Let's talk about my past, my present and my quest for relentless improvement. I won't dip into my vegan experience, which you can read about, but I should start at the beginning with my dietary habits as a youngster.
My grade school menu consisted of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, and Cocoa Puffs. These nutritional power-houses were washed down with lactose infused fat-free milk followed by a tall glass of Tropicana orange juice, just like the kid on the commercial. I was the American dream. Sides that accompanied my main course were often of a cardboard box origin as well: Cinnamon Pop-Tarts, crumb mini doughnuts, coffee cake, or a peanut butter Eggo waffle all fit the bill as suitable choices to go along side my cereal super food.
Hot on the heels of my cocaine like cereal addiction, was my penchant for Taco Bell. The recent purchase of a mountain bike had me riding to the local T-Bell nearly every day. Beaming with the feeling of independence, I indulged in taco supremes, nacho bell-grandes, chicken quesadillas a plenty. This particular T-Bell was one of the first I remember with an open soda fountain; thus enabling me to fuel my growing body with whatever ridiculous flavor the Mountain Dew corporation had thought of that week.
Notable store bought items during junior high were: Gushers fruits snacks, Dunk-A-Roos, Lay's potato chips, root beer, Cactus Cooler orange soda, instant oatmeal, Pillsbury strudels, and not-for-the-weak Flaming Hot Cheetos. Looking back on it, I rarely ate meat unless it was honey glazed and came from the deli. I did eat a lot of ground beef from Taco Bell, but I'm not sure that counts.
High school and college was an onslaught of titanic-sized burritos and irish car bombs. It was at this point that the culmination of every poor nutritional decision collectively punched me in the face. I found myself in rough shape at the young age of 21. I had a very low libido, terrible anxiety, severe cold intolerance, digestive issues, sleep apnea, chronic halitosis, and a very itchy dandruff-ridden scalp. To top this off, all of my body hair started to fall out.
For better or worse my journey into nutrition was initiated by the vain attempt to correct the rapid hair-loss I was experiencing. The idea of losing my hair at such a young age scared the shit out of me. I became a new person. I slowly stopped drinking, started gulping supplements by the handful, and cursed my legacy of being a cereal junky. I eventually started visiting doctor after doctor (MDs, ODs, ND's, nutritionists), trying to figure out exactly what needed to be done for me to feel well again. I ended up getting prescriptions for testosterone (cyp), hCG, Arimidex, Cortef, Armour, Synthroid, Cytomel, pregnenolone, Propecia, and a handful of other medications.
In a couple years time, I dropped the meds, went through every nutritional supplement on the market, went from a militant vegan to modern caveman and ended up as a layman carnivore.
I want to make it clear that I am not success story. In fact I have some specific doubts about the functionality of my body after the extensive beating I've given it through poor nutrition and a brief stint on so many metabolic altering medications. I'm capable of doing things now that weren't possible before and for that I am extremely pleased, but there are lingering symptoms that I would really like to see disappear.
A missing piece of the puzzle might be in the internet phenomenon known as "heavy metal poisoning". In September I received one of the last tests my doctor had ordered. He suspected that the root cause of my health anomalies (specifically low free T3 thyroid issues) may be related heavy metals. When I received my urine toxic metals test back from Doctor's Data I was surprised to see elevated levels of mercury and lead.
September 2008 (Doctor's Data Inc.)
Urine Toxic Metals
Lead 9.1 (5)
Mercury 2.3 (3)
Could this be it? Was this the source of my lingering symptoms that I was trying to fix in vain with heavy Rx medications? Leaving aside the notion that the test could be inaccurate, I wanted to explore the idea of diet being able remedy such an issue. After scouring the internet and rereading my copy Amalgam Illness by Andy Cutler, the only real point of reference I found was from the Weston A. Price Foundation.
In a human trial, a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet was compared to a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet. The researchers found greater clearance of toxins with the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet and diminished clearance when the ratio was reversed.33,34 To utilise the protein correctly, the fat on the "lamb" needs to be eaten. The use of additional butter or lard in cooking is of paramount importance. By having adequate fat, bile production is stimulated, absorption of minerals increased and the excretion of mercury facilitated as long as constipation is avoided.
In my practice, I have found that people who are sturdy in structure recover more quickly and have less reactivity during their treatment, compared with people who are extremely thin or who lose the most weight or undergo ill-advised fasting procedures concurrently while having been exposed to toxins such as mercury.35 This observation is supported by recent studies published in the Journal of Obesity.36
A correct cholesterol response is fundamental to move mercury and other neurotoxins to sites where they can be excreted. A Danish study of 50,318 users of statin (cholesterol-lowering) drugs revealed a higher risk of peripheral neuropathy related to the percentage of drop in total cholesterol. In other words, lowering cholesterol increases risk of reactivity to nerve toxins resulting in pain, paraesthesia, numbness and demyelinating effects. Six additional studies since 1994 have indicated the same rise in polyperipheral neuropathy symptoms for users of statin drugs, supporting our clinical findings that low cholesterol levels in the presence of a potent neurotoxin such as mercury found in amalgam fillings or any other source, is a recipe for disaster. Nervanne's history was characteristic of this pattern.
While this article gives me a glimmer of hope that the body is capable of far more than I give it credit for, I'm not holding my breath that lead, the metal I appear to be higher in, reacts similar to mercury. From my understanding lead ingrains itself in bone and is a tad more difficult to extract even through the process of "chelation"; removing metals from the body by consuming small doses of alpha lipoic acid and DMSA every three hours.
For reasons unknown to me this area of health is often thought of as quack science. Perhaps its gained this reputation because most who peddle these ideas are into other legitimate pseudoscience (muscle testing, homeopathy). If I hadn't had the test done on myself, I doubt I would have entertained the idea of metals having a direct measurable effect on health.
Time will tell if diet is strong enough to get rid of such toxic substances lodged in the organs of the body. At the start of the new year I'm planning on having another metals test to see how I'm doing. It should be pretty interesting to note if fat is truly a cleanser of metal debris and other undesirables from the body.