Learning and Health – #BlogElul 14 and 15


As I was planning this series of blog posts about Elul, following Rabbi Phyllis Sommer‘s #BlogElul system that you see here on the left, I knew I couldn’t write number 14 on Shabbat, so I figured I’d write it after Shabbat was out. But by then, of course, it would be the 15th of Elul, because Jewish days start at sunset, not midnight.

So I’m combining 14 and 15 into one, which I am posting on the 15th of Elul, Saturday night. No wonder we have got such a lovely full moon – it’s the middle of the month already, and Rosh HaShanah is only two weeks away. Yikes.

To me, learning and health have become inextricably connected in recent years, so it is actually more than appropriate for me to combine them in one blog post. A few years ago I suffered a major bout of ulcerative colitis that nearly landed me in hospital. I took my steroids as directed for a limited time to get the flareup under control, but I was determined not to go on the long term, low-dose chemotherapy drugs that seems to be modern medicine’s only answer to autoimmune disease. It was first offered to me in 1995, and there wasn’t anything better on tap in 2010. It was very disappointing.

So, I started learning about alternatives ways of supporting health (as opposed to treating symptoms and suppressing the immune-system-gone-wild). My travels on the Internet led me first to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and then to paleo, and to the fascinating concept of n = 1 self-experimentation.

There are a zillion and a half diets and theories and concepts out there, most of them contradictory. A fruitarian like Durianrider gets excellent results, and so do people who eat exactly the opposite way. It’s enough to make you throw your hands in the air and give up, and just eat Twinkies until you die.

Alternatively, you can try things out and find out what works for you. Your body is unique (unless you have an identical twin, and even then your life experience will cause epigenetic changes). What works for your buddy may not work for you. What works for you may be disastrous for your sister. Only by taking responsibility for your own health, learning what works for your body, your metabolism and your immune system, can you become healthy (as opposed to merely managing symptoms). Health care professionals can support us in this quest, but we’ve got to be the ones driving the train – nobody in this world knows your  body better than you do. Learn as much as you can to achieve health.

Wishing everyone a healthy new year!

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One Response to “Learning and Health – #BlogElul 14 and 15”

  1. Holly Jahangiri Says:

    This is such an excellent series, Hadass.

    I wonder how long it would take to die of eating Twinkies? I do think, in all seriousness, I do better to avoid sugar, gluten, nitrites, and soy. This isn’t “scientific,” it’s based solely on how I feel when I eat these foods and when I don’t. Self-experimentation.

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