My mom was not a great cook. Five nights a week we had steak, baked potato, and a hunk of lettuce or maybe canned spinach. On the weekends we ordered pizza or Chinese carryout.
Determined to improve upon the standard 1950′s fare, I became a vegetarian in college, followed the Pritikin diet for a while, and eventually got into macrobiotics. I’ve changed my diet approach many times, because I’ve never been completely satisfied with the way I was eating or with the results.
It seems like I’m in some weird parallel universe, but it now seems very likely that Mom’s menu of meat and potatoes may have been close to the best diet all along. Is this too good to be true?
Too Many Choices!
You’ve probably heard the recommendation to stick with the food around the perimeter of the grocery store. But even if you do, there’s still a lot of room for interpretation.
Should you eat meat or be a vegetarian? Should you cook your vegetables or eat them raw? Butter or margarine? Should you go gluten-free? Should your milk be whole or skim, almond, soy, or coconut?
It frustrates and mystifies me that a bunny with a brain the size of a walnut knows what it’s supposed to eat, but we don’t. Clearly mainstream nutrition advice is not working. Human are supposed to be so smart. How can we not know this?
Eat Like a Caveman
Humans have created a completely artificial food supply. If you went outside right now and had to find real food in the wild, what would you find? Probably not much! But whatever you could dig up, pick, pluck, or kill is what your body was designed to eat.
Some people have tried to reproduce this situation with what is called a caveman or paleo diet. These people advocate eating what they think our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have eaten — meat, eggs, vegetables, nuts, and fruit. Some people have lost weight and seem to thrive on this kind of diet.
Others do not respond so well. Paul Jaminet, author of Perfect Health Diet, tried the paleo diet in hopes of clearing up his neuropathy and memory loss, only to have his problems worsen and wind up with scurvy!
Both Paul and his wife Shou-Ching were looking for answers to their own health problems that had not responded to modern medical treatment. After Paul’s setback, they spent the next five years researching the question, “What should we eat?”
This couple was in a unique position to tackle this most difficult of questions. Both hold PhDs. Paul is an astrophysicist with a background in economics and Shou-Ching is a molecular biologist and cancer researcher.
The couple tried out what they learned and found themselves in the best shape of their lives. Paul was able to reverse his neuropathy and his memory loss.
They’ve compiled their findings in my new favorite nutrition book, Perfect Health Diet. It’s pretty obvious from this book, which was a massive undertaking, that he got rid of his cognitive issues!
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The Perfect Health Diet
Perfect Health Diet is based on scientific evidence from a variety of disciplines including nutrition, anthropology, ethnobotany and economics, and contains over 600 references to the scientific literature. The authors have distilled the essence of this information into this beautiful graphic design of what they believe to be the perfect human diet. Love the yin-yang symbol as an apple!
Graphic courtesy of PerfectHealthDiet.com
You can see that this diet focuses on (gasp) meat and potatoes — Mom was right! Vegetables are also an important part of the diet, as are fats like butter and coconut oil. A daily serving or two of fruit is allowed as are some “pleasure foods” — chocolate, nuts and high fat dairy!
This eating plan looks like something most people could live with. It’s especially liberating if you’re used to cutting out one or more of these food groups while on a low-fat or low-carb diet.
Eat Like a Hunter-Gatherer
By looking at isotope signatures of fossilized bones and teeth, we can tell a lot about the lives and health of Paleolithic hunter-gathers.
For instance, we can compare them to the bones and teeth of Neolithic man after the advent of agriculture. Neolithic skeletons show signs of tooth decay, shortened stature, malnutrition, arthritis and atherosclerosis.
We know what foods were available and what tools were used to obtain them, so we know that pre-agricultural man ate a lot of tubers and roots, similar to potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes and taro.
One major way this diet differs from most eating plans, especially weight loss plans, is the emphasis on “starchy vegetables”. There are still cultures that haven’t abandoned their traditional diet and still eat this way. They are particularly healthy.
Why Diets Don’t Work in the Long Run
One major premise of this book is that the perfect diet should provide us with the nutrients we need in the amounts we need them, with minimum overages which can feed pathogens or cancer cells.
Providing nutrients in the right amounts and proportions also eliminates hunger, which is key to losing weight.
Weight loss advice to “eat less” is simplistic and clearly doesn’t work. Eliminating necessary food groups, be it carbs, protein, or fats, will eventually leave you nutritionally depleted and hungry.
Your body is starving for nutrients and will drive you to eat until you get them! Telling a malnutritioned person to eat less is no more helpful than telling a person with a cold not to sneeze!
Perfect Health Diet Benefits
Adopting this plan should have you feeling satisfied, no longer driven by cravings or unreasonable hunger. It makes it easy to eat healthy and reach your ideal weight. I’ve started the plan and have been amazed at how quickly my food addictions lost their grip.
This first version of this book was self-published. After its release, it gained the attention of a few prominent health bloggers such as Mark Sisson from MarksDailyApple.com and Chris Kresser of ChrisKresser.com. Through their recommendations of this book, the Jaminets gained an enthusiastic following. Readers have been contributing their feedback.
The second version was only recently released on Amazon. It is peppered with testimonials from people who have had amazing health benefits from switching to this way of eating.
On their website, PerfectHealthDiet.com, there is a “readers’ results” area where people share their experiences with this program. There are 40 listed conditions that have responded favorably, including brain-related ones like anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and traumatic brain injury. This program also has helped health conditions that can contribute to cognitive decline such as sleep disorders, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
The authors answer questions posted on their website thoroughly and promptly. Once this movement gains momentum, and I have no doubt it will, I don’t know how long they’ll be able to keep this up, so avail yourself of their personal attention while you can!
Nutrition has long been a passion of mine, for personal interest and to share with others. I’ve read hundreds of books on nutrition looking for the ultimate diet and this is the best nutrition book I’ve read.
It appeals to my logic since it’s based on irrefutable scientific evidence. When all the parts came together, I felt like a fog had been lifted. It appeals to my common sense and resonates with my gut instincts as being true.
Here are some of the big questions that get answered in this book:
- what the human body is designed to eat
- why you can’t lose weight
- why you can’t control your cravings
- why willpower isn’t enough to stick to a healthy eating plan
- why you’re hungry all the time and what you can do to stop this
While it can get pretty technical, it’s set up so that you can easily implement the plan even if you choose to skim through some of the more clinical findings.
Perfect Health Diet is available on Amazon as a softcover or as a Kindle ebook.
I urge you to read it.
Imagine how simple life will be when you are no longer searching for the perfect diet but know what you were meant to eat!
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