travel the same pathways in the brain as cocaine and heroin (Sugar Nation: the Hidden Truth Behind America’s Deadliest Habit and the Simple Way to Beat It, Jeff O’Connell). It’s not just that brownie that is the culprit here. Starchy foods and fruit convert to sugar.
Any sugar that the body doesn’t need is converted to fat.
Anything with an “ose” is a form of sugar – glucose, fructose, maltose.
Corn syrup suppresses leptin, which is the hormone that carries the message to our brain that enough is enough. Many scientists have undertaken research, which shows that sugar makes us moody, forgetful, anxious and panicky.
As a result my family and I have significantly lowered our consumption of sweet foods.
Fozeia Rana-Fahy is an Associate at law firm, MJM Limited. She can be contacted on 294-3612 or e-mail: email@example.com.