Travel is my passion, but it’s hard on your body.
Air travel and jumping timezones wrecks havoc on your circadian rhythm.
Inconsistent eating patterns and different diets have major effects on my stomach. Greece was a dream and my system loved the Mediterranean Diet. Eastern Europe was difficult as I wanted to try the potato dishes from my Lithuanian heritage. I became a bit slothy as I waded through kugeli’s and zepellin’s.
So this year, I added a book a month to dig into health & fitness and learn of ways to help my system. Older for me does not mean slowing down.
It’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed with all the different methodologies out there from keto to low-carb. Instead of jumping on these, I wanted to dig deeper into body physiology and natural systems for optimal health. Don’t get me wrong. I still believe in Western Medicine. I am a cancer survivor having had leukemia in my teenage years and western drugs and medicines saved me. But how do I avoid this in the future.
It’s pretty exciting how far our understanding of the body has come along in the last 20 years. In the last book I read, Think Like A Freak, I learned how Barry J. Marshall and J. Robin Warren won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2005 for discovering that ulcers are not caused by stress but rather bacteria, opening up a world of discovery on our gut biome. That is just 14 years ago!
In my travels in 2018, I started seeking out ancient methods of how people fixed ailments before pharmaceuticals came along. I also started hearing about functional medicine both in podcasts and in my reading which looks at disease as the symptoms to the underlying root causes, most of which seem to be tied to the gut.
Obligatory disclaimer…. this is my review of a book. I am not offering medical advice.
The Rain Barrel Effect was my second book by a functional medicine doctor and was a great read. First of all, it’s rather easy to read providing scientific background but not overdone to the point where you need a degree to understand it. The data points though are alarming in understanding the amount of chemicals we are exposed to daily as opposed to people 100 years ago.
The books main principle are that our bodies are like a rain barrel. As we go through life, we fill it up with lots of negatives including lack of sleep, stress, and more specifically toxins. This gradual accumulation is really not noticed until it spills over. Our body is the rain barrel and the spillover is the rash, pain, or cancer that is the symptom of a full barrel and sick body. The spillover is usually what we go to a normal doctor to fix as opposed to looking at the underlying issue which is the accumulation of lot of bad habits causing our body to fail.
“You are the sum of every action you take” says Stephen Cabral in The Rain Barrel Effect.
This knowledge is pretty universal and prescribed by so many greats in every area of life. Warren Buffet recommends you read daily to accumulate knowledge. Most financial planners recommend small weekly or monthly savings which will amount to a large retirement. And a variety of sports legends have daily practices in their fitness regimens.
Bottom line, it’s the small things that add up. So why do we not look to this principle with our daily health.
The author provides a good common sense approach to health which I find in most functional medicine recommendations. Cabral’s “destress” protocol breaks down your life into areas of diet, exercise, stress reduction, sleep, toxic emotions and toxin removal. The advice is common sense in little things we can do for more optimal health but yet not common in how most of us approach our lives.
My biggest takeaway was in understanding the toxins effect on your gut biome. The amounts of chemicals, especially in the USA with over 77,000 man-made chemicals, is simply overwhelming our bodies. I always feels better in Europe and lose weight despite eating pasta and eating out more simply due to the food quality. I am especially looking at cosmetics and skin products after understanding how our skin absorbs products and it goes directly into our system. If I can’t eat it, I really should not be putting it on my skin.
The last thing I appreciated is that Cabral is fairly realistic in his approach. The toxins in our environment are not going to magically disappear so he outlines methods to recognize the signs in our body and address them before the barrel overflows.
The Rain Barrel Effect was a good read and food for thought of how little things add up. Very informative.