It’s been a year now of concentrated research and tireless pondering on the current human health status, what constitutes an optimally healthy diet and lifestyle, and the best strategy for where to go from here if health interests you. To be able to come to some worthy conclusions, I had to make as much sense out of the endless sea of information as possible. This was no small feat, and the process of putting the pieces of the ?puzzle? together is an ever-evolving process of refinement. But as we hit the end of 2007 and celebrate a full year of my self-righteous proclamations, it made sense to commemorate the current status of my overall understanding of the health trends that we’re seeing in the world.
First of all, for all who are unfamiliar with this site and the information offered here, human health is much worse right now than most people realize. Human health is by far the worst that it has ever been in history. At no time in history have humans been so weakly constituted, so prone to chronic and infectious disease, so overweight, so ridden with diabetes, digestive disorders, mental disabilities, and so on. Our teeth and eyesight are more commonly abnormal than any comparable species on earth. Modern medical advancements keep us alive, but our level of sickness is enormous. Those in disagreement are simply uneducated on the level of health experienced by our ancestors and of other creatures on earth living their intended lifestyles and enjoying a harmonious, appropriate diet.
Now let’s focus on why.
What has caused all of this? The primary answer is clear and irrefutable as far as I can see, and this is where the work of Weston A. Price shines brightly ? over-reliance on refined modern carbohydrate foods. Price was able to show, through his world travels and research, that the demise of flawless humans was brought about by the introduction of these foods. Time and time again, native peoples who enjoyed countless generations of excellent health, and who had passed down physical and mental perfection for centuries, became increasingly prone to ailments that were unknown prior to modern foods but are pandemic today. This includes tooth decay, crooked teeth, poor eyesight, allergies, skeletal malformations, arthritis, diabetes, asthma, Cancer, tuberculosis, and so many other illnesses that scarcely existed prior to the modern age.
Of course, there are dozens of factors that exacerbate poor health: mental stress, too little physical movement, depletion of soils, chemical food additives, and industrial and agricultural pesticides ? just to name a few. The beginnings of ill health, and the most powerful influence over our bodies, however, is modern, refined, technologically adulterated, processed, and packaged foods ? especially refined grain and sugar. Modern medicine and research should consider the question, ?what causes disease?? a closed case and move on to a more specific inquiry: how and why are refined sugar, grain, and other processed foods the root cause of most illnesses?
I’ve spent the last 12 months pondering this specific question more than any other, scrutinizing as much information as I could get my hands on, and the following is my most up-to-date conclusion:
Weston A. Price noticed that in all the disease-causing diets of the modern people were almost identical and consisted of lots of white sugar, white flour, canned fruits and vegetables, and canned condensed milk. Very little meat was eaten or other protein and fat-rich complimentary foods. He concluded that vitamin and mineral deficiency was the cause of people’s problems, because these foods didn’t even come close to comparing to native diets in terms of micronutrients. This was the focus of his research.
Getting adequate water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins, as well as minerals is very important, but I don’t believe that a deficiency there, as Price theorized, was the root cause of the gross degeneration seen. I also don’t believe that people’s health declined primarily because the food had been cooked, pasteurized, and sterilized as others might believe. Many native clans ate almost exclusively cooked food and had no signs of physical/mental deformity and degeneration. What I do believe, is that too many carbohydrate foods, especially non-nutritious, rapidly-absorbed carbohydrates like refined grain and sugar without complimentary fats and proteins from other sources, throws the body out of homeostasis, makes one susceptible to infectious illness, disturbs digestion, and starts a chain of deterioration.
The degenerative process as noted by Price was explained a little differently by another observer during the same time period in India, Sir Robert McCarrison, C.I.E., M.A., M.D., D. Sc., LL.D., F.R.C.P. (I don’t usually drop initials to impress people, but come on, this guy’s got 17 of ?em!). He states:
?A diet deficient in vitamins (particularly fat-soluble vitamins from animal products), and disproportionally rich in starch leads to depression of digestive and gastrointestinal function.
?Gastrointestinal disturbance and other forms of vague ill health can be prevented by supplying the necessary vitamins and adjusting the balance of the food.?
McCarrison observed, time and time again with different groups of people all over the country of India, each eating a somewhat different diet, that digestion was impaired in those eating too much starch (mostly white rice) and too little animal products. The digestive dysfunction came first, but what followed was asthma, allergies, joint problems, more feeble physique, and the long litany of disturbances noted by Price and others.
The removal of vitamins, minerals, and other components during the processing of refined carbohydrates is hugely significant. However, a diet too heavily laden with carbohydrates is disruptive on its own, refined or not refined. The refining process simply drives a nail into the coffin, speeding up the process of degeneration.
What Price and McCarrison were most likely seeing was a hormone disturbance brought about by a diet that was chronically high in rapidly-absorbed carbohydrates without sufficient vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats to counterbalance them. In turn, bodies were no longer able to maintain the most elemental foundation of good health ? homeostasis. Homeostasis of course is a fancy word for balance.
From my research, it seems like the top three primary indicators of homeostasis are the pH balance of the blood (7.4 ideal), the fasting glucose level of the blood (85 ideal), and the calcium to phosphorous ratio (5:2 ideal). When the body is operating at these levels it is functioning smoothly and efficiently, and is resistant to both chronic and infectious disease (strategies for getting to homeostasis; however, are often way off base).
Whole, harmonious, nutrient-dense foods have a limited ability to disrupt this system beyond its boundaries in a well-constituted person. Even refined foods take decades to noticeably disrupt a perfectly-constituted human being. However, an imbalance of any kind is cumulative and spans generations. Based on Price’s studies alone, where he showed clearly the level of physical perfection experienced by ?primitive? humans in the 1930’s, it is undeniable that the health passed down to modern 21st century humans is inferior. In other words, the younger the generation, the less likely a person is to get away with eating improperly.
The next question is whether the root cause of our cumulative inherited imbalances is an endocrine disorder at the core or a gastrointestinal disorder at the core. As McCarrison discovered, digestion was the first thing to go, followed by an endless litany of health disorders. True, once the digestion is impaired, the body cannot operate smoothly and efficiently and can develop virtually any known problem. Is it possible though that the departure from homeostasis, which is controlled primarily by hormonal systems (endocrine, paracrine, and autocrine), causes physiological changes that impair proper digestive function? It is hard to say for sure, it’s a what comes first the chicken or the egg kind of question. My guess is that a breakdown of either, for any reason, is the primary catalyst to the development of illness.
Another concept has been postulated by folks like Gary Taubes. Taubes suggests that many generations of overconsuming carbohydrate foods, which he fully acknowledges is transmissible from mother to child in the intrauterine environment, has created a human inability to properly metabolize carbohydrate foods. He suggests eating a diet more like what phenomenally-healthy Eskimos ate, who had virtually no illness. This diet is extremely high in fat and protein and has virtually no carbohydrates at all, considered extreme and unhealthy by just about everyone. Although Taubes has scrutinized diet intelligently and exhaustively, to me this doesn’t seem like the answer, and nearly everyone I’ve encountered eating few carbohydrates for an extended period of time had it backfire on them after tremendous initial success.
I also think adopting certain principles of a diet while ignoring the others is foolish. If you want to eat an Eskimo diet you need to be eating mostly raw meat and tremendous amounts of what they considered to be their most prized health food ? large quantities of rotting fish and meat. Taubes also bases much of his research on Stefansson, an arctic explorer who ate exactly like the Eskimo for 10 years. Stefansson was then studied in a laboratory for 1 year in New York to monitor his health on a meat-only diet. His health, under surveillance, was great, and he, and another of Stefansson’s men, lost a few pounds over the course of the study.
But this weight loss is meaningless, and one year of studying two men who had previously spent many years carbohydrate-free, making that metabolic adjustment on the exact fare of the Eskimos, couldn’t possibly be conclusive. In fact, a little weight loss is typical for low-carbers, because they must burn structural proteins to produce glucose. Thus, they lose muscle mass while maintaining or even gaining body fat ? causing weight to steadily drop without an increase in leanness. In contrast, after eating a balanced diet, my body weight actually registers as significantly overweight for my height and body type. The official numbers suggest that a medium-framed, 5?9? male should ideally weigh 146-158. Ha! I weigh 177 despite probably having less than 10% body fat (no I don’t check this daily!) and not having huge guns. That’s 19-31 pounds overweight! Would burning more muscle mass for glucose and reducing my weight to 158 with the same amount of body fat really make me healthier? Come on Gary!
Sorry to get sidetracked, but with all the carbohydrate bashing I thought it was extremely important to mention my belief that carbohydrate avoidance is not the answer. Just because carbohydrates are linked to virtually any disease (something that Taubes and I agree upon), doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat them.
The answer is rather humbling for me. Before I started this website, I thought the focus on macronutrients was the silliest thing I’d ever heard. Dr. Barry Sears, author of the The Zone believes that it doesn’t matter what you eat or where it comes from, what matters is the macronutrient balance. He recommends eating his soy protein isolate, additive-laden techno fecal Zone candy bars. For a guy like me with a passion for quality unadulterated foods, grown in harmony with nature, and prepared according to timeless traditions Sears was enemy #1 ? the biggest buffoon out there. So enjoy this moment Doc, because I am bending over, taking one for the team here:
Macronutrient balance (protein, carbs, and fat) is not everything when it comes to good health, but it is extremely important, perhaps more important than any other factor for the maintenance and cultivation of strong health and vitality.
To this humbling statement I’d like to add that there’s no reason why you can’t eat nutrient-dense, delicious whole foods cultivated harmoniously by local farmers for even better health. There is also no reason not to eat vast quantities of raw, unadulterated foods while simultaneously paying attention to macronutrient balance. Thus, the optimal diet is rich in raw food, real food, and the almighty overseer ? balance.
To quote Dr. McDopey:
?Supplementing your diet with micronutrients [vitamins, minerals, enzymes, etc. found in, for example, wholesome and raw foods] without simultaneously controlling the macronutrient balance is like building a sand castle on the beach to protect yourself from an oncoming hormonal tidal wave.
What is the proper macronutrient balance? The main thing is getting protein and carbohydrates approximately equal. Actually, the ideal is probably closer to .75 protein to carbs ? say 30 grams protein and 40 grams carbs at each meal to which fats can be added liberally. Fats must be present to properly utilize carbs and protein and keep the body functioning optimally; however, the higher your meal is in calories, the more insulin your body will secrete, and too much insulin is undesirable to say the least. My meals hover around 30:40:50 (grams of carbs to protein to fat) for a total of about 750 calories.
Of course this is a health website and not strictly a dietary website, and factors such as skipping meals, staying up several hours past your normal bedtime, overexercising, insufficient sleep, drug use, chronic mental stress, and emotional trauma also cause ?an oncoming hormonal tidal wave.
So, back to the chicken and egg question. The catch here is that many people have disturbed digestion and simply cannot jump right into a mixed, nourishing, ideal diet without repercussion. Leaky Gut Syndrome, a nutrient-absorption problem where molecules aren’t properly converted and thus enter the bloodstream via the intestines in a form that’s toxic to the body is pandemic. It’s as if everyone is suffering from this disorder to various degrees nowadays. These toxic molecules cause an inflammatory or allergic reaction, depleting Immunoglobulin supplies and leading to other immune disorders such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and eczema. It causes irritation within the intestines and can lead to inflammatory bowel disorders like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. These undigested particles cause specific food allergies, which are becoming very common and in some cases quite pronounced. This undigested matter and the resulting digestive abnormalities is even unmistakably linked to psychological illness from ADD and ADHD to Autism and Schizophrenia. A real Catch 22 indeed.
So what needs to be done? Well, the digestive tract needs rest, and much of the health claims of vegetarianism, cleansing, fasting, and food-combining are a result of this healing rest. Brief stints of eating only raw fruits and vegetables for example can be very restful for the digestive tract. Juice fasting can be very therapeutic. Maintaining a vegan diet for a period of a month or so can have its rewards. However, the instant short-term gratification of this eating style is sometimes (as in always) misinterpreted as meaning that this is a healthier long-term way of eating. Negative Ghost Rider. You can undergo healing and purification from such a diet, but if continued too long can bring about your demise. Just ask Pippa. There really is no debate between true vegetarianism and a mixed diet. A vegetarian on fish, eggs, and raw dairy products; however, can attain magnificent health.
I also feel that impaired digestion heightens the need for raw animal products with unaltered fats and proteins. Raw dairy products, raw eggs, and raw meats and fish are very nourishing and can help restore digestion, even among those who have shown allergy to pasteurized dairy and cooked meat. Eating raw foods for an extended period of time can be profoundly healing and strengthening.
Avoiding foods that cause allergic reaction is not a solution though as some have been led to believe on gluten and casein-free diets. The problem is improper digestion of those foods, not the foods themselves. Avoiding them is important to let the digestive tract rest and heal, but the idea is to work towards balancing the body to be able to eat a wide variety of healthy foods without developing allergic reaction. Just like someone who is allergic to cats, avoiding cats doesn’t cure the allergy, it just doesn’t activate the allergy. When you can use cat fur as a pillow you’ve healed.
Okay, I’m exhausted, and for the brave who have scrolled all the way down to read this one, you are too. I don’t want to shoot my whole wad here because there’s plenty more where that came from. It’s been one year of Sacred Self, and for those of you who have followed along, I thank you. We’ve had a chance to learn and grow together. But this is just the beginning of a long and interesting journey. Please stick with me in 2008 as we continue to develop a deeper understanding of how to get in perfect sync with our bodies, and please spread the word of this site to others. Your help there supports me in the dedication of so much of my time and effort to bringing forth the most accurate, current, and revolutionary information on human vitality.
Revolutionary Common Sense
Before the end of the year I’ll publish my personal reading list, a functioning bibliography of 2007’s contributions if you will, and a compilation of quotes from dozens of authors.
In January I may take a quick break, but will resume before the end of the month with a thoroughly mind-blowing synopsis of Pleomorphism, the overlooked scientific discovery that every human cell has within it the property to spontaneously change form into ?pathogenic? organisms such as fungi, parasites, viruses, and bacteria ? thus adding a whole new dimension and creating a new paradigm to the current germ theory of the modern scientific and medical world. Yeah, that should be a good one?