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Shatter Your Entire View Of Health

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February 25, 2024 | Max Jenkinson

Making Food Make Sense

Last week was an introduction to the Book of NutritionA book that is embedded in our DNA, in our hardware. A book that helps us understand the molecules that build and maintain our software.

The body uses the book to decipher the information in the food coming in.

  1. What is it?

  2. What should we do with it?

  3. Who should do what with it?

Today is the day. The day where we are going to take a look at the four fundamental chapters of our Book of Nutrition.

Nutrition, to most, seems to be a headache of complexity. I think the main reason for this is that the people knowledgeable are focusing on details rather than the big picture.

It would be like trying to make a kid understand what a tree is by only explaining photosynthesis occurring in chloroplasts in the leaves.

If we instead go from big to small to smaller, the small makes sense all of a sudden. In most cases understanding the small is not necessary to answer the question we have about trees.

Without context, details are useless.

 

During my biology degree, we had a course on the local flora. We went out during summer in Stockholm with a book that was used to determine the species of the plant.

The book starts at the highest level of categorization. Every page has questions about the plant you are looking at.

You answer the question which moves you to another page and another question. As you do this, the questions become more and more detailed.

Depending on the plant it might take 15 questions until you have determined the species. This is exactly what your body does with the food you eat.

Your body has a similar book. A book that it uses to determine the “species” of the food coming in.

The book I used during the course only contained the local flora. It would be too big and too inefficient if it contained the world’s flora. The same is true with our Book of Nutrition.

Our book only contains the local diet of humans during evolution. It’s an evolved book to determine the “species” of food that the animal eats.

On the first page, there is only one question.

Q: Is the molecule a:

  1. Carbohydrate? (If yes → move on to page 2)

  2. Nutrient? (If yes→ move on to page 56)

  3. Protein? (If yes→ move on to page 87)

  4. Fat? (If yes → move on to page 112)

Depending on the answer your body moves on to the page where the chapter for what it is starts.

Chapter 1, Page 2: Carbohydrates

TLDR: Our most detailed subchapter on carbs is on sugars found in fruit, honey, and milk. It would make sense that those sugars are then preffered by the body.

 

You may assume nutrition is complex. But, it’s not too complex when you start to think of it through a book like this. What questions can you answer?

The further you get in the book the more complex it becomes. You might not be a nutritionist who’s able to determine the species. But, I believe you can get to a point where you can quickly determine what is reasonable to eat.

Anyway, carbohydrates are also synonymous with saccharides. Saccharides is a biochemical category including sugars, starch and cellulose. It is further divided into four groups.

  1. monosaccharides

  2. disaccharides

  3. oligosaccharides

  4. polysaccharides

As the words imply it is a categorization of the number of something. In this case, it is the number of sugar molecules in the saccharide that makes up the carb. One, two, a few, or many.

The more complex the carb is the more sugar molecules make up the saccharide. But, the thing you need to remember is that all carbohydrates are broken down into monosaccharides before they’re taken up into the bloodstream.

My understanding of our evolution has led me to believe our most detailed subchapters in carbohydrates are mono- and disaccharides.

It seems as if humans have preferentially eaten fruits and honey over other sources of carbs. They still do so today and other forms of carbs such as roots and tubers are scientifically seen as fall-back foods.

For example, I digest fruit better than potatoes, potatoes better than white rice, and white rice better than bread. This is not to say that everyone should avoid starch found in tubers and grains.

However, what I am suggesting is that humans have a more detailed chapter on sugars rather than starch. We should, thus, be better at handling carbs from sugar (fruit, honey, and even table sugar), rather than starch.

But, remember, you are a scientist and the subject is you. Try it out. Do you feel better when carbs come from fruit rather than bread or rice? Find what works for you.

Chapter 2, Page 56: Nutrients

TLDR: Real food is nutrition, but, not all foods are created equal. We need to get sufficient amounts in certain ratios. We do this by eating a variety of nutrient dense foods.

 

The first page of this chapter asks if the nutrient is a,

  • mineral

  • or a vitamin

From there the questions lead us to the specific mineral or vitamin. And finally, it determines the form of the mineral or vitamin.

Nutrients can be seen as little helpers within the body. They maintain the balance of water, and the balance of charge, and aid in almost all chemical reactions (the most important being energy production).

Nutrients are to some degree found in all-natural food. Everything we ate during our evolution had nutrients. The question then becomes what we’re the most nutrient dense and what form did they contain?

When it comes to this and the coming chapters (protein and fat) there is another factor to consider. They are all to some degree essential meaning we need sufficient amounts of them.

We could go deep here and explore the most important nutrients, the most common nutrient deficiencies and then how to get that through diet. But, instead, we are going to look to evolution to determine what nutrient-dense foods we ate and then eat more of them.

Fruits, honey, red meat (organ meats included), dark leafy greens, seafood, eggs, and dairy. All are nutrient-dense and have to some degree a quite detailed subchapter in our Book of Nutrition

Here you can nerd down if you want. Ask yourself:

  1. How do we make sure we get enough?

  2. What are the most common deficiencies?

  3. By looking at my diet what deficiencies could I have?

  4. By looking at my symptoms what nutrient could solve that and how do I get more of it?

This is also when you can look into specific supplementation. In the modern world there is more stress on a cellular level meaning we need more nutrients to handle that stress. Getting it all from the diet is difficult.

Chapter 3, Page 87: Protein

TLDR: Eat more protein than you think is good and get most of it from animal tissue.

 

I like to view proteins as the molecules that do most of the complex work in the body. They are vital to the structure, function and regulation of the body. But, what are they?

Proteins are long chains of amino acids. Amino acids are somewhat complicated molecules. Only 20 amino acids make up all of our tens of thousands of proteins. Of them, 9 are essential, meaning we cannot synthesise them from other compounds.

The first question in this chapter is,

Is the protein coming from a plant or animal?

This matters because it changes the amount of protein we can take up. The subchapter on animal protein is more detailed making it easier for us to digest. Suggesting we ate most of our protein from animals back in the day.

When it comes to protein we need to get all 20 (especially the 9) amino acids in a sufficient amount. What sufficient is is hard to say but in my estimation, the more the better.

There doesn’t seem to be an upper limit to where protein becomes harmful. But, there is a lower limit, where if we eat below that problems will arise. Where that limit is is hard to say but most of us need to eat more than we currently do.

Chapter 4, Page 112: Fats

TLDR: Get most of your fat from animal tissue. Make sure most of it is saturated, some of it is monounsaturated and almost none of it polyunsaturated.

 

There are many types of fat, but the primary type we consume is triglycerides. Similar to carbs these fats come in different lengths.

In carbs we categorize them in the number of sugar molecules, in fats, we categorize them in the number of carbon atoms.

When asking ourselves what type of fat we should eat the length is not the most important. The first question in this chapter is,

What level of saturation is the fat?

  1. Is it saturated?

  2. Is it monounsaturated?

  3. Or is it polyunsaturated?

The saturation tells us about the amount of double bonds. What that is chemically is not important. What matters is the ratio between them.

Again, during evolution, it looks as if we got most of our fat from ruminants (grazing mammals). Their fat is high in saturated, low in monounsaturated and very low in polyunsaturated.

We want to mimic the ratio we ate during our evolution because that is what the body uses to maintain health. Getting too much of something is not good.

What we overeat of today is the polyunsaturated. We used to eat less than 5% of it, now we are closer to 15-20%. This fat comes mainly from vegetable oils, chicken and pig fat, and nuts and seeds.

 

Our book only contains the molecules we have eaten long enough to be worth having in the book. The book we’ve explored today helps us determine what to eat but not really how much of what.

This is the start of creating a reasonable diet and it will take us most of the way toward what is optimal. But, to understand diet and to solve the complex problems some of us face we need another book. I call it the Book of Balance.

This book helps us determine the amount of everything we need and the ratio between different nutrients, fats and proteins. All of this is determined by our genetic predispositions and our lifestyle.

To me, this is where the fun in nutrition lies. Where we can start to experiment on ourselves to figure out what works. But, we cannot get here unless we first have a general understanding of the Book of Nutrition.

My reading of the book is wrong to some degree. So, I want you to create your own reading of the book and then align your diet to that. If you don’t you will continue to have low energy, low motivation, bloating, brain fog, bad recovery, and all the other symptoms that come with a low energy state.

It is in your power to make your body function better. You will live in that body for the rest of your life. So, let’s become freak (in the best sense of the word) humans together.

As always, 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.