No perfect solutions; Tough lessons on due diligence
All the way back in early March, I reported that I’d had a root-canaled front tooth extracted. Almost half a year on, we’re well overdue for an update.
Summary: getting the tooth yanked was definitely a good idea. Root canals have no blood supply to bring oxygen and carry away toxins, but they are perfectly placed to pick up and harbor infections and, again, no blood supply means no white blood cells to deal with infections. Mine didn’t smell bad like some people report, but there were visible signs of infection.
However, the “thereafter” portion of missing a front lateral incisor, the cosmetic aspect, how to fill the gap… that’s been a much bigger issue than I was prepared for. In retrospect, I wish I had done a lot more research and acquired more of a roadmap for what I was getting into. I have something to fill the gap right now, but the story is far from over.
Once the tooth is gone, no replacement is going to be perfect, and I ran into unexpected issues with effects on my neurological functioning.
what it is, how to make it, and what to eat it with
In my last post, I talked about how the most nutrient-dense, high-antioxidant vegetables (i.e. the vegetables closest to their wild/weedy/herbal state) tend to be the lowest in carbohydrate, and most of their carbohydrate is fiber. I suggested this makes them ideal ketogenic diet foods for many people, partly because they are great fat-delivery vehicles.
"I mean that both from the culinary perspective, in that oily dressings or sauces combine beautifully with vegetables, and from the nutritional perspective, in that many of the micronutrients in vegetables are fat-soluble (notably vitamins A and K1 and the carotenoid antioxidants), while the vegetables themselves aid in the breakdown of fat (the acid in sour vegetables helps to emulsify the fat; bitter compounds in vegetables prepare the liver to break the fat down into its constituent parts)."
So--pesto! A perfectly ketogenic application of herby vegetables combined with the well-structured oils that form the basis of our body’s fuel.
This is part 2 of a discussion of ketogenic diets, antioxidants, and why herbal infusions and herbs in general are a wonderful thing to incorporate.
Going back to the two reasons we don’t need to be too concerned about missing out on antioxidants through minimizing carbohydrate intake:
1 Some of the lowest-carbohydrate vegetables are also some of the best sources of antioxidants. In other words, the best carb choices on this limited-carb program will also tend to maximize antioxidant consumption.
2 When a metabolism is running on free fatty acids/ketones instead of glucose, the process by which mitochondria convert these into ATP for cellular fuel appears to involve less oxidative stress, thus reducing our overall need for antioxidants (although today’s levels of toxin exposure means we’re still wise to get plenty, although “antioxidants” might not be the best way to think about it, see below).
1. Nourishing Herbal/Long Infusions
5% carbohydrate, what we’re aiming for with the therapeutic ketogenic diet, is such a low percentage, some people find it hard to wrap their minds around. Compared to standard diets since the birth of agriculture, it’s a drastic intervention to say the least. But if minimizing carbs promotes brain calm, what’s the tradeoff? Some people raise the concern that carbohydrates, particularly fruits and vegetables, are prime sources of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and as-yet unidentified cofactors crucial to nutrient absorption, and that we may not get enough of those..
In this post, I’m going to mention two big reasons why this concern is less serious than it might first appear (and these deserve a whole post of their own, coming up next). Nearer and dearer to my heart as an herbalist, I also share how you can utilize herbs in the form of infusions and teas to get those same antioxidants and micronutrients without adding carbohydrate calories.
Indeed, infusions prepared by long steeping of nutritive herbs are the antithesis of empty calories--they contain no calories, and they are full of highly absorbable nutrition.
but yes, constant awareness and vigilance
I need to address the good-natured objections of people who say “it’s a restrictive diet.” “It makes social eating all-but impossible.” “You used to be crazy-obsessive about tracking everything you ate and now you’re doing it again.” “It’s even a calorie-restricted diet.” “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…”
Believe me, I understand the concern. I’ve been around myself-and-eating-disorders long enough. I hope it’s reassuring to hear that I’m monitoring my own obsessiveness, am keeping tabs on tendencies to restrict too stringently, and have set the intention to be able to keep myself in balance without always having to weigh/measure/track.
Here’s some more on how to distinguish between a therapeutic dietary strategy and an eating disorder.
first of many posts on this
A strict ketogenic diet has taken me:
From a near-constant state of brain pain and agitation (ranging from irritability/anxiety to outright psychosis, from suicidal depression to suicidal mania) to ambient calm and peacefulness.
From a near-constant state of severe gut pain to occasional lower levels of pain, and still improving.
From a near-constant obsessive preoccupation with food, calories, diet, body image to conviction that I know what I need to do and can focus on more important things.
How, how, HOW?! (lots to say about this in posts to come)
And--how ironic that food obsession has been cured by what really is a strict diet, given that most eating-disorder treatment focuses on getting patients to give up strict rules. When I explain why/how the ketogenic diet is working, you’ll see the beauty of this: it’s likely that even the anorexia, as destructive as it has undoubtedly been, was a subconscious effort at self-regulation and healing. Nothing has been wasted…
I talk to myself--would I have listened?
Dear Former Self,
At this point, you would rather die than have a weight in triple digits, and you say so sincerely. You can’t hear how melodramatic that sounds; in fact, from your standpoint at this time death is close enough to lose its melodrama. But at some level, admit it: you must realize that weight gain is on the cards. You’ve gained a couple pounds already because of this ghastly new thing binging and purging, even despite all the brutal fasting you’re doing the rest of the time, your other tricks aren’t working anymore, you know you’re out of control and need help, and, at bottom, you know that your chances of finding a practitioner who would help you lose weight from below 90lbs are approximately zero.