Archive for the ‘Paleo Diet’ Category

By Chris Kesser (web)

Bone broth and your health

At this point, I hope you have a solid understanding of the components of bone broth. Now let’s get on to the health benefits!

Skin health
Skin is composed of two layers, the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis, or upper layer, is composed of keratinocytes and is largely responsible for skin barrier function. Underneath is the dermis, a dense matrix of collagen, along with some GAGs, that provides structural and nutritive support (22). Keratin, collagen, and GAGs are abundant in bone broth, particularly if the skin from the animal is included in the cooking process.

In a 2014 randomized and controlled trial, collagen consumption significantly improved skin elasticity and tended to improve skin moisture content (23). Collagen scaffolds are widely used in medical applications to promote tissue regeneration and heal wounds (24). One study in mice found that supplementing the diet with gelatin was able to protect against UV-induced skin damage (25). GAGs offer additional skin benefits. The GAG hyaluronic acid has been shown to promote skin cell proliferation and increase the presence of retinoic acid, which improves the skin’s hydration (26), and dermatan sulfate has been shown to aid in cell turnover and wound repair (27).

Metabolic and cardiovascular health
Remember glycine, an amino acid that is particularly abundant in bone broth? Glycine plays a role in blood sugar regulation by controlling gluconeogenesis, the production of glucose in the liver (28), and has even been suggested to counteract some of the negative effects of dietary fructose consumption (29). Glycine has also been shown to reduce the size of heart attacks (30).

Furthermore, glycine balances out methionine intake. Muscle meats and eggs are high in methionine, an amino acid that raises homocysteine levels in the blood. High homocysteine is a significant risk factor for serious diseases like heart disease, stroke, mental illness, and fractures and increases our need for homocysteine-neutralizing nutrients like vitamins B6, B12, folate, and choline (31). Those eating lots of animal protein need adequate glycine to balance out the methionine from meat, and you’ll get that from bone broth. For more information, check out Denise Minger’s awesome presentation in which she discusses this very issue.

Muscle and performance
Glycine is also important for the synthesis of hemoglobin and myoglobin, which transport oxygen throughout the blood and muscle tissue, respectively (32). Glycine also increases creatine levels, which leads to an increase in anaerobic (high-intensity) exercise capacity, and stimulates the secretion of human growth hormone (HGH), which may enhance muscle repair (33, 34, 35). Recent evidence suggests that proline may play a role in regulating the mTOR cellular signaling pathway, which integrates signals from nutrients, growth factors, stress factors, and cellular energy status to affect cell function and growth. Proline, together with other amino acids, activates mTOR, resulting in enhanced muscle protein synthesis (36).

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the chemical form of energy in the body that can be used to perform work. Phosphorus is required for the formation of this compound, and ATP cannot be biologically active unless bound to a magnesium ion. Phosphorus deficiency has been shown to reduce muscle performance (37, 38). Both phosphorus and magnesium are present in bone broth in modest amounts.

Bones and joints
It should be pretty obvious that the best way to get the nutrients necessary to build bone is from bone itself! Drinking bone broth provides all of the raw material for building healthy bones: calcium, phosphorus, amino acids, and more. A deficiency of the raw materials for building bone can result in a number of different conditions. For example, osteoporosis is associated with reduced levels of collagen and calcium in the bones (39, 40). Of course, you’ll also need the nutrients required to support the building process, like vitamins D, K2, and C. (To learn more about building healthy bones and where to get these nutrients on a Paleo diet, check out this article.)

As for joint health, lubrication by GAGs is the key to a full range of motion, whereby part of one bone can slide smoothly and painlessly over part of another. Sure, you could buy expensive supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to keep your joints healthy, but why, when these and a host of other beneficial nutrients can easily be obtained from bone broth? After all, GAGs are not the only component of broth that improves joint health. Collagen supplementation has been shown to reduce joint pain in athletes (41).

Gut health
A healthy colon contains a single tight layer of epithelial cells, a thick mucus layer, and a diverse collection of microbes. Microbial dysbiosis and a thinning of this mucus layer can quickly compromise the integrity of the epithelial barrier. Microbes and dietary proteins can then “leak” into the bloodstream and invoke an inflammatory response by the immune system. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a component of bacterial cell walls, stimulates a particularly robust immune response (42).

Bone broth is a staple of gut-healing diets, and rightfully so! Gelatin absorbs water and helps maintain the layer of mucus that keeps gut microbes away from the intestinal barrier. In a mouse model, gelatin supplementation reduced the severity of colitis by strengthening the mucus layer and altering gut microbiota composition (43). Gelatin and glycine have also been shown to reduce the inflammation caused by LPS (44, 45). Glycine has been shown to protect against gastric ulcers as well (46). Glutamine also helps maintain the integrity of the gut mucosa and intestinal barrier (47).

Bone broth has so many benefits to gut health that I had to make digestion its own section! Drinking broth with meals is an excellent way to aid digestion. Glycine stimulates the production of stomach acid, which is essential for the proper digestion of food (48). Low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) is surprisingly common in developed countries and can lead to a number of health issues.

Glycine is also an important component of bile acid, which is released to aid in the digestion of fats in the small intestine (49). Bile acid is important for maintaining normal blood cholesterol levels. The presence of gelatin in the gut also draws fluid into the intestine, improving gut motility and supporting healthy bowel movements. Low blood levels of collagen have been associated with inflammatory bowel disease (50).

Detoxification, liver, and kidney health
Recently, there has been some concern regarding the lead toxicity of bone broth. However, the vitamins and minerals that are abundant in bone broth, and in Paleo diets in general, can protect against the harmful effects of toxins like lead. Glycine also stimulates production of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant (51). In animal models, glycine has been shown to speed recovery from alcohol-induced fatty liver disease (52), protect liver cells against hypoxia (53), and improve survival after liver transplantation (54). In humans, glycine reduces oxidative stress in patients with metabolic syndrome (55).

Proline plays a role in apoptosis, the process by which the body breaks down old cells, clears up waste products, and recycles raw materials for use in healthy cells (56). Proline can scavenge free radicals, effectively acting as an antioxidant (57). Glutamine, on the other hand, acts as a nontoxic nitrogen transporter, carrying amine groups safely through the bloodstream to the kidney. In the kidney, the conversion of glutamine to glutamate regulates acid–base balance by producing ammonium (58).

Eye health
Yes, bone broth may improve eye health. The cornea consists of three primary layers: an outer epithelial layer, a middle layer, and an inner endothelial layer. Hyaluronic acid stimulates proliferation of the epithelial cells that line the cornea (59) and is commonly used during eye surgery to help replace lost fluids (60). The middle, or stromal, layer is largely made of collagen, keratan sulfates, and chondroitin sulfates. Keratan sulfates have been shown to be essential to the transparency of the cornea (61), while chondroitin sulfate has been shown to influence the development of neural pathways in the retina (62). The amino acid glycine has also been shown to delay the progression of cataracts in a rat model of diabetes (63).

Brain health
Numerous components of bone broth influence the nervous system. The healthy fats in bone broth, particularly if made with marrow bones, provide a source of fuel and raw material for the brain. After all, more than 60 percent of the human brain is composed of fat (64). Glycine has been shown to protect against neuronal death after ischemic stroke (65) and likely plays a pertinent role in the development of the brain in the womb and during the first few months after birth (66). Calcium is essential for nerve conduction. When a nerve cell is stimulated, the influx of calcium triggers neurotransmitter release, allowing the signal to be passed on to the next nerve cell. Calcium deficiency affects this transmission and can result in symptoms of depression, insomnia, and hyperactivity. Lastly, chondroitin sulfate plays an important role in regeneration and plasticity in the central nervous system (67), meaning it is essential for learning and memory.

Mood and sleep
Bone broth can also improve both mood and sleep. Glycine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning it can decrease anxiety, promote mental calmness, and help with sleep (68). One study found that three grams of glycine given to subjects before bedtime produced measurable improvements in sleep quality (69).

Unlike methionine, glycine does not compete with tryptophan for transport across the blood–brain barrier (70). Tryptophan is the precursor (raw material) for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being. Serotonin, in turn, is a precursor to melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep–wake cycles. This is why a diet that includes bone broth and fattier cuts of meat can help prevent the depression and insomnia that some people may experience when eating a diet high in methionine-rich lean meat and eggs.

Immune function
While ancient folk wisdom suggests that bone broth can cure the common cold, modern science has confirmed that the components of bone broth do indeed influence the immune system. For example, glycine receptors have been identified on the outer surface of several different types of immune cells (71, 72). The effect is a dampening of the immune response, resulting in reduced inflammatory signaling molecules and oxidative stress that may reduce damage to lungs and other tissues (73). The GAG heparin sulfate has been shown to influence B cell function, T cell function, and macrophage activity (74).

Where to source bone broth

To summarize, bone broth has an incredible number of potential health benefits and is rooted in a long history of human use. It makes an excellent addition to any diet and can be used in a multitude of dishes. Bone broth can be made at home or it can be bought pre-made.

Homemade bone broth is simple to make. Ask your local farmers if they have soup bones, or roast a whole pastured chicken and save the bones for making broth. Chicken feet, chicken necks, calves’ feet, and marrow bones are particularly valuable additions to broth. You can find a good basic recipe over at the Weston A. Price Foundation website.

Pre-made bone broth is also a good option. Be sure to:

  • Buy broth that is organic and made from pasture-raised animals or wild-caught fish (this minimizes the toxins and maximizes the nutrients you get from the bone broth).
  • Avoid cans and other containers that contain bisphenol A (BPA), a potent endocrine disruptor, or other BPA substitutes.
  • Check out my favorite brand of broth: Kettle and Fire uses bones of organic, pasture-raised animals along with organic vegetables, sea salt, and herbs, all slow-simmered for 24 hours.

However you choose to get your hands on this liquid gold, be sure to make bone broth a staple in your diet!


By Chris Kesser (web)

Bone broth: a nutrient gold mine

Bones contain an abundance of minerals as well as 17 different amino acids, many of which are found in broth as proteThe Bountiful Benefits of Bone Broth: a Comprehensive Guide Vol.1ins like collagen and gelatin. Though the exact nutritional content varies based on the bones used, cooking time, and cooking method, the following nutrients are consistently found in most bone broths.

With 28 different types, collagen makes up about 30 percent of the protein in your body (4) and is the main component of connective tissues like cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bone, and skin. It is also present in the blood vessels, cornea, and lens of the eye. The name collagen comes from the Greek “kólla,” meaning “glue, and the suffix “-gen,” which means “producing.” In fact, early glue was made from collagen more than 8,000 years ago, likely by boiling the skin and sinews of animals (5). In addition to providing structure, collagen also plays an important role in tissue development and regulation (6, 7).

When collagen is simmered, it forms gelatin. This hydrolysis of collagen is irreversible and results in the breakdown of long collagen protein fibrils into smaller protein peptides. However, its chemical composition is very similar to its parent molecule, collagen (8). Gelatin is what gives bone broth or stock its Jell-O-like consistency once it has cooled.

Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are complex carbohydrates that participate in many biological processes. They can attach to proteins in order to form proteoglycans, which are integral parts of connective tissue and synovial fluid, the lubricant that surrounds the joint (9). If the connective tissue, such as tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, is still attached, the bones in broth will provide our bodies with the whole spectrum of GAGs, including keratan sulfates, dermatan sulfates, chondroitin sulfates, and hyaluronic acid, which are the raw materials for skin, bone, and cartilage formation.

Glycine is an amino acid that makes up more than a third of collagen. It also acts as a neurotransmitter, binding to glycine receptors present throughout the nervous system and peripheral tissues. Signaling through this receptor is particularly important in mediating inhibitory neurotransmission in the brainstem and spinal cord (10, 11).

Proline is an amino acid that makes up about 17 percent of collagen. The addition of hydroxyl groups to proline significantly increases the stability of collagen and is essential to its structure. Though small amounts of proline can be manufactured in the body, evidence shows that adequate dietary proline is necessary to maintain an optimal level of proline in the body (12, 13). Proline is not typically thought of as a neurotransmitter, but it is able to weakly bind to glutamate receptors and glycine receptors (14).

Glutamine is yet another important amino acid found in bone broth and is the most abundant amino acid in the blood (15). It is one of the few amino acids that can directly cross the blood–brain barrier (16). Intestinal epithelial cells and activated immune cells eagerly consume glutamine for cellular energy (17, 18).

Bone marrow
Inside the center cavity of the bone is the bone marrow, consisting of two types, red and yellow. Both types contain collagen. Red bone marrow is the site of manufacturing for new immune cells and red blood cells, while yellow marrow consists of healthy fats (19, 20). It is thought that important nutritional and immune support factors might be extracted from marrow during cooking, but the bioavailability of these factors has not been studied.

Bone is also full of minerals, including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc (21). An acidic medium is necessary to extract these minerals from food. When making broth, always add a splash of vinegar or other acid in order to extract the most minerals from the bone.

Vol.3 coming soon

By Chris Kesser (web)

Traditional cooking uses meat bones as a base for delicious stock because it is the secret to cooking great recipes. But it’s also incredibly nutritious and has scores of health benefits. Read on to learn more about bone broth and why you should make it a staple in your diet.

benefits of bone broth

The Weston A. Price Foundation and advocates of the Paleo and Primal lifestyles favor bone broth for its wide array of nutrients that are difficult to find in any other food source. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has made bone and meat stock the foundation of the GAPS protocol because of its ability to heal and seal the gut lining and reduce overgrowth of harmful microbes. Chicken broth has also been suggested to reduce the migration of immune cells during illness. These are just some of the many reasons to love bone broth.

Bone broth is mentioned in dozens of articles on my blog, but I haven’t really provided a thorough analysis in a single, convenient place for my readers. So here it is: everything you need to know about bone broth! In this research-dense article, I will cover the role of broth in traditional cultures, the nutritive components of bone broth, the numerous health benefits, and the best ways to source it.

Bone broth in traditional cultures

A South American proverb says “good broth will resurrect the dead.” While this is certainly a stretch of the imagination, the ability of broth, and chicken broth in particular, to treat the common cold has long been touted as ancient folk wisdom. Scientists at the University of Nebraska sought to test this folklore in 2000 and found that in vitro (in a Petri dish), some components of chicken soup were able to inhibit the migration of innate immune cells called neutrophils, effectively acting as an anti-inflammatory that could, in theory, reduce symptoms of illness (1). Whether this effect occurs in vivo (in a living organism) is still unclear, but this preliminary data suggests that our ancestors may have been onto something. We’ll explore the bone broth–immune system connection more in a later section.

Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC (2), and it’s well accepted that broth of some sort was, and remains, a staple in many traditional cultures. In Danish and German culture, large hens were specifically reserved for making soup, and the cooked meat was retained for other dishes or added back to the soup. In East Asian diets, dishes like miso sometimes contain meat stock. In Greece, beaten eggs mixed with lemon are commonly added to chicken broth as a traditional remedy for colds and digestive upset. Chicken soup in Hungary usually included organs like chicken liver and heart, while in Vietnam and the Philippines, beef bone marrow was used as the base for making soup. In India, chicken soup is popularly sold by roadside vendors in the winter and takes on many different forms. Chicken soup was a traditional dish of Jewish kitchens; it has even been called “Jewish penicillin” and is used to treat and prevent illness. In American tradition, chicken soup was prepared using old hens that were too tough to be roasted or cooked but still made excellent soup. Unfortunately, the only soup that most Americans eat today is canned, highly processed, and devoid of nutrients.

Traditional cultures wisely practiced nose-to-tail eating and consumed all parts of the animal, including the skin, cartilage, tendons, and other gelatinous cuts of meat. This provided a balanced intake of all the amino acids necessary to build and maintain those same structures in the human body. Some anthropologists have even suggested that in some regions of the world, early humans were scavengers rather than hunters, using tools to crack open the bones of carcasses left by lions and other large predators to expose the rich bone marrow (3). Unfortunately, many modern cultures have lost the practice of whole-animal eating, and the old-age tradition of having a pot of broth constantly simmering on the hearth has been lost in favor of modern convenience, microwaves, and highly processed canned soups. Bringing bone broth back into the modern diet offers a simple and delicious means of obtaining the nutrition from parts of the animal that traditional cultures prized.

Vol.2 coming soon



There are a lot of people who believe that it’s not “humane” to eat meat. I get it. On the surface, it can seem that the most humane thing to do is to not eat meat. Avoiding meat can also appear to be the best for sustainability and the “cleanest” way to eat. I understand that having compassion for animals seems at odds with eating them. This is why I don’t support factory-raised meat.

There are some important environmental reasons why we need herbivores.

Recently, I wrote a piece explaining how grazing animals are beneficial for the soil. Their chomping on grass stimulates new growth, their hooves, urine and manure work critical microbes into the land, increasing the biodiversity of life underground, which helps in the carbon sequestration process. I explained how most of the studies showing how much water it takes to make a burger are actually looking at green water (includes rain) and not blue water (water used for drinking by the cattle). When you look at this study, which uses the blue water methodology, “typical” beef production has a similar water footprint to rice, avocados, walnuts and sugar. I also explained that when you look at the amount of land not suitable for crops, and only usable as pasture, that cattle and other herbivores don’t need to compete with vegetables for space. Here’s a great graph explaining the environmental impact of grass-fed beef.

There is another recent study from Tufts University explaining how a vegan diet is not the most sustainable from a land use perspective. Cropping all of the usable land in order to produce vegetables is simply not an efficient use of space. The study looked at land usage, and again, when we consider that much of the earth’s land surface is not suitable for vegetable production, it’s clear that including animal protein in the human diet is efficient from a land use perspective. What the study didn’t consider is pasture-based herbivores as the primary source of protein. It considered “typical” meat intake. Factory-raised meat chickens, which have seen an increase of nearly 400% of global animal protein intake, eat grain. If we swap out chicken meat for grass-fed and finished beef, then the equation would look much different.

The other day, I received the following comment on the post:

“Why is it necessary to eat the animals? I don’t understand why it’s assumed that this is an acceptable part of the process. If the herbivores are to be ‘used’, could they not simply live out their lives fertilising the soil for more effective crop production?”

This comment clearly required it’s own post, so here are my thoughts:

Is it more “humane” to the animal to let it die “naturally”? What does dying “naturally” mean to people? There are many ways animals die in nature. Natural death doesn’t = painless death. Not all animals simply die in their sleep of old age. In fact, (just as in humans) this is rarely the case.

Being eaten by another animal is a common way to go. This usually involves a stressful encounter and a painful death. More often than not, it’s relatively slow, compared to a quick bullet to the head or a slit to the throat, as is the practice in this short film I helped to produce. Small-scale slaughterhouses that employ humane handling techniques make sure the animal dies quickly and with the least pain possible. The people working there honestly care about this process and take pride in taking the animal to “the next phase of their existence”: feeding lots of people. By contrast, hyenas are not very “humane” when it comes to their treatment of wildebeests.  On our farm, sheep are sometimes consumed by coyotes. Does this sheep have rights? If so, did the coyote violate the sheep’s rights by eating it? Coyotes play an important role in nature, and they need to eat too. What about the hawks that eat our chickens, or eat field mice?

Besides violent death, sickness may take over an animal and kill it. This process is also not painless. But let’s say the animal is completely protected from predators, doesn’t die from sickness or infection, and lives out life to a very old age. By the end of it’s life, it’s organs start to fail and the animal can no longer eat or drink. Maybe it goes blind. Is this process painless and fast? Is allowing the animal to suffer a better way to go? Life is great when you’re young and healthy, but nothing stays young and healthy forever. When see images of herds of healthy looking zebras or deer in the wild, they are only healthy looking because the sick and old have been culled by predators. Do we then remove the predators? Is this “more humane?”

Let’s say we all decide that we allow herbivores to restore our soils and we don’t consume them as protein. We have to ask, how are we going to control their populations? Is it better to let the wolves and hyenas control their populations and be well fed while we eat tofurky and drink soylent? Should we sterilize a certain percentage of these herbivores so they can’t reproduce? Is sterilization more or less humane than death by hyena? Another question to ask is how is a system of grazing cows to support healthy soils going to be financially sustainable? Cows are worth a lot of money as dairy and meat. They’re not worth as much to a farmer if they are simply “soil improvers.” Responsible farmers/ranchers are treating their animals right and making money at the same time. Who would be responsible for making sure they have fresh pasture, water, and are treated when injured or sick if they’re not getting paid? Systems need to include financial sustainability as well.

“But it’s all about intent.”

It’s important to understand that a meatless diet is not a bloodless diet. Many animals lose their lives in the process of farming vegetables. Birds and butterflies are poisoned by chemicals, rabbits and mice are run over by tractors, and vast fields of mono-cropped vegetables displace native populations of animals that once lived on the land. The farming of vegetables is not humane to rabbits.

I have heard people respond say that as long as they didn’t intend to kill the bunnies for their soy burger, then it’s morally ok. The idea of intent is complex, but If you know that your actions will cause death as a side effect, and you do it, then you are still causing death.

If I drive to a certain store to buy some tofu and on the way I accidently run over a chipmunk, did I still kill it? Yes. But do I have any guilt or culpability? No. it is clear that I had neither foreknowledge nor intention that my driving would kill the chimpmunk.

What if I told you that each time you went to that store to buy tofu, you were definitely going to run over a family of chipmunks on your way, that this was inevitable. If you know that you are going to kill the chipmunks on the way to the store to buy tofu, is it still morally ok to go to the store, even if you’re not intending to kill the chipmunks?

It seems to me that if you’re aware that your actions cause a known effect, then intent is present.

I am now officially stating again that in order to produce vegetables, animals are killed in the process. Is it still morally better to eat vegetables?

If you equate the life of a rabbit or chipmunk as equal to that of a cow, and are truly looking to kill the least amount of lives to feed your own, then I would argue that killing one cow that lived on pasture is actually causing less death than the number of animal lives that are lost by modern row cropping techniques. The principle of least harm may actually require the consumption of large herbivores (red meat.)

Here are a few more responses I often hear from people looking to do “least harm.”
“I only consume dairy and eggs.”

Ok, I get it. You don’t want the animals to die, but you’ll consume their milk and eat their eggs. This may seem better from a moral perspective. Is the milk you’re drinking from 100% grass-fed cows? If it’s not, then did you know that those cows are likely not moving much and spend the majority of their lives indoors? Do you know how you get a cow to produce milk? You need to get it pregnant. How do you think this happens? Naturally? Do you know what happens to the babies of these cows? What about your eggs, are they from 100% pasture raised chickens? If not, those chickens, just like dairy cows, are not really living the life of a “natural” chicken. What do you think happens to the male chickens, the ones that don’t produce eggs? I think it’s certainly healthier to consume dairy and eggs than to eat 100% plant based, but there are many more considerations that need to be questioned if you have a moral issue with death.

“Ok, I’ll eat fish, and maybe chicken, but definitely not red meat.”

I wonder why it’s “better” for those eating “clean” to think fish and chicken are superior to red meat on a moral level. Is it because the flesh of fish and chicken is white? Is it easier to eat it when there are no bones and you can’t see “blood?” (Actually, the red juice in those steak packages isn’t actually blood, it’s myoglobin.) Is it easier to buy smaller pieces of white flesh rather than large red hunks of beef on the bone? Are chickens and fish somehow less of an animal than a cow? Is it because beef has fat on it? Is everyone forgetting that saturated fat is no longer a bad guy?

Nutritionally, are all of our health woes really caused by our “increased” consumption of red meat? Again, when you look at what people are actually eating, red meat consumption has not increased in 50 years, but our chicken consumption has increased nearly 400%. We eat a whole lot of fish as well. Studies that vilify red meat consumption are observational, using self-reported data. People might remember the burger they ate last week, but they tend to “forget” to report the deep fried apple pie, 72oz soda, and large fries they had along with the burger. It’s not the meat that’s so damaging, it’s how we raise it, how we prepare it, and what we eat it with.

“I feel more (virtuous, clean, pure, etc.) eating only plants.”

Here are some other questions to consider. In addition to the animals that are dying during the tilling and harvesting of your crops, there are also many animals harmed in the production of many vegetarian products. Palm oil is a great example. I’m not sure that palm oil should really be considered “ok” on a vegan diet when you consider the impact this industry has on orangutans. What about the humans that are harvesting your vegetables? I see very little attention given by those in the plant-based world to human social justice issues. What about the 400,000 children that are migrant farm workers? Do you eat bananas, chocolate or drink coffee? There are so many issues going on within the food industry well beyond whether or not it’s “ok” to eat meat.

What’s the most “moral” way to eat?

If you truly are looking to cause the least harm to animals, be the most sustainable and ethically responsible with your food consumption, then your lens has to open a bit to include some other questions. If you know animals will die for your soylent, is it ok to drink it? If you know that the spraying of non-organic bananas also means schools and local homes are also sprayed with toxic chemicals, causing incredible illness and birth defects, is it still ok to eat them?  Is it ok to eat tomatoes when you don’t know who harvested them? If you knew that a 12 yr old girl had worked a 12 hr day instead of going to school so that you could have red tomatoes in January, are tomatoes more virtuous and cleaner than lamb? If you don’t see “blood” or bones in your plastic wrapped package of chicken, does that make it easier for you to eat it? Is white meat “cleaner” to eat? Are birds less of an animal than a cow? Is it ok to drink milk from a confined dairy cow but not ok to eat the meat from a cow that has spent it’s entire life on pasture? Which process allows the cow to live a good life, (ok, maybe a grass-fed cow has one bad day, but that dairy cow will also die.) Which system is better to support? Are Meatless Mondays changing cow cows are treated?

By opting out of the system entirely, and not eating meat at all, are you changing how meat is produced?

Factory farming is not the answer, but in my personal opinion, if we all had more exposure to sustainable food production, then there would be far less confusion about what is right. If everyone had the experience of working or living on a small-scale organic farm that integrated pasture-based animals (like I do) then the answers to these questions would be much more clear. We are part of nature. As much as we like to avoid the thought, life is not possible without death.

If we agree that cows are critical for soil health, then we should also eat them.

Further reading: Caroline Watson wrote a great post on the morals of meat eating. The Vegetarian Myth, written by an ex-vegan, also does a good job explaining the moral argument to consume meat, and I just purchased Vegan Betrayal, by Mara Kahn and am looking forward to diving into. On the flip side, I also recently purchased The Humane Economy, by vegan and head of The Humane Society Wayne Pacelle, to better understand where animal rights activists are coming from. I believe it’s critical to explore both sides of a story in order to understand it fully. While I appreciate the “intent” of those who choose not to eat meat, I simply disagree with their logic.

By Chelo (source) (View this article in Spanish)

-Hippocrates,460-370 BC

Many children and adults have digestive problems that they are not even aware of. Colic, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, feeding difficulties,  trouble sleeping, and many other “chronic” but accepted maladies.When looking at a child with digestive problems, the majority of cases will have started at or around the time of weaning.

When the mother replaces breast milk with formula other food components get introduced that are not natural to a babies gut flora, like gluten, Enzymatically hydrolyzed reduced minerals, whey protein concentrate, palm olein, soy, coconut, high-oleic safflower oils, lactose etc…

Many adults don’t remember much of their eating habits in the first years of life. Assuming they did not have a severe reaction to these new compounds which would have raised red flags for any parents, they could have had little noticed or missed responses to the food like a fussy sleeper, or a baby that vomits a lot. Many parents will tell you this is “Normal for a baby”. they will “Grow out of it”. While this is true for some, in more and more cases around the world people are realising that it doesn’t have to be this way. Unless there is an undiagnosed medical condition babies that are feed the way their guts were designed DO NOT HAVE THESE PROBLEMS!!

This is not to say that even a baby feed perfectly won’t have problems occasionally. The Gastric system is incredibly complex and a little SNAFU at one end can cause all sorts of temporary problems at the other. That being said these temporary problems are just that, temporary. If a problem is happening at every feeding for weeks on end then it is likely a problem on the intake side of the track. Don’t these problems go away after a couple of months though?? yes they do, in the same way that a heroin junkie will be able to function after a small hit while you or I would probably be incapacitated. This is not as far-fetched an analogy as it sounds either. True, heroin and food are very different in almost every conceivable way, but to a totally (or mostly) clean gut Gluteomorphins and Casomorphins (peptides from gluten and casein) pass through the blood-brain barrier and effect areas of the brain in much the same way as opiates and heroin. So while you can build up a tolerance to these compounds and even learn (gastronomically speaking) to function with them, the long-term effects and the health problems are much more similar to drug and alcohol addiction then most people will admit. The question then is; how did we get our gut in such a condition? what is the connection with our gut and our mental health? to understand these questions we need to take a look at the importance of food and the role it plays in the human gut.


The human body is a magnificent ecosystem that is happily co-existing with trillions of invisible macro and micro-life, living together in harmony. The largest colonies of microbes live in our digestive system and the number of functions they fulfill in our bodies is so crucial and vital that we, humans, cannot live without them.

“In a healthy body this microbial world is fairly stable and very adaptable to changes in their environment.Gut flora can be divided into 3 groups:

1.Essential or beneficial flora This is the most important group and the most numerous in a healthy individual. These bacteria are often referred to as our indigenous friendly bacteria. The main members of this group are: Bifidobacteria, Lactobacteria, Propionobacteria,physiological strains of E.coli, Peptostreptococci and Enterocci. We are going to look in detail at what good work they do in our bodies.”(1)

2. Opportunistic flora “This is a large group of various microbes, the number and combination of which can be quite individual. These are: Bacteroids, Peptococci, Staphylococci, Streptococci, Bacilli, Clostridia, Yeasts, Enterobacteria, Catenobacteria and many others. There are around 500 various species of microbes known to science so far, which can be found in the human gut. in a healthy person their numbers are normally limited and are tightly controlled by the beneficial flora. Each of this microbes is capable of causing various health problems if they get out of control.”(2)

3.Transitional flora “these are various microbes, which we daily swallow with food and drink, usually non-fermenting Gram-negative bacilli from the environment. When the gut is well protected by beneficial bacteria,this group of microbes goes through our digestive tract without doing any harm. But if the population of the beneficial flora is damaged and not functioning well this group of microbes can cause disease.

So, what are all these microbes doing there and why do we need them?”(3)

When we eat and drink many micro-organisms, chemicals and toxins make their way through the digestive system. Our digestive track is coated with a bacterial layer, providing a natural barrier against these agents. When the beneficial bacteria in the track are damaged and not doing the job they should be doing, our gut is not well protected. Without protection the invaders infiltrate the gut wall, causing damage to the gut flora

Now if the guardians (the beneficial bacteria) are not properly functioning then the opportunistic flora is uncontrolled and ready to cause trouble. Transitional flora enters the body and now we have a chronic inflammation in our gut wall and to make it worse ,it not only becomes inflamed or infected, but this can lead to problems with nutrition absorption, and causes malnourishment.

According to Dr. Natasha Campbell- Mcbride author of “Gut and Psychology syndrome

” A well-functioning gut with healthy gut flora holds the roots of our health.And, like a tree with sick roots is not going to thrive, the rest of the body cannot thrive without a well-functioning digestive system.

Dr. Campbell believes that there is a profound connection between our brains and our gut health.In this video she gives a general overview about the importance of a healthy gut flora. VIDEO


Start by treating Diet as an overused and often misunderstood word . Diet is the food consumed by a person. So while this can be a short-term change it also describes a long-term pattern of eating, I am not trying to promote short-term weight loss goals or quick fixes for ailments but an overall better long-term health through conscious eating. It is a life style not something to do until you stop seeing a problem. It has to become part of your daily routine. This requires a great deal of thought and planning, the changing of long ingrained eating habits is a slow progression . Don’t cut everything out all at once. As great as it would be for you gastronomically, it is also a lot of change all at once, and a good way to burn yourself out. Start by taking away pasta and bread, then the milk and the yogurt and so on. Make a habit of reading food labels every time you go to the store and try to avoid things that have gluten, casein and high fructose corn syrup. In a couple of months you will realize that you have cut out most processed foods and you are starting to learn how to cook from fresh ingredients, your food will taste better and be more filling. Change is hard but someone has to do it.

As a mom I know how hard it is to raise and feed a kid (please read eating right during pregnancy and breastfeeding and why is it so important? ) but it only takes those first years and some patience and consistency to lay a strong foundation in the right direction, getting frustrated because we don’t see results right away is much like waiting for a cancer patient to recover in a week, it takes as much time to get healthier as it took to become sick. I made a slow progression with my first daughter by moving her away from all sorts of cereals,then casein and finally all processed foods by following the steps I mentioned before. It took about a year for us to start seeing noticeable changes in her.

I got all sorts of advise and warnings about what my husband and I were doing. “Don’t you think she should get onto medication?” “Doctors recommend more grains! Are you smarter than the doctors?” “Did you go to Medical school?” at times I was afraid that I was not helping my daughters, but i listened to nutritionists I respected and learned all I could about how food acted on the body. Once we began seeing the changes I had hoped for in my eldest and the lack of problems with my other children I became convinced. So don’t become discouraged when you do not see immediate results. You will see some changes but the bigger ones take time. Give your self the time to make a lifestyle change and you will see as I did that consistency and patience are the keys to success.

My eldest while on Gluten and Casein


One year after

Recommended reading 



written by: Mike Sheridan

One of the reasons I quit nutrition school is because class often consisted of discussing the benefits of foods that are clearly harmful, and learning tedious preparation methods for making them edible. After a considerable number of irritating debates with teachers and classmates (mostly vegetarians), it occurred to me that this probably wasn’t a designation I wanted to be associated with.

Call me a different cat, but the letters after my name have never meant much to me. Other than saving thousands of dollars on education, I can read the same textbooks, watch lectures from better educators, and form an opinion based on reliable evidence. With the current state of the medical profession, and the embarrassing recommendations from the government associations, I’d say my lack of fancy letters is a blessing in disguise…or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

One of the best things about self-educating, is that you get to learn what you want, when you want. Whether this puts me at an advantage is debatable, but I’m sure as heck not wasting time learning the 58 side effects of a new pharmaceutical drug, or the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) ridiculous nutrition recommendations for diabetics.

Why bother, when I know I can eat like a hunter-gatherer and never get sick?

And that the ADA’s recent dietary recommendations make a diabetics blood sugar look like this:

Image 1 - Grains- What's the Upside_

While a low-carb paleo plan makes it look like this:

Image 2 - Grains- What's the Upside_

The other great thing about self-educating is thinking for yourself instead of being told how to think. Questioning the information instead of blindly following it.

Why sit through nutrition school learning the benefits of inedible grass seeds when I can question whether they’re worth consuming at all?

As you probably guessed from the title, I’m referring to grains. I know I’m preaching to the choir on this one, as most of you have already opted to avoid them entirely; however, there’s plenty of non-Paleo visitors to this website that are reluctant to change because of heavily inGRAINed beliefs. I’m hoping that the evidence and rationale I’ve put together below will put their apprehension to rest.

Who knows, maybe I can even get through to my old teachers and classmates!

Grains – The Promoted Pros

What are the benefits of eating grains? I don’t know, you tell me. My old classmates would probably tell you that they’re nutrient dense and packed with fiber. To which I ask:

“Compared to what?”

Grains are actually nutrient defunct compared to meat, nuts & seeds, and vegetables. At least when using Harvard Researcher, Matt Lalonde’s, Nutrient Density Value chart:

Food Category Nutrient Density Value
Organ Meat and Oils 17
Herbs and Spices 17
Nuts & Seeds 10
Cacao 8
Fish and Seafood 1
Pork 0.7
Beef 0.3
Eggs and Dairy -0.6
Vegetables (Raw) -0.7
Lamb, Veal, Raw Game -1.2
Poultry -1.7
Legumes -2.9
Processed Meat -3.1
Vegetables (Cooked, Canned) -4.8
Plant Fat and Oils -5.4
Fruits -5.6
Animal Skin and Feet -6.2
Grains (Cooked) -6.2
Refined and Processed Oils -6.4


I’m not sure about you, but this chart leads me to believe that if I was concerned about nutrients, I should prioritize organ meat ands nuts and seeds. Likewise, it looks like a few pinches of cilantro, basil, and thyme, may be enough to make up for any lack of grains.

The dietician or nutritionist tells us we need whole grains for B-vitamins, but do we really?[i]

  Food Mg per serving
Thiamin (B1) Sunflower Seeds (1/2 cup) 1.08
Ground Pork (75g) 0.75
Oatmeal (1/2 cup) 0.48
Riboflavin (B2) Liver (75g) 1.6-2.7
Cuttlefish 1.3
Eggs (2 large) 0.5
Muesli cereal (1/2 cup) 0.2
Niacin (B3) Anchovies (75g) 19.0
Tuna (75g) 12.0
Liver (75g) 10.0
Chicken (75g) 8.0
Mushrooms (1/2 cup) 6.0
All Bran 3.0
Pyridoxine (B6) Liver (75g) 0.76
Tuna (75g) 0.68
Venison (75g) 0.57
Banana (1 medium) 0.43
Wheat bran (1/2 cup) 0.35
Folate (B9) Liver (75g) 420.0
Lentils (1/2 cup) 176.0
Okra (1/2 cup) 142.0
Spinach (1/2 cup) 121.0
FORTIFIED Pasta (1/2 cup) 83.0
Whole Wheat Bread (1 slice) 18.0
Cobalamin (B12) Clams (75g) 74.2
Kidney (75g) 59.2
Liver (75g) 52.9
Oysters (75g) 18.2
Mackeral (75g) 13.5
Caribou (75g) 5.0
All Grains N/A (<0)

Again, it appears animal source foods are superior. Especially when it comes to one of the most common deficiencies in B12.

In the year 2000, data from the Framingham Offspring Study found that nearly 40% of the adult population was flirting with B12 deficiency.[ii]

More importantly, the nutrient amounts listed for grains are nowhere near the same as what’s absorbed. In their ‘whole’ form, the vitamins and minerals are locked up in phytic acid;[iii] and in their refined form, the vitamins and minerals have been removed with the bran. In other words, even if you’re consuming the more nutrient dense source (whole grains), you’re not absorbing the nutrients.

Sadly, the phytic acid in grains also binds to essential minerals[iv] (like magnesium,[v] zinc,[vi] iron,[vii] and calcium[viii]) and reduces their absorption. Meaning, the grains themselves are not only inferior in nutrient content and availability, but they can disrupt the content and availability from other food sources. As the father of The Paleo Diet, Dr. Loren Cordain, lays out in The Paleo Answer:

Calcium absorbed with 100 calories of grain is 7.6 mg. Calcium absorbed in an equal amount of vegetables is 116.8 mg’s.

Arguably, this is why rickets and osteoporosis are extremely common in populations that rely heavily on cereal grains.[ix] And aside from a lack of animal protein, it’s also why vegetarians and vegans are commonly deficient in essential nutrients.[x]

So, should we eat whole grains for b-vitamins and nutrients?

Maybe if we’re about to die of starvation. Other than that, no! Clearly, the paleolithic foods have more nutrients, and unlike grains, they’re actually absorbed.

What About Fiber?

Conventional wisdom says the fiber in whole grains keeps us regular, and this prevents colon cancer, right?

It also lower cholesterol, and this prevents heart disease, right?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but you’re at risk of heart disease and colon cancer because you’re fat and inflamed. And the reason you’re fat and inflamed is because you listened to the government that told you to eat less meat and saturated fat and start stuffing your gullet with 6-11 servings of whole grains.

Meanwhile, there’s no association between fiber intake and colon cancer. This was concluded in a study from 1999 in the New England Journal of Medicine based on data from 89,000 Nurses:[xi]

“Our data do not support the existence of an important protective effect of dietary fiber against colorectal cancer or adenoma.”

And it’s the same story with heart disease. The only evidence producing a positive result attributed the lower risk to a “slight” decrease in total cholesterol;[xii] which is a horrible predictor of heart disease.[xiii]

More importantly, whole grains are extremely high in bodyfat-storing, insulin-raising, triglyceride-forming carbohydrates, and this increases our risk of heart disease far more than any indigestible fiber may lower it. In fact:

The DART study from 1989 looked at long-term fiber intake, and found that the group eating twice as much fiber ended up with a 23 percent greater risk of heart attack and a 27 percent increased risk of dying.[xiv]

Realistically, the ‘fiber’ in whole grains is the equivalent of swallowing a loufa – the body wash latherer that women (and some men) use in the shower.

Image 3 - Grains - What's the Upside_

Grains keep you regular because they’re predominantly insoluble fiber that you can’t digest. The only reason you think they’re beneficial is because they expand in water, push everything through your digestive system like a plunger, and make your deuces looks massive.

As you may’ve guessed, this does more harm than good when it comes to your health. Proper transit time and elimination speed is important, but when it’s too quick we run the risk of decreased absorption.[xv] And when that fiber source is grain, it causes inflammation,[xvi] and intestinal damage.[xvii] As researchers from the Medical College of Georgia put it:

“When you eat high-fiber foods, they bang up against the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract, rupturing their outer covering.”[xviii]

Basically, that loufa you’re eating is stiffer and pointier than the one in the pic.

Although the Cereal Giants will tell you otherwise, the health of your gastrointestinal system has less to do with transit time (mouth to butt speed), and more to do with the proportion of ‘good’ vs ‘bad’ bacteria in your colon, and integrity of your gut lining. Unlike grains, the soluble fiber in fruits and vegetables feeds healthy gut bacteria and facilitates the absorption of essential nutrients.[xix] The beneficial prebiotic content in these foods increases the production of short chain fatty acids (like butyric acid) and good bacteria (like bifidobacteria[xx]) in the colon, while improving nutrient absorption (like calcium and magnesium[xxi]) and reducing the key biomarkers (like fasting glucose) for diabetes and heart disease.

Interestingly, even if we forget about the inflammation, intestinal damage, and disrupted absorption with whole grains, fruits and vegetables supply more grams of fiber per serving:

  • Half an avocado provides 6+ grams of fiber[xxii] – more than a bowl of oatmeal (4g)
  • 1 cup of kale has more fiber than 3 slices of whole-wheat bread[xxiii]
  • 1 artichoke supplies10+ grams of fiber[xxiv] – more than 3 bowls of Cheerios

As Dr. William Davis puts it:

“If you replace wheat calories with those from vegetables and raw nuts, fiber intake goes up.”

So, other than holding pizza toppings and adding handles to your hamburger, what’s the upside of eating grains?

And don’t tell me it’s fuel, as even the Institute of Medicine understands that:

“We don’t need carbohydrates for energy.”[xxv]

The reality is, there’s no upside – and plenty of downside.

Grains – The Consistent Cons

When foods are immunogenic it means they activate the immune system and induce inflammation. Although most make an effort to refrain from foods they’re allergic to (i.e. activates immunoglobulin E), many are unknowingly consuming foods that are immunogenic.  The most common example is wheat, with some research showing that it promotes inflammation in more than 80% of the population.[xxvi]

Renowned gluten intolerance researcher, Dr. Kenneth Fine, believes 1 in 3 Americans are gluten intolerant and 8 in 10 has the genetic wiring to develop it.

Even if we forget about gluten, many of the gliadin proteins in wheat and other grains are responsible for inducing a pro-inflammatory immune response,[xxvii] whether the individual has a known intolerance or not.[xxviii] A paper from Ian Spreadbury in 2012 suggests that this is partly the result of an unfriendly bacteria left behind after the breakdown of acellular carbohydrates (grains, flour, sugar).[xxix]

Image 4 - Grains- What's the Upside_

Basically, that loufa you just swallowed was a used one.

Similar findings have determined that an endotoxin called LPS (lipo-polysaccharides) is elevated in the GI tract when the typical High-Carbohydrate Grain-Dominant diet is consumed,[xxx] and this is strongly correlated with obesity and diabetes[xxxi] – something not seen in our grain-free paleolithic ancestors.[xxxii]

Chronic gut inflammation also promotes an increase in intestinal permeability (leaky gut), which is associated with various autoimmune[xxxiii] and inflammatory bowel disorders,[xxxiv] and negatively affects our absorption of essential vitamins and minerals.[xxxv] Essentially, grains are a double-whammy, as they damage the intestinal lining where nutrients are absorbed, and most of them come equipped with ‘anti-nutrients’ (phytic acid and lectins) that prevent nutrient availability.

A paper released in 2005 outlined that the switch to a cereal based (agrarian) diet high in anti-nutrients is to blame for the development of leptin resistance and the degenerative diseases that come with it.[xxxvi]

Although lectin activity has been demonstrated in a variety of grains (rye, barley, oats, etc), wheat-germ agglutinin (WGA) is the most heavily studied, and has it’s highest concentration in wheat.[xxxvii] WGA and other lectins have the ability to bind to nearly every cell type,[xxxviii] and notably those of the gut.[xxxix] Similar to gliadin and the other wheat proteins, lectins promote an inflammatory response[xl] and effect otherwise healthy individuals without a known allergy.[xli]

Yes, other foods are high in lectins and phytates (ex: nuts & seeds),[xlii] but there’s less reliance on these foods as a dietary staple. These ant-nutrients don’t seem to cause problems in small amounts,[xliii] but the digestive damage becomes increasingly prominent with consistent and excessive consumption. Sadly, this has become characteristic for the majority of the population when it comes to grains.

The cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner regimen damages the gut and leaves no opportunity for repair.[xliv]

The biggest concern is for those avoiding animal protein, as grains, beans, nuts, and seeds are their sole protein source. Not only does this leave them extremely deficient in essential nutrients because of a lack of meat, but the excessive intake of phytates and lectins decreases the availability in their foods, and damages the intestinal lining where nutrients are absorbed.[xlv]

A vegetarian will tell you that the phytates and lectins can be removed with proper preparation procedures (such as sprouting, soaking, drailing, and boiling), but research tells us that only 50% of phytates are removed with an 18hr soak,[xlvi] and most lectins are resistant to heat.[xlvii]

One study from 2002 in the Journal of Food Science determined that a16hr soak at 77 degrees Fahrenheit (or 3 day germination period) had no reduction in phytic acid.[xlviii]

More importantly, given the North American norm of prioritizing speed and convenience over quality, what percentage of the population is actually going to go through with this?

Is it just me or are we trying extremely hard to make a food edible and beneficial, that clearly isn’t edible and beneficial?

Maybe 0.0001% of the population will take the necessary 5 days to malt and sprout oats at 52 degrees Fahrenheit, and soak them for 17 hours at 120 degrees Fahrenheit to remove 98% of the phytic acid.[xlix] But after all that, what are we left with?

30 grams of carbohydrates in a ½ cup!

Regardless of whether or not you soak grains to remove the phytic acid and access more nutrients, it doesn’t change the fact that they’re still far too high in insulin-skyrocketing carbohydrates.[l] You know, the ones that continue to drive obesity through the ceiling.

image 5 - grains - what's the upside_

North Americans stay fat and get sick because they prioritize foods that are high in carbohydrates. And I’m not talking about the creamer in your coffee and candy in your top drawer. I mean the bagel for breakfast, pizza for lunch, pasta for dinner, and popcorn in front of the t.v.

Fortunately, many are finally receiving the message that sugar is bad, but they’re failing to recognize that the bread they’re putting zero-sugar jam raises their blood sugar faster than pure table sugar.[li]

What About Whole Grains?

Despite what you’ve been told (and continue to hear), the difference in blood sugar between whole and refined grains is negligible.[lii] Likewise, swapping refined grains for whole grains has no significant reductions in body fat or other risk factors for the metabolic syndrome.[liii]

But lets say we play along, and pretend that the fiber in whole grains really does make that much of a difference in blood sugar. This still doesn’t change the fact that we’re left with a food that excessively contributes to our daily carbohydrate load.

1 serving of grains is going to add at least 30 grams of nutrient degenerate carbohydrate, that is eventually broken down into the exact same simple sugars (glucose) as candy bars.[liv]

And aside from promoting insulin resistance, obesity, and diabetes, these chronically elevated blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) are driving degenerative diseases of the heart[lv] and brain.[lvi] [lvii]

“Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) has been proposed as a mechanism that may contribute to the association between diabetes and reduced cognitive function.”[lviii]

Sadly, the excess body fat[lix] and impaired glucose tolerance[lx] that develop from a diet dominated by high-glycemic carbohydrates are also directly associated with cancer mortality.[lxi]

image 6 - grains - what's the upside_

image 7 - grains - what's the upside_

Grains – Lose/Lose

Basically, whole grains versus refined grains is a choice between inflammation and hyperglycemia, or unavailable and non-existent nutrients. Even if there was a blood sugar benefit (which there isn’t), it’s trumped by a loss in vitamin and minerals.

To say you eat grains for nutrients is like saying you go to the strip club for action. Although it appears they’re available, clearly you’re not getting any.

There’s plenty of foods that supply accessible nutrients and beneficial fiber, without the negative health consequences that come with grains. Bread and cereal companies and governments funded by them are going to tell you otherwise, but let’s remember what their livelihood depends on.

Grain Consumption = Bread & Cereal Sales = Government Funding

Sadly, your doctor will probably mislead you too; as aside from being to less nutrition classes than me,[lxii] he spends his time learning what they want. ‘They’ being the companies and governments that profit off you being sick.

Sick People = Pharmaceutical Sales = Government Funding

Personally, I wouldn’t trust anyone that says you need grains, because you don’t. What you need, is less body fat and inflammation, and a stronger, healthier gut.

Stay Lean!

Coach Mike

eat meat stop jogging coverIn Eat Meat And Stop Jogging, Mike Sheridan uncovers the flaws in the prevailing advice to get healthy and fit. Despite conventional beliefs, he contends that the instruction to limit red meat, restrict calories, increase fiber, run long distances, avoid saturated fat and reduce cholesterol is increasing our waistline, decreasing our lifespan, and leading to an unnecessary struggle.

By Kevin Cann (web)

Let’s face it, losing weight is hard. There is more to it than just counting calories and exercising. There are many physiological barriers that stand in the way of us seeing the results on the scale that we desire. This is why at least 90% of diets fail in the long term. They do not account for these physiological barriers.

The drive to eat food has always been an integral part of our survival. If it wasn’t we would not have made it to the days of supermarkets lined with our favorite treats. Our bodies have mechanisms that drive us to eat and then it rewards us for doing so. Our modern lifestyle has collided head on with how we are wired. In order to truly lose weight and to help reverse the obesity epidemic we need to understand which modern changes to our lifestyle negatively affect the physiological process of eating and storing energy.

In my almost 10 years in this field I have comprised a list of the areas that I feel influence our eating and fat storage the most and they are:

1. Sleep
2. Stress
3. Poor digestive health
4. Nutrient Deficiency
5. Vitamin D deficiency
6. High palatability of modern foods
7. Eating too frequently
8. Deliberate calorie counting/yo-yo dieting

All of the above can drive us to seek out food and overeat, leading to a surplus of stored fat. When we do seek out food we tend to seek out food that is highly processed, which in turn increases our ability to overeat, and the cycle continues.

You may have noticed the last category in my list, deliberate calorie counting. The majority of us have been told to eat less and exercise more to lose weight. However, this fails much more than it succeeds in the long run.

I am not saying that calories do not matter, because they do. We need to reset our physiological system so that our body naturally takes in fewer calories and utilizes our stored fat to burn to make up the difference.

Our body needs a certain amount of energy to survive and carry out tasks. Not supplying the body with this energy will only increase hunger. Once this happens it is only a matter of time before you fall off of the wagon and give in. This is especially true if we start hitting the gym hard at the same time.

If we are overweight our energy homeostatic hormones are all out of whack. We develop resistance to our fat burning and fat storing hormones. This sets the stage for us to become very good at storing fat, but not so great at utilizing it for energy. Even though we have plenty of surplus fat in storage. This is why overweight people still get hungry.

I have written in the past about our energy homeostatic hormones here. That article also addresses why I believe more meals is not always the best option for weight loss.

So how do we reset our system? We go back to our list of key lifestyle behaviors that can influence our hunger response and maximize them.

One night of sleep deprivation alone can lead to an increase in food intake of roughly 300-600 calories per day. Other studies suggest that one night of sleep deprivation induces insulin resistance. This means poor sleep alone can make us eat more food and store more fat (1). Most of us are chronically sleep deprived.

We need to be getting 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep in a completely blacked out room. We also need to make sure that we are setting ourselves up for a goodnight sleep before bed. Shut off the lights 90-120 minutes before bed and relax in some candlelight. This lets our body know that it is night time and to start the physiological process to put ourselves at rest. Try listening to calming music or books on tape. If you just HAVE to watch televisions before bed purchase some amber sunglasses to at least filter out the blue light.

Stress is a big one, and one that people often overlook. When talking with clients I often get the “I am not generally stressed” as a response. I then will come to find out that they sit in traffic every day, have financial problems, problems at home, problems at work, and a number of other issues. All of the other lifestyle behaviors listed create a stress response. Poor sleep, nutrient deficiencies, eating processed foods, and not eating enough.

Stress creates a physiological tornado in our bodies. The stress response was built to help us evade situations where we could be killed or injured. It was never intended as a way for us to deal with the modern lifestyle. Being stressed occasionally is actually a good thing, but we run into problems when it becomes chronic.

A chronic stress response creates a hormonal environment that is completely imbalanced. It can set us up to eat more food and store more fat (2). It can also affect our mood in a way that we reach for food as an emotional crutch (3).

We need to bring balance back into our life. When we get stressed out it initiates a response from our sympathetic nervous system. Our parasympathetic nervous system is the one that allows us to relax. We need balance between these two. This is why active stress management is important for EVERYONE. Try some meditation or deep breathing exercises. I have actually found a brainwave app for the iPhone that I have been using with success. This utilizes certain frequencies to get a desired calming effect in the brain.

The modern lifestyle has also led us to become nutrient deficient. This is due to an increased consumption of less nutrient dense food and poor digestive health. Our body needs nutrients to perform every metabolic task. If we are deficient in any nutrient the body will increase hunger until it gets what it needs. This is why we need to make sure we focus our diet on nutrient dense foods.

Nutrient dense foods are foods that are high in nutrients, but lower in calories. I tell people they should be getting 9-10 big handful serving sizes of non-starchy vegetables per day. I do this for more than one reason. One, it makes sure that they are taking in as many nutrients as they can. Also, non-starchy vegetables expand the stomach. There are neurons within our stomach that identify this and tell the body to stop eating. This is one way we can decrease calories without deliberate calorie counting.

Non-starchy vegetables also give our gut microbiome the nutrients they need to survive and thrive. More and more research is being published recently showing how important our gut microbiome is to overall health including obesity and the desired weight loss (4).

Vitamin D is its own category for a reason. Recent research is suggesting that vitamin D may actually play a critical role in appetite control directly in the hypothalamus of the brain (5). In a study published about a year ago it reported that rats that had vitamin D injected straight into the hypothalamus lost weight and decreased their caloric intake significantly when compared to the controls.

It is hard to get all of those servings of nutrient dense food when we are constantly being surrounded by more enticing processed foods. These foods actually elicit a response in our brains similar to drugs. I have written about food addiction extensively on the site (6, 7, 8).

The problem with food addiction is if we are deficient in any neurotransmitters we will seek out behaviors or actions that balance us out. This is known as the reward deficiency syndrome. We need to identify which neurotransmitters we are deficient in and get them balanced. Eating a nutrient dense diet will work for most, but others may need to seek extra help. I utilize specific amino acid therapy. For more information regarding that topic check out Julia Ross’ book the Diet Cure.

We need to set our lives up in a manner in which we will reestablish hormonal balance. This means getting quality sleep, eating nutrient dense foods, avoiding processed foods, managing stress, having adequate vitamin D levels, and spacing out meals roughly 5 hours apart to allow the fat burning and fat storing hormones equal amounts of time in the bloodstream.

This is no easy task. If there was an easy solution to this complex problem the obesity epidemic would have been stopped in its tracks. Instead it only continues to get worse. If you need to lose weight focus on as many areas as possible that may negatively affect your goals. This can help ensure you that your hard work pays off in the end.