While this biog is still dedicated to Ancestral health practices and the over-50 community, emphasis may shift in the next few posts.
Many Ancestral writers (me too) usually dive deep into the science behind problems with the SAD (Standard American Diet.) This often seems like the most sensible approach to promoting Ancestral and Paleo alternatives. There is a solid body of research behind this, and hearing the science helps new converts understand how and why their health is improving. I found it fascinating, and have spent the last five years reading and researching the details.
However, the sciences, especially the nutritional and health disciplines, may no longer be reliable guideposts for most "consumers"...at least those who take mainstream media at face value. Uncritical, non-questioning acceptance of "science-based" information or advice, related to diet and health, has never been more questionable than it is today.
This year, as "experts" and "scientists" assert increasing control over our lives by citing studies and claiming superior knowledge due to their academic pedigree, my instinct is finally to step back. Anyone with even the most casual exposure to the history of health sciences, especially in America, knows (or has heard of) the following:
Public policy on SAD nutritional guidelines, crafted by the food industry, claims to be science-based, and yet has resulted in several decades of worsening overall public health ("epidemics" of diabetes, obesity, dementia, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and numerous other autoimmune problems.) "Studies show" how we should eat and live, according to these food/drug/political cognoscenti, but our population gets sicker every year.
These chronic health problems are overwhelming our healthcare infrastructure, and yet the bulk of care received is "palliative" or maintenance care. Most chronic disease is acknowledged as lifestyle-based (primarily diet-based), but the "cure"--the lifestyle and diet changes--is boldly overlooked in favor of expensive or lifelong treatments, especially with prescription drugs. After all, no one makes any money if disease is eradicated. "Studies show" these treatments abate symptoms, so the treatments "must be" preferable, even if you stay (needlessly) sick for the rest of your life.
More insidiously, these same chronic conditions exacerbate likely health outcomes for coronavirus patients--and will probably worsen complications of any future treatments or "preventatives" for this illness, and its expected successors. The (public) "scientific" reaction to coronavirus has been to address everything EXCEPT the underlying causes of chronic disease, and even mainstream media has been unable to hide the absolute confusion and contradictory "science" that surrounds coronavirus. [Unfamiliar with how Sweden has fared during the "pandemic?" Please research this if so. Western media has largely ignored Sweden, or misrepresented events there, since these events contradict most of what is being promoted as "science-based" outside Sweden.]
Ultimately we must remember that just because an idea or action or even a course of treatment is "scientific" or "science-based" or backed up by "studies" doesn't make it effective, desirable or even true. Science can be (and frequently is) wrong, but even more often it is simply bought.
Whether it's the current lockdown or the purported "need" for more whole grain in your diet, or the utterly spurious "fact" that saturated fat causes heart disease, any number of researchers will produce science or studies to support the position du jour. The average citizen is completely unaware that this "fee based" science is the norm today.
Processed-food and pharmaceutical companies, in particular, nakedly manipulate science and scientists to promote their products and services. In 2020, many well-known NGO-s are not far behind, promoting not just profitable new drugs and injectables but breathtakingly wholesale societal manipulation...all in the name of science, as attested to by experts, and trumpeted with dependable hysteria by mainstream media.
So, though returning to the well of science, to promote health through Ancestral living, sounds tempting, I prefer to remember:
Hunter-gatherer societies (and their various nature-based diets) existed long before science or scientists.
Chronic disease began to surface with the advent of agriculture, and especially when scientists began to manipulate food in the early 20th century. (Death by Food Pyramid by Denise Minger gives an excellent overview of this--the chapter on "Crisco" is riveting.)
No study or treatise or book or technical expertise is needed to prove that Ancestral living (and particularly Ancestral dieting) can improve health. You just need the willpower to try it for 30 days. My wife Kathy and I started 1/1/2016 and have never looked back. (We did read The Whole 30, which is still the shortest, easiest, most comprehensive-yet-painless introduction to anti-inflammatory/Ancestral dieting.)
"Objections" to the Ancestral diet can usually be traced back to "science-based" notions, prejudices (and outright food addictions) that stem from long-term, unquestioned societal adoption of the SAD and the specious research behind it. There is also a persistent, willful misunderstanding or mis-stating of Ancestral diet basics that crops up in these counterattacks. Critical thinking and willingness to google around a bit can help reveal this. Anyone telling you that sugar, soda, or hamburger buns are "healthy" or even "OK" is at the very least misinformed....
The bottom line is this: while science is sometimes our friend, it is increasingly co-opted by those who know how to use it to persuade or even bully us into buying, doing, or even being something we might not otherwise buy, do or be.
Real, lasting and dependable health through Ancestral dieting can be explained by science but you don't need a biology degree to enjoy these benefits. You just have to do it. As the Crossfitters say, "eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar." That's it.
Stay with whole foods, minimally- or not processed at all. At my house we eat no packaged food of any kind except wine and a little cheese. Occasionally high-cocoa- count chocolate or sugar-free bacon. Don't over-eat. Exercise regularly (the more, the better. I worked up slowly from 30 minutes to 120 minutes daily, while employed full time and running a separate business.)
This doesn't just help, it can change your life--no matter how old (or how sick) you might be.
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.