Health and Nutrition

Flip side to gaming today!  I’ve had ups and downs with weight and health.  It took me a while to figure out what types of foods made me sick and I’ve done my best to eliminate them from my diet.  When I cheat (like chips or cheese) I can feel the effects pretty quickly.  But that’s me!  Everyone has their own tolerances.

The above picture is the typical food pyramid.  I would be willing to bet 100$ that the majority of the western world does not follow it.  Many skip out the fruits and vegetables, stack up on sugar/filler and eat too much meat/dairy.  People then get freaked out about their size and start some crazy diet where they cut out entire sections or focus on a particular one to absurdity.  Everyone is different and there really isn’t a single 100% recipe that works for everyone.  Best you can have are guidelines.

A friend and his wife are taking on a 1 year paleo diet challenge and blogging about it.  As a concept, the idea is that you eat what our ancestors 10,000 years ago ate.  Grass fed animal meats, fish, wild plants.  Hunter-gatherer stuff.  The diet itself isn’t so much controversial as it is unknown and inapplicable in today’s environment.

Grass-fed animal meat?  That’s near impossible to find in the western world, where everything is grain fed.  You’d need to know a farmer.  Heck, the entire western world is run on grain, has been since the industrial revolution.  I won’t even go into the chemicals they put on everything.

Still though, there are some larger issues when we talk about this diet.

  1. We have no idea what proportions our ancestors ate in their meals, nor are we direct descendants from their stock.  I have european ancestors but my friends have asian, native, african and so on, as their background.  They had different diets.
  2. Though studies show they didn’t suffer from diseases such as cardiovascular, osteoporosis or diabetes, they also didn’t live long enough to get them.  The average life expectancy was ~30.  How many 25 year olds do you know who have had heart attacks?
  3. Compared to today’s values, their diets were low in salt (half), high in potassium (3x higher), low in Calcium (half), high fibre (8x higher), high vitamins (though low Vitamin D).  Those first 3 have a direct impact on chronic diseases that affect older people, which paleo people simply didn’t live long enough to reach.
  4. Casein (or dairy products) and gluten (wheat products) were not introduced until we moved from hunter gatherer to agricultural/settler societies.  Of note, life expectancy increases dramatically at this point – for various reasons.

As the blog I linked to shows, they are not following a true paleo diet.  Here’s an example of their recent Fish Tacos.  Items that are bolded are not permitted in the “true” diet.

  • Olive oil
  • Ancho Chilli Powder
  • Lime
  • Cumin
  • Wild caught fish (we used sole)
  • Avocado or cococut oil
  • Iceberg or romaine lettuce

Here’s another example.

  • 3 breakfast egg muffins (p.222 of the book Paleo Comfort foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield)
  • 1 banana with 2 tbsp almond butter
  • raw carrots
  • 3 portobello mushroom cap burgers with garlic, tomatoes, onions and lettuce (~7 ounces of beef in total)
  • Sweet potato fries and zuchini
  • 2 scoops of Egg Protein in 500 ml water
  • 4 ounces of salmon (wet rub: fresh dill, dijon mustard, and old fashioned mustard)
  • 3 ounces of ribs
  • Mixed green salad with herbs dressing and avocado
  • Spaghetti Squash Pesto to satiety (P.212 from the Paleo Confort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield)

This isn’t to squash their idea to eat healthier, it’s to show that they are using the wrong words to show their healthier choices.  This isn’t a paleo diet – it’s a diet free of casein (dairy) and gluten (wheat) and legumes (beans).  I’ll talk about those first 2 in a different post, they are quite interesting.

Personally, I know that I cannot eat anything with preservatives – namely potassium nitrates.  I can’t eat anything that’s been fried, or any saturated fats – my wife can attest to this!  I have trouble digesting casein (all dairy products).  I’ve cut down on the amount of gluten I consume (minus beer) simply because of the lack of nutritional value.  But that’s me.  You have to find your own path.

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