Kirsten Marcum told me she had “put a number of [my] findings to use in [her] own life.” I asked how. She replied:
I’ve put a few of your specific recommendations to work (SLD, standing on one leg each day, omega-3s, more animal fat/pork fat, butter tea, fermented foods)…but in thinking about this, I realized I’ve gotten even more use out of general principles I’ve drawn from your blog over the years:
1. Trust your results. I’m thinking of your own (and other people’s) experiments with what caused acne (dairy, etc.) or migraines (soy) and helped restless leg syndrome (b6) or sleep, etc. You and others tried solutions, and the solutions either worked or they didn’t, and you/they looked to correct root causes, and those corrections either worked or they didn’t. If you still have acne, the acne treatment didn’t work–even if it should have, and even if an expert recommended it…and you probably shouldn’t just keep doing the treatment just because it’s supposed to work. And if you cleared your acne, then the intervention worked–regardless of whether it “should” have. If your brain performance improves in a measurable way after eating butter, trust that result–and be skeptical about the people who tell you butter is damaging your health. If treating a leaky gut improves your thyroid labs, trust that–not the doctor who says your leaky gut diet is too restrictive and is going to damage your health.
2. Many unpleasant circumstances are reversible. It’s often possible to find positive interventions that ameliorate, reduce, or remove things that are bothering you–many of which are cheap or free and not hard to implement. It’s possible to fix health issues, productivity problems, make learning more fun or effective, etc. It’s amazing to me how many people don’t think this is true–that you’re stuck with extra weight, or acne, or creaky joints, or back pain, or migraines, or the inability to motivate yourself to work–and there’s nothing you can do.
3. Most things that are beneficial are also pleasurable, and vice versa. When something is good for us, we usually find it pleasurable (animal fat, salt, sugar at night, umami flavors, learning while moving, faces in the morning). Otherwise, how would we have evolved to do it?
I extend this to say: If something’s not pleasurable but supposed to be beneficial, it’s either bunk or you’re doing it wrong (i.e., in a way that removes the pleasure and possibly the benefit.) So look for the pleasure–because then you’re more likely to do it and to see a benefit.
And: If something is pleasurable but not beneficial, your body probably wants something very similar and it’s confused–junk food umami vs. fermented foods. In which case, find a pleasurable AND beneficial substitute, and it will be easy to stop doing the thing that is not beneficial.
4. Be skeptical of experts. Most experts have incentives that have nothing to do with the reasons you’re consulting them. Understand this, look for their motivations/weaknesses/blind spots, and always check what they’re telling you against what your body (or other results) are telling you. Also look for non-experts with interesting ideas.
5. What’s good for the brain is good for the body. I would add to this: Many things that we think of as personality or mental/emotional issues actually have a physiological basis–and optimizing your health will likely have a positive effect.
They sound elementary, but they’re counter to the way nearly everyone I know thinks.
Over the years, thinking like this has improved my life in multiple ways:
– I 100% cured my back pain (after 3 rough years) with Esther Gokhale’s 8 Steps to a Pain Free back–which cost $17 and provided more practical and helpful advice than the two doctors, physical therapist, and personal trainer I consulted.
– After a bunch of looking, I found a doctor who, when presented with new ideas, says: “That’s interesting. Where did you find out about it, and what have you tried?” More than once, she has looked into the subject, found the new recommendation convincing, and has started to share the information with similar patients–which means I also benefit from what she learns from others.
– I fixed my complexion, have nearly fixed my weight issues, and reversed dozens of nagging health issues (peeling fingernails, bad breath, rosacea flushing, random bad stomachaches, food sensitivities, mood swings, lack of motivation and focus etc.) through a whole-body thyroid/adrenal/gut repair approach that’s considered bunk by most mainstream endocrinologists. Parts of this approach happen to incorporate things you’ve found beneficial–increased amounts of animal fat, fermented foods, focus on optimal sleep, focus on aligning with circadian rhythms. (Interestingly, one of leading proponents of this approach started out focusing on thyroid health and has found even better results by broadening his focus to brain health….very much like your “what’s good for the brain is good for the body.”)
FWIW, I tend to use topics you’ve investigated as a check on other people’s recommendations–you’re not an “expert” in the field of thyroid repair, or gut health, etc., so you have no incentives to adhere or not adhere to a particular line of thinking. So if both you and a thyroid doctor find a particular approach beneficial, that seems very convincing to me.
Those are good lessons. Tomorrow I will explain why I think they all come from one somewhat hidden underlying lesson.