A Primal Manifesto
Studies have shown that “going on a diet” is not a sustainable activity. It is a simple fact that placing food restrictions and limitations on what you can eat will not last long without severe consequences. The alternative method, changing a way of eating or a way of life, can last much longer over the span of a lifetime if an individual sees immediate and marked increases in health and happiness, especially if they can eat their fill of delicious food.
We as a species are not programmed to gravitate toward misery. When we perceive that a certain diet constitutes a miserable existence, we will not stay on it for long. We will always lapse back into eating the old foods that we think gives us happiness.
And that is why, for some people, scheduling in a cheat day can be a lifestyle changer — when a person knows they will be able to indulge in all those cravings for junk food on one cheat day, they will be less likely to do so on the non-cheat day, which are the majority of the days
Programming in some failure will increase the resilience of any program or way of life.
So what exactly are we all shooting for when we think of diet, health, and wellness?
We simply all want to feel good, both mentally and physically. We want to be able to do anything we want to do with out pain. We want a healthy outlook on life. We want to feel like a million bucks. We would like a good sex life and clear skin. We would like healthy hearts and lungs and six pack abs.
And we would like to live forever.
The funny part is that this is all relatively doable (except for the live forever thing).
Diet makes up about 75% of our overall health picture. What we eat is what we are. What we put into our bodies is what we are made of. If we eat potato chips and sugary soda, we will be fat and obese.
It is pretty simple. But a diet is less likely to succeed then a change in our way of life. Over time n a way of life, the desire for the fatty carbohydrate-laden foods may lessen because our bodies began to crave good whole foods instead.
The way that insulin responds to what we eat is one of the main poorly-understood reasons that causes obesity, and more specifically insulin resistance is what leads to diabetes.
The process is simple. When we eat carbohydrates or simple sugars, the glucose level in our blood stream rises. This causes our pancreas to produce insulin, the hormone that converts glucose into a starch called glycogen. But the body only needs a bit of that for energy for immediate, and all the excess glucose is turned into body fat for use later
The hormone insulin doesn’t stop working then, it continues to use up and convert more glucose into body fat, causing our blood sugar to drop below normal levels, and we then we have low blood sugar. This low blood sugar level can have profound effects on mood and food cravings. This cycle happens over and over and over in a typical carbohydrate rich diet on a daily basis.
Insulin resistance is the precursor to pre-diabetes. What happens is that over extended periods of time as we overtax the pancreas, asking it to constantly produce insulin to deal with all the glucose in our blood streams, our bodies cells become less able to take up the glucose in our bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar level. High blood sugar levels have symptoms such as blurred vision and increased appetite, mental confusion, weight gain, and increased blood cholesterol levels.
Insulin and pre-diabetes are part of syndrome that can lead to diabetes, and they can be a significant cause of heart disease and other health ailments. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, and about 610,000 of us die each year in the US. That is about 1 in every 4 deaths. We have about 735,000 heart attacks each year. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
So the leading causes of death has to do with diet and insulin resistance, as well as stress and inactivity.
Even small amounts of exercise can decrease our risk of heart disease substantially. One thing to really understand is that excess weight on the body causes all the organs to work that much harder, including and most especially the heart. It is important if you are obese to talk with a medical professional in order to stay safe while you regain your overall health, but you can take easy steps toward health and happiness right now.
None of us are immune to the food programming that we received as children. Even if we know for a fact that eating that bowl of ice cream with chocolate sprinkles will put weight around our midsection and cause us to crash in the afternoon, it is still difficult to say no to happiness in a bowl. The sugars in the ice cream get us high for little bit and our tastebuds are super happy. But soon after we consume these things our bodies go into a nosedive and we crash and burn. If we indulge in too many of these cravings, just like any drug, we will make it harder and harder to put ourselves on a better track.
That reality is why it is important to work on creating a way of eating, WOE, or a way of life, WOL, instead of just focusing on diet and exercise, both of which we all shy away from naturally. What we are looking to do is create a positive action-orient way of choosing what we eat and what we do.
I believe, after much research, that the healthiest three diets to pursue are the Paleo, Primal, and Keto WOE, in order of their ease of adoption. I personally follow the Primal WOE, including plenty of healthy fats in my diet for their numerous health benefits.
My genetic background comes from a group of northman that lived on meat and dairy: the Irish, the German, and the Scandinavians. I have the ability to digest lactose, the sugar in dairy, and I eat a lot of butter and cheese, especially in the winter. You may have a completely different genetic make-up and may not be able to digest dairy so I strongly suggest experimenting with eliminating dairy from your diet to find out what works for you.
In fact, I think it is a good practice to make a conscious decision to eliminate all possible foods from your diets that are causing your body to be inflamed or reactive. I have tried out the Carnivore diet and I found it to be a clearing diet — while on it, my energy and mood was elevated, my digestion worked wonderfully, and I had less food cravings then I had ever had before, all because I was simplifying my diet with the most nutritive dense food we have, meat.
The optimal WOE for me, including the strong importance of social connection, is the Primal Diet — I recommend this diet to anybody looking to become fit and happy in a short amount of time. Paleo is just as great of a lifestyle as Primal, and more popular. The Slow-carb diet by Tim Ferris is similar to Paleo, with the addition of beans. For me personally, as much as I love legumes, they do tend to spike my blood sugar levels and began the carb cravings that lead to obsessional behavior in my relationship to food. With the Primal and Paleo WOE, we eat until we are full, with fresh vegetables, meat, fruits, nuts, and with the Primal we add dairy and other good high fat foods. In these two diets we are not particularly concerned with the ratio of protein to fat, and eat just so that we get enough of each of these macronutrients to satisfy our dietary goals.
In the Keto WOE, we decrease all of our carb consumption to below 20 gram of carbs a day, and increase our fat to protein ratio to about 2 to 1. The basic concept in the Keto WOE is that we are switching our bodies primary fuel source from glucose to fat. That is why your Keto friends talk about becoming “fat-adapted” meaning their bodies are beginning to burn the fat the fat they eat and that is stored on their bodies for energy. There is an adaptation period as our bodies switch from glucose to fat as a primary energy source that lasts about a week or two, and some people experience something called the “keto flu”.
The Paleo, Primal, and Keto WOE all exist on a spectrum that lays adjacent to the conventional concepts of healthy eating that have been programmed into us since we were children, namely produced by the food pyramid which is based on grain.
What is becoming more apparent to researchers is that our bodies don’t need any grain in order to be healthy, and in fact grain-based diets seem to be contributing to heart disease and obesity alongside our sedentary lifestyles.
Therefore, why do we continue to pretend that it is even a recommended diet for anybody in this day and age?
Most of the experts agree that a whole foods diet is the most optimal diet, because all of the nutrition is contained in food that hasn’t been broken down into its constituent parts, such as meat, dairy, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. These whole foods form the basis of the Paleo and Primal WOE spectrum.
If 75% of our health and wellness comes from our foods, and the foods that we eat are whole and nutritious, then we will have gotten 75% of the way to our health goals already.
The other important aspect of the Paleo and Primal WOL is based on movement. Exercise is a dirty word, just like diet. That is why we want to create a lifestyle that incorporates a lot of fun movement, and perhaps not a lot of gym time, if that isn’t your thing. Simply walking up the stairs at work every day, or biking to the grocery store can improve your health immensely. The key is to be consistent every day, from day one — use your body instead of using a machine as much as possible.
In the Paleo and Primal WOL, we view the way we eat and move as part of our genetic heritage, and understand that we are adapted to eating this way and moving this way and so our health and happiness will all be elevated. A hundred thousand years of adaptation can’t be wrong. Only in the last ten thousand years or so did we even began to focus on grain-based lifestyle, and only within the last 100 years of that time have we been processing our foods into non-nutritive food-like stuff. Within that century, heart disease and obesity grown exponentially.
In a populace fed on grains, we have mental and physical deterioration. In a populace fed on whole foods, we have health and happiness.
Those who have reached 100 years of age in good health all share a few similarities. They all eat a whole foods diet and move a lot each day. They all have community and spiritual practices that honor the past and the dead .They all have plenty of social time and enjoy laughing with friends and family. And most essentially they all feel a sense of purpose in their lives and enjoy being part of their tribe. https://www.bluezones.com/2016/11/power-9/
So, it is not only food and movement that influences the quality and longevity of our lives, it is our connections that sustain us, and our purpose that drives us. So an essential part of the Primal way of life is to connect with eachother, as we are social animals and thrive only within our right tribes. We also must find that passion that drives us, for it is that passion which will fuel all of the energy needed to be part of this WOL.