Food as medicine | Carolina Werling | TEDxGöteborgSalon

Translator: Tanya Cushman
Reviewer: Maricene Crus We are going to kick off this evening
by introducing our first speaker. Carolina Werling is a trained nurse
and nutritional therapist from Göteborg. She is passionate about
how we can use food as medicine. She joins us here at TEDxGöteborg to talk about how
you can take control of your body. Welcome, Carolina. (Applause) Imagine you’re sitting at work. All of a sudden,
a friend of yours shows up, telling you that your house is on fire. You’re obviously upset,
but your friend does not give up. He keeps telling you
about your burning house for you to be able
to do something about it. Finally, you take out a gun,
and you shoot him; at least now you
won’t have to hear about it. Then you continue to work. Listen to the story one more time
as I replace a few words. Imagine you’re sitting at work. All of a sudden, pain shows up, telling you about inflammation
occurring in your body. You’re obviously upset; it hurts. But the pain does not give up. It keeps telling you
about your inflammation for you to be able
to do something about it. Finally, you take out a painkiller
to kill off the pain; at least now you won’t have to feel it. Then you continue to work. We would have been dead a long time ago
if it wasn’t for our symptoms. Think about it. Symptoms are the only way that our bodies can communicate with us
when something is not right. A pain in your right side
might be saving your life by signalling an appendicitis attack. So it’s a really phenomenal body
that we’re embedded with, a talking body. There’s always a reason we feel symptoms. But what we do when we take
most medications, though, is actually that we take away a symptom of something greater
going on inside of us. And don’t get me wrong – sometimes we also need
to target the symptoms because sometimes we’re in a lot of pain or some symptoms themselves
can be harmful. But we cannot only be focusing on this. Today, we eat more medications
than ever before, yet we are sicker than ever. Never before have we had so much knowledge
in technology and advanced medicines. But still, the endemic diseases
are increasing. I wondered about stuff like this a lot
during nursing school and the time that followed, being a nurse. I became really tired of the shallow
examinations of the patients and the constant
distributions of new drugs as soon as a complication arose, leading me to wonder
what the deeper cause was all about. When I saw my dad curing
a difficult illness by changing his diet, I finally went back to school
to become a nutritional therapist. And I learned how to treat patients
with nutrition and dietary supplements. And this has led me to take a completely different approach
to patients’ well-being. Tonight, I want to talk
about three things. I want to talk about
what a phenomenal body we have. I also want to talk about symptoms, what they are, why we have them
and another way we can be looking at them. And third, I want to talk about
what someone like me does, how someone like me thinks about health. When I went back to school,
a lot of people asked me and said, “Oh, so you’re into
all that alternative woo-woo now.” Well, I’ll let you decide
what is more woo-woo: taking a magic pill
or treating the root cause. Your body is working for you
every second, 24-7, trying to keep you healthy; it’s the body’s job. Our immune system, for example,
is activated all the time and even has these little warriors
running around everywhere, on the lookout for intruders
they can destroy before the intruders attack us. Our body is so smart,
and it’s the best friend you’ll ever have. There’s no friend on earth
that we can treat so badly but still, to the very last breath, fights for us. Your body’s always on your side, always trying. It is in our nature to survive
and pass on our genes. So it’s not really hard to imagine that it’s not normal for us
to have a cold four times per year, headaches, menstrual cramps,
pain in the joints as we turn 40. Maybe it’s common,
but it’s not natural or normal. Just because 30 thousand,
50 thousand, 10 million people have problems sleeping when they hit 40 doesn’t mean it’s natural
and supposed to be that way. What if it’s rather a message
your body’s trying to send you? Let’s say that you have a cold
four times per year. Someone like me might take a look
at your vitamin C and zinc levels. Those two are crucial
for a functional immune system. Someone like me would also
take a look at what you’re eating: Are you eating a lot of sugar
and simple carbohydrates? That could also be a reason
for a nonfunctional immune system. I used to eat like candy, pizza,
ice cream – a lot, lot of ice cream – whenever I had a cold. Comfort food. Don’t you all do that? That was before I found out that sugar
radically lowers your immune system. It lowers the white blood cells –
you know, the warriors – by 50% for at least five hours. Maybe not any danger
if you did that once in a while, but most of us, you know, we eat bread for breakfast, juice, pasta for lunch, sweets in the evening. We’re then walking around with
an impaired immune system all day long, which does not fight off intruders
as well as it should. And then we complain about
what a lousy immune system we got and how often we get sick. To think about what we eat is one of the most important things
we can do for our health. Let me tell you a story
about a little boy named Charlie and how a special diet
changed his life radically. Charlie suffered from epilepsy, a really severe form of epilepsy
since one year of age. He took a lot of different medications,
even went through brain surgery – nothing helped. When he was 20 months old,
he weighed, like, 8.5 kilos, he took four different medications, and still, he had hundreds,
hundreds of seizures every day. His parents had to pad the walls
so he wouldn’t hurt himself, and he had to wear a helmet. And the side effects of the drugs
were really, really hurting him, and was almost as painful
as the disease. One day his dad went to the library
and found a book of a doctor who treated patients suffering
from epilepsy with a special diet. So he took Charlie,
and they went to see the doctor, and they put him on this special diet. And it took two days – two days – and all his seizures went away. Today, he’s a grown man, and from what I’ve heard,
he’s perfectly healthy – no seizures anymore. And this is just one story, one example, of how powerful
the food we eat every day is. I love the words of Dr. Alexis Carrel. He’s a Nobel Prize winner. And he says, “Unless the doctors of today
become the dieticians of tomorrow, the dieticians of today
will become the doctors of tomorrow.” Let’s take an example of how the body
is trying to communicate with you. Let’s say you have high blood pressure. Someone like me would look
at your stress levels, for once. Are you getting enough magnesium
through your food? Are your kidneys working alright? Are you having calcifications
on your neck arteries, forcing your body to raise the pressure so that your brain is provided
with enough of an amount of blood? High blood pressure is not a disease. It’s a compensation mechanism
that the body has to make to make sure that every part
of your body’s provided with blood. Now, is it really smart to lower
a compensation mechanism that the body feels is important? Isn’t it better to figure out
what the real problem is? Because there is a real problem; otherwise, the body
is not going to raise the pressure. The reason for high blood pressure is not that you suffer
a lack of beta-blockers. Still, two million people in Sweden
are taking pills to lower the pressure, also known as the symptom. A beta-blocker or any of these drugs will not fix your magnesium levels
or your calcification problems. And really, it doesn’t matter
which problem we’re talking about or which symptom we’re talking about. The importance is that the body
is giving you messages so that you can make some slight changes. It is pretty good to know
if you have low magnesium levels or calcifications of your arteries, because that way you can help your body before the conditions
turn into something worse. Well, what about genes? Some people are really unlucky, and the whole family has suffered
from the same diseases for generations. New research has found
that genes are only responsible for as little as 5%
of the diseases we are getting. And that is if we turn on the genes
that are causing disease. In studies, we have seen
that adopted children do not inherit the diseases
of their biological parents but rather of their adoptive parents, because we inherit behavior,
eating habits, etc. And this, this is really,
really, really good. That means that we have the power, that we can influence how we are feeling
and the diseases we are getting. We don’t just have to accept
that evil genes has made us sick and we can’t do nothing to help. I kind of think of it like a flower. If you have a flower in a home
that doesn’t bloom or grow, you fix the environment, like the water, the soil, the light maybe, not the flower. Everyone knows that a flower will bloom
and grow in its right environment. And someone like me tries to bring back
the right environment for the body, the kind of environment
that makes your body bloom. Okay, so what’s the problem? What if I want to take the easy way out? What if I want to take a magic pill? What’s the problem? The European Commission estimates
that side effects of drugs kill about 200,000 people
in Europe every year, makes it the third largest cause of death,
after heart disease and cancer. Let me repeat that: Drugs that are supposed to help us are the third largest cause
of death in Europe. The media tries, like, every week to tell us how dangerous
a dietary supplement is. How many die every year
from dietary supplements? Zero. Zero. [200,000]. Zero. That’s the problem. And this, this is also
affecting our nature. The water that we release into our lakes are so full of toxins
from our pharmaceuticals that our fishes end up having two sexes. One of the pharmacies in Sweden, Apotek, even has a campaign
where you can adopt these fishes. Is this really what
modern medicine has come to? Pushing the problem forward
and destroying our nature? You do have an amazing body that tries
to support you the best way possible. You have a choice. You can either listen
to the messages it sends out, or you can push the problem forward. We have become so focused
on quick fixes these days that we’re forgetting
what the symptoms are really about. Diseases can be caused by a lot of things, but they’re not caused
by a Prozac deficiency or by a Levitor deficiency or by any other chemical drug deficiency. There’s always a reason. We have to start
taking care of our bodies. Things are moving rapidly downhill. So, which is more woo-woo? Taking a magic pill
or treating the root cause? Oh, and by the way, all the friends
questioning me going back to school, they call me now weekly
for advice about their health. (Laughter) Next time you feel a symptom – or a message, as you might be
looking at them from now on – don’t just settle with a prescription; your body is working for you 24-7. Give it the best conditions;
get to know your body. Every time we eat or drink, we are either feeding disease
or we are fighting it. Don’t kill the messenger;
don’t kill your friend. Thank you so much. (Applause)

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