The deeper one gets into health optimization, the more potential there is for confusion, frustration, and overwhelm. How about a good starting point of embracing the evolutionary rationale and ancestral health movement in general? It’s difficult/impossible to argue against lifestyle behaviors that fueled human evolution (sorry Soylent and PowerBar). Inside these broad parameters, I’m captivated by the carnivore movement because it has forced me to challenge fixed beliefs and keep an open mind. And, I have seen distinct benefits with a recent carnivore-ish pattern.
I also respect the whole food, plant-based movement with that passion and concern for animal and Earth well-being. The ancestral inspiration is there, except for the acceptance of high carb civilization foods like grains and legumes. A high carb diet seems problematic in light of the modern hyperinsulinemia/metabolic syndrome epidemic. There is zero scientific evidence that natural, nutritious fats are unhealthy, and plenty of evidence that they have tremendous health benefits. For example, “essential” fatty acids are essential for survival, just like protein.
Avoiding natural fats seems problematic, as it would likely default you into a high carb diet/hyperinsulinemia (or needing to exercise your butt off to control insulin). Eating too frequently can be as unhealthy as eating nutrient-deficient foods. The keto diet craze seems often misappropriated with free license to snack on fat all day. Ketone production is best achieved through fasting, followed by carb restriction (and not stuffing your face with fat). When you can get competent at fasting, an assortment of food choices and dietary strategies can get you into the “outstanding” category of metabolic health.
Here is a quick list I made to help us relax, enjoy life, and put the massive amount of diet/nutrition content into perspective:
- Ditch crappy junk food (grains, sugars, sweetened beverages, industrial seed oils, feedlot animals). Even Dr. Peter Attia, out on the cutting edge of health and longevity, says merely ditching the crap gets you to 80% of your longevity potential.
- Emphasize nutrient-dense ancestral foods.Try to make the best possible choice in each food category (local, organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild-caught).
- Include “superfoods”, as per your personal preference (liver, green smoothies, pastured eggs, fermented foods, or organ supplements like MOFO if your diet ain’t perfect).
- Eat foods you enjoy and make meals a celebratory experience (instead of a gas station visit, chowing down on the go, or with TV/distractions).
- Get good at fasting to optimize human function (antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, energy/glucose/insulin stability, autophagy). Emphasize fasting over obsession with perfect foods, perfect meals, dogma, rigidity, or orthorexia.
- Eat less frequently, and only when hungry. Finish when satisfied, not stuffed. Watch for the diet book to end all diet books this fall from @marksissonprimal and @bradkearns1 called Two Meals A Day.
- Departures from ideal are part of life. Enjoy indulgences and get back on track – burn it off with movement/intense exercise!
- If you are suffering from chronic health conditions resisting traditional treatment, it seems like a great idea to perform a food restriction experiment and then assess results. What have you got to lose?
- Watch out for your own blind spots and confirmation bias, as well as propaganda and manipulative marketing forces. This includes using the fallback quip, “Show me the science,” because science can be flawed and manipulated. “Show me healthy, happy humans,” might be a better model to work off of.