Thursday, December 10, 2009

All Food is Fat

I reckon you "get it" when you believe you have over eaten after consuming a banana. I remember someone telling me a story about how their friend was living off a diet almost entirely of fruit like pineapple, watermelon, grapes and so forth and yet they were getting fat. I didn’t believe it at the time, so ingrained into my consciousness that fruit was ‘good’ for you and that you could practically eat unlimited amounts of fruit. This is a common misconception. Fruit has become more and more common in households. Just take a look at the picture above which is my very own fruit bowl. Here we can see banana, apple, pear, grapes, peach, apricot, avocado, tomato, kiwifruit and orange all piled up and ready to eat. Twenty or thirty years ago only the very rich could afford such a fruit banquet yet nowadays it is pretty common and all year round too. Yet if sugar is bad for you, in that induces massive insulin responses, then products that contain sugar must also be bad for you. It is now being recognised that it is fructose that is especially bad for you – well in massive quantities anyway. The other thing to think about is that modern fruit is not like the fruit our Palaeolithic ancestors consumed. Modern fruit has been engineered to be very high in fructose with individual fruits being very large as well.

In a sense all food is fat in that all food can be converted into fat by your body. Protein and carbohydrate (complex and simple) can be readily transmogrified into fat for your body to store – fat doesn’t need to be converted as it is already fat. Why does this happen? Essentially it is a hormone response. Bodies use hormones to signal the system to start the fat storage process. Fructose is especially good at doing this. White sugar is half fructose and the modern corn syrup used in industrial food production is pure fructose. All food can be used by the body, it is an amazing machine, and as long as you don’t over eat things will work well, however as soon as you eat too much the body will send the signal to start storing food as fat. Eating too much is difficult to do if you stick to protein and fat as you soon become full. But sugary starchy things are very easy to over-consume and soon the body is pumping insulin into the bloodstream to start the fat storage process.

I recommend avoiding all fruit juices and consciously limiting fruit intake to one or two pieces a day if you are concerned with losing weight and controlling appetite. The human is a carnivorous ape – this is what makes us different from chimps and gorillas.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

This is going to be quite challenging.

One of the reasons why there are so many diets and so many different opinions about what to eat for optimal health is that we are not all built quite the same. What works for one person may not work for another. Genetic predispositions, gender, age, diet history, medical conditions, geographical location, blood type and so on will have varying degrees of influence.

We do, however, all share a common ancestry at some point far in the distant past. Many foods today have not been around in such large or even any quantities for most of mankind’s history. Refined sugar, grains, vegetable oils, modern fruit and dairy products are relatively recent developments that humans haven’t quite adapted to. This has led to near epidemic levels of obesity, diabetes, dementia, arthritis, dental caries, depression, cancer and heart disease - diseases that are relatively rare in pre-agricultural societies. The remains of hunter-gatherers, contrary to popular belief, reveal physiques that are almost disease free. If you read the accounts of the early European explorers they always marvelled at the robust health of ‘primitive’ people. This, then, is the starting point of planning an optimal diet – a return to more primitive foods.

The following, in italics, is a comment from my friend RT detailing his particular issues with diet and general well-being with my own analysis.
Disclaimer: I am a computer engineer and not a health professional so my advice may be for amusement only or taken with a pinch of salt. Keep in mind, though, that so called “health professionals” have endorsed the food pyramid which recommends eating 6 to 11 servings of bread a day. This has resulted in the diet holocaust we are experiencing now.

My biggest problem is that I am a very picky eater to begin with.

I can see this is going to be quite challenging. It occurs to me that a love of all food actually works in favour of those determined to change their diet as they can more easily adapt. However I am a big believer in the “you are what you eat" philosophy so diet changes are in order. Diet is often just a habit and habits can be changed. For example if you cut out sweet foods, sweet foods soon become too sweet to enjoy. Nothing is going to change if you don't change your eating habits permanently - it's time to get tough on yourself and bite the bullet.

My pallet is very narrow. I live on enchiladas / rice / beans 5 days a week. I don’t even have to order when I walk into my restaurant..... they know exactly what I'll be having.

Immediately I can see that this is a diet high in carbohydrates. Enchiladas are corn based. When the Conquistadors conquered the Neolithic people of Central America they faced a people who ate a lot of corn. Cortes with about 1000 soldiers conquered a nation of millions, cutting swathes through the feeble masses of corn eating Aztecs. It was a different story when they came up against the hunters living in the north. It took centuries to crush the bison eating North American Indians. Small groups of Apaches, Sioux and others were a real threat even to the relatively modern US cavalry, running rings around them at times. The Europeans were forced into a war of brutal savagery in order to prevail.Man for man the Bison eating Plains Indian was more than a match for most Europeans. The final solution to the Indian problem was the elimination of the great buffalo herds and introducing them to the Western diet.

Rice and beans are also Neolithic foods and there is a lot of evidence that beans (legumes) are generally poisonous. Raw soy beans can be used as a rat poison! The Greeks advised against eating beans. Some claim that they are high in protein but it is nothing like the protein you would find in an egg or steak. All beans should be avoided. Rice is not as bad as wheat but should only be eaten in limited quantities. I sometimes mix white rice with a can of sardines.

Restaurants should be avoided as they put in a lot of sugar, salt and god knows what else to make it tasty. There is no mention of what drinks are had with the meal but these are often a source of extra calories, especially sodas, beer and fruit juices. Avoid artificially sweetened drinks as they confuse the metabolism - just stick to water and a little wine.

I like very little in the way of fruits / vegetables.

This is actually a good thing, contrary to all orthodox diet thinking. Modern fruits are just candy bars on trees. Even the establishment now say to limit the drinking of fruit juices. So fruit is just fruit juice with some inedible (roughage) bits as well – how can that be better? The same as wholemeal bread – its just white bread with inedible, possibly poisonous bits, thrown in – how can that make it better? Vegetables can add a bit of variety and probably do no harm although I find it hard to imagine that hunter-gatherers ate much leafy green vegetable matter being generally unable to cook it well. A few berries would be beneficial. Avoid nuts as they are high in carbohydrate calories and tend to promote hyperphagia. All fruit promotes weight gain as the body has adapted to gorging on fruit for the very limited time it is in season to gain fat for the leaner, winter months. Modern methods of agriculture, cold storage and refining have made this metabolism shattering food available in vast quantities all year round.

In fact I dont eat large volumes of food as it is. Very small portions can fill me up.

This may be a relative thing. You want to be able to go for a long time without eating anything at all. Three or four times a week it would be good to miss breakfast and lunch and end the day with a normal sized meal. This will promote weight loss and give the digestion a rest. To do this comfortably you need to eat foods that don’t make you hungry. Meats and saturated fats are able to give a feeling of satiety that lasts.

What I was really wanting was an exhaustive list of what I can choose from...... so I can make momma a shopping list.

Here is a bit of a run down:

Avoid – Vegetable oil, sugar, corn, wheat (grains in general). Anything processed that comes in a box.
Limit – fruit, nuts, starchy vegetables, corn fed meat
Eat moderately – leafy vegetables, berries, cheese
Eat– eggs, red meat (grass fed), wild game, bacon, fish, butter, cream.

This is a diet high in saturated fat and you will find opposition to it everywhere. Even though our bodies burn saturated fat when we are losing weight people think it is bad for you. It is a real hurdle to overcome as it is ingrained into our consciousness that fat is bad. The Western world is as authoritarian in its thinking as any fascist/communist state when it comes to a healthy diet. Join the resistance and eschew carbohydrates – the only macro-nutrient you don’t need. Stop eating protein or fat and you will soon be dead but if you stop eating carbohydrates you may well get healthier. It’s almost impossible to stop eating all carbohydrate so just do your best to limit it.

I have discovered a blog that really is the only one you need to read. It is not about weight loss but follow the principles you find there and weight loss will surely result. It's written by a doctor too. Visit this blog and read every article:


Especially read first:

Get Started

..... and I'm really in pretty bad physical shape stamina wise. I live way too sedentary a lifestyle now that I dont physically labor at work....... but I grew the belly when I was most active..... my weight has remained fairly constant over the last 10 years.

It is a good sign that your weight is not increasing. A large belly is a bad sign metabolically however. Reducing the size of the belly is my primary objective when it comes to diet and fitness – get that looking right and everything else will fall into place. Again the authoritarian state has convinced everyone that they need to exercise to lose weight. This is totally wrong – the only way to lose weight is through diet. If exercise made you lose weight then fat people would be thin on account of the weight lifting they have to do constantly. The trouble with exercise is that it doesn’t burn nearly as many calories as people think, the body compensates later in the day by slowing down the metabolism resulting in a calorie burn that’s not much different to a day without exercise. People tend to eat more after exercise because they feel they deserved it, erroneously thinking they have a calorie deficit. Eventually the body adapts to exertion and burns fuel much more efficiently. So many good reasons not to think that exercise assists with weight control. Use diet to lose fat and exercise to gain muscle.

I've never had much endurance. I was a sprinter. It was like, in my prime, my muscles could not get enough oxygen fast enough to sustain continued use ...... but if I rested for a few minutes I could sprint full speed again ....... and I recently found out my biological father had the same experiences.
...... so you know, walking even a half-mile on the treadmill my legs just stop responding to my requests for another step...... but 5 minutes later I can walk another 1/4 mile. I think I could probably build that up to a mile over a month or so of incremental increases...... I dont know that I could ever do 2 miles.

The world does seem to be divided into those that are good at endurance and those that are strong in bursts. I think I’m an endurance sort of person. The good news is that high intensity interval training is a very efficient way of exercising so this should suit your style. Just get the heart rate up for a few seconds and then rest and do it again for as long as you feel comfortable. Eventually the cardio-vascular system will improve and more endurance should be possible but take it in easy stages and don’t exercise everyday. Endurance and strength is best for practical reasons. You never know when a disaster will strike and you will have to put in a Herculean effort at saving your self and family during an earthquake or Islamic fundamentalist attack.

.... but any advice you care to offer would be appreciated..... I dont really care to get skinny as much as I want to feel better and have more energy.

Feeling better and having more energy is a good goal to have but very difficult to achieve constantly. Everyone, myself included, has off days - possibly due to poor sleep, viral infection or stress or just bio-rhythms. Yet being slimmer and fitter undoubtedly help with energy and good health. Ninety percent of the equation is diet and having a body that is not constantly awash with high energy carbohydrates will go a long way to developing a feeling of vitality. Learn to view hunger as a friend. (another authoritarian principle is that you must never feel hungry). Realise that everything you have been taught about nutrition is not only wrong but possibly a deliberate lie in the service of giant food corporations and governments – they probably don’t even realise that they are doing it. They do know that they want to make money. Just one example is that they will add salt to a soft drink and then add extra sugar to hide the taste resulting in you getting thirstier after drinking it and wanting even more. But hey, it’s the consumer’s choice, right?

Eschewing the enchiladas and beans and abandoning the 'exercise to lose weight' myth is not going to be easy RT. Ridding yourself of the authoratarian Western diet indoctrination may be even harder. And facing the opposition from friends and loved ones will be a mighty big ask. Yet why not try it for six months and see what happens?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Live Life the Martial Way

My blog is starting to look a bit gay with these images of muscular male bodies. So I have put up the image above as an antidote.
This would be the most famous photo of a German soldier in existence. Yet there is a link between this photo and the two below and that is you need to live life like a warrior. On our journey we have to face many perils and eventually we will fall. It’s practically a suicide mission but we have to go on against all the odds. The longer we live the better, especially if you subscribe to the theory of Eternal Recurrence, yet nothing is more certain than our eventual demise. The thing is to be the best you can be and to fight like a warrior. But to fight like a warrior you need to be ready which means you need to train. The best you can do is fulfil the potential of the stage that you are at in your life. This means concentrating on physical fitness, mental fitness and diet. At all costs you don’t want to be a burden to others. You need to be ready to rise to the challenge, to help others on the way. If a disaster should occur, and there are a million and one potentially fatal occurrences just waiting to pounce, you need to be equipped to survive. This is the way of the warrior.

Here are a few quotes from the book "On Living the Martial Way"
by Forrest E. Morgan

From a review by Robert S. Griffin

The reality of life is war.

Living the martial way means thinking of yourself first and
foremost as a warrior.

Train against serious attack.

The warrior is always in training.

Analyze the threat you’re most likely to face.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sun and Steel

If my self was my dwelling, then my body resembled an
orchard that surrounded it. I could either cultivate that
orchard to its capacity or leave it to the weeds to run riot in.
. . . One day, it occurred to me to set about cultivating my
orchard for all I was worth. For my purpose, I used sun and
steel. Unceasing sunlight and implements fashioned of steel
became the chief elements in my husbandry. Little by little,
the orchard began to bear fruit, and thoughts of the body
came to occupy a large part of my consciousness.

Yukio Mishima

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Viva le Parkour!

I have discovered Parkour. In a way I was starting to develop the concept independently. I had seen videos of Free-Running and was quite impressed but felt that it would be too much of a risk for my older bones to do it myself yet I wanted to incorporate some elements of it into my exercise routines. Simply going out and running for 40 to 60 minutes seemed to me to be a bit of a poor exercise that was possibly a bit counter-productive. I want to develop practical, functional strength and fitness. There was Cross-Fit but this too seemed to be a bit harsh on the body and has a lot of potential for injury, more of the muscle and joint strain kind than the bone breaking, head splitting kind that free-running promised.

Fortunately I live close to a 300 acre park that is filled with stone walls, fences, trees and even an extinct volcano. There is also a barely used training area with parallel bars, pull up bars and other things that are free to use. This is the perfect environment for the older Parkour aficionado. Here I can walk, run, balance, climb, jump and scramble on all fours to my hearts content. Now working out is much more fun and much more intensive. Leaping over a fence and then running to a rock wall and scaling it in as graceful a manner as possible five times in a row sure works up a sweat. There is still the potential for injury but things can be taken at your own pace.

The idea is to perfect a graceful form of movement. Think Ninja warrior style and you are on the way to grasping the idea. Indeed Parkour is a form of martial art being developed by a military man, Georges Herbert (shown posing above), and adopted by the military in their training courses.

Georges Herbert's definition of Parkour:

Methodical, progressive and continuous action, from childhood to adulthood, that has as its objective: assuring integrated physical development; increasing organic resistances; emphasizing aptitudes across all genres of natural exercise and indispensable utilities (walking, running, jumping, quadrupedal movement, climbing, equilibrium (balancing), throwing, lifting, defending and swimming); developing one's energy and all other facets of action or virility such that all assets, both physical and virile, are mastered; one dominant moral idea: altruism.

Someone elses:

When you begin doing Parkour you begin to see things from a different point of view. Parkour is da search for freedom. Parkour is a feeling trapped in each of us. Parkour wants to jump high and higher. Parkour means wishing to be better everyday, day by day, little by little. Parkour means taking control of your mind, your body and your soul. Parkour is about washing off fear from our Soul. Parkour means nurturing the mind. Finding balance. Parkour means finding joy. Parkour is fun. Parkour is great. Parkour is cool. Parkour is a life style.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Paleolithic versus Neolithic

I’ve been thinking about the Paleo diet and how it makes a lot of sense. Hunter gatherers appear to have been a very healthy bunch of people. All that fresh meat and lots of exercise has got to be good for you. On the other side were the Neolithics building their little hamlets and farms, relying on staple products like grains for their main source of food. But their health deteriorated , their teeth fell out and their bones ached.

In the forest were the noble savages still living the same life they had for a million years. They were close to nature, part of nature, noble, glorious savages. They started with their primitive stone tools to be the dominant predator and a million years later they had progressed to slightly sharper stone tools. A million years and that was all they came up with! Yes, they were thick as two short planks.

Then emerged the neoliths, unhealthy maybe, a little crazy maybe, but smart, very smart. In a few thousand years they progressed from stone tools to nuclear power stations. They became the supreme predator. They transcended the animal condition. Is it possible that diet had something to do with it?

Studies have indicated that gluten may have a part to play in schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. Great leaders and innovators have often been diagnosed with these conditions. Could this be a happy coincidence? Agriculture produced gluten which produced schizophrenia which produced innovation and development.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More on Alcohol Consumption

Some time ago I suggested that up to a half bottle of red wine a day was a safe dose of alcohol and would have a therapeutic effect. This is of course a maximum and I would suggest that you should avoid ever drinking more than half a bottle in any one day. Different people will have different bodies and so some may be able to drink more and some less. The other day I had two beers and then a half bottle of red. This was after a fairly long period of drinking red wine every day. I began to notice that I was pouring myself a glass earlier in the day and even hiding my glass if I heard my wife approaching the room. Clearly I don’t want to be someone who is seen to be drinking constantly. My face seems to be looking a little red too and I worry about the state of my liver. It is also quite expensive.

I haven’t had any alcohol now for six days as I write this and I am feeling very healthy although I know that this feeling will pass soon and the opposite will happen. If I don’t drink anything the night before I always never regret this fact which is something to think about however the key to health with alcohol is moderation not abstinence. A thing that concerns me and many studies support it and that is the longest living people tend to drink some alcohol so I wont give up altogether - that would be madness. So what to do? I’ve decided to restrict consumption to no more that a quarter of a bottle a day as a sort of medicinal dose and have days where nothing is imbibed at all.

I have also noticed that over the past six days my weight has dropped back to just over 70kg whereas it was edging up to close to 72kg. Maybe wine drinking is fattening after all. A half bottle everyday is around 400 calories which is a significant amount. Maybe at night while sleeping the body burns alcohol and stores fat. Alcohol needs to be burned off first so while the body is doing that it is doing nothing else.

You know the body soon bounces back to vibrant health if it is looked after. You notice this in animals that are brought to the shelter in a very poor state of health. After a few days of good food and tender loving care their coats return to being shiny and their energy returns. It is the same for humans – the body is all geared up to return to vibrant health almost at the moment you start looking after it. In some ways this is a bad thing as people tend to abuse their bodies knowing that it is very resilient – it is amazing what the human body can put up with. For instance it will take a prolonged period of alcohol abuse but after a while you will begin to notice it. As you age the bounce back will become less efficient and constant irritation of the body will eventually result in a fatal malady.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Controversial Discussions

Yesterday I was talking to a colleague about my lunch. I didn’t start the conversation, he did, as I looked to be eating a particularly healthy lunch and my dietary habits are often the subject of discussion. My lunch consisted of canned tuna, boiled sweet potato (kumara), butter and two boiled eggs. Now this is quite a lot for me but I am trying to overeat a little in an effort to build a bit more muscle mass. He started going on about how it is bad to mix certain types of foods like it is bad to mix protein and carbohydrate in the same meal as different enzymes are used to digest these things. It suddenly occurred to me how annoying it is to have someone lecture you on food choices, which incidentally, is something I do to other people all the time.

Time for a double take I think. Now diet is probably the most controversial subject known to man. If you can find an argument in support of something you can always find an argument against it. Most diets could be described as fads. Even Paleo, which you would think, is hard to bitterly criticize as it is only eating natural foods, has its opponents. Also what is good for one person may not be good for another. There is even a bit of a movement now for the “eat everything diet” which could actually work for some people. At another extreme I read about how humans, as they were largely scavengers exploiting the kills of large predators, ate mostly raw meat that was slightly off and that is what we should feast on now – rotten raw meat.

Exercise too is constantly being criticized. Cardio is good then it is bad. Lifting weights is great then maybe not as you could go blind and so on. Exercise is useless for making you functionally stronger. Body builders are worse at doing everyday tasks and long distance runners damage their bodies.

So what to do? First off I think I will me much less vocal in my criticism of other people’s food choices. I am a student and not a teacher. I’m going to concentrate on what works for me and adapt my strategies accordingly. The focus has to be on healthy longevity and this blog is simply a log of my personal journey in pursuit of this goal.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee would at first glance appear to be an ideal candidate for the Early Celebrity Demise File except for the fact that he achieved immortality status as the world’s greatest martial arts master. Because of this I consider him to have been a Nietzschean superman .

While he died young and the cause of his death is still disputed and mythologized he is in my pantheon of total heroes. Bruce Lee is now an immortal which is the ultimate in active survival. The more mundane Active Survivalist probably shouldn’t follow Lee’s lifestyle to the letter however we can learn some things from his life and teaching.

Lee had an impressive body with almost zero body fat. He achieved this by eating a fairly standard diet that had a reasonable amount of carbohydrate and not large quantities of meat. “Lee believed in staying away from foods with empty caloric content and little nutritive value and found it especially helpful to avoid refined sugars, excessive fats, fried food and alcohol.” He considered the Western diet to have too much protein and too much fat. I think that drinking a little red wine would probably have done him some good though and maybe he would be alive today if he had done that. He was also known to eat egg shells which I would caution against – you could get the same benefit from eating canned fish with the bones. But to achieve a body like Lee’s you need:

"a lifetime of sacrifice, denial at the dinner table and tremendous dedication at the gym"

I’d say that Lee had phenomenal will power. Go here and here for some more reading.

Some Bruce Lee quotes gathered from GrumpyChimp:

"Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do."

"a man can be strong, but if he cannot use that strength quickly, he is not powerful".

"A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at."

"As you think, so shall you become."

"By adopting a certain physical posture, a resonant chord is struck in spirit."

"The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be."

"Use only that which works, and take it from any place you find it."

"Using no way as way, having no limitation as limitation."

And my personal favourite in Lee’s own voice:

Body Under Construction

My three year project now has only nine months to go. Progress has been good but slower than I expected. I haven’t managed to put on as much muscle weight as I would have liked. My weight has remained remarkably stable at between 70 and 71kg during the time that I have been controlling what I eat and only drifted up from that on two occasions when I lapsed. Both lapses were easily corrected but I seem to be unable to get below the 70KG barrier - BMI 22.4.

In the last nine months I am going to concentrate on body building. I want to lose a bit more fat and build up a bit more muscle. Not that I have much fat to lose but it is a bit of a dream of mine to be able to see the veins on top of the abdominal muscles.

So in order to build muscle I am going to have to eat more food however in order to lose fat I am going to have to eat the right foods and be much more disciplined about it. This means avoiding breads and sugars and focusing on the Paleo foods but eating them in much larger quantities. I reckon that I should not let myself become hungry and if I do I should eat meat or starchy vegetables with butter.

Exercise, particularly the right type of exercise, is going to be all important. Massive cardio is going to be avoided unless it is in response to a bout of massive carbo eating. Upper body exercises are going to be the main focus with short and intense cardio exercises. It will be necessary to slowly increase the weights that I use and focus on and improve my technique to avoid injury at all cost. An increase in the tempo of exercise always results in some damage for me so I am going to have to proceed with great caution, always concentrating on good technique and never exercising in a rush or when I have some, more pressing need, to attend to. This last point is important as I find that if you attempt to do your routine at a time when you feel a little guilty about it the likelihood of injury is much greater. You will tend to rush it or just not be in the right frame of mind and body to do it well – better to not do it at all.

So, time to get constructing and achieve the project goal of a fitter, stronger, better looking body at 50 than I had at 25.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Killer Tomatoes

My grandmother was 97 when she died and she died while sitting in a chair watching TV at her home. Earlier in the day she had gone for a helicopter ride. I don’t remember her ever spending a day in hospital except for giving birth to her ten children.

My colleague told me the other day that he once ate a feijoa and soon after fell to the ground, unconscious.

What is the relationship between these two stories?

We all used to dread a little bit going to my grandparents house as they would always try and feed us the most over-cooked foods and concocted meals from whatever was left over in the fridge and you never where sure how long it had been there. Yet they never seemed to get sick. Vegetables were always cooked thoroughly . It was a time when people were starting to eat everything raw or only lightly steamed even going so far as to eat raw mushrooms. Would my grandmother have lived longer if she ate more salads? I don’t think so.

All fruits and vegetables contain natural toxins and these toxins are mostly neutralized by cooking. The more cooking the better. Cooking also kills bugs and bacteria, the sort of thing likely to be found on mushrooms that grow in dark dirty places. People think they can wash vegetables and that this will be good enough but tests show even thorough washing is ineffective. Lettuce leaves simply cannot be washed to a point where they are safe to eat and this goes for all raw food especially mushrooms. As well as bugs there are also man made pesticides and herbicides to contend with. Yet long before man came along nature had already developed its own insecticides and even herbicides. It makes sense that the skins of fruit, leaves and bark have developed defences against predation. The main attackers are insects and fungus and because plants cannot physically fight back they have developed static defences by using toxins, hard shells and thorns to dissuade predation. Believe it or not it is mostly not in the best interests of a plant to be eaten and so evolution has provided ways to make it more difficult.

Some good has come of this and many of our medicines are derived from plant sources. This has been a happy coincidence, so often seen in evolution, where something has been developed for a specific purpose like poisoning or repelling insects and has later turned out to be a good drug for the treatment of human maladies. Yet while medicines are a good thing the healthy body shouldn’t take medicine if it doesn’t need to. Peeling, soaking, fermenting and cooking of vegetables has long been known to render it edible. Some things are downright poisonous if prepared in the wrong way and I contend that this is the case for most vegetable matter. Perhaps some things are ok, like nuts that defend themselves with hard outer shells or fruits that want their seeds to be dispersed by mammals. In general it is the skin of the fruit that is poisonous and this makes sense as this is the thing that was developed to protect the seeds and the food that surrounds the seeds.

So my colleague fell down after eating the feijoa because he ate the flesh close to he skin and he was particularly susceptible to the Methyl Benzoate that feijoa skin contains. My grandmother living almost a century was possibly partly due to thorough sterilizing and detoxifying of plant food – it certainly didn’t do any harm.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Active Dental Survival

I’ve been meaning to do a post about dental health for some time now. It’s a subject that had been weighing on my mind because I hadn’t had a check up in a few years and the other day a filling from a molar fell out along with a piece of tooth. I also noticed that I started to have dental dreams so my sub-conscious was worrying about it too. This is my usual, cowardly modus operandi – wait for a dental emergency and then drag myself to the dentist. This is not what I would call Dental Active Survival at all. The Active Survivalist should go to the dentist once a year for a check up and a professional clean. After all you’re going to need those teeth for the next hundred years or so.

Amazingly I managed to get the tooth fixed up without needing to get it crowned and the rest of my teeth were fine. The most worrying thing about my teeth was some side wear of the enamel caused by over-enthusiastic brushing. I must say modern dentistry is marvellous with highly effective and painless anaesthetics and super rapid drilling. There is no excuse not to go to the dentist regularly. (I always think like this after a successful foray to the dental centre)

I’ve always thought that the enamel on teeth, once gone, was gone forever. However this may not be true. Head over to Whole Health Source for a discussion on diet and reversing tooth decay. I highly recommennd Stephen's blog to anyone interested in diet. It appears that teeth can, to a certain extent, heal themselves and this healing can be greatly assisted by a good diet. The main culprit for tooth decay may not be refined sugars but the starches found in gooey breads and cakes. These tend to stick to your teeth and are perfect food for bacteria. Many people have found that once they started eating a Paleo type of diet their teeth required less brushing and plaque build up was minimal to non existent. I noticed that the sonic cleaning or whatever it is the Dentist just gave me was over and done with very quickly this time whereas last time it was quite painful and lengthy.

If teeth can heal themselves, and it makes sense that they do, it would be very worthwhile to adopt a diet that assists this. Especially if it results in a leaner, healthier body as well. I’m going to make more bone broths and am even more determined now to cut bread out of my diet completely. Let’s see if I can heal up that wear on the side of my teeth. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Starving Fat People

My sister once claimed that she still put on weight even if she ate only 300 calories a day. On the face of it this claims seems absurd as a body generally needs around 80 calories an hour just for base metabolism burn.

However lately I have been thinking about this and pondering if inside every obese person is a skinny person. You would think that with a high energy input and constant weight lifting exercise achieved by just standing up and walking around that a fat person stripped of their fat would be a fine example of a fit person. Yet this is generally not the case. It might be with a young person but most obese people huff and wheeze when doing any physical activity and they look to be in poor health with poor skin etc.

Maybe an obese person is in some way damaged. Instead of food entering their system to be used for energy it is instead stored as fat leaving the body deprived of energy and consequently weak and feeble. Something has happened to the mechanism that controls weight. Perhaps the onslaught of a massive ingestion of sugars over years has broken the metabolism. What is known as metabolic syndrome.

For a fit and healthy person it should be extremely hard to gain weight. I think such a person who regularly over-eats meat, vegetables, root starches and occasional fruit will never become obese. The body has its own mechanisms for governing weight and when fed a diet of natural food the appetite will be suppressed at the right time, metabolism will increase or energy will simply be expelled. That’s with a healthy functioning metabolism. You will notice that animals in their natural habitat respond to a surplus of food not by becoming obese but by increasing in numbers. You never see obese wild animals.

So fat people could indeed be starving. Years of feeding themselves energy rich yet nutrient poor food has over loaded their systems to such an extent that even if they eat healthy food only they may still find it difficult to lose weight. Food is not metabolised correctly and the energy is stored as fat and the system responds by increasing appetite even if they over eat. The starving person inside all that blubber really does need more food because it is being diverted to the fat cells and not being released when needed. Maybe it has never had any practise at being released because the body has experienced an energy surplus for every day of its life. Dieting could possibly exacerbate the situation by putting an already damaged body into starvation mode and so holding onto even more energy and lowering metabolism. There is some sense to having one day a week where you consciously over eat although preferably healthy food – maybe heaps of starchy vegetables with butter.

The breakdown of the metabolism may also be a consequence of aging. Most people seem to gain weight as they age even if they appear to eat less than they did when they were younger. I noticed in myself that I only started to gain weight rapidly when I reached 40. Before that I could munch on chocolate, bread and cake and stay stable but now my weight shoots up as soon as I fall off the wagon.

So spare a thought for the sad plight of the starving fat person.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Attack on Three Fronts

I have devised the perfect weight loss and fitness plan. After two years of study and experimentation I am now pretty certain that this approach will work well for anyone.

For success an unrelenting and uncompromising commitment to the program will need to be undertaken. The plan incorporates three distinct methods into a coordinated approach and takes head on the battle to build a lean and strong body.

The three disciplines are:

HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training
IF - Intermittent Fasting
Paleo – Eat only natural unprocessed foods that stone age man had access to.

Do all three at once and you will have amazing results. Simple eh?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Ideal Active Survivalist Restaurant

Most restaurants care little about the calorie count and nutritional content of the meals that they serve up to customers. Salt and sugar is used excessively to enhance taste and many ingredients are sourced from the cheapest providers and are of unknown quality. Who knows what items have expired and how much of the meal accidently dropped on the floor before it arrived at your table? Or what state of health is the chef in and what hygiene care is taken out back in the kitchen? Who knows? We all know that some real horror stories could be told.

There is one restaurant that is better in this regard than all the rest and that is Chinese Hot Pot or what is sometimes referred to as Steam Boat. At these restaurants you are presented with a selection of fresh vegetables and meats and other dainties that you can take back to your table and cook in boiling water. You can eat your fill of meat, seafood and vegetables and know that it has been cooked well and that the ingredients are of good quality. You can inspect the raw meat and the vegetables for freshness and quality. There is no hidden sugar and salt. To make it a lot more appetizing the boiling water is spiced up and there are delicious sesame sauces that could have hidden horrors but overall I think this is a perfect restaurant choice for the Active Survivalist.

I recommend breaking an intermittent fast with a visit to one of these restaurants as you arrive with a good appetite and it is pretty cheap too at less than twenty bucks a person.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Longevity and the Cruelty of Nature

(Della Francesca ca. 1550)

In a post below I mention that Nature can be cruel although describing Nature in this way is an anthropomorphism. Of course Nature like God isn’t a sentient being so ascribing such qualities to it is more poetic than actual. What is more correct is to say that Nature appears to be cruel. One of these cruel things is the way the body just seems to give up and start falling to bits as the years pass by until we are left with a barely functioning, spotty, wrinkled old sack of bones in place of the magnificent creature we once were.

The truth is Nature just doesn’t really care about you once you could theoretically be a great grand parent which is around 45 to 50. Once this age is reached the downward spiral to decay and destruction appears to be swift. A man in his forties is still in his prime and possibly into his fifties but once the sixties are reached he could be justifiably referred to as an old man. Yet ‘not caring’ is quite different to deliberate cruelty. If Nature doesn’t care if you live or die then you might as well live – makes no difference to nature. We are not deliberately programmed to die in the way that we are programmed to reproduce. We have been selected to reproduce but we are not necessarily selected to age and die, it just happens because we are neglected, not cared about.

This means that Nature doesn’t care if we fiddle with things and drink from the fountain of youth. Humans can change things, make things better for themselves. We have the potential to live far longer than we do.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Seven Minutes a Week!

Seven minutes a week of intense exercise is all you need apparently to maintain a healthy body. This makes a lot of sense to me. When man became an agricultural animal his decline in health probably came about in part due to an increase in aerobic activity. Tilling the ground, bending over all day pulling weeds and threshing of grains was akin to endless jogging and the result was often worn out bodies before their time.

Now a new study has revealed:

Scientists at Heriot-Watt University have found that short, intensive periods of exercise – involving as little as seven minutes per week – can significantly reduce the chances of contracting diabetes.

What our study shows is that by doing the right type of training, intensive for very short periods, it is plausible for young, and most probably middle aged, adults to reduce their future risk for developing diabetes without spending 5-6 hours each week involved in exercise programs.

This is the sort of exercise that hunter gatherers over hundreds of thousands of years had. Long periods of stalking with the occasional, yet fairly regular, burst of intense exercise from either chasing game down or fleeing an enraged cave bear.

This seven minutes of exercise needs to be intense. The sort of exercise that leaves your heart pounding, your lungs gasping for breath and that unpleasant feeling of queasiness while you get your breath back.

I’ve changed my exercise program to this sort of approach. Now you can’t really do this sort of exercise without a little lead up and a little light exercise between the 30 second bursts of intense activity so total exercise time is still far more than seven minutes per week yet the actual total duration of intense exercise is probably around this mark . What I am doing is 25 press ups, 75 Ab King Pro, 25 press ups, 30 second sprint up a hill, walk for 2 minutes, jog for three minutes, sprint for 30 seconds up a hill and then repeat it all and finally finish with 25 press ups, 75 Ab King Pro and another 25 press ups. Takes about twenty to thirty minutes and has about 2 minutes of really intense exercise. I’ll try and do this at least every second day.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Nietzsche Quote for Today

"He who considers more deeply knows that, whatever his acts and judgments may be, he is always wrong."

Human All Too Human - Nietzsche

Just to temper my previous ramblings.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Truth

I was brought up as a Christadelphian which is an obscure protestant Christian cult. For the most part they are decent folk with ideas that aren’t too whacky – they don’t believe in actual demons or hell for instance. These words are more labels for concepts that are anti the good. They do believe in God and heaven which is interesting as it appears that they are half way there. Satan has become a term for all that is evil, what could be described as our worst aspirations so why can’t God be a term for our highest aspirations? God exists as a concept. The Christadelphians always referred to their beliefs as “the Truth” as if by saying this it made it so. People were either “in the truth” or they were not. To be “in the truth” you needed to be a baptized member of the cult. Once you were baptized there was no turning back and the consequence of denying “the Truth” were dire indeed. I never got baptized so I get a certain respect as a militant atheist who is quite cold to “the Truth” in contrast to those namby-pamby agnostics.

So what is the Truth? - as Pontius Pilate once said.

Well, I have some answers. I have identified three fundamental truths. If you embrace these three fundamental truths you can’t go too far wrong:

1. God is the label we give to our highest aspirations.
2. The Moment Recurs Eternally
3. The Creator is Mindless

So, I have explained number one above. God only makes sense when you think of him in this way. This is why he never directly answers your prayers or saves people. How can a concept save anyone directly? A concept cannot literally reach out of the sky and pluck someone off a sinking ship for instance. A concept can inspire someone or give them hope but it can never be a sentient being.

I have discussed number two of course and consider this to be my core belief. We are always in the moment yet the moment passes quickly to stay forever unchanged and unchangeable, locked in time and space. Consider carefully what you do for it cannot be undone.

Number three I haven’t touched on yet I clearly remember the day when it struck me like a bright flash of light. It always seemed vaguely absurd that God would be the great architect and builder of the Universe. As if he had a big office where he drew up designs and then made things. Those first ideas must have been the hardest, how do you create a Universe out of nothing? How do you get that first idea? And then why do things follow the same patterns? If you can create anything then why aren’t life-forms more weird and wonderful? Why is there always an easily discernable heritage in all things living? The truth is that to be truly creative and original it is essential to have no mind. Without a mind you have no preconceptions and no inhibitions. Mindlessness is unthinking. This is why nature can be so cruel because mindlessness has no conscience and no remorse. Human intelligence merely observes the world and copies it, sometimes in the imagination and sometimes for real. Nature does this too. Constantly copying, mutating and selecting. Mutation is the true creator but it is a very inefficient one making thousands of bad things before it gets it right. And what is right now may not be right for tomorrow. Selection mechanisms work with replication and mutation to create – there can be no other way but the mindless and accidental way.

I am a Lab Rat III

OK so I went and did it, I took the nicotine dose. I was spending the morning doing some physical computer installation work and thought now would be a good time to do the experiment. I had eaten nothing that day and worked out in the early morning.

The gum tastes quite spicy, quite pleasant. The nicotine didn’t take too long to have an effect. I tried not to chew it too quickly, keeping it lodged in my teeth for as long as possible as I worked. Nicotine is definitely quite a powerful drug. The effect was like smoking five camels one after the other and inhaling the smoke deep into your lungs. I recall now that I was never a deep inhaler of cigarette smoke yet with the gum you cannot really control the effect except by reducing the amount you chew. I did buy the extra strength ones which was probably a mistake and the next time I try it I might just have a third of a piece.

Interestingly my tongue, throat and lungs felt as if I did actually smoke the cigarettes. I soon started to feel that I had taken in too much and I think I spat the gum out even before I had received the full dose. I started to feel a little nauseous – it really does suppress appetite it would appear. I think I became a little hyper-active although only an independent observer could really say. I’d have to say I felt pretty cheerful, not anxious or depressed. I think my problem solving skills would have improved – it would be really interesting to take the nicotine while doing a computer test. The effect seemed to last quite a while and appetite was suppressed for the whole day. I did eat a small can of sardines for lunch but mainly just for the protein and fish oil.

My dose was far too much as I had to spit it out when I felt too affected by the drug. Later on in the day I had a very mild headache and my tongue was very dry which was unusual for me. Nicotine is certainly a powerful neurological drug and the effect can be readily experienced. It probably doesn’t lose its effectiveness with use like caffeine tends to. When I smoked I could always get a nicotine hit by breathing in more deeply. I’d say the experiment was a success although I was doing physical work rather than mental work. I am impressed that you can purchase something like this off the shelf at the supermarket.

Hey what about taking caffeine and nicotine together? Hmmmm...

Thursday, February 05, 2009


I was quite impressed by Barak Obama’s level of fitness yet surprised that he continued to smoke. Smoking seems so wrong for someone who wants to stay in shape as inhaling anything that’s not clean air into your lungs cannot possibly be conducive to health. Well, I suppose it could be but my understanding of the workings of the lungs is that they are very sensitive and smokers only survive for as long as they do because the human body is amazingly resilient and you actually have to work quite hard to damage it so badly that it won’t bounce back. This is why you can probably smoke up until the age of thirty-five without causing irreversible damage to your body.

I used to smoke moderately, probably an average of two or three cigarettes a day. I stopped in order to reduce my insurance premiums. There did seem to be some benefits to smoking and the main one was that when I was working on a stressful problem I would go and have a smoke and very often the answer would come to me. Did this happen because I took some time out from my problem or was it something in the cigarette that helped my thinking?

I was reading that Obama’s clear thinking during the campaign, while aided by many things such as relative youth, exercise and innate intelligence, could have been enhanced by the use of nicotine in various forms. He is trying to give up smoking and was using nicotine gum. Now it seems that nicotine itself is not particularly harmful. It is one of those natural chemicals found in plants that were probably synthesised as a response to insect predation – nicotine kills insects apparently. Some studies have indicated that nicotine might ward off Parkinson’s disease and other neurological maladies. OK you might start to get the feeling that I’m starting to go somewhere with this…..

Yes, it’s time for; I am a Lab Rat Three. I have purchased some nicotine gum, extra strength. Nicotine is supposed to be more addictive than heroin so this could be dangerous folks although I do feel confident that I can kick it as giving up smoking I found to be quite easy.

In my next post…the results.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Morality for Physicians.

— The sick man is a parasite of society. In a certain state it is indecent to live longer. To go on vegetating in cowardly dependence on physicians and machinations, after the meaning of life, the right to life, has been lost, that ought to prompt a profound contempt in society. The physicians, in turn, would have to be the mediators of this contempt — not prescriptions, but every day a new dose of nausea with their patients. To create a new responsibility, that of the physician, for all cases in which the highest interest of life, of ascending life, demands the most inconsiderate pushing down and aside of degenerating life — for example, for the right of procreation, for the right to be born, for the right to live.
To die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly. Death freely chosen, death at the right time, brightly and cheerfully accomplished amid children and witnesses: then a real farewell is still possible, as the one who is taking leave is still there; also a real estimate of what one has achieved and what one has wished, drawing the sum of one's life — all in opposition to the wretched and revolting comedy that Christianity has made of the hour of death. One should never forget that Christianity has exploited the weakness of the dying for a rape of the conscience; and the manner of death itself, for value judgments about man and the past.
Here it is important to defy all the cowardices of prejudice and to establish, above all, the real, that is, the physiological, appreciation of so-called natural death — which is in the end also "unnatural," a kind of suicide. One never perishes through anybody but oneself. But usually it is death under the most contemptible conditions, an unfree death, death not at the right time, a coward's death. From love of life, one should desire a different death: free, conscious, without accident, without ambush.

From: Twighlight of the Idols
Translated by Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale

Something to think about.... exit strategies, or is that reboot strategies?

Sunday, January 18, 2009


It’s been a while since I wrote about Eternal Recurrence yet I think about it daily. Although every now and again I imagine death and non-existence and a cold chill runs down my back the thought of the Eternal Recurrence returns me to the reality of existence. Being dead will be no worse than being asleep. It will actually be much better, in fact it wont even be an experience so those anticipating a nice long rest will be disappointed although nine months of being in the womb again will be something to look forward to. For at the very instant that you pass away almost endless eons will come to pass and voila you will come into existence again as the Universe completes its full cycle. Instead of imagining the endless days of being dead imagine the glorious cycles of exploding galaxies and extinguishing suns all taking place during the blink of an eye, indeed considerably less time than that. In death there is no sense of the passing of time. Then you are in the womb again – this is our heaven and our reward. Death doesn’t bring coldness, instead it brings warmth and safety.

How can this be? some may ask. How can this not be? I retort. There is no starting or ending and eternity cannot be linear. Behold the great serpent circle of time.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Told You So Didn't I?

Sometimes I think this blog is just an unrestrained attack on fat people and that I probably should get back to writing about the longevity project. But I'm trying to help fat people, really. It's absolutely essential to approach old age with the lightest, strongest body you can and it will get harder and harder to achieve this as the years pass by.

I often have arguments with people about the benefits of exercise in relation to weight control. Too many people think that exercise is an effective strategy for weight loss and it's not and a new study out confirms this:

"Evidence is beginning to accumulate that dietary intake may be more important than energy expenditure level," Luke said. "Weight loss is not likely to happen without dietary restraint."

"Decreased physical activity may not be the primary driver of the obesity epidemic," said Loyola nutritionist Amy Luke, a member of the study team.

Exercise is not even a good strategy for weight maintenance for the middle aged and above person. Dietary restriction is absolutely essential to maintain a low weight and optimum health when the body is aging and slowing down.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Embrace the Recession

Americans may reduce the amount they spend on food in response to a sour economy but some experts fear they may pick up weight in the process.

The spectre of "recession pounds" is a concern weighing on health professionals, who point to numerous studies linking obesity and unhealthy eating habits to low incomes.

They fear that as people cut food spending they will cut back on healthy but relatively expensive items such as fresh fish, fruit, vegetables and whole grains, in favour of cheaper options high in sugar and saturated fats.

Obesity these days is often a sign of poverty in Western societies. I was watching a news item the other day showing a lady complaining that she had to miss a meal in order to feed her kids and she was morbidly obese. Many so-called poverty stricken people these days could easily have gotten jobs in circuses as grossly fat sideshow freaks during the depression era.

That fact that so many of the poor are obese is quite interesting. It means that you should be able to live on very little. High caloric food such as bread and sugar can soon make you fat at very little cost yet what if you ate these foods but in moderation? You should be able to live at very little expense. I currently spend a lot on high quality foods such as nuts, meat, wine, chocolate and very expensive fruit yet if I lived on a little rice, eggs, bread, seasonal vegetables and canned beans I reckon I could live on about three dollars a day. It should be possible to get all the nutrients you need by buying produce in season and taking advantage of supermarket specials and most importantly eating in moderation. You could buy pigs heads which I saw for two dollars each the other day as well as old laying hens that can be used to make hearty soups. Big batches could be made and frozen for later use.

Couple this with doing more exercise such as walking and cycling to get places and you should get through the recession in better physical shape than you would have in more prosperous times.

Friday, January 02, 2009


Readers may have noticed that I am not entirely consistent with my theories. Earlier I shun breakfast yet later I admit to eating a breakfast of fried tomatoes and sardines. I also claim that vegetables are largely poisonous yet admit to eating the tomato, a relative of the deadly nightshade. I was an advocate of intense exercise yet now urge caution and emphasise protecting and preserving the body over and above gaining strength and endurance. I’m also not so sure about eating too much animal fat especially dairy fat and have a feeling that it could be fattening.

What can I say? This blog is really documenting a journey and theories and practices will change according to the circumstances encountered.

I think there is a lot of truth in what an old Jew of Galacia once said:

When someone is honestly 55% right, that’s very good and there’s no use wrangling. And if someone is 60% right, it’s wonderful, it’s great luck, and let him thank God. But what’s to be said about 75% right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100% right? Whoever say he’s 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal.