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I Have Alzheimer’s or Another Dementia
Processed foods and health
When I was in my early fifties, I started having problems with bloating and intestinal gas all the time. I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I was told by doctors over the years to eliminate various foods, and I took various medicines short term (they didn't work). None of them mentioned eliminating processed foods. Nothing they recommended worked.
In 2009 when I retired at 62, I moved from Atlanta, GA to Ghana. Within two weeks, my IBS, with all the bloating, was gone, which was totally unexpected. Looking back, here are some of reasons for this change.
In the US, I was eating lots of processed foods like cereals, fast food, bread, cafeteria food, sacks, etc. In other words, I was getting all the added chemicals and added sugar of the typical American diet. Even the cafeteria at my work place used prepackaged food and ingredients which were full of added chemicals and sugar. Also the only food available when the cafeteria was closed was from vending machines and snack bars. At home I wasn't getting any home cooked food but just eating warmed up food made at a factory somewhere.
I don't know which of the hundreds of added chemicals in my food caused my IBS, and if all that added sugar was also a factor. Also we know that some of those chemicals in our food can cross the blood-brain-barrier and we don't know how they effect our brain health. Some of the older chemicals have never been tested on animals and are asumed to be safe. Newer food chemicals are tested not by the government but by the companies that apply for their approval by the FDA. I myself don't feel very confident about their safety. I think the EU does a much better job of protecting their populations from harmful chemicals added to the food than the US.
Now I feel a lot better living in a country where natural food is easy to get. I am also lucky that I have a lovely wife from Ghana who cooks from scratch and takes good care of me.
When I was in Senegal West Africa, the menu was fish or chicken with white rice and vegetables. They cook with palm oil. The beverage was water or tea or a small soft drink (7 oz)--no big gulps. There was no dessert as we know it--cakes, cookies or pies. No candy or chips or other between-meal snacks. Portions were small--no super-sizing. After dinner the kitchen was closed--no night snacking. I lost 25 lbs in 6 weeks without trying. This type of African eating can be beneficial--small meals, no sweets, no between- meal or night snacking.
I remember my IBS started in about 1998 when I was working for the Dept of Veterans Affairs in Atlanta. I had a small office all to myself and was continually suffering from stomach pains until I retired and left the states in 2009. I turned down some higher paying positions so I could remain in my little office and suffer by myself. Certainly this reduced the amount of retirement I could be collecting now.
I have been in Ghana for 11 years now. My lovely wife cooks all natural food from scratch and my IBS has never come back. I now rent a house on a hill overlooking the ocean, something I would never have been able to afford in the states. At 73, I still jog everyday and I feel great. Life has really took a turn for the good.
During the Covid lockdowns I gained weight, like some other people. I was eating some comfort foods, also a lot of fruit. In October 2020 my Hgb A1c was 6.6%, putting me in the diabetic category. I went back to my African style eating and also reduced fruits. In January, three months later, my HgbA1c dropped to 5.3%. I felt victorious! This showed me what I can do when I return to eating in a disciplined, thoughtful way. I have also lost a lot of weight. I have about ten more pounds to go to get to my pre-Covid weight.
I'm not expecting to let myself go again in the future, Covid or no-Covid, or any other type of social crisis. It's not a good idea to be beholden to whatever changes come down the pike. Although I was easily able to socially isolate at home, I felt discombulated, for lack of a better word, when I had to wear a mask in public. I felt personally isolated from people. I felt like I was in solitary confinement. I had a lot of free-flowing anxiety.
During this year of social isolation, I had anxious times, but I believe I am handling things better. Part of the anxieties I now realize came from social-political happenings in the nation, and the Covid lockdowns were the icing on the cake. Markedly reducing television news coverage served to markedly reduce the anxiety spells and overall generalized free-flowing anxiety, and allowed me to have control over my eating again.
Well, it's mid-February 2021. Time for new beginnings. The talk from the high muckety-mucks is that we won't go back to how things used to be, we will have to get used to a new, Covid-always-present-in-our-lives normal. But Covid is less of an upheaval to our lives than racial unrest and political conflict, which were here long before Covid arrived.
Whatever happens, I won't be directly involved. I can't handle conflict. My life will be about taking care of myself and maintaining my independence and not becoming a burden on my family or society. My life will be about peace and order. I won't be moving to another country. I'll be right here in the U.S. of A. I don't even know if I'll travel overseas again. I'll be living more on a "focus on the present" basis. That's my plan!
Keep enjoying your life in Ghana, Larry!