Nutrition

Proper nutrition is a constantly moving target. One day, you hear butter is bad for you and margarine is good. The next, you hear the exact opposite. Same thing with egg whites and egg yolks. It is a difficult area to research properly, and it doesn't help that industrial food, agriculture, chemical, pharmaceutical, and oil companies all have a vested financial interest in promoting research that increases their sales while casting doubt on research that may lower them. Rules and guidelines provided by the FDA and USDA tend to be outdated and wrong, again oftentimes heavily influenced by large companies' special interests. Most doctors receive little to no education in proper nutrition, and are instead "educated" by large, well-funded pharmaceutical sales teams to try to treat the symptoms rather than the causes of disease. It can be enough to make you want to give up, live in blissful ignorance, and just consume whatever you want. (This applies to things other than food & drink as well.) As tempting as that may be, it is important to keep in mind the adage "Without your health you have nothing."

I grew up in Texas. We Southerners and Texans (some people say we're our own separate breed) are notorious for our poor eating & drinking habits and our stubborn don't-tell-me-what-to-do personalities. I was no different. I ate and drank a lot of bad stuiff growing up in both quantity and quality. Not only that, I was proud of that fact and bragged about it along with my friends. I had a body that was still growing and at the time I didn't think it was displaying any obvious ill effects from my poor habits. I was young and still possessed of that blissfully ignorant sense of invincibility. A couple of things changed that:

  1. I fell down a flight of stairs in college, tearing up most of the ligaments and cartilage in one knee. (Fell down isn't quite accurate. My momentum actually carried me past an entire flight of stairs.)
  2. I reached my mid-20s.

The stairs event, for better or worse, woke me up from that ignorantly blissful sense of invincibility that I mentioned. I realized that I could permanently injure myself and affect the quality of my life. Not that I didn't already know that, but it became more real for me after that.

Like most people, my mid-20s was when my body stopped growing. It sounds morbid, but most of us grow to about our mid-20s then level off and start slowly dying. That's why it's so difficult for athletes to remain as competitive once they reach their 30s. We typically see the initial effects in the form of getting fatter and having less energy. Later, conditions like digestive problems, chronic pain, osteoperosis, diabetes, attention deficit disorder, mental illness, heart disesase, and cancer may be added to that list. Once I realized I had to actually start making an effort to not get fat and to be able to keep doing the things I used to be able to easily do, my attitude started to change. I can't say I became a paragon of health, but I did stop bragging about eating badly. Moreover, I started generally eating better and making conscious efforts to exercise and recreate.

Fast forward two decades, and my interest in nutrition and health has only increased. As we get older we start to see more and more the effects of our choices earlier in life. What's starting to become clearer is that while some things are inevitable, most of the symptoms of getting older can be greatly reduced, if not eliminated, by proper nutrition. The best source of cutting-edge nutrition advice as of late has been coming mostly from doctors who started off as traditional doctors but then switched over to more functional medicine after encountering so many patients they weren't able to help with traditional medicine. I have continued to read a lot on this subject. As I said, proper nutrition is a constantly moving target, and trying to keep up can be overwhelming. Therefore, I will try keep this page updated with a summary of the latest nutritional advice, where the advice overlaps, along with some of the more outstanding findings.

Probably the most interesting read I have come across lately is The Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry. He does a good job explaining why he thinks lectins (of which gluten is just one of thousands of examples) are the primary cause of our weight gain and other modern health problems. He also explains why he thinks whole grains are actually worse for us than processed grains. I've read similar things in other books, but Dr. Gundry seems to have gone the extra mile in his research and is better at explaining his findings than others. I was extra skeptical of Dr. Gundry at first because he tends to over-market himself and his products, but his experience, research, and reasoning appear to be sound for the most part. If you're starting the Plant Paradox Program, I created this handy reference: The Plant Paradox Phase 1 Allowed List. Dr. Gundry provides his own Phase 2 Plant Paradox Approved Foods List. And if you perfer a short video introduction to some of the topics in the book, here is a Facebook interview Dr. Gundry did with Maria Shriver:

https://www.facebook.com/MariaShriver/videos/10159123074510455/

Some other nutrition books you may want to check out are:

I will come back to this page and update it with summary information soon.