Seriously, if I hear ?Masai? or ?Kitavan? one more time I might scream. Or at least run to the nearest McDonald’s.
While it’s always of great interest that there were many traditional peoples that had excellent markers of good physical development such as great teeth and skull formation, and that these excellent indicators eroded with the sudden introduction of refined foods like white sugar and white flour, the past really needs to be left behind.
Anyone tried the Masai diet? I did – or at least I came pretty close eating only milk for nearly a month. It sucked ass, I had extreme allergies to everything and severe chest pain after only 27 days ? plus it was not fun. I’d much rather eat whatever the heck I want out of convenience and go to the dentist for repairs than do that for life. ?Oh, but it was the quality of the milk! Perhaps, but that was about the best quality any reasonable person could find or afford without buying their own cow and farm. In today’s society, nothing about that is really functional even if it did give you some magical health like the Masai who, even with great health, don’t exactly live to be 100 years old. So it’s rather pointless to imitate.
How about the Kitavans? Who is going to wake up to a breakfast of boiled yams, a lunch of fruit, and a dinner of more yams, greens, and a little fish? maybe some coconut thrown in here and there ? 365 days per year for the rest of their lives? Chirp, chirp, chirp.
When discussing traditional diets, the word ?irrelevant? sneaks in with ever-increasing volume.
There are so many other variables as well. For example, one argument that I recently came across in the book Deep Nutrition (ironically about traditional diets mostly), goes something like this?
A mother smoking during pregnancy is known to increase the risk of asthma in the child. The author’s logic goes something like this?
1) Mother is breathing in a bunch of toxic chemicals, convincing the body that the world the baby is about to come into is full of pollutants.
2) Initiates the pulling of a set of epigenetic and hormonal levers that prepares the baby for the world the body thinks it’s about to enter into.
3) Baby is born with a hypervigilant response to airborne material for heightened protection against airborne threats.
Of course, this is just one example. I think most mothers in the modern world, just because of the nature of the modern world, are under a lot of stress and inflammation. Compounding this is the fact that the cells and tissues of modern humans are overloaded with the building blocks for inflammation ? Linoleic acid and Arachidonic acid.
But what I’m saying is that a baby with that heredity is fundamentally very different from someone living in a traditional society. That person has very unique dietary and lifestyle requirements, all of which should be geared up to minimize stress and the production of inflammation. That person cannot go and run a billion miles like such and such tribe, or eat a lot of overtly inflammatory foods. He or she certainly can’t go on a standard low-carb diet, which requires much greater demand from the stress system.
Taking a deeper look down this same hole, the human genome has literally undergoes massive changes in response to diet, trying to prepare the infant for the world it is entering into. Traditional peoples were in synch with their environment, eating the same general diet generation after generation. Even if they did eat a diet that was stressful such as the diet of the Eskimo, it was consistent enough and with enough regularity and nutritional excellence for them to adjust their epigenome to the diet. Modern humans trying to mimic this diet without having the proper hereditary blueprint for it (something one can only acquire by having Eskimos as parents), yields disaster. It’s very plausible that any drastic departure in diet from what your parents ate could backfire and make your health worse, not better.
This brings up a couple more important points. For starters, the Eskimo, while they had great teeth and no signs of heart disease, still aged rapidly. I’m not talking died young because they starved to death or got bitten by polar bears, but aged rapidly (reported as looking a lot older than they were and dying of natural causes at very young ages ? typically 60’s and 70’s). Harsh climate, low sunlight over the winter, a diet lacking carbohydrate, high in polyunsaturated fat ? this will age ya quickly. No one should be infatuated with this diet.
Secondly, traditional diets the world over were generally VERY specific. Nowadays you have people saying, ?oh, the Eskimos didn’t eat carbohydrates, so it’s safe to do the Atkins diet. The Eskimo boiled whole fish, which contains thyroid hormone. They ate copious amounts of rotten fish, potentially full of short-chain fats that a normal low-carb dieter wouldn’t get. They subdivided the adrenal glands of animals amongst tribe members to get adequate vitamin C. Their diet was seasonal, synchronizing their diet with the current environmental demands. They relied in large part upon intuition when eating. They didn’t starve themselves when hungry after a long day because eating extra food wasn’t on their diet plan. These are all very specific things that people don’t take into account when they just decide to eat nothing but ribeye from Wal-Mart for a few years. And a misstep on any one of those important factors can be the difference between health and destruction. Traditional diets are simply too area and tribe specific and restrictive to be mimicked in today’s world.
Restraint and restriction is another important and underappreciated aspect of trying to eat a traditional diet ? whatever that is. The human brain and emotions are extremely complex and powerful, potentially having more of an influence over one’s health status than the quality of their diet in many cases. Trying to eat a strict diet when you are surrounded by tempting other options is not something traditional peoples had to deal with. The food they had was all they knew, so as long as supplies were adequate, they knew not deprivation. But the feeling of deprivation or wanting something and not providing it to your body are powerful triggers of physiological changes within your body ? namely catapulting your body into a hibernatory, low metabolic state.
Of course, we shouldn’t discredit all elements of traditional food eating. I think the main lessons that can be gathered and banked on are that they ate the whole animal, ate whole foods, never ate a vegan diet, and ate foods with a high nutritional value in terms of vitamins and minerals. These are great fundamentals. However, complexity still remains. Eating the whole animal is something that is impractical for some, many lack the skills, abilities, knowledge, and equipment to ?cook the whole animal,? many can’t conveniently acquire whole animals, and many see the brains and liver and eyes and such as yucky. Trying to force down unpalatable food is a health liability as far as I’m concerned, and studies have indicated that eating something that’s not enjoyable reduces mineral absorption from that meal. Another study I came across has shown that lacking arousal about what you are eating weakens digestive secretions.
Traditional peoples, while they had excellent health, were still not some magical pinnacle of human health and longevity. They should not be worshipped as if they lived to be 700 years old. They didn’t. Many aged just as quickly as we do. Many aged much faster. With modern science we can see precisely what type of diet and lifestyle (and most importantly, mindset) accelerates aging and which kind slows the aging process. Jack LaLanne probably had a higher degree of functional longevity than almost any traditional tribe member. Don Gorske will outlive most Eskimos eating only Big Macs, parfaits, and Coca Cola, presumably because ?he’s lovin? it.
But just because a traditional tribe ate something does not mean that a certain food gets an out-of-jail-free card. Hey, many of them ate shellfish. So shellfish are healthy. Oops, sorry you had an anaphylactic reaction and died eating that healthy food.
We are in a new frontier of human society and it calls for great flexibility with our eating, and a better understanding of the straightforward relationships between food and our physiology. The world is so unique in the history of our species that trying to match an old diet with a new lifestyle and a truly new physiology (hyperinflammatory)?is no guarantee, and may create a mighty mismatch.As I’m sure many of you will see if you’ve attended some kind of traditional nutrition conference, the health status of the attendees on a generic ‘traditional? diet doesn’t appear to be any different than that of the mainstream public. It is not a panacea. It does not appear to be worth the grandiose effort of trying to eat a mythological ?perfect diet? built around an unintelligent hodge podge of what traditional peoples around the world ate to go with their specific lifestyle, environment, and epigenetic blueprint.
One word summary of traditional diets…IRRELEVANT!
If you’d like some ammunition to make fun of me, read how to RAISE YOUR METABOLISM?where I am annoyingly fixated on traditional diets and say “Masai” and “Kitavan” about 20 times?each. The bottom line is that ditching the psychological speedbump that my traditional diet infatuation gave me has only accelerated my understanding of how the human body works and made me better able to guide others to what they need to function much better than they currently are.
Unrelated, but Natalie Portman has quit veganism during her pregnancy!
It seems that one of the keys is to find a diet and stick with it. Don Gorske has a consistent diet. Jeanne Calment consistently ate chocolate. Henrikje van Andel-Schipper joked about eating pickled herring every day as the key to her longevity.
It may be that the body cannot adapt fast enough when a person is constantly changing their diet. Maybe the body responds by gaining weight or possibly some other pathology. I don't think consistency is the ONLY factor, but it might play a major role. Has anyone considered this?
As I’m sure many of you will see if you’ve attended some kind of traditional nutrition conference, the health status of the attendees on a generic ‘traditional? diet doesn’t appear to be any different than that of the mainstream public.
I don't think this is entirely fair, since people generally only get into traditional diets after they've ruined their health eating the SAD. The damage you see in these people typically preceded their adoption of "traditional eating." It takes time to undo that damage no matter how what dietary changes are later made.
Of course traditional diets shouldn't be lauded as the theory of everything. What is wrong with people and their lack of coherent philosophy with regards to food? It's like "X population didn't completely fucking die, so we ought to eat like them", it's absurd, we can do better than any cultural diet because cultural diets aren't chosen on the merits of health but availability.
we can do better than any cultural diet because cultural diets aren't chosen on the merits of health but availability.
I wonder if what's locally and seasonally available is what is best synchronized with one's nutritional needs in their specific environment and at a specific time of year. Like, maybe people in temperate climates have no business eating coconut oil no matter what the literature says. And if little else is alive where you live (ie, no food available), maybe you don't belong there either. Just a thought.
Good comment Stabby… That was a point I was hoping to make as I've likened the Paleo diet to prison sex. What's available doesn't mean that's what is ideal. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that it's quite amazing that traditional peoples could have such great health on such crappy diets.
Mike – I agree. It is unknowable. But it was very important for me to overcome that infatuation when I did attend a conference and everyone looked a lot worse than people in my home town – not just in terms of body composition which isn't all that relevant, but the whole portrait of health.
“I’ll go so far as to say that it’s quite amazing that traditional peoples could have such great health on such crappy diets.”
I think that the facts you have highlighted in your articles are indeed what must be kept from the relation health-traditional diets. Namely, the insane ratio of minerals and vitamins those guys had in their food vs the depleted one we get nowadays even through organic (high brix maybe the way), and their seldom use of PUFA. I don’t think the ratio or macro nutrients then matter much as long as those bases are covered – super high amount of mineral and vitamins and the right fats.
That would explain why even some restricted diets like the ones the Kitavans ate guaranteed them mostly a good health, because of these fundamentals. I think an interesting way to study these people in relation to their health would have been to see how mineral dense the soils they grew their food one were – I bet that was the common points between the Kitavan, Okinawans and Huzas, much more than a magic ratio between macro-nutrients (apparently the Huzas lived in area where the soils were washed away by mineral dense clay whenever it rained).
So maybe a diet rich in modern food can still sustain health as long as supplementing with a lot of minerals and vitamins?
The point of talking about and studying traditional diets isn't to find & choose one that sounds tasty and mimic it as accurately as possible. The point is to help discover why people today are so unhealthy. What foods did healthy people eat and, perhaps more importantly, not eat? From there, we experiment…
Actually John, my reason for talking about traditional diets is to somehow post a video clip of Chong Li. Perhaps you don't see the connection but whatever, Chong Li is awesome. I've sorta got that body working too right now. Just need a little more in the pecs and I'm good.
Ok Matt, then can the next post's point be to post another video of him, from Enter the Dragon?
I wanted to go for this and you almost had a point, but you lost me at your inference that the Atkins diet does not allow carbs.
Look, if you don't want to do Atkins, just say you don't want to do Atkins. You don't have to justify it to anybody. But to out and out lie about what the diet involves is beyond the pale and it destroys your credibility for anyone who knows the facts.
I have three versions of the man's diet book. Can you say you've read even one? Or part of one? I've read the last version of the ones he wrote (I can't seem to wrap my brain around the very latest one that he had nothing to do with authoring, considering he's been dead eight years), and parts of the other two. And I'm here to tell you: ATKINS ALLOWS CARBOHYDRATES, PEOPLE. EVEN FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. SERIOUSLY. It's called a library… books there are free. Try one today!
Anyone tried the Masai diet? I did – or at least I came pretty close eating only milk for nearly a month. It sucked ass, I had extreme allergies to everything and severe chest pain after only 27 days ? plus it was not fun.
I'd like to hear your ideas as to why some people seem to have no problem with such a diet. Everyone has different reactions — whether beneficial or not — it seems.
It's very plausible that any drastic departure in diet from what your parents ate could backfire and make your health worse, not better.
If I ate the same diet as my parents throughout my life, I fear I might develop their same health problems — namely, joint problems, insomnia, and digestive issues. My grandparents died of stroke and Parkinson's, so I don't think theirs is a diet to mimic either. Now, my great grandparents — I don't know what kind of health problems they had, but I doubt they had degenerative diseases like folks do today.
How can eating a traditional diet make one's health worse? How can any diet that avoids junk make one's health worse? One lifetime of reverting back to a whole foods diet could result in positive epigenetic changes that are passed on to the following generations.
Traditional diets — irrelevant? Don't be so extreme, Mateo! Like you pointed out, there are very important things to be taken away from them. These diets are also the only time-tested foodways known to produce good health from generation to generation. Yes, we're all uniquely f'd up in a uniquely f'd up time. But I don't think that negates the validity of returning to traditional foods. Of course, trying to eat like an Inuit is extreme. But modeling a traditional American diet is not too far out there, is it?
I'm not trying to maintain credibility amongst people who know a bunch of "facts" that aren't true. By some estimates, the Atkins diet contains fewer carbohdyrates than the Eskimo diet, which contained a lot of glycogen from meat eaten very fresh.
Regardless of some people's speculation about these supposed "facts," I'm more concerned with what happens with real people in the real world. Atkins diet? Fail.
I have developed many health problems from eating a "traditional diet" with nothing but the most excellent quality foods. Excessive protein and insufficient carbohdyrate intake was and is far more detrimental to my health than low-quality food without those problems.
I don't think there is any "going back" to traditional diets. We can only go forward from here.
Also, note I said "drastic departure," which doesn't imply that you have to eat the exact same diet as the parents. You can always eat more high-quality foods, eat with the right meal frequency and composition to keep inflammation and stress hormone production at bay, etc. and still be within the general confines of what mom and dad ate – and what the rest of society eats.
Logically, traditional eating looks great. In reality, it tends to come up short for a lot of people and in many cases backfires. I'd be much healthier if I had never tried to eat a traditional diet, which, for me, meant eating a heck of a lot more protein and fat and much less carbohydrate – certainly no sugar.
This does not mean that one should eat industrial foods at the exclusion of unrefined, unprocessed, nutritious foods. I think what I'm rebelling against in this post is having people say, "well hey, what about the Eskimos. They didn't eat carbs, why should we have to."
Rob A. and his recent questions are a good case in point.
Fer pete's sake lets see some pictures Mr. "You are necks."
Have you seen the zombie food pyramid? It's all brains. Hilarious.
Also, this post couldn't be more perfectly timed as I was about to start soaking grains and making my own bread for my kids gut health. Need to remind myself now that I've got one diet monkey off my back not to put another one on.
I have developed many health problems from eating a "traditional diet" with nothing but the most excellent quality foods. Excessive protein and insufficient carbohdyrate intake was and is far more detrimental to my health than low-quality food without those problems.
What does "excessive protein and insufficienct carbohydrate intake" have to do with traditional diets? This indicts low-carb dieting, not traditional diets.
I'd be much healthier if I had never tried to eat a traditional diet, which, for me, meant eating a heck of a lot more protein and fat and much less carbohydrate – certainly no sugar.
Again, this take on traditional diets seems to have little to do with actual traditional diets (other than the Inuit's, which you surely fell short of as well unless, like you say, you were eating adrenal and thyroid glands). As far as I know, most traditional diets are not low-carb at all and therefore probably a lot more reasonable in regards to protein intake as well. Anyways you can't dismiss traditional diets on the basis of a bad experience eating an oxymoronic "low-carb traditional diet."
That makes a lot more sense. Thanks for clearing that up. I wonder if many of the benefits of returning to a higher-carb, lower-fat, lower protein diet comes from most people having problems digesting the "heavier" foods like meat and oils.
I personally feel lighter and sleep better by not eating too much protein and fat, and I get digestive upset upon returning to a higher fat/meat diet. Now, I would happily eat a higher carb diet, but I can't keep on muscle mass doing this! Eating tons of fat, I gain the advantage of a very desirable body composition, but my body also doesn't feel so great in many ways. (I describe this in more detail in my recent blog post.
It's still worth talking about traditional diets, because they are case studies. It's also useful to throw down facts like the Kitavan's 0.00% heart disease rate prior to the introduction of modern foods. It helps someone knew to 180 thinking to confront the idea that diabetes, heart attacks, et. al. are unavoidable parts of aging.
Your problem, Matt, isn't with traditional diets. It's with people behaving like idiots. Anyone who thinks "Eskimo Diet = All Ribeyes, All The Time" is an idiot of a very high order.
And of course behaving like an idiot is frequently detrimental to health, and not just in the diet category.
Good points about epigenetic predispostion though.
Er, "new" to 180 thinking …
Don't drag me into this. :-) The point I made differs- you're the one advocating avoidance of a certain cass of foods (natural PUFA-rich unrefined whole foods), and I'm the one saying, hold up- is this necessary? That's different from an Inuit emulator saying not to eat carbs cuz the Eskimos didn't.
That seems relevant to me- avoidance based on traditinal models versus inclusion based on traditional models. It's for that reason that you kept leaning on wheat-eating Sikhs, even though at least some speculative evidence says that we should avoid (modern, hybridized, high gluten) wheat these days.
Also, I second Mike's comments about eating seasonally and locally, and about not abandoning the idea of traditional food wisdom because you happened to eat more protein and fat than carbs and didn't thrive on it.
What are your known unkowns buddy? How much of a role did where you found yourself play, for example? How do we know that for your latitude and light level, you're eating the right sorts of foods? How much of a role does it have that you're in Florida now and eating sugar, as opposed to Colorado? I wonder whether there aren't big blind spots in the quest for health that we may not even be aware that we don't have answers to.
The point of looking at traditional cultures is to provide a counterweight to Michael Pollan's neologism, nutritionism, to the science that may change winds in a decade or generation. Today- natural PUFAs, terrible! Tomorrow, the super awesomest thing around. Who knows? The murky business of biology, biochemistry, physiology, psychology, bioenergetics, etc etc. is nowhere near fully fleshed out. To throw out the only viable examples of have of healthy human populations' generation after generation practices seems foolhardy and arrogant. You don't need to be a slave to all this, and it's important to stay aware of the other conditions that have changed, but deeming this information irrelevent, I don't buy it.
I think what I'm really trying to get at is that building your diet based on some illusive traditional diet construct is, all things considered, a poor reference point.
Really the focus needs to be on figuring out how your body is not working correctly, and contructing a general dietary and lifestyle approach (a realistic one) that works to rebalance and/or work with your own chemistry.
Josh Rubin sort of touched on this concept in a recent video that I really enjoyed. The point was that, if you are not hitting 98.6, whatever you are doing ain't working, and needs to be adjusted.
I would agree with that. Long ago a bunch of human body temperatures were taken to establish a "normal" level. That was 98.6. Today I'd say normal is roughly 97.0 in adults. We ain't what we used to be. Our inflammatory markers are off the charts. I think very meticulous strategies are in order if people want to make any real progress, and the nebulous concept of "traditional eating" sort of becomes a stumbling block and waste of time and effort (and money) for those really looking to improve their health, and improve it quickly.
As for my own problems with "traditional eating," you are right that what passes as traditional diets and what is a traditional diet are not one in the same. But when the WAPF and Paleo are the most common representations of "traditional" eating, adding more meat and fat to the diet (automatically displacing more carbohydrates) is what many automatically do.
That's what I did, doubling protein intake from 100 grams per day to over 200, doubling fat intake from 100-150 g per day to 250-300 grams per day, and slashing carbohdyrate intake by at least half trying to get in all that pastured meat, pastured eggs, grassfed beef, organ meats, raw butter, and raw milk.
The health problems I incurred on such a program could have been cured by substituting Skittles and Dr. Pepper for the raw milk. Traditional foodies will cringe when they read this, but it is a fact – one that I too had to face and more or less had an identity crisis over years ago.
@Ryan: If u have trouble digesting fat/protein then u are deficient in enzymes especially lipase and protease. I know that u have tried the raw diet before and it didn't work, but maybe u followed someone else's advice and did not experiment enough on your own. Raw meat/fat is easy to digest unless u follow someone else's stupid advice such as butter/honey BS, eat 1 huge meal per day etc.
Good points, but it doesn't indict low carb dieting, just Matt's diet at that time. Low carb per se is not bad, which is obvious from some cultures and successes with Paleo/Atkins/OD/etc. A problem occurs when people thnk that high carb per se is bad, and that anything other than that is healthy.
As Brock kind of implied, you can't bad mouth traditional diets if you were unsuccessful on a diet that wasn't actually traditional.
@Ryan: You could have also consumed more proteolytic fruits with your meats and not stick to some low carb dogma, eat only raw meat, butter/honey crap.
I'm going to get away from leaning on dumb crap like the Sikhs eating wheat. Who cares? It doesn't matter. It's irrelevant.
More importantly, looking at someone with 10 times the linoleic acid in their cells, with known hypinflammatory repurcussions, this is hard to fix eating a bunch of nuts high in linoleic acid and low in omega 3.
But saying that the Sikhs ate apricot oil and were in great health (unknown) so there's no point limiting omega 6-rich nuts and seeds misses the whole point.
Traditional eating ideology sort of gets in the way of the potential of nutrition to have surgical precision – like something you see with Reams Biological Theory of Ionization (RBTI) or looking very carefully at body temperature and adjusting meal frequency and composition as well as exercise type and duration to keep temperature high and stable.
And what if there were umpteen different diseases that could be eradicated by, say, fasting on fruit for a month? Oops, "x" tribe ate insects, so screw that I'm going to have a cheeseburger.
Exaggeration of course, but I do think that potent nutritional strategies could be developed and utilized with great effectiveness by those who really understand how to manipulate it, know what biomarkers to really look for, and are not married to some diet religion – "traditional" or otherwise.
I think of people like myself, the Rubins, and a handful of others as certainly being in the right ballpark, even if we're still a long way from arriving at nutrition's true potential.
And 'nutrition's true potential' is such a huge unknown: it really is the proverbial rocket science.
I completely understand your point about not taking Traditional diets (or our extrapolation of what those are) as gospel because we are different beings and eaters than those folks were, and I still think that it's interesting and potentially useful to see what those things were, just as data, not as a rulebook to be reconstructed.
Just realized that most of the supplements I take have gelatin capsules–so I'm not a total vegan, hee hee.
I'm curious to hear more about this optimal meal frequency talk: I had thought that there were different optimums for different purposes–what gives?
You are right that low-carb is not bad per se. It just accelerates the aging process and burdens the human body with more stress. As a diet overall, it is mediocre. That's why I think modern humans can use the science of nutrition and aging to their advantage, and eat in a way that makes them feel better, live longer, and perform better instead of trying to eat what a small group of well-adapted people (and culled populations where only the genetically elite survived to pass on their genetic material – which was the most in synch with the specific traditional diet and lifestyle of that area of course) living in the middle of nowhere managed to survive on without tooth decay.
Lord knows I couldn't eat the "Optimal Diet" or a "Paleo" diet without tooth decay and severe health consequences. So anthropological evidence is irrelevant as well I might add. All that matters is what happens with real people in the real world in today's day and age – both long-term and short-term, in response to various stimuli.
So far I've seen the best responders to a low-carb diet have their health evaporate over the long-term, and ultimately not fare any better than the next guy. And with absolutely no scientific validation that low-carb improves health, longevity, or morbidity – the only compelling reason to try it is that you might lose weight in the first year. Of course, losing weight has been shown repeatedly to have stronger correlations to long-term obesity and higher rates of mortality and morbidity, so that's hardly a sound justification.
Nice post Matt! I wonder if you are planning(or have) to dig deeper into the world of digestion.
I tried lowcarb for a 4 months period back in 2010. I've gotten out of that prison and now I eat what i feel for and have been doing that for 7 months. But something isnt just right, my digestion aint exactly what it used to be.
Before going lowcarb i had perfect digestion, and visited the toilet 1-2 times per day to do the nr 2. After lowcarb and the following months of ad libitum eating my digestion is really inconsistent and irregular.
The worst part is that my stomach is feeling like this huge inflated ballon. And I eat the totally same foods that I ate before my low-carb experimentation. Any thoughts?
My favorite Matt Stone logic goes like this.
a) Human milk has carbohydrate
b) Clearly humans must consume carbohydrate
All mammalian milk has carbohydrate – even obligate carnivore milk has plenty of carbs in it, yet they don't consume any reasonable amount of carbs in their diet.
Same for herbivores, their milk is full of fat and protein, yet the foods they consume food have but little protein or fat.
So I'm just curious but since scientific studies don't mean much and now studying traditional cultures doesn't mean much either, then does this mean the 180 degree blog is done?
Looks to me like 180+ another 180 has come around full circle and all you really have left to do is maybe write a final blog post that says something along the lines of: Don't diet, eat the food, all carbs are good and keep pufas as low as possible while still having a life. THE END
I haven't finished reading all the comments but I couldn't believe it when I read this…
Matt said: "In fact, I'll go so far as to say that it's quite amazing that traditional peoples could have such great health on such crappy diets."
Really! And do you realize that with that one statement you completely invalidated most all of the arguments you've made in these comments against "traditional" diets?! Most of which I am really surprised to have to say (about yours) are really lame, as Mike Jones has done a fantastic job of pointing out in his comments. Well done Mike. I saw the the same flawed logic.
Matt said: "I'd be much healthier if I had never tried to eat a traditional diet, which, for me, meant eating a heck of a lot more protein and fat and much less carbohydrate – certainly no sugar."
What?!! What traditional diet are you referring to that includes "certainly no sugar"? The panda bear diet???
OK going back to read the rest of the comments. Great discussion so far!
So it looks like the WAPF / Nourishing Traditions way is probably the best, if you had to pick one, after all:
Fats; protein (not too much – as you know, they/SF advocate(s) not gorging on muscle meat and instead eating the organs and connective tissue, etc.); decent helpings of unrefined carbohydrates; well-cooked vegetables (as you recommend); ferments (why not?); and sugar – there's a whole chapter on desserts, if you've read the book. If not, there's sugar galore in there.
And you did it again here…
"The point was that, if you are not hitting 98.6, whatever you are doing ain't working, and needs to be adjusted.
I would agree with that. Long ago a bunch of human body temperatures were taken to establish a "normal" level. That was 98.6."
So the goal is to get our body temp up to what was the normal "traditional" body temp? Hmmm?
And you keep referring to idiotic fad diets as "traditional" diets.
"WAPF and Paleo are the most common representations of "traditional" eating, adding more meat and fat to the diet (automatically displacing more carbohydrates) is what many automatically do.
That's what I did, doubling protein intake from 100 grams per day to over 200, doubling fat intake from 100-150 g per day to 250-300 grams per day, and slashing carbohdyrate intake by at least half trying to get in all that pastured meat, pastured eggs, grassfed beef, organ meats, raw butter, and raw milk."
Just because you were foolish enough to follow fad diets has nothing to do with "traditional" diets.
And there is so many more holes I could poke a stick in but I won't cuz Mike, John, Rob, Ryan and the others have done a great job of it already. Really great discussion guys!
Getting rid of sugar and getting into "health" in general is the worst thing I have ever done for my physical and mental well-being. Glad its over and I have matt and junkfoodscience to thank. Go out and eat SAD for a a few weeks. Its the greatest thing EVER!! I'm still alive!!
Maybe I will die a few years younger and get chronic disease but its better than living alone inside the prison of some healthy dietary lifestyle while the rest of the world just plugs along, coffee in hand, accepting the fact that we aren't that healthy but were not dying of some horrible infectious disease either. Eat the food. Drink the beer. Smoke the cigar. Enjoy life. F**k the rest.
Keep up the good work Matt. Dont mind the haters. When you deny yourself things you want for long enough, brain chemistry gets a little wacky.
This is sort of unrelated but I had a question about acne. I've had some on mainly my back and shoulders but some on my chest and face for about the past 6 months, since I started eating more carbs. I'm just wondering if that has something to do with my blood sugar regulation being a little off and it just being a matter of waiting for it to get back on track or if it is something else. Also if anyone has any suggestions on getting rid of it that would be great :)
So what an alternative to traditional diets would be? Going to the mall with an iPad, and searching Internet for scientific research on each food item before deciding to use them? Counting hormonal impact of food before each meal? And when waiter arrives – discussing with him about microelements and harmful chemicals in items on the menu? and forcing This actually may work for a person who works in a health or biology-related field. But normal people need a quick and easy way to decide, in time-limited circumstances, what to eat. Those paleo or traditional principles are simple enough to fill such role. Application of them is fast and easy because everyone more or less intuitively gets what is primitive-style food. On the other hand scientific world of nutrition is highly corrupt and thus produces confusing and often untrue results.
This was a good blog post. You are much better when you focus your efforts as a diet critic instead of making positive recommendations on optimal diet composition.
I have to say this was a great comment you made as well: "The health problems I incurred on such a program could have been cured by substituting Skittles and Dr. Pepper for the raw milk. Traditional foodies will cringe when they read this, but it is a fact – one that I too had to face and more or less had an identity crisis over years ago."
Same with me!
The problem is that people look at traditional diets and assume that it gives them more information about optimal eating than it does, which is the same mistake people make when looking at studies.
The point shouldn't be to necessarily mimic anything traditional peoples do, or do X because a study shows Y, but to use facts as an additional basis for interpreting the physiology. This can ultimately lead to a more sophisticated understanding of human health and pragmatically lead to better strategies to improve health.
One of my biggest beefs with the paleo/traditional blog community is that there is not enough facts being considered (e.g. try to find information on what Cro-Magnon man really ate and in what quantites… it is harder than it seems). Too many facts get ignored by individuals and there is a reluctance to admit how little we know.
I'm guilty of this as well:
'd be much healthier if I had never tried to eat a traditional diet, which, for me, meant eating a heck of a lot more protein and fat and much less carbohydrate – certainly no sugar.
More disastrously for myself – eating lots and lots of pufas. Had I considered the fact that traditional diets tend to be low in pufas and relatively low in protein (Stephan had a post on this), I might not have hit those pitfalls.
I think I agree with your main point, but I disagree that traditions are "irrelevant". I think they are another source of information that, properly interpreted, can help modern improve people their health. The operative term here being "properly interpreted".
lulz about Chong Li – that almost made my day
i think maybe matts sugar and fruit loading has gone to his head and is brucing out.
or maybe he has been infected with the rubin guruism.
or maybe he knows exactly what he is doing and is gearing up to profit from or with the rubins way. yet another fad or idealology or whatever u wanna call it.
"The health problems I incurred on such a program could have been cured by substituting Skittles and Dr. Pepper for the raw milk."
This is really helpful to hear. I have wasted god knows how much money over the years on traditional foods that did nothing for my health.
Any other suggestions for convenient foods that are inexpensive that can help bring temps up and fix metabolic issues?
I hope that isn't Matt's plan. He has come to a sort of crossroads now that he has seen that all of his past dietary beliefs/ religion is bogus. He can either go his own way and become an experimentalist, or he will find yet another diet guru to follow in hopes of finding true religion. It is very similar to what people do with their religions, like when someone grows up in a strict fundamentalist religion, then rebels and starts to seek out eastern or esoteric gurus to show them the way. These people usually get burned over and over again by the self proclaimed gurus.
I hope Matt breaks free from this and becomes more of an experimentalist/diet dogma debunker. I think he would be great as sort of a Morgan spurlock type of character that does that humorously tries out all these wacky diets and just reports back the results.
Matt, I have to say that I wasn't really sure just what you were getting at with this blog until I read through the comments and I have to add that I am with you 100%on this. I was a devoted WAPF follower until recently. I developed allergy to just about every food I was eating on the WAPF diet. I was suffering headaches everyday, bad skin, poor concentration, zero sex drive, and low energy levels. My adrenaly function was that of a 70 year old woman. Eliminating all those foods from my diet has given me my life back. I'm still working on it, it is a slow process but in just one week of eliminating all the foods I was allergic to the "bersitis" in my shoulders, that I had been living with for four years, went away! My body temp. is still low but it is getting higher and I am starting to remember what it is like to feel good.
"Really the focus needs to be on figuring out how your body is not working correctly, and contructing a general dietary and lifestyle approach (a realistic one) that works to rebalance and/or work with your own chemistry".
It's like some of the readers here are comparing you to a minister that just declared himself atheist.. I'm enjoying this new perspective on things. Looking forward to your chat with the Rubin's tomorrow.
i hope so too jt but its interesting and how convenient that all this sudden forget about traditional diets talk validates the ideal that…
"…potent nutritional strategies could be developed and utilized with great effectiveness by those who really understand how to manipulate it, know what biomarkers to really look for, and are not married to some diet religion – "traditional" or otherwise." – matt
that is where i become suspicious.
manipulate it? manipulate what? your mind? and thus more of your money?
and its further interesting that his arguments against so called traditional diets is actually in reality blaming fad diets and ideologies not authentic traditional diets.
truly sad to see
I have to say man this is one of the best posts you have done…ever. I appreciate the confrontational and wake the fuck up attitude in it.
Funny watching many (as I have and as I do) squirm when their "foundations" and "science" are chuckled at. With so much time and effort put into things that we want to define ourselves by and SEPARATE ourselves from others with, it really really really sucks when we find we have moved backwards from the life we used to have.
I like this attitude!
JT I'm with you, but Iets let Matt speak for whether he is at a "crossroads" or not.
krista hate to be the one to tell ya but if you have been around here long you would know that matt doesnt believe in eliminating foods just cuz you seem to be allergic to them. quite the opposite.
and you might want to watch and see how this plays out before you jump on this ride.
How will we continue to evolve if we keep trying to go backwards?
Yeah. Matt's telling people to pretty much eat whatever and stop worrying about food so much. A lot of big money in that.
I've always wondered why this blog has attracted so many rude posters. Maybe it's matt's confrontational style but get over yourself. There is no big conspiracy going on to rip people off by telling them to chill out and maybe eat some ice cream or skittles if they feel like. 99% of americans do it everyday and contrary to what you may believe, were not all fat, unhealthy slobs. Yeah, we have health problems but that's part of being human and getting older and living high stress lifestyles.
As matt stresses in this post, we can't all go back to the swiss alps and eat 2week fermented rye bread and fresh raw milk and I for one dont want to. Lets figure out how to destress and be happy in today's world where life is drastically different. Great in some ways and maybe not so good in others.
why do u think our health has declined so much? because we kept trying to evolve. more like we abandoned tradition for greed and convenience. many profited from our desire for convenience.
"Yeah. Matt's telling people to pretty much eat whatever and stop worrying about food so much. A lot of big money in that."
he is? oh i must be confused cuz this that i already quoted once…
"…potent nutritional strategies could be developed and utilized with great effectiveness by those who really understand how to manipulate it, know what biomarkers to really look for, and are not married to some diet religion – "traditional" or otherwise." – matt stone
doesn't sound like just eat the food and get over it. and you will not hear the rubins that matt has so kindly introduced us all to once (and again tomorrow) saying any such thing either. in fact they wont say much more than it is different for each person and if you contact them for a consultation they will tell you a little more and you need their help. but if you pay them money they will tell you even more.
nothing against people making an honest dollar for an honest days work but call it what it is. be honest about it.
So basically, you have an issue with people avoiding carbs for the sake of a "traditional diet"?
I hear what you're saying, and thought that too. But I said earlier that I believe Matt to be a sincere guy and that's still true- I don't see him as huckster. I think it's important, having seen the fallout of a partner's economically disastrous attempt at an ecologically grown, beyond organic vegetable csa, for people to be able to sustain themselves economically, so they can continue to do what they love. So like you mention, I have no problem with an honest wage earned, and in fact support that.
Not convinced that's where Matt's headed with this yet, though it could be. I also don't like much the vague, 'it's all individual' line, since it does seem to cultivate a consultation clientele, and I get nervous when that's not on the up and up (as it seems to be with Michael Miles of NAPR, for example). Again, we'll see.
That said, Matt- it sounds like now your benchmark is high body temperature. Am I hearing that right? Is that the primary means of establishing whether you have a health constitution or not? And so anything that raises body temperature, regardless of whether it's 'traditional' or not, or has a foodie seal of approval, has your green light? Just want to get some clarity.
FWIW, I hear the arguments for high body temperature as marker of vitality, but have never been able to shake the sense that there are other factors. I'm especially curious about why this is maybe the sole metric that you're willing to look at now. And, even a few posts ago you commented that basal temperature is not the be-all, end-all, and that even if someone drops their temperature when taking sugar, it could be a good thing, since this reveals what the real, non adrenal-supported temperature is.
Again, I would like to get some clarity about what it is you use and recommend others use to interpret these cues. Because right now, it seems utterly capricious. Body temperature is key, except when it isn't. Lack of tooth pain and elimination of acne are awesome, except when the presence of either is just part of transitioning. Who can tell? Matt can it seems, but he's not yet let us in on the secret. Part of science is falsifiability- you present a hypothesis with predictive power, and test your prediction against what occurs. If either result means you're right, that would seem not to be science.
Again Matt- just doing my part to keep you honest and on your toes. I still love ya buddy.
Also- if you were a woman in your childbearing years-or were pregnant would you run around eating McD's and as much processed stuff as you can- just to adapt your baby to the world as it's known outside the womb?
Really? really? :) Or knowing what you know, would you to eat liver and roe because- heck- it might form a "perfect" infant. I think it deserves more credit than irrelevant.
And, really, I do appreciate your "rebellious" look at this- because, I honestly am getting tired of hearing ppl go grain free.
The more I think about this post, the more I don't like it. If all you meant to say was "Recreating a 'traditional' diet is silly for X reasons", fine, but you went beyond that into indefensible land. The traditional diets are worth studying and discussing. They are some of the best data we have; especially the ones that produced sub-optimal results (like the Eskimo).
"Seriously, if I hear ?Masai? or ?Kitavan? one more time I might scream. Or at least run to the nearest McDonald’s."
This is stupid. They're worth talking about; and they're certainly better than McDonalds with it's HFCS in everything, even the buns.
"the past really needs to be left behind."
Santayana. Have you heard of him?
"Anyone tried the Masai diet? I did – or at least I came pretty close eating only milk for nearly a month."
That's not the Masai diet and you damn well know it.
Moreover you're committing a very grievous error – giving too much weight to your personal experience. You're a data point of 1. Other people have enjoyed and done well on the milk diet. Like Elizabeth Walling. Or have you forgotten?
Condemning a nutritional practice merely because it didn't work for you personally is dumb. Sure, I recommend YOU avoid it, but in you're writing you ought to consider the rest of us.
I would have rated this post a C+. You have some good ideas, but also go too far in some respects, say some objectively dumb shit, and use too many straw men.
Then you said this:
"One word summary of traditional diets… IRRELEVANT!"
New Grade: F-
And no extra credit for the Bloodsport clip.
I kind of agree with Brock here. For example when you read the extensive article that Chris Masterjohn has written on the Masai society and diet you see that their regimen was far more varied and included, besides milk and BLOOD – not just milk – frequent boiled sweet potatoes…let’s not oversimplify. I haven’t heard of any traditional people eating a monodiet all year long, so let’s not rewrite history,
The other point I would like to mention is that if you discard large group of people for their correlation diet-health, saying that it is largely irrelevant, then that makes the experience of ONE man even more irrelevant!
What’s unfortunate Matt (and I say this kindly as one of your ardent follower who know drink grape juice with salt by little sip every 15 min) is that it is obvious that you have a treasure of knowledge on nutrition in all its forms, but that your arguments are very often emotional and in the field of logical fallacy. You perfectly know that to say “my health deteriorated by putting more traditional fat in my diet” is only relevant to a very small extent: it is the experience of one man, in one context, on short term, and doesn’t mean it has produced the same result on other people. Otherwise we should then follow the claim of any diet followers that see improvement or problem on such and such regimen, such as veganism right?
You say it yourself, it’s all about context with food. Therefore you own personal experience, as valuable as it is, CANNOT be invoked in every single article to justify one diet vs another or invalidate large societal studies such as the ones done by WAP (granted, your observation on epigenetics is spot on). Likewise, in one article you say that studies can be used to prove anything and discard them, while in other like this one you use them to prove your point. So you’ve got to decide on which side of the fence you are with this too…
I hope we’ll soon see a Matt writing with the same humor and sharpness but using more of data, historical and scientifc,rather than his personal experience to justify any recommendations; that would convince more people I believe.
That being said your work is fab and necessary.
I just wanted to be clear that I don't think matt is a huckster. I do think he is an honest and sincere seeker of " the way". But, that is a big part of the problem for all of us orthos, we think there is some special dietary path to solve our problems. The reason I am tough on Matt sometimes is because I think he is really talented and could do some great things in this biz. Just hate to see it go to waste.
What's wrong with stating the obvious. Being at a crossroads could be a great for Matt.
Body temp definitely should not be your primary indicator of health. How you feel and function is much more important.
I thought the whole point of traditional diets is that we eat pure, whole foods and not about eating any particular group's foods. I'm happy to have more variety than that and I doubt I'd do well on seal blubber or tons of yams. Just because I can drink raw milk doesn't mean everyone can, just because it's raw. It's totally individual.
I gotta say I'm with matt on this one. I would feel and function a lot better eating mcdonalds than I would a Masai diet. But, I would skip the fries because the KitAvans ate lots of potatoes and I don't want to eat their diet because the KitAvans are tiny and I don't wanna be tiny.
Just to follow up- Matt, you did say you in another response to me that you try to offer people many different ways to interpret what they're experiencing, so they don't become trapped in one narrow point of view.
But I guess my point is maybe an epistemological one; at a certain point, you stop going down the rabbit hole. If all truths are only provisional, somewhere the rubber meets the road and you stake your claim with something, and it either becomes true for you in the act of believing it, or for the objectivists among us, you identify the *actual* truth and stand beside it.
What I'm asking you to do is cop to it- call a spade a spade. Assert your truth- what biomarkers are legit, and which are here or there and subject to whims of fancy and circumstance? Otherwise, cop to the fact that its all provisional, that even though pretend to know what's right, you really don't, since it's all subject to counter truth claims as well. Counter truth claims, I might add, that you proffer at times when apparently convenient no less, as above, like body temperature.
Seems to me if you're in this field and claiming to offer more than an honest and maybe consistent system of faith, then you ought to present that falsifiable hypothesis-generating framework. So spit it out, my friend.
You said: "Body temp definitely should not be your primary indicator of health. How you feel and function is much more important."
Not according to Matt. That's been hammered home numerous times, or a least that's the sense I walked away with- how you feel and function might be part of the catecholamine high for low-carbers, for example. Amphetamines make you feel awesome, for a while- then like hell. Matt has said time and again that you can feel great doing something that undermines your health, and terrible doing what enhances it.
That doesn't entirely make sense to me, which is why I keep hammering this point home. Either our bodies are flawed and stupid, and telling us the wrong thing (maybe the thing 180 degrees from the truth), or we're just mis-reading the cues. So I keep wanting to know what Matt proposes as an alternate way of reading the cues, lest i just imagine that our bodies are leading us astray (and maybe into the arms of consultants who have the truth?- who knows?)
rob @ what you said to me…
i hear ya too and your arguments make more sense to me than matts at the moment.
that said i too believe matt to be a sincere guy and never saw him as huckster either.
i just wonder though if maybe he has caught guruitis? as in some persons getting into his head. something that happens to many of us at one point or another.
i too am very curious to see where this goes. and honestly i hope i find out i am wrong.
I agree that bodytemp was the holy grail around here after Matt read Broda Barnes, but I would be surprised if he still has this fixation.
The problem with going by how you function and feel is that most people dont know how to read their own biofeedback. You are right about this, but it is still the only thing that matters when discussing health.
Are you DML? Whoever you are, you should comment with a name because you are making some good points, but its hard to keep track when it is anonymous.
I'm not so sure body temp isn't a big deal here still. Heck, in one of Matt's comments from above:
"Josh Rubin sort of touched on this concept in a recent video that I really enjoyed. The point was that, if you are not hitting 98.6, whatever you are doing ain't working, and needs to be adjusted."
I read that as meaning- body temperature is central enough to on its own warrant adjustments in your diet and lifestyle. Maybe you read it differently?
Also, Elizabeth above mentions the idea of maybe offering your baby to be a good chance by eating things like roe, in contrast to loading up on Mickey Ds, even though the kid will be around that all the time.
Reminds me of different perspectives of child-raising. One school says: don't coddle the kid, They have to learn to be strong on their own- this world is tough and they oughta start preparing for that, and get the lesson early. Turns out that's bullshit- nurturing your child, and providing for their needs without judgment cultivates a sense of security and confidence in the world and in the legitimacy of their experience in it, and those kids actually are less neurotic growing up and *more* able to cope with the stresses of life than those who got the harsh lessons early on.
So don't anyone go hurrying to acclimate themselves or the young'ns to the sorry state of things today if a nourished life is also an option.
what does that nourished life look like? Well, that's what we're all yammerin' on about trying to figure out…
…Damn, I'm posting up a storm tonight- maybe the cie cream giving me a boost of energy. Don;t worry- took some gelatin too, so I should sleep just fine. :-)
I think what Matt is trying to get across is that people think way to much about the things they put in their mouth. Whether it's fat, carbs, or protein…you know what a nutritious food is compared to processed garbage.
And as for the processed garbage, we are surrounded by it. He is basically saying that it is ridiculous to void yourself from the rest of society. Don't be the guy that hides behind the bushes at a barbecue while everyone is eating hot dogs on white buns and having a few light beers.
The body temperature is a huge deal. I know a lot of people eat whatever they want, whenever they want…and not only do they look good, they walk around in a Wisconsin winter with nothing more than a sweatshirt.
I'll enjoy my life and Matt will enjoy his without worrying that ice cream will make us look like Rosie O'Donnell.
why do people including matt keep talking about the diets of different groups?
that is what is irrelevant to eating traditionally. talking about mimicking any groups diet like the inuit. ridiculous.
eating traditionally is eating unprocessed whole natural food without fear or restriction of any natural foods including fat, sugar, carbs, starch, whatever. just eat the fucking food. as natural as possible but eating some processed crap sometimes too aint gonna kill ya.
anyone with common sense can see that people who ate traditionally a few generations ago had good health and little to none of the illness or obesity we have now. damn.
I am so glad I am not the only one who is sick and tired of hearing about "grain-free" diets. I am skeptical about the problems with gluten too. I have been gluten free for about 8 months and had a health issue that I thought I had left behind years ago suddenly crop up again. Related? Who knows. It certainly hasn't done anything for me.
That said, I think the conclusions in this post are a little extreme. Traditional diets are worth studying and learning from. I think most people would benefit from removing "industrial" food from their diets. The mistake is in conflating low-carb, no grain, paleo, milk cure, whatever other dumb fad you have, with traditional diets. It seems like Matt is doing that although he says not to do that.
And I'm confused- PUFAs are still bad right?
Anyway Matt, I invite you to come check out the people grocery shopping at the Walmart in my small Texas town. It is horrifying. Tell me if you really think the people at a WAPF conference don't look a little healthier.
Since there is so much scrappin' and fussing here I just wanted to say that eating Skittles is like eating the rainbow! And Dr. Pepper makes you a very snappy dancer as well.
In low carb news, Jimmy Moore has stopped eating altogether http://lowcarbmenu.blogspot.com/2011/04/april-11-2011-low-carb-menu.html
And I am eating dry roasted salted mac nuts, thinking how good they would be in the double chocolate chip gelato I have stashed in the freezer.
Commence fighting again please.
Can I raise a practical question at this point? Are we gonna do " Stonehenge" tomorrow?…
Gosh, one more:
Matt, you wrote: "And what if there were umpteen different diseases that could be eradicated by, say, fasting on fruit for a month? Oops, "x" tribe ate insects, so screw that I'm going to have a cheeseburger. "
WTF? You were the one talking shit about fasts but a year ago, including a hinted at post about your 'dumb' housemate/guest who was planning to do the master cleanse liquid fast. You were the one advocating starch loading and hypercaloric intake for health recovery, and knocking down the idea of these sorts of protocols. remember reading Michael at NAPR, and his support of fasts, and thinking that you guys sure had different takes.
And yet now you're suggesting fasts and traditional foods are incompatible, even though those are bread and butter over there? Whose version of traditional diets doesn't allow for selective fruit fasts?
I smell a strawman, amigo.
Well, Matt, you did it again!
I just never know what I'm going to read when I visit. I have to say, it's hard to swallow this post, because I'm a Nourishing Traditions disciple, have been for 5 years now.
But I think I'm going to have to agree with you. While I did have some health improvements when adopting the diet, there were some things that just didn't work out. For one, I was overweight when I started, and I'm still overweight. ( I did have a baby in that time as well, so, I guess that's part of why) Yeah, that whole eat fat lose fat, nope, not for me.
And, you would think, that since my body was so well prepared nutritionally, I would have had great health and a perfect baby while pregnant. Well, I just couldn't stomach the traditional foods. I felt guilty, but I could not choke it down. I ate what I could tolerate, and it wasn't traditional!!! After the baby was born, she had acid reflux for several months and was fussy. None of my other babies had that, and they were not grown on traditional fats and foods.
I also had bad digestion; we ate loads of kefir, yogurt, kombuch, fermented everything and soaked everything. Shouldn't I have been able to have an iron stomach? So, when the 4th baby came, all that pretty much went out the window. We have been eating regular meals, that I homecook, but still there's sugar and caffeine and non-organic meats and vegetable, and even some junkfood floating around, and, my digestion is GREAT!
Out of lack of time and ability, all the fermenting and culturing and soaking is over now. Can't do it, don't want to do it and apparently it doesn't seem to matter.
I know for a fact, that becoming so absorbed and stressed over food completely negates whatever health benefit you might have gotten from it. I feel so dumb now, but I didn't understand this back then. Last fall I got on a pretty low carb diet for three months. I lost ZERO pounds and had ZERO health improvements. What a disappointment! But I was so stressed about it, because I had to figure out what to eat and yet cook another meal for the family and so on, and then what do I do when I'm out and about? Anyways, I just couldn't believe that nothing good happened for me.
I think a lot of people don't quite "get" where you're coming from. I know basically you're telling everyone to take a chill pill on pursuing this perfect diet. It's all consuming, and that's not a way to live your life.
Thanks Matt, I can always count on you to search for truth, and your random, yet relevant pictures/video clips always make me laugh!
"…you are, you should comment with a name because you are making some good points, but its hard to keep track when it is anonymous."
jt which anonymous were you addressing? i dont usually use caps in informal setting and all anonymous comments to this blogpost that lack caps are mine.
so if it was me you were addressing i will go by nocappy now. oh and no i am not dml.
Through all of the 180 ideas that have transitioned through this blog, I still look to the Okinawan with their highest per capita centenarians in the world. They eat a higher carb diet and are active. Look to Jack LaLanne (lived to 97), Art Linkletter (lived to 99), as well as Bob Delmonteque and Bob Wildman. These guys eat/ate ample carbs and were active/exercised. On the other end of the spectrum was The Bear, who, although he died recently in a car accident, his all meat diet failed to protect him from having a heart attack and cancer. I think all the discussion of traditional diets is cool, but look to these folks who have lived in our world and made it work. Higher carbs, lower fat, exercise and/or be active. It seems to work.
Looking at super-centenarians, it looks like they found "something" that helped them reach that long lived age. Maybe they had that one habit of eating liver frequently, or taking that walk after meals, or drinking that right kind of wine, or drinking that cinnamon tea, or whatever. Many of them had what appears to be bad habits, eating tons of chocolate or potato chips, or boozing it up or whatever, but the majority of them didn't seem to be obsessed with health either.
Damm, Matt, dammm, where are the references??? "Trying to force down unpalatable food is a health liability as far as I’m concerned, and studies have indicated that eating something that’s not enjoyable reduces mineral absorption from that meal."???
JT said: The problem with going by how you function and feel is that most people dont know how to read their own biofeedback. You are right about this, but it is still the only thing that matters when discussing health.
This is, IMO, the most important comment that has been expressed thus far. Whether or not a person can "listen to their body" is ultimately what leads to understanding root issues and improving or staying at a standstill healthwise. I hear a lot of people say, for example, that they "have really great digestion" when further questioning leads me to think that they have no understanding of what good digestion is in the first place! How can you help a person realize they have a problem when they think everything is just fine and dandy?
I think that learning body awareness is the very first thing that anybody embarking on dietary experimentation should learn, as our minds can fool our bodies in many ways to mislead us. I myself was raised to basically ignore my body sensations, and I would hazard a guess that most folks were raised in the same way. Overcoming this conditioning and achieving heightened body awareness has been incredibly important in tracking down my own health issues.
I am beginning to change my line of thinking to include this more than anything else on my blog. I can argue about this diet or that diet until I'm blue in the face, but in the end it's simple: get to know your body and cut the crap food!
The tricky business in the world of health and nutrition is that everybody "is dreaming their own dream" (to quote Don Miguel Ruiz) — we each have a different sense of what true health is and what it is not.
I think the Eskimo actually relied on Inuituition in selecting their foods.
It appears to me the problem is not the food.
Traditional dieting seems like just another twisted attempt to be seen as virtuous because one is fit and healthy.
Much of the world has bigger fish to fry (or wish they did)!
I for one am totally with Matt on this one. My health suffered badly when I tried to implement a traditional diet with lots of animal products, and I feel much much better now eating a high-carb diet, including some refined/junk food. I know many people here have a hard time hearing this, but it's the reality for many of us.
We simply don't have the metabolisms of "traditional peoples", but are epigenetically programmed for different (less nutritious) food. It's only when I understood that that I understood why less nutritious food makes me feel so much better. And many other things that used to puzzle me, like many mothers on WAPF forums who gave birth to babies with a cleft palate, are clearer now – could very well be vitamin A toxicity and now I wouldn't in a million years dare to eat lots of liver and roe when pregnant. Well, it's what the "authorities" have been telling us all along – maybe they're not so very stupid as some would have them after all.
As for a comment above talking about pregnancy ("Well, I just couldn't stomach the traditional foods. I felt guilty, but I could not choke it down. I ate what I could tolerate, and it wasn't traditional!!!"), I think we're lucky to still have our senses guide us to what's best for us. Feeling guilty is the damaging part.
Great post, Matt.
"Anyone tried the Masai diet? I did – or at least I came pretty close eating only milk for nearly a month."
The milk diet isn't the Masai diet… If you really wanted to eat a traditional diet, I guess you'd have to live with traditional Masai, only that way you could get all the subtleties.
Interestingly, WAP did not advice stuff like imitating Eskimo or Masai diets…
Jimmy Moore makes me sad. I can't believe his followers look at his issues and don't see the problems with low-carb. Fasting may have its merits, but coming from a low-carb (starved) state I can only imagine it will lead to issues. Either way, playing volleyball while fasting is a bad idea.
I think this all comes back to listening to what your body really wants. The goal is for people to listen to their bodies and try to eat mostly real food, but allow some deviation and treats. WAPF can be very healthy, it's just not if you are dogmatic about it or follow the WAPF bloggers who are mostly low-carb. I use a lot of their ideas on meats and stuff, but still eat white rice, and other things, and eat whatever I want when I eat out. The core principles are really great, though – basically eat nutritious food, not crap.
A huge commonality IMO among long-lived people is, they all stress moderation. And enjoy their lives.
BTW, French Women Don't Get Fat is an amazing book in terms of showing what eating for pleasure while using moderation looks like. I read it years ago and have always kept the concepts in mind.
The Real Will said…
"Looking at super-centenarians, it looks like they found "something" that helped them reach that long lived age. "
Hrihori Nestor attributed his long age to not being married, as married people quarrel frequently thus stressing themselves.
Okay, I'll throw in my 2 cents…
First off, this post is not a surprise to me– there were vibes of this coming from the Ebook, which is why he calls it a "review for long-time followers". This isn't a dramatic shift for Matt, though I suppose he could be at a crossroads. But, it's good he's made his stance clear for everyone.
And second, I don't take him calling traditional diets "irrelevant" too literally. He makes bold statements like this to spark a change in people's thinking who have been otherwise following the opposite like dogma. The statement is pertinent to THIS crowd, the health crowd, and not in general. The diet he recommends, sucrose included, is in fact traditional– referring to the mainstream diets of civilization for the past 200 years or so. Sure, there has been degeneration among them, but I'm guessing it happened when there was obvious malnutrition by commonly known standards of the time. People worked hard to afford as much good food for their families as they could. Canned goods and monotony was the food of the poor; the ideal was three rich, flavorful, and diverse home-cooked meals a day (or at least one), and at least the semblance of those kind of meals is what is still known as "good food" today– you know, sit-down restaurant food. Abundance and even luxury is the main idea, really, and that has been a traditional goal, even if it was harder to meet in the old days. It is with us radically changing our diets based on the "tradition" of genetically different, isolated peoples in which we are actually breaking the tradition of the last 200 years or so of mainstream civilization.
But, not to water down Matt's statement here too much. I believe the question on the table is, is white flour bad? Is white sugar bad? I'm a big Weston A. Price fan, and he certainly thought so. But perhaps he went a little overboard in condemning those things completely. The degeneration he saw is when people were eating primarily those things, and the degeneration was the worst in people whose previous diets were so drastically more nutrient dense that they were just not genetically equipped to be thrifty with nutrients, as perhaps people of European descent are. There is no "right" in nature, and I'm open to the idea that we are witnessing a beneficial evolution, at least perhaps better suited to our changing world. We are attracted to the quickly absorbed white flour, and sucrose, which perhaps has more than one benefit. There is certainly a danger in these nutrient-less foods that satisfy the appetite, but can we enjoy the benefits while avoiding the dangers?
It's hard for me to imagine a life with very little sugar. Apparently, one can grow to be very strong and hearty without it. So why was I so attracted to it, even while being raised in a house with relatively little sugar consumption? What I'm getting at is, refined starches and sugar are in some ways superior foods, and that's why they have their place in the ideal, traditional mainstream diet. I think that's what Matt was getting at in saying "In fact, I'll go so far as to say that it's quite amazing that traditional peoples could have such great health on such crappy diets." That, and the fact that those people had less variety.
Here I go again…
I agree with Ryan that JT's comment about learning how to listen to your biofeedback is really central, and with the many comments that say eating traditional foods in itself may not enhance health.
(Ryan, can you give a sense of what that looks like? What does good digestion mean to you, for example? How does it differ from what people perhaps are thinking of when the say 'my digestion is awesome.'?)
Maybe much of it could be the sense of deprivation and disgust eating the stuff, or guilt about not eating it. I think a lot about Jon Gabriel and his guide to body recomposition: put all foods back on the table- everything is good, feel bad about nothing. Only then can you actually lisen to your own biofeedbck and begin wanting the foods that actually nourish you, free of the counter-productive bad feelings around this. Charles Eisenstein I think makes a similat point in his 'Transformational Weight Loss.' So to the extent that Matt's advocating that, I'm down.
But I'd like some perspecuity about what the problem is (poor macronutrient ratios for the individual, feelings of guilt, shame, obligation, deprivation, disgust, etc. around your dietary choices, and so forth), rather than an indictment of the largely ill-defined notion of 'traditional diet.' In this article, I agree with Brock that Matt seems to over-reach here and traipses into indefensible land.
One more point: so much of health and medicine seems to be based on the placebo/nocebo/meaning effect. See here- tinyurl.com/3hox976 which is why frequently any modality that you can actually believe in can offer healing. And why I think, as mentioned above, that you have to stake your claim in something- the act of believing in it can itself bring power to it. It;s a murky terrain, because there's always the search for 'truth' happening concurrently, or at least the search for something that more closely corresponds with reality. For me, the short-hand is to find a framework that makes sense, and work with it provisionally for as long as it's effective.
Ok, enough from off the deep end for me. Done for a while.
Not saying humans have to eat carbs, just saying health and longevity is better, especially with a hyperinflammatory, high-stress physiology so common in the modern world, when carbohydrate intake is high. Deny this at your own peril.
That's common. A lot of gut flora disappear during low-carb, and gastrointestinal chemistry in general suffers. I have had really good success in optimizing gut flora by eating lots of fruit and resistant starches – as well as with overfeeding in general which eliminates gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying) that is a cause of much bloating, distention, and pain.
Glad you got it.
I don't know why this concept is so hard for people to understand. Modern nutritional science shows us a lot about how we can effect body composition, insulin sensitivity, metabolism, and so forth – and trying to emulate traditional principles willy nilly without any understanding of human physiology is a blunt approach. In fact, if looks are any indication, it looks like most traditional diets helped people to be really small, have very little muscle mass to assist in endurance activities, and otherwise have really low caloric needs for optimal survival during hard times. Build a body on calorie-dense foods and resistance training and such a diet becomes a full-blown starvation diet that induces many symptoms of insufficient calorie intake.
I'm even willing to believe that modern humans have bodies that are adapted to refined, calorie dense foods – and a departure from that to low calorie density foods can bring about destruction. We are adaptable creatures trying to go backwards when we attempt traditional eating.
How you feel and function is what matters most, but it is very difficult, sometimes impossible, to distinguish what is a temporary, honeymoon effect and what is real and lasting. Often the body temperature is a good indicator. Often it is not, as I'm sure taking amphetamines would raise body temperature. The ambiguity here is what fuels the endless discussion and speculation that people use to rethink their diet and lifestyles and determine for themselves if it is really working or not.
You guys are funny. The Rubins gave me a $50 gift certificate for bringing them so much traffic. I told them never to compensate me again to maintain my credibility. Amount of money I made yesterday, April 11, 2011…. $0
That's an honest day's work for not a penny. If you are going to accuse someone of hucksterism and trying to make a buck, you might want to find someone with more than $1,000 in their bank account.
I do this because it is more interesting to me than anything else. I don't do it for money. If I happen to help someone along the way, fantastic.
I don't have some secret to reveal. Really, I think a person's general diet should be anti-inflammatory and anti-stress. This, to me, means frequent feedings with a lot of carbohydrates, enough fat to keep sex hormone production optimal, plenty of calories to minimize the production of unopposed catabolic hormones, and enough protein, preferably the most low-inflammatory protein, to maintain lean body mass. Voila, there's the big secret.
Longevity is all about continuing to grow and expand both physically and mentally. This is what keeps the process of regeneration taking place. The theme you see repeated is that people are living for something – working hard, accomplishing things, staying active – and certainly not allowing their lives to revolve around the food they eat.
It's all about maintaining the hormones of youth, which is governed primarily by the overall metabolic rate, as long as possible. Engaging in enjoyable exercise, maintaining muscle mass through a little resistance exercise and keeping the catabolic hormones at bay through eating sufficient food at regular intervals… these are the keys to success.
Not sprouting grains or making sure to get enough fat soluble vitamins!
These are irrelevant to the bigger picture of health. I mean, Price or Pottenger didn't have exceptional health or longevity. They just helped heal some kids of rickets and tooth decay mostly.
Thanks for this post. I really like it. People are way too obsessed with Weston A. Price's work. Of course, the people he observed were in pretty good health and didn't suffer from many diseases that are associated with our society and the refined foods we eat.
But they certainly didn't eat perfect diets and have perfect health. I have seen people, who were raised on pretty nutrient dense diets but with a lot of extra refined sugar and pasteurized milk, whose physical appearance would outshine every Eskimo, Pima Indian or Kitava. Just because those cultures don't eat food X or Y, doesn't mean that it can't be a healthy component of our diets.
I am not saying that those cultures should be ignored. They are a very helpfull indicator of what might be healthy, but we can't completely ignore modern nutritional science.
"Not sprouting grains or making sure to get enough fat soluble vitamins!"
I totally agree with you that it is all about mainting a high metabolic rate in order to maintain a high level of the hormones and processes that are associated with youth. But eating a diet high in minerals and vitamins is certainly needed to do that. For a short time, you might be able to raise your metabolism with a lot of refined sugar and and saturated fats. But, in the long run, you need an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals to maintain your increased metabolism, especially since a high metabolic rate increases our need for them.
I believe this was discussed in Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon if I'm not mistaken.
Hey, I'm a poet and ya know it!
I want to say that I keep reading about people who have tried the "WAPF diet" and the like and say that it didn't do anything good for them.
There is no "WAPF diet."
There are guidelines that Sally Fallon outlines in her book with Mary Enig, and then there are hundreds of different takes on those guidelines from hundreds of proponents – chapter leaders, authors, researchers, contributors, 12 y/old kids on blogs.
I'd say that most of those takes stray pretty far from the guidelines in NT, too. They also disagree and contradict each other quite often, which shows that there is no "WAPF diet."
One example of how many "WAPF'ers" stray far from the original principles is the fact that many people equate the WAPF way with eating a low-carb diet. Read the book, and then say that it's advocating a low-carb diet.
I agree Jannis. I'll never stop eating mostly quality foods. How obsessive one needs to be probably depends on their own, personal nutritional status. But ultimately, no one needs to do more than the best they can do without interrupting their life in general – barring short-term attempts such as doing RRARF or something along those lines to get a jumpstart and get out of a rut quickly.
What are examples of low inflammatory protein sources? Do eggs have too much pufa? I don't have access to gelatin right now.
Of all "normal" foods, I think cheese is the best one.
It seems, according to a few people here now, that anyone who refuses to eat certain things, and thus not eat what "everyone else" is eating, is deserving of the label, "orthorexic."
So if I'm out with friends, and they go to MacDonald's, and I refuse, instead deciding to eat some bone broth and soaked porridge when I get home, does that mean that I'm orthorexic? I'd say that in the case above, my food choices have impacted on my social life – I'd be sitting at the "family restaurant" and not eating – which is apparently a sign of an eating disorder.
If that's the case, what a load of cr@p.
"Eat The Food," fine.
But when the cr@p that's being shovelled into your mouth wouldn't have been recognisable as food 80 or 100 years ago, that mantra doesn't work at all.
so how do you implement this all as simply and inexpensively as possible?
Lol @ people who read this blog and don't realize that Matt Stone is a subtle troll.
Curious about where the majority of posters are from…United States?
Anybody from or lived in a different country for the majority of their life?
Lifestyle + stress contribute a huge amount to the equation of health and overall body composition.
Not every country is striving to be coke model thin because it is apparently attractive or cutting out major food groups because _____. Not everyone has a car to drive them places or the convenience of "fast food", or niche "organic" corporations like "whole foods". Many places do not live under such a fierce time clock, where punctuality and time=money is the driving force. Many people enjoy food socially and treasure the time spent together eating it, not giving thought to the ingredients. Many places are also in-touch with their agriculture and aware of how the animals are raised and processed.
The above are just a few observations, yes very simple and perhaps you may think biased. But I have lived in both Argentina and United States for equal amounts of time. I also have family in Germany, Estonia and Spain. Things are different, people are different, some for the good and some for the bad.
I encourage everyone everywhere to enjoy life and cherish your time spent on earth! You all are striving to eat "healthy" to secure some type of future and feel good about yourself, yet you spend every day of that future earned worrying and being negative about your self and food. Its a vicious cycle! I tried "dieting" in America…NO BUENO! Smile and let yourself heal, give up a little of that control that you hold so precious. :)
Lol@ you sitting alone in your apartment eating bone broth and soaked grains. Yikes.
So basically take into account where YOU live, what's available to YOU, and what YOU like while avoiding processed crap.
"Lol@ you sitting alone in your apartment eating bone broth and soaked grains. Yikes."
Apartment? I live in a house… you must live in an apartment, though?
It's an important point about eating what you're accustomed to versus changing your diet radically (to low carb or something "traditional" from a whole other culture or too many generations ago). What Price observed, and what has been observed in the Kitavans (OK I said it, don't puke everyone!) is that one generation switching from "traditional" to "modern/western" resulted in major new health issues. The effect was pronounced because those individuals had no protection against the modern foods, since they had never been exposed to them before.
We are not all suffering because we are the first generation to eat a modern diet. Our parents and grandparents, etc. ate refined flour and sugar. We are suffering perhaps the subtle results of many generations of eating sub-optimal diets, messing up hormones and metabolisms, etc.
I think you can see this with kids nowadays. HFCS and other newfangled foods like soy milk have only been consumed by the masses for the last generation or so, right? And kids today have dramatically more obesity and cognitive problems (autism, ADHD, etc.) than the previous generation.
I think we probably *should* be able to adapt to modern foods. There are people without broken metabolisms who can eat Skittles all day and look and feel like a million bucks. It's possible.
It's not about what we eat, it's about what our bodies do with what we eat. It seems that you can eat ice cream all day long if your metabolism is humming along like a 10-year-old's. I believe this, because I was 10 years old once, but I can't imagine being able to do that now.
Matt's telling us that the way to get there is to Eat The Food. A lot of people don't trust that, or are scared of that (I certainly am), but the end goal for orthorexics and Stoners alike is to feel and look healthy.
Right guys? Group hug!
French women don't get fat?? That's is a fascinating concept which I haven't seen much proof of while living next to France !!
They may not be as fat as Americans but they are pretty fat nonetheless !!!
I'm with you on this one, Matt, and I appreciate the direction you seem to be heading with your blog / philosophy. Digital High Five!
Everyone should ask themselves this question:
If you could only choose one, would you rather be healthy or happy?
It's worthwhile to ponder, but in reality, they cannot be separated. No one who's miserable will ever achieve perfect health. No one who uses stress, fear, anger, despair or self-loathing as a motivator will ever achieve health; simply because those "motivators" for health are actually opponents of health.
Besides, what's the point of pursuing perfect health if you make yourself miserable getting there? We want to be healthy because we think it will improve our lives and make us happier. So isn't it funny that pursuing happiness by way of healthiness can actually make us less happy right here and now?
And while we are on the desperate quest for the elusive holy grail of perfect health, others are simply enjoying their lives on the Standard American Diet and some have found peace and happiness even in the face of extreme health problems and physical limitations.
I'm not saying do not try. I'm just saying you may benefit from reminding yourself of this perspective – that your ultimate goal isn't perfect health, your ultimate goal is the peace and happiness that you think perfect health will bring to you.
Also, Matt, I like the idea of a series of articles on diets.
I'd love it if you did a nice summary of the dangers of vegetarianism / veganism so I can send it to my friends (and withhold it from my enemies). It makes me want to cry a little when I see a friend ordering a salad at a steak house.
I have been considering writing something on vegetarianism to send out to friends, but it would be a lot easier to just send them a link – and it might earn you some more visitors!
first i want to point out that none of the anonymous comments after my switch to name of nocappy are mine. even the one with no caps although i do echo that question…
"so how do you implement this all as simply and inexpensively as possible?"
matt like i said before i believe you to be a sincere guy and never thought of you as a huckster. however rubin kinda gives off that sorta vibe. which is what made me wonder about the motives behind this second time around.
anyway like i said before i hope i find out that my suspicions were wrong.
but you have to admit this tagteaming with rubin on your followers the first time around provided little take away for us. and instead a constant message to get a consultation cuz its so mysterious and individual. this is what left a bad taste in our mouths (pun? yes!) the first time.
so it doesnt surprise me that a $50 gift cert is all they offered you. and $50 towards what? they should give you a percentage of the traffic you bring them. and if that is the case thats fine. you deserve it. again i support and respect honest pay for honest work/worthy value. but if you are bringing them "so much traffic" why do your followers get nothing? not even any take away info.
like the basics. last time people pointed out that there are basic general principles that everyone can start with. then tweak things from there according to individual biofeedback.
anyway i hope we actually get something out of this time around. besides a special invitation to call for a free consultation. and i hope the vibe i got from it last time is wrong.
it wasnt a matter of my losing respect for you. it was wondering if you were losing sight of respect of your followers. feeding us to the sharks so to speak? just sayin thats how it was lookin (and felt last time). and i am just one follower giving you honest feedback on perception on this for what its worth to you.
i am just not thus far convinced that now finally you/we have at last discovered the answer. and that rubin (or any one person) knows the secrets or holds the answers to our health and well being.
i have tons of respect for you. so i really do hope i am wrong about my suspicions about the motives behind this. more on the part of rubin than you. but if i am not wrong i hope you come to see the truth for yourself.
Not gonna take sides here. just want to critique some fallacious reasoning that probably shouldn't have been used as Brock and Hans mentioned.
"Anyone tried the Masai diet? I did – or at least I came pretty close eating only milk for nearly a month."
Not that I actually know what their diet consists of never having been there, but from what I know they eat much more than just milk, including blood, meat, organs, fermented blood and milk, and according to Don Matez, a lot of local herbs go into their cooking, herbs which they say their diet wouldn't be the same without. So seemingly it's not close at all.
still love the blog
"People are way too obsessed with Weston A. Price's work."
I know someone else's work with which some people are overly obsessed with.
"But they certainly didn't eat perfect diets and have perfect health. I have seen people, who were raised on pretty nutrient dense diets but with a lot of extra refined sugar and pasteurized milk, whose physical appearance would outshine every Eskimo, Pima Indian or Kitava."
Really? I see those rarely, especially in older people and especially in terms of facial development. There are a lucky few, that's it.
"But when the WAPF and Paleo are the most common representations of "traditional" eating, adding more meat and fat to the diet (automatically displacing more carbohydrates) is what many automatically do."……..
Yep, as evidenced by a comment on this blog post on Matt's Facebook wall. A WAPF-er jumped in to defend traditional eating and claimed that maybe the folks at the traditional foods conference didn't look overwhelmingly healthy because they used traditional foodism as an excuse to eat cookies and other "nonsense".
Well, that kind of cinched it for me. Pleasure foods = Nonsense? Duck That.
That clinched it along with a chapter leader confessing to me that eating "this way" was oppressive. She said it was easier keeping kosher when she was an Orthodox Jew than it is to eat the WAPF way. At least Jews can eat with other Jews. We traditional foodies are a scattered bunch. It makes socializing very difficult when you'll only eat grass-fed, pastured, soaked and spouted yadda yadda.
I write this as I'm sipping bone broth and nibbling cheese from the farm, but…I give myself permission to eat store brand rice cake while I do it. Not sure why. Just felt like rice cakes today.
P.S. For anyone keeping track, my first post-assessment appointment with Josh Rubin is May 5th. Will I find his recommendations oppressive or restrictive?
Nah. I understand the concept of using food as medicine. I know that food recommendations from him will fluctuate based on my needs over time. If I have to give up certain foods for a while as I heal I'll be cool with it because I'll know that the giving-up is temporary as opposed to the never-again-will-I-eat-fast-food mentality that seems to come with any new diet or "way of eating" or whole foods lifestyle.
Never again will I say never again! Lol
honestly, i don't think the whole issue is the food we or our parents/grandparents/ancestors ate or didn't eat. we in the US are inundated with prescription drugs and vaccinations that are not given in the name of health and are a relatively new introduction. birth control pills, diet pills, otc's etc…
my health compared to my two siblings is very different and quite a bit better i believe b/c i had maybe one round of antibiotics as a kid, have never been on bcp's or any other drug for that matter, was breastfed for 16 months and never given formula. my health issues have mainly been mental and i'm sure it's b/c of stress, not eating enough food and becoming ocd about different health diets.
i am finally feeling free and at peace and happy for the first time in a long time b/c i decided to just eat whatever i wanted and stop being so obsessed with every single thing i put in my mouth or my children's. i realized that the stress and pressure i was putting on myself to have the perfect diet would eventually put me in an early grave. we live 3 blocks from the beach now and we spend gobs of time in the sun and on the sand and walking to the cafes and eating cupcakes when we want cupcakes and tacos from the local stand and enjoying the time we have with our babes.
Freakin Bloodsport was awesome! How Van Damme didn't win an Oscar is beyond me.
Like Frank was told to stay away from Chong Li's right leg, Sisson better keep his little scrawny eight pack away from Stone's thick neck.
Everybody keeps going on about how they feel so good having freed themselves to just eat the food, as if that is what Matt is saying here. That's great for all of you, and I for one don't disagree with that mentality, but that's not what I hear him saying now. Have you all read the comments here, especially Matt's? Did you miss some of his in particular that others have pointed out?
"Exaggeration of course, but I do think that potent nutritional strategies could be developed and utilized with great effectiveness by those who really understand how to manipulate it, know what biomarkers to really look for"
"I think of people like myself, the Rubins, and a handful of others as certainly being in the right ballpark, even if we're still a long way from arriving at nutrition's true potential."
Those comments have nothing to do with just eat the food. Did you not catch that segue to the Rubins? And do you think the Rubins are going to say just eat the food today? They sure didn't the first time. According to them, it's much more complicated than that.
I hear him saying something more like, stop obsessing over (and following) whatever diet or ideology (pick one) you are currently following and follow the Rubins instead. But you gotta pay for the key to unlock the secrets to YOUR specific health needs. Cause we're all different and have different needs, you know.
Just eat the food?
"As I’m sure many of you will see if you’ve attended some kind of traditional nutrition conference, the health status of the attendees on a generic ‘traditional? diet doesn’t appear to be any different than that of the mainstream public."
I'd go further and say that "they" (WAPF/low-carb paleo) are more likely to be overweight than the mainstream public. Simply because they often develop addictions/obsessions with isolated fat sources such as butter and oils. I'm not scared of dietary fat, but I'm not guzzling it down either. It will add up quickly.
I think WAPFers appear to us to be overweight/unhealthy because it's a self-selecting crowd. They aren't overweight because they're eating WAPF, they're eating WAPF because they're overweight.
In other words, their health probs drove them to seek out answers from alternative diets and go so far as to attend conferences about them. And it doesn't appear to be helping them in many cases. I think the most packed session at the last Wise Traditions was the weight loss via low carb lecture. Far fewer showed up for Stephan's awesome talk about the Kitavan's carbs (I said it again!) which is such a shame.
Pictures from Jimmy Moore's low-carb cruises show that most people there are overweight. To be honest, it's at the paleo conferences where most everyone (even if they are formerly overweight diabetics) looks lean and fit.
Maybe it's because they're Crossfit/caffeine/adrenal addicts?
I am really loving this discussion and the direction you are going with this blog, Matt.
I have been feeling for a while now that trying to control my diet and the diets of my children (and husband!) is incredibly unhealthy for me and for them. BUT, it's really more about my approach to it than anything else–not that eating whole and naturally raised foods is not important. I have too much information in my head and when i see my kids chowing down on a basket of bread in a restaurant, i have to talk myself down. The stress of this is incredibly unhealthy. I want to be able to enjoy food even if sometimes we choose foods that are "unhealthy." this is what i am working on. Now that sugar has been added back into the mix of potentially healthy foods, i think i can finally make that step. if sugar isn't unhealthy, than WTF, i am not going to worry about much!
that being said, WAPF has led me to a life of farming which i find to be so healthy for me and for my family. our pace of life has slowed down dramatically (less stress) by living this lifestyle. i can't tell you how much pleasure i personally get from being outside taking care of our little farm and watching my kids learn where their food comes from, but more importantly just that they have the freedom to be outside playing in nature all day (we homeschool).
not that this lifestyle is for everyone or even for us long term. i can also see the day we move back to the city and enjoy all of the benefits of that lifestyle.
just a few thoughts. i have enjoyed reading all of the comments!
I can totally relate to you and feel for you. I went paleo for over a year with occasional binges (thank god) but it ruined my digestion. I tried enzymes and it worked initially but it wasn't a good long term solution. I think the only difference is that I have a history of bulimia (which only reappeared after going LC). Last month I completely lost my appetite and my stomach was extremely distended, I was losing sleep, nutrition, and my sanity. Then hypoglycemia symptoms set in, it was awful. Well it turns out I had an infection so I got on antibiotics and my appetite returned. I still had really bad sugar highs and lows, digestive trouble and insomnia.
What seems to have helped me is eating whole grain pasta with some tasty lean meat and pasta sauce, not going too long without food and not stuffing myself too much. Oh and drinking a little water after eating, for some reason it allows me to burp and feels better. The first two days were kind of tough because I still had hyp. so i stayed away from sugar in every form. Then the day after I had a few sips of oj and no hyp. reaction followed. I'm going to the restroom regularly and I'm finally getting that satisfied feeling after I eat which I've not had for months. Also I've found that the worst combo is refined carbs and fat while trying to fix digestion. I hope you find something that works for you, digestive problems can be such a pain.
Oh I also stopped eating dairy which I believe is the root of my infections and other health issues and my ability to digest grains has increased since doing so. Despite this, what Matt is saying about the stress and effects of restrictive diets is music to my ears. I don't know where all this is going but I am very greatful to have found his advice.
I somewhat agree with what you are trying to get at in this post Matt, HOWEVER, I feel you've poorly articulated your point. this is further evidenced by your first couple posts made here. our environment is most certainly not the same as traditional folks, so why should our diet? assuming this epigenetic stuff is true, at least.
the question here is to what extent do we accept our current situation?
this thought process seems to assume that we've done irreversible changes to our genome in the past 100 years. i disagree. it's almost as if you are throwing your hands up in the air and giving up. can we really classify the developments we've incurred as moving forward? it's certainly change, but most definitely not for the best. our health is at an all time low as far as i can tell. the only other time in history i know of that is comparable is the supposed loss in general size brain size, height, muscle mass, etc…) when grains became a large part of our diet.
counter point; if it became fashionable to jump off bridges or smoke meth daily, would saying no to the social norm really be that negative? is being one (or more) steps ahead of everyone else really be that much of a problem? should geniuses retard themselves? their ability casts them outside the social norm, you know. honestly, this is a very difficult thing to deal with and really depends on the person and figuring out where the limits are. how much "normal" food can one eat before experiencing the health negative?
I know you get a shit load of comments, so no idea if you gonna se this. But I am going to say it anyway. I started reading your blog awhile back, finding you from a youtube video, I have read many health blogs including Underground wellness and Scooby.
To be honest I thought you where the same in the sence that you foolow a certain road of "health", it actually not until I started reading the ebook till I realized that you think like me (just you know much more informed) I have felt the same thing about food and nutrition that there is no one factor making a diet "perfect" but a whole hosts of factors, not to mention one mans diet is not perfect for the next.
I will say that I am on very restricted diet, but I have issues, I have been obese whole my life and now in my 30's I lost 70 lbs so I kinda have a anorectic mindset, even though I know its somewhat baseless.
I am hoping that maybe your ebook will free me up some to start enjoying some more food, at least in parts.
I've thought about this over the past 24 hrs since reading.
Thank You for freeing me from my Traditional food prison.
Matt, it's hard to take seriously someone who makes such sweeping statements as you do, and talks about "traditional diets" being irrelevant and says "I do think that potent nutritional strategies could be developed and utilized with great effectiveness by those who really understand how to manipulate it, know what biomarkers to really look for, and are not married to some diet religion – "traditional" or otherwise.", but doesn't seem to grasp what science is about. Not once do you give references for your arguments, repeteadly create strawmans and get overemotional and overgeneralize from you own personal experience. You haven't even measured your own hormones, so how the hell do you know what your own body temperature really means?? And about traditional diets being irrelevant, have you forgotten why do people study them in the first place? It's because real health, or at least health comparable to the people in those populations just can't be found in the modern world! So traditional diets are part of the very frame and basis we have for looking at what is wrong with modern nutrition and what can be done to fix it. If science is to be followed, then to really promote something as a cure or as a solution to a problem, you have to PROVE IT. Or at least have a lot of good arguments so that the hypothesis is at least believable. That is what you don't give. One thing, of course, would be that this were your own experiments and speculations, and that's ok, but other is to try to pass all this as facts.
Scientific claims should be able to be traced to their very origins, and if your work can't be traced, your arguments can't be followed and your statements are controversial but but you never feel the need to show the proof, why are we to believe you? Now sugar is the panacea, even refined sugar is accepted, but is there real proof of it's safety? Is there any culture or group of people that ever lived and where healthy while eating very high amounts of sugar, SPECIALLY refined sugar? You can theorize all day, but at the end of the day, nuts (with their huge o6 content, undigestiblity and low carbiness) have been with us for million of years and have partly fuelled populations much more healthy than ours, while sugar, with it's perfect cleanliness and superb taste, and it's magical ability to elevate body temperature (at least according to you) never has. Do you think people would have ever adopted refined foods if they had made them feel bad inmediately?
I'm open to sugar not being the cause of all evil, and maybe being even beneficial in some instances (specailly unrefined), but this post was just too much, too stupid. And I'm getting fucking tired of you never referencing your articles and just spouting your arguments like a drunked vegan. Growth hormone being behind sugar's magic? Common! There's not even proof that growth hormone does all that!!
I don't think there is anything wrong with studying traditional diets that are like a century old but once you start having to look at archaeological evidence to analyze diet i think it gets problematic. I definitely agree with matt that trying to mimic a traditional diet is pretty irrelevent to our modern world. As an anthro student i have seen the data and archaeological reports about how human health declined when we adopted agriculture but i don't think that reverting back to a traditional diet will bring any benefits unless you're willing to embrace that entire lifestyle to a T. For example, H&G work aprox 3hrs or less a day in search of food and within a 6 mile radius, the rest of the time is leisure. If you are on your feet all day or even doing complicated tasks that use a lot of focus this diet would probably not benefit you in the long run. Also H&G mommies typically breastfeed longer (aprox up to 3yrs) because they engage in "birth spacing". since traditional whole foods are difficult for toddlers to digest they are breastfed longer which takes a lot out of the mother and she would need longer periods of time between births to recover. This is why fertility rates increased along with agriculture.
Maybe its not such a good thing that humans are able to access and manipulate food sources so much but before adopting traditional and ancient diets we should put them in a context. The sad thing is that this context can't really be replicated in modern times. I do find the study of healthy modern(ish) non h&g cultures very interesting though.
Oh i forgot…those figures and observations apply to modern h&g as well.
Anyone who is stupid enough to drink nothing but milk and consume nothing else for 27 days when there is a WORLD of food out there, deserves what he gets. I like a traditional diet as well as the next person, but I don't kill myself to get there. I try to eat the way I consider to be healthy – FOR ME. I don't like in-the-box diets or someone telling me I can't eat grains or I shouldn't be drinking milk yada yada yada. Don't be a yutz. Eat what feels right for YOU. But I don't think anyone was meant to survive for a lifetime on milk – unless it's absolutely all they had. I can understand why you're now looking down on traditional concepts and feel they should be a part of the past. You don't understand that way of eating, that's why. Eating IS a part of our past because our future is damn bleak in that regard. Taking a lesson from the past isn't the worst thing you'll do today.
Anyone who is stupid enough to drink nothing but milk and consume nothing else for 27 days when there is a WORLD of food out there, deserves what he gets. I like a traditional diet as well as the next person, but I don't kill myself to get there. I try to eat the way I consider to be healthy – FOR ME. I don't like in-the-box diets or someone telling me I can't eat grains or I shouldn't be drinking milk yada yada yada. Don't be a yutz. Eat what feels right for YOU. But I don't think anyone was meant to survive for a lifetime on milk – unless it's absolutely all they had. I can understand why you're now looking down on traditional concepts and feel they should be a part of the past. You don't understand that way of eating, that's why. Eating IS a part of our past because our future is damn bleak in that regard. Taking a lesson from the past isn't the worst thing you'll do today.
You mention consuming the Masia diet for 27 days.
Sorry, but you forgot a couple key ingredients.
Fresh blood and meat.
Don't knock it till you have gone all the way.
An interesting parallel can be made in fitness. There's a big movement to go back to "primal" exercise which is instructive and I think has been a huge help to people overall.
But just like you highlighted in the nutrition paradigm, being rigidly dogmatic to it makes little sense in our context.
For example, in CrossFit you would never do a "row" since you never would pick something up from the ground like that in "real life."
However, we sit on our butts hunched over a computer so much that a row can be a great compliment to training program, since it targets the lat and mid/low trap. It would be bad if you didn't include any more inclusive movements in your program, but a row is a great complimentary movement.
Just one example but there are plenty of others where using our past to inform us is hugely valuable, even essential, but misleading when ignoring the current reality.
The WAPF is certainly not low-carb although many followers do tend to adhere to a low-carb diet. If you read the articles on the WAPF site, you'll find that they advocate a diet that contains variety, which emphasizes both plants and animals just like in Weston A. Price's book. You can also look to articles regarding meal ideas, which do present a great variety of foods that include grains, fruit, veggies, etc. Here's something from the Weston A. Price site that you may like. This is present in the article "The Right Price":
"Objection: Dr. Price recommends a diet that is high in fat (especially saturated fat), cholesterol, and protein and is low in carbohydrates. This diet is similar to the Atkins Diet, and we do not recommend these types of diets because of the many health risks associated with consuming high amounts of protein and fat and low amounts of carbohydrates and fiber.
Response: The diet Price used with his patients included whole milk, whole wheat, stews made from bone broths, meats and organ meats, fruits and vegetables. It was not devoid of plant foods or very low in carbohydrates. The Weston A Price Foundation and Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions do not recommend specific carbohydrate and fat guidelines. Nourishing Traditions recommends limiting protein intake to 15-20% of calories and experimenting to find the right balance of carbohydrates and fats that will be determined by ancestry, circumstance and other factors."
Matt is correct in the fact that we shouldn't be obsessive over what we eat unless we have some form of illness or tooth decay. However, I do believe we should all consume a mostly traditional diet according to the principles of WAP. It is crazy to think that we require less nutrients than our ancestors. We certainly haven't changed genetically in a mere generation or two. Our ancestors focused on consuming nutrient dense foods whenever available. These foods included high quality animal foods, properly prepared grains, well cooked veggies, etc.
I have no idea why Matt has been weird lately with the WAPF. I hope you can clarify this for me, Matt, because the WAPF is definitely not about consuming lots of meat and fat. In fact, they warn people not to go above a certain limit with regards to protein. Yes, there are many who do the low-carb thing, but there are certainly many others like myself who consume a well balanced diet according to WAP that is not devoid of carbs or even fat.
Matt, I would like to see references regarding our ancestors aging faster than we have. It seems to me that our ancestors were far more well built than many people in the modern world. How can someone who is well built age as fast as the average person today? People who are less well built don't breathe as good due to a smaller jaw, crooked teeth, and narrow nostrils; therefore, they will exhibit more stress or dis-ease in the body. Take a few flowers for example. Wouldn't the flower that was given proper nutrients to grow stronger and beautifully live longer than the one who is less well built?
Hey Matt, just had a question about body comp as you brought up Chong Li. While he was built, he was by no means as lean as Jean-Claude or Bruce Lee. Do you feel that his body comp is more preferred by the body? Essentially, I'm just trying to get your opinion of what you think the body naturally wants to look like, and if that is a look like Chong Li, then to get leaner requires a conscious effort to exercise more and/or eat less, while one can look like Chong Li without as much of a focus because the body wants to look like that? I don't think the body would naturally want to be at 4-7% body fat, I think the 10-15% range makes more sense but that's just conjecture. This all assumes that one is following the general guidelines for health that you lay out here, i.e. no crazy plan.Thanks
Great post Matt! I've been saying similar about all the references to these – in context of the whole of the human population – infinitessimal populations of obscure cultures to justify why certain diets are supposedly "healthy" for a while now.
If you're of considerable Inuit or Pima decent and living on the SAD makes you fat and diabetic, then, yes, eating a diet traditional to your ancestry will probably be best for you. But I'm not an Inuit, or a Pima or a Masai, etc.
@Dana: Atkins is supposed to include fruit and veggies, and even some starches in maintenance. But the new version and trends amongst low carbers is towards induction level carbs in all perpetuity. There's no evidence that eating this way is healthy or even safe.
Just wanted to say that some low carb diet are used in medicine:
A type of atkins diet (modified atkins diet) is a good way to manage and even, in some cases, treat epilepsy in children if followed for a couple or more years. Just google it if some of you are interested. Another diet is a ketogenic diet that is administrated in a hospital setting, and is used to treat drug-resistant epilepsy. Ketogenic diet is a very high fat, low carb and low protein diet and needs to be monitored by a professional. This diet can be even administrated for brain tumors.
As for traditional diets, Nourishing traditions book by Sally Fallon (WAPF) has a whole chapter on potatoes recipes, so I am sure they do not advocate low carb. People really need to experiment with what foods and what proportion of foods make them feel good. I am an adventurous type and love experimenting on myself – and what I have found is that I function better if I eat protein, carbs and some veggies for every meal. There has to be more protein then carbs – otherwise I feel hungry in an hour. I don't like feeling hungry since I am too busy enjoying my life and my family, so I eat to feel full for at least 2.5 hours.
I got this concept in Metabolic Typing diet book. My daughter on the other hand, needs more carbs then protein to function. My other daughter is like me, she is 6 but it seems she intuitively eats more protein during meals then more carbs like pasta and rice. Kids seem to listen to their bodies more than adults.
Recently I have experimented to go grain free (for a bout 4 weeks) to see just how I will feel, and I did lose some weight but I started to wake up really early in the morning and could not fall back to sleep. I added back some grains like buckwheat and rice, and sleep well again (like before going grain free). We still do not eat processed foods but enjoy it on family celebrations and on the weekends and my kids eat lots of treats when at my parents 2 times a week, but I still read the ingredients and avoid polyunsaturated oils in store bought things and don’t give coca cola to my kids.
Very interesting read – but I disagree. I wrote a blog post about it here: http://blog.losefat.gr/2011/04/how-to-eat-naturally.html
Boy have you gotten big for your britches. Sorry but no Matt, many of us still have much to learn from traditional diets. Thanks, but I will decide for myself what is and is not irrelevant.
A person can learn a lot from observing others — not just traditional people, but people right now, in the grocery store.
Who looks good — happy, healthy, with a glow? What's in their cart? (plenty of vegetables, some goodies, a colorful fresh variety of things)
Who looks like crap? Who's miserable, bitter, sick? What's in THEIR cart? (either nothing but lemons and soy, or everything in a box)
And I feel bad saying this, but I don't think Mary Enig and Sally Fallon look so great/happy/glowing. They look like they need more exercise and to eat less meat.
Jack LaLanne, on the other hand, looked fantastic.
Forget diets and diet theories. We know SOOOO little about human biochemistry — scientists with advanced degrees and published papers constantly disagree on these things. Who can tell what the reality is? Matt does all this research for us, and he's a smart guy and I trust him… but he constantly contradicts himself and changes his mind.
I make a study of people in their fifties, sixties, seventies and their habits. The healthiest/healthiest looking are the ones who get outside and exercise and are involved in things and enjoy eating and aren't freaks about it. Some are heavier than others, but they have that healthy, happy glow.
The least healthy ones watch a ton of TV and go on diet after diet. My dad Atkinsed himself up to 300 lbs this way.
Look around and see what works. Makes more sense than reading a diet book.
The problem with that, Maggie, is that you can't know what is the cause and what is the effect. Are they sick because they watch tv and don't excersice, or the other way around?
When you say that the Eskimos aged rapidly it is also a point that they also matured very young. Stefansson wrote that the Eskimo women sometimes could become grandmothers before the age of 23. There is reason to believe that early maturing is influenced by diet, but for the Eskimos living in their environment this may have been an advantage, because if they could reproduce quicker it may have given them better changes to survive as a group. In such a context it could also be an advantage that the people didn't live into very old age. Since the old people would no longer be able to go hunting but would still need food, then if there came periods with scarcity of resources, the old people would had been a burden to the community. In this regard, it can be mentioned that some groups of Eskimos in the past were reported to practice senilicide during famines. Also invalidicide and infanticide were practiced within some groups of Eskimos, so it is clear that surviving solely on arctic conditions can be quite extreme. I think something like this can also be said about the Paleolithic time, where nature will favor its resources towards the reproductives.
In many of the traditional diets around the world, people eat a lot of weird stuff like insects, worms, larvae, spiders, snails, scorpions, reptiles, amphibians, chicken fetuses, rats, cats, dogs, monkey toes, testicles, live fish or live octopuses, etc. And there have been many tribes in the world where cannibalism were among their eating habits. Much of the foods that different cultures eat are very often eaten on special occasions or as a part of a ritual. A pig heart can, for example, be shared among some people as a ritual to become spiritually connected with each other. Ingestion of semen plays an important role in some cultures. For example, among the Sambia people of Papua New Guinea, boys from age seven regularly perform fellatio on adolescent boys since they believe that young boys need regular ingestion of semen to achieve sexual maturity and masculinity. The point is that there can be various reasons why some special food is eaten by a specific culture.
I don't think that there is any special traditional diet that can be said to be the optimal diet. I think that there is an optimal physiology and optimal biochemistry, which probably can be achieved by a variety of different diets. To obtain optimal physiology, there are certain nutrients the body need, so we will have to eat foods that will supply us with those nutrients. At the same time there will also be things that can poison and disrupt the physiology to work optimally, so therefore there will be certain foods and environmental factors that are best avoided. But an organism that works optimally should probably be able to handle some poisons and not let those descend its physiology. It is fully possible that a diet that consists of mostly processed foods can manage to serve the body with all the nutrients that are needed. And as long as the processed foods don't contain significant amounts of poisoning stuff, I think such a diet can just as well provide someone with as good health as any traditional diet can.
Anyway, if we are going to eat a traditional diet, it would make most sense that that diet should resemble the traditional diet to our heredity or local ancestors. There may be a connection between the environment, genetic changes of the people and their traditional diet. For example, the skin of Europeans is more depigmented than the skin of Native Americans and Asians at same latitude. Assuming that people at same latitude get the same amount of UV radiation, it can be speculated that the difference in skin pigmentation can be due to different diets, that the Europeans ate a diet where there was a greater need for vitamin D. According to some research, eating a lot of certain grains will increase the need for vitamin D, and Europeans started to eat grains some thousands of years ago.
When the WAPF recommends cod liver oil to someone who wants to eat a traditional diet, it may be a recommendation taken out of its context. Consumption of fish liver and fatty fishes that contain vitamin D are common traditions we can find within Northern Europe but not so much in Southern Europe. If you live in a place with very little sunlight and also eat grains, then you may benefit from eating a dish of traditional fish liver, but that is not necessary something everyone will benefit from. The idea of combining the best of various traditional diets can be fallacious, as someone pointed out that maybe something like vitamin A toxicity can occur, so awareness by eating this way can be useful.
Anon — Of course it's just an association, not a cause and effect. In fact, it's also possible that healthy looking people aren't all that healthy at all. Who knows; maybe Mary Enig will out live us all, in spite of her sallowness.
But I'm willing to bet that diet and behavior DO have some effect on the quality of our lives. I think taking general lessons from what we observe in people around us is probably the closest we're going to get to truth.
Totally agree with you Maggie. I think this makes the most sense.
Maggie, I agree as well. Jack LaLanne was someone I look up to, although I don't agree 100% with everything that he did. I think he may have exercised too much, ate too much soy, and ate too little animal products. But what he did served him well. Living with the vitality that he had to 97, beats 99.9% of the rest of the population.
I love your blog, the perfect antidote to all the wacky diet nonsense out there! thank you!
I'm currently exploring the book Nourishing Traditions because everything I've learned about food has sent me in that direction. I agree that we can't just pick up any old traditional diet–I mean, I wouldn't want to be that limited in what I ate for one thing, and where am I going to get whale blubber anyway?
Your anecdote about drinking milk for a month is totally irrelevant, by the way, unless it was raw milk–you didn't specify, but usually people will specify if it was raw, and raw milk is a completely different food from pasteurized–it should actually help with allergies, not make them worse. (Unless you truly have an intolerance to milk–like you said, genetics do make a difference.)
I believe we can learn a lot from traditional diets, though I agree it's not a panacea. Still, I think by adapting certain things, like switching from pasteurized/homogenized to raw milk, adding organ meats and raw meat (however much I feel comfortable with–I'm not going to force anything down), adding fermented foods I find palatable, and lowering my grain consumption and preparing grains the traditional way are all going to improve my health. But my health problems are such that I probably need to do more. And I still believe in eating vegetables even though some traditional societies did not.
I actually love that when you look at traditional diets as a whole, it's far more flexible than other popular diets, such as paleo, raw, vegan, raw vegan…they may be healing to some point but I wonder about long term effects of such diets.
Personally, I'm sick of people bashing grains: They're so bad, they make you fat, humans weren't meant to eat them, ahhhh!
I think it's kind of insane how much we have to educate ourselves on nutrition, weeding through all kinds of seemingly conflicting information. I find that Nourishing Traditions bring some simplicity to something that would otherwise be overwhelming and insurmountable.
But yeah, I hear ya. Even as I talk about Eskimos and the Masai, I am inwardly cringing, hoping nobody thinks that I think that's how we should be eating.
I used raw, organic, grass-fed milk from Organic Pastures for the first 3 weeks and milk from an even higher quality dairy for the final week – one that I once contracted campylobacter from drinking the milk from.
I was just viewing piccies of Nigella Lawson. Woman is 51yrs old, looks absolutely amazing. Stuffs her face with any type of food you can imagine(but high quality ingredients). Imo, and I have tried low carb(horrible), SAD(not going back), Vegetarian(awful shitting), and now i eat pretty much a whole squash a day, can go through butter like a butter monster, and eat probably just a bit too much meat(grass-fed local lamb fyi). I FEEL alright. My digestion and shitting took a turn for the inconsistent 5 weeks ago when i introduced natural calm magnesium supplement(on the plus side, all muscular tension subsided!), but now its slowly getting back to it's loggy best. My opinion is, cut out junk- just cut that shit out. It does not taste anywhere near as good as you make it out to be, it's temporary, fleeting sensoric indulgence based on the pyschological relation to what you ate as a child. If you give into peer pressure and eat a pizza because you feel awkward, then you are mentally weak and sheepish. If you just want the pizza then fine, no-one honestly cares either way, but make sure you know WHY you do what you do. After cutting out the cardboard, tasteless crap, eat real protein, real carbohydrate, and real fat. Local, naturally raised and fed, grown etc. Experiment ratio-wise(does not mean counting- that ugliest of ugly practises) i.e, do i want more fat than protein etc- don't be a slave to any ideal. If one day you want more carbs, do it, and stop bitching. Same goes for more fat. All I see are slaves to nutritional protocol, it's pathetic. Learn to intuit, it's not that hard to do once you cut out the bullshit, and in the meanwhile get to look a helluva lot better than fat, dying people you see walking down the street with a coke. People over-complicate everything. What you think really governs how you feel. When you think well, you feel well, you eat well. Also, do excercise. Saying you don't feel like it is mere laziness. Healthy people excercise.
New to this…. and I see your points in low carb not being good for you but I am still stuggling with the whole “eat skittles, dr pepper and mcdonalds” been there and done that and ended up REALLY sick. Cutting all that out I have had HUGE health improvements. That and I can’t afford for us to go out to eat all the time. Buying a bucket of wheat and throwing it in a bread maker is cheap. Buying bulk is cheap. Eating out or even buying crap at the store is NOT cheap (at least not where we live) Pasturized milk (which I WISH I could by) makes me have horrible stomach pains that I had since a kid. Made my son break out in hives (which is why I originally started the raw- not for health but because he loved milk) Butter allergies run in the family but raw we handle great and it clears up our skin. If its working and we don’t deprive ourselves and don’t count calories or go “low” anything then whats the big deal? Of late we have been eating more crap (holidays) and we have all been sick a ton whereas the rest of the year we were not sick at all (including being around sick people) Just not understanding what the point is… not disagreeing completely but if its making us feel better then why not do it?
Sorry Matt, but you just became irrelevant. I gotta quit reading you. Your “eat anything you want at any time” message is what people want to hear but not what people need to hear. Your representation of traditional diets (Masai, etc.) is so far off that this tells me you don’t know much about them.
I am not a true traditionalist. I have a mix that works for me. Real food, skip the hybridized wheat and really limit grains. No processed foods, no refined sugars, no refined flours, no vegetable oils. Lots of raw milk and animal fat. I am 55 and healthier than I ever was in my 20s and 30s when I ate like you recommend. I am NEVER sick, exercise daily (mix of cardio, swimming, weight training). Don’t have a thyroid issue and my body is warm and energetic all of the time. If I ate like you recommended, I would be an overweight, sluggish middle-aged to senior woman. Sorry, going to avoid that!
Just because you get your thyroid and adrenals cranking, that doesn’t mean you are taking the best care of the rest of your body. Time will tell – but then it may be too late for you and your followers.
This is very much the sort of diet that I am aiming for. I find it more useful to 1. Listen to my body over anything else and 2. Look to the traditional diet of the people I am descended from- not ancient ancestors, but my family. I’m from solid Northern British stock and indeed I do well on a diet similar to what my family would have eaten prior to the arrival of junk food and the availability of generous amounts of refined sugar. Plenty of meat and fish, plenty of wholefood carbs, plenty of veg, a bit of fruit, minimal sugar, healthy fats etc. I do not do well on gluten or dairy, or with too much meat or fat, but I have a genetic condition which affects my digestion so that is probably to blame for that issue.
I like what Maya Fiennes says in her book (about yoga and lifestyle), that many people in the yoga world advocate veganism and raw foods but she is from Eastern Europe and does much better with meat and cooked veg etc. Listen to your body. Look to the genetic stock you are from.
The idea that we can cure our health problems with Dr Pepper and pizza is wishful thinking IMO. A Dr Pepper might ease the woes of a low carb diet, in the short term, but in the long term- well maybe Matt is different but I certainly wouldn’t feel good consuming that sort of thing regularly. I want to feel as well as I can, and I would prefer not to die of heart disease at 53 like my father. I have spent about a year now basically RRARFing after 18 months of paleo, my goal now is to move towards a more wholefoods diet and hopefully then get back to the level of wellness I was at prior to paleo. I now know that the “food intolerance” symptoms of fatigue, joint pain, digestive problems and so on, which led me to trying paleo, are actually caused by my genetic condition, and are not down to food anyway, though how I eat does affect how troublesome the symptoms are.
Eat food, that’s my motto. What my great-grandparents would have considered to be food. Mostly.
They probably have reduced stature due to a pattern biologists call ‘island dwarfing’. Happened to elephants too in SE Asia. On an island there’s less room to range. To support a growing population, the smaller individuals who could sustain on less calories get selected for. Thuse generation by generation the average stature of the group shrinks.
Has nothing to do with yams. Look at West Africans, also yam eaters and hardly small people.
RE: this thread
Traditional peoples were highly active. They walked, chopped, dragged, built, clibed, swam, harvested, hunted ALL DAY, with intermittent rest. Much more active than the average modern humans. According to the logic of Matts post, we should not consider this rellevant. Ignore all consideration of traditional peoples. Nevermind that they had less cancer, heart disease, obesity and better teeth than us. Just forget that.
I won’t. When we gain something as a society, we also lose something. I am interested in what we lost.
My blood pressure has risen to “pre-hypertension” since eating for heat…it used to be in normal range. Should I be concerned?
Anonymous, you’ve summed up everything in that one comment. My goodness, everyone should read your vastly superior solution to everyone’s diet requirements.
Here’s mine. My basal body temp this a.m. was 36.2 celcius. I was very ill once, doing sissons primal thing (with the carbs). Been off primal for 9 months. Eating loads of starchy carbs now, sugar, salt, processed foods too. Ate McDonalds 10 minutes ago. Feeling better than I have in months! Full of energy! Ready for 90 minutes of Karate training! I FEEEEL GOOD!
Matt Stone… You sussed it for me! :-)
I have to say my brother and I knock WAP principles on child spacing and order out of the park. I’m 13 months older than my brother and I had horrible teeth. Always had cavities and had braces and the works. My mom said she tried to eat healthy with me. With my brother she said she ate so bad, but he has perfect teeth at 27. No cavities and perfectly straight teeth including his wisdom teeth which a dentist said he had an ideal mouth. I got the shitty end of that deal!!
What most people call “eating so bad” usually means eating a lot of calorie dense food that you enjoy instead of forcing yourself to eat boring, low-calorie density food.
Matt, haven’t you read Masterjohn’s piece on the Masai diet? They did not eat milk, meat and blood. Only warriors did, for a limited period of time. The rest of them seemed to enjoy a fairly varied and interesting diet with lots of dairy and veggies.