A rare healthy lunch of mine. Photo by me.
In searching for the perfect healthy diet (for me), I’ve become more confused than ever. I watched two documentaries on Netflix about changing the diets of some test subjects: sick, obese, type-II diabetic, and others taking zillions of medications. Each diet got them losing weight, feeling better and off their pills – using almost opposite strategies.
Now I’m confused. Let’s discuss.
The Magic Pill
One of my healthier trips to the grocery. Photo by me.
The first was “The Magic Pill,” which turns out to be about the keto diet (high fat/low carb/moderate-to-low protein). They follow several groups of people with health problems that allow the documentary to change their diets completely for a few weeks to see what happens: an Aboriginal group in Australia that suffers from high rates of type-II diabetes and a high sugar/processed diet; two families with autistic/non-verbal children; and others with health problems such as asthma, cancer, type II diabetes, etc.
The keto diet outlined in the program was as follows:
Eat whole foods; choose organic; eliminate processed foods; eliminate grains and legumes; embrace healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, animal fats, eggs); avoid dairy—if you must eat, choose full-fat and organic; select naturally raised animals—pastured animals and wild-caught & sustainable seafood; eat nose to tail (bone broths, organ meats); eat fermented foods; and fast intermittently.
I will fully admit to being wowed when the non-verbal autistic children start talking and very sick people clear up tons of problems and are able to go off just about all of their medications. It’s an impressive thing to behold. I was all pumped up. But, this documentary has been faulted for its lack of scientific research (allegedly plenty exists to support keto, but it’s not presented). They do interview doctors who affirm this diet.
This diet is similar to paleo, although paleo is more OK with carbs (a lot of dishes are served on a potato background), but both eschew grains, legumes and dairy as inflammatory/disease-causing agents 😦
Keto/paleo make sense to me as a healthy style of eating, as long as you’re not just eating stacks of sausage/bacon/burger patties and nothing else. If it was good enough for tens of thousands of years, it’s probably OK today. Minimal processing, lots and lots of vegetables, some meat and everything doused in healthy fats.
What the Health
Farmer’s market in Santa Barbara. Photo by me.
Filmmaker Kip Anderson experienced a wakeup call after watching Al Gore’s benchmark film on Climate Change, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Anderson went on to make the viral sensation “Cowspiracy.”
“What the Health” is his follow-up project, where he strives to expose the corruption in the country’s leading health organizations and pharmaceutical companies. It’s truly riveting television.
I watched it fresh off the “rah-rah keto” documentary above, so my head was truly spinning as Anderson presented scientific paper after paper (<– click for link to all of them) of health research showing the adverse affect of eating meat, eggs, and dairy on cardiovascular health, life expectancy and other diseases. He interviews at least six MDs that back up the research and talk from an expert point of view.
Basically it was about trying to figure out why the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, and American Diabetes Association recommend foods (like red meat and dairy) that have been directly linked to causing their diseases.
The big “gotcha!” moment of the film is when Anderson discovers these agencies are sponsored by the beef council, egg council, dairy farmers, Tyson Chicken, Yoplait, etc. To read between the lines—they’re basically paid off to keep hush-hush about the science behind preventing these diseases through diet.
Any time he called one of these giant health organization to discuss the link between diet and the disease, he had phones hung up on him and doors slammed in his face—literally. Even their lawyers wouldn’t give him a statement.
Same goes for pharmaceuticals, although the link is more obvious. It’s in their best interests to keep you sick so you have to buy their pills.
Basically, just watch it for yourself and report back in the comments section.
The vegan diet is: grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts/seeds and fats like olive, avocado, and coconut oils. Eat fresh, eat variety. Carbs are NOT the enemy here. From my own research, you should easily hit your protein goals if you eat enough of these. The only thing lacking in a vegan diet is vitamin B12, which can be found in supplemented foods and pill form.
Vegan has always appealed to me as the most environmentally/climate-conscious choice. One pound of beef takes up to 1,800 gallons of water to produce, not to mention the land used and methane (greenhouse gas) and waste produced by the cows. I try to only eat beef a few times a year currently. Poultry has a much smaller footprint on land and water use, and I eat it almost every day (along with dairy and eggs). Although it still gets an F-minus by this film.
So this would be a hard habit to quit, especially since I despise nuts, beans and soooo many vegetables! But in my mind, it makes the most sense. And lest you think you can’t be a jacked athlete on a vegan diet—watch the film. They interviewed a number of power lifters and extreme athletes that eat vegan and look great.
What’s your ideal diet, and why?