Lett's Set A Spell

Recuperating from illness starts with food as medicine
Apr. 28, 2013 @ 12:00 PM

What emerges when an expert on health gets sick and can’t get well? 

This is what happened to me several years ago when symptoms of sickness started intensifying. My thinking became very foggy and I had trouble making decisions and determining priorities. I felt tired all the time and yet I had insomnia and couldn’t seem to sleep much. Aggravations included overwhelming coughing spells and regular vomiting.

Back in the 1970s, due to inherited weaknesses and a serious illness, I sought help from modern medicine and could not get solutions. During this time, I discovered natural ways to feel healthy and to prevent dis-ease and disease. I also experienced remarkable results from common sense traditional approaches — some customs popular with our ancestors — like a nutritious diet featuring lots of vegetables, herbs for healing and working outdoors in the sunshine. 

As a proponent in the holistic health movement, I boldly experimented with various approaches to healing body, mind and spirit and wrote about them in columns and published a book and spoke to lots of audiences. I read hundreds of articles and dozens of books and listened to numerous stories from people who had transformed their lives through various non-mainstream healing modalities.

YET, DECADES LATER, here I was unable to figure out what was wrong with me. My holistic doctor had died and my favorite healer had retired. I recalled an adage Hippocrates, the Greek physician who is considered the father of western medicine, said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates believed that illness results from poor diet, derogatory living habits and environmental factors. 

So I started my search for wellness by first examining my diet. Several of my friends were getting great results from looking at their negative reactions to specific foods. After eating whole wheat bread, I felt sleepy and noticed my stomach would swell like a balloon, so I researched diets void of wheat and read a lot about the gluten-free culinary plans.

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity are usually gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, flatulence, gas and diarrhea, and other signs may include exhaustion, headaches and joint pain. People who are sensitive to wheat complain about fuzzy thinking and sometimes dizzy spells. While these symptoms may relate to gluten intolerance — commonly called celiac disease — they can occur with dozens of other ailments as well. 

According to current research, the most accurate way to identify gluten intolerance is to use an elimination diet, a strict plan in which a person completely excludes foods containing gluten for a significant period of time. Through observing how she/he feels and keeping records, anyone can figure out if gluten is creating negative symptoms.

IN THE PAST I had benefited tremendously from strict dietary programs, so I committed to do so again in pursuit of vitality. In honor of the New Moon and Lent in March 2011, I vowed to give up all foods containing gluten. Within two days, I started thinking more clearly, feeling more energetic and being more productive. When I would cheat by eating wheat, I would end up having a coughing spell and/or throwing up my food. Sure enough, wheat was a trigger that created many of my discomforts so not worth the few minutes of pleasure eating it. I continue to avoid gluten and see results, however, I am dealing with other health challenges, but that’s another story for another day. 

My decision about making radical dietary changes in the 1970s and again declaring food as medicine and recommitting to that tried and true regime showed me that we have a lot of control over our health. As individuals, we can focus on feeling better and preventing sickness through healthy habits that will promote a higher quality life.

AlexSandra Lett is a professional speaker and the author of “Natural Living, From Stress to Rest;” “A Timeless Place, Lett’s Set a Spell at the Country Store;” “Timeless Moons, Seasons of the Fields and Matters of the Heart;” “Timeless Recipes and Remedies, Country Cooking, Customs, and Cures;” and “Coming Home to my Country Heart, Timeless Reflections about Work, Family, Health, and Spirit.” Lett can be reached at (919) 258-9299 or LettsSetaSpell@aol