Sunday, July 22, 2012

All I Ever Needed To Know About Life I Learned In Grade 10 Biology Class

Yep folks.  Its true.  All you ever needed to know about Life you learned in Grade 10 biology class.  
Of course, you were probably bored to tears and likely not listening to those little pearls of cellular wisdom that your biology teacher was sharing with you.  Me too.  

Perhaps it was the subject matter that was difficult to get excited about.  Could you really get down with ATP?  Go cycling with Krebs? Get all hot and bothered about Kelvin? (not really about biology but it sounded good :)  

Perhaps it was the fact that my biology teachers were either mumbling, hunched relics with one foot in the grave or creepy, greasy dudes who looked like they probably had jars of gooey specimens lining their home refrigerators.  Its a toss-up.  

Not sure if times have changed all that much but, analogous to the random mutations that occur in nature, my husband did tell me that our son's Grade 10 biology teach this year was *pretty hot*.... Mrs D was her name - or Double D as she told her class of mostly teenage boys one day (which made for interesting dinner conversation the night our son told us this gem!) 

As for my time in Grade 10 biology class, I was more pre-occupied with the hunky high school jock who sat directly across from me in lab.   We shared a bunsen burner and an electron microscope together and it was heaven on earth.  He even briefly smiled at me over our group frog dissection.  If I were to make some witty reference to the topic at hand, I would say he was one hot collection of cells!  Alas, my collection of cells did not even exist to him.  I was heartbroken!  

So....even while I was busy daydreaming about that cellular masterpiece with the light brown hair, I did manage to store most of what I learned in Grade 10 biology class in the gray matter of my brain cells (that cell word again!).  

Did I use what I had learned after final exams were over all those years ago?  No. Umm, hardly.  Well . . . not until I got a rude awakening with cancer and decided I should take a trip down  Grade-10-biology-class-memory-lane and figure out how I got the cells of my body into this cancer mess in the first place.  I was astounded by what I found. . . . or more appropriately. . . re-found (I just made up that word so please don't tell my Grade 9 English teacher :)

Just like my high school crush, each of us have upwards of  100 trillion cells that come together in an elaborate orchestration called the human body.  For example, recognizable to us from their function are liver cells (they give us hell after a night of over-imbibing), blood cells (send oxygen and nutrients to other cells so we can keep on that career path), skin cells (the largest organ of our body that we keep forgetting is an organ of our body) and, of course, brain cells (obv!). . . and the list goes on.  

Just like you, I never thought much about my cells.  Ever.  Ok - maybe I thought about my liver cells more than others (note to self:  content for another blog post here). . . . but . . . you know. . . for the most part, my cells were just . . . there.  Always.  Doing what they were supposed to be doing.  Being all cell-like.  Doing cell things.  Hanging out with their cell buddies.  Getting cell stuff done - whatever that was.  I mean, no one gave me the cell owner's manual - right?  No one told me if I was supposed to be doing something to ensure that my cells were following body company policy.  You know, adhering to corporeal rule (hahaha!!).  Surely, I thought, if the cellular machine that was my body needed something to function, it would tell me - right?   

Well. . . my cells were following company policy alright.  Problem was, like any poorly run company, I kept making stupid, day-to-day upper management decisions that affected my cell's ability to function efficiently and effectively.  And I got cancer as a result.

So, what did we learn in Grade 10 biology that ties it all together?  Human beings are made up of trillions of cells.  These trillions of cells are organized into elite squads of organs and organ systems that elegantly come together and are responsible for our life function.  Our metabolism.  Our ability to get work done.  Making dinner.  Playing with our children.  Cutting the grass.  Writing a blog.  In order for these squads to function and manage these activities, they need energy.  Just like the gas that fuels the engine of your car, the cells of your body need fuel (energy) to function properly and perform effectively.  That fuel is food. That fuel is nutrition.  Good food.  Good nutrition.  

However, just like you can put crap gas in your car and it still runs, you can do the same with your body.  I did it for years.  It will run.  But it won't run well.  And eventually, it catches up to you.  Your car will crap out and so will you.  Similarly, if you don't take care of your car, it will rust - that visible clue that the body of your car is breaking down (in this case, from environmental conditions like road salt).  As your car gives you signs of breakdown, so does your body.  When your cells are not getting the pure nutrition that they need to perform their integral functions in your body, you may become tired or lethargic.  You may also lose your hair, your skin may lose texture or colour and . . . you may put on weight.  You may also lose weight (and not in the good way).  You may also have joint pain, digestive troubles, headaches, depression, anxiety, heart palpitations, etc.  You suffer from a general, overall malaise with a broad-sweeping diagnosis with no pill for a cure (yet, so many are prescribed).  You get the picture.  The long descriptive list of vague symptoms goes on.  

But do we listen to the *rust* messages that are body is sending us?  The likely answer to that question is a No.  We just keep on keeping on.  Doing the same things over and over again.  We don't fully understand that what goes in our mouths has a HUGE impact on how our body's *engine* runs.  Whether it is the emotional engine (i.e. depression) or the physical engine (i.e. Irritable Bowel Syndrome), the fuel we take in affects how our engine runs.

McDonald's is not a food group.  Neither is Coke (Diet, Zero or otherwise).  Neither is Boston Pizza (or any other major chain for that matter).  Do you know who SYSCO is?? (go to post Dec 15, 2011 20:10) The food served in most restaurants is not *fresh*. It is provided pre-portioned, pre-packaged and/or pre-cooked from this company. All the resto does is finish up the last bit of cooking requirements and then plates it.  With most of the nutritional value marginalized, you may think differently about that $40 - $50 entree in the future! 

Back to the point. . . . our cells get the energy they need to function from the food we eat.  If we make poor food choices, our cells cannot get the energy it needs (i.e. ATP) to drive other critical cellular functions (i.e. Krebs Cycle).  That means our ability to grow, to sleep, to heal wounds, to use our muscles, to have shiny healthy hair, to eliminate wastes/detox,  and even our ability to think, is compromised.  And yes, our ability to fight off disease (including cancer) is affected as well.  

In fact, depending on what type of diet we live on (acidic vs. alkaline), we are actually helping cancer cells proliferate in our body.  The acid-based, poor North American diet (one of processed, packaged and fast foods laden with chemical preservatives and sugars) is the cancer cell's new BFF.  We are giving cancer cells the exact environment to thrive!  By moving towards a more plant-based, predominantly alkaline diet, you are providing the cells of your body the natural building blocks it needs to keep you healthy and humming (like that Ferrari I mentioned in my previous post).

So, you are probably thinking that I am telling you to eat bark chips and grass clippings for the rest of your life so you wont't get cancer.  Have no fear.  Did I say you must eat an entirely plant-based diet?  No, I did not.  Would it be ideal?  Yes.  Would it be realistic for most people to attempt and be successful?  No.    However, you can make small baby steps in the direction of a plant-based diet without feeling like a failure and without feeling unfulfilled (or gipped) in the process.  

Remember that 80/20 rule I talked about in the last post?  Well, how about you start off 20/80?  Why not try 20% of your diet with the fresh/raw form of fruits and veggies. In fact, why not get yourself a juicer and drink your veggies!  In one glass of veggie juice, you can drink in a minimum of 5 times the amount of nutrient goodness than if you ate them each by hand!   

I absolutely know this is why I felt and looked so good going through my chemotherapy and radiation.  I drank veggie and fruit juices non-stop!  I couldn't tolerate much else given the mouth sores I had - so - sipping my vitamins and nutrients through a straw solved my problem.  And I benefitted in so many ways.  I helped my liver and kidneys detox from the chemo poisons.  I helped move my body to a more alkaline environment thus seriously cutting off the cancer cell's ability to thrive.  I gave my digestive tract the gut flora it needed to increase the strength of my immune system (so important when chemotherapy tends to destroy your immune system).  Again, the list goes on. 

And you can benefit too.  Give it a try.  Just for a few days if you can.  You will be amazed how much better you will feel.  It sounds strange to say but cancer made me healthy.  It was unfortunate it had to come to me getting cancer before I got healthy but, dang it, I am healthy now and wouldn't go back to my old eating habits - ever!

So, thank-you Grade 10 biology!  I got back in touch with my cells and learned what I needed to do to stay in a healthy, loving relationship with them.  I now know how to keep healthy and stay healthy and you can do.  

The interweb is a wonderful thing.  You can find all kinds of juice recipes on YouTube here, here and here as well as links to plant-based diet strategies

To help you understand the journey, my next post will profile real-world examples of some hard-core skeptics who took that first brave step towards a plant-based diet and have never looked back. 

You have heard me say this before. . . . . but . . . all that matters is what you do next.

Happy Health,


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