So, we all know that eating healthily is good for us. We hear it enough times. It’s something we ‘should’ do. But I want to give you a personal take; make it real to you. I want you to know how much of a difference eating healthily has made to me as a Hypermobility Syndrome (HMS) sufferer and I want to give you some tips on how you can start to feel this health and vitality in your own life.
Let’s look at the facts first:
Why eating healthily is particularly good for HMS sufferers:
• When our body is clean on the inside we are healthier on the outside.
Our organs of detoxification, including the liver and the kidneys, work 24/7 to keep our bodies clean. The more we eat natural food the less they have to work. This is great for two reasons: 1 – we look and feel better; 2 – our detoxification system can then spend its time doing internal ‘housework’ making sure every part of our body functions the very best it can. This means our joints can be kept healthy and recover from injury more quickly.
• Eating healthily can satisfy us with fewer calories.
The more healthily we eat the more weight we’ll drop. That’s great for general health but also really important for us HMS sufferers.
• Fresh food delivers us vitamins and minerals in abundance in a way that processed food cannot.
It’s very easy to be over-fed yet under-nourished when we eat a lot of processed food. If we enjoy plentiful fruit and vegetables we’ll be ensuring we deliver quality to our bodies. Vitamins and minerals are essential to ensure optimal health and functioning of our joints, tissues, bones and muscles.
• Eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly greens can improve our digestion.
It’s all about having the right level of hydrochloric acid in your tummy – have a look at the writing of Victoria Boutenko for the details. Having efficient digestion is not just something that means we feel better – it also ensures we absorb more of the goodness from the food that we do eat. A double whammy!
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• Because our body is working less, we have more energy.
We look better and we feel better – a great way to make sure we are experiencing life in the best possible way we can at any given time.
• Because we have more energy and look better, we feel better. I know how easy it is to feel down when you have HMS. Feeling brighter on a daily basis and being happier when we look in the mirror are two all-important factors when it comes to feeling better every day.
• We have less allergic response.
There are many, less healthy, foodstuffs that can cause allergies. (You can find out about the more common of these – wheat and dairy – by googling them or reading an author like Patrick Holford.) Allergies do not just show up as skin or breathing problems, they also clog up all the processes of our bodies, along with lowering our health and vitality generally. If we give our body a break from these we can function at a much more healthy level.
• The body was designed for the natural sugar in fruit.
Eating less processed sugar and replacing it with natural sugar puts so much less stress on the body. Our system was not meant handle processed sugar and getting it cleaned out of the body day in day out really takes its toll. Noticed how you get more spots when you eat a lot of chocolate? It’s because the skin is an organ of detoxification and if the other organs in the body that clear unnatural foodstuffs are over-loaded then the toxins will be pushed out through your skin.
• Natural water without having to remember to carry a bottle with you everywhere!
Our bodies need water to function properly. Without it, all our vital systems lack oxygen and just can’t work properly. It affects our joints, muscles and connective tissues too – all those things that we want to keep in the best state possible. If we eat more fruit and vegetables we’ll get water in its natural state – packaged inside some beautifully sweet-tasting fruit!
Now perhaps you are asking: “How does she know all this?” Well, that’s because eating healthily has literally changed my life.
I had my hypermobility diagnosed in 2008, but I’d been suffering for many years; RSI making my academic life hell, lower back problems putting me out of action over and over again while neck and shoulder problems plagued me from a very early age.
2008 was the worst I’d been. A problem with my neck and shoulder was so bad I had to leave the course of study I was on. I couldn’t hold my head up for long without muscle spasm and immense pain. I spent months in bed and became very depressed.
After what was a very long, dark time I was finally diagnosed with EDS and got to work with a great physiotherapist.
I decided that I wanted to do everything I could to improve my health. I started researching diet and was amazed at what I found. I learnt about how many of the food stuffs we take as normal (e.g. bread, milk, soy) can be highly allergenic. I learnt how our body is constantly detoxifying, and how, if we put unnatural substances into it, it has to work really to get rid of them. I learnt how many of the animal products we eat are full of chemicals and hormones that have been routinely used to treat the animals. I learnt how natural, raw foods are not only choc full of vitamins and minerals, but also include enzymes which make them easier to digest than processed food. I learnt how greens are a wonder food – not only providing minerals in abundance, but also actually improving the way our body digests.
There are plenty of resources, freely available online, written by doctors and enthusiasts alike, which provide evidence and experience to champion healthy eating.
I decided to become my own tester. It’s simple and cheap – I’d recommend giving it a go! ‘Try on’ a healthy diet for a few meals, a few days and see what it does for you. I did just that and I’ve never looked back.
I started to make changes to the way I ate. I cut down on the amount of animal produce and included a lot more fruit and vegetables. I found not only did I love it, but I felt and looked so much healthier. Without trying, I lost weight I never thought I’d lose, my skin cleared up and my eyes started to sparkle. I had more energy and slept better. I got ill with colds and passing bugs much less frequently. Importantly, along with the physiotherapy, the state of my joints and muscles improved. They hurt less often and with less intensity, and when I had a setback it was shorter and I healed more quickly.
I was so sold that I continued to work on my diet. I now eat a diet very high in fresh fruit and vegetables. I don’t eat any animal produce and I don’t cook my food.
You might think this is extreme, but, boy, it works for me! I feel the best I have ever done. I haven’t had a cold for over 2 years. I love the shape of my body. Even better, I love the food I am eating. Our taste buds are amazingly flexible. They adjust to new flavours very easily. For example, once I took processed sugar out of my diet I really started to taste the sweetness of natural produce. Now I can get my sugar kick from apples, oranges, pineapple and mango with no guilt!
Importantly, my hypermobility has improved immeasurably – I couldn’t even pick up a book two years ago and was in constant pain, now I frequently walk home from the shops with several shopping bags. I can exercise, engage in most pursuits and live relatively normally. A lot of this success is due to my wonderful physiotherapist and my own determination to strengthen, but I don’t doubt that a substantial part of my recovery has been due to my dietary changes.
My improved health and increased vitality has sky-rocketed my self confidence and general happiness. I’ve had the confidence to be able to start pursuing the things I’ve always wanted to – I’m much more creative in my everyday life and I’ve even moved to a different country, something I’d wanted to do from a very young age!
Who knows what it could do for you?
It’s super easy and tasty to ‘healthify’ your diet. How about trying a fruit smoothie? They are easy to make with a regular blender.
So, if you’ve got a blender get it out of the cupboard. Put it on the work surface in your kitchen. Then it’s there, ready to make you gorgeous fruit-based smoothies that your body will thank you for every day – loads of vitamins and minerals and natural hydration. If you’re up for it add some greens too – they’ll make it a wicked colour and you’ll send your mineral quota shooting up for the day.
Try this recipe for size:
• Get two really ripe pears. Quarter them and remove the cores. Then dice them roughly and put them in your blender. Pop the lid on the blender and pulse the blades until the pear is liquid.
• Chop a third of a medium cucumber and add in with the pears. Do the same thing with the pulse button to liquidise the cucumber.
• Take two large handfuls of spinach and add them to the blender. Blend again until the spinach is incorporated and you have a nice smooth liquid.
• Pour all this into a glass and sit back and enjoy the taste!