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On December 01, 2020, I began my vegan journey. A diet that would no longer depend on any animal-based nutrient sources. And I don’t see myself ever going back to that way of eating. In this day and age, there is just no justification for it as research, revealed knowledge, and an abundance of sourcing options have made it possible to no longer have to depend on keeping animals for regular consumption of things like milk and eggs.
Notice I mentioned consuming milk and eggs and that I didn’t mention eating meats on a daily basis as many do in this post-modern era of refrigeration and the convenience offered by fast food, butchers, and grocery store chains. Go back just 200 years to the early 1800s and it becomes clear why most people were not eating meats the way we do today in the modern world. It just wasn’t feasible. People were eating a lot more bread, plant-based whole foods, along with milk and eggs which were sustainable food sources for those that could afford the convenience of keeping chickens and milk-bearing animals like goats and cows.
Simply put there just was no option for eating a single meal that contained a pound or less of beef like there is today. And why would you kill the cow or goat for a few good meals when it could provide you with milk for an extended period of time. And hunting larger game was, I imagine, much less fruitful without the rifled barrel of a long-range rifle. If you wanted to eat animals it would have been in much smaller amounts. And things that were much smaller in size that were not sufficient sources of eggs or milk. Things like fish, small birds, and other small animals. But still, not something that would have been an available day in and day out fare unless you lived in a vibrant coastal area where fishing had been commercialized. And that fish would have been much healthier to eat than the fish available at our stores and restaurants today.
Early on as a vegan, I found myself amongst a group that was eating a diet that consisted of all plant-based whole foods that were completely uncooked. This limited things even further because a lot of things in the plant world that would need cooking to be properly assimilated were also no longer on the menu. Things like legumes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, leeks, onions, garlic, shallots, and most nuts. This also meant that good old sourdough bread with vegan-based butter, garlic powder, and brewers yeast was off the menu. Oh man, I missed that one. They also promote the idea that we don’t need any additional salts whatsoever. That wasn’t so tough, considering everything I was eating was fruit.
This group of what is called Natural Hygienists also recommend drinking only distilled water in that it is the healthiest of all forms of water. Bye-bye coffee and tea. That was a little rough at first. Even though historically mankind has not had access to mechanically distilled water until the last couple hundred years. Rainwater would have been the exception, but most humans throughout the ages got their drinking water from rivers and wells which were far from being distilled. Some sources contain significant amounts of electrolytes or minerals. The only thing I ate for the next year that didn’t fall within this mindset was a quarter cup of homemade hummus as a part of my salads.
This lifestyle and diet were very cleansing, to say the least. I found that it was not as difficult to follow as some do. I read many accounts of people that really struggled with this. That was not the case with me. One thing that might have made it easier for me was everything I read on the topic. The first thing I read on the topic was a whopping 2295 pages called The Life Sciences Health System written by a Natural Hygienist by the name of T.C. Fry. It was the curriculum for the school that he opened and operated American College of Health Science in Texas, which offered a voluminous correspondence course detailing Fry’s views.
When I began reading this document I found it rather difficult to follow as it was only available in PDF format with no easy way to bookmark it. So I decided to utilize my programming and web development skills to set up a website on my server utilizing the same software Wikipedia uses to serve up its website. That way it would then be easier to read through in a more digestible format along with a robust search engine and an easier way to print portions of the text as needed. That document can be found at https://terrain.wiki. This effort made it much easier for me to read through and that way it would be available for others around the world as well.
This diet did amazing things to bring my body back to a state it had never been in before. My body had cleansed itself of much toxicity that I didn’t realize many decades of eating animals along with indulging in too much other good stuff like alcohol, tobacco, salt, caffeinated beverages, etc., had done. I felt amazingly clean internally and externally. I even feel much more sober-minded than I could have ever imagined possible. Which lead me to another question. Were this diet and lifestyle intended to be a permanent solution or just a medicinal tool to fix a toxic overload? Which lead me back around to my prior studies on historical diets as they relate to longevity, human lifespan, and the idea of living to 120 years and beyond with a body that looks and feels no more than middle-age.
I also began to re-examine the works of Dr. Valter Longo, an Italian-American biogerontologist, cell biologist, and author of the book, The Longevity Diet. He is also famous for his studies on the role of time-restricted feeding and nutrient response genes on cellular protection, aging, and diseases. His views and approach to longevity as it relates to aging are amongst the best approaches I have found. Not only to reach our fullest potential of 120 years but how that relates to disease in our body as a complex system. He does this by basing his studies on 5 pillars.
- Complex systems like airplanes and automobiles.
- Centenarian studies as found in our oldest living populations(Blue Zones), which I will address later.
- Clinical studies, such as can be found at the National Institutes of Health.
- Biology of aging, focusing on the cellular and molecular processes that contribute to aging and age-related diseases.
- Epidemiology, the who, what, when, why, and where of health and the progression of disease in defined populations.
I, like Dr. Longo, have also spent much time examining complex systems and how they can be great tools to our understanding of how the human body works. Especially refineries and waste treatment plants considering our body does both of these things in the processing of our caloric intake.
“Dr. Valter Longo is the Edna M. Jones Professor of Gerontology and Biological Sciences and Director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California –Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, Los Angeles, one of the leading centers for research on aging and age-related disease. Dr. Longo is also the Director of the Longevity and Cancer Program at the IFOM Institute of Molecular Oncology in Milan, Italy. –https://www.valterlongo.com/“
If you are looking to make some meaningful changes to your diet that will help improve your lifestyle and ultimately your longevity, I highly recommend his book, The Longevity Diet. It is well worth the read and time spent.
Around the same time, because of Dr. Longo’s research, I also reflected on my previous studies of the Blue Zones and the Blue Zone diets in particular. None of which are marked by any kind of fruitarian diet. Not to say that these Blue Zone communities found around the world aren’t eating fruit, but they are not making it their mainstay. It is however a part of a well-balanced whole-food plant-based diet fed from locally grown and sourced produce that is not shipped in from all different parts of the world in limited selections as we see in the Western world of convenience we have become accustomed to.
Here is what these Blue Zone diets look like.
- 95% of your food comes from a plant or a plant product.
- Very limited non-processed free-range meats. (note: This author chooses to abstain from all animal-based foods.)
- Eat no more than 3 eggs per week(non-factory raised). (See above note on the author.)
- Eat at least a half cup of cooked beans daily.
- Avoid foods with added sugars.
- Snack on nuts.
- If you eat bread, choose sourdough or whole wheat.
- If a label is needed to tell you what you are eating, don’t eat it. Whole foods.
While people in four of the five Blue Zones consume meat, they do so sparingly, using it as a celebratory food, a small side, or a way to flavor dishes. About 2 ounces per serving and about 5 times per month. One study that has been following 96,000 Americans since 2002, found that the people who lived the longest were not vegans or meat-eaters. They were “pesco-vegetarians,” or pescatarians, people who ate a plant-based diet including a small portion of fish, up to once daily. In other Blue Zones diets, fish was a common part of everyday meals, eaten on average two to three times a week.
Why is soup in the title you ask? Because I believe they are the best way to get the fullest complement of nutrients that our body needs that cannot be fully appreciated on a completely raw diet. And there are many thousands of years of evidence that soups were a significant component of our ancestral diets.
These days I am glad to see that soups are a part of the Blue Zone diets. They are such a great way to gain access to a greater amount of nutrients that are bound up in many of the darker leafy greens, legumes, roots, and tubers. There is a long history of humans consuming soups as a practice with evidence going back about 20,000 years. Of course, back then they were using animal hides, watertight baskets, and hot rocks to cook the soups until they invented vessels fashioned from clay.
And then there is this notion that we need to be eating three meals per day along with snacks in between. Where did we get this idea from?
The Industrial Revolution and the rise of non-home-based schooling, or public and private schools where there were benefits to schedules and larger amounts of resources dedicated to quantifying time in blocks rather than the fluidity afforded on a farm for example.
Let’s think about that for a moment. Are we still at the height of the Industrial Revolution? No, we are not. As a matter of fact, we are rapidly speeding towards an automated end of the labor vacuum that was created as a result of industrialization. We created a whole host of machines that needed a whole host of human operators that had previously worked in a more agrarian manner. As a result, we needed people that could be available and full of energy for long days at the mill or in the coal mine and they would need energy in the form of food to remain productive. They would also need a system by which their children would be occupied while they were attending to all this new mechanization that needed human operators.
Thanks to an education crusader named Horace Mann, Massachusetts became the first state with compulsory school laws in 1852. Mann also led the charge to change schools from a one-room schoolhouse that taught all children together to a multilevel format that separated children into separate grades by age.
The Industrial Revolution came about in the latter half of the 18th century and became a reality of life on a global scale by the middle of the 19th century. Pretty clearly our modern iteration of schooling was no longer simply about basic education, but about attending to children that no longer had both parents around the home or homestead and these children would need to be prepared for the reality of an industrialized world.
Move forward again another 100 years into the mid-1950s. A new world where many common diseases and disorders were being solved by a better understanding of how the human body worked. And how certain food fortifications could eliminate many of the common disabling malnourishment maladies like pellagra, rickets, beriberi, scurvy, and goiter. All of a sudden, we were improving human life expectancy in the industrialized nations, and as a result of a further industrialized WWII America in support of the war effort, victory gardens and wartime canning became a patriotic symbol promoted heavily by Uncle Sam. A simple way to ensure that there wouldn’t be any food shortages on the homefront in a time when more industries were supporting the war effort and rationing was in effect.
Alas, another outgrowth of the Industrial Revolution would be the birth and growth of large grocery chains that would eventually supplant the need for local, smaller retailers and we now have a world that made it very easy to never have to look back at a world of toiling over the soil for foods. And why would we, when we could go to a store and conveniently purchase packaged and preserved foods, supported by our industrialized city jobs that were providing convenient jobs and reasonable pay in exchange for a more relaxed 40 hours per week thanks to the growth of labor unions.
And that is when the Standard American Diet planted the seed for the world of managed health care that we have today resulting from our modern metabolic diseases caused by overconsumption of convenience foods. And in just two short generations we moved from dietary deficiencies to a world of metabolic disorders as a result of conveniently accessible prepackaged foods leading us into a world of metabolic disorders. In a post-WWII world where both mom and dad have entered the workplace to chase after the American Dream(nightmare), convenience has become King and the healthy homestead has been supplanted by factory farming, mono-crops, soil degradation, and conveniences of all manner which has left us an extremely unhealthy lot.
A recap of what I believe; at this point in time. My AT&T position.
I do believe that there is likely a way to eat that is most beneficial as part of the bigger picture of aging and what Dr. Valter Longo refers to as ‘Juventology’ rather than ‘Aging’. I believe that a whole-food plant-based diet will get humans closest to achieving our fullest potential of 120 years. I believe that there is a place in the overall picture where eating fruit only, or a frugivore diet has its place as a medicinal or cleansing mechanism that should be practiced from time to time, especially when feeling under the weather, but not for long-term maintenance. I believe that we would best be served by doing our best to rotate what produce we eat as much as possible, avoiding eating the same things more than 2 days in a row, and best if only once in a three-day period to avoid any level of dysbiosis.
-Dysbiosis is characterized as a disruption to the gut microbiota homeostasis caused by an imbalance in the microflora, changes in their functional composition and metabolic activities, or a shift in their local distribution. Wikipedia
I believe that the best timeframe by which to eat would be to follow the equatorial sun. Don’t let it kiss your lips if the sun can’t kiss it first. Eat only from 6 am to 6 pm, regardless of where you live on Earth. I believe a feeding window of 12 hours per day is the sweet spot where the fewest health problems will arise. Gallbladder problems tend to show up on the lower end of feeding windows; 8 hours or less. Metabolic disorders; diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and such begin showing up at 15 hours or more. I believe it is always better to eat heavier foods/meals earlier in the day and lighter, easier-to-digest foods for the last meal of the day; maybe even just a snack.
I believe the best way to determine what the optimal human diet should look like is to mimic the diet and lifestyle choices of the longest living people on Earth, wherever they are found.
Finally, I hesitate to suggest a frugivore model of eating as a long-term solution as some vegans do. I find it problematic in light of our current state of produce quality and access to enough variety to make it feasible. Although, some would disagree with me on this point. However, as I mentioned above, I do believe it is a great medicinal tool for occasional cleansing as needed. And I believe the best way to overcome these nutritional deficits is through soups containing as many dark and vegetables, dense and complex leafy greens, beans, roots, and tubers.
And never go nuts with nuts. Try to limit them to at most every other day and only one quarter cup serving. Personally, the only nuts I eat are walnuts. Not because of flavor, but because they are the healthiest of nuts. Peanuts and almonds are the two least healthy. I would avoid them.
And when in doubt, always eat less than more.