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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. Iโ€™m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything weโ€™ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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March 05, 2012

Dear Mark: Do Perfect Foods Exist?

By Mark Sisson
167 Comments

Today’s Dear Mark post touches on a concept that many of us have pondered: the perfect food. That is, does such a thing even exist? What with phytates, lectins, easily-absorbed fat-soluble vitamins, allergenic proteins, and all the rest, it sometimes seems like every good food has a crippling downside. If you read too many health and nutrition blogs that delve into these relatively arcane topics (my own not necessarily excluded!), it often feels like you can’t eat anything at all without risking some horrible illness, deficiency, or excess.

The following is an excerpt from a longer email in which a reader expressed concern over the apparent scarcity of “perfect foods.”:

Dear Mark,

I’m getting very frustrated. I don’t know if it’s a case of over researching things, but I’m beginning to feel that there are very few perfect foods. That there is something bad in everything. Beef, pork, and fish have creatine. Nuts, grains, seeds, and legumes have phytates. What are we supposed to do, just live on veggies, chicken, and eggs? How is it that Grok got enough magnesium, not too much phytates, etc, etc?

Brad

No food is perfect. You are correct. But you are incorrect to despair over this unavoidable, inescapable reality. For one, you have to eat something. You can’t live on sunlight and water (although both are vital to health). Two, just because a food contains something “bad” doesn’t mean the food itself is “bad.” To show this, I thought it’d be fun to put together a list of the “downsides” of undoubtedly Primal foods that most of us probably consume on a regular basis. Within many of these Primal darlings lurks a dark side, a “negative” nutritive trait that threatens to topple its favored status… but are you going to stop eating these foods just because they aren’t “perfect”?

Liver – Awesome superfood nature’s-vitamin status aside, it has a “problem.” It’s high in retinol, which is the animal form of vitamin A and the most easily-absorbed. Too little dietary retinol is bad for testosterone production, vision, bone metabolism, and gene transcription, but too much dietary retinol can lead to hypervitaminosis A, especially with insufficient vitamin D. Explorers who ate polar bear liver, which contains upwards of 15,000 IUs retinol per gram (an insanely high concentration), have been sickened and even killed from hypervitaminosis A (PDF).

Red meatProtein, loads of healthy fats, plenty of zinc, what’s not to love? Well, for those with hemachromatosis – excessive iron absorption – the iron content of red meat can be problematic.

Eggs –ย Eggs are great. They are bite-sized, easily-transportable, delicious repositories of everything you need to build a fully grown chicken, but they also contain potentially gut-irritating proteins (mostly in the egg white) that can exacerbate autoimmune conditions. Lysozyme appears to be the most problematic of these egg proteins, and it’s found in large amounts in the white.

Butter – Good old butter. You’ve yet to fail anyone. Except for that guy with an intense casein intolerance.

Ghee – That means ghee is all clear, right? All of the good fat, none of the offensive proteins. Maybe not. An older study from 1987 found that ghee had a significant amount of oxidized cholesterol, presumably due to the clarification process (which involves heat). That sounds bad. So ghee’s bad, right? Maybe not (again). It turns out that the ghee from the 1987 study was “heated in an electric oven in a stainless steel mug at 120 degrees C for 50 hours.” So, while some ghee has “bad” qualities, some does not, and it all depends on how the ghee was produced.

Shellfish – Delicious, nutritious, briny, mineral-replete though they may be, shellfish can be highly allergenic in certain people. Also, because you’re eating the entire animal, including that animal’s last meal, often raw, there is an elevated risk of getting sick. Norwalk virus (not serious), vibro (pretty serious), and various shellfish toxins are all potential complications. I love raw oysters, mind you. I’m just putting this out there.

Brazil nuts – I recently mentioned these as a great source of selenium. And they are. But they’re also pretty high in phytic acid and radium.

Spinach – I love spinach, always have. It’s a great source of magnesium, calcium, manganese, vitamin K… and oxalates. Yes, oxalates – those tiny organic crystals that compose the most common type of kidney stone – are found in spinach (as well as other leafy greens). 100 grams of spinach contain 750 mg of oxalates. And though dietary oxalate has never been conclusively or strongly linked to the development of kidney stones, the theoretical risk remains.

Dark chocolate – It’s evidently a big favorite among my readers, and it has tons of benefits, but it’s also high in phytic acid, and some sources may be high in cadmium and/or mycotoxins (like aflatoxin).

Bacon – I don’t think listing the benefits is necessary here, so I won’t. How about the negatives? Pork fed on corn and soy (which even organic pigs usually eat) display high levels of omega-6 fats in their tissues, while pork fed on coconuts display almost none. If you’re eating bacon (almost all fat) from pigs fed mostly corn and soy, you’re likely consuming a fair bit of omega-6 (same goes for any high-fat pork product, really, as well as poultry). Oh, and don’t burn that bacon, or subject it to high heat for very long unless you love eating carcinogenic nitrosamines with your eggs!

Cruciferous vegetables – I just posted an article extolling the virtues of sulfur-rich cruciferous veggies, but they can also act as goitrogenic inhibitors of thyroid function. Goitrogens interfere with iodine uptake by the thyroid, so excessive intake of cabbage, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables might necessitate a bit more iodine in the diet.

My point, after all this, is not to keep you from eating these foods. It’s to show that there are no perfect foods and that there’s nothing wrong with that. Every food, even the “good” ones, has something that someone can legitimately complain about. Does that mean you can’t eat these foods, or even that you should always keep the vitamin A content of grass-fed beef liver or the possibility that your square of dark chocolate could contain cadmium in the back of your mind? No; it would drive you insane and cause unnecessary stress.

I simply wanted to show the inherent silliness of worrying about “perfect foods.” Every food has something “wrong” with it. As I’ve always said, it’s not just about the constituent parts that compose a food. The individual components don’t always tell the whole story. Whole foods do tell that story, though. You simply have to eat them to figure it out.

That’s it for today, but what about you, dear reader? Do you worry about the dearth of “perfect foods”? Do you think any foods actually are perfect, after all? Leave your thoughts in the comment section. Thanks for reading!

TAGS:  is it primal?

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167 Comments on "Dear Mark: Do Perfect Foods Exist?"

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Harry Mossman
4 years 6 months ago

Thanks for the useful list Mark. We are omnivores. Our ancestors adapted to changing seasons and climate, explored new regions and grabbed whatever food they could find.

It worries me when someone in the forum says they eat the same six foods day after day.

Primal Toad
4 years 6 months ago

Someone actually does this?

I think I would go crazy if I ate the same 6 foods daily. I would give it a shot for a few days but that’s all.

Dugan
Dugan
4 years 6 months ago

Eating the same 6 foods isn’t all that bad. Due to budget restraints, I don’t always have the best selection. It’s all about preparation though. You can use eggs, chicken, sunflower seeds, olive oil, onions, and collard greens so many different ways, you can eat for a week and only repeat one or two meals. Although, doing for any longer than a week or two….now you’re losing me.

Ben
4 years 6 months ago
I have eat the same foods every day all week and haven’t felt better. My numbers have gone up in my crossfit workouts. I even ran a half marathon with a 20lb vest without even training for it to show how nutrition is so important. Same idea that all other animals on earth eat the same things every day. Do they get sick? How about your dog? same idea. My trick? You would have to ask me but in general i’ve found foods that give me a ton of energy, allow me to recover quickly, keep my blood sugar down… Read more »
Ben
4 years 6 months ago

**eaten…my bad! Sorry for the typo

Samuel
4 years 6 months ago

Lordy, that was helpful and concerning at the same time! Thanks, great post.

Ware
4 years 6 months ago

I do sometimes get caught up in worrying too much about the details, when it comes to food. In those moments, it’s always helpful to stop, breathe, and remind myself that by eating a whole foods/real foods diet I’m already way ahead of the game, and that that kind of worry is missing the forest for the trees.

Chris Pine
4 years 6 months ago

One way this is taken care of in nature is through fasting.

When an organism is fasting, its body gets a chance to clean itself up, get rid of excesses, and basically balance the biochemistry of the body.

Intermittent fasting can go a long way toward mitigating the imperfections found in food.

Judolizard
Judolizard
4 years 6 months ago
I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve felt the benefits of I.F. It literally feels like you’re cleansing yourself (at least that’s what my body feels like it’s telling me). My stomach doesn’t hurt AT ALL when I.F. – strange though I’d imagine it would have but maybe if I was still eating grains it would. No dizzy spells or low levels of energy and no pain (acid reflux, starving feeling, etc.). I’ve argued with my wife and the in-laws about this ever since I started PB. They don’t know what they’re missing. Lol my wife thinks I’m starving myself. The whole point… Read more »
Barbara
Barbara
4 years 6 months ago

I’am with you, I also feel so much better

Patrick
Patrick
4 years 6 months ago

Agree on the IF. I’ve been doing 16-18 hour daily fasts for the last 3 months, and I feel very lucid and alert during work. The other day I caved and had a sandwich during the day. The combination of the mid-day meal and the bread (i knew better) made me crash super hard. Like that reset button.

Dave
Dave
4 years 6 months ago

I have had the same experience with IF, right down to the arguments with my wife! I was pleasantly surprised when I first started trying it. I expected to feel hungry and agitated, but instead I feel peaceful and calm. It is a great ‘reset’, as you say.

Martine
Martine
4 years 6 months ago

haha, yup. Nobody knows I IF because most people balk at the thought of missing breakfast. There are days when I haven’t gotten hungry until 5 PM and I think most people would think I was developing an eating disorder… Naw, just getting rid of one!

William
William
4 years 6 months ago

When I fast for over 17 hours, I get stomach cramps even though I don’t eat grains. Any other ideas why this could be?

Jo-Anne
Jo-Anne
4 years 6 months ago
I agree fasting is nature’s way to balance the body. I also think that worry,guilt and fear ingested along with the not-so-perfect food actually magnifies the “toxin”. You know the old saying what you think about you bring about. To paraphrase Henry Ford “If you think it’s toxic or you think it’s perfect, You are absolutely right!” As an example I reckon it does me less harm to have a piece of white chocolate because I love it than if I force myself to eat dark chocolate because it is the “better” option even though I don’t like it. Knowledge… Read more »
Erik Wyckoff
4 years 6 months ago

Awesome post. There are always positives and negatives, and if we all got stuck on finding the perfect anything then we would get nowhere.

rob
rob
4 years 6 months ago

Why is poster concerned with consuming creatine?

Tim
Tim
4 years 6 months ago

Creatine isn’t dangerous, I looked into this quite thoroughly when I tried creatine supplements.

We synthesise creatine in large amounts naturally, so the amount in meat isn’t significant. This is why if you want to boost creatine levels in your muscles you need to take several grams of the pure compound every day.

jakey
jakey
4 years 6 months ago

this is great for the orthorexic crowd, overly concerned with ‘nutritionism’ as michael pollan calls it. eat real food, and trust your appetite. everything is toxic at some potin.

Hadass
Hadass
4 years 6 months ago

Hear, hear. I was just thinking about Michael Pollan while reading this article. Totally agree. Eat real food and listen to your body. Guess what – nobody gets out of here alive.

Primal Toad
4 years 6 months ago

Great point… really! We are all going to die at some point. Stressing out about all the little problems in food is the wrong way to live.

Educate yourself but don’t stress about the details. There is no such thing as perfection unless you believe everything the way it is is perfect!

Jo-Anne
Jo-Anne
4 years 6 months ago
I agree, and if we aim towards perfection [wellness] we are much better off but being evangelical about what you believe in turns others away. There is a shadow side to all things. I saw a Fruitarian and a Raw Foodist being interviewed and the raw meat eater looked healthier and seemed much calmer to me. But then again I also saw a Raw Vegetarian in her late 70’s and she looked like she could be her husband’s youngest daughter. It’s all so confusing. Be the Good Example not the Horrible Warning. If research is to be believed if the… Read more »
Reiko
Reiko
4 years 6 months ago

totally agree.

btw, in case anyone’s interested in orthorexia, this article really opened my eyes: http://drbenkim.com/articles-orthorexia.html

Anna
Anna
4 years 6 months ago

love that article. some in the forums could probably benefit. but i DID like the forum message i once saw that talked about a vegan boss who ate buttery cookies at christmas who shrugged off questions with, “it’s not a religion.” and amen! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Kelekona
Kelekona
4 years 6 months ago
I just got around to reading that article. Good stuff. Watching what you eat can have good benefits, but there’s no point to extending a life that you can’t live. I was on a roadtrip and decided that I was going to shout “screw it” to my diet. (I’m on a variation of SAD where I try to cook as much as I can from scratch, never add salt except when it’s part of another condiment, and actually focus on grains that are considered harder to digest.) By the end of the trip, I’m not sure if I was carsick,… Read more »
Dr. Mike Tremba
4 years 6 months ago

Thanks, Mark- I really enjoyed your article.
One thing that specifically stood out to me is the concern with a food I could eat all day, Brazil nuts and concerns with selenium (a mere ounce of them have almost 800% daily recommended value).

That being said, I find it very important to point out something that you and most of your readers already know–that these foods work synergistically to give an overall benefit when consumed together, and that practically any food can have negative physiological effects when consumed in isolation, or with no other foods.

Bay
Bay
4 years 6 months ago

Indeed.

As Voltaire’s observed: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

There’s no Shangri-La in the real world, we can dream but then again we have to wake up one day.

Go Grok!

pamela
pamela
4 years 6 months ago

Mike,

I buy sprouted brazil nuts. Fermenting and sprouting the nuts before eating them helps reduce the phytic acid content. I get mine from either Wildnerness Family Naturals or Blue Mountain Organics.

Cheers,
Pamela

Dr. Mike Tremba
4 years 6 months ago

Thanks, Pamela—I never have even tossed that idea about. Guess I learned something new today ๐Ÿ™‚

Barrie Templeton`
Barrie Templeton`
4 years 6 months ago

I wonder about RDAs, as the selenium example of 800% you quote, Doctor.
Are toxicity points determined when RDA levels are set? It would, I imagine, require extended testing, possibly far beyond finding a recommended level.
Or maybe my vision of the lab procedures is totally whacked.
The point I am interested in is the risk of exceeding RDAs occasionally. I like to eat nuts, but the mixes I can find have few Brazil nuts; almonds and cashews predominate. My problem is that I tend to graze when a bag is in the house….

Lester
Lester
4 years 6 months ago

good stuff. I’m wondering if I should limit, or eliminate egg whites on occasion.

Anna
Anna
4 years 6 months ago

I think the point of the article is that you shouldn’t unless you’re legitimately allergic to eggs.

Garrett F
Garrett F
4 years 6 months ago
I actually avoid egg whites out of preference. I just crack the eggs into a bowl, then scoop out the yolks, and cook them in a skillet with some butter. Deliciousness! I don’t even miss the whites. I do it because I enjoy it, not because I’m afraid of the whites. However, I think egg whites are suspect for various reasons. Just think about the biological/evolutionary function. It is a clear, viscous liquid that serves a protective role, providing a cushion from mechanical damage, and surrounding the developing embryo with anti-bacterial substances (like lysozyme). The white has virtually no vitamins.… Read more »
Jo-Anne
Jo-Anne
4 years 6 months ago

I love the taste of the yolk best too, but as whole food is the name of the game I eat the whites for filling.

Barrie Templeton`
Barrie Templeton`
4 years 6 months ago

Is not the white the part of the egg that becomes the bird? The yolk, as you point out, is the nutrient package.
I seem to recall seeing that explanation recently, and being surprised at it; nevertheless, it is logical.

Doug
Doug
4 years 6 months ago

Good post. The answer is to be omnivorous and rotate a variety of foods to the maximum extent possible. That will take care of most of the “problems” in foods.

Debra
4 years 6 months ago

Exactly what I was about to post. Eat a wide range of foods and those “problems” are spread so thin as to virtually disappear.

Tim
Tim
4 years 6 months ago

Excellent point – it is best to eat a broad diet containing a variety of foods.

Amy B.
Amy B.
4 years 6 months ago

YES!
The fact that there’s something problematic in almost every food we can imagine is the best argument for eating a VARIED diet and not depending on only a few different veggies and meats.

Not sure what the policy is here for posting links, but if you go on Robb Wolf’s site and search for “Antinutrients,” a guest post I wrote a few months ago will come up. It addresses some of these issues and we should *not* freak out about them too much. Missing the forest for the trees, really.

Aziz El Harchi
Aziz El Harchi
4 years 6 months ago

I second the question of why the poster is concerned with creatine??

onewomanband
4 years 6 months ago

Thank you for addressing this. Over in the forums, people worry over eating chicken because of the n-6 content. It’s good to know each food has its advantages and disadvantages. Maybe “everything in moderation” carries a CW stigma, but how about “anything Primal, but nothing to excess?”

Primal Toad
4 years 6 months ago

I like that. Instead of moderation… “nothing to excess.”

Liver is great but eating it daily is ridiculous. This is where thinking about how our ancestors lived can really help us. Liver would not be available every single day. We have not adapted to consuming that much vitamin A.

Same thing with sunlight… it’s essential but if you are burning yourself like crazy then you will run into problems.

John
John
4 years 6 months ago
I think it’s also worth noting that Vitamin A toxicity is usually found along with a Vitamin D deficiency (and vice versa as well). I believe Chris Masterjohn noted that when A, D, and K2 are supplemented, toxicity has never been found, but it does sometimes develop when A or D are supplemented in isolation. Another point on Polar Bear liver… yes, it is insanely high in Vitamin A, but who would be eating it? Arctic Explorers, for the most part. There’s probably a good chance they would have been low in Vitamin D from Sun Exposure. They might not… Read more »
Jeffrey of Troy
4 years 6 months ago

Polar bears are our fellow predator animals; predators are not food.

Alun
Alun
4 years 6 months ago

The 1942 paper was apparently wrong, as a later Swedish study discovered. It was not vitamin A that caused the exfoliation and other symptoms, but Cadmium, which accumulates in the liver of this top predator. And as you say, experiments with turkeys found that overdosing with either A or D separately had bad effects, but both together had no ill effects.

Kelekona
Kelekona
4 years 6 months ago

Yet another reason to go with a varied diet. Reason one is either whole missing food groups or lack of micro-nutrients if you’re using the same example from a category.

The other could be to prevent buildup of any one of these substances, by letting the body shift them into the digestive tract. We eliminate what our body doesn’t want.

Humans are marvelous creatures. The ability to puke is just one of our blessings.

Alana
4 years 6 months ago

Any diet requires a lot of research and variety to make sure you’re getting everything you need! I’m vegetarian mostly for ethical reasons, and I feel completely healthy because I get my vitamins from a wide variety of places. Any person–vegetarian, paleo eater, carnivore, etc–won’t be healthy if he/she’s eating the same things every day.

Nannsi
Nannsi
4 years 6 months ago

Yin and yang. It’s all about balance…

Dave Sill
Dave Sill
4 years 6 months ago

Uncured bacon and cooking it in the oven (microwave or conventional) both reduce levels of nitrosamines.

Andrew
4 years 6 months ago

That settles it for me… Bacon is the perfect food.

Case closed.

Britgrok
Britgrok
4 years 6 months ago

Everything in moderation is the key.

John
John
4 years 6 months ago

Excess in moderation is the key.

Reiko
Reiko
4 years 6 months ago

That’s not a moderate statement ๐Ÿ˜‰

leida
leida
4 years 6 months ago

I really need more posts like that! Way too often I start worrying about something like eating pork or too much cabbages. Heh.

rob
rob
4 years 6 months ago

You should be concerned with eating too many cabbages, gives you horrible gas.

JMan
JMan
4 years 6 months ago

Great post! I was thrown a curve ball when nutritional testing found that my body is not able to digest eggs. Good news – a year later my blood work and blood pressure are amazing! Breakfast “out in the world” is challenging. Selecting out foods that contain eggs is a no-brainer now that I’ve gone Grok. Fresh caught trout with bacon anyone?

Jonas
Jonas
4 years 6 months ago

I’m a member of the camp who’s worries about nutrition increases the more I read about it. Been low carb since august last year and have devoured tons of blogs and books on the subject. The more I learn the more paranoid I get. I think I just have to relax and enjoy myself instead, as a previous commenter wrote, we are already far ahead of the pack and probably feel alot better than most!

Debbie
Debbie
4 years 6 months ago

I’m a member of that camp too! It’s pretty hard just to ignore information, when the reason you’re here is because you obviously like to research and learn about food and health, and not just accept what is put in front of you by CW. For me it’s about where to draw the line of taking it on board, or just leaving it. Otherwise I would end up in a spiral of confusion and paranoia!

Suzanne
Suzanne
4 years 6 months ago
Spiral of confusion and paranoia… yep, been there. But part of what brings me back to MDA again and again is the relative sanity and optimism found here, as opposed to some other sites that seem to ratchet up the fear with every post. I find that when I’m getting a little too obsessed with my diet, it’s best to stop reading blogs and start listening more closely to my body. It’s a lot easier, and I suspect more beneficial, to make adjustments to my life that grow from “informed self-awareness” rather than someone else’s experience or research.
Bingo
Bingo
4 years 6 months ago

Thats exactly what I have to do. Relax and enjoy some real food with good quality.

Jeffrey of Troy
4 years 6 months ago

Cocoa “beans” (actually, the seed of a fruit) are fermented then roasted before being made into chocolate. No phytic acid.

Creatine (good) is not the same thing as creatinine (bad).

Primal Toad
4 years 6 months ago

So you are saying that dark chocolate has absolutely not phytic acid left when we eat it? I’ve never heard this one before so I’m very interested in the truth especially if this is the truth.

Jeffrey of Troy
4 years 6 months ago

The combo of fermenting and roasting is very effective at significantly reducing phytic acid content; I can’t say it’s absolutely zero, but should be negligible, esp. since you should be having no more than one mouthful per day of choc.

pamela
pamela
4 years 6 months ago

I’ve been eating raw chocolate. Don’t know whether raw chocolate is fermented (it’s certainly not roasted), so I wonder if it still contains phytic acid. Might you know?

Doris
Doris
4 years 6 months ago

When I recently heard that rice has arsenic, my vegetarian husband replied that fish has mercury. A varied diet seems the most important.

Animanarchy
4 years 6 months ago

I read that the selenium in fish protects us from the mercury.

Graham
Graham
4 years 6 months ago

Coconut. Oil. Just can’t get enough.

Maryanne
Maryanne
4 years 6 months ago

Right – I love coconut oil. I became addicted when I found out I had candida, and it’s really helping. But it’s still not perfect – it’s got something that makes some people allergic. My boss can’t have it. I don’t think it’s not the way it’s processed, either, since she’s tried different brands & versions.

Katherine
Katherine
4 years 6 months ago

LOLing because the first thing I thought when I read the Q was “But chicken has too much omega 6!”.

The answer is of course to just eat a varied diet of real foods and no worry about it. I just finished reading “In defence of food” and it made a lot of sense to me. I am sick of obsessing about how to eat, and now I know my health problems are down to a congenital problem rather than an autoimmune disease or metabolic issue, it is time to relax and learn to do the above.

Laura
Laura
4 years 6 months ago

Do you know what effect fermentation has on goitrogens in cabbage?

Suzanne
Suzanne
4 years 6 months ago

Ooh… good question! Homemade kimchi and sauerkraut are staples at my house, and I think they have helped a lot with my family’s gut health, but I also wonder about goitrogens (family history of thyroid goiter).

tom
tom
4 years 6 months ago

Fermenting has no effect on goitrogens, only cooking neutralizes them. Having said that, fermented vegetables, even cabbage, are an incredibly powerful food in so many ways. I could care less about the goitrogens in veggies in an overall varied diet. Just eat real whole organic produce, grassfed animal products and dairy (raw) and relax.

Daniel Wallen
4 years 6 months ago

I was happy to read this. I am always fascinated by how the “experts” can never seem to decide if a food is healthy or unhealthy. One year, eggs are great because of the protein content; the next, they’re bad because of the cholesterol content. Dietitian 1 says to only consume egg white, dietitian 2 says to eat the whole egg. It’s no wonder everyone is so confused about healthy eating. I think a variety of natural foods in moderation is the way to go.

Jeffrey of Troy
4 years 6 months ago

The difference between truth and lie is a difference in reality, not of opinion. Just because one person says something, then another person says something else, doesn’t mean the two statements are equally valid; the public is easily confused by competing claims because science education in the USA has been under vicious assault by both Conservatives and Liberals (each for their own reasons) for 50 years.

Most credentials – esp. in “health” or “nutrition” – don’t require understanding the scientific method, only obedience.

Joy Beer
Joy Beer
4 years 6 months ago

Even though it would drive me mad to second-guess every one of my perfect foods, I AM bringing my polar bear liver back to Costco.

Jim
Jim
4 years 6 months ago
I smoked for 40 years. I quit a year and a half ago. (Cold turkey with help online.) I’ve been cleaning up my diet for about a year. After 40 years smoking up t0 4 packs a day and consuming large quantities of alcohol regularly, the last thing I’m worried about is finding “Perfect food” I’m happy with 80% perfect. I think I usually do a lot better than 80%. I figure that if I eat a variety of healthy things and avoid very unhealthy things, then my diet is good enough. I’m not trying for perfect.
Cal
4 years 6 months ago

I’ll drink to that! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jim
Jim
4 years 6 months ago

I’m lucky. Never got addicted to alcohol. I can enjoy one or two drinks a week. 80% IS perfect. (Not gonna risk any nicotine. That was definitely an addiction.)

John
John
4 years 6 months ago

I’m even luckier. I can enjoy two drinks an hour.

Marilyn
Marilyn
4 years 6 months ago

Good for you for eliminating cogs a and alcohol. I didn’t find it easy and after 25 years I still feel deeply grateful to have done with it!

Animanarchy
4 years 6 months ago

I wonder if human egg cells or zygotes would make the best food for humans. It could also solve the teen pregnancy problem.

Maryanne
Maryanne
4 years 6 months ago

Slightly gross, but an interesting concept. Although, isn’t that technically cannibalism? And cannibalism is definitely not healthy for humans.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2937187.stm

Barrie Templeton`
Barrie Templeton`
4 years 6 months ago

Brings to mind the Jonathon Swift essay, A Modest Proposal, wherein he suggested that the English essentially set up feed lots for young Irish girls (where Ireland was in dreadful famine conditions). The resultant meat could be sold as a delicacy to English aristocracy, while helping to ease the famine.
This is the kind of satire writers wish they dared to produce!

Natasha
4 years 6 months ago
I recently came across your website, bought your book, and literally “devoured” every single word of it. I’ve been contemplating giving up vegetarianism for some time now, and I have never felt better! I also agree with the fact that no food is perfect. When I was a little kid, it was easy for me to identify “good” foods versus “bad” foods, but now with researching mixed opinions on the internet, I get really confused. Every food does have something bad it in – fruits are high in sugar, eggs have too much cholesterol, etc. What I’m learning is to… Read more »
Jeffrey of Troy
4 years 6 months ago

One or two cups of (whole, raw) fruit is NOT a diet “high in sugar”. Almost nobody is fat or sick from eating a couple servings of fruit per day.

Eggs are NOT “high in cholesterol”; your body needs chol so bad it makes more than you get even from a “high” chol diet. Zero reason to avoid chol in food, it was always a combo of idiocy and $.

Jodi
Jodi
4 years 6 months ago

Amen! I could have wrote this same comment minus the vegetarianism.I devoured the book too. Once I understood the science behind all the foods I was amazed. I have been primal for 10 months now and my health has never been better. Oh and I am also down 40lbs.

Michelle
Michelle
4 years 6 months ago

Hi All,

I am 49 in April, have had 4 kids and spent most of my life eating meat, chicken, fish, veggies etc. Never stressed about it, never counted calories. My weight lives at 55k and I’ve been the same dress size for almost 30 years. We eat primal probably 80-90% of the time and probably have for years not giving it a name. Honestly – life is WAY too short to get all wound up. Eat what you like thats fresh and clean (in moderation) and enjoy!

Grant
4 years 6 months ago
Forgive if I repeat what previous posters mentioned, didn’t have a chance to read them all. Potential toxins, over abundance of nutrients is highly over- rated. For almost 6yrs straight I ate 6 raw eggs daily without the slightest adverse reaction. For most of the last few years I’ve gone through 6-12oz of spinach daily (think costco sized container) with no adverse reaction. And yes I do rotate my greens, spinach just happens to be my staple. So while it’s important to understand the risks, never let it deter you from what you intuitively know to be good. If you… Read more »
Arty
Arty
4 years 6 months ago

What is important is to know IF our bodies have evolved dealing with most of these ‘toxins’ or not.
Obviously, we have not really evolved to live on a lot of veggies high in oxalates, nor have we evolved living entirely on the part of the plant that is needed to reproduce itself (grains, legumes)

This is what’s important : VARIETY.

Trav
Trav
4 years 6 months ago

I’m starting to wonder if I may have some psychic ability. I just commented on an old MDA post yesterday about people stressing out over the minute amounts of toxins in some foods and how I think that may actually be worse for them than the substance itself.

Moshen
Moshen
4 years 6 months ago

All you need is a little perspective. You used to live on Lucky Charms, diet Coke, and Cheetoh’s. Does an egg really seem that scary?

BT
BT
4 years 6 months ago
Just been reading Lierre Keith and cross referencing some of the stuff around soil health and our good health. I enjoyed this post because it reinforces the idea that finding local foods , organically grown and outside the mega food chain system still seems to be the way to go…I won’t sweat the small stuff if I can get a varied and seasonal range of fruit vegies and free range meats, visceral or otherwise…My N=1 experiment 100% agrees that eating good foods makes you healthier..it also ties in with the epigenetic meme that eating a natural diet low in sugar… Read more »
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marshall
marshall
4 years 6 months ago

http://gapersblock.com/drivethru/2012/03/05/behold_the_butcher/

This is a really cool short film about the 3 new butchers in Chicago and their approach to local meats. It’s not all grassfed but it’s a great start towards getting people to appreciate where their food comes from and how their animals were raised.

Guy
Guy
4 years 6 months ago

But is there a good ‘munchies’ food? Something you can munch on handfuls and handfuls of and not worry about too much fat, calories, carbs etc… like celery, maybe?

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
4 years 6 months ago

You can probably eat your fill of vegetables without any problems unless a huge amount of fiber doesn’t sit well.

Aaron
Aaron
4 years 6 months ago

This is so simple yet causes so much confusion. Eat a variety and create balance. Consuming too much of just about any one thing is bad. Brazil nuts here, eggs there, fruit over here, veggies on the side…etc. Stay away from processed foods, artificial ingredients and anything that nature does not provide freely. You will be fine!

MightyMouse
MightyMouse
4 years 6 months ago

Ahh…that’s why I threw up both my lungs last week! Tried raw oysters for the first time.

Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle
4 years 6 months ago

We all like different things. Personally, I can’t get enough of raw oysters. I eat a few dozen for dinner at least once a week. If they weren’t so expensive, I would eat them more often than once a week.

Abigail
Abigail
4 years 6 months ago

TBH breathing is bad for you, all the particles in modern air which we were never intended to breath…but hey – I’m not going to give up breathing just yet ๐Ÿ˜‰

Milla
4 years 6 months ago

Argh Mark, I love shellfish! They’re one of my feel-good foods – like liver; I always make a thai shellfish curry – green, red or yellow, depending on mood – a few times a week. I just make sure I get mine from a reputable source. And I only eat raw shellfish in places I can trust. I went on holiday to Paris this Christmas and the hotel’s specialty was raw shellfish platters. I must have consumed my bodyweight in shellfish while I stayed there…

Milla
4 years 6 months ago

By the way, this post is so on time. There’s been sooo much bashing of individual foods in the paleosphere lately. Nuts, Poultry, avocados (wtf…?), eggs…people need to relax. Its one thing analysing crap in packages, and another thing picking apart whole foods. How can you seriously think eating a fresh avocado is the same as drinking a shot of canola oil (*shudder*)?

Maryanne
Maryanne
4 years 6 months ago

IS there anything bad about avocados? Don’t remember reading anything (except by “regular”, non-paleo folks about the high fat content). I think all of us here are OK with the fat content of the avocado.

Carrie S.
Carrie S.
4 years 6 months ago

Some people are allergic to them. Oddly enough, the allergy is related to a latex allergy. It doesn’t sound like it’s a problem for you though!

rarebird
rarebird
4 years 6 months ago
While not perfect, of course, an avocado is a great food. I have even heard some people call avocado a perfect food – although obviously not perfect for everyone. Avocado is a berry. From wikipedia: The avocado (Persea americana) is a tree native to Central Mexico,[1] classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel. Avocado or alligator pear also refers to the fruit (botanically a large berry that contains a single seed[2]) of the tree, which may be pear-shaped, egg-shaped or spherical. Avocados have diverse fats. For a typical avocado: About 75% of an… Read more »
Michelle
4 years 6 months ago

I try to ignore the nefarious posts that spell out the “dangerous” effects of a particular whole food. Squash, most fruits…whole foods with “good for you” ingredients!
Thanks for this post- hope it gets good circulation!

Ben
Ben
4 years 6 months ago

Quick question on the cruciferous veggies. Would eating an excess of them without balancing with iodine cause a feeling as though the throat (on the sides of the larynx especially) were swelling? I only ask because goiter, caused primarily by iodine deficiency. is a swelling of the thyroid gland. A

Kate
4 years 6 months ago
I particularly like this explanation from Evolvify, from the article “The Myth of Food.” He argues that there really is no such thing as food, and that “[e]verything we put in our bodies exists somewhere on a continuum from food to poison…. [T]he continuum is made up of multiple axes. Something can be 99% food on the protein axis, 83% food on the vitamin R axis, but 0% food on the โ€œlacking cyanideโ€ axis and 17% food on the lectin axis.” Since reading and thinking about all this, I’m much less anxious about what I’m eating having some crazy, detrimental… Read more »
Jordan
Jordan
4 years 6 months ago

Are sweet potatoes and yams high enough in absorbable Vitamin A to cause “overdose issues”? I sometime eat 2-3lbs a day to support high performance cycling.

Amy B.
Amy B.
4 years 6 months ago

I doubt it.
Sweet potatoes and yams don’t actually contain *any* vitamin A. They contain beta-carotene, which is a precursor that then needs to be converted to vitamin A by your body. Some people are more efficient than others at making this conversion, but true, actual vitamin A typically comes only from animal foods.

So I don’t think you could “overdose” from sweet potatoes. The biggest thing you might notice a little orange tint to your skin. (No joke!) You might consider backing off at that point. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Chris
Chris
4 years 6 months ago

Just thought I’d point out that if we evolved eating these foods, then our genetics will likely be suited to expressing themselves well in their presence, and will not be natured for expressing themselves ideally in the presence of some imaginary “food of perfection.” I’m thinking hormetic effects actually, where the body may respond optimally to the low level of toxic or non-ideal components present in these foods which will act as a mild stressor to the digestive system and immune system, whereas those same troublesome elements will be actively harmful at higher levels.

rarebird
rarebird
4 years 6 months ago
IMO, the fact that a food can be an allergen or toxic in large quantities does not lower its value. There are some people who develop urticaria from sunlight and/or water. By Mayo Clinic staff Sun allergy is a condition in which sunlight triggers a skin reaction. For most people, sun allergy symptoms include an itchy red rash in areas that have been exposed to sunlight. A severe sun allergy may cause hives, blisters or other symptoms. There are several types of sun allergy โ€” including polymorphic light eruption (PMLE), actinic prurigo, chronic actinic dermatitis (CAD) and solar urticaria. Wikipedia:… Read more »
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