Category Archives: Discussion

The Six Pillars of Health

After many years of research on the subject, I found that these are the six most important points for one’s health. In no particular order, but sunlight is probably the most important of them all.

– Exposure to Sunlight

Two hours of early AM sunlight, as minimum. Without sunlight, our mitochondria don’t work.

– Exposure to Clean Air

Extra oxygenation via walking, breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi and meditation. Vigorous exercise is not needed, and especially if you’re already sick, it must not be pursued. Sitting too much or not knowing how to breath deeply, creates lactate acidosis in the body, which is the beginning of the end for health. This is what Chinese also call “Qi liver stagnation”.

– Exposure to Clean Water

Spring water, non-fluoridated, alkaline if possible. And LOTS of it! The water, along with some salt and DHA, will act as the electricity in your body, to carry out the needed functions of what some people call “detoxification” (although that’s not the right word for what’s going on).

– Exposure to the Right Diet

Plant-based Paleo, also known as Pegan (some offal, some wild fish and eggs, but mostly plants/fruits). Removing grains and sugars from the diet, we assure that the liver will have enough B vitamins to do its job: releasing away or converting the lactic acid. Otherwise, you end up with a non-alcoholic fatty liver, and everything starts breaking down in the body. More explanation of the Pegan diet here.

– Exposure to the Right Sleep

No sleep, no bueno. Circadian rhythms is our clock, and without that clock, things fall apart.  Sleep when the sun goes down, or at the very least use blue-blocker glasses at night.

– Exposure to the Right Frequencies

This might be seen as quackery, but it’s not. Non-native EMF signals, are detrimental to our health. Avoid wifi, cellphones as much as you can, and anything of the like. Walk barefoot on the bare Earth to get the right frequency to heal your body.

The Ultimate Nutrient-Dense Day

Disclaimer: I’m no doctor.

I’ve been struggling with macronutrients in my low-calorie diet (doctor’s orders!), so today I put together a plan to fill up my daily RDAs (Recommended Daily Values), by remaining low fat and low calorie while filling up in quantity so I never feel hungry. I find this to be the ultimate way to get all the nutrients needed, never feel hungry, and still lose (or maintain) weight. And yes, despite the inclusion of some legumes, this is still Paleo.

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The Positives
– All RDAs are met with the nutrient-dense foods selected. This also means high quantity.

– Carbs are low at 140 gr “net” (average American eats twice as much). Fat is low at 25 gr. Ratio is 60% carbs, 20% fat, 20% protein.

– Soy-free, gluten- & grain-free, nuts-free, pescetarian. Optionally: dairy-free & shellfish-free.

– Omega3 to Omega6 is 1:1 (after adjusting the numbers for pastured eggs and Alaskan wild salmon), close to what tribal people eat.

– Fiber is close to 50 gr, which is close to what tribal people eat.

– Magnesium, the nutrient that 98% of Westerners are deficient of, is beautifully high!

– Enough protein that ensures we don’t lose muscle while losing weight.

– Saturated fat is way down! No fried foods, no added oils.

– Water requirements are filled up with food alone, before we even actually drink any additional water!

– High Folate (very good especially for women who want to get pregnant).

– All important ratios are respected (e.g. Phosphorus-calcium-magnesium, sodium-potassium, zinc-copper etc).

– High in anti-oxidants due the high-raw regiment and cleansing juices!

– Low-mercury, despite the seafood included.

– Some ingredients can be substituted for others to make the diet less boring and more balanced.

The Negatives

– Can be a bit expensive (but not terribly so).

– Requires some daily involvement because of the many ingredients.

– Canned oysters can be high in cadmium and lead. Suggestions below.

– You can’t socialize easily while eating this diet.

– Ideally, some supplementation is still required for optimization.

– No snacking (in order to reboot any leptin resistance).

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Breakfast Notes

– Prefer pastured eggs, to get more Omega3, so you reach that 1:1 ratio (the values in the diagram includes conventional eggs, which are higher in omega-6 instead). Do not hard-boil the eggs.

– I buy Artichokes in a can from Trader Joe’s, which are just artichokes in water.

– If you can’t do dairy, substitute that yogurt for an additional 25 gr of salmon for dinner.

– Throw away (or freeze) the pulp from the first juice of the day (the one that contains the beets). This discarding of the pulp brings the overall amount of calories consumed in the day to about 1200 (instead of the printed 1240 number), and fiber to 50 gr (instead of the 58 gr printed).

– Drink enough fluoride-free water during the day! And 1-2 cups of herbal (caffeine-free) tea.

– If you have joint pain or gut issues, drink 1 cup of reheated home-made bone broth (from pastured animals, or wild white fish), straight up, with a bit of lemon in it.

Lunch Notes

– Prefer to steam the broccoli and asparagus that boiling them.

– One to three times a week, substitute the broccoli for 100 gr of baked potato or sweet potato, or cauliflower. Too much broccoli can interfere with iodine intake and wreck havoc on your thyroid.

– Rinse well under cold water, and drain the oysters. Use the lemon juice on them.

– Once or twice a week, substitute the oyster can for a clams can ($1 at the Dollar store). Clams don’t acquire heavy metals as much as oysters do. Additionally, clams twice a week will give you more “heme” iron in your diet. Rinse, drain, lemon.

– If you can’t do shellfish, or even if you can do them, once a week or so, try 35 gr of wild sardines in water instead of oysters, with bone-in. Rinse, drain, lemon.

– Please note that from all the people who can’t eat shellfish, only 10% of them can’t do mollusks (e.g. oysters, clams). 90% of the people reacting on shellfish they react on crustaceans instead (e.g. shrimp). I get my oysters can from Trader Joe’s, smoked, but boiled is best.

– PRESERVE the pulp of the second juice in a plastic bag in your fridge.

Tea Time Notes (around 3-4 PM)

– PRESERVE the pulp of the third juice in the plastic bag in your fridge.

– All the three juices of the day can be made ahead of time during breakfast and then transport them to work using bottles. However, please note that vegetable juices are best drunk within 10 minutes of extracting them.

– For all juices and smoothies: pear can be substituted with apple, and Chinese apple-pear.

– Peaches can be occasionally substituted with fresh apricots or plums of the same weight.

Dinner Notes

– Steam or grill the wild salmon. Serve it with the wakame or soy-free sea-veggie salad, lemon juice, and raw chopped garlic clove.

– You can occasionally substitute the black beans for lentils, garbanzo, or kidney beans. Lentils will give you more iron and folate, kidney beans more fiber. Garbanzo don’t have much of anything in them though. I found black beans to be closer to a true burger taste.

To make the bean burgers:
* Drain the bean can, rinse very well (all lectins are in that canned water), drain. Weigh 100 gr.
* Chop the bell peppers, mushrooms, parsley.
* In a non-stick pan, add the above, and the beans, and stir often, until all liquid has evaporated.
* Add them in a food processor, and pulse until rough (just smooth enough to form burgers).
* In a big bowl, add the turmeric, ginger, some salt & pepper, maybe some hot sauce if desired, and the pulp of the two last juices of the day (not the first one that contained the beets in it).
* Add the food processor ingredients too, and mix well using your hands, to form 2.5″ burgers.
* Lie a parchment paper on a baking sheet, and bake the burgers at 375 F (190 C) for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked through, turning carefully once.
* Assemble your burgers: romaine lettuce, optionally some mustard, tomato slices, cilantro leaves, burgers. Enjoy!

– Use the cilantro raw, on top of your burger. The cilantro helps greatly in the detoxification of heavy metals. Hence the rather large amount of it.

– Observe the fresh lemon juice, turmeric, ginger, raw onion, and raw garlic mentioned. These are all detox agents, and some of them must be raw in order to work their magic.

– Blueberries in the smoothie can be substituted with blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, or a mix of all.

– Definitely get some camu-camu powder, as it contains adequate amounts of vitamin C required.

– If you’re not trying to lose weight, consider adding some more starches in your diet (e.g. rice, potatoes), or some avocado, and if you’re can eat land meat, maybe some pastured chicken too.

– You can substitute chamomile occasionally for herbal Greek Mountain Tea, if you can find that.

Supplementation Notes

Vitamin D3: 1000 IU, almost daily, with breakfast. Nearly everyone is deficient on it, since they don’t see the sun much. Avoid supplementation of D3 in the summer, because it can build up and cause toxicity. Check it via blood test in your yearly physical.

K2-Mk4 (not Mk7 or plain K): 5mg, 2-3 times a week, with breakfast. This transports calcium to the right place (bones and teeth, instead of arteries). This is the one vitamin that no Western food contains much, and requires supplementation. Tribal people get this vitamin from insects.

B-Complex without yeast, without folic acid (folate is ok), and methyl-B12 instead of Cyano-B12. Twice a week, with lunch.

Selenium, twice a week, with lunch. Sure, you could eat a Brazil nut once a week too instead of getting a pill, but brazil nuts only have as much selenium as the soil they grew up on. California Brazil nuts are low on selenium because of that, for example.

CoQ10 Ubiquinol (not Ubiquinone): 100mg, twice a week, with dinner. Required for those who don’t eat offal.

Vitamin E with tocotrienols, twice a week, with dinner. Required because we can’t have nuts in this diet.

– If you’re trying to lose weight or have a fatty liver like I do, get some choline too: 1 capsule, 2-4 times a week, with food.

– This diet is rich in Magnesium, but Magnesium is highly-dependant on the quality of the soil that the vegetables grew out of. So if you feel you need more due to poor soil conditions in your country, get the chelated version here. 25% of RDA (1 pill only), 2-3 times a week, 20 minutes before sleep.

Good luck! I surely will need it too!

Regarding Juicing

While on Paleo, I used to be against juicing due to being fiberless and relatively high in sugar. However, what turned me around was common sense: Soil in the last 100 years has been losing its nutrition at a steady rate, for some vitamins up to 80%! Aboriginal people didn’t used to each much, but even for the little they were eating, they were getting more nutrition than we do today (even on a Paleo or vegan diets).

chart_mineralssoil

So the only way to get enough nutrients through normal food and not pills, and to not eat ungodly amounts of food, is to juice. Sure, they have some sugar in them, but sugar be damn. The amount of nutrition you get from juices, should be able to fight off whatever negative effects fructose can bring.

Given the bad state of my liver (as I write this, I’m still doing tests to find out what’s wrong, on top of the non-alcoholic fatty liver that I already have), I’ve decided to have breakfast and lunches made of 3-4 veggie juices (not much fruit in them), three times a week. Dinner would consist from solid food, that also includes the discarded fiber of the juice (e.g. as in vegan bean “sausages” or bunless bean “burgers”). Traditionally, in the Greek Orthodox religion, most women would fast Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Fasting in their context meant going regular vegan, but in my case, I’d be going liquid raw vegan. This should give some time to my liver to recover.

juice feast

So I made my first veggie juice today, as seen above: kale, swiss chard and mint from my own garden, a carrot, broccoli stems, celery, a small zucchini, and an apple. It was surprisingly good!

Eventually, I hope to go on a 3-day juice fast (or “juice feast” as raw vegan evangelist John Rose calls it).

Where do I stand on land meat

Over a month ago I made a conscious (and unconscious) decision to stop eating land meat, and get my B12 and protein from seafood, eggs, and fermented dairy.

However, a few weeks later, my blood test results revealed a dangerously low B12 (even if I was Paleo and eating offal for 5 years), and a non-alcoholic fatty liver (that Paleo never cured). Obviously, I started digging, and then it was obvious that my B12 deficiency comes because of my destroyed by celiac disease, gut. Supplementation will probably be needed for life.

However, for the non-alcoholic fatty liver, the situation was complex. Why was Paleo never cured it? Why did I feel much better after I cut out almost all saturated fat from my diet? Was the conventional low-fat “wisdom” correct, and the Paleo doctrine wrong?

Well, what I found out by researching, was that in order for the liver to lose its fatty-ness, it requires lecithin components, particularly choline. Humans only take a small amount of choline via their diets, and the rest is synthesized in the gut. So since I was eating liver once a month or so, and 2-3 eggs daily, which are the primary nutrition for choline, why didn’t I have enough choline?

Well, here’s the kicker: choline requires B12 and methionine in order to get synthesized. A substance that I was (and still am) very short of. Additionally, choline requires other components to get synthesized, that are found only in meat. So I’ve added all these supplements to my daily regiment, and with my new, lower-fat and higher carb Pegan diet, I’m now losing weight without much effort. I eat fewer calories than I used to, without being as hungry as I always was. I’ve lost 7 lbs in a month.

However, methionine, choline, and other B vitamins become a bit of a nuance to just get from pills. I don’t want to be getting 8-10 pills a day. It’s not safe in the long run. So, I’ve decided to add some offal and bone broth back into my diet. Offal every Sunday, and bone broth once or twice a week in soups, to heal my gut further. If I find wild salmon heads, I rather go with salmon for fish broth, but it’s not easy to find these wild. It’s easier for me to find pastured buffalo bones instead, and offal from pastured goats and lamb.

I’m also looking at other, low-fat meat options out there: e.g. game, alligator, turtles, insects etc. I have found that Dr Cordain’s original Paleo diet, which was a moderate fat diet, is healthier than Rob Wolf’s version of high-fat Paleo. The Paleolithic people would eat game, not chickens that are selected to be fat, or are raised with hormones. Game meat, is always lean. I spent years under Wolf’s and Sisson’s version of Paleo, but now I see the wisdom in Cordain’s version — at least for me, with a Balkan ancestry. The only thing that I don’t agree with Cordain is his strict stance against legumes, something that both Sisson, Kresser, and even Wolf now accept as edible.

Finally, I consider offal and bones a more ethical approach to eating land animals, because these animals were not killed for their offal, they were killed for their muscle meat. I would also consider eating a chicken or a goat from my family in Greece, since I know that they are 100% pastured and extremely healthy animals that live good lives. Yes, I understand that I’m piggybacking on the existing status quo by doing so, but I rather be healthier with minimal guilt, rather than be unhealthy with no guilt. I’ve gone in to many surgeries and pains in life (and things haven’t even settled down yet in terms of my health) to give priority to animals instead of myself. So I choose the middle way: reduced land meat intake, primarily offal, from good sources.

So this is where I’m heading towards now: seafood 2-3 times a week, and land meat / offal once a week, plus some supplementation. I hope I have my health fixed by the end of the year, and continue improving in the year following. I have 55 lbs to lose.

Superfoods of the Pegan Diet

It’s one thing to remove allergens from our diet, and it’s another to learn to eat something new. A truly healthy diet requires that we do so. Here is a list of some of the amazing superfoods that most people don’t eat in the Western world.

1. Bone Marrow, Fish Bone, or Salmon Head Broth
In the healing phase of the Pegan diet, bone broth from pastured animals is a must. It will heal your gut, which will allow you to add back foods that the normal Paleo doctrine doesn’t allow (e.g. soaked legumes). I used to make bone marrow broth from pastured buffalo, but now I’ve moved on to use salmon heads instead, and I use the resulted fish broth for my soups. It’s difficult to find wild salmon heads though, so in that case, opt for wild fish bones found in most Asian markets (if you ask the butchers there).

bone-broth2

2. Milk & Water Kefir
Kefir is a superfood with great nutrition and probiotic abilities, coming to you from Caucasus. The big difference with yogurt is that its “grain” bacteria actually colonize the human gut, while the yogurt ones (extracted from the gut of cows which is not fully compatible with the human gut) tend to shed away after a few hours/days. It also contains over 40+ bacteria/yeasts, while yogurt contains 4-6. Please note that for kefir to be potent, it MUST be home-made (commercial kefir only has up to 10-12 strains). In other words, kefir is more potent than yogurt, and it can fight even super-bad strains, like C-Diff. This doesn’t mean that we don’t need full fat yogurt though. Dairy, when it’s made with casein A2 (goats/sheep/buffalo), and when it’s properly fermented for 24 hours to remove most lactose, is an acceptable food for most. And kefir tops it all off. If you can’t do dairy, go for water kefir (using real, brown sugar, not honey).

kefir

3. Fermentation: Sauerkraut, Miso, Natto, kimchi etc.
Fermented foods is another important missing piece in the modern diet, but thankfully, unpasteurised sauerkraut & kimchi are still easy to find in health stores or on Farmer’s Markets. They go great with sashimi too! *Unpasteurized* non-barley miso is also great in miso soups (make sure your soup is not too hot when you’re adding the miso, or you will kill the beneficial bacteria in it). Natto is fermented soy beans with a lot of PQQ and K2 vitamins in it, but it requires a lot of getting-used to as its taste is very particular (fermented wheat-free tamari, unpasteurized soy-based miso & traditionally-prepared natto are the only soy-based byproducts that are considered healthy and acceptable on Paleo and Pegan). Other fermentated options are lacto-fermented vegetables, whey-fermented home-made mayonaise, and pickles.

4. Coconut Oil
Cold-pressed, virgin, unrefined coconut oil is a magical oil for cooking, and even for topical application (e.g. skin problems, fungus). It has anti-bacterial properties, but the biggest one for me is that it can bring amazing mental clarity. Cook with coconut oil for a month, and you will realize that you had brain fog for most of your life without knowing about it. Use extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil for salads and raw foods only, and avocado oil in high-heat frying.

5. Sea Veggies & Kelp Noodles
Ah, sea veggies. When I told my mom in Greece what these are (“φύκια”), she nearly gagged. But these sea veggies are delicious when prepared properly (as a salad or in miso soups), and they have a different kind of nutrition than most land-based foods. Not to mention that they have high doses of iodine, which is important for proper thyroid function. Go for a variety of these, not just nori. Then there are also these kelp “noodles”, which are great in seafood stir-fries!

kelp-noodles

6. Shellfish
Most people who can tolerate shellfish eat shrimp. But there’s a whole world of shellfish to explore, from urchins to clams and saint-Jacques to name just a few. The most nutrient-rich ones though you should be going after are oysters, don’t skimp on them and their super-high content of Zinc! Oysters is the second most nutritious food in the world after liver. When it comes to fish, stay with wild fish only, and particularly wild Alaskan salmon (the only truly wild salmon), and wild whole sardines.

7. Sideritis Syriaca
A herbal tea that unfortunately isn’t currently under the Paleo radar, but it’s possibly more potent than kombucha in many different health areas, is sideritis, or “Greek Mountain Tea“. Don’t take my word for it, just read Pubmed’s research results! The thing obviously works, while Kombucha hasn’t shown good results on research! Here’s how to prepare it. Other very healthy herbal teas are the Cretan “Dictamnus” (even more difficult to find than Greek Mountain Tea though), and good, old plain chamomile. Just don’t root for coffee or highly caffeinated teas. Caffeinated teas also contain high amounts of fluoride, while herbal teas don’t.

tea1

8. Raw & Unfiltered local honey
Honey gets the bad wrap in the Paleo community mainly because most Paleo dieters are in it for the weight loss, and not as much for the additional health benefits. Unless you’re following a Paleo-ketogenic diet, then honey is one of these superfoods that you should not be avoiding. Yes, it’s got its share of glucose and fructose, but then again, so do most fruits. In order for its anti-microbial and anti-allergenic properties to be potent, it must be raw, unfiltered, AND local. Don’t look at buying big brands, look at your local farmer’s market instead. Don’t use it with kefir (since its anti-microbial properties kill the good kefir bacteria), and don’t heat it up.

9. Cod Liver
Cod liver from Norway (unfortunately, canned) is a great substitute for offal for those who don’t eat land meat. Its taste is very mild, it in fact, resembles duck foie gras! I eat it as-is, but I watched a recipe about it over at Martha Stewart’s website (by an Icelandic chef), and the consensus is that it tastes like “lite” foie gras. A lot of D3 and vitamin A in it too, one of these superfoods that people never eat. Even better when fermented. Considering that this is much healthier than non-wild, forced-fed ducks and that it costs about 30x cheaper than true foie gras, I think it’s a great choice.

cod-liver

10. Baobab dry powder
A staple among the Hanza tribal people (that are often a reference among Paleo dieters), baobab is a fruit similar to coconut. It has blood glucose stabilizing effects among other benefits. Additionally, you can try some other dried powders, like goji berries and other exotic fruits.

powders

11. Garlic, Ginger and Turmeric
These are the most potent “herbs” you can use in your cooking. Plenty of health benefits and anti-oxidant value. Prefer your garlic as young and as raw as possible btw. Cook with these very frequently!

12. Offal
While I personally don’t eat land meat anymore, the official Pegan diet as described by Dr Hyman includes small amounts of meat. The most nutritious part of any meat is liver. Heart, spleen, brains and bone marrow are equally important. Back in the days I’d eat land meat, spleen was my favorite, with a traditional intestine soup called Patsas being second. In my native Greece, we also have a recipe called Kokoretsi, which includes all offal of the animal except brains, held together with intestines, and then grilled as rotisserie.

kohlrabi-1
Kolhrabi and duck gizzards.

13. Non-fluoridated water
This might come as a surprise to you, but on Paleo and especially on Paleo-ketogenic you must drink a lot of water. More than usual. But for water to work its magic, it must be spring water — not tap water. It must have minerals in it, no chlorine, but most importantly, it should not have fluoride (apart from a small amount that occurs naturally, rather than being added). Fluoride can’t be removed with normal water filters. It prohibits healing and must be avoided at all costs. Switch to a fluoride-free toothpaste too. It’s indeed not very nice that you would have to buy plastic water bottles for your drinking/cooking water, since they contribute to pollution, but the alternative is as grim too. Check on your county’s website to see if your water supply has added fluoride in it. In California, they all do, for example.