Tag Archives: food intolerance

Caffeine Is Not The Enemy

Caffeine has long been implicated in anxiety and depression disorders, as well as a range of physical ailments like IBS, stomach irritation and even conditions of the bladder and pelvis, like interstitial cystitis and chronic pelvic pain, affecting both men and women.

And it’s true that caffeine does appear to exacerbate irritation in already compromised bodies where inflammation is already surfacing.

This is purely anecdotal information by the way, but I do feel that my own experience is really important in shedding light on this issue, so I’m going to give you my view. Please, take it with a pinch of salt and if you need to do your own independent research, I absolutely welcome an independent mind.

For years, I tried to quit coffee. I was addicted. I just loved the taste, and it was one of the only things that could give me a lick of focus, just a little respite from the constant brain fog that affected me daily. I thought that if I could just get rid of this addiction, I could focus again, but I was looking in the wrong place. The single biggest change for me in my health and cognition was reducing sugar and ELIMINATING dairy.

I was suffering with chronic pelvic pain, which I thought was being caused by the irritative effects of caffeine, as so many medical advisory articles suggest. I had developed this pain after a recurrent uti, which is uncommon in men, but nevertheless affected my quality of life significantly. I found myself embarrassed by the number of trips to the toilet I had to take in the office and concerned that it might be brought up by management. I didn’t really want to discuss something like that, which as some of you who suffer with bladder discomfort will know, often seems too private to discuss with colleagues or bosses.

Men, this is especially important for you, as nearly all of us will experience this at some point in our lives, often caused by prostate inflammation or acute bacterial infection. Prostatitis, as it is named, is uncomfortable, and reduces quality of life in people who experience chronic versions that persist for months and even years.

The prostate is close to the intestine, and the lymphatic systems form the bridge between the large intestine and both the prostate and bladder. This is really important when you see your bladder and prostate health within the context of your digestive health. Organs that lie adjacent to the intestine are inevitably affected by the poor health of the gut and can contribute to these painful bladder issues. If you suffer with this kind of chronic inflammation men and women, you must look to your digestion to fix the problem. I really cannot stress that enough. Clean up your diet and things will improve in nearly every other system of the body.

Fast forward to today, after making a huge effort towards better gut health, my bladder problems are almost non-existent. Just by introducing goat kefir every day, a prebiotic/ probiotic supplement, lower overall sugar intake and elimination of all milk products, many of my health problems have improved significantly.

I still drink coffee mind you.

I drink it black.

My bladder and digestive health has never been better.

I have to be honest and say what I see. Caffeine is not the monster for me, though many medical establishments would say it is. It’s those other insidious substances which have really wrecked my health.

So, from my perspective, you don’t have to give up coffee to improve your intestinal health and subsequently, your overall health. You really need to focus on eliminating your food sensitivities. Often dairy is a massive problem. Processed sugar is terrible for your digestion. Additives can really cause harm (no more diet coke please!). Clean up these areas and you’re going to become healthier, happier and more productive, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up coffee!

A bit of good news for everyone I’m hoping.

Enjoy your beans people!

J

Veganism Helped Treat My Depression

Veganism has garnered a reputation as something for radical political youths, hippies and edgy people with colourful hair (which I love, don’t get me wrong). But what is the merit and practicality inherent in a diet that has often been labelled the bad banana in the bunch?

I reached a critical point in my life only months ago. I was suffering with chronic back pain from a slipped disk, mood swings, something I imagine close to hypomania, joint pain in my knees and asthmatic symptoms like severe tightness in the chest. When I was energetic and ‘up’, a lot of these symptoms went away. Every couple of weeks, I would be sure to plunge into ever greater depths of dark depression, which no longer remained contained in my mind, spreading now deep into my bones and my heart and my lungs. My plummeting abyssal thoughts began to twist my body as well as my mind.

I reached a breaking point. I could not bear to go lower. To live in endless cycles of physical and emotional pain, followed by the barest respite of a fickle and uncanny happiness, like there were threads sewn into my lips, pulled up in a wild grin by an evil puppeteer, destined to cut them away and lead me back into doom with a shadowy, hollow cackle.

I started to move towards fixing myself. I did research. I read books and articles. What I discovered was that there appeared to be several links between food allergies (I was food intolerant to dairy as a child and this issue may still persist), chronic pain and mental health. One diet promised to eliminate or drastically reduce the impact of all three.

To the average individual, going vegan may seem drastic. Sadly, I have been to some very dark places in my head. I would eat or drink anything, a laughing periwinkle, ground unicorn patties, the algae on a whale’s back. Anything, to reduce the pain and suffering I was experiencing. When your depression starts to make you feel paper thin, until you start to feel the cracking of your soul, parched, barren and dry, I cannot express the lengths you would go to to avoid that feeling again. It is indescribable.

For me, this was an easy choice.

I feel better.

I am by no means happy every day. That would be impossible. I still have many bad days, but the bad days aren’t as bad anymore. I have more energy. I do not spend so many of my evenings in pain.

I am writing again! I work full time and I STILL spend some of my evening writing and looking after myself. This is an incredible milestone for me. I never expected to feel well enough ever again to write three blog posts in a week. Yet, here I am!

Part of this change will surely be down to my resolution to look after myself, to tackle my fears and insecurities, to grow as a person and to never take life for granted, yet part of that transformation is absolutely about radically overhauling what I choose to put into my body.

My last few blog posts have also been about the impact of meditation and meditation has so far proved extremely helpful in the fight against mental illness. I am tackling this problem from as many different angle as I can. I will not settle and give into my pain and suffering. I will use it to transform myself.

So, there we have it. Veganism is part of my commitment to look after myself. It’s not political, though I am happy to be choosing a more sustainable and animal friendly lifestyle in the process. It’s not to be trendy. I don’t and have never run in trendy social circles. I’m doing this because my research has led me here and I refuse to give into pain and stop fighting for my happiness in this life. Veganism is a commitment to my individual well-being and that is where my stance on the diet ends.

Nevertheless, I do believe that many people could improve their depressive symptoms by trying a vegan diet. It’s naturally low-inflammatory food staples do help to reduce allergic stress responses in the body which absolutely can adversely effect mental health. I won’t stress this too much as I am not a doctor and my research is purely personal, but I do want to share my story so that others may find some respite from their pain in depression.

We are all different. What is helping for me is not necessarily for you, but unless we research and persevere, how will we know what is?

I wish you happiness and good health, and a diet that helps you maintain the best possible head space.

Greenly,

J

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