This picture will be immediately familiar to you if you have ever purchased a box of cereal. It is, as I surely need not tell you, the ubiquitous US Department of Agriculture’s Food Pyramid. It summarises in a handy-dandy family-friendly graphic what our Benevolent Government Overlords believe we should be eating, and in what quantities.
Of course, if you’re
a paranoid reactionary right-wing lunatic tin-foil-hat-wearing gun nut like me, the very fact that the US government is telling you what to eat should be sending you running screaming for the hills with an awful case of the twitching heebie-jeebies.
(Off-topic: does anyone know where that phrase comes from???)
And, of course, if you’ve successfully unplugged from the government propaganda that constitutes government-sponsored and ratified “education” in our modern world, you will know that the entire pyramid is built out of the scientific equivalent of sand and air bubbles.
If the actual evidence of the last 40 years is anything to go by, that food pyramid is designed specifically to make us fat, sick, and stupid.
Indeed, a rather good case could be made that the US government treats us like livestock being fattened up for slaughter.
After all, a grain-based diet is precisely what most mass-production livestock farmers feed the neutered bulls that end up on your dinner table as steaks, ribs, and chops. The reason for this is that grain-fed meat has more fat, and therefore more marbling and taste, than grass-fed meat, which tastes “gamey”.
(Personally, I love the taste of grass-fed meat. But that’s me. I don’t recall ever claiming that I have a complete set of screws in place, after all.)
The problem with doing this is that grains are NOT something that cows, goats, and sheep are naturally good at processing. Eating large amounts of soy- and grain-based feed makes them very susceptible to disease. Which is why the livestock industry spends quite a chunk of change on antibiotics to stop their herds from dying out in droves.
So what happens when you ignore the conventional wisdom about eating and dieting, and start eating the way Mankind was meant to? In other words, if you take that stupid food pyramid and turn it upside down, making fats, oils, and meat your primary sources of energy?
Well, for more than four years, that is precisely what I’ve been doing. And now that I’m getting a bit long in the tooth, I’ve started going for regular checkups. Those checkups naturally involve blood tests for liver enzymes, white blood cell counts, thyroid hormones- and cholesterol.
I got the results back yesterday. They reveal precisely what I thought they would: I am, in fact, disgustingly healthy.
Here is my latest lipid panel:
Cholesterol = 160
Triglycerides = 54
HDL = 54
LDL = 95
By standard medical definitions, you’ll want your cholesterol to be under 200, your triglycerides to be under 150, your HDL to be over 40, and your LDL to be under 160.
A cholesterol ratio- (Triglycerides + LDL) / HDL- of under 5 is, according to conventional wisdom, good. (That the conventional understanding of “dietary cholesterol” is mostly flat-out wrong is beside the point.)
Mine is 2.96. That is, to use the official medical jargon, pretty f***ing good.
Now, obviously, what I think of the “lipid hypothesis” can politely be summed up as “use as toilet paper substitute, if there aren’t any leaves or tree bark handy”. But for a variety of reasons, people with fancy medical degrees take those numbers seriously. It is what it is.
Other numbers, though, actually are useful. And again, my specific numbers are very, very good.
My blood pressure readings are normal; if anything, they’re maybe a little on the low side. My immune system is highly robust. My vitamin-D and thyroid levels are all squeaky clean.
And I got to this level of rude health (and I do mean rude) by basically doing things that America’s Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health, and so on, would like me to believe will put me in an early grave.
Now, one could argue that this is because I have great genetics. Except, it is not true. I have no idea what my parents’ cholesterol numbers are, but I have good reason to believe that, in my father’s case at least, they are pretty high. Both of my parents have high blood pressure problems. My mother’s side of the family has a history of heart disease. Both parents have family histories of problems with obesity. I have a diabetic uncle. Every single member of my extended family, except my niece, has weight problems.
You could also argue that my numbers are good because, my body’s groaning and creaking about the stresses I put on it notwithstanding, I’m still fairly young (and stupid). Again, not the whole story. My sister is quite a bit younger than me. She has had health problems related to her weight all of her life. She is significantly shorter than me and weighs more than I do- and I stand a fairly robust 177cm with a mass of roughly 83Kg.
Out of my entire family, both close and extended, I’m the only one of the bunch that has gone off “conventional” eating. I’m one of just a few who didn’t try some newfangled HerbaLife soy-based diet. And I’m the only one, out of something like twelve or thirteen of us, who is fitter, leaner, stronger, and healthier today than he or she was ten years ago.
And this is despite the fact that, when it comes to eating Paleo or anything like it, I’m not terribly strict about it.
I have a very high tolerance for dairy products, and consume them daily. I drink at least one glass of wine with dinner every night- and I’m quite partial to fine single-malt Scotch (and more than a few very good double-malts, too), brandy, and gin, all of which I consume weekly. I’ll drink a Coke Zero or Diet Root Beer maybe once a week- even though I find the taste as queer as a three-dollar bill. I’m highly partial to very dark chocolate- 85% or higher in cacao.
I’m really not fanatical about the way I eat- at least, by the standards of the Paleo Diet; compared to the rest of my family, I’m very fussy about what I eat. But I do stick to the basic principles quite closely- very little or no starch, lots of meat, plenty of crunchy greens, plenty of coconut oil and butter and bacon fat, and a good heaping helping of fruit for taste. And I keep my Omega balances in line using lots of high-quality fish oil.
Exactly none of this is what they teach you in school about what constitutes good eating. Yet this is the way that humans ate for tens of thousands of years. It worked well to keep us strong, healthy, and fit. And since we’ve abandoned those eating patterns, we have gotten smaller, weaker, and sicker as a species.
|Er… well… maybe not necessarily smaller|
The food pyramid is, quite simply, a lie. I’m living proof of that. There is little point in wasting your time, money, and future on a set of “guidelines” apparently designed specifically to make you fat, weak, and sick.