And Then There was Mal… Wednesday, Feb 1 2012
Uncategorized anorexia recovery, consequences, evolutionary diet, fasting, fertility, fitness magazine, food, intermittent fasting, lifting weight, meal plan, mental illness, nutrition, OCD, paleo, paleolithic, primal, recovery, right nutrition, rituals, vegetarian, weight gain, weight lifting, weight loss, workout 11:48 AM
It is About Correct Restriction & Control Friday, Jul 15 2011
Uncategorized addicition, anorexia, anorexia recovery, brain firing, consequences, dopamine, evolutionary diet, fake food, food, food addicition, food timing, fullness, habits, happiness, ketogenic diet, meal plan, nutrition, OCD, overly tasty food, paleo, primal, recovery, rituals, stimulation, tasty food, weight gain, weight loss 3:02 PM
The more I read, the more I read….the more everything will always make sense, connect, interconnect and then make no sense whatsoever. I love that. This is the exact reason I find myself often getting lost in studying the human brain in relation to our bodies- nobody will ever be able to dissect it. You can’t find the meaning of all the bodies abilities nor its faults and disorders. It is crazy, intriguing and soooo so interesting. But for this post, I have been pondering binge eating and recovery in general. I have one conclusion so far…people, and especially doctors/clinics/dieticians/nutritionists and any ‘unsufferer’ will approach recovery with straight up delusion:
de-lu-sion [dih-loo-zhuhn] Noun. 1. An idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality, typically a symptom of mental disorder.
There are people, then there are those with eating disorders. There are healthy brains, and then there are miswired brains. Note, these are not unhealthy brains, they are just different from the evolutionarily accepted ‘normal’ brain. You’re different. You always will be. Accept that. No recovery is going to cure or fix your miswired brain just like the guy born with one arm will never have both. Oh well… now, whatta we do about that? Well, your run-of-the-mill doctor is going to tell you in recovery ‘every food is good in moderation.’ Right, try telling that to someone who is well over 50% below their body weight/fat set-point. No, and bash me now, but every ‘food’ is not okay in moderation and MANY foods are harmful in recovery in any moderation. (Disclaimer: This is my opinion, I am not a doctor just a successful recoveree.)
Systematically, food, and the result your body/brain take on food (expenditure) is so complex it’s almost worth not even worth considering. There are a billion neural systems activated but biologically the main factor lies in maintenance of an adequate supply of nutrients which will result in energy balance- homeostasis, ahhhh. Now, intertwined in this there are hormonal regulations, ingestion, storage, allergies, and BRAIN firing- plus the three million other problems and side effects which happen when you restimulate the body of a malnourished individual. Fact is, the second that you think about food, smell food, prepare food there is a huge generation of behavioral, autonomic, and endocrine output. Your hypothalamus plays a crucial role in this(which is why I blab so much about a deregulated HPA in eating disorders), and in the homeostatic function in your body. This comes from previous experience with food, prior food thoughts and prior food relations/habits/rituals. It even goes as far back as your childhood diet and actions regarding food way back when. Just the smell of food will send firing from your brain to your body regarding reward, emotions and the social context of the moment as well as past occurrences. ANY, read this again….ANY pathological malfunction or lack of adaptation in the brain’s relationship with food will cause problems. These problems are not always eating disorders but are usually food/health related. Some people are born with pathological obesity. Some will get diabetes, heart disease, cancer soooooooooo much more. But for now, you see how complex this all is.
Note I mentioned all food is not fair game in recovery. I really, truly believe in finding a manageable homeostasis via REAL food (see Free the Animal, Mark’s Daily Apple, Robb Wolf, Archevore, HuntGatherLove, Whole Health Source…most of my blogroll for real food). No packages, no bags, fresh whole real food. Trust me, when you put steak and eggs on ‘no limit to consumption’ category you find out real quick how self limiting the food is. Same goes with foods even of the sweet essence which is a main trigger for eating disordered individuals. Baking three rows of sweet potatoes and allowing yourself free access to 5 pounds of PLAIN potatoes is self limiting. Same goes for plain fruit.You fill up real quick. The reward for your recovery here is your LOSS of interest in food. This loss of interest takes food-on-the-mind-always-looking-for-next-meal to how your body feels when you eat, how you digest food, what food you handle well, and how your blood sugar reacts to food. Seriously, stuff yourself silly on sweet potatoes, cooked plain with nothing added and you realize how sucky and uncomfortably full you are- even try it with rice. Bloated, and uninterested in food. Try it with steak…same result.
Real food is self limiting; it releases your fear IF YOU ALLOW IT of uncontrollable binging. I try not to write a lot about binging because I am no expert but if I saw something like oreos, chocolate cake, or the ever promoted ‘health food’ like fat free yogurt, cereal and oatmeal, chex mix, fiber one bars, protein powder, fat free peanut butter powder as ‘food’ then, therein my brain would have a huge problem. Namely, that stuff isn’t food. I don’t associate food that is not food as such. When I see a box of oreos I think…WTF is that. Really… that’s gross someone puts it in their bodies to me. Orthorexic? Again not in my opinion, oreos are not and will never be meant for human consumption- please, I will pee my pants if you try and convince me they are. Same goes for dairy products which have been pasteurized and have the fat removed from them (can we say processed!!).
But, like all things the ‘cure’ is not all in the diet. You can eat immense amounts of self limiting food but until you tackle the emotions and behavioral attachments, you’re still stuck. Researching addiction you find that it’s about brain chemistry. Neural psychology studies the way the brain wires itself and how it makes us behave the way we do. But, like I mentioned earlier there is no forever cure. You don’t just change your brain chemistry because you eat real food. If you don’t get to the root of your problems in your thought process and resonate with why you do what you do, then you’re going to be stuck with the same emotional s*it but in a healthier body.
The first two steps, after ACCEPTANCE in recovery lie in eating REAL food and maintaining real nourishment. But an even bigger personal step totally unrelated to weight and recovery is learning to verbalize why we do what we do and why we seem to have so little control over certain behaviors(like binging and constant food preoccupation). Anyone who has starved themselves into a catecholamine high or anyone who has caught themselves in an unreal situation post binging on 923456234 calories knows that once you start it is HARD AS ALL LIVING HELL to stop. This, on both sides of the see-saw is all in your brain.
Catecholamines are “fight-or-flight” hormones released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. They are part of the sympathetic nervous system.They are called catecholamines because they contain a catechol or 3,4-dihydroxyphenyl group. They are derived from the amino acid tyrosine.In the human body, the most abundant catecholamines are epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and dopamine, all of which are produced from phenylalanine and tyrosine. Various stimulant drugs are catecholamine analogs.
So why do we go to extremes? Why do we starve or why do we feel an uncontrollable love-hate urge to stuff a box of oreos in a gallon of cake icing and go to town? This unearth feeling of losing all control makes you stop thinking rationally and you do all kinds of stuff, most notably all the bad behavior you’re trying to fix. SO instead of spending endless hours and sleepless nights trying to figure out why you starve or why you binge you just need to accept that your brain chemistry is abnormal and that’s life. You need to learn to manage it with food- reeeeeeal food. The reason could come from a variety of shit that happened in THE PAST, but guess what, RIGHT NOW in this moment and in your recovery you need to realize that at some point along the way your brain chemistry CHANGED, and that change brought your new wiring, a new you. Regardless of whether you got raped, whether you were a fat kid or whether you faced immensely damaging trauma… the reason for your problem now is because at some point you rewired your brain such that binging or starving sets off some kind of reward. End of story, you can’t argue that.
For the binger, take a minute to realize that if you lost interest in high fat, high sugar food before it was consumed you wouldn’t have the fat stores to reproduce and you wouldn’t be in a predicament to begin with. But your brain has been rewired so this is the case You were born with a brain that expects to get real food, and take the real nutrition from it and use it accordingly. Problem is, in the current age we suffer through we are constantly bombarded by extremely tasty food and it is super cheap and always available with very, very little effort. HYPERPALITABOLIY RUNS OUR LIVES. From feeling overly intense emotions to having overly stimulating food around at all hours everyday it’s damn near impossible to learn normal. And all this junk food, fake food and processed food has got everything combined together…salt, sugar, fake fat, plus a bolus of added flavor enhancers (MSG anyone??) and artificial goodness (modified food starch, splenda). From a very good read, I recommend to everyone at GNOLLS:
Characteristics Of Successful Snack Food(aka…addictive food)
If you were to design a profitable and successful snack food, you’d want it to have several characteristics: http://www.gnolls.org/2074/why-snack-food-is-addictive-the-grand-unified-theory-of-snack-appeal/
- It would be made of cheap ingredients, allowing a high profit margin.
Since our government heavily subsidizes industrial grain production, you’d make them of grains and grain products…corn, wheat, and soy. Mostly corn, because it’s so heavily overproduced that we’re forced, by law, to feed it to our cars!
- It would be shelf-stable and require no preparation, so that it could be kept without refrigeration, taken anywhere, and eaten at any time.
Therefore, you’d make it out of highly-processed ingredients that are shelf-stable, pump it full of preservatives so that it could survive for months in a vending machine, and enclose it in lots of disposable packaging so it wouldn’t get damaged in transit.
- It would concentrate the tastes we’ve evolved to enjoy far beyond their natural amounts, and as much as our technology allows.
This would be the supernormal stimuli of fatty, salty, umami, and sweet: MSG, crystalline sugar, seed oils, fruit juices, “natural and artificial flavors”.
- Finally, it would not be satiating.
No matter how much you ate, you would never be satisfied.
Every time you allow yourself to partake in a meal of unreal food the malfunctioning neural circuits which we have accepted do not work correctly are strengthened- like a cocaine addict who takes just one more hit. Now you are left completely at a loss when trying to figure out why you do what you do you and resort to assuming helplessness. The only blame is the part of your brain that aint working but you needed to have accepted it. Most of ‘our’ minds operate purely on impulse so doing something like saying I WILL NEVER BIINGE OR STARVE AGAIN probably won’t get you too far. Same with self blame and self hate- reaction to impulse.
- Our brains are going to have f8cked up neural circuits and they are going to fire, you just have to engage other circuits to weaken them (eat real food, plain). You can’t reinforce them 24/7
- Don’t do stupid things. If you binige, you’re going to eat all the oreos if you buy them. Don’t go browsing the junk food isle at the gas station, don’t drool over a vending machine and do your best to turn the channel when the new brownie cereal commercial comes on.
Seriously, many people will waste their entire lives suffering because they would rather die, lose a foot; lose their vision than give up _______. Stop being a baby, use your noggin and accept it. Food while healing is medication. Some is off limits- A LOT IS NOT.
Hormones: most binge eaters want to binge after a ‘normal meal’. Read up on hypoglycemia and how to manage it with a lower carbohydrate lifestyle. Eating sugary, starchy crap in the context of suffering hypoglycemia is going to whack out your blood glucose and insulin around and make you hungry and further increase your cravings. It’s a cycle…
A smart man once said this:
“We must realize, however, that all living cells are continuously subject to imperfect nutrition and that overt mental disease is known to result from malnutrition, as, for example, in pellagra. In the light of these considerations, we would be foolhardy indeed to take for granted that the nutrition of the brain cells is automatically satisfactory in those who are afflicted or threatened with mild or severe mental disease.” -Dr. Roger J, Williams, writing in Nutrition Against Disease.
In the book, Nutrition Against Disease, author Dr. Roger J, Williams points out that like all other living cells, brain cells often receive less than perfect nutrition. He goes on to observe that brain cells get nutrition from blood, which in turn gets its nutrients from the food we eat each day.At first, it takes a while to get past that and let your body readjust to a new way. Psychologically, your brain may want to get that rush back, even at the expense of feeling bad later. It’s the same reason why people like to smoke. They cultivate an addiction and then enjoy the pleasure of satiating that addiction. So you need to deal with:
Filling a void.
Making up for previous deprivation in life.
Fear of deprivation.
Fear of change.
It has to do with healthfulness, and mindfulness, and gratitude, and forgiveness. It has to do with having a free mind, and using food to fuel that beautiful, free (yet oddly functioning) mind.
To geek out on you, in relation to your brain, an unidentified woo I admire quoted this: Low dopaminergic tone is one critical pathophysiological process in obesity.Dopamine is a major metabolic regulator. A key feature of garden variety obesity, as well as hibernation, is a functional downregulation of dopamine receptors. Dopamine binding completely orients cell-level metabolism around in favor of glucose metabolism. This prevents hyperinsulinemia. Peripheral dopamine binding suppresses insulin production from the pancreas, preventing hypoglycemia after eating, and prenting lipogenesis. When dopamine is blocked, or when dopamine receptors are functionally downregulated during obesity (glucose excess results in the downregulation), the cells shift to a preference for fat metabolism, which paradoxically induces glucose intolerance and hyperinsulinemia and fat gain. Low dopamine also reduces psychomotor activity (energy-sparing) and promotes sleepiness/inattentiveness, another common complaint in obesity as well as in hibernation. One thing neither talked about is the most satifying foods are fats. Only carbs have a special neuropeptide that modulates the hypothalamic tracts. That directly modulates the median forebrain bundle……Carbs…..not fat of protein. Behavior is a result of what the brain is perceiving(aka the reaction to unreal food).
Emily Deans of Evolutionary Psychology says : Even if we assume there is no specific “brain disorder” that causes binging, it seems clear to me that most binge eaters have at least a conditioned psychological aversion to food. This is why they binge. They try to restrict or moderate their intake during the day only to gorge on it later in a binge. Even if we assume there is no neurobiology causing binging the way there is causing heroin use, we can’t argue or deny that there is a clear cut psychological food aversion found in binge eaters. They love and they hate food.
‘Liking’ a food does not make you necessarily ‘want’ a food, and it is the ‘wanting’ of foods that typifies the chronic overeating that leads to obesity- acceptance my friends. I think the similarity between the hyperpalatable industrial food and the hard drugs is that they are all (somewhat metaphorically) poisons, but we take the dose anyway, and need bigger and bigger amounts.
Some helpful hints…drop caffeine, get good sleep, go outside, drop ANY lowfat product from your diet and the most obvious eat food naturally available prior to the agricultural and industrial revolution. This is the easiest way to deflame your massively inflamed brain.
As Sophia at Burp and Slurp recently said: “Let me tell you something about bingeing and purging: there are few experiences as maniacal and hedonistic as it. It’s a mad, jagged jumble of ecstasy, anxiety and self-hatred as you stuff food after food into your mouth. You’re scared to death and at the same time craving it all. You abhor your “greed” and lack of control, yet you “reward” yourself with uninhibited indulgence. You’re feeling exhilarated by the action of the feast, yet unable to enjoy the taste and pleasure of satiety because you are stuffing yourself so frantically, gulping down the food just for the sake of sensory. You feel like you can eat and eat and still gain no satisfaction, yet your stomach is swelling painfully and the sharp pains in your abdomen feels like it’s a sack bulging with shards of pointy rocks.”
That Day… Monday, Jun 27 2011
Uncategorized anorexia, anorexia recovery, consequences, evolutionary diet, fertility, food, food timing, habits, happiness, ketogenic diet, meal plan, mental illness, nutrition, OCD, paleo, paleolithic, primal, recovery, rituals, weight gain 10:58 AM
Where you get your ass back in gear, clear your mind, meditate and get on with life…
PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES
PUT A SMILE ON YOUR FACE
AND KEEP GOING…
Motivation Thursday, May 26 2011
Uncategorized anorexia, anorexia recovery, consequences, evolutionary diet, fertility, food, food timing, fullness, habits, happiness, Mal, meal plan, mental illness, motivation, nutrition, OCD, paleo, paleolithic, patience, primal, recovery, right nutrition, rituals, vegetarian, weight gain, weight lifting, weight loss, workout 3:31 PM
Going through life you set goals, you work hard and then you hope to reap what you sow, RIGHT? We are bred from childhood to distinguish between failure and success, between achieving and failing and some of us(actually very few in my opinion) ever learn what real hard work is. Be is physical or mental, VERY few people actually do work really hard for something they want.
What if recovery is going a bit slower than what you had hoped for? You tend to it, you think about it, and you overly nurture it holding on to ‘that’- whatever that is which makes you so damned different and disordered. Everyone has something to them, but those in recovery have ‘that’ and people can smell it from 100 miles away. Its mental, it is in your walk, it is in your talk, it is in your ability to say yes or no, to stick your nose up or go along with the ride. It is in your every move and detail of you life. You got it, and other people really truly think its fucked up…your different. Recovery involves mending this garden and getting rid of the weeds holding you back. How do you just stop, just change? How do you just go with it, the flow of life? Why the fuck cant you just be normal? These are thoughts and questions I have asked myself in the past, and aspects I still occasionally dwell on.
But the main goal and ability picked up by many in recovery is that patience is a virtue, you can’t force anything to happen and if you’re trying to, then stop it…let it go. There are sparks and highlights in recovery here and there; times when you’re damned proud of yourself, times when you should be a Mexican jumping bean of enthusiasm but you’re not, and times where you want and need the company of others but times where you need to be with yourself and learn to trust and accept that person.
People know your potential, don’t give anything less and don’t expect others to ‘settle’ with a lesser than adequate person. Give people your all, but give recovery your every ounce of energy because in the end, your own ability to maintain happiness is all that counts. When you find that passion you and everyone is born with, you can run with it, and be able to do whatever you want.
Take each day one at a time without goals and without standards, without plans, and without the ED mind in your presence. Eventually you look at a day with things to do, people to socialize with, feelings and aspects of real life, your ED is left behind because there is more to you now. Lose the selfishness and you lose the disease, one day after the other and just as beautiful as the last.
Can’t put your finger on it? Cant figure out HOW to get rid of the ED ora you travel everywhere with. Well, first thing is first, if you look like your starving, your brain is whacked out and you suffer some horrendous malnutrition. Either take it upon yourself to eat the fucking food, don’t worry about its tastes or textures and I would actually recommend you stick to bland foods. You need to lose the obsession you have with food, and plain fatty meat and potatoes is an easy route. Make a shit load, and eat it. It will already be cooked and ready. This takes the thinking about food away. It doesn’t matter WTF you think or count up, you’re gonna eat the same damned bland yet nutritious food(potato, sweet potato, ground beef, liver, chuck, pork butt, whole fishes, eggs etc) until your mind has had enough. You WILL lose the overly active reward mechanism in your brain- or at least repair it. So don’t go overly seasoning ANYTHING, if anything, just some sea salt on your food(NOT THE WHOLE THING coated and then dipped in salt). Get rid of the sauces, condiments and things you bank on your flavor because it isn’t helping slow down your mind. KISS
Patience is what seems to be bountifully on your side in recovery. It takes forever, yes. But guess what, actively(this means making progress by the way, actual results…GET SOME) acting upon yourself and your recovery is everything youll ever need. Learn to appreciate and be proud of the fruits of your labor(mostly mental). Sit with yourself ans you learn to accept that pride and achievement. You need to take pride in everything that has come to be. But for most and myself included, it seems like you just can’t quite get the routine right. This point is crucial. No matter what, don’t give up on it. EVERY ONE has their time, their pace and their patience! THE POINT, is staying active. Don’t expect results if youre not changing. Don’t expect to be less than obsessed with food if your choking down artificial sweeteners and bottle dips on everything, or better yet is your using a whole seasoning cabinet on everything you do eat. Those do not give results. Those feed addiction, and this feeds an eating disorder. Don’t try and think up the best combo of food just because you know you have to eat. No, lose the obsession, lose the flavor enhancement, lose the ‘it’ you carry around with you. If you are constantly improving and fine tuning your work, keep going! Recovery lies in seeing changes, not thinking about them, having results, not planning for them.
Step back and see what you can improve on….but then do actually DO IT. Like they say doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insanity. Don’t throw in the towel, but make changes. You have to. Your doomed if you don’t.
what do you do to keep going forward, to not give up? Ultimately you can’t expect someone to just go recover and change their every move and expect to gain something in life. That would be expecting them to change who they are. There is nothing you can do about right now, like it or hate it. You cant make anyone understand or make someone else change who they are. The world will not change to cater to you. Nothing you can do about that either. Don’t lose that spark for a passion, get worn out and discouraged by too much rejection, or just not getting far enough no matter how much the re-haul or effort put in. keep at it. Make active changes. Make changes that are seeable. Make changes you can appreciate and changes others can see, talk about, enjoy.accomplishing a goal is one thing, like tackling a fear food, but grabbing the world and attacking a fear food IS recovery. Everyone can enjoy it, share it, and be part of it. THIS forces the mental obsession away. THIS is what, over time and repeated, will bring results.
You get back whatever you put out, so don’t think about what you don’t have or what you didn’t get. Perhaps learning to let go of that want will be the best thing to do. To be satisfied with what you have, and anything else is just ____. Do not let something out of nowhere erase your self confidence and drive for recovery. Don’t let someone dampen your spirits or harp on something you do(given it is a good thing)
“Never think that God’s delays are God’s denials. Hold; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius.”
– Georges-Louis Leclerc
I got Twitter :) and a Tan Thursday, May 19 2011
Some I have hated since I ever learned about it….TWITTER…. I must confess, I joined 🙂
Obviously I am updating… I have been doing some more reading, on the brain. It seems a lot of health bloggers are coming around to my instinct I grasped when i started over analyzing the brain in relation to health. The reward circuits are VERY interesting. If you are interested then I definitely insist you check out Stephan’s series on Obesity and Reward; it is a 3part series and ever so interesting. Matt Stone also did a recap on addiction and the brain here. Again, very intriguing and the comments are relate-able.
I am currently loving my potatoes 🙂 I also ate like 3 pints of fresh strawberries in the past week. But I am also still in love with my fat, for real…you’ll never ever convince me fat is bad when it comes from good sources. I love me some BUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTA, macadamia nuts, coconut oil, ghee, lard, even avocados(I got 3 for $1.50 and ate them all lol)…I think you get the idea haha.
So, y’all are free to follow me if you want, don’t know how much tweeting I will do it’s just cool to click up on when the ADD kicks in at the desk job haha.
Post Lent Showdown! Wednesday, Apr 27 2011
Uncategorized anorexia recovery, archevore, brain firing, coconut, consequences, evolutionary diet, fasting, fertility, fitness magazine, food, food timing, fullness, happiness, intermittent fasting, ketogenic diet, lifting weight, Mal, marks daily apple, meal plan, mental illness, muscle gain, nutrition, OCD, paleo, paleolithic, primal, right nutrition, rituals, weight gain, weight loss 3:21 PM
Still alive guys! I am thinking of starting a new blog just about my everyday life (and the amount of weirdos I run into day to day) but then I remembered I cant even keep this on running updated soooooo we will see.
Anyways for lent I gave up taking photos of myself, and I gave up dairy. 40 DAYS WITH NO DAIRY PRODUCT WHATSOEVER. I thought the first couple of days I was going to die because I missed the dense saltiness. But, I learned a few things. Like how to eat real food and use it to your liking. Just a few foods I have been inhaling the past 40+days:
*Okinawan Potatoes…everyone in the world needs to try these
*Weird potatoes form the Asian store(I don’t know their names!)
*Coconut oil & flakes
*Acorn Squash(as a dessert with butter & cinnamon)
*Eggs(especially scrambled in pork fat)
*steak/chicken/pork steak- the usual cuz something is always on sale
*homemade sausage(spiked with fennel yum)
*clams/WHOLE roasted fishes/shrimp/crab
*typical canned sardines/salmon
Trying some different sauces…tomato and mustard and stock and learning to use spices and fresh herbs so send recipes my way if you got em! Having no meat on Fridays was actually fun and I might keep it up. Gives me more reason to roast whole fishes!!!!!!!
If you can tell I totally got over any lingering fear of starch and carbohydrates. Gonna add in rice sometime and see how I handle it. Still totally primal(even more so sans dairy) because I think it’s right for me, you do what works for you as always J I don’t know if I will add back dairy because my digestion is superb. I credit it to all the bone marrow in the shanks, knowing on oxtails, and yummy fermented vegetables. Actually, I don’t know I would classify myself as ANYTHING, as a good, smart man said in this post _Archevore_ it is all about finding what modern day offers us to be healthy and what it doesn’t.
Basically I am a happy and not worried about much. Fertility is on my mind, but I have accepted what will happen will happen. I think that’s the most sane and rational thing someone in my position can do.
By the way, a year ago this time I was starting to try chin ups. I couldn’t even do ONE. Then I worked up with negatives, jumping up to the chin up and slowly lowering. Then I attempted chin ups until I could do one….NOW I CAN DO 3 SETS OF 12….Get On My Level!!!!!!!!!!!
Make Your Own Call… Tuesday, Apr 5 2011
Uncategorized anorexia, anorexia recovery, brain firing, coconut, evolutionary diet, fertility, fitness magazine, food, food timing, fullness, habits, happiness, intermittent fasting, ketogenic diet, ketosis, meal plan, mental illness, muscle, muscle gain, nutrition, OCD, paleo, paleolithic, recovery, right nutrition, vegetarian, weight gain, weight lifting, weight loss 10:41 AM
Anthropological Research Reveals Human
Dietary Requirements for Optimal Health
H. Leon Abrams, Jr., MA, EDS
Associate Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, ECJC,
University System of Georgia, Swainsboro, Georgia.
Journal of Applied Nutrition, 1982, 16:1:38-45
Reprinted with permission of the author.
Many claims are set forth stating what the “natural” diet of humans is
or should be, but in order to ascertain what constitutes the basic
dietary requirements for optimal health, the problem must be
approached from an anthropological perspective which encompasses the
total dietary evolution and history of mankind, a scrutinization and
syntheses of human diets from the earliest times to the present, the
diets of mankind’s nearest relatives, the primates, and cross-cultural
dietary comparisons of primitive and modern societies.
There are one hundred and ninety-two living higher species of primates
in addition to humans. (30) Until recently, it was taken for granted
that all monkeys and apes were vegetarians, but ethological studies
(1, 2, 12) revealed that all primates, in their natural habitat, also
eat small animals. The National Zoo in Washington attempted to breed
the Amazon Golden Marmoset monkey in captivity, but failed until
animal protein was added to their diet. (5) It had been erroneously
assumed that they were complete vegetarians, but apparently they must
have some animal protein in order to be fertile. With the addition of
animal protein, they reproduce rapidly in captivity. (5)
Until the research of Goodall (16, 52) it was assumed that Chimpanzees
eat only plant foods, but she discovered that they kill and eat
monkeys, baby baboons, and other small animals and concluded that
there was a small but fairly regular number of them captured and eaten
throughout the year. Gibbons, orangutans, and baboons also kill and
eat small animals regularly. (35, 44) The simplest of all primates,
the tree shrew, which resembles the supposed ancestor of today’s
primates most closely, lives entirely on small animals. Ethological
studies have necessitated the reclassification of monkeys and apes
from herbivores to omnivores, and indicate that all primates have a
basic need for some animal protein in their diet if health is to be
The first humans, the Australopithecines (9, 11, 54) (and Homo
habilis), who appeared around four million years ago, included food
plants in their diets, but they apparently ate a large number of small
animals and were scavengers; they ate the remains of any large animals
they could find, and therefore were able to secure a large amount of
meat. (43) Around one million years ago, man had evolved into Homo
Erectur (Peking and Java Man), and had greatly increased his ability
to hunt large game. His life centered entirely around the hunt for
game (4, 20, 50). Following in the evolutionary sequence was
Neanderthal man (early Homo Sapiens), followed by Cro-Magnon Man. (36)
Again, there has been a progressive increase in the hunting technology
especially for large game. The driving force that compelled Cro-Magnon
man to all unpopulated parts of the inhabitable world was his quest
for game. Actually, the disappearance of many game species, such as
the wild horse, mammoth, et. al., was not due to climatic change, but
to man hunting them to extinction in his quest for meat. (7, 28) From
the very beginning, the diet of humans has been meat oriented,
therefore the evidence seems to warrant the conclusion that our human
progenitors, from the very beginning around four million years ago,
have relied heavily upon meat as a major source of food; they were
omnivorous, but the emphasis was on meat, not on plant foods. (7) Man
turned only to agriculture, which began around 10,000 years ago, when
he had largely exhausted the seemingly endless supply of game due to
his ever increasing population. (7)
Of humans some four million years on earth, 99% of this time has been
that of hunting game and gathering wild plants. (21) And, when the
animals had been hunted to either extinction or near extinction, then
and only then did humans turn to agriculture and animal domestication.
(7) However, when humans turned to agriculture, a large percentage of
the crops was devoted to rearing domesticated animals for meat. Meat
has been, and remains so when available, the choice food of mankind
because it supplies all the nutrients, amino acids, minerals,
vitamins, and essential elements necessary to sustain sound health.
For example, the surest source of vitamin B-12 is animal protein. (2)
**********No cultures or people in the world have ever been 100%
however, a number, such as the Masai of Africa (25, 26), Plains
Indians (7), the Eskimo (29, 42, 47, 48, 49) and the Lapps (34), in
their traditional culture, subsist almost entirely on meat and have
been very healthy. When they adapted to our modern diet which is high
in refined carbohydrates, their health deteriorated rapidly; they
developed a high incidence of degenerative diseases characteristic of
our modern civilization, especially heart disease.
In 1957, several hypotheses maintained that there is a direct
relationship between diet, especially animal fats, and coronary heart
disease and cancer of the colon. (19) All of these studies are
controversial because a large percentage of the supporting data has
been epidemiological in nature, and many studies contradictory to
these findings have been made (13, 14, 15, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 31, 32,
The publicity given these studies implicating foods containing
cholesterol and saturated fats, such as “red meat,” in causing heart
disease and cancer, has prompted many people to adopt, erroneously, a
total or partial vegetarian diet in the hope of maintaining or
restoring sound health and thus avoiding heart disease and cancer.
For example, Puerto Ricans eat a large amount of animal fat, but have
a very low rate of colon cancer and breast cancer. (13) A comparative
study on the incidence of colon and breast cancer was carried out in
Finland and the Netherlands because both peoples consume about the
same amount of animal fat per capita per day. Even though the animal
fat consumption was the same, breast and colon cancer rates in the
Netherlands was discovered to be almost double that of Finland
although vegetable oil consumption in the Netherlands in much higher
than in Finland. (13)
Weidman and his colleagues (53) carried our a cross-cultural study,
with a follow-up, centered on specific adult risk factors for
atherosclerosis in 103 white school children ranging in age from six
to sixteen; and concluded that diet is not of major importance in
having an impact on serum cholesterol levels. (53) Although Americans
have been recommended to eat a diet moderate in cholesterol and
calories, if carried too far it may result in some high risk factors
for children and especially for those who show low serum cholesterol
A study conducted by N.E. Hitchcock and M. Bracey in the town of
Busselton, Western Australia, contradicts the orthodox view that diet
is closely correlated with the body’s level of serum cholesterol
content indicating a high risk for heart attack. (17) They studied
three groups of mothers and children at Busselton; one with high
cholesterol, one with medium and one with low cholesterol levels. They
studied the diet patterns of each group and found no significant
difference among them in the percentage of daily energy contribution
of protein, fat or carbohydrates. They also noted that obesity was not
a factor in the cholesterol level since the levels or the obese did
not differ from the non-obese. They concluded that the result of their
study strongly indicates that diet does not account for the
differences in cholesterol levels of culturally homogenous groups.
They further state that the “correlation between habitual diet and
average serum cholesterol levels is good between contrasting
populations (for example, people of Japan and Finland),” and note that
“within a given culture, people eating the same kind of food can have
different serum lipids. Those who develop coronary heart disease do
not necessarily eat differently from those who do not.” (17)
As a result of the widespread publicity and promotion of vegetable
oils, millions of Americans are convinced that by not eating meat,
eggs, and dairy products and by consuming only plant fats
(polyunsaturated fats), that they will greatly reduce their chances of
suffering from heart disease that afflicts and kills a million or more
Americans every year. Scrutinization of the facts shows that they have
been lulled into a sense of false security. (23) They fail to know or
understand the following facts that are never carried in the
1. There is no positive or direct scientific proof that eating foods
high in cholesterol raises serum cholesterol levels. (23)
2. There is no positive or direct proof that high cholesterol levels
results in heart disease. (23)
3. There is no positive or direct proof that lowering cholesterol
levels will reduce one’s susceptibility to heart disease. (23)
4. Consuming great quantities of polyunsaturated fats or oils may be
detrimental to health. (23)
The present state of knowledge in the cholesterol diet controversy has
been evaluated by Reiser, who stated that the assumption that serum
cholesterol is directly related to saturated (animal fats) and
cholesterol in the diet is based upon three erroneous assumptions as
1. That each person is at equal risk of heart disease in proportion to
how much animal fat and cholesterol is included in the diet.
2. One’s risk of coronary heart disease will increase with the rise of
3. One can control the rise in serum cholesterol by eliminating animal
fats and cholesterol containing foods.
He categorically sets forth clinical data that the above assumptions
are invalid when subjected to strict scientific investigation and do
not provide justification for people eliminating all animal fats and
meat from their diet. (38, 39, 40)
Michael DeBakey, world renowned heart surgeon from Houston, who has
devoted extensive research into the cholesterol coronary disease
theory, states that out of every ten people in the United States who
have atherosclerotic heart disease, only three or four of these ten
have high cholesterol levels; this is approximately the identical rate
of elevated cholesterol found in the general population. (10) His
comment: “If you say cholesterol is the cause, how do you explain the
other 60 percent to 70 percent with heart disease who don’t have a
high cholesterol?” In 1964 DeBakey made an analysis of cholesterol
levels from usual hospital laboratory testing of 1,700 patients with
atherosclerotic disease and found there was no positive or definitive
relationship or correlation between serum cholesterol levels and the
extent or nature of atherosclerotic disease. (10)
A comparative study of men in Crete and the village of Crevalcore,
Italy, indicates that there is probably no relationship between serum
cholesterol and coronary heart disease when the level is 245 mg of
cholesterol per 100ml. (38, 39, 40) The men in Crete show serum
cholesterol levels of 200mg/dl and have an incidence of less than one
coronary heart disease per 100 men in five years. In contrast, the men
in Crevalcore with similar serum cholesterol levels suffer an
incidence of approximately six cases of coronary heart disease in five
years. (38, 39, 40)
Many questions are being asked about the generally accepted and
greatly advertised theory that consumption of saturated fatty acids
(beef, lamb, mutton, butter, and pork) are major factors contributing
to hypercholesterolemia and heart disease, while the consumption of
polyunsaturated fatty acids (vegetable oils) will prevent coronary
heart disease. Rivers states that the trend toward eating so much
margarine and other vegetable oil products may be “exactly the wrong
thing,” and explains that because polyunsaturates are very unstable,
extra polyunsaturated fatty acids are added by substituting soft
margarines and stabilized vegetable oils for animal fats and butter.
The difficulty is, he continued, that the two changes lead to a
dramatic increase in the eating of trans-fatty acids that results in
hypercholesterolemic effects that far outweigh the reported benefits
of polyunsaturated fats. (41)
It seems that the human body requires some essential polyunsaturated
fatty acids such as linoleic and arachidonic acid, but the established
requirement seems to be only approximately 1% of calories. (18)
Studies strongly indicate that large consumption of margarine, and
other polyunsaturated vegetable fats, may be conducive to cancer. (37)
Animal experiments found that rats fed a chemical carcinogen in
addition to 20% vegetable polyunsaturated fat and a much higher
incidence of tumors than when fed a carcinogenic with animal fat. (37)
In a similar experiment, rats treated with a carcinogen and given 5%
corn oil had a 3.5 times higher incidence of colon tumors that did
rats who were maintained on 5% lard. (37)
Studies have also linked a high intake of polyunsaturates, which is
probably over 10% of the average American’s diet, with vitamin
deficiencies, liver damage, premature aging, nutritional muscular
dystrophy, cancer, and severe blood disease in infants. (23)
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are believed to be highly reactive
chemical compounds that render them possibly harmful; they can be
oxidized by ordinary cooking in one’s body when they react with
nitrous oxide in smog, from X-rays and sunlight and some trace metals
such as iron. (23) Passwater states that of fourteen tests conducted,
all showed a high correlation between eating high amounts of
polyunsaturates in the form of corn oil, peanut oil, margarines,
soybean oil, et al., and notes that presently Americans eat two to
three times more vegetable oils than were consumed sixty years ago. He
stresses that only from two to four percent of one’s diet should
consist of vegetable fats. (33)
Most hunting and gathering societies eat a large amount of meat. The
classical example is the Eskimo who lived almost entirely on land and
sea mammals, fish and birds. Anthropologist Vilhjalmur Steffansson,
who spent many years living with the Eskimo around the turn of the
century, found that they were in excellent health and remained so as
long as they maintained their traditional diet. (47) It was discovered
that as long as they ate fresh meat, they obtained an ample supply of
vitamin C which was previously thought to come only from plant
sources. However, cooking at high temperatures destroys vitamin C in
both meat and plant foods.
Although it was accepted that the Eskimo thrived in a high state of
good health on an almost complete meat diet, authorities stated that
the diet would probably be harmful for Europeans. To prove the thesis
that a 100% meat diet is sufficient for sound health, Vilhjalmur
Steffansson and Karsten Anderson submitted themselves to an experiment
conducted by The Russell Sage Institute of Pathology at Bellevue
Hospital, an affiliate of the Medical College of Cornell University.
For a period of one year, they ate only fresh meat in the ratio of two
pounds of fresh lean meat to one-half pound of fat per day.
Steffansson, who had been on the Eskimo diet for years, remained in
good health, while Anderson was found to be in much better physical
condition than when he began the experiment. (47) Steffansson
continued to live on the Eskimo diet for many decades, in very good
health, until his death at the age of 83.
Otto Schaeffer, a specialist in internal medicine and director of the
Northern Medical Research Unit at Charles Campbell Hospital, Arctic
Canada, found that as long as the Eskimo lived on his native diet in
the traditional manner, he remained in sound health and was
practically free from degenerative diseases, especially those that
afflict Americans. (42) He reports that with the adoption of the white
man’s diet, which consists largely of refined carbohydrates (sugar,
white flour), processed polyunsaturated fats, and other processed
foods, the Eskimo is widely afflicted with all the degenerative
diseases common to our modern society. (42)
There is a relationship between diet and degenerative diseases, but
the total history of mankind strongly indicates that the relationship
is not one of consuming meat and animal fats. Anthropological data
strongly suggest that as human societies developed a greater
dependence on cereal grain crops and other carbohydrate foods, such
was accompanied by undermining the health adaptations of food-
producing populations unless they were successfully able to maintain a
balance between meat and animal protein and their relatively low
content protein plant crops such as rice, wheat, barley, potatoes, and
corn. (6, 34) Since the last century, this deterioration has been
accelerated to a very high level due to the ever increasing use of
sugar (55, 56, 57, 58), refined white flour, coffee and other
caffeinated beverages, excessive consumption of salt, alcohol,
chemical preservatives, synthetic, processed and junk foods. (2)
it is in investigating the relationship of the effects that these
foods have upon the body, including smoking, that will probably be
most fruitful in providing answers to the ever increasing rate of
Anthropological research proves that humans are both animal and plant
eaters, but of the two, animal foods are essential in human nutrition.
(2) The wisest diet is no doubt the one humans have followed for
millions of years, a diet that emphasizes fresh meat or animal protein
supplemented with wholesome plant foods augmented by ample exercise.
1. Abrams, H. Leon, Jr., “The Relevance of Paleolithic Diet in
Determining Contemporary Nutritional Needs,” J. Applied Nutr.
2. Abrams, H. Leon, Jr., “Vegetarianism: AnAnthropological/Nutritional
Evaluation,” J. Applied Nutr. 32:53-87. (1980).
3. Bates, Marston, Gluttons and Libertines, New York, Random House,
pp. 48-49, (1967).
4. Braidwood, Robert J., Prehistoric Men, 8th edition, Glenville,
Ill., Scott, Foresman and Co., pp. 52-113, (1975).
5. Campbell, Sheldon, “Noah’s Ark in Tomorrow’s Zoo; Animals are a-
comin’, two-by-two,” Smithsonian, 8:42-50, (1978).
6. Cassidy, C.M., “Nutrition and Health in Agriculturalists and Hunter-
Gatherers,” Nutrtional Anthropology, Jerome, Norge W., Randy F. Kandel
and Frettel H. Pelto, editors, Pleasantville, New York, pp. 117-179,
7. Cohen, Mark Nathan, The Food Crisis in Pre-History, New Haven, Yale
University Press, p. 15, (1977).
8. Constable, George, The Neanderthals, New York, Time-Life Books,
9. Dart, Raymond, Adventures With the Missing Link, New York, Viking
Press, p. 255, (1969).
10. De Bakey, Michael, JAMA, 189:655-659, (1964).
11. Edey, Maitland A and The Editors of Time-Life Books, The Missing
Link, New York, Little, Brown, (1972).
12. Eimerl, Sarel, Devore, Irven, and the Editors of Life, The
Primates, New York, Time, Inc., pp. 152-53, (1965).
13. Enig, M.G., R.J. Munn, and M. Keeney, Fed Proc. 37:2215, (1978).
14. Enstrom, J.E. Br. J Cancer, 32:432, (1975).
15. Glueck, C.J. and W.E. Connor, Am J Clin Nutr, 31:727, (1978).
16. Goodall, Jane, Miss Goodall and the Wild Chimpanzees, A
documentary film of Jane Goodall’s studies of wild chimpanzees in
their natural habitat in a rain forest in Tanzania, Africa, National
17. Hitchciock, N.E. and M. Gracey, “Diet and Serum Cholesterol,”
Archives of Diseases of Childhood, 52:790, 1977, and Food and
Nutrition Notes And Reviews, Commonwealth Dept. Of health, Australia,
18. Holman, Ralph T., :Function and Metabolism of Essential Fatty
Acids,” Nutrition in Transition, proceedings of Western Hemisphere
Nutrition Congress V, p. 77, A.M.A., (1978).
19. Keys, A., “Diet and Development of Coronary Disease,” J Chron Dis.
20. Leakey, M.D., Olduvai Gorge, Vol. 3 Oxford, Cambridge University
21. Lee, R.B. and DeVore, I., “Problems in The Study of Hunters and
Gatherers,” in Lee and DeVore, Eds., Man The Hunter, pp. 3-20, Aldine,
22. Lyon, J.L., M.R. Klauber, J.W. Gardner, and C.R. Smart. N Eng J
Med. 294:129, (1976).
23. Lyon, Nancy, “Cholesterol . . . Is Just One Heart Threat,” Science
Digest, 81:28-31, 1977.
24. Mann, GV, OA Roels, DL Price, and JM Merrill, “Cardiovascular
Disease in African Pygmies,” J Chron Dis, 15:341, 1962.
25. Mann, GV, EM Scott, LM Hursch, CA Heller, JB Youmans, CF
Consolazio, EB Bridgforth, AL Russell and M Silverman. “The Health and
Nutritional Status of Alaskan Eskimos,” Amer J Clin Nutr., 11:31,
26. Mann, GV, “Diet and Disease Among the Milk and Meat Eating Masai
Warrior of Tanganykia,” Food and Nutrition, 34:104, 1963.
27. Mann, GV. N Engl J Med. 297:644, 1977.
28. Martin, Paul S., “Pleistocene Overkill,” Natural History,
29. Martin, Paul, “Eskimos, Shocking Example to Us All, Primitive
Diets vs Junk Food,” Let’s Live, pp. 25-28, June, 1977.
30. Morris, Desmond, The Naked Ape, New York, MCGraw Hill, p. 9,
31. Nichols, AB, C Ravenscroft, DE Lamphiear, and LD Ostrander, Am J
Clin Nutr, 29:1384, 1976.
32. Nichols, AB, C Ravenscroft, DE Lamphiear, and LD Ostrander,
“Independence of Serum Lipid Level and Dietary Habits, The Tecumseh
Study,” JAMA, 236:1948-1953, 1976.
33. Passwater, Richard a., Cancer and Its Nutritional Therapies, New
Canaan, Conn, Keats, pp. 2-114, 1978.
34. Pelto, Gretel H. And Pertti Pelto, The Cultural Dimension of the
Human Adventure, New York, Macmillan, pp. 292-301, 1979.
35. Perry, Richard, Life in Forest and Jungle, New York, Taplinger
Publishing Co., pp. 165-85, 1976.
36. Prideaux, Tom. Cro-Magnon Man, New York, Time-Life Books, 1973.
37. Reddy, et al., Cancer Research, 35:3421, 1975.
38. Reiser, Raymond, “The Three Weak Links in the Diet-Heart Disease
Connection,” Nutrition Today, 14:22-28, 1979.
39. Reiser, R. Am J Clin Nutr, 26:524, 1973.
40. Reiser, R. Am J Clin Nutr, 31:865, 1978.
41. Rivers, John, Nature Mag., 270-2, 1977.
42. Schaeffeor, Otto, “When the Eskimo Comes to Town,” Nutr Today,
43. Schaller, George B and Gordon Lowther, “The Relevance of Carnivore
Behavior to the Study of Early Hominids,” Southwest J Anthro,
44. Search For the Great Apes, a documentary film on the ethological
research on gorillas by Dian Fossey and the ethological research of
orangutans by Birute Galdikas-Brindamour, National Geographic, 1975.
45. Shaper, AG, M Jones and J Kyobe, “Plasma Lipids in an African
Tribe Living on a Diet of Milk and Meat,” Lancet, 2:1324, 1961.
46. Shaper, AB, “Cardiovascular Studies in the Samburu Tribe of
Northern Kenya,” Am Heart J, 63:437, 1962.
47. Stefansson, Vilhjamur, “Food of the Ancient and Modern Stone Age
Man,” J Amer Diet Assoc, 13:2, 1937.
48. Stefansson, Vilhjamur, The Fat of the Land, New York, Macmillan,
49. Stefansson, Vilhjamur, Cancer: Disease of Civilization? New York,
Hill and Wang, 1960.
50. Treistman, Judith. The Prehistory of China, Garden City, New York,
The Natural History Press, p. 15, 1972.
51. Truswell, SA, Am J Clin Nutr. 31:977, 1978.
52. Van Lawick-Goodall, Jane, In the Shadow of Man, New York, Houghton
Mifflin, p. 297, 1971.
53. Weidman, WH, LR Elveback, RA Nelson, et al., “Nutrient Intake and
Serum Cholesterol Levels in Normal Children 6 to 16 Years of Age,”
Pediatrics, 61:354-359, 1978.
54. White, Edmund, Dale Brown and the Editors of Time-Life Books, The
First Men, Waltham, Mass, Litle, Brown & Co., pp. 68-94, 1973.
55. Yudkin, John, “Sugar Consumption and Myocardial Infarction,”
Lancet, 1:296-297, 1971.
56. Yudkin, John, “Sucrose and Heart Disease,” Lancet 14:16-20, 1969.
57. Yudkin, John, “Sugar Intake and Myocardial Infarction,” Am J Clin
Nutr. 20:503, 1967.
58. Yudkin, John, “Dietary Fat and Dietary Sugar in Relation to
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Random Bathing suit season! Thursday, Mar 24 2011
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