You wouldn’t put diesel fuel in a rocket or rocket fuel in a truck. They each were made to run on a certain kind of fuel and so are you. If you put poor quality fuel into your body, you are going to have a poor result. One result will be a lack of energy, or in any case a less than optimal amount of energy. Remember, you are essentially drugging your body every time you eat. Put in good drugs.
This article is second in a series that will be dedicated to helping you improve your energy. You will not escape the rat race or enjoy life if you are energy deficient. Energy level is a fundamental key to thriving and not just surviving. Take it from someone who knows. I have been chronically fatigued for much of my adult life. I’m turning it around big time, but I’m not all the way there yet. The first article was:
So what kind of fuel do you need to perform at your optimum level? This is something that tends to get people fired up and controversial. There are a wide range of schools each with their own gurus. Each of them can make good arguments that their particular vision of healthy eating is the “right” way. I’m not really going to wade into that because I think you can make some general conclusions that are widely accepted across most schools of thought.
The human body and its operation is extraordinarily complex. We know only a tiny fraction of what we need to know to be making categorical pronouncements. I know people who are very healthy and seem to eat right even though they have very different ideas about what “right” looks like. You can be a vegan or a meet eater; you can be a raw food enthusiast or a cooking enthusiast and still eat very healthy.
The Diet Your Body Was Made to Eat
If I had nothing else to go on, and I don’t have a lot, I would suggest that we should generally eat the kind of diet that humans and human ancestors ate during our biological development. It seems uncontroversial to say that the bodies that thrived on those diets were the ones who survived and passed on their genes to us. Agriculture was only invented 10,000 years ago and our modern dietary habits have only developed in the last couple of hundred years. Neither of those is nearly long enough to significantly change our biology.
So right off the top we can assume that our bodies are not made to eat processed foods any more than a truck is made to run on rocket fuel. Furthermore, there is plenty of logic and research that shows that those foods are not good for us.
One problem with giving diet advice is that we are all different. I think I remember my biology studies enough to remember that for some genes they have identified as many as 20 different alleles (genetic variations). That was way back in the dark ages and probably is far out of date. These individual variations can make a huge difference in what you can tolerate. There are a lot of people who do poorly on gluten while it doesn’t seem to bother others. Same thing for dairy, wine, shellfish, etc. Some people have poor glucose control and others have excellent glucose control (although if they abuse it they can ruin it). Some people remove toxins well and others don’t. There is a metabolic typing system that I don’t know much about but it makes sense to me.
Some of these problems with food tolerance surely developed recently. The gene pool is going to hell in some ways. I’m pretty sure that not too many of my ancient ancestors had my poor eyesight. The spear in their chest would have limited the number of descendants they produced. The point is that regardless of what someone tells you, and that includes me, you must pay attention to your own body and how you personally react to various foods. That will tell you more than a lot of the advice you get that is based on a non-existent typical person. I can’t emphasize that enough.
I am trying to stay fairly uncontroversial and I welcome your thoughts. I’m not an expert but I have studied this enough to have some opinion.
Eat as much natural and whole food as you can. Eliminate most or all of the man-made and refined foods you eat. No matter what anyone claims, there is simple logic to this: Human bodies did not develop eating the crap most of us eat now. There is no way the body is going to handle this stuff as well as the whole natural foods that were the basis of our biological development. I recommend Vin’s Natural Bias website for more information on natural foods.
I’m not a organic bigot, because if truth be told the reason I’m able to type on this computer to you and the reason you are able to read it, is because of mass produced agricultural products. Agriculture, even if it was bad for our bodies, allowed civilization to develop. Later, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, etc. allowed us to go from an agricultural based economy to one in which agriculture is now almost unnoticeable. I’m probably pissing a lot of people off with this, but I believe it to be the truth.
However, having said all that, if you can afford it I think organic natural food is far better for you. Just because we are where we are because of less than wholesome food, does not mean you shouldn’t optimize your own situation. There are reasons to believe, aside from the toxic effect of eating all that poison, that the natural foods are far better. Starving people or countries that are not as blessed as mine can eat all the mass produced food they need. Enough said.
- Refined Carbohydrates – I’m sure there are millions of articles on the net on the dangers of refined carbohydrates so just read them. If you want to slowly kill yourself, just load up on these.
- Trans-Fat – Zero positives and tons of negatives. It damages your cell membranes.
- Deep Fried Food – They are cancer producers.
- Man-made sweeteners and other additives – Aspartame for example kills your brain cells, especially sensitive ones in your hippocampus. That’s very important to memory in case you didn’t know.
- Carbonated Drinks – They rot your teeth and bones.
You Can’t Go Wrong With These
Eat carbohydrates, protein, fats, and fiber at every meal. I’m not going to preach about ratios since there is plenty of information on that, but avoid extremes. I eat mostly carbohydrates, a good amount of protein, and smaller amounts of fats every time I eat.
In my article, How To Take Care of Your Brain, I recommended a colorful rainbow diet and I repeat it here. Eat colorful foods; orange, red, blue, purple, and green foods.
Cauliflower, broccoli, kale, bok choy, cabbage, brussels sprout, etc. These are nature’s miracle foods. Find me somebody who thinks you should not eat these. They are absolutely loaded with phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and soluble fiber. They are complex carbohydrates that break down very slowly and give your body a constant supply of blood glucose. In the GI index they are at the top of the list. They have strong anti-cancer properties. Men, scientists have discovered they have powerful anti-prostate cancer properties.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Arugula, spinach, collard greens, Romaine lettuce, mustard green, Swiss chard, etc. The darker the leaves the better. You can almost repeat the cruciferous vegetable paragraph for these. Dark green leafy vegetables are a super food and you should eat them at every meal if possible.
Vegetables in General
If you look at a GI index you will see the top of the list (low GI foods that are good for you) is dominated by vegetables. In general you should eat more good vegetables than fruit. Some fruit can spike your blood sugar. You can almost not go wrong with vegetables.
Avoid the few hi GI vegetables like white potatoes, parsnip, beets, and be careful with corn and yams. The latter two you can eat in moderation. Carrots are high GI but low in carbohydrate content so you can eat them without worrying.
A Note On Blood Sugar Testing
My wife is mild type II diabetic. She has those finger-prick home testing kits. I have taken advantage of this to watch my own blood sugar level. Your level will vary throughout the day, mostly as a result of eating. With most people it spikes dramatically. You want to maintain as flat a level as possible and avoid too much spiking. If you eat the white death foods, you will spike your blood sugar and produce a lot of insulin. I take my readings at random occasionally and I spent a couple of days taking it all day long. My blood glucose stays very flat and doesn’t rise much even after eating. I consider this evidence that eating the way I recommend with low GI vegetables and small frequent meals, is ideal for blood sugar maintenance. I also eat a lot of protein which helps maintain it between meals and overnight. Test yourself if you can.
Fruits are excellent but they tend to be much higher blood sugar producers than vegetables. So eat more vegetables than fruits. The berries are fantastic and they are generally low GI and low carbohydrate content so eat away. They are packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants. The berries should be a basic part of a healthy diet. The purple/black berries like blueberries and blackberries are super brain foods. I eat strawberries and blackberries like candy, because once you stop eating processed sugar, fruits taste so sweet!
With fruits stay away from fruit juice. It will spike your sugar and most of the fiber has been removed. Other high GI fruits to be avoid are raisins and pineapples. Be careful with mangos, bananas, and too much watermelon. Grapes are excellent sources of nutrients (especially red or black grapes), but don’t eat too many of them at once. They are moderate on the GI index. Eat berries, apples, pears, grapefruits, and plums about any time you want. Just don’t eat too much of them at one sitting. Don’t eat two or three apples for instance.
If you get protein from meats, eat mostly lean meats. You need fat, but too much of the wrong kind is bad for you. If you review my articles on brain chemistry, you will find a common pattern of good meats with wild game topping the list:
In addition to wild game, chicken and turkey are excellent. Ham is a fairly lean pork if you cut the fat off the outside. If you eat fatty red meat, at least eat it in moderation. The grain-fed beef most people eat has the wrong kind of fat content and produces inflammatory arachidonic acid. Grass fed beef is supposed to be great, but I haven’t started it yet. Read Vin’s article Why Grass Fed Beef is Better for Your Health for good information.
Despite the bad rap they have received in the past, I think eggs are a great food. They are loaded with high quality protein that is good for your brain and they contain Omega 3 fatty acids. Eat your eggs without worrying. I guess I’m getting controversial here but I couldn’t help it.
I’m not too good in this area so I would welcome comments. Meat protein is more complete than vegetable protein and since I am a meat eater I don’t worry about vegetable protein too much. From what I know I would recommend seeds (sunflower especially), nuts, beans, peas, soy, rice, and spinach. I need help on this please!
Why not take a high-quality protein powder just to be sure? Especially if you don’t eat meat. I eat meat and I still have one glass of protein powder drink every morning.
Nuts and Seeds
I eat a ton of nuts and seeds. I know they are very fatty but in general this kind of fat does not make you fat and is very good for you. Like I said I eat tons of them and I am still losing weight. My body chemistry is likely different than yours, but everyone should eat some of them. Walnuts are a supper brain food. Please eat them. Almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, macadamia, cashews, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are my other favorites. I eat them with every meal and snack.
I tend to be scientific and over analyze everything. If you want to be more relaxed about it I would suggest you eat a rainbow diet with a wide variety of natural whole foods. Eat a lot of vegetables, a moderate amount of fruit, and a moderate amount of lean protein. You need to eat some seeds and nuts and you should eat a lot of berries. Eat small frequent low GI meals and snacks. Mix your meals up with portions from each food group: fiber, vegetables, fruits, protein, and good fats. Enjoy your super health!
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