This is a very complex topic, and it's almost impossible to say that something, some way of eating, some specific diet is going to work and produce results for everybody because we are so different.
We are different genetically, we have different starting points, and our environments have shaped us differently.
What we've been eating and how we have been living in the last two, three, four, or five decades has affected our genetics by turning on and off certain genes, and that has an effect on what we can tolerate and, more specifically, what makes us thrive today.
And this is nothing new. It's supported by a large body of evidence, including a big study from 2015 where researchers found a drastic difference in blood sugar levels between people eating identical meals. Now blood sugar is just one variable, but this just shows how differently the same food can affect us.
So it's really hard to say that something is going to work for everyone, but it's not that hard to say what's not working for ANYONE, and that is the way we're eating today.
If you look at the united states, they might be divided politically, but when it comes to health, an astounding 88% of the population are metabolically unhealthy, so something has to change here.
I'll just take one example that's easy to follow, everywhere we look for nutrition advice, we hear that more fruit and vegetables are really good for EVERYBODY, uncategorically. One issue with that is that that load of fiber can be problematic for people who already suffer from digestive issues. In fact, one reason some people develop gut issues in the first place is because they consume more fiber than their body can handle.
As a response to this, we see things like the GAPS eating protocol that focuses on healing your gut by cutting out everything that's rough on your digestion, including all fiber.
So why do so many people regurgitate this kind of generic, close-minded advice even though it's obviously not always true? One reason is simply because it's a safe position to take, nobody is going to question you if you tell them to eat more fruit and vegetables. Is it common sense, right?
This is safe. You don't have to be afraid to lose your job, credibility, income, and so on.
It's also a simple, easy answer. People want magic pills. It's easier to PROVIDE and SELL shallow and simple "solutions" than actually working your way through complexity.
Unfortunately, this is where we're at today; we cannot afford to be dogmatic here; we have to be practical and find out what works – the way out is to take this into our own hands and experiment to find out what works for US. to be able to do that we need to start with an open mind and clean slate, basically ignoring outside opinions, and just find out what makes sense to us. Does this resonate with me?
Well, I'll go try that! Don't accept things at face value from people. I don't care who it is.
Don't listen to me. Verify for yourself, test for yourself. Not your experience, not your truth.
Does this make sense? Does it work for me? If not, let's try something else. That's the way forward.
But to reduce the time and energy spent testing, we can follow some principles and guidelines to test intelligently.
The number one barometer that you need to learn to tune in to: how do you FEEL after eating something? Do you feel good, happy, energetic, or do you feel tired or depressed? Eating should energize you. It shouldn't be draining.
If your energy levels drop after eating, you've probably eating the wrong things for you. You also want to look at your digestion. If you feel it working hard, or if you get uncomfortable, get a lot of gas, or feel strained or bloated in any way, you have a problem. Your digestion should just be there in the background, just like your heart. You're not really aware of it working. Ideal digestion, if you ask me, is like ideal breathing, so delicate you cannot feel it.
Now, the keystone principle, when it comes to nutrition is to focus on metabolic health. If we can restore our metabolic function and build metabolic health, everything else will take care of itself.
It goes back to that concept of overcapacity that I mentioned in the overview. The faster we rebuild our metabolic health, the faster we can relax and not be so strict and worry so much about what we eat anymore. Front-load the work, put in the work now so you can reap the benefits and cruise later. Just like with any other type of investment, the sooner you start, the sooner you can sit back and collect the rewards.
So how do we do that?
Principle #1: eat real food. Avoid processed crap, fast-food, all types of ready-made meals, and so on as a rule of thumb: If it has an ingredient list, it's out. I don't care what you eat if you're plant-heavy or meat-heavy. As I said, everybody is different, and we thrive on different things but as far as possible, make sure it's real food you're putting into your body.
If we look at the similarities between all different ways of eating that actually work, that give people results, and actually improves health, this is the foundational pillar they all rest on. They are all based on eating real food.
Weston Price, who almost a century ago studied the health of different populations across the globe, found that people were healthy on a variety of diets, different populations were demonstrating excellent health while eating different things. The red thread was that they all followed traditional ways of preparing and eating food. His conclusion was, and I quote: life in all its fullness is mother nature obeyed. An easy rule of thumb that applies to everything, not just nutrition.
In addition to this: food quality matters! We are what we eat. The produce we eat today has a fraction of the nutrition it had just 50 years ago. Modern agriculture has depleted our soils of nutrients. As if that's not bad enough, we harvest everything before it's ripe, so instead of ripening in the sun, our food ripens in warehouses or in trucks on the way out to grocery stores. Why does this matter? The plants we eat develop a vast majority of the nutrition during the last 10-14 days of ripening in the sun. You see the problem here? Actual ripe produce would spoil on the way to the grocery stores, especially when we consider how we ship things all over the globe.
The food industry is about maximizing growth and profit, period. It's not about health. Never was. When in doubt – follow the margins. The higher the margins for a certain product, the worse for your health it generally is. If something is being heavily marketed as healthy, it is usually because it is much much cheaper to produce than what it can be sold for. Fake meat is a great example, this stuff is made of cheap waste that cost almost nothing, but it sells with a huge markup thanks to clever marketing.
This is what the CEO of whole foods had to say about Beyond Meat:
"I don't think eating highly processed foods is healthy. I think people thrive on eating whole foods,"
"As for health, I will not endorse that, and that is about as big of criticism that I will do in public."
That's what he said. You can draw your own conclusions.
Most "Real" meat isn't much better. Almost all meat in our supermarkets comes from animal factories where the animals live under horrible conditions, treated with hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs to maximize yield.
They're fed nutritionally VOID garbage like the cheapest, lowest quality corn, wheat, and soy that makes them big, fat, and sick.
In addition, an animal feed can also, fully legally, contain rendered roadkill, diseased Animals, Feathers, Hair, Skin, Hooves, meat, and blood from the same species, manure, waste and litter, cement dust, and plastics.
So what's the actual solution? Boring, simple, but effective. Eat fresh, organic, locally grown, seasonal, sun-ripened produce. It makes a WORLD of difference. Meat-wise, healthy animals that have eaten what they're supposed to eat, their natural food, not fed industrial waste. Animals from factories are not only nutritionally inferior but outright unhealthy. Garbage in, garbage out.
I know this is a matter of both convenience and budget, but making food quality a priority is one of the best investments you will ever make, on many levels, not only personal and planetary health.
Principle #2: focus on nutrient density. This is especially important considering the state of our food industry, as we just discussed.
The most nutritious foods we can eat are organ foods, like brain, heart, liver, and so on.
I get that not everybody has access to these foods or can or want to eat them, and I'll share some supplementary ideas in a little bit. Case in point, personally, I just could not get used to eating liver. I absolutely could not stand the taste. Until I finally got hold of grass-fed liver, which was a different food. That just shows the difference between factory-farmed animals and healthy animals that eat what they are supposed to eat.
But anyway, this is not limited to organ meat – nutrient density should always be a guiding principle when you pick and choose any food.
Principle #3: improving gut health and lowering inflammation. Between 60-80% of the immune system is located in the gut, and inflammation is a major driver of chronic disease.
To an extent, this stuff takes care of itself when we just eat real food and cut out non-food. We all know we should limit or avoid refined sugar, but very few people are aware of how bad vegetable oils, and specifically seed oils, really are for us. This is a big big problem. This is tricky because these oils are sold as natural, cold-pressed, heart-healthy, and so on. They can seem like natural products, but there is nothing natural about them, and they are not suitable for human consumption period.
While people respond differently to sugar and handle it more or less well, seed oils are universally bad when it comes to chronic inflammation, which is rampant across the globe today, one of, if not THE main reason for this is the type of fatty acid in seed oils.
I don't want to get too bogged down in details here, but this is really important, so we need to talk a bit about fatty acids. We basically have three big categories of fats. Saturated fats, which are the dominant fat in things like meat, butter, and coconut oil. This is solid at room temperature. We also have two types of unsaturated fats that both are liquid at room temperature, we have monounsaturated, which is the dominant fatty acid in olive oil, but there is also a good amount of monounsaturated fat in meat and butter.
Lastly, we have polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are the dominant type of fat in most vegetable oils and seed oils.
Unsaturated fat is not stable, especially polys oxidize and go rancid very fast. These fatty acids are not suitable for building blocks for cell membranes.
We eat less red meat than 60 years ago, the same amount of sugar, we smoke less, etc. The major difference is that we consume veg oils. Consumption has increased 150x in the last century in the US. Do you think there might be a link to chronic disease?
As I mentioned, the polyunsaturated fat in seed oils is linked to inflammation, But wait, there is more! Vegetable oil is recognized as a drug for knocking out the immune system. Vegetable oil solutions were used to nourish cancer patients, but it was discovered that the unsaturated oils were suppressing their immune systems. These same oil solutions are now instead sold for the purpose of suppressing immunity in patients who have had organ transplants. Oops! And obviously, using these oils in foods has the same harmful effect on the immune system. Unsaturated fats directly kill white blood cells.
Selling this waste as healthy is peak cynical marketing.
I'm not gonna go more into detail on specifically what to eat since we are so different, but I will say that Many people have problems with gluten and dairy, so it's worth seeing how you feel from cutting those out for a while.
If you have no clue where to start, I can recommend looking into anti-inflammatory diets to use as a starting point and template and modify as you see fit for your genetics and lifestyle.
Lastly, I want to touch on supplements. I'm not a big fan in general, especially not synthetic isolates of vitamins and minerals and micronutrients. Our bodies don't recognize this as nutrition, so the absorption is usually terrible and the effect minimal. We also don't know the long term effects of artificially messing with vitamin, mineral, and nutrient balance in this way.
I see all these biohacking people taking dozens of different supplements, apart from it being a neverending hamster wheel chasing "perfection," whatever that means, with all the stress that causes, these people are getting liver issues and have to come up with ways to combat that by for example cycling their supplements to reduce liver damage. To me, this is absolute insanity. Our main heuristic, rule of thumb, should be to not do anything or try to solve a problem with something that introduces new, or more problems on the other side.
In my experience, it's much more beneficial to get everything we need from food, the nutrients in whole food have synergy effects missing in isolated supplements, so if we eat nutritious food, we get everything we need in perfect ratio and balance, and have no need to supplement.
That said, if you can't get hold of organ meat, taking it in powder form could be very beneficial and convenient.
If you have digestion issues and can't handle a lot of fiber, you might want to look into getting plants in another form. There are gels and powders on the market. You can start juicing to get a lot of nutrients without the fiber load, so you might wanna experiment with solutions like that.
Reflection: based on what you've learned, rate your current nutrition standard/level on 1-10. Where do you want to take it? What's the first step?