Sunday, May 31, 2009

"We have normality. I repeat, we have normality."

Show's over, folks.

After a crazy three days - four shows in fifty hours - the show has finally come to a tearful close and I'm left with time to dedicate to my eating, my blogging (reading and posting), and my marking. Forty-four essays await me upon my return to work tomorrow. Huzzah.

To help get me through it, I've whipped up a big batch of chicken and veggie soup - hello, Winter!

There may not actually be a way to make soup look sexy in a photo. At least, the ability escapes me and my sad little camera-phone.

Meanwhile, I - yet again - was unnecessarily snared into commenting on someone else's blog posts. She asked what others felt about low-carb diets, so naturally I had to lose an hour of my life to write this:

Congratulations on taking control over your eating habits and heading towards a healthier way of life! :)

Sugar and grains are addictive, so congrats again on making an effort to break that addiction. You've already received some great advice in the comments (as well as some majorly misinformed ideas, oh well), and I wanted to add my voice to the wall of support!

I'd encourage you to let go of thinking of yourself as following an 'eating program' and thinking more along the lines of changing to a healthier lifestyle. I spend my free time analysing health and nutrition studies, and am happy to share some of the well-founded science as well as some newly-proven information with you to help you on your way:

* Humans evolved to eat a diet based on land animals, fish, vegetation, eggs, and some fruit and nuts when found (occasionally - consider accessibility and seasonal availability). It has also been recently proposed that our genetic blueprint was 'finalised' around the time early humans discovered fire and were able to cook their meat and use tools - this is when our dental structure became flatter, as we had less need to tear into raw flesh with our hands and mouths.

* Many of our current health problems can be attributed to over-consumption of grains (wheat, rice, corn, etc) - consider how often you could find these plants in the wild, and consider the likelihood of consuming them raw... Studies have shown that eating grains prohibits our ability to grow secondary dentin to repair caries in our teeth - yes, humans can naturally fix dental cavities. Grains and sugar (another plant rarely found in the wild, and difficult to eat without being mechanically refined) also affect our insulin levels due to causing unnatural rises in blood sugar. Insulin affects our ability to metabolise fat, and triggers hunger sensations. I can go into that further if you'd like. You can also look up the work of Gary Taubes or Dr. Michael Eades - they are some great online options if you don't have the time or funds to access to published resources.

* There is absolutely no biological need for carbohydrates - complex or otherwise. All carbohydrates break down into glucose in the body, which our cells use for energy. However, our body can also use a form of glucose produced by the liver from protein. The body can also use ketones, a bi-product of dietary fat, as energy. The brain actually prefers ketones as its primary energy source, and can fulfill its need for glucose based on protein intake.

But if you don't want to wade through the science of nutrition and dietetics, just remember these points:

1. Eating fish as your core protein intake is fine, yum! If you could catch it in the wild, then go for it! It's good to note which species are sustainably farmed before you chow down though (if they lay many eggs - good; if they only lay a few - i.e. sharks - bad)

2. Eggs are one of the most nutritious and satiating foods in existence - enjoy! They are also one of the most versatile foods from a cooking perspective.

3. Eat as many vegetables as you can, and as many different kinds and colors as possible, to ensure you are getting a wide range of nutrients. Tubers (potatoes, etc) aren't great because they affect blood glucose and trigger insulin production, and they along with legumes aren't digested well by the body. Don't forget than peanuts are a legume, and corn is a grain.

4. Berries are the healthiest fruits, and have a lesser effect on blood glucose than most other fruits. Blueberries in particular have excellent nutritive properties.

5. Nuts promote satiety (feeling full) as they provide healthful fats (monounsaturated and saturated fat), so are helpful in small amounts.

6. Avoid all vegetable oils and other forms of poly-unsaturated fats. Omega-6 essential fatty acids should be balanced 1:1 with omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils, etc). Many health woes are firmly linked to the introduction of large amounts of polyunsaturated and trans fats into the human diet.

7. If it was made by chemists or machines, don't eat it. Try to stick to foods as found in nature - whole foods.

8. Dairy is a grey area - if your body responds well to lactose, try to go for raw milk/cream, and always full fat (low-fat dairy products are full of unnatural fillers and chemicals, and often sugar!). If you don't like full-fat milk, just add water - that's what the companies that sell 'skim milk' do anyway.

Ultimately, the human body evolved to consume a 'low carb' diet - eating refined grains and sugars is completely unnatural, and unprocessed grains are either inedible when raw, or cause health problems (such as restricting dental regrowth, etc). Once you break your addiction to sugars and grains, you will feel the difference in mental clarity, cardio-vascular fitness (regardless of activity level), organ function (including skin health) and sleep quality. Enjoy!

Still refining the art of simplifying the scientific findings I've been consolidating - what do you think?

Topped off the day with a delicious feast of primal dessert goodness:


Ellen said...

Cool. New blog. I followed over from a link at MDA.

I'll be following your progress... I too gave up grains, starch and sugar.

Feels great!

Verity said...

Although I agree with you on the refined sugars and grains points - that they shouldnt be consumed I think you have it slightly confused on the carbohydrate issue. I would check out

Our body is designed for simple carbohydrates - FRUIT. A diet high in fruits and greens is all the body needs and is our specie specific diet.

As for blood sugar issues this is a result of too much fat in the diet.

Steve Pavlina did a high fruit and greens diet and monitored his blood sugar level. He found no spikes in his blood sugar despite eating so much fruit. You can check this out here:

Also dairy has addictive properties within it too - so where you say grains and sugar are unnatural (refined) you should also be concerned about dairy. I dont understand why you find it ok to consume dairy despite it being unnatural as well.

As someone who is quite passionate about diet I would urge you to look into other areas. is a good start.

Good luck to you.

Rachel said...

I have to disagree with Verity--name me one ESSENTIAL carbohydrate and I will stand corrected.

As another young female doing the Primal thang, I really enjoy having your blog around to read. Keep it up.

Verity said...

Hi Rachel,

FRUIT is an essential carbohydrate for optimum health. Check out or for more information. There are lots of great resources out there on this issue and I urge you to keep reading.

We are pretty awesome though. Humans can practically survive on anything. It depends what you are looking for though.

In terms of a high fruit/greens diet - it is the only diet that has completely eradicated my allergies and asthma. I feel content and peaceful and it is simple and easy to do.

Glad your diet is working for you :) I just thought I would mention another perspective.

I agree with some aspects - I won't touch grains or refined sugars again but not sure I understand others :)

Jezwyn said...

Thanks for the comments! And thank you Verity for pointing out an online resource that's new to me. However, the level of scientific understanding on Raw Food Explained suffers from considerable limitation. For instance, the claims regarding the 'importance' of carbohydrates ignore the fact that entire cultures have survived where there has been ne available vegetation, edible or otherwise. The importance is not on carbs but on GLUCOSE. The body's ability to derive glucose from protein is ignored. I know people who live on a meat-only diet, and yet their digestive processes still run and their heart beats. Carbs are not essential. Some of the nutrition that fruit etc provides is essential, sure, but we can get it from other sources as well. I'm not downplaying the deliciousness of fruit, we should definitely eat it since we have access to it, but rather than looking at the source (fruit) as being the essential element, look at the specific nutrition involved.

Too much dietary fat = high blood sugar? This is biologically impossible. That claim is utterly bizarre, and now that I have read the claims made against dietary fat from Raw Food Explained I can guess where you have pulled that from. The backwards understanding presented on that site can be explained with just one quotation : "The consumption of ... saturated animal fats destroy the health of the body at the cellular level." Were that true, the human animal would have died out long before the advent of agriculture provided us with enough edible vegetation to fuel our needs.

I do know that I should cut out dairy, but that has nothing to do with any 'addictive properties' - the opposite is true; the human diestive system did not evolve to process cow's milk. Non-human milk can have damaging effects on our system, for some more than others. I am still consuming small amounts of dairy for the satiating effects of healthy fats in cream and cheese. It helps me to stay sated while I am trying to restrict calories for weight loss purposes. I use nuts for the same purpose, but my budget means that I can't rely solely on nuts as a versatile source of fat just yet. One day...

The issue with some fruits is indeed that blood glucose can spike as a result, but moreso that when our tongue picks up sweetness in our food, insulin can be produced, and we all know how devastating insulin production can be, especially when we're looking for weight-loss. If Steve's blood sugar levels weren't adversely changed by the fruit he ate then he must be sensitive to insulin or he used the energy quickly. But form what I can see, he ate mainly berries, which I have already pointed out have a lesser effect on blood sugar than other items. Mangoes and bananas are high-sugar, but their effect on blood sugar is slow (low GL), so again avoiding spikes.

Another important realisation you may need to reflect upon is that depending on where you live, fruit and veg may not be consistently available. To suppose the human animal is designed to live off of vegetation requires ignorance of ancient humans wo lived in icy/arid areas. As you say, we're quite amazing in that we can live off pretty much anything, so to make hard and fast rules about a 'specific' diet that ignores aspects of our history is short-sighted at best.

Verity, I'm thrilled to know that your diet works for you and you have had success in eradicating your lifestyle illnesses. But be careful not to assume that just because you need to eat a particular way, that everyone else should too. That's one of the battles I'm fighting as well, so as long as the science supports the choice, and that the diet povides adequate nutrition, that choice is worth supporting.

Ellen said...

Well said Jezwyn.

"Too much fat causes high blood sugar".. hahah. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading this post. That was an entire comment? Wow! :-D
More like a Paleo primer/treatise!
BTW, today on I am doing a targeted ketogenic diet. In the sense that I am going zero (near-zero) carb on three days a week when I fast and don't do weight training. On the other four days, I will weight train, and eat carbs (reasonable amounts). I think my fat loss will zoom! What say?

Jezwyn said...

Yay, all the best! I was in ketosis for a great deal of Jan/Feb this year, and also did a fat fast in March when I was having trouble getting back into ketosis. Probably don't need to go to that extreme, especially with intermittent fasting. But I think you need to remain in ketosis for a sustained period to burn a significant amount of fat, since it tends to take a few days of cutting carbs before you 'switch into fat-burning mode'. This is what I've read and what I've experienced, anyway. If you only get your carbs from eggs and a couple of cups of salad veggies, you might be able to stay in ketosis even with your weight-training needs. Let me know how you go! :)

Judith said...

What a thoughtful and comprehensive comment. A Paleo primer indeed, as rambodoc says, and very helpful too. I have been slowly working my way towards a healthier lifestyle, and as of the last few months have been pretty much grain and sugar free. I will be following your blog with interest.

Jezwyn said...

Lovely to meet you, Judith! Looking at your blog and others you follow I've found a lovely bunch of fellow primal peeps! Huzzah! Glad to find others who love eating healthfully and also know their way around a kitchen. :)

Judith said...

I'd like to put your blog on my Cavewomen blogroll, if you have no objection. (Some people don't like being referred to as cavewomen!)

Jezwyn said...

I'd be honoured! :)