I am always fascinate when religious or spiritual topics collide with medical evidences and/or disease. I am convinced that “the natural man” has trouble recognizing that all things are spiritual unto God (1 Corinthians 2:14). Unfortunately, training in medicine often attempts to “educate the spirituality out of you.”
However, this week,and in church today, I’ve been reading about “signs of the times.” Of interest, and something that I’ve been pondering, is the statement made in Luke 21:25-26 where the Savior, Jesus Christ, specifically foretells the signs of His Second Coming. Among the perplexities and distress outlined, one statement stands out this week and has been the food of much thought, “Men’s hears failing them for fear,…” (Luke 21:26).
This food for thought is actually what directed me to this verse, as I’ve had a number of people express notable fear and worry over whether their diet is correct, because so much miss-information abounds in society today. Argument, stress and fear over diet, apparently, is not new and was something that even Paul noticed and wrote about in his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 14:1-3).
Stress and fear are two of the biggest hindrances to health and weight loss in my office. The most common non-food cause of failing to maintain ketosis while living a ketogenic lifestyle is stress. Stress is often due to fear. Men, and women alike, become fearful because they seem to:
- Forget their Purpose
- Forget their Identity
When heartache arise from illness, injury, disability, death, divorce, wayward children and the other innumerable causes, stress and fear abound. Worry about diet and health, in a time when so much contradictory advise is at our fingertips, adds to that fear.
When we forget our purpose and our identity, three symptoms arise both physically and spiritually:
- Apathy toward some or all parts of life (“It’s just going to change again so why even care . . ?”)
- A mental slumber due to temporal or carnal pacification (“I can just eat and/or drink my problems away”)
- Fear of change and the pain or effort it may take to make a change (“I don’t have the will-power to change anymore.”)
The scriptures call this “weak hands & feeble knees” (Isaiah 35:3), and we in medicine refer to this as dysthymia, the first step in progression toward chronic depression and/or anxiety.
These symptoms all increase chronic levels of cortisol and insulin. Amplified “brain fog,” weight gain, and inflammation are physical responses to the mental fear that is chronically unresolved. These symptoms just add to the apathy, mental slumber and fear of pain that was already present.
The problem is that over time, this progressive triad lead down the hormonal path to what we now call atherosclerosis, narrowing of the blood vessels, increasing the risk for heart attack, heart failure and stroke. This was seen in Hippocrates day as “sudden death related to episodes of chest distress” (Leibowitz, 1970). The Italian anatomist Giovanni Morgagni (1682-1771) described it in his day as “the force of the heart decreases so much more in proportion as the greater number of its parts becomes tendonous instead of being fleshy.”
SO, WHAT DOES ONE DO?
First, realize that the problems you are facing have been faced by millions of human beings and you are not alone. But, to paraphrase Irene Dunne, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.
I no longer believe in coincidence. Whether you have thought about it or not, every interaction you have with others (even our interaction . . . your reading this blog), are not by coincidence. There is a reason. Whether you believe it or not, everything around us testifies that God exists; the Hand of Providence can be seen from the rotation of the earth, planets and stars, the precision of the seasons, the balance of the atmosphere allowing for the perfect pressures and concentration of elements to sustain a life giving breath, to the perfect replication of DNA within billions of cells throughout the body.
I’m not trying to get religious, and, no, I can’t prove this through the scientific method . . . But, that is just the point. Hands are weak because of lack of faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidences of which are not yet seen. Even though we do not see the evidences, we can discern the light and that gives hope. Hope is a substance that gives purpose. I can strengthen hands by sharing a little light and stabilize knees through friendship and fellowship (Romans 14:1).
If the Big Bang started the universe, what started the Big Bang? Where did the first atom or molecule or particle of dust come from? I have a very difficult time accepting that you and I are here by accident, by a chaotic explosion that created order. That implies that there must be a plan, and that plan had to have been set in motion by a Creator. You and I have a place in that plan. That also implies that that Creator placed solutions to our challenges, including the diseases of civilization, within our grasp and available to those seeking the solutions upon the earth today.
Second, today’s society teaches the Pleasure Principle. This is the human instinct to seek pleasure and avoid pain, including avoiding painful recollections. We often define ourselves by those things that bring us pleasure. We each go through personal tests, failures and triumphs. Some of us harness all of those experiences for good, others find worsening mental paralysis due to fear of them. We often hide from the painful experiences and attempt to bury or forget them. Food is often involved with many of the experiences of life, and for a significant number of people, the endorphin release from eating a meal, sometimes just the act of chewing, may be the only pleasure one experience in a day, in a week or a in a year. Many people hide from painful recollections behind the simple pleasure produced by the eating of “comfort foods.” Food, and our opportunities to experience pleasure from it’s various flavors, textures and physical stimulus, begin to define us. However, hiding from life’s painful memories with momentary pleasures usually prolongs or makes the problem worse. The ingestion of simple foods containing glucose and fructose, their effect on the liver, and the hedonistic hormonal response is the basis of addiction, and simple carbohydrates provide the perfect fix.
Fascinatingly, when fructose is metabolized in the liver, in the presence of glucose (the basic structure of sugar – one fructose molecule bound to a glucose molecule), the byproduct has a hedonic (pleasure experiencing) effect on the exact same pleasure receptors in the brain that bind to morphine. Yes, that’s why the M&M’s make you forget your troubles and why the Jolly Rancher is so jolly. And, its the same reason you crave another do-nut two hours after you ate the entire baker’s dozen.
Healing can only occur when one is willing to confront and talk about the reasons, the real reasons you’d rather experience the endorphins from the do-nuts with your family instead of acknowledge your weakness, stresses, and fears. Many of us are so afraid of where we might be, we avoid acknowledging where and who we are. It takes courage not to take the easy path. And I will be the first to admit, pizza is the easy path and it’s scenic views are decorated with french fry palms and sunset clouds of apple fritters.
Third, many cultures and most forms of religion or spirituality incorporate the use of fasting to one degree or another. Why fasting? Well, it removes the effect of the pleasure principle for starters.
Fasting is also a simple and inexpensive method of shifting the body’s metabolism to one of ketosis. Spiritual, physical and mental clarity are more prominent in the ketotic state. Finding your identity and purpose are often encouraged while fasting. In fact, a whole chapter in the Old Testament’s Book of Isaiah is dedicated to the powerful effects of fasting and the ketogenic state it produces (Isaiah 58:3-12).
Your life is never without meaning. Keep it real by recognizing that diet alone may not compete your answer for physical health. Having courage and faith allow you to see and embrace the truth that is right in front of you. The Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 step program only becomes successful when one realistically and courageously applies their faith to align with the truth they have felt all along. For any long-term lifestyle change to take place, one must connect and live the principles before one truly knows they are true. In this way the Ketogenic Lifestyle becomes real and men’s hearts are less likely to fail them. You can start here: The Principle Based KetoDynamic Lifestyle.