A few years ago, I became friends with a young athlete, strength and conditioning coach, and independent-thinker who volunteered his time to travel from his home in California to participate in some physical health and wellness workshops that I was facilitating with others for disabled combat veterans. Upon graduating from college with special interests in kinesiology and nutrition, Tyler had caught my attention with some of the articles he had written (www.evolutionaryhealthsystems.com) and work he had done both locally in his home community and with other coaches with whom I was familiar (www.ericcressey.com). He also impressed me with his thorough investigation of actual science, not just believing public hype or influential spokespeople. I’ve come to realize the importance of his teachings in my life and his simple yet far-reaching approach to whole body-mind health.
More and more, public information and media are paying attention to the importance of a healthy digestive system for overall human health- physical, mental, and emotional (which to me are all inextricably connected). We are finally learning as a society that our problems begin with sugar.
I’ll list Tyler’s workshop guidelines in order (from Evolutionary Health Systems, 2011). They are a few years old, but still very relevant to me. Each of us are built differently, so the further you go down the list, the more you will probably want to see what works for you and what doesn’t.
In his presentation, he basically starts with the obvious premise: eat real foods (as our species did for many years). These include vegetables and fruits. The list below was intended to emphasis the changes most people might want to consider, assuming that eating fruits and vegetables was a given practice for most of the audience.
1. Eliminate sugar and flour. Eliminate all foods that contain sugar and/or flour. This includes soft drink and fruit juices, and anything containing high-fructose corn syrup.
2. Add healthy fats. Use healthy fats such butter, meat fat, ghee, olive oil, lard, coconut oil, whole cream, and coconut milk to replace the calories that were coming from sugars and flours.
3. Eliminate vegetable/seed oils. Use the healthy fats listed above to cook with instead.
4. Reduce grain intake. Particularly wheat, barley, and rye. Replace these foods with more nourishing and nutrient-dense safe-starches.
5. Eat plenty of animal food. Beef, lamb, deer, elk, moose, pork, chicken, fish, shellfish and eggs.
6. Vitamin D. Go get some sun on your skin or start taking a generic Vitamin D3 supplement.
7. Exercise: Focus on strength training and interval type training to get the most benefits. Find something you enjoy and do it several times a week.
8. Balance your omega 3’s. If you aren’t regularly eating fish, consider a teaspoon a day of cod liver oil or fish oil to balance out your fats.
9. Reduce legumes. Soy, peanuts, etc.
10. Intermittent fast: Consider consolidating your eating in to an 8 hour window each day. As far as meal frequency goes, 2-5 meals per days is best, depending on your goals. Don’t be a grazer.
Recently, I’ve expanded my understanding of digestive health through experimenting with eliminating foods containing fodmaps, but that will have to be the subject of another post.