Foods for Strength and Health

Choosing foods for strength and health is really pretty simple...

Natural whole foods that are delicious, highly nutritious, and low in toxins are best for both health and strength.  What are they?  

"Animal proteins, and fruits, because they contain the lowest levels of toxins, should form the basis of the diet. Not all fruits, of course, are perfectly safe--avocados, for example, contain so much unsaturated fat that they can be carcinogenic and hepatotoxic."
Ray Peat, Ph.D. – Vegetables, etc. – Who Defines Food?

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to eat vegetables for health or strength!

Plants can't run from predators, so to protect themselves from being eaten they produce defensive chemicals. The above-ground and reproductive portions of plants – the seeds, including grains, legumes, nuts and seeds such as sesame, sunflower and canola – are most  rich in typically bitter-tasting compounds.  Seeds typically have very higher levels of these compounds because the plant does not want its offspring and its built-in nutrient supply eaten and digested before it has a chance to sprout.

"The toxins of plants include phenols, tannins, lectins/agglutinins, and trypsin-inhibitors, besides innumerable more specific metabolic inhibitors, including “anti-vitamins.” Unsaturated fats themselves are important defenses, since they inhibit trypsin and other proteolytic enzymes, preventing the assimilation of the proteins that are present in seeds and leaves, and disrupting all biological processes that depend on protein breakdown, such as the formation of thyroid hormone and the removal of blood clots."  

Ray Peat, Ph.D. – Vegetables, etc. – Who Defines Food?

Oxalate is another common plant compound that forms harmful crystals in the body, contributing for example to kidney stones.  

Now, whether these compounds cause any ill effect in humans depends on the dose – THE DOSE MAKES THE POISON.  In most cases these compounds do not occur in high enough concentrations to cause any problem.  Sprouting and cooking seeds and cooking vegetables can reduce their concentrations markedly.

The underground portions of plants – roots and tubers – generally have lower levels of compounds of concern to humans; since they are not exposed to insects, birds and grazing mammals, they don't contain the compounds that are concentrated in leaves, stems and seeds of plants to ward off predators.  

Among plant foods, the lowest levels are found in fruits.  Many plants have a highly successful reproductive strategy that involves producing delicious and highly nutritious seed-bearing fruits; these invite animals to consume the fruits and in the process distribute the seeds, often with a bit of fertilizing manure. If the fruits were toxic, animals would quickly learn to avoid the fruits and the plants' purpose would not be served.  

Moreover, as I have discussed in Meats & Sweets, our digestive system is basically the same as that of other primates that specialize in eating fruits, known as frugivores.  Therefore it makes sense to emphasize fruits and tubers rather than vegetables in our diets.

Our gut is very similar to that of the spider monkey, which eats a diet that is dominated by fruits (75%).

Unlike canines, cats and other non-human carnivores, all of which are relatively color blind, we have color vision.  This has the primary purpose  of enabling us to detect ripe fruits.    

Unlike other carnivores and like other primates, we have a strong taste for the sweet flavor, which in Nature is provided by fruits, honey and saps of trees. The only purpose of this sweet taste is to guide us to find and consume sweet foods.

Our gut also has features very similar to that of carnivores

For example, our stomach acidity is actually greater than that of typical carnivores and most like that of animals that feed on carrion.  Our stomach pH is 1.5, similar to falcons (1.8), Swainson's hawks (1.6), ferrets (1.5), wandering albatross (1.5) and possums (1.5).  Our stomach is actually more acidic than that of some dogs (beagle, 4.5 pH) and the common cat (3.6 pH).   This suggests we are adapted to a regular intake of animal products that could contain pathogenic bacteria.

In addition we have a high capacity gall bladder, which stores bile for digestion of fats, and is not typically found in animals adapted to low-fat plant based diets.

Hladik and Pasquet argued that we are frugivores that can eat meat.  In The Hypercarnivore Diet I agreed to an extent, writing on page 123:

"Our guts are similar to those of the carnivores and frugivores. So far, this indicates that we have a gut specialized for consuming meat, fruits, or some combination of meat and fruits."

However, I went on to argue that our brain:body size ratio, energy requirements and stomach acid levels suggest that we are by Nature adapted to an animal-based diet that also includes fruits, rather than frugivores that also eat some meat.  

However, the good health of some hunter gatherer groups like the Hadza who get about 30% of their energy from animal products and the balance primarily from fruits and honey suggests the possibility that some people may not require 70% or more of energy from animal products, but somewhere between 30 and 70%.  

If I were to coin a term for an animal that primarily eats meats but also eats fruits, it would be frugicarnivore. If I were to coin a term for an animal that primarily eats fruits but also eats meats, it would be carnifrugivore. I believe we are frugicarnivores, but if I am wrong about optimum proportions, we are certainly carnifrugivores. 

Ultimately, each person must determine the proportion that works best for him or her. 

Good foods for strength and health

The best foods for strength and health are those that we find delicious, easily digestible and highly nutritious, including:

  • Eggs
  • Milk and milk products (yogurt, cheese, etc.)
  • Meat, including connective tissue (gelatin/collagen, bones/bone broth), but excluding fat and blood
  • Fruits (fresh, dried and juices)
  • Honey and tree saps

Second best plant foods are roots and tubers, such as carrots and potatoes.  Since sprouting and fermenting can markedly reduce potentially problematic compounds and increase nutrients in seeds, sprouted and fermented grains are best when grain products are used and they can be considered third-tier plant foods.  Seeds and nuts are best used relatively sparingly, according to individual tolerance.  Vegetables – particularly those in the cabbage family – are optional, can be used as desired, in modest amounts, preferably cooked or fermented. 

Fruits and animal products together can meet all essential nutrient requirements.  The optimum proportion of fruit to animal products will vary from person to person, and might range from about 70% fruit:30% animal (hypocarnivore) for some people  to somewhere between 70% and 100% animal (hypercarnivore) for others.  

Each person needs to find his/her own sweet spot, which may even vary from time to time, depending on physiological needs and goals.  For example, if you want to reduce body fat, you can use the evidence-based Best Fat Loss Diet

Eat tasty natural foods for strength and health!

You don't have to eat unpalatable plants or fake foods for strength and health.  Ditch the protein powders, man-made fake meats, and refined carbohydrates in favor of Natural meats and sweets!  Learn more about this approach in Meats & Sweets: A High Vitality Diet e-book available on Kindle.

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