I've spent years carefully eating...years carefully eating what I thought was the right way, then years of carefully eating what I now know is the right way. I say so definitively, because my personal experience makes this self-evident, as I've experienced dramatic results in terms of weight loss, body composition, quality of life, and overall good health over a long, sustained period of time. I have gotten to a place where I really enjoy eating the food I prepare and cook, and I experience almost zero bad effects from the foods I regularly eat with gusto and great enjoyment.
It's extremely liberating to sit down to a large meal, and to eat everything, savoring every bite, without worrying about my weight, my "diet" or whether or not I'm eating too much or not enough. All the worrying and considerations happens before hand, when I select ingredients, preparation and cooking. Once that's done, it's just time to enjoy eating without worry, until feeling fully sated.
I've gotten to this point, having years of reading so many blogs, books, testimonials, anecdotes and comments on the topic, I've come to the point where I've forgotten more than I remember. When I go and re-read some of my older posts on these topics, I laugh to see various aspects of this topic that I've forgotten about.
One thing we must always remember - we are all going to die some day.
There is no grand prize for achieving the perfect diet...and in fact, there is no such thing as a perfect diet.
That being said, I'm at a point where I'm seeing the same topics going round and round and round. Everytime newcomers stumble upon one of the blogs that discusses (to borrow a recent turn of phrase) the "dark enlightenment of neo-reactionary diets" and discover the dietary red pill, they all seem to fall into the same modes of thinking.
Just because you tried any of the Atkins/Ketogenic/Paleo/Vegan diet and lost a bunch of weight and felt a lot better, doesn't mean you've found dietary perfection, nor the long term solution to an eternal life of robust health.
I think most of us have in these fringes of teh Interwebz, have heard the following type of argument from the low carb/very low carb and ketogenic diet advocates before:
"The government and food production industry embraced the demonization of saturated fat and cholesterol - aka "The Lipid Hypothesis of Degenerative Diseases," and instead promoted everyone onto high carb diets."
While this is not wrong, it is a misdirection that indicts "carbohydrates" as a class of macro-nutrient as the primary culprit of all the ill health and diseases we now see as pervasive amongst we the sheeple of the Brave New World Order's global feedlot.
Yes, the type of carbs you eat are important. Wheat, and other grains like oatmeal, barley and rye contain gluten and other anti-nutrient substances that can contribute to all sorts of maladies. But I've come to a point where I now believe carbohydrates, even the "bad" ones, are not the primary culprit (though an important part of the equation) of so many maladies that afflict the people on the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet.)
The anecdotes and testimonials of people who've embraced some form of low-carb dieting and experienced dramatic improvements in health and weight are legion. I've made my fair share of them myself throughout the history of this blog.
BUT....there also exist a wide number of similarly dramatic turnarounds from people who also embrace diets from the opposite end of the carnivore - herbivore spectrum of conflicting dietary paradigms. I know of folks who experienced some life and death diagnosis like cancer, who then embraced a raw food, vegan diet and find themselves in miraculous remission, improved health and weight loss. According to the more dogmatic of the ketogenic-embracing factions, this simply does not compute.
What's the one thing the carnivorous ketogenic low carbers and raw food vegans have in common when they embrace these so-called fad diets and experience near-miracle changes in health? I've recently come to the conclusion that it really does come down to two rather simple concepts: cellular inflammation and the health of your gut bacteria.
In either case of the extreme dietary interventionist, they stop eating the largest source of inflammation-promoting foods: foods made from grain flours that compromise gut permeability and prevent absorption of critical nutrients, foods sweetened excessively with various forms of sugars, and the inflammatory lipids of Big Agriculture: Round-up Ready Soybean "vegetable oil," partially hydrogenated Round-up ready Soybean oil, rancid Rapeseed oil (aka "Canola"), cotton seed oil, sunflower seed and corn oil.
You want the tri-fecta of modern poisons (what Dr. Kurt Harris calls NADs, or Neo-lithic Agents of Disease) found in a single food item, look no further than the typical doughnut.
|The NAD Trifecta: Refined and bleached white flour, plenty of sugar, and deep fried in rancid, pro-inflammatory vegetable/grain oil.|
Dr. Art Ayers, a molecular biologist (NOT a medical Doctor, but a scientist who studies cellular and molecular biology) identifies these same foods as the true culprits for the plague of S.A.D.-caused maladies and diseases. His advice, as his blog title indicates, is Cooling Inflammation. Inflammation on a cellular level, caused by the regular consumption of pro-inflammatory foods, the NADs. Avoiding the inflammatory foods also cultivates a healthy garden of gut bacteria, which is integral to your immune system and overall health.
In either case, when a person has a certain amount of stored body fat, whether they switch to the carnivorous-side or the herbivorous-side of extreme dietary interventions, there body begins to burn off it's stored body fat for energy.
On the hardcore carnivore side (the ketogenics and VLC'rs), they go into an extended state of ketosis and their body must process both ingested and stored protein and fats to keep their blood glucose levels stable.
Meanwhile, on the hardcore herbivore side, the raw food vegan enters a state of starvation from the lack of consuming essential proteins and fats, and there body begins to burn off it's stored adipose tissue for the essential fatty acids the body needs to function.
In either case, the extreme dietary interventionist inevitably goes through a period of dramatic health improvement and feeling of energetic well-being, thanks in part to the biological process known as gluconeogenisis.
As WinstonWiki notes:
Gluconeogenesis (abbreviated GNG) is a metabolic pathway that results in the generation of glucose from non-carbohydrate carbon substrates such as pyruvate, lactate, glycerol, glucogenic amino acids, and odd-chain fatty acids.
It is one of the two main mechanisms humans and many other animals use to keep blood glucose levels from dropping too low (hypoglycemia). The other means of maintaining blood glucose levels is through the degradation of glycogen (glycogenolysis). Gluconeogenesis is a ubiquitous process, present in plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms. In vertebrates, gluconeogenesis takes place mainly in the liver and, to a lesser extent, in the cortex of kidneys. In ruminants, this tends to be a continuous process. In many other animals, the process occurs during periods of fasting, starvation, low-carbohydrate diets, or intense exercise.
This is my basic assertion here the one common thread found on both ends of the extreme Dietary interventions of the ketogenic carnivore versus the vegan herbivore, is that both inevitably lead to their bodies turning to their stored body fat to get the essential fatty acids needed to function.
And yet, on both ends of the spectrum, if you read enough anecdotes and observe people long enough, the one thing you see on either end, is that long term, once the stored fats are used up for energy and bodily functions, other health problems can develop if they rigidly adhere to the extreme interventionist diet (everyone's situation and baseline health, as well as other lifestyle factors undoubtedly play a role.)
For the ketogenic, zero and very-low carbers, some have reported experiencing insomnia and adrenal fatigue; while for the long term, raw food vegan, the lack of protein and essential fatty acids as well as deficiencies in micro nutrients that are mostly found only in animal foods lead to health problems of their own.
Now if I were to err towards one side of this spectrum or the other (I have tried both, though the vegan experiment didn't get past 5 days before I surrendered in the face of a bacon cheeseburger,) I'd certainly prefer the ketogenic/carnivorous end of the spectrum, as some folks have reported living in ketosis for years without health problems... nevertheless, it's not rocket science to understand that the human bodies physiological characteristics indicate we are an omnivorous species (that link was written by an activist-vegetarian no less!), and carbohydrates can and do play an important role in optimal nutrition. This is why I now consider both a purely carnivorous diet and a purely herbivorous diet to both be extreme and should only be used for a short period of time as an intervention for health and weight problems.
That all being said, long-time "paleo-diet" proponent Richard Nikoley at Free the Animal has spilled a lot of virtual ink as of late on the topic of resistant starch (aka teh evil Carbz), which really focuses on the latest area of fascination amongst those of us highly interested in diet and physiology of the human body: the role of the gut micro-biome and overall health.
Full disclosure: based on reading the extensive posts and his logical reasoning behind his latest promotion of the benefits of resistant starch, I bought a bag of Bob's Red Mill potato starch and proceeded to eat the prescribed dosage (4 Tbsps. daily) with a bowl of organic, full fat yogurt for close to two weeks until the bag was all gone. I didn't really experience any change in my digestion, sleep nor energy levels nor increased gas that many others including Richard himself report. However, as I no longer possess a blood glucose meter, I was unable to really test my blood sugar response to it, and many diabetics and pre-diabetics have reported dramatic improvements for incorporating resistant starch into their daily diet. In my own experience, I didn't personally experience anything, positive or negative.
I don't take my personal experience as a negative on the entire idea at all. Rather, I think it confirms that many of the dietary changes I've adopted over the past 5+ years have succeeded in already giving my gut biome a diverse garden of flora that eating resistant starch is purported to promote. For years now, my diet has incorporated daily servings of fermented foods (and drinks) and I didn't realize it at the time, but I also believe I already have had a fair amount of resistant starch in my diet to begin with, as I eat white rice at nearly every meal.
Now, according to the resistant starch protocol Richard is advocating, white rice needs to be cooked, then chilled before eating. I've been doing this for years, as I often cook a large pot of 3-4 cups of rice whenever I cook a fresh batch. While the initial meal with a freshly cooked pot of rice is eaten hot, the next 3-4 meals over the course of the next couple of days, I always eat the rice cold, straight from the fridge, served alongside the hot, fresh cooked foods. It was not something I consciously did for any sort of health benefit, but rather because re-heating refrigerated rice results in the reheated rice sticking to the bottom of the rice cooker and requires vigorous cleaning of the rice pot before it can be used to cook a fresh batch again.
So apparently, for years now, ever since I got off the low-carb bandwagon and embraced the idea that carbs are not the devil, I've been eating regular portions of resistant starch at almost every meal, based on my sheer laziness over having to clean stuck rice from the inside of the rice pot. Heh. As anyone who lives or has lived in Hawaii knows, we eat rice at nearly every meal. The only time I don't, is when I eat some other staple carb like poi (fermented taro paste), or some sort of tuber fried in coconut oil.
So for myself, I don't think I'll be buying another bag of potato starch, as it really didn't do much for me. But for most folks that don't eat a lot of cold rice, especially if you're diabetic or pre-diabetic, you should go and check it out, you've got nothing to lose but a few bucks that it costs for a bag of potato starch. It may be one dietary intervention you can try that may prove very beneficial to your overall health, and at such a minimal cost to try it out, it cannot be considered extreme at all.