Updated: Apr 17
Thanks again to all my readers for their attention this year. In the spirit of giving, I offer a cautionary tale of the ever-present (but avoidable) Health Tax for 2020:
THE "HEALTH TAX" SETUP
You could be paying the health tax right now:
excessive or unnecessary insurance premiums,
drug and care costs of lifestyle-caused chronic disease
hoarding funds just to pay these costs in retirement
suffering from the diseases themselves
reduction in life quality (financial- and illness-related anxiety)
high-profit-margin processed diet that causes all this in the first place
Whether by malevolent design or miserable happenstance, the "civilized Western society" cycle of diet-based health erosion, leading to lifelong prescription drug use and constant medical intervention, can no longer be disputed. It's out there, it's expected, and many of us simply accept it. The worst consequence is that we become just addled and distracted enough not to notice as this happens.
You may recall the flap over publication of science this Fall that showed red meat is not unhealthy. Hysteria resulted, especially in the conventional (bought and paid for) scientific community. Nora's post carefully and exhaustively rebuts many dubious points, and gives a stark overview of how processed food and agribusiness corporations co-opt media, as well as the vegan and vegetarian communities, to promote the world's most unhealthy processed-food-based lifestyle--ours.
Summing up our status, she says:
"The more compromised our health by malnutrition (and other profitable things) becomes and the more dumbed down, compromised, addled and smaller our brains become, after all, the easier we are as a society to manage. Plus the more polarized we the people become by hot-button political topics, the more divided/compartmentalized we allow ourselves to become as a society, [how] more easily we are going to be conquered by these misanthropic interests. And by the way– its working. Nutritional compromise is a potentially powerful, core weapon for asserting utter societal control ...
After all, if you are addled by cognitive decline, anxiety, depression or even a bit of brain fog… Or if you receive any form of devastating health diagnosis from your doctor do you really give a rat’s behind about, or have the wherewithal to confront those things increasingly compromising our human freedoms, inalienable rights, legitimate environmental interests or anything else that matters in the greater sense of things? Or are you relegated [to] just focusing on mere personal physical and economic survival? ...
Poor health and compromised cognitive functioning makes it difficult to care about anything else. And what the heck, all this can be (and is) profitable as hell for major corporate interests, too!"
The less time (or even ability) we have to think about all the needless lifestyle-based health expenses that our diets embed in our lives...the longer we'll go on obediently paying them.
I strongly recommend this entire post, as well as Nora's books on dieting and wellness. I was heavily influenced by Primal Fat Burner.
Many high-profile figures in the Ancestral movement shy away from these issues.
Thanks to Nora for addressing them frankly and directly.
HEALTH TAX BY DESIGN: WHERE TO LOOK FOR EVIDENCE
Practically alone and unaided, the international Crossfit community pushes back hard against this corporate/government behemoth. Crossfit has recently (and successfully) litigated issues related to bad science and questionable funding of government by corporations. This includes bogus studies and press targeting the Crossfit concept.
This chilling material is definitely NOT on your nightly news show or Web feed.
Please check the Crossfit web site at least weekly, under HEALTH, BATTLES, ESSENTIALS, SCIENCE--interesting research and frontline legal progress can be found under every tab. You might be astonished by the mountain of evidence showing corporate, government, and scientific malfeasance related to nutrition and fitness.
One example: this recent article examines corporate influence on the American Council on Science and Health, a purportedly impartial consumer advocacy group, which instead consistently advocates for deep-pocket companies.
Another great resource on their site: educational videos and talks that go behind the wizard's curtain in the health world, revealing concepts or practices most of us will never hear about. Some of my favorites:
Dr. Gary Fettke on vegan/vegetarianism, health, and how the Seventh Day Adventist Church (!) continues to influence health information and government policy--to our detriment. I was physically stunned by this talk.
Dr. Thomas Seyfried on how cancer may not be genetic, but rather a metabolic disease. Dr. Seyfried is not a flash-in-the-pan "alternative practitioner." He is a respected researcher on the faculty at Boston College, and has pioneered cancer treatments that bypass radiation and chemotherapy--using diet as a component. His book, Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On The Origin, Treatment, and Prevention of Cancer, is a tough read for lay folk--but worth it. The video is a great introduction.
Dr. Zoe Harcombe discusses the absence of evidence against saturated fat in our diets. You heard that right, there is no research that proves saturated fat hurts us. Why do we believe that it does? Follow the money... Worth watching, especially after the Fettke talk above. (And yes, you NEED saturated fat in your diet.)
Dr. Jason Fung, a practicing physician, discusses the pervasive influence of drug companies on the medical profession, and how non-disclosure of financial conflicts of interest has become business as usual. Who benefits more from that prescription, you or your provider?
Dr. Maryanne Demasi on the dangers of statin drugs. Dr. Demasi had a career in television journalism derailed by the conventional medical establishment (and complicit media) because she revealed suppressed information on potentially harmful side effects of this widely prescribed drug. See also Dr. Fung's talk, above.
Prof. Cristin Kearns, DDS, on the longstanding (from the 1950's), deeply rooted influence of the sugar industry in public policy and government dietary guidelines--including surprising (and depressing) links to tobacco industry marketing practices. Did you know sugar has been linked to heart disease and diabetes since Eisenhower was president? Wonder why we don't hear about this...
Yes, folks, this is the world we live in.
There are many other great presentations, take the time scroll through these resources.
You don't have to belong to a Crossfit "box" to follow Crossfit's admirable, take-no-prisoners approach to fighting chronic disease through exercise, diet, and health education.
EVADING THE "HEALTH TAX"
But...would it help to join a Crossfit box? Could you benefit from an intensive, creative, group-oriented approach? Devotees swear by the tribal dynamic. It's a complete package that is very Ancestral-diet-friendly and wellness-oriented. You could do worse.
(Full disclosure: being a reclusive, self-motivated, profoundly antisocial SOB--there are witnesses--who needs full control of his schedule, I haven't joined Crossfit. Yet. That doesn't mean I don't admire the heck out of them.)
The key to avoiding a lifetime of paying the "health tax" is exactly what Crossfit offers. Vigorous exercise, focus on Ancestral-type diet, and a supportive community devoted to a longevity-promoting lifestyle.
Sure, you can do it yourself:
---Read (or re-read) Professor Loren Cordain's books, including The Paleo Diet, The Paleo Diet for Athletes, and The Paleo Answer. Consider following his blog--this is great, unvarnished, (refreshingly blunt) science-based advice.
---A useful overview can also be found in Mark Sisson's Thanksgiving post which is both primer and reminder of what we over 50 can (and should) be doing to extend our useful, enjoyable lives:
It's never too late to start (exercising, cleaning up diet)
exercise is vital, including walking, lifting, and balance-promoting movements
protein, including collagen, is your friend
seek out community and regular play
consider intermittent whole-food keto (really just Paleo with different ratios)
MY WAY: HEALTH TAX EVASION
My Paleo-Primal-Ancestral week includes:
4-5 days: 45-75 minutes weightlifting, 30-45 minutes walking.
(NOTE: please work out "mindfully." At age 60+ joints may not tolerate super-heavy or aggressive lifting. Work around, not through, pain in any area.)
1-2 days: extended 80+ minute walk, sometimes with weighted vest.
REST DAY every 6-8 days
7 days: "intermittent fasting" (compression of eating window to
10 AM-8 PM, shooting for 11-7 if possible)
Organic, pasture-raised, wild-caught or grass fed (vegetables, coffee, protein, nuts/seeds): 97% compliance. Some things are hard to get or just too expensive, but we mostly hold the line. This includes fats and oils.
Advance meal prep
Every Sunday we cook for the week. Meals for the next 6 days are quickly assembled from these items, including salad, roasted or steamed vegetables, pre-baked sweet potatoes or squash, soaked/sprouted and dehydrated nuts and seeds, and several protein selections. (could be steaks, tri-tip or pot roast, ground beef, organ meats, roast pork, chicken, turkey, tuna or salmon.)
Weekday (PM workouts, usually after 5:00)
before 10AM: black coffee; then 5-7 mg creatine in water (supports those workouts)
Breakfast: 1 egg (2 if lunch is later), sautéed in butter or bacon fat; no other accompaniments. Twice-ish monthly: can of sardines or oysters instead.
Lunch: classic "big ass salad" with 6-8 oz. protein (see list above) , 4-6 oz roasted vegetables, 2-3 cups salad greens, 2-3 oz sprouted raw pumpkin seeds (could be almonds), 1 tbsp raw sauerkraut, 1/4-1/3 avocado, dressed with olive oil and balsamic or apple cider vinegar. Lots of parsley.
PM Snack: choose one (sometimes two)--coffee with heavy cream & collagen powder; handful of soaked/sprouted non-GMO macadamia nuts; can of oysters or sardines in olive oil (oysters at least once a week)
Pre-Workout: 3 tbsp MCT oil, 2 tbsp organic coconut butter, maybe add 1 tbsp coconut oil
Post workout Dinner: 8-10 oz protein, 8-10 oz roasted organic vegetables, 3-6 oz starchy veg such as purple or other organic sweet potato. (Didn't work out? reduce protein/starch, increase green vegetables.)
Beverage: water, mineral water, occasional red wine
Weekend (AM workouts, usually around 10:00)
Pre-workout: more coffee with 3 tbsp MCT oil, 2-3 oz heavy cream, 1-2 tbsp coconut oil, 1-2 scoops collagen powder, sometimes 1 oz melted butter.
Post-workout brunch: 2-3 eggs, 4-6 oz additional protein, 6-8 oz sweet potato (purple preferred), sometimes add 2-3 oz raw goat cheese. If still hungry, roasted vegetables with olive oil and balsamic.
PM Snack: grab 4-6 oz protein from the fridge.
Dinner: same as weekday, but usually more starchy vegetables than green or salad.
Sweeteners and fruit
Going for low-carb, I no longer eat much fruit. 1-2 times a month I'll have a handful of blueberries at the most, or nibble on grapes. I don't use any sweeteners.
My wife Kathy does eat organic apples, grapes, blueberries and a few bananas, especially in smoothies. She also uses a little organic sugar in her coffee (we don't think stevia, etc., is any healthier long-term.) When she bakes "paleo bread" for the holidays she might drizzle with raw honey or pure organic maple syrup.
YOU: WOLF IN SHEEP'S GUISE
Doesn't it make more sense to step out of the flock, keep the money in your pocket--and enjoy better health? How about a longer life? Kathy and I are both over 60 yet live extremely active, fully engaged lives. We both work full time and run multiple "side" businesses.
I take no medications, and was finally fired by my GP (no visits in over 4 years, I have to get back in line as a new patient.) I get sick, on average, once a year. (Not bulletproof: I went down hard from an allergic reaction this year, totally unexpected...from eating at a new restaurant!. Not sure what additives got me but I definitely won't be going back.)
You can still live and socialize normally. We have done this since January 1st, 2016, when we adopted the Ancestral lifestyle. We still eat out (fewer restaurants, luckily they're the nicer ones) but no fast food. On the road? I love ordering breakfast any time of day--eggs, bacon, potatoes, hold the toast; maybe bunless burgers or "protein style" sandwiches. We still enjoy fine wine, and I stray into aged or gourmet cheese from time to time. I did give up beer and spirits due to their high carbs.
Just be the wolf, not the sheep. Refuse conventional food and sedentary lifestyle norms wherever possible. Be active, seek out exercise and movement-rich activities. Avoid grains, seed or vegetable oils, sugar, mass produced sweeteners, and processed foods. We no longer eat anything with a list of chemical or non-food ingredients. If you can afford organic/pasture raised/grass fed, they are worth it--and will cost less than the health tax.
Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2020!
And don't forget....
DAVID WHITESIDE IS NOT A DOCTOR and does not give medical advice or treatment. He offers research, information and personal experience only. Nothing you read on this website or blog should be construed as medical advice or as intended to supersede information you get from your medical professional. Following the advice given here or on any recommended resource site does not create a doctor-patient relationship or create liability for David or anyone else. David is not liable for any loss or complication you experience from following any diet or taking any action. You should check with your properly accredited medical professional if you think you are injured or ill.