I have spent a lot of time researching topics such as health, diet and supplements but after a while, I have realized that all the information you can find online is highly biased or too broad to be useful. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s simple. Whenever you start reading about health then you will find the following information:
- Do not eat gluten
- Eat low histamine
- No grains
- Eat paleo
- Eat living vegan foods
- No processed foods
- No sugar
- No carbohydrates
- Eat fermented foods
- Supplements like Magnesium and Vitamin D are essential
And the list goes on. Every article and every book on any of the topics listed above talks like a true authority on the subject and tries to convince you that this is the only health concept you will ever need. Why? To get clicks, sell books and get attention.
Information is either biased because someone who has advocated for a vegan diet for 20 years cannot just change their mind without losing book sales or information is too broad with statements such as “Spirulina is an antiviral”. It is true that Spirulina can act as an antiviral but under what circumstances, to what degree and against which viruses? This information is usually omitted.
On top of that, these sites will tell you that there are evil things that you have to get rid off. Every health community (Vegan, Paleo, Keto, Fermentation, …) always has a sworn enemy and this sworn enemy is the cause for all the bad symptoms you might have.
Brain fog? A vegan will tell you that you need to eat more plants. Brain fog still? A Keto dieter will tell you that it’s the sugar. Brain fog AGAIN? Then it must be the grains says the Paleo eater or maybe the fiber says the carnivore dieter.
The internet is a conglomerate of self-sufficient echo chambers. When you enter a community through a forum, on Reddit or in a Facebook group then you are entering a (likely) closed-minded group that practices intellectual incest. New information is only allowed if it fits the narrative.
When you find yourself in such a community then you will always be limited by the existing dogma. You cannot discuss your experiences of trying to eat fish in a vegan group. You cannot suggest that magnesium gives you negative symptoms in a magnesium advocacy group. You cannot talk about honey in a Keto group.
The problem does not lie with any of these groups or the health principles themselves but with the people who are spreading them because people are delusional. We spend most of our time justifying what we already do and only a fraction of our time experimenting with new things. Thus, we will tell everyone that what we have is great because changing it would be too uncomfortable.
I once had an inorganic chemistry professor who said something to me which I never forgot. I was a graduate student and came to him to talk about a curious analytical result I had received but could not explain. His answer: “Repeat it and if it’s the same then we will think about it.”
This left an impression on me because he did not start to justify and be puzzled over the result but first wanted to know if it’s actually true and the only way to know if its true is to experiment, not think. He put experimentation over explanation. No need to get worked up over nothing.
You see, we have a tendency to try and describe everything. Do you have stomach pain? Well, then it must be:
- Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
- Leaky gut
- Harmful fiber
And every group will have an elaborate explanation for this. They will tell you a story about how what you have must be candida. Why it must be SIBO. Why it must be……. bullshit. Most people in these groups will never get tested for anything and just believe the stories they hear but stories are not facts.
Just because something sounds reasonable and can be supported by research does not mean that it is the only explanation possible. I can dig up research right now which will support that blueberries reduce some and INCREASE other cancers. You can support almost any claim! There is even research out there which shows that white sugar is good for diabetics. It all depends on the context of said research because a single paper never stands on its own. It stands on the decades of scientific advancements which came before.
I have always avoided diet advocacy groups because my health journey has brought me through all kinds of dietary territories and I never wanted to be held back by any single dogma. Sometimes I would start a discussion with someone only to realize that they are just trying to be right by any means necessary. I realized that experimentation is something that you have to do by yourself and no community is able to do it for you.
So, here is my list of things to try. These are things that I have found to make a difference but I am not interested in explaining them at all. Listen to your body. Find what is right for you.
1. No processed foods
Experiment with eating a purely whole foods diet. This means that you take no supplements and eat nothing that has been processed in any way. If you want olive oil then you must eat olives instead. If you want wheat, you have to eat the whole seeds and no powder.
2. Cold-treated vs. cooked animal products
For fish, eggs and meat, experiment with cooked vs. cold-treated products. E.g. Try cold-smoked salmon instead of hot-smoked salmon and raw eggs instead of cooked eggs. Also, try salami and cold-cured ham instead of cooked meat. Heating changes the proteins and you might find it to make a difference.
3. Differences in fats
Fatty acid profiles of foods are quite versatile. Saturated fats in plants are usually palmitic acid and myristic acid, while meats are higher in stearic acid. An exception is, e.g. cacao which is very high in stearic acid.
Olives are very high in oleic acid, hemp has a good plant omega-3 to -6 profile and most fish has high levels of DHA. Experiment which fats are best for you. I would not be surprised if you find some fats to be very easy to digest while others seem to still give you some troubles the next day.
4. Fermented foods
There is an infinite number of variations found in fermented foods. I have had 5 different types of water kefir grains in my life and they all were very different. One from Barcelona had a very mild taste and doubled every night. One from Argentina was as sour as lemon juice and produced small amounts of alcohol.
One from Germany only grows when dried plums are added but not raisins or figs. Now add to that the whole spectrum of probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, cabbage juice, milk kefir, kombucha, yogurt and so on.
Probiotics have a pretty powerful effect on our bodies because they are high in bacteria, yeasts and biogenic amines. Experiment to your heart’s desire.
5. Irritating plant foods
You might not do well with all plants. Some plants such as nightshades (e.g. potato, tomato) have a bad reputation but I would recommend to just experiment with every single plant individually. Some plants might be easy to digest and some might be very difficult. Have an especially critical eye towards nuts, seeds and legumes.
Some substances such as turmeric, pepper or hemp can have powerful effects due to their potent anti-inflammatory properties. Try them in isolation and see if the effect is positive or negative. Maybe it just makes you tired, maybe it makes you feel more energetic.
7. High (essential) Carotenoids
Carotenoids are not actually essential (except for beta-carotene and some others who are conditionally essential) but they do have some interesting bodily functions. Lutein and zeaxanthin are deposited in the retina and beta-carotene seems to have many more functions then just as a pro-vitamin A. Increase carotenoids from e.g. eggs and spirulina to see if it makes a difference to your well being.
People will always try to tell you to drink more water but make it a point to only drink when thirsty.
Supplements are great when you are deficient but I am highly skeptical regarding the chronic ingestion of supplements. Try to go for a few weeks without your supplements and then get back on them.
It could be that excess supplementation can have the opposite of the desired effect such as suppressing your immune system, toxic metal buildup, deficiency in other nutrients and so on. Experiment carefully.
While you are experimenting with different foods, you might find out that some things are consistently giving you symptoms. If you have identified something in particular then put it on the blacklist and never look at it again.
Do not worry about a lack of explanations. Maybe you can eat a big cheeseburger but a single cucumber gives you headaches. Life is weird. Just roll with it.
This is my short list for things to experiment with. If you have any more ideas, please leave your comments below.
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