By Matt Stone
Ray Peat talks about dietary iron being a significant negative nutritional factor. As you know, I think Ray’s a smart dude. In the past I’ve stated, “If you disagree with Ray Peat, you better be real sure. Because Ray has probably thought about it and researched it much more than you have.”
Anthony Colpo has also written a 500+ page behemoth about the role iron plays in heart disease–iron being perhaps the primary reason why men suffer from more heart disease than women until women stop menstruating, at which point female rates of heart disease quickly catch up with that of males.
There are other thoughts out there about iron being but a sign, an innocent bystander. Yes, this is a quote from Nora Gedgaudas (rolls eyes), but it’s an interesting view that ties into the theories brought forth by Russ Farris and Per Marin on the role of chronic infections in the causation of heart disease:
“Also, however (and this is important), it is possible to have what appears to be an excessively high level of serum iron and even elevated ferritin, while suffering actual intracellular deficiencies (D. Klinghardt). This is most common where chronic infections (viral, parasitic, etc.) are present and these should be ruled out. The body will use iron and copper as oxidizing agents against viruses and other microbial agents. The elevated serum levels reflect ‘spent’ ammunition. Addressing the infection by taking high doses of vitamin C or other reducing agents to help regenerate iron and supporting immune function can turn this situation around.”
What’s the answer? Should you be worried about consuming too much iron? I’m sure it depends. Some people need more iron and some people need less. As a male that ate more than a pound of red meat (very rich in iron) almost daily for years to the point of developing chest pains on my absurd quest for the perfect diet, I’m sure I could benefit from consuming quite a bit less.
It’s impossible to definitely know such a thing in a general sense, but I decided to write about it because it is a topic that may deserve attention, and I have personally taken a few actions towards reducing the iron content in my diet, and I have noticed feeling and functioning better from it.
One is that I started drinking coffee regularly for the first time in my life. I always felt kind of emotionally erratic drinking coffee, but by bringing consistency to my coffee drinking habits, it hasn’t been a problem. One of the primary reasons that Ray Peat recommends consuming coffee is to limit the absorption of iron from the food you consume. Having some coffee with meals and sipping it throughout the day have been quite nice.
With my culinary background, it has only taken me a few weeks to figure out how to prepare coffee that is vastly superior to any I’ve had prior. Because I strain (pun intended) so hard to be both clever and confrontational, I’m already referring to it as “Bullshitproof coffee.” I’ll reveal my methods and sources soon. My coffee may not make your IQ rise, but it will definitely make you more awesome in general. Only known side effect is genital hyperactivity.
I’ve also been buying and using this unenriched flour. This variety is labeled as “pasta flour,” and I do indeed use it to make copious quantities of homemade pasta (with my pimped out Kitchen Aid pasta attachment), and I use it mixed with regular store-bought stuff 50:50 to make other things like pancakes, shortcakes, and bread. It’s awesome stuff. Even if it does nothing for you healthwise, it’s an awesome product. Because it is unenriched, it contains far less iron than typical, fortified flour and bread products that we consume everywhere else. Most of the Western world is on a high-flour diet, and many could stand to make a little switch like this, assuming their diets are otherwise nutritious.
That’s all for today folks. Would love to hear your thoughts and real-world experiences pertaining to coffee, dietary iron, and related matters.
About the Author
Matt Stone is an independent health researcher, author of more than 15 books, and founder of 180DegreeHealth. He is best known for his research on metabolic rate and its central role in many health conditions as well as his criticisms of extreme dieting. Learn more by signing up for his free Raising Metabolism eCourse HERE, which also includes THIS FREE BOOK.