The Best Diet
Yeah, that was clickbait.
There is no best diet for everyone but there are lots of worst diets. The worst diets include lots of fast food, processed food, and industrial food products.
My diet evolved with age. As I kid I ate all kinds of processed food along with whatever my mom made for dinner. Breakfast was usually cereal and orange juice followed by a lunch of cold cuts and a Little Debbie snack. We were a meat and potatoes kind of family. When I was a kid the only thing better than meat and potatoes was meat and meat.
In college, I ate cafeteria food, pizza, and ramen noodles. Need I say more?
After college came medical school and residency and full time ER work in the hospital. I basically lived in the hospital for 7 years straight and ate whatever they served in cafeteria. Yeah, I ate hospital food for seven years and by the end of that time I was overweight and out of shape. To remedy this situation I started doing triathlons and working out everyday. I followed the advice of fellow athletes and transitioned to a diet rich in whole grains, vegetable and high quality meats. I figured an expensive diet and tons of exercise should cover any dietary indiscretions.
I figured wrong.
I went for a physical two years into my triathlon career and was shocked to find that my liver enzymes were elevated due to a fatty liver, I still had too much abdominal fat which put me at risk of developing diabetes. I was floored. How could that be? As a doctor I thought I knew a thing or two about health. I was eating a 'balanced' diet with plenty of whole grains, fruit, vegetables and the occasional meat.
How could I have fatty liver? I was doing everything right, or so I thought. I had cut out saturated fats, cooked with canola and olive oils and was buying whole wheat bread and skim milk. What was I doing wrong?
It turns out, I was doing everything wrong. I won't go into it but I will say that over the past 10 years I've only begun to appreciate the complexity of nutrition and the myriad effects food has on our bodies. My experience showed me there is no one size fits all approach to nutrition. Optimal nutrition must take into account age, body type, genetic factors, seasons, health status, gut health, activity levels, and personal goals. When it comes to diet, one size fits one.
Therefore, I will not dictate a diet to you, but rather I will share some principles I've learned that may help you in discovering what works for you.
I consider the following statements as my personal opinion. There are medical facts to back them up but since this is a blog and not a dissertation, I'll skip the references and get to the point.
Doc Evenhouse's Nutrition Guidelines.
1. Food is medicine. What I eat affects my health and I can change my body by changing my diet. The corollary is also true which holds that as my body changes, my diet may need to change. It's a constant process of observing the effects various foods have on my body. I follow my body's advice as to what it needs. If my body hurts after I eat something, I don't eat that thing again.
2. Sugar kills. Carbohydrates (simple and complex sugars) are the only non-essential nutrients. Our bodies can make the sugars it needs from protein and fat. We don't need nearly as much carbohydrate as we've been told. Fiber from plant-based foods promote a healthy gut but sucrose and high fructose corn syrup are death. Sadly, the standard american diet promotes the consumption of large amounts of carbohydrates, much of which is delivered in the form of genetically modified wheat and additives such as dextrose (glucose), maltodextrin (which is dextrose) corn syrup and high fructose corn syrups present in a multitude of processed foods.
3. My body needs fat. I need fat for energy and building things like nerves and brain tissue. I get my fat from multiple sources including fish, meat, cheese, butter, eggs, coconut oil and nuts. Avocado's are another example of healthy sources of fat. I avoid cooking oils as a general rule but will use butter, lard, olive oil and the occasional avocado oil as the situation requires. I absolutely never use or eat anything that contains soybean oil, canola oil (what's a canola, anyway?) and anything to do with vegetable oil. Sadly, this means I don't eat out much since restaurants use lots of cheap industrial oils in their food.
4. Seasons Matter. I used to buy whatever fruit looked good whether it was local and in season or from somewhere 4000 miles away. Over time I learned about things called Lectins, and decided I'd cut out the foreign stuff and focus on eating locally grown fruit in season. Same with veggies. Local is great. Frozen is the next best thing. I stay away from canned veggies unless they're pickled in season.
5. Nutritionism is a religion and useless for planning a meal. Nutritionism is the practice of viewing food as the sum of its parts. Nutritionism-ists focus on individual nutrients and micro elements to the nth degree. They promote endless lists of vitamins and micro nutrients, supplements and macro diets without considering the value of real food. Excessive focus on individual nutrients distracts people from the reality that we (us humans) don't know as much about food as we think we do. Natural foods contain all sorts of good things we've only just begun to understand. The stuff in natural food works together with your gut bacteria and your digestion to bring your body the nutrition it deserves. Pills and powders and superfood elixers have their purpose but can never replace the benefits of eating real food.
6. You cannot supplement a shitty diet into a healthy diet. That's it. You just can't.
7. There are three categories of food: food, non-food, and anti-food. Food is something that helps your body do work, grow and heal. Non-foods represent stuff the body has to process without any real net gain. Anti-food harms the body. Examples are easy to find. Fresh picked apples in season are food. Cold cuts from the deli counter are non-food because the net benefit of the protein is cancelled out by the processing, fillers and preservatives. Most candy and bakery items are anti-food due to the high levels of sucrose, high fructose corn syrup and genetically modified white flour used in their production. The body can't use most of that stuff and the overload of fructose goes straight to the liver where it raises all kinds of holy hell.
8. Alcohol is anti-food. Ethanol is a source of calories, not nutrition. Use it as you like but that alcohol (a sugar) is going straight to your liver and your gut. The benefits of wine notwithstanding, ethanol has no nutritional value whatsoever.
9. Microwave ovens turn food and non-food into anti-food. The frequencies put out by the microwave heat water and also disrupt the chemical bonds in other molecules in the food. There's no telling what you're eating after its been 'nuked'.
10. Food is life. Enjoy it. I gotta live. I gotta have fun. I gotta take part in the social aspects of eating and sharing a meal. Worrying about food makes it suck so I don't worry. I eat what I want when I want within the framework of what I know works best for me.
11. Gratitude makes the food better. I am grateful for the food I get to eat. I am grateful for the blessings I have been given. I pray for my food and I thank the Lord that I have food for the day. I have a suspicion that praying over food actually improves the quality of the food and it's interaction with my body. That's just my opinion but it's based on centuries of wisdom passed down in both eastern and western traditions.
12. Fasting lets my body heal. I engage in intermittent fasting nearly every day. I eat during the afternoons and do not eat the rest of the day. Occasionally, I'll go 36 hours or more without food. It feels good and I don't have any trouble with cravings. Check out the benefits of nutritional ketosis and intermittent fasting. It may help you find what you are looking for.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave comments. I'll follow up.
The following posts are personal opinion informed by decades of experience as an emergency physician. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, the CDC, or the IRS. It is, however, very likely they've been recorded by the CIA and NSA, because that's what they do.
Do I care, nope. It's just the world we live in.
Now, the next disclaimer arises from the need to clarify what this blog is about. When I first started, it was a place for me to mess around. No one read it and I didn't mind. Now, I'm getting traffic and I have to step up my game. So here it is. The first blog posts were fun but people want more information on what to do about healthcare so I'm putting some thought into it and start writing it down.
What's my mission?
Common sense solutions. That's it. Nothing crazy, no big conspiracy (although I love them), just a simple strategy to transform our experience of health and how we take care of ourselves and each other. One size fits one and since everything is medicine there's no need for a middle man.
What's my role?
I'm just a guide. I show the way. I combine old and new ideas to bring something useful to the fore. I demonstrate solutions to complex problems. I do this in the ER, I do it in the clinic and I do it at home anytime someone asks for my opinion. There may never be a single right answer, but there are many good ones.
My medical career has brought me full circle. I've been a doctor, a patient, an administrator, a superstar and persona non grata. I've worked in helicopters, ER's, ambulances, clinics, tertiary centers and small town hospitals. I've delivered babies in bathrooms, waiting room, back seats and OR's. I've treated more gunshots and heart attacks than I can count. All that is to say, I know a thing or two about where we've been and I have some pretty good ideas on where we're going.
Where are we going?
Right now it looks like we're going to hell in a hand-basket. And that's okay. Breakdowns always feel bad because we have to let go of old habits of thought, word and deed. It feels like we're losing something. There's grief. There's sadness. There's anger. Lots of anger, and that's normal. It only lasts long enough to get you to the breakthrough.
Ok, we're not going to hell, but where are we going?
Some people think we're on our way to a communist utopia. Others see a revolution of one kind or another. Many defend the status quo because why change something that's served so many, so well, for so long?
Me? I'm pushing for one on one accountability between doctors and patients. I'm pushing for individualized care and individual control over healthcare spending. I'm pushing direct primary care, individual coverage and medical cost sharing accounts. Imagine what would happen if your doctor was suddenly on the hook for getting paid directly by you? Would they treat you better? You bet. Doctors respond to incentives like anyone else. Align the incentives for them and they'll jump in line. It's all about the money. Buy what works and reject what doesn't. It will go away fast.
How do we get there?
Simple, we change how we pay. We cut out the middle man. Give the power and the money back to the people and let them decide how to spend it. At the same time, we put in place some common sense solutions to help people get through the rough spots. It's being done right now and it works. This isn't socialism, it's extreme conscientious individualism because how you treat one person is how you treat them all.
Thanks for reading.
I got Q'd
I wanted to break from the format of this blog to put out some simple advice related to the current coronavirus event.
The information related to nCoV-2019 is patchy and confusing. Suffice to say, major cities in China are facing major disruptions due to infection. The Chinese response seems to indicate a much greater impact than the official numbers predict.
I have a feeling this will be more than a blip. This outbreak has the potential to disrupt the status quo for a large number of people, beyond what we've seen with SARS and Ebola.
8 Simple ways to prepare for a coronavirus outbreak.
1. Optimize your health with good nutrition, clean water, & regular exercise.
2. Enhance your immune system by challenging your body with regular exposure to controlled levels of stress. Try adding daily cold showers and deep breathing sessions (hyperventilation) to your healthy routine. These two simple practices have been shown to enhance immune function and increase mental resilience. Fasting has also been shown to improve gut health which in turn promotes a healthy immune response. Daily supplementation with echinacea, Vitamin C,
2. Optimize your spirit/mind with meditation, prayer, family & community. Focus your intention/thoughts/prayers on staying healthy and grateful. Use your imagination to picture yourself in the healthiest state of being at all times. Visualize your immune system healing your body. These simple techniques will enhance your functioning and provide insight and strength for the days ahead.
3. Prevent illness for yourself and family.
Keep your hands away from your face at all times. The virus enters through mucus membranes such as eye, nose and mouth.
If this becomes a pandemic illness and people near your home begin coming down with the illness, assume that it is contagious in your area. Simple changes in your routine can prevent unnecessary exposure.
a. Stay home and discourage visitors from coming to your house.
b. Avoid unnecessary trips to crowded places. Stay off buses, trains, planes or away from crowded spaces.
c. If you must go out, cover your eyes (wraparound glasses), your face (a mask), and your hands (nitrile gloves) and wash your hands with warm soapy water when you get home.
d. Be aware that topical hand sanitizers don't work as well for viruses.
4. Treat minor illnesses at home with clean foods, bone broth, vitamins, herbs, and essential oils. Early initiation of Vitamin C (gluten/corn free) 6-8K mg/day therapy can reduce symptoms and speed recovery in common colds. Other useful supplements include B Complex, echinacea, zinc, vitamin D3, and turmeric. Useful essential oils include tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, lavender oil, and oregano oil.
5. Prepare for disruption in routines. Stores, businesses & logistics may all be affected by a large scale health problem. Expect help and material supplies to be in short supply. Assume that hospitals, clinics, and their medical staff will be busy taking care of the sick.
6. Stockpile 8-12 weeks of affordable and easy to prepare food, clean water, fuel, home remedies, toiletries, and heat source material in case of disruptions in basic services, utilities, grocery, & healthcare. Keep a reasonable number of supplements and essential oils on hand in case anyone in the house begins to show signs of infection.
7. Stay active and remain calm. Fear is the enemy. Focus on creative solutions for the challenges you face. Stockpile books, games, puzzles, and toys to keep yourself entertained when things get slow. Creative distractions will create community, bolster morale and challenge the mind.
8. If you get sick:
Increase your use of vitamins. Try to boost your vitamin C use up to 12-14 Grams per day. Isolate yourself from others and if you develop shortness of breath you must arrange for medical care either with your doctor, a clinic or the ER.
INCEPTION LESSONS 1 & 2
Inception lesson #1 - Can you find the beginning of anything?
Pay attention to how things happen. I want you to notice how events unfold. In particular, I want you to look for the root cause, the instantaneous beginning, the moment of the thing when it began. I want you to notice the point of inception and I want you to notice whether you think the thing is good, bad or indifferent. I challenge you to find the real beginning of anything. My money says you can't. Something always leads to the next thing. There is always a before that leads up to the beginning.
For practice, I want you to look back at what has already happened in your life. Can you see the Good and the Bad? Can you tell where one begins and the other ends? Can you spot the moment when discreet situations changed from all bad to all good? I challenge you try because I think you'll see something cool.
1. The Bad stuff seems harder to remember. That's real. The memory fades away as you become indifferent to it.
2. The Good stuff seems to last. Thats also real because you cherish it.
3. Good and Bad are inextricably linked. You cannot have one without the other. They seem to blend into each other, and that's because of reason number 4.
4. There's a razor thin line between that which is Good and that which is Bad. In fact, they're really not separate at all. Good and Bad are a matter of perspective.
At times, life can feel like a treacherous journey. The road is filled with twists and turns. There are blind alleys and sudden stops. There are ups and downs, lefts and rights. It all seems like it could end in an instant or never end at all. Things happen. Some you call good, others you call bad. It seems like a twisted mess when you're going through it.
But when you look back at your life you can see the path you took. You can see the ups and downs and lefts and rights. This was good, that was bad, you say. You can see how each thing led you to the next thing. Sure, you might see a detour or a pause when things slowed down, but when you look closely, you'll see right down the middle, a very narrow path, like a thread, lit up like gold. That's the golden thread woven right through the middle of your life. That golden thread is the path you took and it's the only path that could have brought you directly to RIGHT NOW.
The Golden Thread
The golden thread is your balancing point. It's the place where you stand. The golden thread is your truth and it's the place of your discernment. It is the place of judgement because Bad and Good are connected like the two sides of a coin. The golden thread is the third side of the coin. It's the edge where heads and tails come together because that's where we truly thrive. We thrive in the truth and the truth is never either/or, it's always both/and. Therefore, to know good is to know bad and vice versa. The burden and the blessing are always combined and you're always walking through both.
The golden thread is you and everything that got you through that moment. Some people call it Grace. You made it through to this point by good luck and bad luck, intention, judgement, discernment, and inspiration, all the things you use to decide. Some people call it grace.
Since good and bad are always connected, it's perfectly acceptable to say it's all good. You could also say it's all bad but why would anyone do that? I choose to say it's all good and the golden thread is the proof. You made it through until now so clearly it's all good. That leads me to lesson number 2.
Inception Lesson Number 2.
Waste the Golden Thread
Waste what is abundant to make up for what is scarce.
By waste I mean use it all up. Be messy. Be bold.
What? Waste the gold? How do you waste the golden thread?
Imagine being stuck in the wilderness in the snow. You need to shelter and water to survive. You're surrounded by tons of snow. The water part is easy but what about shelter? What are you gonna do? Are you gonna make a little snowman and leave the rest of the snow untouched or are you gonna gather up the biggest mound of snow you can and dig yourself a cave? I know what I'd do. I'm diggin' the effin' cave.
The snow is abundant so go ahead and use it up. You won't run out.
The golden thread is much the same way. You know it's there. It always has been. It always will be. It always lies just under your feet and it spools out behind you as fast as you go and it always results in more of you and your truth. It takes a little something called faith to know that the golden thread is actually spooling out in front of you but that's a lesson for another day.
So if the golden thread is always there and always going to be there, learn to use it. Trust it. Push it. Take chances. Go hog wild. I dare you try to use it all up. Try to outrun it and you'll see it right there under your feet.
What does this have to do with inception?
Inception is the moment something starts to become itself, which is merely a judgement on your part. Inception involves both a predicate and a process. It's the continuation of a gift received and the use of that gift in some new way. Inception is the point at which your intention takes life and identifies a new purpose for the energy you weild and a new result from the gift you've been given.
The golden thread is the gift. It is Grace. It is the very fabric of life. You are always living at the moment of inception which means you can learn to see what came before as necessary and good and you use it to create something new.
Your purpose in life is to overcome your limitations and live beyond your wildest imagination.
You are the creator of your life and the director of your entire experience in the here and now. Choose wisely.
You must learn the language of creation and master the art of crafting the highest and best version of yourself and the world you live in.
Aldous Huxley Quote
“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does. They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.”
- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited
Believing is Seeing
Growing up, you went from playing "make believe" to being pragmatic and relying on your experience and common sense.
You took everything at face value. You trusted what you saw. You trusted what you heard and did what you were told.
Unfortunately, you were tricked. The data was corrupted. You should have stuck with 'make believe'.
Now, this may sound insane.
Make Believe is how reality works.
Your beliefs anchor your paradigm. Your paradigm determines your frequency. Your frequency determines your reality.
You literally project your beliefs onto the unified field and you experience your beliefs in the flesh.
99% of the energy in the universe is dark. We can't see it. Our senses cannot detect, nor can our scientific tools reveal what hides in this darkness.
But our bodies are perfectly designed to interface with the field. Our mind/body/soul works like a transmitter/reciever. We can pick up on frequencies and we can send them out.
Imagine that everything that has ever or can ever exist already exists all around us all the time. All we have to do is learn how to tune in. Just like a radio dial. We need to adjust our settings to resonate with that which we intend.
Intend? Yes. You choose.
How do you adjust your settings?
Ignore everything you think you know and make believe. Then sit back and watch the show. You don't have to work for it. It will just come. How and when is not under your control.
What about hard work and determination? Hard work only makes sense when it's aligned with your purpose.
What is your purpose?
I call it Inception - originate and receive. Create and experience. That's it. Use all the tools whether its medical knowledge, artificial intelligence or a hammer and saw.
Your job is to learn how to do this and teach it to others. Become the master of inception.
Balance of Forces
In December of 2019 you'll finally earn your pilot's license.
Flying, like sailing, requires a balance of forces. Thrust opposes drag and lift opposes weight. The plane is always in transition because the airmass is always moving. Climbing, turning, cruising and descending all require changes in one or more of the forces acting on the plane.
The same is true for sailing. The boat floats because it is less dense than the water. The sail acts like a wing. The weight of the keel opposes the effects of the sail which allows the skipper to harness the wind.
In both cases, it's the rudder and the wings (or sail) that give you control. But control is only half of the equation. It is your will that decides where the plane flies and boat sails.
Once you've mastered the controls, all that's left is to master your will.
Where WILL you go from here?
The Journey Begins
With one hand on the wheel and the other holding fast to the last line keeping your boat in its slip, you stare after the dock manager as he slowly walks away. You glance over at the other young man and see him doing the same. You're both slightly dumb and waiting for an answer that will never come.
Suddenly, your attention is wrenched into the present as a gust catches the bow of your boat, causing it to twist in the slip. The transom drifts closer to the pier. Without thinking, you toss the line in your hand and reach for the throttle, throw the engine in reverse and crank the wheel to direct the thrust to oppose the drift. The side drift slows as the boat begins backing slowly out of the slip. And so the journey begins.
As your bow clears the final pier you realize you must now master two worlds, the dark world of the water below and the ever-changing world of the sky above. Looking over the boat you see that all you have to do it with is a keel, some sails and a rudder. You'll spend the rest of your days plying the interface of two worlds that without you are only ever opposed.
Matthew H. Evenhouse, MD is a board-certified Emergency Physician, published author, private pilot and international educator.