This post is an outline of Part III of my new book - You Don't Need Medicine - To Be Healthy. In this part, I will do my best to show you what you can do right now to take charge yourself
They are working notes that I will polish and put into the book when I have worked on them more. Please see them for what they are and please tell me your stories and give me your comments too.
The big picture about health and medicine itself is in Part I. The science is in Part II.
No preaching or lessons in Part III: just what worked for me.
This is the first of 3 posts that make up Part III. The other 2 will be
- Body - What your body needs from interacting with the environment of the physical world - such as activity, such as sleep, such as Sun and so vitamin D, such as a small community, such as avoiding novel substances such as Fluoride in your toothpaste.
- Social - What we need from our social environment - such as a real tribe, control over our time, such as real status, such as control over our thoughts
Food - The Best Starting Point
Today we talk about the impact of eating the food that we are designed to eat.
I am sure that you have seen many pictures of how our bodies are changing. How we are morphing into a race of fat people.
Well, l here I am morphing back. It took me 35 years to get this fat and ill. It took me a year to get most of my health back.
I had given up
This is me. In 2009 I was 59 and I looked a lot like many western middle aged men. Note the belly . Note the man boobs. Note the fat face and neck. That is the obvious. What you cannot see are the bad knees and the arthritis. What you cannot see is that I was on my way to being diabetic. What you don't see is the heartburn and the apnea. What you don't see is how my libido had collapsed. What you don't know is that I looked just like my dad before he died.
What I am talking about is not just another diet. What I am talking about is health and aging so that you can be fit and active and a real contributor for all your older years.
When you change your diet back to the diet that you are designed to eat, you will lose weight. But you will also start to heal your entire body. But I did not know that this was possible back in 2009.
My wife, Robin, would beg me to take better care of myself. I used to tell her that how I aged was inevitable. This is what a middle aged man looked like. It was destiny to get fat and feeble. I believed this. And my response to the conventional wisdom? I could never get behind going to a gym. I hated mindless exercise. I hated the conventional diets. I could not keep them up.
I was stuck. Just like most of us. And even the story of my own family was not enough. My father died aged 55. My mother has been an invalid wrecked by arthritis since her 40's. The future did not look good for me.
I had resigned myself to becoming an invalid and dying young. I think I was like most people. I was helpless before my destiny. I was like the smoker who smokes through his tracheotomy hole. I was going to go down in flames because I thought I had no choice.
What got me started - The idea of the Plateau - Aging well by Design
But then I met Michael Rose. Michael is no self appointed health guru but is the leading scientist in the field of aging. We were introduced by a mutual friend who thought we might enjoy each other. The big idea that got me started was Michael's great discovery.
It is this. We are not designed to get ill and feeble as we get older. We are designed to get older and still be fit and healthy.
You might ask why? The short answer is evolution. Here is how it worked to give us this gift.
In the millions of years of our hunter gatherer past, where we lived in tiny tribes of about 35 people, a tribe could not survive if the middle aged cohort became feeble. Human young took about 25 years to reach their full physical and mental development. Hunter gathering life also demanded massive knowledge that took decades to absorb. The older members of the tribe had to be fit, active and true leaders. Tribes that had feeble older people died out.
In layman's terms the Plateau is this. You must know some older people who aged 85, stop getting weaker? They can can live until 100 or older with no further deterioration. You know them? Yes, they have gray hair and wrinkles. Yes they have funny skin and don't see or hear so well. But they are fully capable people who don't need to be cared for and who can help others and play a full role in the family and in society. This is the "Plateau." At a set point, we stop getting more feeble. The deterioration slows to a crawl and then stops.
Getting old and feeble is not our destiny. Provided we live by the rules that are set by our evolution.
And the Plateau is not only out there for a few at 85 but is there for all of us earlier in life.
In 3 years, I have been able to set my plateau at 62. I weigh what I weighed on the day of my marriage 37 years ago. My metabolic numbers are of a 30 year old. I am not unusual. This plateau in middle age is possible for any of us. It is in our design.
There are 2 destinies. Most of us, me before MR, are on the red line. By the time we are 50, we start to fall apart.
I set up a new destiny for myself. I chose the black line as my destiny. For, depending on our ancestry, the Plateau is available in our 50's and maybe earlier if our heritage is close to Hunting and Gathering such as if you are a First Nation's person.
So how did I start?
The first step is diet. I did my best to stop eating the modern diet. And by "Modern" I mean the diet that we eat after 10,000 BC. And with even greater rigour - I rejected all the new industrial foods that we have been eating for maybe 50 years only.
I decided to be strict. I took out all processed food. All grains. All juice. All dairy. I also reduced my intake of carbs to no more than 50 grams a day.
To stop any cheating, we threw out all our old food. This really helps.
There are many guides for why and how to do this. One I like a lot is Sebastian Noel's site - Link here. He is full of tips, advice and recipes. For this is not easy. I had to learn a whole new way of eating.
Here is a simple guide I used as well.
By looking at carbs, I also had to know how many carbs were in the foods that I was thinking about. There are many good guides to this as well but here is one that I used a lot.
We started shopping very differently. Many people reject meat for ethical reasons. I agree. I think that people will look back at how we treat animals in the future and think we muct have been mad. Just as we look back at slavery today. I reject that system ethically and also practically. I also know that the meat from such a system is not good for us. Cows that are in feedlots and eating grain are sick and so is their meat. What does all the stress of confinement and the terrible food given to animals mean for real food health? And of course they all have to be medicated.
So, Robin and I shop rarely in the conventional food system. We buy nearly all our meat and veggies from the farmers market and from people we know. We vote for a new food system with our wallets. We work for a new food system.
This shift in how we eat will be the change that changes the food system. Collectively as millions join in, we create the demand. More on this later.
Getting the support of your family is critical. Here I was very lucky that Robin wanted me to get well. Some families are torn and it must be very hard. Also men and women have different struggles.We are addicts to our own version of sugar. Many women are tightly bonded to sweet things. Men less so. Most men love beer. Fewer women have the same attraction to beer. It helps to know this, so that when you cheat, you do not give up. For cheat you will. The interesting thing is that your body gets used to being healthy that when you cheat, you will feel it right away. Your body will remind you that this is not good.
Breakfast is a real challenge. I am happy to have eggs and bacon (from real pigs and not cured in a factory) I often have organ meat such as kidneys and liver. Robin not. So she will often have broth and veggies and small amounts of fruit.
Lunch and dinners are easier to eat together.
We used to snack all the time. After all when you eat carbs you get hungry quickly after the meal. For it is like puttting gas on the fire. Our need to snack, went away as the leptin kicked in. Leptin is the hormone that tells us when we are full. It is surpressed by carbs. I found that as I increased the nutritional density of my food, my hunger went away.
What about drink? While Beer is a no no. Wine is very low carb and so I was able to keep up my favourite sin.
And for candy addicts: dark dark chocolate is also on the good list and Robin coped with her sweet tooth with that.
We cook all our meals. You may not have the time or the energy to do this. Actually most of our meals take less time to cook that they used to. We use a crock pot a lot. We grill meats. We make stews that last for days. We make more than we eat in any meal and make other meals from leftovers.
Meat is expensive. Good meat is more expensive. But meat is not only steak. We use a lot of cheap cuts - hence the crockpot that will reduce the toughest to a delicious tender and juicy state. We make a lot of broth. A roast chicken will be a meal. The cold chicken will be lunches. Then we put the bones and the carcass in the stockpot and bingo - broth which is more lunches and other meals. One $12 real chicken has 12 meals in it.
Our meals are fast and cheap and healthy.
Results after 6 months
I had lost 20 pounds. I had taken no more exercise than walk the dog. But there was more than weight loss. My belly fat had nearly all gone. Visceral fat is the most dangerous fat we can have and is a strong predictor of heart disease. My man boobs had gone. This is not just a fat thing but is a sign of a re balance of testosterone and estrogen. Let's put it this way - no need for little blue pills.
Robin lost less weight than me. Women need more fat. But for her, the results were even more striking. Since chemo years ago, her knees had been very weak and painful. She was on the list for knee replacement and had been taking a serious anti inflammatory to enable her to walk at all. She was now out of pain and off her meds entirely. She will never run like an 18 year old. But her mobility is back and the pain is gone. And also I could see another change. Her cellulite was going. It has all gone now.
The other result that this strict early diet had for us was that it showed us that this was working and it motivated us to study more and to do more.
We had been focused on Paleo that helps us deal with Metabolic problems: such as how we get fat and get diabetes. We were getting our insulin world back in shape.
Widening the scope from Paleo to Gut Health
As Robin and I saw how we were getting better, we dived into the mass of material online that helped us understand more. In the appendix, I will do my best to share with you many of the sources that we find the most helpful.
In this search, we came across a new topic for us. That is Gut Flora. In the big debate about what is Paleo, people often miss this key factor. Our gut is not just a set of organs. The real work of digestion is done by trillions of bacteria that have spent millions of of years co evolving to act as our digestive and health partners. It is they that keep the bad stuff from passing from our gut into our bodies. At the core of ALL chronic disease is inflammation. And the pathway is our gut. Poor gut health health guarantees inflammation.
This then, is a strong reason to give up grains. Grains defend themselves by using chemicals. These disrupt our gut flora. If you have had to use a lot of anti biotics, then your gut flora will be devastated.
Go here for answers. Natasha Campbell McBride is the authority. But in summary, grains are a no no. Sugars are a poison for your gut flora. This is another dimension.
To restore and to keep your gut flora, you need fermented food. And this brings back to dairy.
When we started out, Robin and I gave up all dairy. But we are back to using heavy cream and high fat yoghurt. If we could have access to unpasteurized milk we would go there too. Milk from an industrial dairy has to be pasteurized. Hamburger from a feedlot has to be cooked well done. Industrial food is dangerous by its system. Milk from the house cow is another thing altogether. Raw meat from the pastured cow is another thing too.
All real fermented food is good such as sauer kraut. The fermentation process is aligned with our gut flora. Industrial food has all the life taken out of it so that it will last on the shelves. So as we understood this idea better, Real Food had a new dimension. If it did not go bad, we did not eat it.
Brings us back to the need for a new food system. One that is based on animals being raised according to their nature.
Now we were also getting at another core pathway for chronic illness which is inflammation.
Finally there is more to food than nutrition.
Sharing food is the key to relationships
Most people have given up the core process that made us human. Sharing food around the campfire in a group was the process that made us the species that we are. Most people eat alone and see food prep and the clean up as chores.
But sharing the prep, the meal and the clean up is what made us human.
Robin and I make our meals together an important part of the day. We live and work under the same roof. But we do different things. We like different things. It is the preparing, eating and cleaning up at mealtime that reunites an old married couple. It is the intimacy of the meal that refreshes our bond. And we include others as often as we can. Not the least our kids and grandkids.
The sharing of food is not only a mechanical process of refuelling it refuels the tribe.
Food, not sex, is at the heart of human trust and intimacy. Not just the eating but the gift of the preparation and even the clean up. All religious ceremony is rooted in food. Communion. Gifts of food to the Gods. Feasts. Weddings.
Robin and I brought back the sacred to our meals and to each other. You will see how this links to another key pathway, which is our social world. Our marriage has come together in an entirely unexpected way and now is the core of how we fit into the world. We all need such a friend. Romance is a joy but is fleeting. We need that other person who stands back to back with us as we face the trials that living presents us. We also have made a vow by our action to do our best to stay fit and healthy for the other and for our children.
Sharing the entire process of the meal, is the best social bond that there is.
After 12 months
I had lost nearly 40 pounds and was back to my marriage weight and body. OK I have grey hair and I am soft. But I had the same facial structure as my 25 year old self. The same waist and chest.
I slept like a teen ager again. My mind was clearer. I did not worry so much. My mood is almost always upbeat and when I am down, I recover very quickly.
I add this pyschological profile because depression is strongly diet related. My family is very prone to this and other members of my family, who have had serious bouts of depression, have become much more stable and have stopped taking all their meds since cuuting back on grains and sugars.
This is not just about weight loss.
This joint project has also brought a lot more life back into our marriage. We share a goal. We help each other and we pay attention to each other at meal times. It's our little triumph together over the system and our gift to each other.
And PS - Our Lab Cross Bitch aged 11 has lost 20 pounds - her back legs have come back and she is like a 4 year old. She too is off Kibble and eats only real meat and veggies. She also cannot cheat. She hardly farts - she could empty a room before. Her breath is sweet and her teeth gleam - no more sugar/kibble/grains in her diet. With luck she has more good years ahead.
The New Food System and the Revolution
It is not easy to find real food. The mainstream food system is everywhere. It has taken all but 5% of people off the land too and most of the 5% left are serfs working for pitiful wages and in terrible conditions. Meanwhile all those jobs in the city are disappearing except for more serf jobs in fast food and the food distribution system.
As more and more of us eat differently, we create the demand for a food production revolution.
The new food system will I think employ millions. It will be based in small holdings that raise animals as they too were designed to live. This is what is behind pastured meat. The scale we need will come from the network.
And all this will take place as the machine system is further exposed for what it is. When 20% of us buy our food from the new, the old will crumble. It will be like the newspapers.
This is not just a diet. Eating as we are designed to eat will change not only each of us but all of human society.
Be the Change
About a year ago I met a friend, who had not seen me for a year, in the car park of the Farmers Market. She saw me and gasped. She thought that I must have cancer to have lost so much weight. But it was just this new/old way of eating.
This kind of eating is see as a fad and foolish by the system who are invested in the old. But the one data point that cannot be argued is YOU. When you discover for your self and for your family and friends how different you can be in such a short time, they cannot ignore it.
This is what will drive the next wave. When 10% of us all are fit and healthy, the system will not be able to say that we are all fools.
So, if you want to make the world a better place, you only have to join Robin and I. It's the most revolutionary act you can make and you don't have to wait for anyone else.