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50 Years Down the Road
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My mother was a health nut, a food faddist (like Euell Gibbons) 50 years ago, in a time when linking food and physical wellbeing or illness was considered bizarre, crazy, even.

She was convinced that we are what we eat. It seemed so logical, so obvious, that our bodies are created from, and renewed by, the nutrients (and poisons) we put into them. As our bodies influence our minds, so the food we consume can affect our health and mental wellbeing.

So obvious. So simple, no?

Well, back in the day this was crazy talk. When she talked about it, I was totally embarrassed. Accepted Truth was that food was simply fuel for the body, and that any kind of illness needed medical intervention. Even today, you'll see at the bottom of every article on the benefits, say, of leafy green vegetables, the exhortation to consult with your medical doctor before undertaking any dietary regimen. Always a disclaimer. CYA stuff.

A couple of days ago I came across an article titled "Diet and Schizophrenia". I was intrigued--and delighted--to learn that mainstream medical practice now considers the dietary influence when addressing mental illness.

Mothers sensitive to gluten have a higher incidence of bearing children who develop schizophrenia. A large number of schizophrenia patients have celiac disease (50 times the norm). A high sugar diet may be implicated in mental illness.

When I turned 12, my mother bought a 50 acre farm and we moved to the hinterlands. We lived on what we could grow (vegetables, chickens, eggs, goat milk) and well water from our own well. Also wild foods, like spring dandelion and nettles. Plus beans bought in 50-lb sacks. While my mother wasn't cured, by any measurement, she improved markedly, to the point where she was no longer hallucinating and hearing voices. And she could live on her own when I left to go to college.

Her grip on reality was so improved, in fact, she could stop taking the psychotropic medicine (I forget what it was--lithium? thorazine?), so her physical health improved within just a few weeks.

Note that we were no longer eating wheat products or any food with preservatives. Partly this was from her belief in the powers of healing diet, and partly from poverty (we couldn't afford store-boughten food).

Seeing the improvement in her made me a believer, too.

We are what we eat.

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