Did you know that beauty and health are connected? That the most beautiful people are often the healthiest? Do you think you can override inherited genetics to make yourself healthier, avoid disease, even make your own children more beautiful and less likely to succumb to modern diseases?
My queue of books on various nutrition and wellness topics often fills very quickly. I’m catching up on reading some pretty fantastic books at the moment. The one I particularly resonate with at the moment is called Deep Nutrition by board certified family physician Catherine Shanahan. Don’t worry; I’m not going to bore you with a book review (but you should totally go out and buy/download this book immediately), but I do want to ruminate on the topics she covers in the book.
Most of us think we are resigned to inherit from our ancestors/parents whatever diseases or genetic weaknesses run in our family. But what if you could overwrite your genetics and hack your metabolic code? One of my professors in school used to say we don’t necessarily inherit diseases as much as we inherit learned habits from our parents, such as eating the wrong foods, for example. I couldn’t agree more. Let me explain: your DNA is not a fixed code that will one day inflict cancer or diabetes on you. How you live and what you eat dictates your outcome more so than your genetic code. You’re not a helpless passenger in this ride. Lifestyle and diet can absolutely reverse–even eliminate–disease risk if you provde your body with the proper raw materials to build health and present disease. The real foods your body was meant to thrive on. This is the basic premise of Shanahan’s book: every cell in your body craves deep nutrition from traditional foods. Feeding your body the wrong or right foods will program it to thrive or subject it to imbalance and disease.
The points in this book I want to reiterate include the following:
-avoid vegetable oils (and seed oils) in favor of REAL fats like coconut oil, butter from grass fed cows, palm oil, olive oil, lard, tallow, and fats from animal proteins
-eat the “nasty bits” of the animal like organ meats; eat meat on the bone for maximum nutrients (no more skinless boneless hockey puck chicken breast)
-avoid processed and refined foods (anything in a box or made in a lab)
-choose fermented foods like raw krauts/cultured vegetables
-drink plenty of collagen- and mineral-rich bone broth
It’s pretty simple, folks. EAT REAL FOOD. Did you know that our turn of the century ancestors rarely suffered heart attacks? They were eating plenty of real fats and organic by default animal proteins and vegetables. These are the foods our bodies recognize and are meant to thrive on. It wasn’t until the explosion of “convenience” foods and man made fats like margarine and low fat foods that degenerative disease rates increased and heart disease became the number one killer. Most of us are severely deficient in the nutrients we need to survive and build health: minerals, fats, antioxidants, and healthy animal proteins. For a nation of excess and obesity, our cells are starving for real foods and nutrients. We are overfed and undernourished.
Here are the foods that have ruined our health: sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, refined grain products and processed foods (high in sodium, preservatives, and chemicals), margarine, vegetable oils (like canola, cottonseed, soy, corn, safflower, sunflower), and to a lesser extent but worth mentioning, seed oils (grapeseed, for example). I write a lot about fats because there is so much misinformation out there about the right fats. Most of us are severely fat deficient, and do you know the consequences of this deficiency? Ironically, being overweight is a major consequence. Overweight is often a sign of deficiency. Also: depression, fatigue, infertility, anxiety, dry skin/brittle nails and hair, hypothyroid, blah mood. With the explosion of fat free culture and man made fats like hydrogenated oils and margarines and spreads came an increase in obesity, heart disease and cancer. These foods are processed in a lab, chemicals that the body cannot use for structural repair. When the body uses hydrogenated fats (instead of real fats) for structural repair, free radical damage occurs and cell walls become rigid so that nutrients cannot reach the nucleus. These fats do damage and cause toxicity in the body, building up and creating arterial damage. We need to revert back to the foods our bodies recognize–real foods that come from the ground and healthy animals that have grazed on healthy grasses, not locked in feedlots standing in their own feces.
Here is a list of nutrient-rich foods you should be eating:
-organ meats (start with liver, then move to beef heart, maybe kidney)
-organic animal proteins from small farms: omega 3 rich grass fed beef/buffalo/bison (grain-feeding these animals produces a meat higher in inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids), wild fish, free range chicken + eggs, grass fed lamb, organic/nitrite free pork
-real fats: butter, fermented cod liver oil, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, avocado
-fermented foods/beverages: kvass, raw kraut, raw yoghurt or kefir if you tolerate dairy
-bone broth made with beef marrow and knuckle bones, chicken necks/backs
-as many veggies as you like, a good mix of raw and cooked. Include especially leafy greens like kale, chard, collards, etc. Cruciferous are good choices too (don’t eat raw).
-fruit, sparingly and seasonally
Breakfast: 2-3 organic farm eggs poached or fried in KerryGold butter, over a bed of organic spinach, 1/4 – 1/2 avocado, side of raw kraut. Green tea, fermented cod liver oil. Handful berries.
Lunch: raw mixed green salad with chopped celery, carrot, cucumber, topped with wild salmon and flaked sea vegetables, beet kvass
Snack: 10 oz bone broth
Dinner: wild bison burgers wrapped in butter lettuce leaves, baked sweet potato topped with coconut butter, kale
Dessert: 85% dark chocolate with coconut butter
*add fermented dairy like plain yoghurt or kefir, preferably made from raw milk, if you tolerate dairy.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.
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