Saturday, 29 June 2013

World Wide Wafflers

By James Kyle

For many decades I suffered from extreme chronic fatigue. The best way to describe this to you is to say that every morning I woke up feeling like I had drank 10 pints of beer the previous evening - without any of the benefits of actually partying the night before. In fact having a social life was an impossibility for me. I had just about enough energy to get through a working week to arrive at the next weekend to recover just enough to make it through another working week. And that was my life for several decades.

In an attempt to understand what was causing this extreme fatigue I read many books on alternative health and, when the internet came along, attempted to find any insights I could on the web also. The problem, of course, is that there are so many articles out there that are unquestioningly parroting unsubstantiated belief systems, from iridology, to magnet therapy to the latest fad diet, that any attempt to understand the root cause of my "brain fog" was in fact lost in this fog of disinformation. The essential information I needed to make my personal breakthrough was overwhelmed by the mountain of nonsense that people blindlessly propagate as fact.

Now you may wonder why I didn’t just stick with seeking conventional medical advice on my problems. Unfortunately, until recently, medicine has been mostly about the pathology of the norm. My problem didn’t fit into any convenient normal category. In passing, one of the exciting things about recent genetic developments is the impetus this gives to a more personalised medicine. Anyway, the point is over many decades of repeatedly presenting my desperate pleas for help for a chronic fatigue that was devastating my life to various doctors, this got me nowhere. At one point I was even advised to take anti-depressants. This short lived experiment, of course, just made things worse.

This brings us to more recent events. A couple of years ago I started to experience very dry skin on my forehead. In the past I had associated this with eating wheat. So I went on a wheat / gluten free diet. And while this did not help with the skin, remarkably, my brain fog suddenly lifted. For the first time I could get actually get out of bed in the morning feeling somewhat refreshed and come home from work without an immediate desire to go to bed. So now I am fairly certain that all these years this brain fog was caused by eating wheat / gluten. I say fairly certain, because as an empirical scientist, at some point I will do a challenge test and re-introduce substantial amounts of wheat / gluten and observe the results.

I later found this insightful book on the internet: “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health.” Reading this, among other things, I learned the frightening degree that the genetic make up of the wheat we eat has been modified by agricultural selective breeding, and that "whole wheat bread (glycemic index 72) increases blood sugar as much as or more than table sugar". But of course a key lesson here is that even if I had found this book years ago there is a good chance I would have questioned its veracity, wondered if it was just another quack theory among so many others, and not actually followed the life changing advice it advocated. In retrospect I wish of course that I had this valuable information at my disposal decades ago. If you want to explore this book further, here is the link to the book on amazon.

Coming full circle my skin problems have in fact got worse over the past year or so and now I am wondering if actually it was the fact that I re-introduced milk into my diet in the form of lactose free milk that is the problem here. Now again it would be wonderful if I could consult the internet to see if milk could be contributing to the psoriasis I am now suffering from. But of course, I am back to the needle in a haystack situation. I am sure if if I look long enough I will probably find some web page that says drinking milk causes terminal cases of ingrown toenails.

At this point, you might be saying this is all very interesting – but what has this got to do with me? If some of you have read a number of past articles on this blog you will know by now that a recurring theme of my posts is challenging the false assumptions, bad mental maps that we have internalised. These world wide wafflers I have been discussing above who confuse with disinformation strike me as a great analogy for how we disempower ourselves. Because we are in a similar situation when we are looking to choose an effective response to an event and are led astray by the poor models of reality that have been conditioned into us that we leave unchallenged.

So again my suggestion is to be constantly challenging your internal maps of reality – from your religious beliefs to why someone else’s behaviour is “despicable,” to why your anger and judgment of others, or yourself, is right and fitting. It does say an “eye for an eye” in the bible, right? 

On one level this may seem obvious to you. But of course many people never ever challenge their own conditioning and, in fact, are prepared to kill others because of it. Just consider the number of wars fought around the globe throughout history right up until the present on “ideological” grounds. Now I invite you to consider the possibility that these same self delusional processes that are wrecking havoc among different groups of people are disrupting your own ability to live powerfully in the moment. To consider that poor models of reality lead to ineffective behaviour. But then the question becomes how do you know what to challenge, what to change? Again, it comes down to empirical experiment. Realise that the internalised mental maps that all of us rely upon are a mixture of “good” and “bad” conditioning and for any area of life that is not working well for you be prepared to sacrifice cherished ingrained beliefs by experimenting with different behaviour that breaks out of this conditioning – and simply observe the results.