I haven't posted in a while but today I decided to begin blogging my new dietary changes, my experiments with food, and some of the research I'll be doing on living a healthy lifestyle.
Going forward I must note that I have several biases that will make this scientifically inaccurate. I expect this to be positive. Based on past experience with intermittent fasting and eating whole foods, I expect to feel good.
I'm not testing this objectively-rigorously. I'm searching for things, have an already formed opinion, and cannot be counted on to be biased to the point of perfection.
But I am generally a non-biased person. I do not lie, to myself or to anyone else.
I say this because I believe that human health is tricky business, and shouldn't be simplified to the point of idiocy. It's hard to know if something is “healthy” when health evolves over a lifespan of decades. There are many factors involved, making it impossible to isolate one ingredient in a complex system (consisting of diet, exercise, stress-reduction, genetics, environmental carcinogens, etc), and saying without a doubt that it is what makes or breaks one's health.
There are no absolutes in medicine but only generalities. This has become my mantra when discussing health in any capacity, be it physical or emotional. I can use smoking as an example of this.
It is true that smoking cigarettes is generally unhealthy, but saying that “cigarettes kill people” is a ridiculous statement in any scientific context. Saying cigarettes are a cause of cancer is logical and rational, and can be backed up by years of research. Saying cigarettes caused someone's cancer makes less sense when viewed from a whole-health perspective—in which case cigarettes alone do not cause cancer, but are a factor among many factors (even if it is the largest factor), because cancer is dependent on many factors, be they genetic, environmental, and behavioral.
Someone's lung cancer has a lot to do with who they are on a molecular level as well as what they eat. You can expect a higher rate of lung cancer among cigarette smokers who eat processed foods than you can among smokers who eat whole foods—but that doesn't mean that diet alone causes lung cancer either. You have to also consider exercise and stress, two factors that may play as big of roles as genetics, diet, and carcinogen exposure.
Health is infinitely complicated when we look at it in a broad spectrum, and it must be looked at in a broad spectrum to be even remotely accurate. So I'm not going to try to prove anything with this blog, because I lack the tools and the objectivity to factor everything in, and I'm studying myself, over a short amount of time at that.
I'm doing this mainly for me, and for anyone else interesting in health who would like to read along, get some ideas, or be pointed in a particular direction.
My most basic guideline for health is simply: “How does it make me feel?”
I've found through experimenting that eating a lot of unhealthy carbs, specifically simple sugars in the form of candy and cakes makes me feel like crap. It tastes great, there's no doubt about that, but I experience more depression, more anxiety, more tiredness, and more strange bodily symptoms when I'm on the Standard American Diet (SAD).
In my experience fasting for about 17 hours each day, or fasting 24 hours every other day, fills me with physical energy, and helps me to feel an astounding peace of mind. I'm less agitated, feel far less depression—none—and experience less anxiety; what anxiety I do feel tends to be less volatile and easy to deal with.
Something I have never tried before is to eat a diet lower in carbs. I'll still eat fruits like bananas, whole grains like oatmeal, and vegetables like sweet potoatoes, but balance these with healthy fats like olive and coconut oil to further lower these foods' glycemic load. How will this make me feel eating a diet containing a higher percentage of fats and proteins (lots of chicken and fish)?
I will find out.
For the record this diet started on Sunday, May 5, 2013.
It's a dietary blend of whole foods and intermittent fasting. I am not striving for perfection, but a general direction, so I'll likely have cheat meals and perhaps some cheat days once in a while, and If I need it, I'll have some protein powder with water or almond milk (I am bodybuilding).