2015 was an amazing year in my health and fitness journey. I think the best day was the moment The What When Wine Diet hit #1 for all Paleo books on Amazon. I almost cried. Beyond that, I connected with so many people through the book and blog, and am so motivated to continue research and writing. I’m about 1/3 of the way done with my next book on Intermittent Fasting, and even shot some pretty awesome test photos for the cover yesterday. I’ve also spent countless hours researching the science of food and diet – my guilty pleasure. Whereas I used to binge watch Netflix and Disney-related youtube videos, I now read Paleo message boards and articles on PubMed. Slightly embarrassing?
But here’s the thing.
While the research brings me joy, knowledge, and motivation, it can also be a *smidge* disheartening at times. Sometimes more than a smidge. Because for almost any food or lifestyle choice, you can find contradictory evidence. Even obviously “healthy” and obviously “unhealthy” foods spark warring debates. There’s so much conflicting information in the message board/ scientific journals jungle, that one often feels like Alice in Wonderland. Specifically that scene where she’s trying to find her way through the darkness even though the signs point different ways, and she FINALLY finds a path and is SO HAPPY and then the broom dog erases it. Sigh.
- Saturated fat is healthy, stable, and nutritious. Saturated fat clogs arteries and encourages inflammation.
- Omega 3s are life saving anti-inflammatories. Omega 3s promote oxidation and inflammation.
- Bone broth will seal and heal your gut. Bone broth is high in problematic glutamates and histamine.
- Spices reduce inflammation and help digestion. Spices irritate the gut and encourage IBS.
- Fruit is full of antioxidants and nutrients. Fruit is full of toxic fructose.
- Vegetables are the key to health and should be the foundation of your diet. Vegetables are high in plant anti-nutrients, and should minimized, or only consumed VERY cooked.
- Garlic is a wondrous antibacterial anti-inflammatory. Garlic is high in FODMAPS and should be avoided.
- Alcohol is a toxin to be avoided. Alcohol helps the heart and increases longevity.
- Fermented foods are great for the gut microbiome. Fermented foods are potentially inflammatory and histamine producing, and should be avoided.
- Eat small meals constantly for health. Eat only a few meals and fast for health.
It’s a bit much.
I decided to take a moment and reflect on my eons of research, and squeeze out the few concepts that I haven’t found contradictory evidence for… though I’m not saying its not out there. Here’s what I got:
- Processed foods are bad for you.
- Trans fats are bad for you.
- Refined sugar is probably not good for you. (Unless you’re a Ray Peatist.)
- High sugar AND high fat together is a rapid path to weight gain.
- Moderate protein is good for you.
- Inflammation is bad for you.
- The gut microbiome is VITAL for health overall, but how to actually get the perfect microbiome is under debate.
- A major foundation for health is the gut. If you’re gut isn’t healthy, YOU probably aren’t that healthy.
- Meditation is awesome for health.
- What you eat influences how you feel, and consequently, live.
You are you. Only you can know what makes you feel good. And it is your right to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, regardless of the outcome. It may be good, it may be bad. What makes you feel amazing may very well make another person feel like crap. What made you feel great yesterday may may not work so well today. Be your own experiment and scientist. Try things and tweak things. Keep what works and discard what doesn’t. But ultimately, be kind to yourself in the process. While what you put in your body provides the building blocks for how you function and perform, your mindset is worth its weight in gold. Never forget how beautiful and wondrous it is to simply be alive in the first place.
A Happy 2016 to everyone!