The following post is a bit of a rant. It’s inflammatory and is likely to annoy or offend many of you. I apologize for the offense in advance.
Though, as you will see in the following post, I get annoyed when people look exclusively at diet when looking for causes of mysterious diseases, I don’t think that nutrition is unimportant. It is very important. Food is fuel for our bodies, and putting lousy fuel into our engines will lead us to feeling sick and looking sickly.
But fluoroquinolones, and other damaging pharmaceuticals, are like putting sand in the engine. They thoroughly mess up one’s body and mind – suddenly, severely and systemically. Yet the severe cellular damage done by fluoroquinolones is ignored by many physicians providing explanations to their patients as to why their body is going hay-wire. It annoys me to the point that I rant about it on the internet.
Blaming the Standard American Diet (SAD – very sad) for multi-symptom, chronic, mysterious diseases is far better than the alternative of telling people that their disease is all in their head. However, it’s not the full picture and it has problems as well (that I rant about below).
(Relevance of this below) – I totally think that Glenn Beck is floxed. Just sayin’.
What’s Poisoning You?
The American diet is difficult to defend. The typical American meal contains high-fructose corn syrup from genetically modified corn, sugar in amounts that are multiple times higher than those found in any fruit in nature, partially hydrogenated fats, MSG, preservative chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, etc. Additionally, the typical American meal is devoid of vegetables, sprouted grains, fermented foods, fiber, minerals, vitamins, nutrients, etc. This combination has, undoubtedly, contributed to all sorts of chronic diseases – from obesity to cancer.
However, I think that, collectively, we are taking the “what you eat determines your health” paradigm too far.
Blaming a poor diet for a person’s illness reeks of victim-blaming. It says to the person who is ill, you wouldn’t be sick if you ate differently. You wouldn’t be sick if you ate more vegetables, or fewer desserts, or more or less carbohydrates, or more or less protein, or more or less fat. In telling a person who is sick that he or she wouldn’t be sick if he or she had eaten differently, you are telling that person that it is his or her fault that he or she is sick.
Is that fair? And, more importantly, is it true?
Health is determined by many factors, not just diet. Genetics, of course, also play a role in health. Exercise, stress, time in the sun, social connections, etc. also contribute to health – and disease. Exposure to toxins also has a huge effect on health. Toxins in our environment – from pollution and from them being intentionally added to our food and water – affect our health – and being poisoned by them, either slowly or suddenly, can cause illness. Pharmaceuticals are also an under-recognized source of toxins that adversely affects the health of many (though it takes a paradigm shift to realize how much harm prescription drugs do because we all think that drugs should be helping us, not hurting us).
The blaming of diet for diseases has gotten to a point of ridiculousness. In an article published in The Atlantic entitled Living Sick and Dying Young in Rich America, the author asks a doctor if the autoimmune disease that her husband (who is in his 30s) suffers from is the result of growing up eating Spaghetti-O’s and drinking Pepsi. In a round-about way, blaming addiction to junk food, the doctor confirms that her husband’s diet is the culprit. Really??? Does that really seem reasonable to anyone – that Spaghetti-O’s and Pepsi could cause an autoimmune disease? Because I’m pretty sure that autoimmune diseases are caused by malfunctioning immune system cells, and that the doctor should look at things that have been confirmed to damage immune system cells as potential culprits, before blaming Spaghetti-O’s. And yes, there are plenty of environmental toxins and pharmaceuticals that have been shown to adversely affect immune system cells (lymphocytes).*
On March 20, 2014, former Fox News personality Glenn Beck announced that his doctors had determined that the cause of his neuropathy, inflammation and pain was his diet. His doctor told him, “‘Well, basically, you are being poisoned… Food is poisoning you.’” Glenn Beck looks like a pretty typical American so I’m sure that his diet is not perfect. But I’m also pretty sure that he’s eating FOOD, not poison, and that his doctor is simply wrong in telling him that the neuropathic pain that he is experiencing is due to his food poisoning him. Poison, not food, poisons people. Perhaps Mr. Beck should look at what pharmaceutical poisons he has taken in lately – especially fluoroquinolones – because fluoroquinolones can do enough cellular damage to cause neuropathic pain – but Taco Bell burritos can’t.
I’m sure that Mr. Beck will adjust his diet by cutting out the foods that are perceived to be poison, and I truly hope that helps him. Most people who are suffering from diseases that cannot be cured by modern medicine adjust their diet to try to heal themselves. Many people who are struggling with chronic illness stick to a “perfect” diet. For some, “perfect” means the Paleo Diet. For others, “perfect” means the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Some stick to a raw food diet. Some juice. Some avoid gluten, or sugar, or dairy, or meat, or all of those things. Yet, even with a “perfect” diet, they are still sick. They have not been magically cured by adding or subtracting some food source. They are sick – chronically ill – and though adjustments to diet may be helpful, they are not a cure for many (maybe most) people.
An even bigger problem with blaming diseases on diet than the victim blaming and nonsense explanations, is that the real explanation for the disease is not sought. Chef Boyardee, Taco Bell and Pepsi become the scapegoats and the real culprit behind the disease is ignored. Something is really causing autoimmune diseases, neuropathic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and all the other diseases that are striking young Americans. Blaming diet, and thus blaming the victim, may be convenient, but it is not the whole answer (or even part of the answer if you are feeling cynical). The real answers will remain elusive until we demand real, sensible answers to the question of what causes the chronic diseases of modernity.
Sure, a diet full of sugar, hydrogenated-fat and chemicals isn’t good for you, and it is surely contributing to many diseases, but does it really make sense to blame a poor diet on body-wide neuropathic pain, or on a person being so drained of energy that they feel like they have the flu and a bus hit them even after a full night’s sleep? It sure doesn’t make sense to me.
What does make sense to me is iatrogenic mitochondrial dysfunction. Many pharmaceuticals, including fluroquinolone antibiotics, statins, metformin (a diabetes drug), multiple chemotherapy drugs, and others, have been shown to damage mitochondria and lead to oxidative stress. Mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress can lead to multi-symptom chronic illnesses and neuropathic pain. (Source)
Perhaps diet isn’t solely to blame for many of the diseases of modernity. Perhaps pharmaceutical drugs – especially fluoroquinolones, and the medical system, share much of the responsibility for causing many of the chronic, mysterious diseases that plague people today.
It’s time for a paradigm shift. Moving away from victim blaming is a very good place to start.
* Here are some articles about how fluoroquinolones adversely effect lymphocytes (immune system cells) –
Nepal Medical College Journal, “Genotoxic and cytotoxic effects of antibacterial drug, ciprofloxacin, on human lymphocytes in vitro”
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, “Ciprofloxacin Induces an Immunomodulatory Stress Response in Human T Lymphocytes“