The Bible Is (NOT) A Diet Book – Part IV

Over the past three posts (I, II, III), I’ve shared the evolution of my quest for the healthiest way to live and the results I have experienced with a real food, Paleo-like, diet. Along the way I earnestly sought to resolve my faith with my diet and searched the Bible for answers. You can read Part I here, Part II here, and my conclusions about why the Bible tells us NOTHING about how we should eat here in Part III.

So what?

What does it mean if the Bible gives us no dietary advice? It means that God gave us a brain for a reason, with the ability to think critically for a purpose. It means we shouldn’t impose meanings that are not there (anachronism) and that we shouldn’t cherry pick parts for our benefit without taking the whole into account.

Basically, we should use other avenues in our (blessed) reality of experiencing the privilege of choosing exactly what we want to eat for the optimal health and performance. We should use critical thinking, science, and common sense.

First a segue. Just because other people do (or did) something does not mean that we should. This seems like common sense in our modern day cliches like “If so-and-so jumped off a bridge, would you?” yet we use those same arguments from scripture, e.g., “Jesus ate bread, so I should,” “God told the Israelites to eat grain, so I should,” “There’s a recipe for bread in Ezekial, so I should follow it,” “Agriculture has been around for 10,000 years, so it must be okay,” etc. My great-great-great-ancestors practiced blood-letting too, but I’m not going to follow suit just for tradition’s sake. And the Israelites practiced stoning for corporal punishment, but few would argue we should pick that practice back up.

Sure, God created grains, but he also created the plants we produce cocaine, heroin, and marijuana from. Just because it’s there and it is possible to consume does not mean that we should consume it.

Even scientists within the Paleo movement (proponents of evolutionary theory I might add) agree on this. Mathieu Lalonde, PhD is very much against choosing a diet to improve quality of life just because our ancestors ate that way. Sure, it gives us some interesting information. Sure it gives us a framework of where to start, but it does not explicitly tell us what to eat. Lea over at Paleo Spirit gives this idea a more thorough treatment. Click here to check out her thoughts.

 

The Scientific Method 

The scientific method’s premise tries to disprove a theory and follows the evidence where it leads. In an ideal world, hypotheses, experiments, and observations are performed without bias. But we are human and our beliefs, thoughts, and opinions invariably get in the way.

You read about such biases first-hand with my story in Part I. I began my quest with the belief that the Bible (or sections of it) was written to tell me how to eat for optimal health. This belief shaded the way I read through scripture and I attached meaning to places where none (or something totally different) was intended.

I then refused to follow the evidence where it led. When I ate lots of “healthy” whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and juices, I got fatter, my skin mottled, my intestines were NOT happy, hunger abounded, my thinking was fuzzy, and I was an up and down roller coaster. Instead of connecting the dots and questioning this way of eating, I blamed myself for overeating, not being strict enough, for failing often, not exercising enough (6 hours a week obviously was not enough), and basically believed it was all my fault. Because everyone knows that less meat, no fat, and more veggies is the healthiest way to live. Yep… it sure felt like it.

Have you ever seen those cartoons where the “healthy” person’s life is black-and-white and boring (but they’ll live forever!), while the “unhealthy” person’s life is in color with pizzazz?

I say it is time to question our definition of “healthy” and what constitutes real food

If being “healthy” means I wrinkle at 40, gray at 30, gain weight, experience diseases of modern civilizations, and detox the rest of my life with bathroom runs every morning, I want NO PART of it! If, however, “healthy” constitutes delicious, mouth-watering, satisfying meals without a lot of fuss, counting, “substituting”, or hunger in between, that normalizes weight and halts, reverses, or completely eliminates disease of ALL sorts, COUNT ME IN.

And I found “real” health and vitality through self-experimentation, but fortunately we live in a time where lots of science supports my findings. (Note: I have a definite bias towards the Paleo/Weston A. Price movements now, but this was not always so. Of course my writing is influenced in this direction and I do not try to pretend otherwise, but the long-term results simply do not lie)

You’ll find me somewhere in between the Paleo and Weston A. Price communities these days. I am not opposed to a food just because our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not have access to it (e.g., butter), but on the same token, I’m not going to partake of a food just because primitive civilizations did (i.e., fermented grains). Instead of planting my stake with either or, I’ll simply say EAT REAL FOOD.

 

What do I call real food?

  • Pastured, grass-fed, and wild-caught meat, fish, and eggs
  • organ meats from pastured, grass-fed animals and game
  • non-hydrogenated high quality fats like lard, tallow, butter, palm oil and coconut oil
  • vegetables, especially leafy greens and others (provided they do not inflame your system – everyone is different)
  • safe starches like plantains, onions, leeks, sweet potatoes, yams, yucca, etc. (these all have LOTS of soluble fiber)
  • fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kombucha, kim chi, etc.
  • some nuts & seeds; some fruit, especially berries
  • some raw dairy (again, an individual factor)

You’ll notice the complete absence of ALL grains here. Some folks like to go through the trouble of traditionally fermenting grains to remove some of the phytic acid, but I personally do not have the time to fool with it and do not care to, so I do not recommend them. There is no reason for most of us to attempt to consume them in our modern day of access and convenience. Besides, even with the removal of the phytic acid, you still have to deal with the gluten, which passes through the intestinal wall and becomes an antigen, meaning the immune system builds an attack against it. Whether you are gluten-sensitive or not, this happens. Why bother?

Plus, eating real food tends to be lower in carbohydrates than the Standard American Diet, a vegetarian diet (even a strict whole food vegetarian), a vegan diet, a raw vegan diet, or a fruititarian diet. This is not a requirement and is variable depending on your activity level, but I suggest a lower carbohydrate diet for it’s long-term effects on health and longevity.

Why is this so opposite of the USDA’s My Plate? 

It must be noted that the USDA only includes studies in their decision-making if it pertains to body composition changes, i.e., weight loss and gain. In other words, if the study is about health biomarkers, something I am more concerned about than weight loss, it is disqualified and not included.

 

The Findings

Research supporting real food and the harmful effects of many modern foods and processing is ubiquitous. Of course, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to draw the links between processed food, synthetic foods, and health.

The most compelling reason why I eat real foods is because of their dramatic effects on my health, both immediately and in the future. What if you learned that dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s were completely preventable. Sure, the gene may pass along, but it never has to be expressed. In fact, the  food we eat is responsible for at least 70% of our gene expression, which is HUGE. What you eat, even in “moderation” can have disastrous consequences. What if you learned that you never have to gain weight as you age? That you never have to walk with a cane? That you never have to lose your mind before your body, or your body before you mind? That you can live disease and cancer-free while enjoying life. And that it is ALL in your hands. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

This is where using our beautiful, God-given brains comes in. We are blessed with the ability to rise above our animal counterparts and make decisions apart from stimulus-response tendencies. This is for a reason and it truly and literally pains my heart to see people suffer from poor health, disease, cancer, digestive issues, premature aging, and essentially a poorer quality of life knowing that they don’t have to live this way and most think they are powerless to change it! If we only knew the power we hold in our hands! It’s sort of like salvation. If we only realized the significance of the gift we’ve been given and the power we now possess to exercise (wisely) for good for the glory of God, I’d imagine we’d talk kinder, appreciate and use our time better, and share our gift with everyone we come in contact with! I digress…

Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated the health benefits of eating real food over vegetable oils, low quality meats, highly-processed foods, synthetic preservatives, and all grains.

Doesn’t eating fat cause heart disease & make me fat?

The body consists of over 50% fat and the body’s largest stores of omega-3 fatty acids, which are (highly unstable) polyunsaturated fatty acids, are found in the brain. These omega-3 fatty acids NEED (highly stable) saturated fat to protect them from oxidation (i.e., free radicals).

Enter… the diet-heart hypothesis.

The diet-heart hypothesis, proliferating the theory that diets high in saturated fats raise cholesterol and therefore cause heart disease, has been disproven over and over and over again, yet it is still the mainstream theory as of this writing.

  • All major heart studies to date – Honolulu Heart Program, the Veterans Clinical Trial, the Minnesota State Hospital Trail, the (most popular) Framingham Heart Study, and the Puerto Rico Heart Health Study – have failed to show a correlation between eating fat, cholesterol levels, and heart disease. Check out this meta-analysis here.
  • A rapidly growing number of cardiologists and medical doctors are rising up and speaking out about the irrelevance of the cholesterol hypothesis. Check out these websites for more info: Dr. William Davis, Dr. Jack Kruse, Dr. Michael Eades, Dr. Kurt Harris.

There are lots of necessary nutrients in animal products containing cholesterol we are missing out on if we forego them.

But what about The China Study? And Forks Over Knives? It’s much more complicated than a few correlations. Correlations, by the way, NEVER mean causation. This means that even if someone can show on a graph that there are more deaths by heart disease in populations that consume little to no animal products (i.e., What Dr. Campbell does in his book The China Study), that DOES NOT MEAN eating less animal products = less heart disease. Check out the best critique of The China Study I’ve seen by Denise Minger at Raw Food SOS here. (I have to add here that most researchers do not even give Campbell’s study their attention these days because it’s an epidemiological study with many flaws in design and data analysis, as epidemiological studies go…)

Low carb diets (i.e., high fat diets), hands down, result in more weight loss (see here, here, and here) with NO negative impairment of health than low fat diets. The tide is turning slowly, but surely in favor of lower carb diets.

Moreover, dietary interventions with real foods including increased fat intake improve risk factors of cardiovascular disease in type II diabetics and improve glucose control here (1) and here (2).

The Real Culprits… Sugar, Gluten, Vegetable Oils

Look, I know bread and sugar taste good. Duh… But it’s time to use that brain you’ve been blessed with again! Just because something tastes or feels good DOESN’T mean it’s okay to do it… unless you are a hedonist. I used to snort cocaine. It felt really goooood. In fact, my body starts racing just thinking about it. But that high was (unfortunately) temporary and highly damaging to my body without thinking of the pain I inflicted upon my family during my stint away from reality. Check out this picture of me… I’m pretty sure I was high when it was taken. Don’t tell me I look like the spitting image of health. Drugs kill you. Duh…

Well, so do sugar, gluten-grains, and vegetable oils.

Why does sugar kill me?

Sugar is toxic to the body because it will glycate in the blood, or stick to proteins and change their molecular structure. These are called AGE’s, advanced glycated end products, and they do as their name implies, age you quicker. Glycation and oxidation (e.g., free radicals) also particularly affect the nervous system, leading to neuropathy, Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related disorders.

Chronic excessive sugar intake leads to:

  • hyperglycemia (too much blood sugar)
  • hypoglycemia (blood sugar drops)
  • hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin production)
  • insulin resistance
  • type II diabetes, and eventually
  • type I diabetes (where the pancreas stops producing insulin altogether)
  • hypertension
  • obesity
  • high triglycerides, high LDL (especially the dense type B), low HDL
  • and more

Most people know only about insulin’s role in blood sugar regulation, but few realize the extent of insulin’s role in life span and reproduction. The amount of insulin we produce over a lifetime controls how long we live, the less the better. The more insulin we produce (meaning the more sugar we eat), the higher our risk of Alzheimers and dementia-related illnesses, probably through glycation

Sugar not only throws the pancreas out of whack but goes one step higher to disregulate leptin. Leptin is thought to be the hormone that controls everything – insulin, fat metabolism, fat storage, everything. Leptin is produced in adipose tissue (i.e., FAT) and signals the hypothalamus in the brain when our cells have enough energy, i.e., to tell us when to stop eating. That’s when the system is working properly, of course.

When leptin control is out of whack, everything is out of whack. Check out Dr. Kruse’s guide to leptin here.

Another contributor is fructose. Fructose is an extremely harmful sugar that does not affect insulin nor blood sugar in and of itself, but does completely trash your body through overloading your liver. Check out this must-see video for more info.

Excessive sugar consumption alone is probably responsible for more diseases than I care to count, but the effects are even worse and more widespread in combination with vegetable oils and gluten-grains. We’ll save those for another post.

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The Bible is (NOT) a diet book and was never intended to be. When we take the Bible out of context and read meanings backwards into the texts, we not only lose the original context and intent of the writing, but we lose the interest of people searching for truth yet unsatisfied with our literal, misguided answers. It’s time we re-approached scripture and diet with a more objective view, that we took responsibility for our knowledge of scripture and the quality of our lives, and that we begin educating ourselves on how to live for the glory of God. 

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this series.

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