Food for thought!

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I often flinch when someone says my body or my so and so organ is ill or I need to get my so and so system checked. At a superficial level there is nothing wrong with this statement but it reflects our supposition about our own self. Our understanding of ourselves has been so altered and influenced by the current medical practices that we often fail to acknowledge most of the times that we are not just our body, or a walking specimen of various systems put together. Even those who do appreciate the existence of mind and soul within us are not aware about the tremendous force that binds these three elements together. To the extent that, one element cannot remain unaffected when the other element is suffering especially the body and the mind. All our bodily imbalances have similar impacts on our mind and vice versa. Hence No disease can be just physical or just psychological in nature.

One good example of this is the complex association seen between the co-existence of Celiac disease- an autoimmune disorder and various learning disabilities and abnormalities in the higher brain functions like memory, concentration and learning. Till now the researchers have not been able to explain why these two diseases co-exist. Some say that underlying celiac disease is the cause of such learning disabilities. The term they use for learning disabilities in this case is AD/HD. I carefully refrain myself from using this term as I do not believe that AD/HD is a scientifically appropriate term. (refer to my article on AD/HD shocking facts)

Celiac disease also known as celiac sprue is an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system erroneously identifies body’s own cells as foreign cells and then attacks and destroys them. These individuals are allergic to gluten, a protein present in wheat, rye and barley, and tend to have an allergic reaction to this protein that can damage the lining of the small intestines. Celiac disease can produce a myriad of symptoms which includes spectrum of digestive problems, ranging from bloating to chronic diarrhea to various learning disabilities including poor memory and concentration. Recent studies have found that at least 3 million Americans are affected with celiac disease. And one out of every 133 Americans can have celiac disease. The symptoms of this disease may vary from person to person which often makes it difficult to diagnose. Research says that 20 out of every 100 people diagnosed with Celiac disease have learning disabilities and abnormal cognitive skills ( Zelnick et al Pediatrics , Vol 113, No- 6 June 2004 pp 1672-1676). These facts have made the conventional medical science reconsider their strategies in the treatment of celiac disease as well as the learning disabilities, which until recently were believed to be two different entities.

The co-existence of these two diseases is definitely because of the complex interaction that exists between our mind and our body. Ayurveda the ancient science of life believes that, the food that nourishes our body also provides nourishment to our mind. Micro elements present in our food (aakash, vayu, tej, aap and prithvi are absorbed in our body through the digestion by the digestive Agni or fire  and are then conveyed to the mind for its nourishment. Certain foods can make us feel energetic, happy and satisfied while certain others can intoxicate us, some foods can promote anger while some can make us sad and lethargic. Eating comfort foods even when we are not hungry is one of the first resorts taken by individuals that experience mental stress of any kind. Various studies have appreciated the fact that certain foods can produce abnormal brain waves. Hence an individual’s diet should always be the first priority area in the therapy of any disease.

In case of celiac disease and learning disabilities it is seen that eliminating gluten containing foods, mainly the wheat products lead to improvement of symptoms of both the CD as well as the learning disabilities. When children and adults affected with this condition were put on a well planned diet that excluded gluten and included healthy grain alternatives to wheat, like spelt, kamut, oats, brown rice, and amaranth, their health dramatically improved. Also, this therapy had a permanent long lasting effect, an attribute the conventional chemical medicines never seem to possess.

Therapy of any diseases should always be planned by appreciating the relationship between the mind and the body. Very often different lines of treatment are adopted to treat such disease conditions like celiac disease and learning disabilities by having one set of drugs for the body and another set for the mind. This system has lead to these medicines exerting adverse effects on the body as well as the mind. They may eliminate one disease but they never restore health. On the contrary, they have the potential of causing more damage. It is only when we treat our body and mind as one unit that we can expect to restore health for our entire being. It is only when we appreciate the fact that treatment of disease does not equal health, that we will be able to make better therapeutic choices.

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One thought on “Food for thought!

    Gwen Nagano said:
    August 11, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    I am curious what you think the tie to food combination errors in the diet may contribute to Celiac Sprue? I fully invest in your message here. What I wonder about are the young children, ages 5 and under, that are being diagnosed with Celiec Disease and how the psychological aspects come into play. Do you have a theory on the younger minds?

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