Shatter Your Entire View Of Health

Join others getting their entire idea of what health is shattered every Sunday while reading Health Decoded.

March 24, 2024 | Max Jenkinson

Grow Up & Eat Real Food

Everyone, everywhere, is promoting eating whole foods. And, for good reason. It works.

Despite seeing peoples’ success stories all over the internet, we continue to stuff our faces with things we would never feed our dogs.

I eat bullshit too. But, I only do it twice or maybe thrice a year. You read that correctly, not per week, not per month, but per YEAR. You are not a kid anymore, it’s time to grow the f*ck up.

Eating processed garbage is robbing you of reaching your potential. Your body suffers, your mind suffers and so does your life.

Lend me ten minutes of your time so that you can, once and for all, gain a firm grip on why eating real food matters. To do so we need to, of all things, turn to the Zoos of the world.

Please bear with me…


What The Zoo Taught Me About Diet

In 2018, while listening to a podcast, the speaker said something that (to me) was profound.

If we are both the animals living in the zoo and the designers of the zoo why not design it better?


Now that is the question.

Pling—a lightbulb dangling over my head—an “aha”-moment. Something inside my brain finally clicked into place.

It took me a further four or five years to come up with an analogy that somewhat illustrates what finally clicked.

Imagine you work at a zoo and are responsible for designing animal enclosures and a group of school kids visits.

You explain to the kids that the enclosures are designed to mimic the animals’ natural environments as closely as possible.

You give the example that you can’t feed lions leaves or giraffes meat, because it wouldn’t be healthy for them.

One of the kids asks, “Why?”

You answer, “So that the animals are as healthy as possible.”

“Why?” the kid persists.

“Because the animals are evolutionarily adapted to a certain environment and diet,” you explain.

“Aren’t humans animals?”

“Yes,” you reply, a little taken aback.

“So then what is the human’s natural environment? What diet are we adapted to eat?”

At this point, you realize that you’ve been taking care of all the animals in the zoo, except for the one you live in.

You don’t have an answer to the kid’s question.

You realize that figuring out the answer to that question could solve some big problems. It could be the key to understanding how humans can be as healthy as possible.

From that day on, you read everything you can find about human evolutionary history. You try to mimic our natural environment as closely as possible.

Because you now understand that humans are animals too.

Or, maybe you don’t. Anyway, keep reading.

That’s basically what happened to me. I stopped eating everything I could categorize as processed garbage—all sodas, all sweets, all baked goods, all crisps.

I went a bit overboard, but that’s what happens when a kid gets an almost religious insight I guess…

Why We Treat Zoo Animals We Do

You might have an answer to this question but we’ll ask it anyway, to dig a little bit deeper, so that your confusion keeping you attached to destructive addictions may once and for all cease.

Why is it important to eat real, whole foods?

Well, like the logic we use to take care of zoo animals, it all comes down to evolution.

Evolution forces animals to optimize for survival and reproduction, because those who don’t die off.

Health can be defined as an organism’s capacity to survive and reproduce over time. In the evolutionary game we once played, that is most important.

Health is thus adaptive, and the opposite follows, disease or poor health is maladaptive.

By this logic, we can conclude that organisms optimize for health. This means that over generations, genes adapt to become properly good at maintaining health.

This should make a lot of sense. Individuals more prone to disease and sickness are more likely to die—and death is no bueno.

As biological organisms, our bodies are always striving for health. In the environmental context our bodies evolved it’s relatively easy for them to maintain good health.

This is evident by looking at today’s hunter-gatherer populations.

They don’t suffer from any of the major killers in Western society (what we call modern diseases). Logically, if we live more like they do we should suffer less.

It’s about to get a tad more complex but I think you can manage. Take a sip of that coffee or insert the nicotine pouch.


Processed Foods Are Confusing As Hell

Think of the things you put into your body as part of three fundamental categories.

1 – Fuel (carbs & fats)

Fuel can either be stored or used as energy. Energy is important. Almost everything in the body requires energy. Without it we die. With abundance we thrive. (Energy is not the same as calories.)


2 – Building blocks (protein)

Building blocks are used to build and renew structures. As we have spoken about before, structre and function are interdependet at every level of analysis.


3 – Nutrients (vitamins & minerals)

Nutrients ensure trillions of internal processes run smoothly. They make sure energy, transport, and production is functioning properly.


Now, think of the fuel, the building blocks, and the nutrients as letterswords, and sentences.

If the sentences are structured in the wrong order, it would be hard to understand this article.

It would be even harder if the words and sentences were in the wrong order.

If the entire article is written in a language you don’t speak, it would be impossible to understand.

This is what food processing does to your body’s ability to understand what you’re eating. The more processed the food, the harder it is for your body to understand what it consumes.

Eating foods we are not adapted to eat makes it difficult for the body to regulate the trillions of internal processes. And, all of these internal processes are trying to maintain health.

That’s what happens when we give lions a diet of leaves. They’d die quickly. Humans are, however, excellent at deriving sufficient nutrition from insufficient foods.

But, just because we can eat something without dying quickly does not mean we should.

Would you feed your dog doughnuts every day because he likes it? You would be creating a low-energy, fat, and disease-ridden dog that would die sooner than he should.

If you wouldn’t do that to your dog why in the world would you do it to yourself?

We need to give our body the fuel, building blocks, and nutrients it needs. And, that comes from real food.

Eating real food allows the body to gain the nutrients it needs to maintain proper function. Proper function is health.

Your conceptualization of health is unsophisticated. It’s not about a good-looking body free from disease, although that is something we all want. Health is the intersection between mind, body and spirit.

Your mind is dependent on your biology, literally. The hardware that runs your mind is cellular. And those cells run on the nutrients you eat. If they don’t function properly, you won’t either.

We humans are impressively good at accepting a baseline. It’s what we call hedonic adaptations. We do this when it comes to general well-being as well.

“This is how I feel (in general) and this is how I will feel (in general) forever.” It’s not true in the slightest. People who have made a radical change to their health know this.

If you prioritize sleep, eat a diet of real food, and move like a spartan savage—for as little as 30 days—your baseline could improve so much that there is no way you could go back to the way you felt.

In the past, the health of our ancestors was largely up to the environment in which they lived. Today this is not the case.

We are the designers of our environment, the designers of our zoo. We get to decide our baseline. But, if we don’t I assure you it will never be as good as it could be.

Now, I’ll put the responsibility on you. Where do you draw the line? How much of your diet will constitute edible garbage?

Will you grow the f*ck up and stop eating like a child without parental supervision?

Perhaps you are pretty healthy, but, we both know you could do better. Let’s create an army of inspiration for those around us.

If you change yourself, you will change the world—at least the world around you. We conform to those we spend the most time with. Be the change your friends and family deserve, if not for you, for them.

I’ll leave you with this…

Don’t think about eating real food as something you “should” do for your health. Think about it as giving your body what it wants and needs not to be confused – because a confused body is a sick body.

Until next Sunday, do what makes your future self proud.

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Shatter Your Entire View Of Health

Join others getting their entire idea of what health is shattered every Sunday while reading Health Decoded.