The paleosphere is in a bit of an upheaval these days. Are carbs in, or are carbs out, or, fuck it, why are we thinking about food that way in the first place? Is gluten in, or is gluten out? What about wheat in general? Or fructose? There’s a lot of metabolic shit going on it, and yes, it really is very complicated. However, the majority of the science is starting to promote, these days, a method of eating that eliminates processed goods and is as Real as possible. That “Realness” is the subject of this post.
.I don’t eat fruit. Fruit is a a natural food, but I don’t like the way it makes me feel. It’s the first step for me on a long road towards addictive behavior. Sweet things have that effect on me, and I’m not sure that’s ever going to change. They also tend to make me fat. I don’t know if this is because I overeat them or not. I can’t be sure. Science says maybe. To be safe, I generally just stay clear.
Yet Richard just wrote a great piece highlighting results from a natural fruit vs. processed fructose study. The lesson? Fruit is not, in fact, the devil. This is good science, and I’m glad to read good results, even if they go against my “feelings.” Go read it. Richard is a great writer, and the information in that article is priceless. No one is arguing that high amounts of fructose aren’t poisoning. They are. It’s called Pepsi. But it seems as though the natural stuff (in moderation) isn’t harmful. I am reminded, thus, of the mantra of Paul Jaminet: the poison is in the dosage. Amen. With some things it’s a small dose, and with others it’s a moderate size dose, and with everything it is a matter of our internal environments. Science can tell us the level of toxicity of a given food, and then we need to integrate it into our diets as we see fit. Have an apple if you want an apple, for god’s sake. Don’t eat them if you don’t want to. Eat french fries, too! There, I said it. And I mean it. You are not going to die. Jesus.
A good diet can probably be boiled down to, Richard concludes, as consuming Real Foods. This lines up with common sense, in many ways, and it’s an idea that people the world over feel comfortable with. Billions of people might sign a petition if Richard started one. It’s nice to know, too, that science is lining up with that intuition. Huzzah for everybody! Eat the fruit of the planet! And all will be well.
Intuition is not always right. Richard would agree with me.* While Richard does in fact conclude that Real Foods are the answer, it’s important to bear in mind that the bulk of his post is concerned with the very detailed, thorough study conducted about a specific fructose issue. This post was based on science.
For example: a whole hell of a lot of people include “whole grains” in the Real Foods category of foods. Smart dieters, however, question that idea, based on science. Smart dieters do not accept current ideas just because they “nice” or “the USDA said so” or — worst of all — “they feel good in my body.” Smart dieters listen to a variety of sources, including society, science, and their bodies, and they then filter that information into an appropriate diet plan. Intuition is all well and good, but it is not the answer.
Science, flawed as it is, always wins. Check out this recent post by Dr Eades. The idea of “listening to your body,” above all other things, is the shittiest, most moronic, shit shit shit on the planet. Sadly, ashamedly, I often say it to avoid awkwardness or coming across as abrasive. “Try different diets and see how you feel!” I say. Fuck me. What I mean is: “experiment on yourself, and do what feels good, but make sure you’re not conflicting with sound science.” Dr Eades makes a great analogy. Should people who are trying to quit smoking “listen to their bodies?” Should recovering addicts or alcoholics “listen to their bodies?” Should people who need to lose weight but feel lethargic from being sedentary their whole lives “listen to their bodies?” Ack! No! Sometimes toxic substances and bad situations put our bodies at a disadvantage, and we are no longer capable of intuiting the proper decisions. Sometimes we are tempted with substances far beyond our natural abilities to handle. Sometimes we have to just fucking deal with the contemporary world, and buck up and face facts. Society is not always right. Your feelings are not always right. Your ideas are not always right.
So I stay on guard. I continually revise and edit my views and practices, based on a lot of different input. I have a lot of quotes taped to my wall, but in the center of them is one word: “listen.” Yeah. It’s the solution to a million problems, I think. Listen to Real Foodists. Really. And Do What Feels Right. And, hell, Listen To Pepper If You Don’t Think She’s Crazy. But make sure none of those things get in the way of optimizing your health and your life. If I could make a pyramid of the things I listen to, it would go like this:
The contemporary zeitgeist
Science (note how Science is not a Scientist)
My brain (principles, not rules: testing old ideas against new ones, reasoning)
I like this list, god damnit. My brain goes at the top simply because I have no other option (sup Kant), and I’m fine with that. I like my brain. Society and tradition and ideas of “Real Food” are pretty low on my priorities. And note even that my body beats out scientists. Just because someone performs experiments doesn’t mean he isn’t biased or is flawless or delivers or interprets information adequately. He might tell me he learned some important information– for example– that the China study showed animal-based diets lead to heart disease– and I should trust him why? Being an expert is awesome, but it isn’t the end all be all. Psychologists have, in fact, shown that expert opinion is so divisive that crowds choose the “proper” course of actions as often as experts do.
Then comes my body, which is super important. No one knows it better than I do, and no one has experienced how it reacts to certain foods the way I have experienced them. Fructose isn’t all that good for me. Neither are carbs in general. It just doesn’t work. I also find I am really sensitive to omega 3 and 6 imbalances. I eat more fish than normal people do. So shoot me.
But I do these things both because they feel good and they don’t conflict with science. I’m not saying that science is a god or a panacea, but an integration of our experiences with science is the closest damn thing we’re ever going to get.
So walk hand in hand with your feelings, and revel in the fruits of the earth, but keep your ear on the ground. We can predict, but we never do know what a good experiment will reveal next.
*an egregious presumptionTweet