Meet the Makers of Food As Medicine

This week we wanted to give you a little more of our story and some of our motivation in pursuing this project. After reading our stories we are hoping also to inspire others who have been using food to heal illness to come forward and share their stories with us.

While working on the last documentary project, Time As Money: A Documentary Film About Time Banking, Director, Lenore Eklund, began experiencing symptoms of Crohn’s Disease, an autoimmune disease she was diagnosed with in 2000. Lenore had felt empowered being prescription-free since 2005, but was now facing uncontrolled symptoms and a 6-month waiting period to have a colonoscopy; She was feeling desperate and helpless.

On a chance Internet search, Lenore’s husband came across a video of a man pleading for all Crohn’s suffers to try the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, a diet that eliminates grains, soy, potatoes, corn, and sugar. Lenore began a new way of eating resulting in no more symptoms and nothing to report on the colonoscopy results that happened 6 months later.

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I also was feeling frustrated with a lack of empowerment to control my health as I struggled with Ulcerative Colitis. Similar to Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis is an autoimmune disorder mainly affecting the large intestine. Facing the decision about whether to step up to stronger medications I decided to look for alternatives. After coming across the book “Breaking the Vicious Cycle,” which introduces the Specific Carbohydrate Diet I committed myself to a food-based approach. Now 6 months in I find my symptoms much improved, and while not completely healed yet, I am hopeful and grateful to have control of my health back.

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This approach is not without its pain, suffering and frustrations. The decision to make radical diet changes takes a lot of support. We were elated when we discovered a local support group for those addressing their Crohn’s and Colitis through the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. It was here that we met. How great to have a friend who not only understands my disease but also the intricacies of my diet restrictions, for example why I can eat honey but not table sugar!

The diet has been a journey of health independence and support. Many people are turning to food to heal various illnesses and disease ranging from diabetes to colitis and insomnia. Making the decision to heal using food can be a challenge, including loss of convenience, lifestyle change, and deviation from conventional medicine. As we’ve started to become immersed in this project we have been excited by the network of health professionals, business owners and patients who are advocating for nutrition-based approaches to health.

If you are beginning to heal through food, live in the Portland, Oregon area, and would like to be an inspiration to others through your experience, please contact us at: thisasthat@gmail.com

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Study finds low-carb diet superior to low-fat diet in decreasing risk of heart disease

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I was interested to read about the latest news to come out of the nutrition world.  A study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that there was greater weight loss and reduction in cardiovascular disease risk in those eating a low-carbohydrate diet versus those eating a low-fat diet. Read more about the study here at the New York Times.

I couldn’t help but relate this to my own journey with diet. Lenore and I both follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet as outlined in the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle.  The diet severely limits carbohydrates and sugars and has a focus on protein and fat. It has many similarities to the Paleo diet, which also has been increasing in popularity and is being used by some to treat various illnesses, for an example take a look at Mickey Trescott’s blog, Autoimmune Paleo.

It was interesting to read that this recent study found that those who followed a low- carbohydrate diet had a statistically significant reduction in their C-reactive protein (referred to as CRP and is a marker of inflammation) level when compared to those following a low-fat diet. I find this to be a particularly interesting finding for those, like myself, who are battling an autoimmune disease where trying to control inflammation is paramount. Of course controlling inflammation is important for those with cardiovascular risk factors such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes because we know that an elevated CRP level is also an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

The study also found the high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, otherwise referred to as the “good cholesterol”, improved more significantly in those on the high fat diet. While my cholesterol had never been much of a problem my pre-diet numbers were low density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad cholesterol” of 88, with a general goal in most patients of being under 100, and my HDL at 46, with the goal in most patients of being above 40. After following this low carbohydrate diet myself for 3 months I had my numbers re-checked. I was shocked to see that my LDL and HDL were now equal at 68! Of course this is not by any means a comprehensive scientific study as I am the only participant, but still I found these numbers to be compelling.

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It will be interesting to see how this diet conversation unfolds as the conventional wisdom for many years has always been to follow a low-fat diet, especially if you are at risk for heart disease. I’ll keep you updated as I learn more!