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Wednesday, 20 March 2019


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Thank you... Now I feel guilty about my diet again (more so about the food we feed our kids). We're trying to reduce processed foods, but here's the thing: they are so damned convenient (especially when throwing together school lunches at the last minute).

Convenience - it will eventually bring down human civilization (using the word generously), or at least that part of it populated by the chronically disorganized, like yours truly.

Cheese, Processed meat (sausage, lunch meats, cold cuts, hot dogs, etc.) and Chips/fries are known around my house as the three food groups.

The studies are on your side healthwise.

The most compelling issue to me is the moral catastrophe of modern animal agriculture. Factory farming/fishing is incontrovertibly an atrocity.

Animal products that have labels suggesting that that are not from factory farming/fishing ("free range"; "humane"; "organic"; "cage free"; etc.) are most certainly from factory farming/fishing -- don't be deceived.

Humankind recently and suddenly threw out millenia of animal husbandry, and religious teachings about caring for god's creation, and completely replaced them with all torture, all the time. We simultaneous threw out millennia of human practice by increasing our consumption of animal products suddenly and drastically.

We have dispensed with decency. Future generations will revile us, and rightly so.

Turmeric is easy to consume daily:

Heat 2 cups light unsweetened coconut milk (or Almond milk) with 1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh Ginger and 1 scoop (7g) Turmeric powder. Bring to a simmer covered for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten to taste with Honey or Agave (if desired).


Both the Turmeric powder and organic Ginger are available from Costco.

Diets are the pits, too complicated and taste rank. We bought an Instant Pot and learnt to cook easy carb free meals in it. Average meal, 25 minutes, super tasty and will stay warm all day (for those of us who really dont like pratting around between the kitchen and store). Good luck!

Mike, what a tease on "how to bake a potato." I thought it was stick 'em with a fork, and give 'em an hour at 350.
In your litany of names I missed two favorites: Gary Taubes, "Why we get fat and what to do about it." Basically, a low-carb approach. Using it, I lost 40 lbs in six months about five years ago, and haven't gained it back. Sugar and simple starches (baked potato) raise blood sugar, insulin is produced, and the higher sugar level gets stored as fat. Take away the carbs, blood sugar stays low, and fat is burned.

Michael Pollen has written too many great books to list here, and he's a great writer, too. Highly recommended. "Eat less, mostly plants, and move more." Search his name on Amazon.

There's been a lot of attention lately to the microbiome, the bacterial colonies that inhabit our gut, and what the effects of diet are on them, and in turn, how they influence us. Awareness of this interaction should be a part of any diet plan.

The Christmas after I lost the weight, I met my brother-in-law, and immediately noticed that he had also lost a lot of weight. Turned out he had been following Dean Cornish, and his diet was mostly carbs! So two very different paths, with similar results. Go figure.

Finally, fifty years ago I was interested in "organic" foods, and most folks had never heard of them. Now that corn is genetically modified to be Roundup resistant, so they can drench the cornfields with herbicides and insecticides, I think eating organically is more important than ever.

I've written more than expected. It is a hot topic, and an area in which it is hard to arrive at generally accepted truths, even though modern science does study these matters. Bon Appetit!

An interesting article, Mike....

I think the most important thing is to understand how to listen to your body.
Know what to do about your cravings, and keep all things in moderation.
Vegetarians & vegans do overeat, feel bloated, gain weight, and have many of the same problems others have.

I'm 68 years old. I have low cholesterol, normal blood pressure, and normal counts of all minerals. I have over the years been iron low (borderline) and once had a doctor tell me my cholesterol was too low... until I told him about my diet which was dairy free at that time. He laughed and told me I was fine.

I take no medications and never have. I eat mostly raw foods in summer, and if I'm in a colder climate I'll eat warmed food.
I have not had beef, chicken or pork for more than 40 years... and never missed them. I have gone through stretches where I will eat seafood (I lived in Japan for a few years and it was impossible to stay away from the fresh sashimi), and I have gone years without.
I love bread, pancakes, muffins... but have now been wheat free for a few months. All in moderation. My body told me I was eating too many buckwheat pancakes ('Puritan' buckwheat pancake mix... great!) and too many buckwheat-bran muffins. Now before you tell me, I do understand that buckwheat is not wheat, not a traditional grain. But those items, which I make fresh, contain wheat flour along with the buckwheat.

I would put ice cream at the top of the list of the wrong things to eat... although I do indulge sometimes.
I hated milk as a child and have not had a glass of milk since adolescence. I do on occasion have pizza and cheese. Moderation.

Vegetarians can meet iron necessities through green vegetables. Calcium without dairy? Did you know there is more calcium in the seaweed wakame than there is in any dairy product?
(the 2 countries in the world with the highest per capita dairy consumption & calcium consumption have the highest rates of osteoporosis and broken hips)

I drink a lot of fruit shakes, and always add bee pollen and a teaspoon of flax oil. I like carrot juice, freshly made of course (I use a 'Champion' juicer), and derivations thereof. I do a colon cleanse every couple years and periodically fast.

This diet works for me. I have a girlfriend who is much younger (decades) and when we exercise I do more than she. But that doesn't mean this diet would work for you. I don't smoke. I do drink alcohol, but have not drunk 'in excess' since my 20s. Moderation.

Listen to your body, watch your weight, and learn, discover, understand... what is right for you.

I am so happy that you have found a way of eating that is both satisfying and good for you. I have two vegan daughters who glow with health. Also glad that you have started down the cooking road. It is a joy to prepare food from scratch that satisfies is enjoyed by others. Keep it up.

Mike this may come as a surprise to you, but from my standpoint you are not only a fanatic you are a fully paid up one, but,hey good luck to you, "each to their own" I say.
If I had to go to that much trouble to feed myself I'd stop eating,life just would not be worth living.Chill out Mike it's all going to end in tears no matter what diet you choose.

[There's actually a good reason why you think I'm a "fully paid up fanatic." It's because of a long campaign of public relations carried on by the meat and dairy industries specifically and giant agribusiness generally. Ask the average American who the Vice President is, or when the Revolutionary War was, or what State is north of Oregon, and most have no idea. But ask them a question about a superhero, or a Kardashian, or something on TV, and their faces brighten and they know the answer. Now ask them why they need to eat meat and dairy. Their faces will brighten at that too--"to get your protein" and "to get your calcium." That's just nonsense, but it's been drummed into us for so long it's something everyone thinks they know. The false idea that eating mostly plants is crackpot and fringe-y ultimately comes from the same sources. IMO. --Mike]

Mike, I like your food post but dislike what you say - a 90% & 5% guy wrapped into one :-) Your "worst" is too often my "best" and so on. It is so funny that right now, at 76, I'm in the best shape I've been in for at least a decade and yet am eating more poorly than ever before. That preceding sentence is NOT a justification for eating poorly - it's actually an honest premonition I'm on a collision course without a good outcome. I walked 15.6 miles last Sunday, with 2,300 feet of elevation gain, in a remote place in a national park with no cell contact even. Even a doctor told me I was the kind of person who would surly die doing what he likes to do because there are no life-support systems in the wilderness.

I have begun to realize how important the things you say really are but my only hope is to "inch" my way into it a little at a time. A key help here is I LOVE vegetables and fruits and enjoy salads. I still remember a Thanksgiving on the farm where my mom was born and a bowl of peas were being passed around. Without paying any attention at all to the other dozen people at the table, I proceeded to empty the bowl onto my plate. My mom gently scolded me and made me put some back so everyone could have some! So maybe there is hope!

Mike, all that being said, what are the results of your nutrition plan in terms of health stats and how you feel?

Good One.

Hi Mike,
Glad it’s working out for you. It’s funny the mental shift that takes place when you start thinking about food in terms of energy & nutrition for your body, rather than indulgent tastes. It takes a while for one’s palette to adjust to reduced salt and sugar, and you outline the benefits in terms of taste.
I had a similar experience when getting fit a while back. Had to go back to basics of understanding body and energy (basal metabolic rate), macro and micro nutrients, and then food groups. Dabbled with the Zone method for a while too. Now my wife and I cycle through the 5:2 diet. The neuro-regenerative aspects (still early days re evidence) of occasional fasting are appealing to me.

Dr. McDougall used to market a line of frozen meals and I miss those, because I recall the vegetable curry with whole grains as being something that even my younger junk-food loving self liked despite the lack of fat or animal products.

It's great to hear how you've retrained / recalibrated / awakened your taste buds and now appreciate good, honest food; and recognise that sweet and fatty processed foods are almost addictive for their effect on your brain chemistry yet thoroughly bad for you in multiple ways.

Plant-based eating has grown quickly the UK of late, Deliciously Ella is one of a number of well-known recipe book writers who've become household names and even the mainstream TV and press take it seriously.

My wife & kids went veggie 13 years ago and, although I still eat fish occasionally, I have gradually been eating more fresh, raw foods. I've reduced the quantity of starches like pasta, bread and potatoes and tried to use mostly unprocessed grains - porridge made with a additions such as nuts, chia seeds and dried fruit is my daily staple with a bircher-style muesli/granola mix when I fancy a change.

We drink very little cow's milk (my son couldn't drink it when he was tiny, which prompted us to read up on the alternatives) and reduced our dairy intake; I only buy unsweetened, 'natural' (i.e. plain) yogurt to eat with fruit, granola or a light drizzle of honey.

As for turmeric, it's available in capsules. I'd strongly recommend that you locate certified Organic turmeric from an honest source, not only for the fact that it should have been grown and processed properly but because traceability, residue testing and supply chain integrity are important and these are part of organic certification (that's my line of work).


Funny, I just went to what must have been the world’s largest buffet, and I did not choose wisely.

My wife is having luck with a daily exercise routine combined with not dieting other than avoiding sweets and processed foods. The micro-managing seemed a losing battle for her.

Probably the biggest trick to eating well is living in a healthy community.

Hi Mike. Given your comments about percentages, I'm wondering why you've decided to stop doing "gear posts". I'm happy with my gear, it has long gone past the point of being more than sufficient. I no longer have GAS and consequently looking at gear sites has become boring. However I always enjoyed your "gear posts". I for one am missing them and I bet I'm not a small percentage.

While I do not like to preach about diet, I did take part in a program several years ago that worked for a short time. I still follow some of the dictates of the program such as writing down everything you eat. I went to a nutrition counselor and she got me using a App on my phone from "MyFitness Pal". It is pretty painless to use and will give you a general idea of how spread out your caloric and nutritional values are stacking up.

I got into its use before it was bought out by Body Amour so it may not be totally free to sign up for these days. (I have logged on every day for 1604 days) The App trades information with my Fitbit so walking and other such stuff is also tracked.

You might want to try it out, or use another meal/nutrition tracking App, just to be sure that you are staying below a calorie level where you can keep the weight off/down.

I have eaten only meat for more than a year and am the healthiest I have ever been. I run up to 180km (over 100 miles) per week. According to WFPB advocates I should be dead, have scurvy, or at least have very little energy to do anything as I don't consume any carbohydrates.

Most people who transition from a Standard American Diet (SAD) to a WFPB diet feel better/get healthier because they eliminate a lot of the garbage consumed on the SAD. This doesn't mean that way of eating is optimal however.

Do the WFPB gurus dismiss the evidence showing the health benefits of the so-called "Mediterranean diet," which is high in olive oil and pasta? And what about the French, who like their food smothered in butter, but have a lower incidence of heart disease than Americans? Just asking, because I have seen countless food fads come and go over the years.

A very good read !
Please give us the proper way to bake a potato.

From what you describe you are eating a lot of carbs, very little fat and not much protein. I think any change from the SAD works for a few months, so it would be really interesting if you could do an update in 6 months or so about how this is working for you.

[Shall do Jeff. I hope in the meantime I can be more rigorous about it so I'm not reporting something just random. I'll try. --Mike]

Hi Mike, great to follow your diet adventures. It is impossible to argue with the science behind the WFPB diet. I was horrified to hear recently when a diet professor was interviewed on our ABC radio that only 5% of Australian adults and 1% of children are getting the low, government recomended number of daily servings of fruit and vegetables!! Food will be the death of us as a civilisation if we are not careful. When over 60% of the population is overweight or obese and the figures keep rising something is definitely askew. Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading your blog each day no matter the topic.

...but yesterday we were talking about Range Rovers, a topic I'm pretty sure will never come up again even if I keep TOP going till I'm 92.

A search for the term "Range Rover" at TOP comes up with eight pages of results from the last ten years or so.

Just kidding, Mike! Thank you for your labors. It's all good, in both senses of the phrase.

Genetics and Gluttony are the big-two of health.

My father lived by himself on a 10 acre gentleman's farm. He was almost 100 when he died. He ate Bologna on white bread, with Frenchs Mustard as the spice—but he didn’t pig-out. When he drove to town to do his shopping he’d eat steak at the Golden Corral.

Genes are more important than diet. Neither my father or I had/have cancer, diabetes or high cholesterol. No dementia either. Strictly luck of the draw in the gene pool.

Because of the work I did I’d eat a minimum of 3000 plus calories a day. I’m a big-boned, wide shouldered 6’3” and weight less then 240. My secret is to eat small quantities of whole wheat bread, brown rice and protein (fish, chicken, yogurt, ice cream, cheese, and turkey chili). Plus I eat lots of lima beans, hominy, white onions, mushrooms and blueberries. I use oil and vinegar on spinach/kale salads. Extra virgin olive oil to poach fish and fry food.

Bad habits include french fries and Ruffles potato chips (super greasy). I eat cheese burgers and patty melts/tuna melts when I eat lunch with friends at Joe's.

My cardiologist has no problem with me drinking caffeine. My caffeine comes from matcha green tea, black coffee and diet Coke. I don’t use sugar! I don't use honey. I eat little pie or cake. Candy is dark chocolate a couple times a year.

From my POV, Bob Dylan got it right: "Don't follow leaders." YM does vary, but that's OK 8-)

The basic four food groups are chocolate, grease, sugar, and alcohol. NIH recently added artificial colors, pesticide residues, and preservatives to bring it to seven.

I'm sticking with the five major food groups: Sugar, salt, fat, caffeine and alcohol

Baked potatoes are either good aor inedible. some steak housese do them well, many other resturants totally botch them. Take a good sized Idaho spud,, wash offf, dry and then rug with olive oil. Put in a 425 degree over and leave for 45 minutes to an hour.. Can't fail.

"The best reason to not eat meat is not so much that the nutritional content of meat is very low and it contains a number of things that are bad for us in large amounts, but simply that it displaces plant compounds in our daily meals."

It could be argued that the best reason not to eat meat would be to reduce the environmental impact of meat production. Cattle production, in particular, is an ineffective use of resources to produce protein.

Mike wrote, "Salt Sugar Fat contains a trenchant and poignant account of the man who invented "Lunchables." It's the story of the modern capitalist food industry in a nutshell."

I think the story of the modern capitalist food industry in a nutshell is "The United States exports more food than any other country in the world … The most popular exports from the United States are maize, soybeans, and milk. Other common exports include wheat, sugar beet, sugar cane, potatoes, and chicken."


We all make choices. Choices are good. People living in modern capitalist countries have more choices than people who don't.

Glad to hear your story Mike. I believe the saying is that food "is" medicine. My journey with changing diet started 8 months ago. Two weeks in I was off my blood pressure and acid reflux prescriptions and as well my headaches stopped along with my corresponding daily need for Ibuprofen. In our era of chronic illnesses (just went with my 85 y/o father to the diabetes clinic where business is up ~10x over something less than my lifetime)this conversation needs to happen. Michael

"...theological disputes and differences..." ha!

Nice piece, good overview .. you can't go wrong with a plant based diet, the more the better by my way of thinking. Vitamin B-12 is the only real issue that may come up for WFPB zealots, not an issue if you're a lacto-vegetarian (vegan + dairy) like I am.

BTW, there are numerous WFPB cooking blogs out there these days; my favorite is "Cookie and Kate", and Kate has also authored a wonderful WFPB cookbook.

Just some random thoughts:
The relationship between climate and weather is similar to the relationship between diet and whatever it is you ate today. I cringe at the term "going on a diet."

Some years ago, having packed on many pounds of lard, I tried the South Beach Diet. It essentially changed how I eat every day. Also it introduced me to the concept of glycemic index, i.e., velocity of sugar uptake. A baked potato is comparable to a tablespoon of white sugar. Dr. Agatston recommended that if you must, then add a generous dollop of sour cream or butter, to slow down the sugar uptake.

Dr. Peter Attia's practice [ https://peterattiamd.com/start-here/ ] is focused on life extension, and he does some pretty extreme stuff himself. He wrote an extensive and seemingly well-researched series of posts on lipidology.

"Nutrient density" is a neat way to evaluate food. Essentially, how much protein is there in 100 calories of the food you eat. Sugar? Nada! Surprisingly, romaine lettuce has, of all lettuces (lettuci?), the highest protein level. I think the point is, what is your 100 calories giving you, besides calories?

Roundup! Ugh! When people ask why I buy organic, does it taste better, etc., my take is that if I wanted glyphosate on my food, I'd keep it on the table with salt and pepper.

Wheat is not "Roundup-ready." But, non-organic farming has a practice of broadcast spraying the stuff ONTO the crop a week or so before harvest, to force any still green plants into immediate shutdown.

And check into apple orchards north of your area, especially the ones where the "trees" are trained like grape vines ... and the rows in-between are bare of vegetation.

Chickens are omnivores. True free-range hens enjoy a varied diet, which reflects in the nutritional quality of the flesh and the eggs. And they don't eat so much grain, which might have been Roundup-ed.

Pastured cows, grass-fed, enjoy their green grass that has established deep taproots, which effects both the quality of the grass, and the quality of cow products. Much better ratio of EFA's especially Omega-3. Bovines did not evolve on a diet of which a large fraction is grain, except for grass heads late in the season. (Mother Earth mag has been championing grass-fed for a number of years, although I find their website ad-heavy. I have a hard copy from their magazine around here somewhere.)

Most interesting is that you say ..."I'm enjoying food more than I ever have in my life." That sounds promising and a key to maintaining any lifestyle it seems to me. The key question to me is though-are you happier...?

I'd suggest that the best thing is to avoid ingesting products that build up your cholesterol levels. This advice came from my cardiologist and diet adviser after my first heart attack. I was told to limit egg intake to two a week, have one glass of red wine per day and no more than one cup of coffee per day. And to walk my ass off every day of life. Cheeses of all kinds are banned, as is any animal fat found in products such as cream. Bread, apparently, should be brown, but not the supermarket brown which is a useless product. Also, avoid sweet stuff if you can. Fruit and all veggies as you can find them; they are very good for you. But not bananas which, apparently, have too much sugar content.

How did I fare? Wifeless, there is no pleasure in drinking sundowners anymore and as little in delightful aperitifs before lunch; as I mostly eat out nowadays, for it would otherwise mean I spend the few remaining sheets of paper on that roll (your brother has a point, and I bet I'm a damned sight closer to the cardboard than he) doing housework, coupled with the fact that my favourite restaurant means driving there, more than that single glass of wine would be stupid. Coffee? For years I stuck with the single cup; now, maybe two or sometimes three, but de-caffed. I gave up tea one day by accident, and now I no longer want it, finding a few mugs of hot water more pleasing, but that depends on how good your water.

Walking? I walk more than I ever did before, and that's reflected both in very infrequent trips to the gas station and the fact that if I am prevented from going for those walks by something beyond my control, I actually get angry about it. To my surprise, I enjoy the experience and the opportunity to escape the comfortable, but oh so empty home.

For a while, photography provided the motivation for going out - much as others use dogs - but since discovering that the walks were their own pleasure, cameras share the space of golf cubs: stupid things that weigh more than their worth; inconveniences, then. Not that I ever wanted to play golf, of course. And photography has begun to be a bit boring after all these years. When you know you can shoot anything you have the opportunity of shooting and doing it well, unless there is something particularly appealing that haunts you, why bother and endanger you arteries by sitting at a computer for hours? It creates problems more than it solves them.

Finally, there is the reality that having seen what age usually brings with it, hitting ninety is no wonderful gig. I don't want to be a burden on my kids - I know what it means, especially if the old mind goes walkabout. Those last years might as well be reasonably good ones with not too many self-imposed restrictions designed to extend your time beyond the useful. Obsession about health is pretty close to walking death, anyway. Nobody gets out of here alive.


With all due respect, Mike: reading this kind of stuff makes me chuckle, because as you say at some point, it seems much more religion- than science-based to me.

I think things are a lot simpler, and humans had healthy diets for centuries. Many of us still do in this century: just look at places around the Mediterranean sea, where they eat a little bit of everything, including all kind of stuff: excellent olive oil (which is actually olive juize), tons of vegetables and fruits, legumes, salads, and yes, also meat and fish. All of that has been eaten by humans for thousands and thousands of year. All the yadda.yadda of theories today is useful for having fun only.

A healthy life is quite simple (even if our modern lifestyle makes it unnecessarily complicated): the above describe diet, regular exercice, and eating moderate amounts of food. It is really that simple, no matter if we keep on reading more and more books speculating about supposed wonder diets that will solve all your troubles.

I've been in the hospital recently because of an infected cut. Now I'm back home and am using an iMac instead of an iPhone to post. I'd never realized how much I hated typing with my thumbs 8-)

Now on to the point of this post. My MD. an immunologist, had me on a high protein diet with few carbs. The high protein was needed to heal the wound. Breakfast was bacon or sausage, yogurt and toast with peanut butter.

While I eat a WFPB diet I stay away from smoothies because invariably they use fruit to make the taste palatable. While sugars from fresh fruit are fine, say eating a whole apple or a peach, can be ignored, concentrating fruits into a smoothie yields very high sugar levels. An example: Innocent sell bottled smoothies in the UK. Their green smoothie with spinach, kale, baobab, courgette spirulina and various fruits has a sugar content of 25g of sugar in a 250ml serving. The NHS recommends not more than 5% of your calorie intake /day should be from sugar, ie around 30g of sugar/day. This is rather typical sugar content of every smoothie recipe I've come across. I assume you're aware of this.

I've been on your WFPB regime most of my adult life so I know "good diet for good health" is a no-brainer, and I see you're on the right track too. Since you say you like watching informational videos, I can highly recommend two Rich Roll podcasts where his guest, Dr. Zach Bush MD, covers everything from GMOs to soil health to autism to food independence and more. It's a total of four hours of viewing time which could - or should - change people's lives forever!

To quote the Great Fred Sanford, "All these health nuts are gonna feel real stupid someday, lying in a hospital bed, dying of nothing!"

[Well, given that Redd Foxx died of a heart attack on set at the age of 68, his "Fred" is not who I want to be listening to....

BTW, when he dropped to the floor with the heart attack that would prove fatal, no one was alarmed at first because he often faked heart attacks on the set. --Mike]

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