For the greater part of the past 2.6 million years, our ancestors’ diets consisted of wild animals and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Today most people’s diets are centred on grains and carbs — many of which contain gut-blasting, microbiome-damaging gluten whose downstream effects have serious impacts to our health.  The fact that preventable, non-communicable diseases account for more deaths worldwide today than all other diseases combined is unacceptable (see part 1). How can that be? We’re living longer than previous generations, but not necessarily better. We’ve failed at averting and curing illnesses that we’re susceptible to when we’re older. I don’t know anyone who wants to live to be 100 if their last twenty years are spent in misery.

It’s clear to me that the shift in our diet over the past century is at fault for many of our modern scourges. We went from eating a nutrient dense, high-fat, high-fibre, low-carb diet to a nutrient-void, low-fat, low-fibre, high-carb one, and we concomitantly began to suffer from chronic illnesses.  It is generally agreed that the transition between the Paleolithic era and the Neolithic era happened around 9,000 years BC, precisely at the time of the first crops of wheat.  Hunting, fishing and gathering were quickly being replaced by agriculture and livestock. Our nomad hunter-gatherers ancestors began to multiply and settle down in the first city of the new world.

The agricultural era introduces us to a high amount of wheat, rice, and corn, all food sources that were significantly lower in vitamins and minerals than wild animal products, fruits and vegetables.  Agriculture decrease our average intake of quality protein, since almost all meat/animal proteins have a desirable amino acid profile, whereas most plant proteins do not.  Agriculture also increases our low-quality carbohydrate intake and exosed us to toxic substances like gluten and soy. These rapid changes in diet lead to a wide range of diseases that weren’t common prior to agriculture, such as beriberi, pellagra, rickets, survey, tooth decay, anaemia, and decreases in average bone density.  All caused by the impacts of eating a poor quality diet.

In the tables above you can see animal protein is more bioavailable than other plant protein. Soybeans are close to beef, but they contain something called phytic acid, which inhibits protein absorption, and if this had been considered, they would have been even lower on the list. Notice how low whole wheat and wheat protein, or gluten, are. Notice that legumes, on average, are much lower than even some plant proteins and any animal protein.

In the tables above you can see animal protein is more bioavailable than other plant protein. Soybeans are close to beef, but they contain something called phytic acid, which inhibits protein absorption, and if this had been considered, they would have been even lower on the list. Notice how low whole wheat and wheat protein, or gluten, are. Notice that legumes, on average, are much lower than even some plant proteins and any animal protein.

Did you know that vegan eaters often consume more iron than omnivores? They also consume more anti-nutrients, including phytates, and these reduce the amount of iron available to their bodies. Consuming 5-10 mg of phytic acid can reduce iron absorption by 50%. This is why vegetarian eaters should eat more iron than omnivores (33 mg for veg eaters vs. 18 mg for omnivores). (Precision Nutrition)

You and your caveman counterpart have bodies and brains that operate the same way, but your sources of nutrition are far from being the same. Our caveman counterpart spent a long time hunting for food, and ate only meat (high in fat) including organs (high in nutrient), fish, and the occasional natural sugar from plants and, if the season was right, fruits. In comparison, our modern hunter and gathering expeditions to the supermarket have handed us abundant access to processed fats and sugars not to mention the nonseasonal fruits.  

We can argue that the quality of our meat is not the same as the diet of our hunter-gather ancestors, and the amount of hormones and antibiotics being used in the meat industry is also impacting our health.  This is why TSTM recommend you source grass-fed organic animal protein as much as possible.  Most clients we work with do not eat enough protein to build and sustain high levels of health and performance. The quality of their protein is often questionable.  We agree that it can be expensive to buy top quality animal proteins, but can you honestly put a price on your health?  Many of us can afford to buy the latest smartphone, but we won't invest in the quality of our food?

Good sorces of protein: whole eggs; wild fish (salmon, black cod, mahimahi, grouper, herring, trout, sardines); shellfish and mollusks (prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, clams, oysters); grass-fed meat, fowl, poultry, and pork (beef, lamb,liver, bison, chicken, turkey, duck, ostrich, veal); wild game. 

If you haven’t been keeping up with our blog posts about gut health you might like to catch up: The First Step in a Healthy Nutrition Plan and Fat Gut, Thin Gut, and Leaky Gut.  This will help you connect some of the dots between low-carb, high-fat, high-fibre, and the importance of gut health.  The science is showing that people who stick to a Mediterranean-type diet, rich in healthy, anti-inflammatory fats and proteins, enjoy significantly lower rates of depression. Conversely, a diet high in carbs and sugar sets up an “inflammatory microbiome” and increases rates of depression

An ancestrial diet (Paleo Diet) supplies the ingredients needed to nourish not only healthy biology (and thus a healthy microbiome) but also a healthy brain. "A diet that keeps blood sugar balanced keeps gut bacteria balanced. A diet high in rich sources of fibre, which you’ll get from whole fruits and vegetables, feeds the good gut bacteria and produces the right balance of these short-chain fatty acids to keep the gut lining in check. A diet devoid of injurious gluten will further tip the scales in favour of healthy gut ecology as well as healthy brain physiology. And a diet that’s intrinsically anti-inflammatory is good for the gut and brain." [Brain Maker, David Perlmutter]

Far too often people think a low-carb diet is all about eating copious amounts of meat and other sources of protein. On the contrary, an ideal plate in the TSTM protocol is a sizeable portion of vegetables (two-thirds of your plate) and about 100g to 350g of protein depending on age, gender, lean body mass and training goals of the individual. TSTM does not recommend meal replacement protein shakes as they often cause more harm than good and most plant-based protein has low bioavailability, we will talk more about this in a future post.

If you stop and think about modern disease there are a number of contributing factors.  Our nutrition is the number one issues and the lead causing chronic disease. Many of these diseases can be prevented by eating primarily meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and some starchy plant.  We have been misleading by the so-called health agencies of the world who once told us that grains were healthy for your heart, that saturated fat was bad for you, that high cholesterol was unhealthy,  eat red meat was as bad as smoking, and that leaky gut was a joke.  Many of the agencies are now chocking on their own bullshit as they start to rewrite the out of date textbooks. 

Valid nutrition information is hard to find, there are many "so-called experts" promoting and selling nutrtional products and diets everywhere. Everyone, including me, has there own beliefs and judgments on what is a healthy diet.  But let's be honest, can anyone argue that eating a diet made up of real whole organic foods is unhealthy?  Did anyone get fat and sick from eating grass-fed animal products and organically grown fruits, vegetables, nut and seeds?  Maybe it can happen if you have a nut allergie, but the chances are far less than when we compare the statistics associated with eating a crappy western diet.

In our next post we are going to STRONGLY recommend that you remove all gluten-containing grains from your diet:

Sick, Fat and Unhealthy: Part 2b: Agriculture introduced us to gluten