Apparently Pescatarians live 40% longer than the rest of us…
… according to my mom and dished up, no context, over family dinner this summer.
Andrew and I have talked on and off for years about cutting our meat intake but he doesn’t do well with beans and fish is a concern because of the rising levels of mercury in the ocean.
And then I heard:
Pescatarians live 40% longer.
I don’t remember actually deciding to head toward pescatarianism. Just slowly, subtly, in the weeks following that pronouncement, there was less and less meat, more and more fish in our diet.
And slowly, subtly, there was less and less oxygen in my brain.
It’s so compelling, isn’t it, to buy into a “solution” in a vacuum. Eat fish, live longer. Bam. Done. The kind of neat answer all of us are craving to the complex question of how to live a happy and healthy life.
But each of us is a unique biosphere of genetics, chemistry, biology, emotions, and spirit. As much as we crave a one-size-fits-all solution, it just doesn’t exist.
Plus, these one-size-fits-all solutions?
Usually they are the dumbed-down slogan that emerged from a complexity of case studies, lab tests, and statistics.
When I finally hit the point where my brain was switching off at two in the afternoon and simple thought processes were producing a smell like burning oil, I jokingly asked Andrew if he could smell it, if the house was redolent with the scent of fried brain.
He contemplated me for a moment, taking in the dark circles under my eyes that were tearing up from sheer exhaustion. After a few moments he said:
“I think your iron’s gotten low again.”
A few weeks into liver pills and blood builders, I can definitively state that you don’t get to try-on every trend if you are controlling a medical issue with diet.
But it’s so tempting, isn’t it? This will make you thin, and that will make you smart, and this will extend your life.
“Not your life,” my acupuncturist joked. “I bet they didn’t mention that being a pescatarian will kill anemics 40% faster.”
It’s easy to think “no big deal, I’ll try this and go back to my regular diet if it doesn’t work for me.”
But it is a big deal:
Iron is the vehicle that drives oxygen around your bloodstream.
If I don’t have enough iron, then my organs and my brain don’t have enough oxygen. Plus my bone marrow is working overtime, trying to produce enough red blood cells to carry what oxygen there is.
And without iron, my brain can’t produce seratonin, which is a precursor to melatonin which is a big factor in sleep.
(I love sleep. Deep, dark, restful sleep.)
Not only was my sleep getting choppy, but when I tried to slip into that lovely alpha-state of meditation and journey-work? Nada. Zilch. Nothing.
And that really freaked me out.
But it was also an important reminder:
My body, your body, our bodies are deeply entwined with our spirits.
Feeding my body in the way that it needs to be fed lets me not only function in the physical world, but it lets me do my soul stuff.
I’m not talking about austerity measures here. I’m not talking about putting yourself through purification rituals to make that part of your brain, which believes that “the body is a temple,” hand you your golden ticket to soul-bliss.
I’m talking about deeply listening to your own body, doing what you know is right for you, and ignoring the outside chatter and dangerous trends (which change every 2 weeks anyway. Talk about yo-yo dieting!).
For me, that means either eating red meat or iron pills. Low ferritin (iron stores) is part of my genetic picture. Forgetting that kills brain cells.
How about you? What has your body taught you over the years about what it needs to be happy and whole?
Hint: I’ve found—both for myself and for countless people with whom I’ve worked—that when your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, you eat all the time. Trying to fill the nutrient void.
I know people love to talk about emotional eating. I’m not saying it’s not a thing.
But, in my experience, emotional eating is a small part of the picture. What’s often happening is that when you are physically under-nourished or “hypo” in some way (which leads to exhaustion, depression, and all sorts of “emotional” stuff), you eat more as your body seeks some way to replenish its energy stores.
What might that look like?
- low iron
- low B-12
- low ferritin
- low thyroid
- low blood sugar
And if you are controlling any of this with diet, you have to stay on the diet.
No matter what the newest diet trend is.
Now it’s your turn: comment here!