Fortis Fitness

Modern Diet

A Tale of Two Questions

In a recent impromptu interview I was cornered by a nutritionist who was very skeptical of the health advantages of consuming a majority of calories from natural meats, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. He was also a rather outspoken advocate of many of the modern foods I generally avoid. This person took great offense at my direct naming of certain common processed foods as potentially dangerous to your health. I thought equal rights applied to people, not to Twinkies, soda-pop, sugared cereals, milk and fast foods. Regardless, I felt privileged to have such a learned man honor me with his question.

This person asked the following question in a very provocative tone: “Do you have any research studies directly proving that any of the foods you are knocking are dangerous to our health?” “Well? Do you? Now I’ve been asked this question before, but this time I really wanted to dwell on the answer. I asked my inquisitor if he would answer my question if I answered his question. My question was “Will you offer your participation in a simple, safe, short term food experiment on this very topic if I offer reciprocal involvement?” He replied “Yes”.

First, I answered his question as honestly as I could. I told this man that “No, I did not have any scientific research, peer reviewed and published or otherwise to which I could refer”. This was a little too honest, as I was well aware of some research showing the negative effects of consuming some of these specific foods and their constituent ingredients, but I did not have it with me. Nonetheless, I not only accepted my fate but went further.

I submitted that for the sake of this discussion then, we should both hold the position that there is no scientifically conducted, peer reviewed and accepted research directly linking these foods to any dangerous health effects – whatsoever. The logical corollary here is that if I cannot prove these foods are unhealthy to eat, then we must assume they are not unhealthy to consume. There are certainly no laws against eating these foods in any quantity. Hypothetically then we both would assume that there was no danger in consuming these foods. As unfortunate as that may be for my argument against these foods I would accept this position. Given this acceptance, it would seem then, that all of the “Foodie health nuts” need to shut up, once and for all and stop irresponsibly demonizing many of our modern, processed foods.

There was though, the final issue of my little food experiment in which he had agreed to participate. I ran through the details. I will choose three of his family members, including at least one child and put them on a strict diet for a period of 3 months with no exceptions. That diet will consist of the best known processed and fast foods, including Pop Tarts, Cheese in a Can, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Doritos, Wonder bread, milk, ice cream, processed cakes and snacks and candy. It will also include all of the major brands and flavors of soda pop. His family members will be highly restricted to eating and drinking these foods only. At the same time, he will choose three similar members of my family and we will put them on a strictly controlled diet of naturally raised meats, wild caught fish, fruits, vegetables and nuts and seeds and water – with no exceptions. Both groups will have a myriad of health markers including comprehensive blood tests and physicals, noted by a physician before and immediately after the three months period. All of those involved will be supervised by a doctor for the duration of the experiment.

The results will then be carefully documented and provided to a panel of 100 independent doctors and related health experts for enlightenment on the relative health improvement or deterioration of each subject. We will also accept the experts’ extrapolations and estimations on the future health and body weights of the test subjects in 6 months, 1, 5 and then 10 years.

Was this to be a perfect scientific experiment? Nope; no control group, and a larger sample of test subjects, etc. would be better. It would be interesting, nonetheless. I believe the real experiment here would be the test of how much confidence each of us had in our respective positions regarding modern food.

Strangest thing, he suddenly backed out of the whole idea. Turns out he did not like the idea of his 10 year old son being involved in this little experiment, even though I offered up three similar family members for him to choose. Given my answer to his question and my almost complete capitulation to his position, this was confusing.

This leads to a really interesting question regarding the varying degrees to which one might follow each of the two types of diet involved in this proposed experiment. After some discussion, the nutritionist said he wouldn’t have a problem with the experiment if “much less, but still some” of those foods dictated for his family member were provided. Yet, having “much less” of the foods stipulated for my family members for the substitution of other foods was not a concern. This begs the question, if he was not interested in 100% of the foods dictated because they were perhaps “unhealthy”, then what percentage of these “unhealthy” foods was acceptable. At what level of consumption were the chances of deleterious health effects acceptable? Again, this was not a concern whatsoever regarding the foods my family members were to eat. 100% was just fine with me. That was the whole point.

So, “bad” or otherwise “unhealthy” foods which he did not want his family member to consume were fine, as long as they were limited, but the idea of removing them altogether was absurd? My curiosity peaked. Does this position assume that because these processed foods exist, are normative (and tasty, and cheap) that we MUST then consume them, to at least some degree. The final position being that eating only the demonstrably healthy foods all of the time would be an eccentric, radical or otherwise crazy position to take? So, it is alright that I may experience some of the horrible health effects from eating these processed foods either now or in the future and this is a gamble that is mandatorily reasonable? Yet, following the scale in the “up” direction towards the healthiest foods was somehow deemed unreasonable.

Once he backed out of our agreement, I confessed that I did in fact have published research outlining the potential dangers of eating some of the processed foods we had discussed. Further, I could provide stacks of evidence that many of the ingredients in many of these products are likely quite dangerous to human health, especially in the large quantities in which they are typically consumed. Regardless, and to his point the research is still murky and does not seem to indicate clear, direct links between specific processed foods and ill-health. The relationship is simply not recognized in the way smoking has been correlated with lung cancer.

Even if I didn’t have the research on which this gentleman had challenged me, he and I both somehow knew that this food was not healthy. The sad meta-analysis is right in front of us, manifest in the poor, unhealthy folks who consume these foods as most of their calories. The terrible consequences of obesity and related disease are impossible to ignore. This is more than just deductive reasoning only. The proliferation of this super-industrialized, processed food since the industrial revolution corresponds very well with the lines on the graphs illustrating our rising chronic obesity and disease rates.   The sad reality here is that these processed foods have generally come to define the majority of “our food” for most of the public.

Enjoying Repetitive Exercise

The philosophy I strongly believe one should apply to cardiovascular exercise is simple: if you enjoy it – do it! Otherwise, keep looking until you find something you enjoy. I have successful experience reinforcing this idea as a permanent solution to exercising on a regular basis and benefiting from the good health it will provide. Still, there will always be temporary situations when we want to move our bodies but for whatever logistical reason are unable to do what we love.   And so we must face the idea of doing some repetitive form of exercise which we would otherwise not endure.

I have applied this philosophy to something as mundane as running with great success. In the past I hated running. Before I embraced my current philosophy, I considered running boring work that “needed to be done”. I would count the seconds. I would run 4 or 5 times a week for a few weeks and then stop because I just couldn’t make myself do it any longer. Over time, and with some experience, all of that changed.

I love the smell of sea air, girls in bikinis and sunshine. I love being around people having a good time and watching waves crash on a beach. I also like the feeling of my feet in the sand and a gentle warm breeze. I never grow tired of these things. These other factors have overtaken the generic activity of “running” and turned it into something that I have really enjoyed for over 15 years. I go outside and run on the beach at a pace where I never get uncomfortable or out of breath. Here I can experience all of those things I love. Sometimes I figure I am one step up from a fast walk. I lean forward so that my feat must catch up to prevent me from falling down. This creates a slow comfortable jog. This makes my stride very relaxing and almost effortless. When I get tired I stop.

I still hate running, but I love the other stuff. So much so, that the running has become an incidental and virtually unnoticeable part of the exercise. Running is like the empty glass and these things I love are the drink that fills it. It’s funny, because my slow jog is now a relatively fast paced run. I have been made aware of this only by others who I run with on occasion. This happened slowly and without notice. The keys are consistency and enjoyment – one feeds the other. This I know because unlike years ago, I long to go for a run if I haven’t had the time for a while. I contrast my current perspective to the generic act of running. Even now, the most time I can do on a treadmill is 10 minutes and only if there is a television to watch. If there is something very interesting on TV I can occasionally go for as long as 20 minutes, but that’s about all I can take.

Some people have challenged me on this philosophy. They have indicated that I live beside a beach and that anyone would love running there. Then they tell me to try living in Toledo Ohio, or Buffalo in January and enjoy my “sea air and bikinis”. The fact is, I live and spend the majority of my time in another big northern city and enjoy running there just as much if not more. How? The answer is real estate.

I love old houses. I really love the ones that look like old castles, 3 stories high and covered with ivy. The part of the city I live in is very old and half way gentrified. There are endless streets of these beautiful old homes; some in need of restoration and some completed. Many may be purchased for surprisingly little money given the area, but they need refurbishment. Most of these houses have the huge original wooden doors and stain glass. Some have spires and beautiful balconies on every floor. Even though run down, the craftsmanship involved in the ornate hard wood trim and masonry stands out like a lost art. They are from another time over a century ago. When they were built, that part of town was the most exclusive area in the city. Every one of these houses has a long history.

Occasionally, one of the nearby stores in this run down area will have a front sign changed. When this happens often an old sign will be revealed from a store long since closed up decades ago. Like the nearby homes, to me this is a bit of history creeping out like a passage in time. There are also beautiful old churches built entirely from stone. Many stand dark and quiet, closed up; their congregations long since moved on or withered away. I get lost in this stuff. For me it’s like a hypnotic, haunting journey into the past. At the same time my mind wonders at the future possibilities for these beautiful old buildings.

Sorry….sorry, I forgot for a moment, we are talking about beautiful old buildings and the topic is supposed to be running. That’s the whole point. I actually forget while I’m running. This happens every time. For me it’s like running into history, or through a beautiful architectural museum. It’s the same mental journey as on the beach, just different subjects. These examples demonstrate the pre-eminent importance of our brains in any form of exercise.

The other day, I went running with a very competitive friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in quite some time. I know this guy well and for him this was a battle to see who was in better shape. In the end this little challenge clocked in at over an hour and we had run over 7 miles. For me, this was an unusually fast and physically taxing pace. I kept up with him the whole way, but it was hell. This served well to jog my memory. I remembered why I hated running!

Let’s suppose one of your true joys in life is simply watching television for hours on end; movies, news, soap operas or just flipping from channel to channel. Let’s also assume you have fully embraced what is primarily an evolutionary diet and have achieved a caloric deficit or equity. Try this; replace your easy chair with a very comfortable seated recumbent stationary bike. Recumbent bikes are the ones where your legs are out in front of you and you can lean back into your seat. Get a few cushions or some foam padding and make it super comfortable. Put it on its lowest resistance setting and carry on watching television while doing this extremely slow and passive aerobic activity. If you love reading, simply replace the television with a book stand. Remember, you are not losing your breath and perhaps not even breaking a sweat, but your heart will beat faster, oxygen will fill your lungs and you will simply feel better. Even this extremely low intensity activity will produce results since your diet has ended the source of your body fat problem. Now you are chipping away at the prior damage as your body visibly improves.

I strongly believe those sports, hobbies and physical activities we are passionate about should basically define our “exercise”. Nonetheless, hopefully these ideas will expand the possibilities to include some of the stuff we normally wouldn’t consider.

Seriously…..This is A Great Job!

Sean Kelly

I often ponder how thankful the great people I continue to learn from must feel every day.  These folks include the fantastic doctors, evolutionary biologists, coaches, scientists, small farmers, activists, anthropologists, writers and journalists who know the truth about our food, health and fitness.  They must feel downright “messianic”.  They are indeed in the minority.  They all have one thing in common – they tell the truth.

Billions upon billions of dollars are spent every year by our government, and some of our biggest industries – agricultural, medical, pharmaceutical, restaurant, fitness, etc. – to drown out this truth.  Regardless, all of that greed, money and influence ensures that those armed with the truth are able to offer a truly unique and effective solution.  Those industries have literally created a problem that we can actually solve.  It just makes the message trumpeted from these amazing teachers stand out as even more effective and unique.

Yes, it is extremely unfortunate that many have to suffer and so many people are confused and unaware of the terrible dilemma in which they remain.  Nonetheless, the ability to help anyone out of this mess and achieve their health and fitness goals permanently is a real gift.

Every day you get to hear people tell you about their new success:

•    Terrible and chronic physical symptoms disappearing
•    Dramatically improved health and well being
•    People who love food are happy, eating all the time and still losing body fat
•    Folks spending less time in the gym and more time “having fun” outside the gym
•    Individuals actually wanting to “work out” for the first time ever
•    People getting stronger, faster and more powerful than they’ve ever been

I experienced all of these things personally.  As a fat, out of shape, unhealthy 26 year-old and after bumbling through countless years of failed efforts to improve, I too was enlightened and permanently “cured”.  Thank God for the wonderful people who taught me and allowed me to escape that lousy predicament.  Providing others with the simple solution to their confusion and witnessing them get slim and healthy is beyond satisfying.  It’s sort of like being the only one with antibiotics where everyone around you has an infection.  To those who receive this information, it brings freedom.

Although the money, power and influence of our largest industries will no doubt keep the majority of our population fat and unhealthy, it does provide those who possess the real solution with this one fantastic benefit.  It gives them the unique power to actually help people.  For the foot-soldiers in this battle this provides a job that delivers nothing but happiness and satisfaction – every day.

Oh, Great!…Another “Paleo” Asshole!

I read a great article recently. It was brought to my attention by a very passionate “Paleo” detractor. His argument to me was that there are really no “good or bad” foods. Rather, one needs primarily to understand the first law of thermodynamics – that is if you consume more calories than you burn, you’ll retain those calories as fat. Conversely, if you burn off more calories than you consume, you will lose body fat.

The other pillar of his argument though, was that for health, fat loss, and performance success, one need only consume the macro and micro nutrients his/her body requires, given individual activity levels, metabolism, etc. The point being that your body breaks down the food and does not know (nor does it matter) if, for example the protein it receives comes from a wild moose steak, or a McDonald’s hamburger. The article made some similar arguments, but with some excellent explanation. Here is the link to said article:

http://www.wannabebig.com/diet-and-nutrition/the-dirt-on-clean-eating/

I was impressed with this article as it provided some excellent critical analysis of food advice both past and present. It pointed out the contradictory, ironic and fickle history of much of our modern dietary advice. The Paleolithic diet did not escape this article without a few bruises, although simple “guilt by association” with our past food advice errors was the main critique. That, along with some humorous and obviously true ironies and hypocrisy the author had experienced with some ardent Paleo-diet practitioners.

Bizarro Comics Paleo Myth

The article warns about the potential dangers of over emphasizing the classification of foods as either “good or bad” especially in relation to conditions like anorexia nervosa. It also suggest strongly that given our staggering history of errors and contradictory mass food guidance that we should be very skeptical of the next “big idea” on how we should be eating for optimal health. Quoting this article:

“There currently is no compelling evidence suggesting that a diet whose calories are 80-90% from whole & minimally processed foods is not prudent enough for maximizing health, longevity, body composition, or training performance.”

Still, this statement inherently creates a judgment call on the other 10-20% as somehow “less good” than the 80-90% of the whole and minimally processed foods it suggests we should eat.
Wisely clarifying that other 10-20%, the article goes on to state:
“10-20% indicates the maximum, not minimum discretionary allotment. If someone strives to consume 0% of calories from any food that’s been processed or refined from its original state, then that’s perfectly fine – as long as this is the person’s genuine preference, and not a painful battle of will. I’d also like to make it clear that there is still plenty of grey area in the study of dietary effects on health. As such, the nature and extent of the miscellaneous or rule-free food allotment is a delicate judgment call. In this case, it’s wise to keep scientific research at the head of the judging panel, but don’t ignore personal experience & individual feedback.”

So, it seems clear from the author’s own words that I have his blessing if I choose to eat primarily what I consider my evolutionary foods!

Reading this article and arguing with my virulently “anti-Paleo” adversary was enlightening. It made me realize that many people who hear about this simple idea on food carry some strong, pejorative presumptions. Yet, contrary to what many have heard or read about the realities of following a Paleolithic era diet, my experience has been that many if not the vast majority of us simply use evolution as a general guide on what to eat- nothing more.

We often drink alcohol (in my case “quite often”) and eat outside of this context with 20% or more of those yummy and decidedly “non-Paleo” calories – especially if they are unprocessed versions. There are no exact rules of consumption and it depends on the individual and results – and more importantly, living and enjoying your life in the modern world. We just use evolution as a rational guide or filter– that’s all. This just gives us a spectrum of foods that are either really bad (ex. processed cheese in a can, Pop-tarts, fast food milk shake) or really good – the most natural forms of our meats, fish, fruits vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Some things we know to be relatively true:

  1. Animals – their physical bodies, including digestive systems, etc. evolved with their natural foods. This is why cats are obligate carnivores, cows are ruminant-herbivores, Koala bears eat eucalyptus leaves, and whales consume fish and plankton.
  2. All things being equal, animals tend to achieve what we know to be a healthful state eating primarily their respective natural diets (just ask a zoologist)
  3. The interaction between a living being and its food and the subsequent consequences for health or disease are infinitely complex. We certainly do not know everything and we know less today than we will tomorrow.
  4. Our foods are made up of an extremely complex list of constituent ingredients, some which we have yet to discover. Further, we continue to add chemicals and various ingredients to our foods, including genetically modified organisms, the long term effects of which we are not entirely aware.

If one takes the strangely “food egalitarian” position that there are no “good” or “bad” foods, this position unfortunately defies the above maxims, especially #3 and #4.
While our bodies don’t discern where our food nutrients come from once they are digested, they are digested differently given the existence of the other ingredients (or lack thereof) in the foods we eat. That is, our bodies evolved to eat foods like oranges and attain the vitamin C from the oranges, along with all of the other healthy, natural ingredients in the orange. This is why the body does not benefit from a spoonful of scientifically reduced, pure vitamin C quite the same way as it does the vitamin C consumed with the whole orange. Quoting Marion Nestle from her book “Food Politics” regarding nutrient reductionism:

“This logic is flawed in that it fails to consider the complexity of food consumption and the interaction among food components. Throughout evolution, food plants developed hundreds of chemicals to ward off unwanted insects and predators, and a great many of these have been shown to stimulate detoxifying enzymes in the people who eat them. The complexity of food composition means that no single nutrient is likely to work nearly so well as a diet rich in the fruits and vegetables from which that nutrient was isolated”

Further, we do not yet know all of the health consequences created by the difference between eating natural whole foods vs. some of their isolated ingredients. We do know that it is really healthy to eat oranges though, because of the other healthy ingredients, including the other nutrients (known and as yet unknown), water, fiber, etc.

The reality is that people generally eat complex foods – not just big glasses of pure macro and micro nutrients. Some of these foods are obviously highly processed with questionable chemical additives. Even some of our more common whole foods have dangerous constituent ingredients. Witness peanuts or milk for those with allergies or intolerance to those foods, or wheat for someone with Celiac disease. So, how we react to our food is far more complex, with profound consequences now and in the future – some of which we are completely unaware of at this time.

Further, some of our modern processed foods, especially those loaded with salt, fats and sugars are highly addictive. Quoting Michael Moss from his groundbreaking book “Salt, Sugar, Fat”:

“The blood gets especially besieged when processed food is ingested, flooding the system with its heavy loads of salt, sugar, and fat. But where the links between eating and drugs gets really interesting is in the brain. There, narcotics and food – especially food that is high in salt, sugar and fat – act much alike. Once ingested, they race along the same pathways, using the same neurological circuitry to reach the brain’s pleasure zones, those areas that reward us with enjoyable feelings”

There seems to be an excellent argument for avoiding highly processed and fast foods completely, just as there would be for not partaking in “a little heroin or cocaine” now and then. Pondering whether these foods can be addictive or harmful seems to end abruptly when one witnesses the size and apparent ill-health of those eating them everyday where they are procured. Interestingly, healthier and less complicated versions of these same tempting and delicious “foods” created from simple, natural ingredients are demonstrably more benign (even if just as caloric).

So, ostensibly there indeed seems to be a rather unavoidable spectrum of good and bad foods – not just micro or macro nutrients – generally for our species, and then more specifically for individuals.

Recently, I was told that people who advise eating our Paleolithic era human diet have a hidden agenda. Responding sarcastically was for me, unavoidable. “Yes! Damnit! We have finally been exposed!” All of those struggling small farmers selling natural food are actually part of a vast conspiracy out to take over the world. Ted Nugent is running the whole thing. All of those greedy, super rich “Paleo” people will finally be unmasked for the Charlatans they are. I recall the hippie girl who sucked me into the conspiracy 23 years ago – she wrote “natural meats, fruits, vegetables nuts and seeds” on the back of a receipt and told me “eat mostly this stuff, it’s typically what our ancestors ate. You’ll get really healthy and lean”. How could I have been so gullible?! Strangest thing though, she didn’t charge me anything, she just smiled and walked away.

In a sea of misinformation on diet, eating primarily our evolutionary foods represents a simple, elegant plan which has demonstrably delivered robust health and fat loss to millions of people and seems to make more logical sense than most of the alternatives – that’s all. It’s simply the best general compass we have discovered on “what to eat” and what to avoid eating.

So, I am confused as to why a passionately “anti-Paleo” contingency seems so against this idea. Myself and millions of other people have permanently lost their excess body fat and enjoy measured improvements in health. Our symptoms of many chronic or auto-immune diseases have diminished or disappeared – including type II diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, IBS, etc., etc. What exactly would they have us do? Go back to the “all foods are equal” plan? If eating primarily these foods had not worked and Evolutionary Discordance theory made no sense, I certainly would. There is no pride here, just logic and results.

I have found that the following article stands as one of the best introductions to our Paleolithic diet. It is absolutely worth the read and provides a very rational, well referenced overview:

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/2/341.long

There is no risk in eating this way. Anyone can try it for a week or two and quickly see if their health improves or if they lose some body fat. Regardless as to the aspersions some have cast about “hidden Paleo agendas” there is nothing to buy – it’s free. It’s all over the internet. I summarized it in a single sentence about five paragraphs back.

Contrastingly, there seems to be more risk in following the advice: “there are no good or bad foods”. Just review the statistics and trends on obesity and food related illnesses. Just walk into your local supermarket or fast food restaurant and witness the many poor souls struggling with obesity and food related disease. Ask, and I doubt you will find too many of those folks who have used evolution as their primary guide in deciding “what to eat”.

Strength Training – Beginners and Advanced

Something really cool happens when rank beginners are working out in the same room with more advanced (and even professional) athletic folks who are extremely fast and strong.  The advanced folks lead the way because they generally know what hell they are doing.  The stakes are very high for them.  They invest an incredible amount of time and effort in their training.  They tend to work with professional, certified and experienced coaches who have a history of success.

I often witness high school kids and older folks who have been going to gyms for years.  Most of their workouts consists of isolating limb movements like biceps curls, or leg extensions completed in fancy looking fitness machines.  You see them doing the same exercises day in and day out.  For the ones who are really dedicated, you’ll see them complete a sequence like this:  bench press, incline press, decline press – 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions, on “chest day” – month after month, over and over and over again.  When they arrive at our gym, they can often be seen staring quizzically at the athletes and others who doing an entirely different regimen.  They sometimes inquire:  why aren’t those people doing more curls?  Why are they always in those big racks?

In the correct environment, these folks quickly snap out of it.  They see the bigger, stronger guys and ladies in awesome shape who are dead-lifting, benching, squatting, doing heavy pulls, box jumping and practicing all kinds of proven methods and principles.  They also witness them write down everything, with constant attention to the empirical notation of improvement in the number of repetitions, resistance and speed.  They are curious.  They want to follow and many quickly do just that.

Now, you need a very civilized room here.  You need a place where new folks are first shown their way around, taught the basic free weight barbell exercises and provided with explanation as to why they work.  It should also be a room where the really strong folks are not ego-maniacs but are free to lift to their limits and beyond with the right equipment and atmosphere.

I first heard Louie Simmons speak about this in regard to power-lifting, where world champions at his famous Westside Barbell Club are training beside rank novices.  This no doubt will help to allow those new folks to reach their full potential.  It’s totally true and it makes for a hyper-productive, supportive, and positive team based atmosphere.  In other words, a place to where people look forward to going and being.

The blind are not following the blind.  People with real insights who are always learning are sharing their knowledge and everyone – especially beginners – absolutely benefits.  No time or effort is wasted and all are training optimally toward their goals.  That is, goals which are measurably and most certainly being attained.

IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THERE IS GLUTEN IN RICE!

The other day a guy told me that his doctor advised him that he should avoid gluten.  He then asked me if there is gluten in rice.  As a responsible Paleo-diet practitioner, my humble response was the following:

“IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THERE’S GLUTEN IN THE DAMN RICE!”

Now, the reason it just doesn’t matter is that our human evolutionary diet DID NOT INCLUDE GRAINS.  That means our ancestors, for millions of years didn’t eat wheat, barley, rye, rice, or any of the other grains commonly consumed today.

Does anyone know exactly what “gluten” looks like in its isolated form?  If I go to a restaurant, I can’t order a “bowl of gluten” or the “gluten casserole” or a “side order of gluten”.  Since this is true, I am therefore at the mercy of those telling me my whether or not the foods I eat are actually “gluten free”.

Alternatively, I can pretty much avoid grains all together.  In this way I will automatically be avoiding gluten.  Logically, that’s a really logical position to take.  I could also consider a meta-analysis involving real people.  That is, people who are not eating grains that are really, really, healthy, and tend to avoid many of our modern diseases of civilization.  In other words, it doesn’t make much sense to avoid the particular constituent ingredient that has been identified as particularly harmful to your health, when you should be avoiding the foods that it exists within – because they are not your natural human foods.

It just doesn’t make much sense to me to eat a very questionable food group, because we “haven’t yet identified or proven the specific constituent ingredients that are hurting us”.  If something is shown to be clearly not optimal for your health and well-being, you should avoid that thing, especially when there are wonderful alternatives that have been proven to be just the opposite – really good for you.  It is further enlightening, reinforcing and useful to understand that these wonderful alternatives are part of the evolutionary human diet.

The alternative course of action would be similar to NOT bothering to avoid radiation because you are not really sure exactly why this invisible, seemingly undetectable force (you can’t see it, taste it, or smell it) will likely kill you.  So, avoiding radiation as much as possible, regardless of knowing exactly why and how it is hurting you is a good idea.  Is finding out exactly why it is harmful a worthy endeavor? ABSOLUTELY!   But avoiding that bad thing and studying it are MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE events.  This is why evolutionary science makes so much sense and continues to be such a responsible and healthful guide in regards to our food choices.

This is sort of like “reverse scientific reductionism”.  In my opinion, the practice of scientific reductionism is manifest in its worst form in the following way.  An isolated nutrient from a typically healthy food is found to quite possibly improve one’s health or a specific condition.  Let’s use the example of beta-carotene which is found in high quantities in carrots and is known to help counter age-related macular degeneration, thus helping those with deteriorating vision.  Now, the folks at a large food processing company get hold of this information.  Then, they use  one of their really, really unhealthy, fattening processed cookie products or breakfast cereals as a method of delivery.  They infuse unnaturally high amounts of beta-carotene (which can be an unhealthy practice on its own) into the cookie or cereal and then package and sell it as a “healthy” food product that will improve your eyesight.  (Yup, this is basically legal).

Trying to avoid gluten, but not the less than healthy foods it naturally occurs within, would then be sort of like “reverse scientific reductionism”.  Yet, this very idea has spawned the nascent “gluten-free” movement and a completely new sub-industry that has conveniently popped up to fulfill the demand for every imaginable gluten-free food product.  This is making some opportunistic people in the food industry a ton of money.

In contrast, with Paleo eating, WE START WITH THE ANSWER.  Our ancestors didn’t have a clue what micro-nutrients or other chemical properties were in the natural animal foods, fruits, vegetables or nuts they consumed.  They just ate those foods and remained in a state of health that was far superior to our unfortunate modern day state of ill-health.

Now, I don’t want to get all “scientific” on anyone, but sometimes we need to bring this stuff out into the open.  Here is a pretty good summary of why one should avoid grains:

http://www.cpmedical.net/articles/glutens-and-lectins-a-dangerous-dietary-duo

Saying NO to “gluten”, but not the foods that contain gluten is similar to being okay with mass murderer stay in your house with your family, BECAUSE YOU GOT RID OF ALL THE KNIVES IN THE HOUSE.  The fact is, he’s a bloody murderer.  He can still hurt you or your children with a blunt object, poison, a gun, or in an infinite number of other ways.

Back to the title of the blog; the fact is there is no gluten in rice, at least not the same kind that is in wheat.  Do I still eat rice?  I don’t buy it, but I love Japanese and Indian food, so I have a little when I am eating that stuff.  But otherwise, I avoid it.  I eat such a small amount of rice and other grains that my “glutin” intake is so close to zero as to be inconsequential.  Preliminary research shows that the lectins and the appropriately named “anti-nutrients” in rice are not as dangerous to human health as many others in the grain family.  Still, following the advice of the best that evolutionary science has to offer, and the wonderful, simple intuition to eat mainly what you genetically evolved to eat:

 AVOID ALL GRAINS

AVOID ALL DAIRY

 Following this advice will make you seem like a genius, especially compared to the doctor or nutritionist who is suddenly telling you to “stop eating gluten”.

New Years Blog – Why are we so fat?

A new year is upon us once again and yet again many of us are resolute in our goal to lose at and get healthy.  Just as in past years the media is awash with speculations as to just why we are getting so fat and unhealthy.  We are also bombarded with supposed solutions, just as we were last year and the year before that and the year before that.

I have heard just about every possible reason for our problems, but have yet to hear anyone in the media identify the real, underlying problem.  Before a successful and permanent solution can be found, we must first identify the true, root cause behind why our society is becoming so uncontrollably fat and unhealthy.

Let me start with some of the red herrings.  These are the things that usually get the blame but are simply NOT the true, underlying causes of our problems:

  • Sedentary lifestyles
  • Lack of exercise
  • Fast Food
  • Lack of will power or discipline
  • Genetics
  • Hormones

The Real Problem:

The real, underlying problem here is that what we commonly eat today and what we have come to know as “our food” is not what humans are naturally meant to eat.

So what are humans biologically meant to eat?

  • Naturally raised animals (meat, fish, birds, eggs, etc.)
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds

So WHO is responsible for the fattening and unhealthy modern diet most of us consume today?

Our modern food industry: huge, powerful multinational companies and organizations including:

  • Monsanto
  • Con-Agra
  • Cargill
  • ADM
  • General Foods
  • McDonalds
  • Walmart
  • Nestle
  • Danone
  • The Salt Lobby
  • The Sugar Lobby
  • The Dairy Lobby
  • etc.

2   Our governments:  who are highly influenced by the food industry

Question:  Why do these companies do this?

Answer:  They are huge corporations that exist to make as much money as possible

Question:  How do they do this?

Answer:

a)  They create low cost, addictive foods.  They “supersize” these foods and pack them with cheap, dense fat and sugar calories

Why?  So we’ll buy more of their food; because:

  • We are still “hard-wired” genetically to survive periods of “food scarcity”
  • So, we naturally prefer fats and sugars – the richest calories

b)  The Government subsidizes and promotes these foods

Why would our governments do that?

  • To appease the influential, powerful modern food industry
  • To protect jobs and promote domestic agriculture

So, our government, the media, dietitians, our schools and other institutions perpetuate this modern diet causing obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and many other illnesses.

How?  –  Via our modern food industry’s enormous amounts of money, power and influence.

Modern-Food-Cost-Benefit-Imbalance

What about the diet and fitness industry?  Failure occurs for the following reasons:

Diet

  • Contemporary diets do not work against high calorie, addictive modern foods
  • So we restrict our calories, but that doesn’t work because:

I.      Our metabolisms slows further and further to preserve fat calories

II.      Highly addictive food requires great will-power to avoid – this eventually fails

III.      Our bodies crave the low levels of nutrients in this high calorie food to try and

maintain good health or muscle

Exercise

  • Does not work to counter the large caloric surplus caused by modern foods
  • Too much discipline/hard work required – Bootcamp, etc. are not maintained
  • Increased appetite = more modern food = caloric surplus = additional body fat

Proof:  The Diet & Fitness industry is now roughly $60 billion/year, but we’ve never been fatter or more riddled with diet related diseases

So, even after spending countless hours exercising and lifting weights, most of fail to reach our goals.  After all the hard work, invariably we end up in one of the following categories:

“bulky” weight lifting people

“In-shape” fat people

“Skinny-fat” people

 

The Solution:  how to lose fat, gain muscle and be healthy – permanently

 

Step 1:  Achieve permanent caloric equity/deficit with a healthy, evolution based diet:

  • Eat naturally raised animals, fruits, vegetables as your staple foods
  • Never get hungry, eat all the time
  • Minimize rice, corn, beans, potatoes and other starchy roots
  • Avoid all other grains and dairy
  • Make sure all the food you eat is as UNPROCESSED as possible

REPEAT:  DO NOT EAT PROCESSED, INDUSTRIALIZED FOOD!

A Food Pyramid Respecting The Natural Human Diet:

(Please notice how it differs from the government food guides)

 A-Food-Pyramid-Respecting-The-Natural-Human-Diet

 

 

Please, remember!….

 Really Bad Food Choices versus Really Good Food Choices 

 Step 2:  Maximize the three ways your body burns calories (fat)

1.  Resting metabolic rate = 60-75% of fat burn

  • MUSCLE BURNS FAT!  So increase your resting metabolic rate by building new   muscle.  Strength training is the most efficient, optimal way to build muscle

2.  Thermic effect of food = 7-10% of fat burn

  • Eat the foods from Step 1!  They provide the greatest thermic effect
  • Don’t let yourself get hungry, eat all day

3.  Physical activity = variable % of fat burn

  • Do only things you love
  • Avoid meaningless, boring, hard “cardio” gym workouts
  • 60% of max heart rate = optimum fat loss/preserves valuable muscle (examples
  • include:  walking, gardening, bicycling, vacuuming a carpet, or dancing

 

Summarizing:

We are getting increasingly fat and sick (diabetes, heart disease, etc) because at least a dozen or so huge, multinational food companies absolutely need us to eat the foods they produce!  If we become increasingly fat and sick as a result, that’s our problem, not theirs.  Although it is not yet a legal requirement that we eat only their foods; they have made it almost impossible for the small farmers who produce our natural, healthy foods to exist.

Is a little fresh bread, milk in your tea, or some artisan cheese going to hurt you?  Of course not!  The problem is the wild proliferation of harmful industrial food over the last 40 to 50 years.  These highly processed foods have taken the place of our natural evolutionary foods as the staples we eat.  That, in a nut shell is why we are increasingly obese and chronically ill.

Why have you never heard this before from the Surgeon General, CNN or another major news network or magazine?

Because the huge companies comprising our modern food industry are immensely powerful and would not like that at all!  The medical, pharmaceutical, and diet & fitness industries would also potentially lose billions of dollars.  Conversely, the small, local farmers and producers of our natural, healthy food would prosper.

Want scientific, documented proof of this?  We will be happy to provide you with more detail along with all of the great scientific and evidentiary references.

Thank you and have a wonderful New Year!

But I Like Alcohol

Eco-Diet, Wine FriendlyI remember when I first started following an evolutionary diet. I read everything I could get my hands on regarding Paleolithic era eating. One of the first books I picked up was “Neanderthin” by Ray Audette.

This was one of many interesting introductions to our original diet from a guy who had great curiosity and made it his mission to find out what the hell we should really be eating. Even better, Ray is not a doctor or nutritionist giving his message more unbiased credibility. Ray is a purist though and I was already on my own interpretation of the diet when I remember reading his advice – “Don’t Drink Alcohol”.

Now, for an Irish kid, this was not good news. In fact, if I had not already been eating foods derived from our original Paleolithic diet I believe I would have stopped right there. I love to drink. It is a part of my life. At that time it was mostly beer, sometimes bourbon and vodka or rum and I always drank with friends in social settings. I love wine with dinner. For me red wine is like great, drinkable art.

It is a journey of taste, complexity, history and pure enjoyment. This highly pleasurable and social part of my life was not something that I was just going to give up. I’m Irish so to me it’s almost like my religious right to drink (how’s that for an excuse). No drinking with my buddies? No wine before, during or after dinner? Forget it. This was not going to happen. Thankfully, it didn’t.

What I did was simply ask the question: From what was the alcoholic drink derived? If it came from one of our original Paleolithic era foods I would drink it, otherwise I would not. Obviously, derived from grapes, wine was allowable. Beer, coming from grains was not. Many liqueurs and other drinks were derived from fruits and vegetables, including rum, gin and champagne.

Others, like beer and whiskey were derived from grains and I slowly began to cut them out. This took me about a year. I went from regular beer to light beer and finally stopped drinking it altogether. I still have the occasional beer but very infrequently. I thought I would miss it. I don’t; not in the least. When I do have the odd beer or two I feel bloated and wish I hadn’t.

I now drink wine like a Roman. I actually have some really cool clay cups for the stuff that are copies of the ancient originals. Since I drink more wine than I used to, I prefer very dry, lighter wines, primarily red and all kinds of Sangria.

Years ago I discovered cider at an Irish pub and was overjoyed to find this amazing replacement for my beer. (No, I didn’t get beat up either). This stuff was around 7% alcohol, not too sweet, tasted great and was refreshing as hell.

I have also recently begun to drink more brandy and some other drinks I had never tried. One of my favorites is Mead. This is often referred to as “Viking beer”. It is fermented from fruits, honey and a bunch of other natural herbs and botanicals. Substituting this stuff for the grain derived and more mass produced alcoholic drinks has been a move for the better.

I feel much better physically and I don’t miss beer or any of the other liquors I used to drink, whatsoever. While it is still better not to drink at all, that is just not the choice I wish to make. I’m clearly with Winston on this one: “I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.” ~ Winston Churchill

Indeed, as long as they are enjoyed responsibly, I believe alcoholic drinks easily remain an enjoyable part of following what is primarily an evolutionary dietary philosophy.

To learn more about the paleo-diet we recommend, to lose weight and gain muscle, check out “The Eco-Diet,” a healthy eating plan and exercise program that’s easy to follow.

Why We Are So Lost

guptaThe other day I was watching CNN on television and Dr. Sanjay Gupta was hosting his television show and giving advice on healthy living. I really like that guy. He’s very understated, and smart as hell. He’s a brain surgeon for crying out loud.

Really though, I think it’s his intellectual charisma; he just seems so wise. Unfortunately, I knew full well that I couldn’t trust most of what he was saying, especially where diet was concerned.

My convictions were strongly upheld when his show’s sponsors were revealed. The first commercial came on and it was for Honey Nut Cheerios. The next one was for a new pharmaceutical drug that promised to help prevent heart disease. Unfortunately, one of the many dangerous side effects of this drug included that it could quite possibly kill you.

It’s not Sanjay’s fault. He’s sort of helpless here. He cannot tell you the truth about how to achieve optimal health through the healthiest diet, even if he wanted. The paying sponsors, the people that allow CNN to exist would never allow that.

General Mills, the pharmaceutical company and a host of other gigantic and powerful companies will ensure that the information that this influential man doles out is compromised, corrupted and in the interest of selling their products – it has nothing to do with optimizing your health. In fact, these products and this information will cause mostly the opposite effect.

It took me years of reading many books and research papers – some that were exceedingly scientific and clinical – to get to the point where I could discern unadulterated bullshit from the truth where our diet and health are concerned.

I know that most of the public are not aware of the real science and truth behind how to be lean, strong and healthy. That’s a shame, because this enlightenment also allows us to avoid the endless array of confusing misinformation and dangerous pharmaceuticals increasingly pushed upon the public.

Watching television, I also heard Oprah Winfrey talking about her experience with gaining back a lot of the weight she had lost. She blamed herself. Specifically, she blamed her low will-power in not being able to get her daily “cardio” exercise done. She spoke to her audience and talked of getting back into shape by “just doing her cardio work, like it or not.”

Now, like Sanjay, Oprah Winfrey is a wise, charismatic individual who millions of people listen to for advice. Unfortunately, where exercise is concerned, even Oprah is lost. To reinforce these tired, ineffective old ideas of discipline, denial, and hard work regarding the simple act of “moving your body” is to further confuse the public on a massive scale.

It’s not only these two well respected media celebrities who are adding to the confusion and failure. There are many others. Diet and fitness information in America is a strange, convoluted mixture of carnival hucksterism, religious-like fervor, opinion and marketing – all driven entirely by money.

Conversely, the truth that has been proven to solve our problems is purely scientific. This vital knowledge is hidden by the massive cloud of profit-driven confusion. Unfortunately these wonderful truths are known by only the few and not the many. Still, the few are trying their best to change.

If you’re looking for an all-natural way to help with your healthy eating plan, check out The Eco-Diet. You’ll learn why we are fat and the top ways to stay healthy, lose weight and stay fit. It’s at http://www.eco-diet.com

Guy Goes Crazy at Airport

Recently, while I was at the airport waiting to depart on a flight for Chicago I came across a new hamburger restaurant in the airport terminal.  The sign read “True Burger Co.”  Being a little hungry, I thought to myself:

“Wow, this should be interesting; maybe someone has finally created a healthy fast food restaurant!  A place where the owners understand the definition of a truly naturally raised animal and the huge nutritional differences in naturally raised animal foods vs. their sick, confined, industrially raised counterparts.  I may actually be able to order something healthy to eat here!” 

There is no reason in the world why “fast food” like a burger can’t be a relatively healthy thing to eat, and it looked like someone had boldly brought that idea to life.  My eager anticipation and curiosity quickly turned into despair, then into a furious rage.  Just under the “True Burger Co.” sign there it was, the proudly displayed little explanation of this restaurant’s concept:

“All our burgers are made from naturally raised corn fed local Ontario beef….”

What the F*&K!?!  You can’t be serious!  You must be F#%ING joking?

Adding insult to injury, there was an official “Ontario Corn Fed Beef” insignia with the words “Proud Partners” displayed in large letters beside it.

Now, I’ve heard of fast food companies attempting to hide their wrong doings under a cover of utter bullshit by spending millions on public relations, advertising and expensive lawyers.  I’ve just never seen this before – unadulterated, in your face bullshit, proudly displayed as the cornerstone of a fast food company’s very concept, right down to the name.

From my perspective “False Burger Co.” would have been a far more appropriate name.  Personally, I would have elected “Unhealthy Bullshit Burger” as the best name for this restaurant.  Maybe, just maybe, someone responsible for this restaurant reads the following:

First, a brief, clinical word on the natural diet of cows:

Cows are herbivore ruminants.  These animals subsist naturally on a diet of mainly grass, stems, leaves and flowers.  The cow has just one stomach, but it contains four separate compartments, the largest of which is the rumen.  These parts of the stomach work within the complex digestive system of the cow which allows the animal to control substances that are difficult and near impossible for many other animals to digest.  An average cow can consume about 70 kg of grass in an 8 hour day.  Grass passes through the rumen where it is mixed with specialized bacteria. From the rumen it moves to the other 3 parts of the stomach.  During this process, partly digested food, known as cud, is regurgitated, chewed again, and returned to the stomach compartments where digestive enzymes break it down further and nutrients are absorbed.  This is how cows have evolved to digest grasses.

1. Concise Encyclopedia
2. a-z-animals.com
3. Animal Diversity Web – Bos Taurus, Aurochs
4. Oxford Dictionaries

Unfortunately, cheap corn has replaced grass as the primary food for our industrially raised cattle.  Feeding them corn, for our purposes, speeds up their life spans and gets them really fat, allowing them to be slaughtered much sooner.  Cows that we used to let grow to be four or five years old grazing naturally in pastures are now slaughtered in a mere 14 months.  Corn gets them off the whole evolutionary relationship they’ve had with grass.  The problem with this system is that cows are not evolved to digest corn.

The rumen is designed for grass. Corn is just too rich and too starchy.  So as soon as you introduce corn, the animal is liable to get sick.  When they get sick they are given antibiotics.  Specifically, they get bloat.  The rumen just expands like a balloon. It presses against the lungs and the heart, and if nothing is done, the animal suffocates.  A hose must be stuck down the cow’s esophagus to release the gas.

Feeding cows corn also causes acidosis, which is an acidifying of the rumen. Eventually, if you give them too much corn too quickly, it ulcerates the rumen; bacteria escape from the rumen into the blood stream, and end up in the liver, creating liver abscesses.  So to prevent that, or limit the incidence of liver disease, they must be given yet another antibiotic.  They’re eating a diet on feedlots at 80 – 90% corn that would eventually blow out their livers and kill them.  To help ensure the diseases caused by feeding them corn and other unnatural feed do not kill them before they are large enough to slaughter, cows are also given synthetic steroids and growth hormones to speed up their growth.

The nutritional profile of the animal also changes dramatically and for the worse with a high corn diet.  The high fat beef from these animals contains saturated fat levels shown to be up to 7 times higher than in grass fed beef.  As a result of the higher fat content, protein per quantity of corn fed beef can be almost ½ compared to healthier grass fed beef.  Finally, corn fed beef typically has an unnatural and unhealthy omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of approximately 10:1.  Naturally pastured, grass fed beef generally has a far more healthful ratio of 2:1.  These stark nutritional differences cause the consumption of corn fed beef to increase total and LDL cholesterol concentrations, and drastically raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.  In contrast, all of the healthful aspects of pastured beef are a positive consequence of the grasses and natural vegetation these cows consume as their normal evolutionary diet.
1. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/interviews/pollan.html
2. Effect of growth promotants on the occurrence of endogenous and synthetic steroid hormones on feedlot soils and in runoff from beef cattle feeding operations. Bartelt-Hunt SL, et.al., Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
3. Nutritional Differences between Grass and Grain Fed Beef: Health Implications, By Loren Cordain, Ph.D. Professor © Copyright Loren Cordain, Fort Collins, CO 80528

I submit that the above information provides some very disconcerting “truth” regarding placing the words “naturally raised” and “corn” in the same sentence, when discussing what cows eat.  Speaking of truth; on to defining the word “true”:

1        :  Honest, just, truthful

2        :  In accordance with fact or reality

3        : The quality or state of being accurate

 (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

So, according to the real, anthropologically proven, natural diet of cows and the definition of “true”, there seems to be a “Grand Canyon” size chasm between the facts, and this restaurant’s version of the “truth”.

cows

http://www.ontariocornfedbeef.com/info/about-us/

Dear “True Burger” management, does this picture look in any way “Natural” to you?!?  Could it be the metal bars above and beside each animal?  Does the small space they are crammed into look “natural”?  Aside from that inhumane treatment, perhaps it’s the unavoidable diet of corn they have been so forcefully provided?

This was either the most audacious or the most ignorant fast food company I have ever witnessed.  It may have been a combination of both, in making the assumption that people are either so dumb or uneducated on this topic, they’ll never notice the massive lie upon which this restaurant is founded.

Perhaps they just figured out that if a real organic farmer, a zoologist, or Chef Jamie Oliver walked by they would just risk the possibility of protest.  It’s hard to imagine the investors putting millions of dollars into this thing, and putting it into an international airport terminal without someone at some point checking out the veracity of the companies most elemental and outspoken message.  Have none of these people ever heard of Michael Pollen….seriously?

I couldn’t just let this go.  At the risk of getting hauled off by security, I made a ruckus in the line up and started yelling.   “Hey!…Cows are HERBIVORES and they DO NOT naturally eat corn!”  A very overweight but congenial gentleman behind me in the lineup politely interjected, “actually they do eat corn, I know, my family has a farm”.  I responded:  “the corn we feed these animals is absolutely not a part of a cow’s natural diet.  They are meant to wonder around in a field eating grasses.  That is why they have rumens – like additional stomachs – to digest the grasses that they eat.  They will though, eat corn if you feed it to them.  But, in enough quantity, this will cause them to become ill and to become exceedingly fat, negatively changing the nutritional profile of the beef from these cows.”  He responded:  “I guess they’ll eat it if you grind it up really well…”  I responded: “WHAT?!?”

This short conversation only confirmed that regarding why this restaurant would exclaim such nonsense, out of “audacious” or “ignorant” it seemed “audacious” was the winner.  Yet, “audacious” was the wrong word to describe the pseudo-risk this company was taking in assuming that many of the public would recognize its outrageous display of bullshit.  Nope, this was going to be like taking candy from a baby, they might have well made the little heart-felt quote under their sign state:  “All our burgers are made from naturally raised lasagna, Cheezee & Oreo fed beef….”

I really doubt many would notice the difference, given the amount of misinformation the public is given by big agriculture, industry organizations and the restaurant industry.  Unfortunately, few of us have the time to discover the facts.

I searched for this companies headquarters or website, but had no luck finding anything.  I can only assume this is a food creation of the powers that be at the airport and that is, perhaps why they have been so…Ahum,…”creative” with the truth.  That is, they have a captive market and they really don’t care.  As an aside, this diatribe is in no way aimed at another “True Burger” which I discovered in California.  It looks like those guys got it right and actually serve pastured, grass fed beef – proudly, and righteously so.

The point here:  PLEASE!  Beware of corporate liars who think they can play us for fools and take our money.  If you are going to eat any animal food, try to make certain that the animal was raised responsibly in what is essentially its natural environment, eating its – real, true, zoologically correct – natural, evolutionary foods.  For cows, that would mean wandering around in a field eating grass

To learn more about a natural healthy diet and fitness plan. Check out “The Eco-Diet” to see if it’s right for you.