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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’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 we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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April 13 2015

Dear Mark: Diet for Alzheimer’s, and the Role of Competitiveness in Modern Life

By Mark Sisson
57 Comments

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got just two questions, but they’re meaty ones. The first concerns a new study seeming to claim that all the foods we hold dear on the Primal eating plan — or at least a big portion of them — cause Alzheimer’s disease. Could it be true, or is the study, which is an epidemiological massage of existing data, maybe not quite so definitive as that? Also, what if we had a study showing that exact opposite: that following a Primal lifestyle (not just diet) could actually reverse Alzheimer’s-associated cognitive decline? Then, I discuss the role of competitiveness in life. Having been a top endurance athlete, I know a little bit about the subject. What does it mean these days, though?

Let’s go:

I am a almost 67 year old man who has been following the primal eating and exercise plan for over a year. I have lost around 20 lbs in that time.

I am happy with my fitness and appearance.

In the press today a diet was published which allegedly can protect a person from Alzheimer’s. This diet is pretty much the opposite of Primal. Should I be worried?

Peter

I’m pretty sure you’re referring to the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, or MIND diet. It has ten “brain-healthy” food groups and five “brain-unhealthy” food groups.

Healthy foods include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Other vegetables
  • Berries
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Beans
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Nuts
  • Wine
  • Whole grains

In the “unhealthy” category, we see:

  • Cheese
  • Red meat
  • Butter and margarine
  • Pastries and sweets
  • Fried and processed foods

If this were a dietary intervention study, I’d look a little harder at the diet. If the researchers had actually placed one group on the MIND diet and one on a normal diet, tracked them for twenty years, and noted the differences in Alzheimer’s disease rates, this would be a huge paper. But they didn’t do that. They analyzed what people in an existing data set were already eating. Which is fine, but it’s not the final word.

Whenever you look at these studies showing a particular food is associated with a particular disease state, you must remember the “healthy user effect.” The powers that be have proclaimed butter and beef to be supreme dietary evils, and those associations are etched into our collective subconscious. Because we’ve all grown up in a society where people “know” that “butter and red meat are terrible for you,” actual people who flout those rules tend to be careless eaters and lead generally unhealthy lives. They enjoy their beef and butter between two fried slices of white bread with a side of cigarette smoke and four hours of television. The closest they get to two servings of vegetables a day is fries and ketchup.

Conversely, the folks who eat the whole grains, the beans, the nuts, and other “universally-accepted as healthy” foods do other healthy things like exercise regularly, visit the outdoors, and never smoke. They usually reside in a higher socioeconomic bracket, which might be the healthiest lifestyle factor of all. And when researchers removed from analysis those people who changed their diets midway through the study to a “healthier” pattern, the association between MIND and protection from Alzheimer’s strengthened. If the MIND diet was primarily responsible for the favorable outcomes, switching to it from an unhealthier diet should have conferred greater protection, but only those who ate healthy from the start — the true healthy users — had significant protection. You have to wonder what other differences exist between lifelong MIND dieters and people who switched to MIND dietary patterns after a doctor recommended they do so.

The exclusion of red meat and butter do jump out at you. I get that. Aren’t they two foods that we lionize in the Primal Blueprint? Sorta. But we emphasize them so much because we’re opposing a paradigm that vilifies them and we must speak louder to be heard. And if you compare the two diets above, I’d actually suggest that the “brain-healthy” food groups are more Primal than not. I don’t know about you, but I eat leafy greens, other vegetables, berries, nuts, fish, poultry, and EVOO just about every single day. Wine, not as often lately, but I used to have a glass daily. In fact, those foods are just as crucial to a successful Primal eating plan (if not more so) as grass-fed beef and butter.

Besides, we do have a set of ten dietary and lifestyle intervention case studies where the diet and lifestyle look very familiar. This intervention was designed for reversal of Alzheimer’s-related cognitive decline, rather than prevention, but take a look at the main points:

  1. Eliminate all simple carbs and follow a low-glycemic, low-grain (especially refined grains) diet meant to reduce hyperinsulinemia.
  2. 12 hour eating window, 12 hour fast each day.
  3. Stress reduction (yoga, meditation, whatever works for the individual).
  4. 8 hours of sleep a night (with melatonin if required).
  5. 30-60 minutes of exercise 4-6 days per week.
  6. Brain stimulation (exercises, games, crosswords).
  7. Supplementation to optimize homocysteine, vitamin B12, CRP levels.
  8. Take vitamin D and vitamin K2.
  9. Improve gut health (prebiotics and probiotics).
  10. Eat antioxidant-rich foods and spices (blueberries, turmeric).
  11. Optimize hormone balance (thyroid panel, cortisol, pregnenolone, progesterone, estrogen, testosterone).
  12. Obtain adequate DHA to support synaptic health (fish oil, fish).
  13. Optimize mitochondrial function (CoQ10, zinc, selenium, other nutrients).
  14. Use medium chain triglycerides (coconut oil, MCT oil).

That’s crazy talk! Eat a low-grain, low-glycemic (which usually, but not always, means lowish-carb) diet? Go a little hungry sometimes? Manage your stress? Get enough sleep and exercise? Use your brain on a regular basis? Use smart supplementation of key nutrients missing from your normal diet? Feed your gut flora and take probiotics when needed? Eat colorful produce? Recognize that hormones affect and effectively control health? Seafood is healthy and important for brain function? Mind your mitochondria? Keep inflammation at bay? Medium chain triglycerides can have special effects on the brain?

What kind of a fool would think making these modifications to one’s diet and lifestyle would make a difference to cognitive function, especially in the context of Alzheimer’s disease? Dale Bredesen, the MD responsible for these ten patients and the author of the case studies, for one. Nine out of ten subjects who entered the intervention program displayed subjective and/or objective improvements in cognitive function. Of the six subjects who’d been previously forced to stop working due to loss of function, all six were able to return to work after the intervention.

I want to reiterate: I’m not ruling out beef and butter playing a role in Alzheimer’s pathogenesis, at least in certain genetically susceptible individuals. Maybe going Primal gives you Alzheimer’s then somehow reverses it. That’d be odd, but who knows?

Also, the case studies are just that: a group of case studies. They’re also not the final word, but they do start the conversation. To confirm that the dietary and lifestyle interventions actually do reverse cognitive decline, we’d need trials with larger cohorts. And that would get very expensive very quickly due to the complexity of the interventions.

If you’re still worried, Peter, don’t be. Look at the MIND diet, the cognitive decline intervention guidelines, and the Primal Blueprint Laws and notice the commonalities. All eliminate junk food, sweets, and deep fried food, the worst offenders in any diet. All emphasize low-carb colorful berries, vegetables, healthy oils, seafood, and nuts. Then, notice that the latter two emphasize far more than just diet. I guess if there’s one takeaway from all this it’s that diet isn’t enough. You can’t just eat Primal and get away scot free. To get the full benefits, you really have to embrace the entire lifestyle — or as much as you can integrate.

Mark!

Would you be willing to discuss the topic of competitiveness? I guess it’s fairly obvious where the trait comes from considering survival of the fittest and all. But since most of us reading this blog have our basic needs met, what role should competitiveness play in the life of a Primal adult?

Thanks man. Your stuff knocks me out 🙂

Lauren C.

Hey, Lauren, thanks for the kind words. That really means a lot to me.

A competitive spirit has its good and bad sides.

I’m a natural competitor, a real type A personality. That’s what drove me to compete in the marathon and then, when I couldn’t do that anymore, triathlon for so many years despite my body giving up on me and my quality of life in tatters: I always wanted to beat the other guys. I wanted to be the best. And not necessarily a better me, but a “better than him.” You need that competitive drive to block the pain, or endure it when you can’t block it out anymore. Your desire, your need to beat the competition has to outweigh the subjective discomfort. It’s the only way to succeed in an intrinsically unpleasant event like the marathon or Ironman. It helped me win races and improve performance (good) but it also made me push past my body’s breaking point and ultimately burned me out on the sport (bad).

And of course, I can’t turn it off even if I’m no longer competing in an official capacity. My weekly Ultimate Frisbee games are friendly, but I take them really seriously and find the vociferousness with which I bump opponents’ shoulders has an inverse relationship to the scoring margin.

For the average person, having competitiveness can act as a reminder that you’re still kicking. That you still care about improving yourself and performing well at whatever it is you do. What you do doesn’t really matter as long as you can improve and maybe measure your performance against others. It could be work, or rec league basketball, or strength training, or art. Whatever works and makes you feel alive.

Just try to keep the competition friendly. Don’t give up or relent or anything like that, mind you. Just don’t let your emotions take over and make you do something you’ll regret later. Be courteous and kind toward the competition even as you attempt to be better than it. This type of friendly competitiveness continues to serve me in my business. I’m not just trying to outdo my own accomplishments, I’m trying to produce the best blog, books, supplements, and so on, that are available. That’s what you have to do to be good. Of course, many of the people I’m “up against” are my friends and colleagues. And they’re doing the same with me. Even as we help each other out and provide support and resources, we’re still engaged in friendly competition.

That’s it for today, everyone.

Are you worried about the first Alzheimer’s study? Motivated by the second? What role does competitiveness play in your modern life?

Let’s hear down below and thanks for reading!

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57 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Diet for Alzheimer’s, and the Role of Competitiveness in Modern Life”

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  1. There’s nothing wrong with being competitive as long as it’s toward a worthy end goal, something that in proves you, your life, or the lives of others. I’m happy to have so many people writing & inventing all to my benefit.
    The sad side of competitiveness is when people are competing to their own detriment, like when Mark mentioned training too hard, or when girls or women try to starve themselves into winning “skinniest girl in the room.” I’ve been there. It’s not healthy or fun, but it’s also not easy to step out of the game.
    Being your best self wins, hands down!

  2. I’m very competitive and it definitely drives me to push myself at CrossFit. However, sometimes it can be extremely frustrating when I’m working out with people that are way beyond my level… when I finish the WOD dead last or I’m lifting significantly less than everyone. But then I just have to focus on competing against myself and remembering how far I’ve come!

  3. After all these years, I’m finally to the point of not bumping everyone hard on the playing fields, no matter what the score. I still hate to lose, although I’m gracious about it now.

  4. Perlmutter’s new book, Brain Maker, is about to hit the streets. I suspect it will have something to say about all this. Front cover art is broccoli pretending to be a brain. Too early to say what that might mean.

    1. Heard Perlmutter interviewed recently and talking a bit about the book; this Dr is just amazing and it will be well worth the read I’m sure.

      1. Perlmutter is widely seen as the go-to guy in the US for managing and avoiding alzheimers. He strikes me as cautiously (but not recklessly) aggressive in exploring promising new approaches to the ailment, regardless of whether they are consensus medicine heresies.

    2. It was Perlmutter’s “Grain Brain” on PBS that finally got me to give up gluten. I must have watched that PBS video 10 times.

  5. To date, we’ve learned that diet alone is not the sole cause of Alzheimer’s–there’s the APO-E gene, family history, lifestyle, insulin response, and whether or not there’s adequate circulation to the brain, among others. I even saw an article a couple of weeks ago that said Type O blood was supposed to be “Alzheimer’s resistant”–if that were the case, my grandmother wouldn’t have gotten it!

    As for the so-called MIND diet, I see about 50 shades of Ornish and his Physicians for Responsible Medicine gang (I mean lobby). I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Dr. Oz having something to say about this, since he, too, is a vegan. This diet if anything, will drive you out of your MIND!

  6. I can’t find it right off hand, but I have seen some more positive info on LCHF and alzheimers. I’ll have to look (or if anyone has it off hand).

  7. That original mediterranian diet study failed to account for intermittent fasting as practiced by devout Greek Orthodox. In addition to the 40 days of Lent, during which calorie intake is very much reduced, most Wednesdays and Fridays during the year are fast days. When the first study was done mid-century, much of the study group was considered very devout.

    Red meat was not a big part of the diet, since the island (was it Crete?) was pretty much self-sufficient at the time and farmers rarely slaughter the sheep and goats that provide them with wool and milk.

  8. Tired of competition. When you devote your career to a competitive field, you eventually realize, often too late like in my case, that competition isn’t more important than sacrificing a healthy lifestyle, finding (and keeping) a partner, and making time for play. Now I’m simply happy to challenge myself to be better, not for the sake of beating others.

  9. I hate competition. I really do. And I always have. Sour grapes perhaps as I when I compete I rarely win. So if competition for the sake of competition is a stimulant for the brain, then fine. But that means I would have to set aside my desire to be on top. I don’t even like competing when I know I’ll win — as it means someone else loses.

    It may be my age, my abilities or my upbringing, but I’m fatigued with the struggle.

    1. I put a challenge too you that I am even less competitive than you, and will totally annihilate you in a who-is-least competitive competition.

      1. Thanks, Boundless!
        You and Peter beat me to it. 🙂

        As far as I’m concerned, there’s no reason a Primal diet would increase risk for Alzheimer’s. If anything, research indicates it’s just the opposite — that returning to a more ancestral eating pattern, *especially* for those with the ApoE4 genotype — might be protective.

        To actually reverse Alz that has already taken hold and is severe and longstanding, then more drastic measures would likely need to be taken (such as a ketogenic or at least low-carb diet, plus maybe extra MCTs, targeted supplementation, etc.).

        P.S. I pop in to the Wheat Belly blog now and then and you provide some great info there!

  10. A true Mediterranean diet is indeed very similar to the Primal diet. Additionally, the population originally studied had a very Primal Blueprint lifestyle– lots of slow regular movement, occasional sprinting ( after errant lambs no doubt), close knit family and social groups, etc. It makes sense that eschewing processed junk leads to a healthier life, but it’s frustrating when MDs cherry pick data and try to push an erroneous agenda preying on fears. Eat real food. Not too much. Move around. Love. That’s the real secret.

  11. Any kind of competition can become unhealthy when carried to extremes. I’ve known people who are competitive in every aspect of their lives, including their relationships–often to their own detriment and that of everyone around them. The need to always win, to always be right, to always be in charge, to always have the last word, to be the best, the smartest, the fastest, etc., isn’t normal competitiveness. It’s more closely associated with various personality disorders and can quickly degenerate into something very stressful for all concerned.

  12. I loved this post, you don’t have to be a fight to the death competitor, the competition lies within you and your fight. My fight is blood pressure and I have been reading Ronald Deblois’ book Reduce Blood Pressure Through Weight Training, the training is what I am competing with and the bp is what for. Alzheimer’s is a battle to be fought, so I think you fight it the best you can and compete hard to win that battle.

    1. I have low blood pressure, if I weight train maybe it’ll drop enough that when I test it at the store machine (I don’t go to the doctor much) it’ll declare me dead? He, he, he….

      1. My blood pressure spikes in a medical setting–classic White Coat Syndrome due to some bad experiences. I don’t go to the doctor often either, but when I do go I won’t let them take my blood pressure. My experience is that most medical people neither understand blood pressure nor know how to measure it properly. All they want to do is prescribe just-in-case drugs, which I refuse to take.

  13. To be competitive you must have others to compete against. I’ve always been a loner, more interested in the flora and fauna in the woods than football or other team and competitive sports. I had a friend in high school who was on the football team. Our school was one game away from breaking the state record. The result of that game was a tie. My friend told me that all the players were crying in the locker room and the coach was screaming at them. I was so glad that I had never joined up. If my existence depends upon it, I can be quite competitive, and sneaky, and cunning, and I don’t play fair. I play to win. But games? Games are just games and should be fun.

    As to diet and health, Alzheimers or not, several years ago I read an article on the health of vegetarians. The author of the piece pointed out that vegetarian Buddhists in Taiwan weren’t nearly as healthy as vegetarians in America. The Taiwanese Buddhists tended to smoke and drink and not exercise so their vegetarian diet didn’t help them much.

  14. I just went to a conference on nutrition and the prevention of Alzheimer’s a few weeks ago — speakers included researchers with the MIND study as well as some others who recommended spending time in mild ketosis. They didn’t divide into two warring teams and snark at each other like we do on the internet — they talked to each other and learned from each other. People are working hard to figure this stuff out with real data.

    I didn’t hear anybody advising people with the apoe4 gene to eat saturated fat, and these people are not ideologues or shills for big food or big pharma or anything else, as far as I could tell. In fact, that particular genetic type can’t process lipids as well as others, and it seems to be the source of some real problems. I love MDA, but this shit is serious. Don’t make up some story in your head about how a caveman would do it and tell yourself everything is going to be ok, pass the butter.

  15. An interesting recent study found that “Overweight and obese people were about 30 percent less likely to develop dementia 15 years later than people of a healthy weight. Conversely, underweight people were 34 percent more likely to develop dementia than those whose weight was normal, according to the study authors.” I would love for Mark to address that study.

    1. I read the study, Harry. I think we are safe. Looks ridiculous to me. See part of it copied and pasted below….

      However, the retrospective study was only able to show an association between obesity and a reduced risk of dementia, not a cause-and-effect relationship.

      And Qizilbash added that people shouldn’t take these preliminary findings as a license to gain weight in hopes of preventing dementia since the study also showed a predictable increase in premature death risk from being overweight or obese.

      “Even if there were to be a protective effect on dementia from being overweight or obese, you may not live long enough to get the benefit,” Qizilbash said.

      He added that the findings need further study. “We don’t have a biological explanation for the association we observed,” he said.

  16. I wonder if a lack of competitiveness makes it more difficult to enjoy playing team sports. It certainly does for me. I tend to be more competitive against myself, which is why an activity like swimming or weight lifting works better.

  17. Mark I really appreciate the time you give to research all our questions out and the links you embed and offer to us to further our own research. On that note, earlier this year I read Dr. David Perlmutter’s newest book: Grain Brain. Being a neurologist by training and researcher by passion, his book is chock full of clinical studies on the connection between the brain and the gut. He discusses Alzheimer’s a lot in the book. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to know more on the subject from a renowned expert in the field.

  18. Re: Alzheimer’s and diets to avoid it: here’s a link to a recent study on Alzheimer’s actually being the 3rd type of diabetes:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769828/

    There are tons of other stories and studies which are only a Google search away if you really want to dig into it, and I believe “Grain Brain” really explains the mechanisms well.

    If you want to avoid Alzheimer’s, seems to me that a low-glycemic, low carb, grain-free diet – like paleo, primal, or whatever else you want to call it – would be an excellent place to start.

  19. Any study that lumps butter and margarine together has lost me…………..

    1. Yes – its a lot like saying petrol clogs car engines, and lump Ethanol mixed petrol (100% guaranteed to wreck your engine) with 98 octane petrol that have cleaning agents in them.

  20. There is strong research to show that added and concentrated fructose is the main cause of Alzeimers.

  21. I’m no scientist but the generations that ate beef (and other red meat) often and butter daily, more than once, were not the ones who are going down with early-onset Alzheimers in their 40’s and 50’s – I personally know people in that age bracket this is affecting.

    All of them heavy users of veg fats by the way. And all told to adopt fruit- and grain-heavy low-fat diets by their GPs… despite DiabetesUK stating that Alzheimers may be type 3 diabetes: http://www.diabetes.co.uk/type3-diabetes.html

    If saturated animal fat is so bad for brains, it’s a miracle we exist, since human infants are in ketosis almost constantly from the third trimester until weaning: http://www.ketotic.org/2015/03/meat-is-best-for-growing-brains.html

    (That’s why human babies are uniquely chubby compared to chimp babies – the fat is broken down into ketone bodies to fuel their fast-growing compex brains.)

  22. Pastries and fried stuff can’t be part of any healthy diet much less Primal Blueprint. And you could easily go wrong with red meat – as in only eat low quality AND muscle meat for every meal. This is also not what Primal blueprint recommends. I anyways eat far more vegetables and salads on top of which sit healthy and undamaged fats.
    And nothing turns me on like bulletproof coffee with generous butter and MCT oil in it. Works for me.

  23. I have had my primal diet pretty well established for about five years. I added a 17 hour daily fast in December after reading the Bredesen study. I’ve also taken the Damage Control Master Formula on and off for a couple of years but I’m concerned about over supplementation. I would love for Mark to develop a brain support specific supplement so I could be sure I’m getting enough high-quality nutrients for my brain, but not risk over supplementation.

    Mark, thank you for adding current research on AD to the topics covered in MDA.

  24. Mark’s analysis of the MIND diet seems intuitively spot on to me, well done. As far as competition, I played sports for many years and winning seemed so important to me. I have been suffering from anxiety and panic disorder for a while, won’t go into detail the trials and tribulations, but now feeling inner peace and enjoying each moment is far more important. I am a software engineer, love what I do, let the younger guys and gals strive to be VP’s and CIO’s, those kinds of goals are no longer important to me.

  25. The lack of vitamin B12, D, A and nutrients like DHA and healthy fats may play a significant factor – there has actually been high instances of Vegan/Fruitarian long term dieters showing a more than significant sway to getting mental diseases when older.

  26. Just on that topic, strict Vegan and Fruitarians act as great case studies of the long term damage that can be sustained from diets restricted from essential vitamins, minerals and fats. They eat massive amounts of food, but suffer deficiencies – this can serve as a warning to any diet, being deficient in even a single nutrient causes problems.

  27. I’m a creator not a competitor. Competition just turns me right off. I have tried, and I just cannot muster a gram of interest in games (sports, cards, human manipulations…). I’ve never even experienced the ultimate “competitive” desire to populate the earth with my own offspring. I’d rather read things, appreciate the sky and grown veggies. I wonder if this is a genetic tendency which has some underlying crucial value, or something triggered in some of us by environmental factors, like overpopulation? Maybe there were Thinkers and Doers in primitive society, and they were not necessarily the same people…

  28. I had an interesting experience last year regarding my 81 year old dad. He started experiencing symptoms of alzheimers/dementia. Suddenly finding himself somewhere and not remembering how he got there. Coming home from the supermarket with some items in his pocket that he hadn’t paid for, didn’t need and didn’t remember putting in his pocket.

    First off, he got nothing from his doctor. He suggested my dad go to a sponsored four hour class on how to live with dementia and said that everyone over 60 with ‘any problem from the neck up’ had to go through that before seeing a neurologist or having any evaluation of sudden onset of dementia like symptoms.

    So I looked at his diet. Like the article above says, he was told not to eat meat and fats because they’re unhealthy. And he was popping supplement pills and guzzling all sorts of liquids that were supposed to improve his health and extend his life.

    His freezer was full of lean frozen meals, almost all carbs, all low/no fat, many with no meat. His fridge was full of high sugar ‘diet’ shakes promising high nutrition.

    An indicator was that he’d lost weight. This was as much of a social issue as a diet issue. Older folks, many living alone, don’t want to shop for and prepare complicated meals. They want to toss something in the microwave or heat up a can of soup. They also can’t eat very much at one sitting, frequently have digestive issues, and suffer with depression. As a side note, ‘meals on wheels’ sucks.

    So my goal was to vary his diet more, reintroduce meats and fats, and help him shop for and have a ready supply of a wide variety of heat and eat foods and plenty of healthy snacks he could just eat out of the fridge or cupboard. And we tossed all the pills and liquid supplements.

    He regained about 18lbs and the dementia symptoms went away. His energy levels went up and he increased his walking regimen. He’s been fine ever since.

    I saw that article last week about how fat people don’t get dementia as much or get it later. I don’t think its because they’re fat, they’re fat because they’re eating well and the good levels of eating plus the good foods they’re eating (meat and fat!) are the causative factor.

    Anyhow, sample size of one study…eating the “standard american diet” of low/no fat, skipping meat and gobbling grains and sugar leads to dementia symptoms, quickly reversed by changing the diet.

    However, a little over a year later he’s back to not wanting to shop, he feels like he’s shortened his life by eating all of that meat and fat, he’s gravitating back to frozen lean meals and the supplements are starting to creep back in. The enormous weight of ‘medical advice’ and the constant advertising, coupled with the fear of accelerated death are just too much to overcome I’m afraid, especially in the elderly that have been bombarded with it for 60+ years

    1. Very insightful comment – its quite amazing when people, even in the face of seeing their own symptoms improve, will almost “walk to their death” rather than question widely held beliefs. There is always a compromise, even if he can eat eggs each day if he drops the meat, that would help immensely.

      Also, the exercise component is important for your dad – as long as he keeps moving as much as he can. If possible, “heavy lifting” a couple of times a week using his own body weight would be ideal.

      On the primal diet, in the space of 3 years I went from 25% bodyfat with no muscle to 7% bodyfat, and much more muscle and strength, and previously “mysterious” heart arrhythmias that the doctors could not give an answer on have now disappeared completely. Even in the face of this, I have people I know following a conventional diet and wisdom of high carbs/lots of cardio running, and I watch their health decline, whilst mine improves, even in the face of that, they don’t want to admit that what they are doing might not be the best path. These are the sort of people who eat only egg whites and discard the yolk, in which case, there is no point eating the eggs (in fact the God of eggs would be outraged) – I’m not sure if it was the primal diet, or move from cardio based to strength based training, or the combination of both.

      1. I wish I could get him to eat eggs. I make him pastured eggs in pasture butter at my house and he loves them. Then he tries to cook them at home by rubbing some oil on his fingertip around a pan and they burn. Plus he buys the cheap eggs and still thinks they’re bad for him.

        I’ve tried filling his refrigerator with good foods. He throws a lot of it away. I’ve just gotten used to taking him out to eat as often as I can. He’ll eat plenty of “good” things at a restaurant because in some unwritten people rule what you eat in a restaurant doesn’t count.

        Its an odd juxtaposition of growing up in the Depression era (cheap), decades of ever reversing dietary advice (confused) and getting older.

        I laughed about what you said about egg whites. It makes me bananas when I see McDonalds serving egg white sandwiches alongside a 12oz orange juice and a hash brown boiled in canola oil!

        1. make sure to get free range eggs of course – the “cage” eggs are cheaper, but studies have shown they are full of bad cholesterol, the free range ones are full of good cholesterol – they are 2 different creatures altogether. Poaching/Boiling eggs is an option if paranoid about using oil to fry.

    2. I feel for you, the concern when we see someone we love making bad choices based on this onslaught of dietary misinfo is painful…

      Can you print and show him some Weston A. Price info? They talk a lot about ancestral diets and might be more convincing, after all he’s seen more fads come and go than most of us, maybe seeing that the oldest ways of eating were different will prompt him to think about it in a different way.

  29. I think everyone should look at the Mind lists with an open mind. High carb veggies and berries are all good for you. Fish low on food chain have wonderful DHA and EPA, calcium, vit. D etc.. without high doses of mercury (sardines, herring).

    But we must recognize that 95% of American beef is not grass fed or organic. And even organic, grass-fed beef creates TMAO and reduced dilation of brachial arteries for up to 4 hours. Beef also has a higher insulin response than pasta. Butter grass fed and organic or conventional contains high amounts of estrogen.

    Would it hurt anyone to eat less beef and replace those calories with more leafy greens, berries and fish?

    1. Can you provide any sources for this statement “Beef also has a higher insulin response than pasta” please?

  30. Dual Olympian – 4th best in world – deep driving force was the zen like state of the hardest aerobic endurance training – racing, not so much! Training was very focused, pushing hard and striving to be better. Racing, nothing more than trying to put it all together for a minute and a half! Trained hard from the age of 6 to 42, no burnout. No physical or mental breakdown. When I’m out on the water now (at 56) I still think about perfection of technique and the feel of every moment, but no desire to push that hard any more! I heard once that the root of the word “compete” was a Greek word that meant “to strive WITH” and I held that as my motto for most of my elite days – the other people only served to help me do my best!

  31. I think an open mind is important here.

    Fried foods and sweets, I think, most people agree are not good for you.

    What would be the harm in eating a little more high carb blueberries and low food chain fish and less red meat and making sure its not cooked in butter like a lot of restaurants do?

    I do mention that blueberries are high carb- they are 90% carbohydrate. I read someone calling blueberries high carb- maybe a typing error.

    When we look at America in comparison to the rest of the world we eat a lot more sweets and meat, particularly beef.

    Okinawan centenarians eat almost no dairy or red meat. They do eat some pork, but as mentioned, all parts, not just the ham and bacon. And all animal products, fish being the primary source is less than 10% of their calories. Pork and fish being much more calorie dense than vegetables tells us it is not a staple of their diet.

    Younger generations of Okinawans do eat more animal products but they are not seeing the health span of their elders, unfortunately. It is the traditional plant-based diet with fish and a bit of pork on special occasions that brings healthful longevity without drugs, supplements etc…

    1. I think there’s a huge danger in taking one isolated community and extrapolating from them what we should all eat.

      For a start, their gut bacteria are unique and influenced by their soil, animals (livestock and pets), and location; for another, there may be genetic factors in fairly isolated communities that protect them (and possibly even protect them from things in their diet that would be outright hazardous to others).

      My grandfather smoked into his late eighties, ate regular high-sugar chocolates every day and was of sound health digging the garden every year until the year he died peacefully in his sleep – this does not mean smoking and eating sugary chocolate is wonderfully good for everyone.

      Same thing, different scale. 😉

      I’m all for observing these kinds of communities but NOT for assuming we should all fall into step like zombies assuming that what works for them must be a universal panacea.

  32. Survival of the fittest isn’t what everyone makes it out to be. On a side note, one needs to differentiate between natural selection and sexual selection. Anywho, Grok (or, ancient man) was never a true competitor. Competition is a characteristic of modern life. Modern man NEEDS to compete in order to live a comfortable life. In Grok’s time, everyone was comfortable and everyone lived in groups. If anyone reads anything about modern tribes, one will see that tasks are often done in a group and that the individual is rarely discussed. If on a hunt, the one that ‘captured the prey’ is oftentimes forbidden from bragging. It is seen as a negative quality, as they know that success on a hunt is often based on luck.