A few weeks ago I was talking with a woman who was explaining that in a few weeks her son would be having several surgeries. As she explained the situation her whole body just looked defeated. Then she said the line that stopped me cold.
“There wasn’t a pill that could fix him.”
This belief is just heartbreaking to me. It is so void of hope and faith in the body’s capacity to rebuild itself. It negates all of the tools we have at our fingertips to support our own body’s innate ability to heal. It’s as if we’ve forgotten all the systems in place within the body that are designed to repair, restore and ultimately keep us alive.
A couple of years ago I heard a story that I cling to whenever I start to doubt the body’s ability to heal. While attending the annual Nutritional Therapy Association Conference, we had incredible functional medicine and nutrition speakers: Chris Kresser, Dr. Terry Wahls and one of my favorite digestive experts, Liz Lipski. But the speaker that stood out the most to me?
The lawyer told his story of how he became incredibly sick. He saw countless doctors, was trying a variety of medications but nothing was working. Instead he was only getting sicker. So sick, he lost his job. He couldn’t function anymore, he’d lost weight and he was incredibly weak. As a last ditch effort, he headed to the Mayo Clinic. Over the course of about a week, he was put through a battery of tests. At the end of the week, he was discharged and told there was nothing they could do for him.
The Mayo Clinic told him there was nothing they could do for him.
I’m sure devastating doesn’t even come close to describing those emotions that day. But, instead of giving up, he decided to take a different path. He then described his first meal, in detail, where he felt his body begin to make a turn. I can still picture the meal he described. There wasn’t a pill in the world that could fix him, but real food tailored to his needs, could.
Dr. Terry Wahls closed out the conference reinforcing this message. She was once relegated to a reclining wheelchair due to her MS, but she walked on stage that day. Not because of some new breakthrough in pharmaceutical technology. She had done all of those; those had kept her in the reclining wheelchair. With nothing to lose she researched with a vengeance the exact nutrients needed to give her cells the energy they need to heal and they were best found through food.
This is not to say pharmaceuticals are never useful. Pharmaceuticals may be necessary at times, but they are never the entire answer. Frankly, food is never the entire answer either. We’ve forgotten that our bodies are synergistic beings and we need to look at healing as an all hands on deck process.
If we don’t dig in and figure out what the root cause is, the problem will only crop up somewhere else down the road and usually bigger. To pin our hopes on having a pill fix us, is a massive gamble. For a long time I’ve thought of what I do with nutrition as a ‘negative alternative’. I had a ticker tape of negative comments running through my head.
But, the truth is, I see nutrition as hope. I always have. I always will.
To say that something we consume multiple times per day, every single day of our lives doesn’t have a role in how we heal, or not heal, is like leaving your star player on the bench just because you forgot his talent. I’ve been able to see real food make a major impact time and again. The carpel tunnel that went away when it was looking like surgery was the only option, the intense daily headaches from allergies that disappeared, the sudden ability to eat a meal comfortably from just a single change, the energy return that she didn’t even know was possible, the weight loss that FINALLY happened after years of stagnating.
This is never as simple as just drinking a bunch of green smoothies and calling it a day. No. When there are chronic symptoms or disease in the body, there are many factors to look at to ultimately support healing. Everyone needs a nutrition practitioner that will really listen, can see the big picture and sort through the options to work with you to find the best solutions. When things are complicated you likely do need a team. But, what you need to remember is that we all work for you. It is your body, you live in it and you know it best.