What Should the Human Diet Be?
In a nutshell, the optimal diet allows human to extract the maximum amount of nutrients from the least amount of food. This will help optimize the function of all the organs and tissues in our bodies, while also creating the least amount of inflammation. The Human diet focuses primarily on foods that are incredibly nutrient dense and involves four strategies, we shall refer to these as the four pillars. Instead of lists that other diets utilize, these “Four Pillars” are our strategy towards optimal health. I’ve written about these pillars, recently, in previous articles.1,2,3,4 But just as a reminder, the four pillars of the Human diet are:
- Meat on the Bone
- Organ Meat (Offal)
- Fermented and Sprouted foods
- Fresh, Raw Foods
What are the Other Practices of the Human Diet?
In today’s article, we are going to discuss the other practices of the human diet. These include daily habits such as water intake, snacks, sleep and movement. As well as, macro-nutrient ratios, which can be helpful but not something to obsess about. People who experience the most long-term success are able to accomplish a few things: cutting down on carbohydrate intake, swap out consuming toxic fats for healthy ones, add back missing nutrients, and cutting their sugar consumption down to less than 30 grams per day.
The Small Obstacles, Can be Just as Important as the Major Obstacles
There are major obstacles but there are also smaller obstacles that can stand in the way of reaching our health goals.
Water Intake, Is One of These Obstacles
Drinking plenty of water is essential to help your body adjust to new nutrients. How much water is enough? This is going to vary from person to person, but usually our bodies do a great job of telling us when we need some hydration. Though this message often gets mistaken as hunger. So the next time you’re feeling hungry try drinking a full glass of water, then wait a little while and see if you’re still hungry.
Beverages, Could Be Another
This is closely related to our next obstacle, beverages. Soda and most fruit juices, both contain 16 to 20 teaspoons of sugar per 12-ounce serving. Which is much more than the recommended maximum of 30 grams. If you just can’t break away from addictive sodas (or juice), then I recommend trying some alternatives such as, sparkling water with a lemon wedge, herbal tea, 6-10 ounces of kombucha. Also, important to note is that diet soda and its artificial sweeteners are now better, if not worse,5 than regular soda.
Snacking, Is Yet Another Obstacle That Stands in Our Path
Nearly all ready-to-eat snack foods contain toxic fats, high amounts of sugar, and artificial flavorings that damage our natural appetite regulation systems. Even most so-called “healthy snacks” like food bars and trail mixes are loaded with toxic fats and excessive sugars. One of the worst parts about snacking though is that it creates, for most, an unhealthy relationship with food. Habitual snackers are thinking about food all the time, even after just finishing a snack or when their eating that snack they are already thinking about the next one.
Sleep and Movement, The Last Two Obstacles
Could be considered as major obstacles rather than minor. Our bodies’ ability to use the building blocks that come from our food depends on signals we generate during activity. Take for example, heavy lifting instructs our body to direct the raw material for building muscle, bone, and joint material to the parts of the body we just used. Then sleep comes into play next, because our sleep is when our bodies carry out the construction to repair and strengthen these tissues. I cannot stress this enough any improvements that happen to our bodies doesn’t occur during exercise, but instead are made during recovery. And the best and most efficient way to recover quickly is sleep.
Macro-nutrient Ratios, Can Be Helpful but Should Not Be Our Main Focus
Now let’s move on to macro-nutrient ratios. I am generally not a fan of keeping track of macro-nutrients, this is because I believe that it’s not so much about what foods we eat, but rather the quality of the foods we eat. For this reason, I’m only going to give a brief overview of the macro-nutrient values for the human diet.
I do believe that, at least to start, most people consume too many carbohydrates. Eating high amounts of carbohydrates send messages to the body to use sugar (glucose) as their primary fuel source. This impairs our ability to burn fat and, over years, can lead to our hormone and enzyme systems adjusting themselves to facilitate this specialization in ways that lead to insulin resistance. Most days I recommend keeping daily carbohydrate totals to less than 100 grams per day.
When it comes to protein you need to get enough, but not too much. The recommended minimum is 50 grams for women and 70g for men. Inadequate amounts reduce antioxidant enzyme capacity and stresses the nervous, immune, and skeletal systems in ways that can lead to mood disorders, osteoporosis, and allergenic problems.6 The maximum amount is roughly 120g for women and 150g for men. When we eat too much protein adverse health effects include, increased risk of cancer, disorder of liver function, decreased renal function, and weaker bones.7
Where should most of your calories come from? Fat. I recommend getting 60 – 85% of your daily caloric intake from healthy fats. This probably sounds like a lot, but fat is very calorie dense. Therefore you don’t need to consume a large amount based on weight or volume. Take for example butter, two tablespoons contain approximately 200 calories of fat.
Fact of the week
Studies have shown that live-cultured foods, containing probiotics, help to prevent a broad range of allergic, auto-immune, and inflammatory diseases.8,9,10
Today we have simpler versions of preserving food such as, canning, pickling, drying, and of course refrigeration and freezing. However, each of these methods pale in comparison to fermentation, when it comes to nutrient conservation. Fermentation often even increases nutrient content by adding new nutrients. And, if you think your refrigerator can preserve nutrients think again. For instance, refrigerated green beans loss 77% of their vitamin C content after only seven days off the vine.11