One of the most difficult aspects of realizing — truly realizing — how we have all been bamboozled is that, if you want to be healthy, vibrant, energetic, lean, and the possessor of a razor sharp mind, you have to give up the foods you’ve come to love, the foods that provide your daily joy and sustenance: juice and bagels at breakfast, salads at lunch, pasta at dinner. On and on it goes. These foods don’t nourish you. If you have any health problems, you must remember that your daily fare exacerbates all your health problems, particularly those related to digestion.
Cereal, raw fruits and vegetables (yes, even these treasured, believed-to-be-all-healthy foods), fruit juices, breads, pasta — all the goodies of modern nutritional folklore — are anything but the “best foods” for you. Never before in the history of human beings (and our human ancestors) have our bodies been subjected to such un-natural fare. Yes, that’s right: un-natural.
Obviously, with the growth of technology in food preparation, storage, packing, and shipping, our food supply has become more abundant. Each generation receives an unceasing, an almost unremitting, onslaught of new food choices. The goal of the manufacturers and their burgeoning staff of food technologists and nutritionists are to concoct new foods while the ad man keeps TV afloat on fees for ad space to educate, and convince, and sell to consumers these new food “delights.”
My own story is like that of anyone born after World War II. I grew up on an ever-increasing supply of sugars and other carbohydrates, including candy bars, sodas, ice cream, and baked goods. I had, also, reasonably good accessibility to meat because meat was still OK during those years.
Unfortunately, but perhaps fortunately for me in the long view, I became obese and my teeth rotted out — all by the ripe old age of 12! But I had a secret weapon: muscle magazines (yesteryear’s variety, not the hype-filled lying rags of modern times). In those pages I found the golden nuggets of wisdom I needed to resurrect my disintegrating boyhood body. During those years, the “muscle builders” knew about the value of protein, and they also “knew” that carbohydrates made you fat. All animal herdsmen have known that for centuries.
This, of course, was before the cholesterolmania and fat-as-satan era. That era began in 1953 with the publication of Dr. Ancel Keys’s “Seven Countries Study,” implicating the high consumption of fat in the U. S. as the cause for cardiovascular disease. By the late 1960’s this notion was in full bloom. Then the athletes jumped on board in response to studies which claimed that a high-carbohydrate eating plan increased performance.
In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, I regained my health, stopped my decay, and slathered my body with muscles that were acquired as a function of rigorous attention to weight training and to a diet high in protein and fat but low in carbohydrates.
Then, in the early seventies, I was caught up in the natural foods movement, a frenzy that prescribed a diet high in grains, fruits, vegetables, and fiber. The pundits of this regimen were the vanguard who populated the alternative health movement, and have now, in 2010, flowed over into the population at large. I, at the time, was not an expert and, like everyone else, followed the advice of the “experts” to whom I was exposed.
My regimen included vegetarianism, regular enemas, fasting, and a repugnance to all animal products and fat. I ignored my roots; my common sense and powers of observation took a sabbatical. For three years I followed this regimen, divesting my body of all its hard-earned muscle and vigor: down, at one point, to a concentration camp-like bag of bones, weighing 165 pounds (from 225 pounds). But, and this is true, I thought I looked good, thought I looked healthy, and thought this was exactly the right way to go.
During this time, I was in graduate school and was, in truth, a full-blown partner with the academic leaders in nutrition, diet, and exercise. What I came to discover, in time, was that they didn’t know anything about any of these subjects. They never experimented with their own diet, and precious few ever picked up a barbell or dumbbell or sweated through a muscle straining gym session. In short, they had no experience of, no direct feel for or contact with, the subjects about which they professed to have intimate knowledge.
Now what, I wondered, after my graduate education? Well, I could read anything published in a scientific or medical journal. So, I read: About protein, about fat, about cholesterol, about the effects of diet on heart disease, about the way the body handles the food it eats. I read it all.
What did I find out? That everyone I had listened to was wrong. They didn’t know what they were talking about. They’d never even read the research work. They’d gained all their knowledge in these subjects, if they actually had any, from hearsay. I guess you could call it “scientific” folklore. That’s right, folklore and hearsay, in the halls of academia.
I, then, went back to my roots: personal experimentation. To this, I added a rigorous study of all the research in all the areas related to diet and exercise. I tried to unravel the mystery, to strip away the cloak of misinformation that covered the facts.
The first step was to up the ante for protein. My muscles began to surge back immediately, that very day. I knew then how wrong I’d been. I then taught myself to trust my observations and put the wisdom of the so-called experts on the backburner.
This observation led to a conundrum. If I needed to eat more protein, then I needed to eat more meat because that’s the source of the best protein. But, I told myself, if I eat more meat, I’d be eating more fat and cholesterol. And that meant poor health and heart disease. So, the next study began. What did I discover? Byebyecarbs.