You are what you eat.
The cells in our bodies are made entirely from the proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals that we get from our food, that we have been getting from our food since we were born, that we got from the food our mother ate when we were growing in her womb. This is an inescapable fact. What and how we eat creates our bodies.
All of the waste from the food we eat, either what we have already used and no longer need, or the parts that our body cannot use to rebuild itself, are excreted—either in the stool or the urine. The composition of the urine is strongly related to numerous urologic conditions. Kidney stones form when the chemical component of urine is out of balance—this can be purely because of diet, or it can be because of an abnormality in the way the kidney works, but in either situation, dietary changes can help prevent more stones from forming. What is in the urine also affects the bladder, which is really a storage organ. Whatever is in the urine is stored in the bladder and interacts with its lining. This can worsen conditions such as overactive bladder or enlarged prostate, and, in the case of chemicals from cigarette smoke, cause cancer. What you eat also affects your bowels, and if the intestines are irritated, chances are the bladder will be, too. These organs live very closely together and both work to eliminate wastes, so illness in one can often translate to the other.
So how do you know what to do? Diets are everywhere. So many people in our society are suffering, and in many cases it can be directly attributed to diet. People know this, and they seek answers. This is why so many diets are so popular. The problem is that people are confused and don’t really know what the right diet is.
I’ve always had a love for cooking and eating, and this naturally extended into a love for nutrition as I studied medicine and became a parent. As I began to realize the effects my diet had on my own health, I became more interested in nutrition as a healing measure. After reading and studying numerous books, research studies, and philosophies, I believe that the best diet is one that resembles food as closely as possible to the way it comes from the Earth, the way it was meant to be eaten. Heavily processed foods play on our natural tastes for foods high in nutritional value, but they lack what our bodies need. Even with added vitamins, it’s impossible to truly recreate what we’ve already been given. Take a strawberry, for example—the closest thing to a strawberry that can be manufactured only vaguely resembles one. Imagine a piece of strawberry candy, or the filling of an artificial, packaged, fried strawberry pie. The taste, the texture, the color—nothing even approaches the beautiful fruit we get from nature.
What exactly are you eating?
A food diary is a great way to really examine your diet. In this diary, look at every food you eat in detail. If it isn’t a whole food from the Earth, such as an apple, look at the ingredient list. Record all of these ingredients in your diary. If that slice of bread you’re eating has 13 ingredients, each of those is really what you’re putting into your body. We don’t know the effects of all of these chemicals, but many studies of have shown several of them to be harmful. If your body does use these extra ingredients, chances are high it’s in a way that can be harmful, since our bodies weren’t designed to eat these things. If you’re body doesn’t use it, it will be excreted—either from the intestines or in the urinary tract. The chemicals will be in your urine, and they will sit in your bladder, sometimes for hours, until you urinate.
Aside from the chemicals found in processed foods, certain types of foods can exacerbate urinary conditions. It’s important to clean the diet up from heavily processed foods before beginning to change the whole food composition of your diet if you’re going to determine what is causing a problem for you. One reason for this is that many processed foods contain chemicals that come from other foods, but this isn’t always obvious. So, if you’re trying to avoid corn, and you eat something that says “xantham gum” on it, you’re not really avoiding corn. Another reason is that it’s impossible to sort out all of the effects of these chemicals when you’re eating so many of them.
Special diets have been described by patient education groups, medical doctors, and practitioners of natural medicine for a variety of conditions, such as interstitial cystitis, kidney stones, and enlarged prostate (BPH) . If you don’t know what foods to try, an elimination diet may be very helpful. In an elimination diet, you completely remove from your diet all of the foods that you suspect may be causing a problem and then gradually reintroduce them one at a time. You can read more about elimination diets at Wikipedia, or we can discuss this diet at your next visit.
In Brenham, we are very lucky to have access to locally grown, naturally-raised foods. There are two farms in the area, Jolie Vue Farms and Yonder Way Farm, that grow their own animals in a humane way, feeding the animals what they were meant to eat. In the case of a cow, this is grass. Most feedlots use corn, because it is so cheap, and supplement it with a variety of other heavily processed foods. Since cows weren’t designed to tolerate this type of diet, a diet of corn has to also include many medications to allow the cow to digest the food and to keep it from getting sick. Probably not things you want in your body. For eggs and produce, the Brenham Farmers Market is a great way to connect with local growers. And, of course, in Texas, we have a climate that allows us to have our own gardens and grow our own food if we wish.
Your diet truly affects every aspect of your health and well-being, including the urinary tract. You really are what you eat, and you can make that wonderful.
Posted by Adrienne Carmack, MD