Reading in January is all about nutrition.
Every year there is no shortage of new books to choose from. Amazon keeps filling our book shelves (and Kindles) with the next fad nutrition book and this is not a new phenomena. I’m 20 years in and every year I pick up a few more gems that researchers have discovered.
The oldest “nutrition” book dedicated to weight loss I found was a 1558 bestseller, The Art of Living Long; Lord Byron’s diet of potatoes flattened and drenched in vinegar.
Of course you’re going to loose weight on that one, that’s assuming you can get within 8 feet of your vinegar soaked potatoes!
Our centuries long struggle with weight and nutrition is really quite fascinating and sad at the same time.
Let me know in the comments below if you find an older one.
I keep reading every January because I don’t believe that finding successful nutritional strategies is a lost cause. There is a solution to the rising obesity epidemic and diseases that are rooted in poor nutritional choices.
This blog contains the first of several nutritional “hacks” I’ve found that are producing great results.
I have a couple rules when it comes to nutrition. The first is that my family and I do what I recommend (or are moving towards) doing it. The second rule is that my hacks need to line up scientifically with the most recent longevity research and nutrition for healthy gene expression.
Hack #1 Dietary Fat Is Not the Enemy.
This began for me with a 1998 newspaper editorial about the alarming rise in Alzheimer’s disease. I think this caught my attention because my Grandma died of complications surrounding Alzheimer’s.
All I remember about Grandma’s dementia was that it was brutal and our family didn’t understand it. This was years before Alzheimer’s was well known.
Right after that I read another article about head trauma leading to brain shrinkage. It talked about consuming healthy fat’s to help with the brain trauma and recovery.
More recently this has been re-visited by progressive neurologists dealing with concussions.
Fast forward a few years from Grandma’s death, I’m studying nutrition and biochemistry in chiropractic school and all of a sudden a light bulb went on in my brain. Looking at the two articles now they don’t seem to connect. But somehow those 2 articles led me to Hack #1. Fat is our friend and denying our body healthy fat will starve our brain.
The one thing you learn in biochemistry is what we’re made of (pun intended). The human brain is roughly 2% of our total body weight but is estimated to contain 25% of our body’s cholesterol.
Our brain needs fat and cholesterol and both are critical to keep our brain’s healthy. If you don’t give your body fat, it will rob it from somewhere. Just like Osteoporosis robs calcium from the bones. The brain is the biggest source of fat.
Artificially lowering cholesterol levels, like we seem to be fascinated with in North America, is foolish. It’s the wrong target in heart disease prevention and escalates Alzheimer rates and contributes to other neurodegenerative diseases. (check the Ravnskov and Graveline research below)
The Framingham Heart Study, a virtual bedrock nutritional study has produced over 1200 research articles. This study is tracking the nutritional habits of 15,000 people in Massachusetts (began in 1948) and states clearly that there is no correlation between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels.
Ask the average person in North America what happens when you eat fat? 99% of us will say, we get fat. This belief is so engrained that even gigantic studies like Framingham don’t slow the “low fat” crazies down.
So why have we been anti fat for so many decades? Because a “theory” became big business. The food industry has created an entire food group out of low fat, synthesized Franken food.
But don’t take my word for it, check out Dr. Uffe Ravnskov MD, PhD who has written extensively on myths around cholesterol and dietary fat. Or Dr. Duane Graveline MD, who has written several books on what happened to him when his doctor put him on statins and artificially lowered his cholesterol. You can find ample reference to these two doctors if you Goggle them.
Cholesterol and dietary fat is not the enemy. Man-ipulted fat is the enemy.
The kind of fat that is good for you is the “God put on the planet” kind. The kind that hasn’t been altered to increase shelf life or trick your taste buds and brain so you’ll just keep eating long after you’re full.
Good fat is not killing you, it’s protecting you. It protects your brain, your heart, your immune system, and good fats do not make you fat. In fact they force your metabolism to work harder so breaking down fat for fuel actually uses up more calories.
And when you eat healthy fat, it satisfies your brains hunger centers so you don’t crash 30 minutes after you eat and you don’t eat as much.
Experimenting with my life, or rather experimenting in my life.
My mornings start between 4am and 5am during the week and I have to confess, I really don’t do breakfast.
Because of this aversion for breakfast, midmorning, I needed to reach for an energy bar. I have a box of LaraBarsTM in my desk drawer at the office. The problem is even LaraBarsTM are loaded with more natural fruit sugar than is healthy, at least by my standards.
On the weekend I’m better, I’ll have a couple eggs in the morning (cooked in coconut oil) with a little pepper and sea salt. But I digress.
For the last couple months I’ve been experimenting with good fat.
I’m taking 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil, with 16oz glass of water and my triple shot espresso each morning. You know what? I’m noticing a huge difference during my week. I can skip the energy bar, keep drinking water and I make it to lunch, often including a workout at lunch.
I’m not recommending that you do this, breakfast is important, but I use this example as the power of healthy fats. Yes, I need to work on getting breakfast in me during the week. Our mom’s are right, breakfast is important. But I’m also OK with you knowing that I’m not perfect (that’s why I need nutrition hack’s).
Cholesterol and healthy fats will help you remember where you live, recognize your grand kids and make sure you don’t die a horrible death as a result of brain shrinkage. They will also protect you from all kinds of other diseases too, including heart disease.
Good fat is the fat that “can be consumed close to the way they are”. Killer fat is manufactured in a lab.
Start with good fat and run from Man-ipulated fat.
Good fat’s include olives and olive oil, coconut oil, butter, raw nuts, organic eggs (including the yolks), avocados, pasture finished meats, palm oil and unheated organic nut oils. I know some of these things are not easy to find but the majority are and can end up in your grocery cart this week!