Australia has one of the highest rate of obese people per capita. I don’t know if it’s a particularity of Perth but it’s shocking to just look at people in the street and see how unhealthy most of them look. Some of them look healthy if I judge by the amount of muscles and very little body fat but sadly, from cleaning the room of these kind of guys on the mine site, I know that it’s all protein powdered, supplemented by various bodybuilding drugs and the kind of exercise they are doing at the gym that are just about creating muscle volume without caring too much about strength and power. Furthermore, based on the amount of beer they consume my guess is that they are not into a healthy diet.
Strangely, I found a better health surrounded by this kind of people.
If I can recall a time where I would consider myself as healthy and feeling full of energy, it was high school, practicing pole jumping, kayak and other athletic disciplines for a total workout volume of twenty hours per week. Then I stopped everything when I went to gymnasium and spent a year depressed…
I needed my dose of endorphin, so the year after I started to do some traditional dances from Bretagne and i practiced them like a sport. I did feel better but it was not enough. My university years were probably the worst. I fed myself on instant noodles, rice, pasta and fruits mainly in the form of marmalade. In a busy period, I spend a month living on toast, got sick, and was falling asleep all the time… A doctor gave me some magnesium supplements and told me to force myself to eat. It went better but I remained constantly tired for the next years. Then, in Senegal, the heat didn’t help to feel good and it got worse. Furthermore, I started to have some dandruff and I traveled last year not feeling really good in term of energy.
I did not question it much as it’s easy to find some reason like the poor quality of sleep in the street, the difficulty to have a balanced diet with a very limited budget and well, feeling tired was by then kind of my « natural » state… Then, in Australia, my excuse to feel tired was doing up to 12 hours of work for 2 weeks non-stop.
Looking for solutions
In the first month, a friend gave me the audiobook version of the « China study ». It really appealed to me. This is a supporting study for the vegan diet. I’ve been a fake vegetarian (eating fish) for 15 years, a real one since then with some digression while travelling.
The claim of this book is that all animal proteins are bad for humans, cause cancer and the best diet should be a plant food and vegan diet. Sounds nice to know that the « best diet » for me means also that no animals need to suffer and be exploited. It’s furthermore backed up by science and a large observational study… Can’t be wrong… Or can it?
Well, I gave it a try and after 4 months on this vegan diet, I was feeling weaker than before, constantly tired, my body and my muscles were sore after work, I was getting a bit thin and I still had issues with dry scalp and dandruff.
Being vegan was making me feel good about myself but I decided that it was not worth it if I had to try to enjoy my life with a low level of energy and muscle pain. And well, I need a minimum of muscle power to carry my bag around and I have seen plenty of vegans with the profile of a lollipop that even large « traditional » Indian/baba cool clothing can’t mask… These guys don’t carry their bag too much or look quickly in pain. To be that skinny doesn’t seem really natural to me and I don’t want to look like that.
Chicken, my friend.
One day, I decided to give a try to eggs following this logic: If you haven’t eaten something for more than a month, you give the time to your body to stop getting used to it and repair from the eventual damages caused by the food you’ll supress from your diet. This means that if a particular food is actually bad for you, your body will tell you straight away that it doesn’t like it when you reintroduce it. Well, I ate five fried eggs and…I never felt so good!!! Milk didn’t have the same effect, I got a clear « no, no » answer from my body and that’s normal. Give it a try even if you have been drinking milk your whole life without issue… I can guaranty that after 30 days, for the first time in your life, your body will make you feel really bad.
A study « made in China »
So, « the china study » was a pretty convincing book and appealed to my hippie side but it didn’t work for me and after reading it more in detail, I know that it will not work for anybody willing to thrive and enjoy the full potential of their body. It’s just based fake premise and orientated observation: giving cow milk protein to rats and observe that they get more cancer. How strange? Since when cow milk protein is part of a normal rat’s diet (and a human one… but that’s another issue)? Then, support this idea with a huge observational study of the diet of various population, focusing on the amount of animal protein consumed and relating it to rate of cancer while, not considering the amount of fats, carbs and many other life style factor… and conclude that animal protein is the reason why humans get cancer. Does this look like a serious study to you?
You might want to argue : « – but hasn’t this diet been helping people to reverse CVD?” Yes, It’s supported with clinical experiences of people reversing hearth condition and I can see how going vegan or raw can heal some already very sick people… Anything different from the typical American diet, eating more fruits and veggies and cut the milk will help these sick people and the sicker they are, the more impressive the effect will be, but is not likely to give them the optimum level of energy humans are designed for and they will probably look like a lollipop as well and get tired just carrying their bags of veggies home.
My conclusion of this study would be that rats and human are just meant to eat what our organisms have evolved for and eating anything else than that will create some health issue… Just had to figure out what’s would be the most authentic human diet.
Going Gluten Free
From there, my next move was to follow Tim Ferriss’ diet from his book « the 4 hours body ». It’s a high fat, low carb diet and there is a chapter for vegetarian and vegan willing to follow this diet. So, I decided to try it which means essentially, checking the label for any trace of « wheat » or « gluten » and cutting out off my diet cakes, bread, rice and pasta while replacing them with more and more veggies. Man, nothing in term of changing a habit has been harder than that. Cutting the rice and the pasta was easy, bread a bit harder but it took me 3 month to finally do a day without craving for the cakes at dinner. I realized how addicted I was to sugar and wheat and after getting angry at myself for such a lack of willpower, I did it: I spend my first day with ZERO gluten. And after that a second and so on.
The results blow my mind (more my head actually): After 3 days, my dandruff was gone, my scalp for the first time in 3 years was not itchy and my hair was looking great. I tried to not wash my hair for 5 days and it was still looking good when before, I would have to wash it after 2 days. After a week, my skin was looking better than ever before because the little spots of acne that I had had for many years on my chest were all gone.
In just one week, my skin and my hair gave me a clear sign that I had made the right choice.
I went like this for a month and noticed that my craving for cakes got easier and easier to control. After a month, I tried a piece of cake just to see my body’s reaction the result: Stomach pain 20minutes after, itchy scalp and dandruff the day after and lasting for 3 days. Even now, when my dandruff is back, I can always link it to an accidental exposure to gluten one or two days before…
The Paleo Diet : Burning Fat instead of Sugar = Power !
It was the first post i read exposing the issue with gluten and there was a link to Rob’s blog, the paleo solution. In 2010, I didn’t care about reading further than the post but now that I knew by experience how some diet adjustment can be so life changing, I went to this site and learned how Five million years of human evolution don’t lie: Our body and genes evolved for millions of years with a diet of hunter- gatherer and is not able to handle well all the new food introduced through agriculture very recently (around 8000 BJC). More surprisingly, I discovered how the best fuel for your body is fat (I might have skipped this part in Tim Ferriss’ book) and how carbs are messing up your insulin level which is linked to a wide variety of health issue. I bought the book and this great read was going to change my life by allowing me to finally feel full of energy. « Transform your life in 30 days » is advertised on the front cover and well, it worked. The first two weeks were hard as I was feeling pretty low on sugar but then my body got used to use fat instead of carbs and I started to feel way more energy than ever.
The solution : To Totally eliminate from my diet gluten, grains, dairy and some other food you can potentially create a gut inflammation from, Taking care of having a good quality of sleep, taking care of having enough sun exposure to keep a good level of vitamin D, Reduce my intake of carbs, increase my intake of good fat (avocado and coconut are my favorites), get back to a ratio of one omega 3 for one omega 6 by supplementing in fish oil and avoiding everything cooked in a « bad » vegetal oil.
Seems to you that my life is getting complicated with so many limitations? Well, at first I was wondering how i was going to fill my stomach but it’s just about spending more time in the fresh produce section of the shop and trying some new recipe. I enjoy my life way more now, I feel more awake, more alive and if I have to stop eating some delicious but harmful food and think a bit more while doing my shopping, than it’s totally worth it.
To get more details, just have a look on the paleo solution website here
5 months after, I’m still on this diet and feel that I’ll keep it for the rest of my life. Somehow, I’m also pretty convince about the importance of eating raw and after an experimentation of a week where I did feel very good and had a digestion almost unnoticeable, I try to keep more than half of my meal raw… I know that during my journey, it will be hard in some countries to keep up with a paleo diet, specially if I’m invited but if the gluten is a big no no, it’s very likely that my consumption of carbs might go up sometimes but I know now how to go back to my optimum diet.
I’m leaving Australia with more than I would have expected: Enough money to travel and a long term solution for a striving health.
I’m sharing this with you with the hope that you might give this diet a try. Get the book « the paleo solution » (and to be honest, I’ll make a little profit if you buy it through this link), follow the 30 days plan and find a level of health that you would never have imagined before.