Dialling in Nutrition
It’s September and that means one thing - CMT Awareness Month. During the month of September I will be using my blog to play a part in raising Awareness with an “alphabet challenge” - blogging a letter / key word almost every day. Today is brought to you by the letter N. I hope my month of blogging will help you to learn more about CMT - the most common but least well known hereditary nerve disorder - and me. And I hope this will also help to raise funds for the Charcot Marie Tooth Association to support its efforts to find a treatment for CMT. You can join me in learning more about CMT by clicking onto www.cmtausa.org and of course a donation would be wonderful too!
As it’s now officially my off season in triathlon I am taking a step back, resetting goals, and getting ready to start some new routines for the autumn and winter months. Each year this typically involves me visiting my nutritionist, Vicki Edgson. I’ve been seeing Vicki since 2004 - the year I received my diagnosis of CMT. She has helped me to refocus on healthy eating habits, which over time I have become better at self managing.
As a precursor to my visit with Vicki this year, I have gone for a round of testing with Curoseven. One of the partners in Curoseven is Ironman championship Tamsin Lewis. Tam helped to set up this practice to provide detailed guidance to endurance athletes based on what their body’s chemistry is saying. As a part of my testing I had my levels for Omega 6 / Omega 3 checked.
Over two years ago I reviewed the book Why Women Need Fat on my blog. The book spends a lot of time reviewing why Omega 3 fatty acids (the kinds you get from vegetables and fish) are good for you, and the basis of an anti-inflammatory diet.
In short, a higher 6 to 3 ratio in the blood is an indicator that the body may be more apt to store fat; that the body may have systemic inflammation.
My ratio tested at 6. A standard American diet has a ratio of about 16. A target ratio is between 2 or 3.
To achieve the ideal ratio you can take supplements, particularly of EPA / DHA.
Back in January I posted that I was going to start taking supplements. And I did. For a while.
But I have to admit it - I didn’t make them a habit. And… I figured if I could focus on clean eating, then I didn’t need them and it was okay to get off the supplement track…
I’m taking my Usana packs again. Because clearly diet alone - as I have been eating anyway - has not been sufficient enough to reach an ideal anti-inflammatory level in my body…
Why focus on an anti-inflammatory diet?
Well, back in November 2012 I had the opportunity to attend the a patient conference hosted by the Charcot Marie Tooth Association. At the conference one of the speakers, Dr Greg Carter, emphasised how the best thing we could do as patients was to look after our well being and nutrition. He promoted Weill’s anti-inflammatory diet as a way of doing this - to give our bodies the best chance to function without addition stress. After all - non functioning nerve cells is enough stress as it is!
The method for eating in an anti-inflammatory way is pretty straight forward and can be summarise in three words - EAT MORE VEGETABLES.
I’ve been making concerted efforts this year to add more vegetarian meals into my diet, in particular inspired by friends of mine who have chosen to go down a plant-powered path.
I’m always looking for inspiration - and easy ways - to do this. To eat plant-powered meals that are interesting and that are not ready-made shortcuts (a lot of ready made foods include high Omega-6 content as the oils and ingredients they are made with are shelf stable which is a sure sign of Omega 6 content).
One of the easier solutions I am adopting is the Riverford vegetarian recipe box. Once a week I have a recipe box delivered which has three meals included - all ingredients, all measured out, and instructions for preparing.
Now, I am still eating meat. But thanks to this time saving solution I am also eating more vegetarian meals. And I am trying to keep my lunches focused on vegetables and fish too.
So it may not be enough to achieve the target ratio for Omega 6 to Omega 3—but the recipe box definitely gives me a solid foundation!
I’m not stopping there. I also bought the Forks Over Knives book, to help to transition to even more plant powered eating.
So far I am just in the introductory session - where they discuss why whole-life medicine is important, about managing all aspects of well being in order to live healthier happier lives. This includes how we eat. If you have seen the film Forks Over Knives (which I recommend - although you have to be aware that it does promote a plant-based approach to eating which may not be everyone’s choice) you will be very familiar with the logic and information.
I am looking forward to getting into the suggestions on how to incorporate more vegetarian ideas into breakfast, lunch and dinner.
My thinking hasn’t stopped with plant-power. I have also been getting ready to do a “no sugar no grains” October. I may follow the Whole30 concept for the month - I am not sure yet. But in keeping with the anti-inflammatory focus I definitely know I will be quitting sugar for October. And also putting down my glass of wine and going alcohol free, like I did in January.
I think it will help to give my system a break. Plus, sugars are a huge source of systemic inflammation, as highlighted in the documentary Fed Up (which I just downloaded from iTunes).
Source: Fed Up website
Like I said, the off season is a time when I refocus on new goals. Now is the time of the year when I typically do a whole body rethink - without the stresses of races or intense training in my way. And one of my big goals is improving my nutrition as a way to manage how I am impacted by CMT.
I will continue to share - especially through October when I am contemplating a daily update on my “kind of Whole30” over on my Facebook Page.
Nutrition - not just for CMT Awareness Month. But for a healthy happy life.
It’s CMT Awareness Month. Today’s post was brought to you by the letter “N” - nutrition. You can learn more about CMT and donate to support the search for a treatment for this (at present) incurable progressive degenerative nerve disease at www.cmtausa.org — Thank you!