Make Food your Medicine! About my personal journey of discovery
I used to follow the official dietary guidelines promoted by the Heart Foundation and other respectable sources. As I entered my 40s, my health and performance declined. By 45 years, I had gone from a 2:42 marathon runner in my late 20s to barely walking (I passed out a couple of times in the street and had such low blood pressure that I could not give a blood sample without gaining). My blood pressure ranged from high to very low: It was all over the place. I was seeing a cardiologist for an irregular heartbeat and extreme exhaustion. I could no longer run, and there were times at work when I had to ask people to leave my office so I could lie down and rest. It was a distressing time for me.
Since my cholesterol was creeping up while the official guidelines were going down, I took measures to reduce salt, meat, eggs and dairy as per the official dietary advice. Of course, I oft-repeated and followed what I had learned at university: dietary supplements are expensive urine, and we can get all we need from three meals a day.
By default, when reducing or eliminating these unhealthy foods, foods like "cholesterol-lowering" oils, margarine and carbohydrates went proportionately up. Being a health professional dishing our health advice to patients, I was comfortably applying this health advice to myself. How wrong it was!
By the time I turned 50, I was so exhausted I dreaded going to work, and I was the boss! So, I offered the business to my senior employee for a peppercorn price and went home to rest and be house-husband, caring for our youngest boy while my partner, Alofa, went back to work. That was the Friday before 9/11, 2001, when all hell broke loose! What a time to be without a job! However, it was not quite the end of the world, and things have worked well for us.
People who have known me well and for a long time will have noticed that I disappeared from the sporting scene in about 1990, after being quite well-known in running, kayaking, mountain biking and multisport triathlon. As an athlete, I was finished. I'd also had two operations on my left knee, which still hurt every morning. I accepted a knee replacement might be on the menu come my sixth decade of life. I was toast. I'll confess that I felt so exhausted I shed a tear or two on my 50th birthday.
Around five years after selling my business, I was introduced to hair tissue mineral analysis while rebuilding my health-related career. Intrigued, I headed offshore to attend a course or two in HTMA and began experimenting on myself and willing family members. Following what the testing indicated, I began taking a few supplements and eating more eggs, meat, whole cream dairy and salt - the forbidden foods. To my delight and a degree of disbelief, I began to feel better, and I even began to get my competition mojo back again - wow! In contrast to my 50th birthday, I had so much fun on my 60th and drank far too much!
Would you ever run a business without having a set of accounts? Much like having an accounting system for my body, the HTMA testing, especially the repeat tests, made a massive difference to my health because it took much of the guessing about what nutrients I needed and which ones I would be better to avoid or reduce. The testing also showed if any toxic elements were present that might interfere with my health. In my case, I had toxic levels of mercury, most likely from fish consumption. Until then, I blindly followed generalised, one-size-fits-all population guidelines derived from advice from panels of experts who probably knew less than me about human nutrition.
This journey dates back over two decades. My recovery began with several years of rest, beginning in 2001. The lesson here is that restoring and retaining excellent health is not an overnight journey but more a 20-year one and a journey that never ends - not until the day you die - to be exact. I like the idea of staying 20 years ahead of any disease by testing, thus anticipating what might come our way and then taking preventive action. That is what I have been doing, and it seems to work a treat!
Take mountain biking as evidence of this fabulous turnaround in health and performance. Let's look at the 50 km Karapoti race that has been going on for about 30 years. Before my crash and burn, my personal best for this race was 3:12. I accepted years ago that I'd never do any better than that. Several years ago, I smashed the 60-plus record twice, with a personal best of 2:45! And here's the thing: I am in my 70th year and reckon I can reduce that time to 2:42 or less. I predict I'll knock close to an hour off the course's 70-plus record - on a good day - if I give it a go. Furthermore, I am running well, my heart is strong, and my left knee, miraculously, is 100% pain-free. Sometimes, I can barely believe it, but it is for real because the stopwatch does not lie.
Read this and enjoy the photos:
Further evidence of my health renaissance is winning the UCI Masters Mountain Bike World Championships twice and by healthy margins, plus being 2nd in the UCI Masters Cyclocross World Championships. Convincing, if you ask me!
You might enjoy this report:
If you have not yet begun your journey to restoring your health or preserving it, do not delay. Get onto it now! This includes taking action if you feel your health journey has either stalled or lost direction.
We have not announced until now that we are providing a new health testing and reporting service through the USA-based ARL Laboratories. I like their reporting; it is better value for you and has a faster turnaround. Think of this testing and reporting as an accounting service for your body.
Here is the link to the new service:
Email me if you have questions about ordering the testing and reporting or if you are unsure it suits you.
Dr Ronald Hoffman wrote this in an email newsletter:
First the good news: According to a Harvard study released this month, a variety of healthy diet patterns dramatically reduced the risk of dying from a multitude of diseases. The study was huge—comprising over 75,000 women and 44,000 men followed for 35 years as part of the Framingham Study. Of course, there were robust double-digit reductions in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disorders. There was even a 7-14% decrease in cancer deaths. The surprise was there was up to a 46% lower risk of respiratory disease-related death, a testament to the anti-inflammatory benefits of a healthy diet. Puzzlingly, there was no significant protection against stroke deaths. But there was even a modest reduction in deaths due to neurodegenerative disease—the bulk of which are attributed to Alzheimer’s. That’s a “DUH”. My entire professional career has been predicated on the notion that diet helps you delay your reckoning with the Grim Reaper, and now here’s vindication. It had to be “proven”, 2500 years after Hippocrates declared: “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” But here’s the disappointment: The researchers studied four diet patterns—The Mediterranean Diet, the vegetarian diet, and a couple of versions of the FDA’s Healthy Eating Index. But all were variations on the theme of low saturated fat intake comporting with continued stigmatization of full-fat dairy and red meat. The authors conclude: “These healthy dietary patterns typically include high amounts of plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes, and lower amounts of refined grains, added sugars, sodium, and red and processed meats.” This notwithstanding the latest studies that explode the myth that a healthy diet should exclude meat, dairy and eggs, especially when teamed with plentiful minimally-processed plant foods. And none of the diets studied were low-carb; while de-emphasizing refined carbohydrates, all four included ample potions of grains and starchy vegetables. By contrast, a study just released in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explored what happens when a healthy weight loss diet is augmented with significant portions of unprocessed red meat. It didn’t get a lot of attention because its results run counter to the globalist narrative that we all need to drastically curb our intake of food from livestock. In this study, individuals were placed on a low-calorie diet which induced significant weight loss. Then, during a maintenance phase, they were assigned to either of two diets, one with, and one without generous portions of unprocessed red meat. Both groups ate plenty of healthy low-starch vegetables. During the maintenance phase, the subjects were not calorie-restricted but consumed an ad libitum diet—they ate as much as they wanted. The result—both groups did fine, didn’t regain their lost weight, and didn’t evince adverse impacts on their lipid profiles, blood pressure or blood sugar. The researchers summarize: “Healthy diets consumed ad libitum that contain a little or a lot of unprocessed beef have similar effects on body weight, energy metabolism, and cardiovascular risk factors during the first 3 mo after clinically significant rapid weight loss . . . [even eating meat far above the population average] has no adverse effects on body weight and metabolic function when compared with a diet that contains much smaller amounts of beef.” In another crucial study (“Saturated fat from dairy sources is associated with lower cardiometabolic risk in the Framingham Offspring Study”) it was found that, not only was full-fat dairy not harmful, it was beneficial from the standpoint of cardiovascular risk! The same with eggs. A recent study found that moderate consumers of eggs (1 or 2 daily) had higher levels of 14 heart-protective metabolites than non-egg consumers. Findings like these have prompted calls for a serious about-face in our attitude towards dietary saturated fat. In a 2020 review entitled “Saturated Fats and Health: A Reassessment and Proposal for Food-Based Recommendations” researchers noted that while U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend the restriction of SFA intake to <10% of calories to reduce CVD . . .
“Different SFAs have different biologic effects, which are further modified by the food matrix and the carbohydrate content of the diet.”
“Several foods relatively rich in SFAs, such as whole-fat dairy, dark chocolate, and unprocessed meat, are not associated with increased CVD or diabetes risk.”
“There is no robust evidence that current population-wide arbitrary upper limits on saturated fat consumption in the United States will prevent CVD or reduce mortality.”
“There is, therefore, a large body of information that raises questions regarding conventional beliefs about SFAs and clinical outcomes. Taken together, the evidence from both cohort studies and randomized trials does not support the assertion that further restriction of dietary saturated fat will reduce clinical events.”
That was written in 2020. Nevertheless, Tufts University just plunged ahead with ratings of food “healthiness” based largely on their content of saturated fatty acids:
“The Nutrition Advisory Committee at the Friedman School created a Healthy Food Guide “that maps out choices for consumers and helps alleviate confusion about what ‘eating healthy’ really means in practice.”
Their claim is that adherence to the Healthy Food Guide will forestall disease and death:
“A higher Food Compass diet score was associated with lower blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol, body mass index, and hemoglobin A1c levels; and lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome and cancer. A higher Food Compass diet score was also associated with lower risk of mortality: for each 10-point increase, there was a 7 percent lower risk of death from all causes.”
Maybe, but by their admission, only 35% of Americans score high on their Healthy Food Guide rating system. By eliminating outright junk, as the Guide advocates, Americans would eat better. But some of their “Food Compass” ratings verge on the ridiculous, given what we now know about nutrition science.
For example, on scale of 1 (to be avoided) to 100 (most healthy), soy milk earns a rating of 71 (consume more) vs. beefsteak with a 33 (discouraged); Skim milk rates a 67 vs. whole milk 49; Potato chips (low salt) are a 59 with fruit sorbet 32. Breakfast cereals enjoy high ratings with Cheerios 95, Kellogg’s Raisin Bran 72, and Total 84. Fried bananas (64) are considered healthier than feta cheese (36); a serving of Honey Nut Cheerios (76) outperforms an egg fried in butter (29).
Crucially, while rating refined carbohydrates as less desirable, the NIH-funded Food Compass takes little account of current scientific consensus that curbing overall carbs might stem the global tide of obesity. For example, Boost Plus® Nutrition Drink (with 45 grams of carbohydrates and 24 grams—nearly 5 teaspoons—of added sugar per serving) earns a score of 64, while lean pork spare ribs (zero carbs) rate a 40.
Call me a conspiracy theorist, but could this have something to do with the fact that there’s been corporate capture of the nutrition profession in the USA? A recent investigative report highlights the complex financial interrelationships between food conglomerates and academe:
“The documents reveal a symbiotic relationship between the AND [Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics], its Foundation, and corporations. Corporations assist the AND and ANDF with financial contributions. AND acts as a pro-industry voice in some policy venues, and with public positions that clash with AND’s mission to improve health globally.”
Makes you wonder why, with so much known, progress in nutritional science is so agonizingly slow—as our fellow citizens’ waistlines continue to expand.