Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Longevity Part 2: Living to 130. Is it possible?

So the eldest person on record to date to have lived is Jean Calment aged 122 years 164 days, but that’s still over seven years shy of what we’re asking. Although Sakhan Dosova, of Kazakhstan is reported to have lived as long as 130 before her death in 2009, insufficient birth records could not verify her as the world’s oldest woman. However, there are still only around 90-100 known people to have exceeded 110 of a population of almost 7 billion worldwide so statistics are against us. Facts aside, could it really be done by the current batch?

There is something to say about this. Imagine if those who did exceed 110 actually were on a much healthier diet, such as The Paleo Diet. I find this to be deliberate advertising of the PALEO brand but it’s simply true and I don’t really think many people had the same kind of dietary information as we all do today – so imagine how far we could go.

Furthermore, I reckon that most super centenarian were not particularly athletic or even hardworking to the point where they’re running themselves into the ground; as I believe an athletic youth can be counterproductive when in “super” old age.

We could also draw inspiration from the animal kingdom namely the tortoise. Tu'i Malila was the world’s oldest tortoise at 188 years old. It doesn’t take a genius to work out tortoises live a looooong and slooooow life. Ever heard the phrase “live fast, die young?”

So while I remember reading in “The New Evolutionary Diet” by Arthur de Vany that one person said it was possible and also someone else had uttered this, though I can’t remember any names unfortunately, I reckon it is very much possible with science and technology improving all the time, whereas human dietary needs have remained more or less the same for millions of years, but let’s not get too hung up on longevity and make sure we seize the life that we have. Let’s stop living our pessimistic lives and pour some more wine into the glass, someone will get there.

The disputed claim of Sakhan Dosova reaching 130, though I believe such an age is not too distant a possibility...

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Longevity Part 1: Running the Marathon at 101

As I write this article on longevity I listen to the wise words of Buster Martin, formerly the UK’s oldest employee who got “bored in retirement” to become a van cleaner at Pimlico Plumbers.

In my opinion, one can be as Paleo and diligently strict as they like but I always believe a positive mental attitude is a must for carrying oneself into old age, particularly beyond the golden age of 100 and that’s exactly what Buster shows; the fact that he doesn’t really give a sh*t what anyone around him thinks “I’m not like you people – normal” he beams and maybe that’s the little bit extra that one needs to make it to such an advanced age. It seemed that his wellbeing was fuelled by lack of boredom, still working and active while his sedentary counterparts are sat in relative boredom in the local care homes.

Let’s delve a little deeper into Buster’s diet. “I like to have a pint. I like to smoke.” He continues: “I’ve always been fit. I don’t eat fish, I don’t eat dairy products, but I do like my red meat, veg, I don’t drink tea, I don’t drink water. No I don’t drink any water in a marathon. Give me a beer, yeah I’ll have that.” So he likes his meat and vegetables, fairly healthy wouldn’t you say – fairly PALEO? He’s got a laid back and refreshingly free outlook on life. The fags and the booze seem to be his secret weapon, though I detect by 101 he’s learned to take it in moderation. So it is key to note no matter how strict we are, some times we’ve got to learn to take a step back and enjoy life a bit and admire the wonderful fruits which this world bears us.

However, whatever the outcome, it seems Buster was one of those who didn’t come around very often. Just see him in action and talking tactics, prior to his marathon.
Buster seemed like such a character. He sadly died on 13th April 2011 aged 104 years.

Tomorrow I’ll continue with another article on longevity and the possibility of just how far our bodies can last us.'

Monday, 18 April 2011

Getting clean without the soap

I’ve really been trying to embrace these cold showers. What I’ve found is that when I take a relaxing hot shower is that I get too relaxed and don’t focus on washing myself so I then waste water. With cold showers however, I can’t wait to get out yet I feel remarkably better when I get out; well it’s really not that bad once you get past that initial pain period. It’s great for those sluggish mornings – which should be almost non-existent now I’m Paleo – but there still will be those days when duty calls and we’ll surrender to the shower and after counting to a hundred of ice breaking on my back I’m ready and raring for action.

Since I’ve had acne, I’ve learned that its acidic foods that tend more to cause it. The strong acidic foods are soft drinks, alcohol, sugar and white bread – funny how they’ll all non-paleo. Legumes, nuts, dairy, meat and fish are all mildly acidic. But we need a bit of acid in us right? Yes, I didn’t bother skimping on the meat and fish of course – but dairy was moderated as that has been a sure sign of acne for many.

But where have my last few paragraphs actually related back to the title at hand. Well, I’ve been building up to that. Soap is acidic, so why not cut out another acidic agent; after all I don’t need to consume any soap whereas meat and fish are mandatory – because if I’m abiding by keeping my foods too alkaline I might as well be vegan. But even they have legumes. Anyway, the point is, the acquittal of soap from my cabinet has saved money and improved my skin and hair. I know the diet may have a role to play – but the last few weeks or so have been soap free and I intend to keep it that way. No one has noticed, so why revert back to my former modern ways.

So if our skin responds better to alkaline in most instances, why not just ditch the acidic soap. It will save a quid here and there too.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Who’d you rather be – Usain Bolt or Keneninsa Bekele?

Here’s an article dedicated to athletics fans. Typically athletes don’t have the best diets, Usain Bolt has been quoted as regularly dining on chicken nuggets – though I find this to be a slight exaggeration – however, let’s compare two of athletics’ finest icons of all time.

Usain Bolt, muscle bound and the dominant king of the sprints. By contrast, Keneninsa Bekele is diminutive, he still rules over long distance and is Bolt’s equal in long distance running, but the reality is, so many more people have heard Bolt’s name than Bekele’s even though as athletes they are more or less synonymous in their greatness – though of course this is debateable.

Let’s not beat around the bush. Both are relatively lean specimens, but any man would prefer Bolt’s muscular physique than Bekele’s muscle depleted version. There’s also something evidently more masculine about sprinting as opposed to endurance running and it’s true as sprinting once in a while will create far better gene expression than chronic cardio believe it or not. It will raise testosterone whereas long – distance running will decrease testosterone levels.

I suppose that’s why our fitness should not be geared towards cardio. Why spend ages doing cardio, when we can get better results in a fraction of the time. Similarly with bodybuilding, its excessive exercise which is in fact detrimental to health in the long run and the Paleo diet is all about optimizing health and besides (you’ll still get a ripped and toned physique) I don’t think those over exaggerated Michelin style figures are necessary neither are they particularly aesthetically pleasing. Remember Arnold Schwarzenegger’s steroid use has led to heart problems in later life – I’m no doctor but it doesn’t take in expert to know it’s much harder for the blood to get pumped to all those muscles and thus provoke health problems.

Perhaps the debate between the two sprinters may be open to scrutiny and debate. So I ask you again; given the choice, who’d you rather be Bolt or Bekele?

Usain Bolt below and Keneninsa Bekele bottom.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Eating starchy tubers - introducing the sweet potato

Many a Paleo expert have rejected starchy tubers as part of the Paleo diet, such as Loren Cordain who is quite absolutist; he will have said that if it wasn’t a regular part of the Paleolithic diet don’t eat it. Even Mark Sisson, who is more relaxed on borderline foods, says that starchy tubers such as sweet potatoes and potatoes are best avoided unless you are very active, so today I’m going to investigate the sweet potato, since it’s almost synonymous with the potato and it has become a regular part of my diet. Pick your favourite though. For me, sweet potatoes are so easy to prepare, I wait for them to boil and then I mash them up and add some butter – which is not technically Paleo but delicious and dairy is obviously another borderline topic to discuss.

First of all let’s clear up why we shouldn’t eat grains. For a start they contain lectins and phytites along with legumes and are generally not very nutritious for us despite what many nutritionists may tell us. So absolutely no grains I say but here for us a better source of carbohydrate is the sweet potato – they’re rich in dietary fibre and many other nutrients such as Vitamins C and B2 as well as a good antioxidant and are better for diabetics – whereas pasta and bread may cause insulin levels to skyrocket.

Supposing we’re aiming to consume around 100g of carbohydrates today, the average sweet potato will contain around 20g of carbohydrate per 100g. So for me, that was about 2 and half sweet potatoes and it’s still under a shade fewer than 100g.

Personally, I believe that most authors don’t advocate sweet potatoes because it’s easy to go over the limit with them as far as limiting our carbohydrate consumption are concerned. Perhaps if I do have that heavy portion of sweet potatoes it may be wise to limit carbs throughout the rest of the day. Eat very low carb vegetables with your meat and fish – a good example is spinach with only 1g of carbohydrate per cup.

It’s important to know quantities like this, but not to keep a constant log, because ultimately if we’re sensible and prudent about what we eat it can only bear fruit.
Sweet potatoes are a good food source if taken in moderation.

Friday, 15 April 2011

How many carbohydrates do we actually need?

So we’ve discussed fasting and the fact that we don’t need carbohydrates during exercise. Technically, exercising without replacing the lost carbohydrates would be a form of fasting in itself, but just how many carbohydrates do we need on a regular basis? The answer is none. We don’t need any; many people have survived on animal fat and protein and been perfectly healthy such as the Inuit Eskimoes where there is often no vegetation; but I’m not all for the Dr Atkins’s 0 carbs philosophy as I feel we are losing a lot of dietary nutrients from fruit and vegetables. Though for accelerated weight loss for someone severely overweight, it may not be a bad bet in the short run.

50g would signify the minimum that we need to avoid muscle break down and so anything below this would mean you are in ketosis, a state where one has higher levels of ketones in the body though we don’t need to go into that in too much detail.

But that still might be a bit too extreme for some, it certainly is for me. Between 50 and 100g will still aid fat loss and 100 to 150g is a good area to be in for healthy weight maintenance once you’ve reached you’re desired body composition.

120g of carbohydrates per day are fine provided you obtain them from healthy fruits and vegetables and not bread, pasta, rice and other man-made food. I’ll discuss what foods in terms of dietary carbohydrates to eat in a later article though.

Meanwhile, if you are a regular exerciser, because you are heavily involved in sport then you may find that you need to increase your dietary carbohydrates. Carbo-loading is an extra 480 – 720g of carbohydrates and it is for endurance athletes and this I don’t recommend because it is against the whole Paleo training ethos. To be honest you don’t want to be taking in too much more than you actually need, though typically a bodybuilder needs between 160 and 480 extra grams of carbohydrates and I’ll detail in a later article why such extra needs for both bodybuilders and endurance athletes – technically polar opposites – can be detrimental to health. 
Here's a picture of an Inuit Eskimo family whose diet frequently consists of solely meat and fish.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Combining intermittent fasting with exercise

Sundays are always a good day for me to fast because there are not too many strenuous work activities to be conducted on this day and I assume that this may be true of many others. But perhaps not, so I’ll speak of my own experience in order for you to gauge how you can mix fasting with exercise.

I don’t do this every week but when I do I might have my meal around 8pm so I have enough time to digest my meal before going to sleep. At around 10pm I will read in bed and then I will let myself drift off. If I’m feeling a bit hungry while reading, I’ll think of all the food I’ve just eaten and then realise I don’t actually need any more. Trust me, by the time it reaches morning, you’re not that hungry. So why eat first thing in the morning if we’re not hungry? If we can wait a while before consuming food we’re effectively prolonging the fast and burning more fat.

At around half nine or ten I’ll cycle up to the athletics track and do some weights in the gym, gym without weights, some sprints or a mixture –  whatever I fancy. Cycling there and back takes a combined total of about 40 minutes and I’m usually chatting to people there so the workouts are not that strenuous. Maybe aim to spend 30 minutes of hard intense workouts in the gym and the other hour and a half chatting with other people. Yes you heard it right; an effective gym session can be completed in as little as 30 – well 10 minutes or less to be precise. But enough of that; that’s for another article.

By 12:30, I’ll be ready to go home and I haven’t been feeling hungry because I’ve been occupied chatting and exercising. I think that’s a factor for overeating – boredom. Was the workout harder because I had less dietary carbohydrates in my system? Of course, but it’s meant to be and you’ll have burned so much more body fat working harder than someone who ate cereal and drank a sports energy drink while training so remember to keep it intense and fast.

It’s now 1pm and I’m wondering what to do, I haven’t eaten for 17 hours, so I take a shower, get changed and prepare something to eat and I’m tucking in at two, don’t be afraid to eat generously now – Paleo food of course – and there we have it – an 18 hour fast with exercise.

Here's Arthur de Vany in great condition in his seventies. Intermittent fasting worked for him and I learned from the master, so now it's time for all of us to get results.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

What will intermittent fasting do to me?

Before we discuss carbs and how many to consume and combining it with exercise, let’s completely get rid of carbohydrate quantities for today’s article and talk about intermittent fasting.

So we think that fasting is not good for the body and it depletes energy levels because we’ve seen many an anorexic girl who typically fasts herself. There’s a difference between intermittent fasting and chronic fasting though. Chronic would be incessantly depriving oneself of nutrients and would deplete brain size and ultimately have adverse effects on your body. Intermittent fasting – whereby one goes through periods of eating and not eating – is said to have completely inverse effects on the body and is viewed as extremely healthy.

What more can we learn about intermittent fasting? It’s linked to longevity and decreases the aging process. Furthermore, it has been proved that calorie restriction is beneficial for longevity although a calorie restricted diet at every meal is annoying and you’re probably liable to cheat since you’re never quite satiating yourself. This has been proved with animals as well as humans – and guess what, our Paleolithic ancestors were compelled to fast since they had no other choice. But they didn’t know when so it would be spontaneous – hence, I suggest maybe once a week fast for one, two or three meals randomly.

My own experience with fasting takes me back to my pre-paleo days when I tried to fast during Ramadan* and I just gave in to my sugar and carbohydrate cravings when I saw a McDonalds. Since then I completed a 20 hour fast with ease – maybe something to do with my decreased cravings and my increased satiety levels on the Paleo Diet. So if you’re new to the diet, fasting may be difficult at first but you’ll soon get the hang of it.

Personally I've heard Robb Wolf say to not fast for more than 16 hours at a time, Arthur de Vany may skip out one meal and I've read another guy fasted for 36 hours, so it depends on you and there are no restrictions, so go ahead and fast and see if you can hack it. Remember, you don’t know where that next meal is coming from.

*I’m not a Muslim by the way – I just thought it might be interesting to try a fast.

Here’s a picture of a paleolithic man which I quite like. Fasting was probably a regular occurrence in his life - his life was probably epitomized by fasting and times of great feast.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Paleolithic men alive in today's society

So here's my second blog post and as promised coming on the second day as I will keep it up every day. For me personally I don't really see the Paleo Diet at all as a diet, but more so as a lifestyle and later on I will discuss various lifestyle choices I have made to be more in touch with the Paleolithic lifestyle and how you will be able to implicate the diet into your life.

As the Paleo Diet is a lifestyle so to speak, let’s take a look at some modern hunter gatherer societies or Nomadic people. Hunter gatherers obtain between 5 and 80 per cent of their food from gathering according to Wikipedia so there lifestyles do vary. Moreover, so will yours, so each and every one of us has to make the lifestyle unique to ourselves.

These modern day hunter gatherer societies will typically still have very little influence from the outside world and are still prevalent in Western Australia such as the Spinifex people or the Pila Nguru as well as many others.

Okay so the fact that there are still a few hunter gatherer societies around in Australia and a few Adivasi people of India or maybe the indigenous South Americans, it’s nice to know but does it’s not really relevant to our modern day lifestyles, right? Wrong.

Observe these guys lifestyles and you’ll see they don’t suffer from “Western” diseases; diabetes, Alzheimer’s, even the common cold – it has been reported that Arthur de Vany who is now in his seventies hasn’t contracted so much as a cold from his “new evolutionary” way of living so I think it’s important and albeit interesting to look at the hunter gatherer societies of today as well as yester-yester-yesteryear for inspiration.

While reading the Paleo Diet for Athletes, the authors Joe Friel and Loren Cordain mention Captain Cook on his travels to Australia, who is quoted as saying that he did not “perceive the slightest eruption on their skin.” Yes diet does clear up acne in my opinion as I’ve tried it and it really works; however lapses into the biscuit tin or reaching for the chocolate do seem to worsen my condition.

The Paleo Diet for Athletes also charts that skinfold thickness is thicker among Westerners and we have lower volumes of VO2 max (than any of the following groups stated) – which basically reflects your physical fitness. So from the Aborigines, Eskimoes, !Kung (from Namibia, Botswana and Angola), Pygmies (basically defined as any ethnic group whose men are less than 4ft 11 inches) to finally the modern Westerner, it’s clear to see who is healthiest – well as far as diet is concerned. So much for McDonalds eh.
I leave you with a picture of some of the African Pygmies and a European explorer and I’ll be back tomorrow.

Monday, 11 April 2011

What is the Paleo diet?

The term “paleo” refers to Palaeolithic and it is the period of pre-agricultural hunter gatherer societies which existed between 10000 and two million years ago.

Technically speaking, our bodies are not processed to efficiently digest agricultural foods such as processed meat, dairy and grains; though dairy may be included but we’ll discuss that in a later post – thus they are generally expelled from the diet. Lactose intolerant anyone?

For the media, they use “caveman” or “stone age” for ease of simplicity for the public. This focuses on eating the foods which we were designed to eat, the natural bountiful foods – after all the last 10000 years is a mere drop in the ocean when considered against the 2 million years that humans have been walking the planet.

The core basis of the diet is to eat lean cuts of fish and meat, eggs, vegetables and fruits. Normally people exclude legumes such as peas, peanuts and lentils. Of course they have many healthy properties but their phytites and lectins and their high carbohydrate density are generally speaking shunned by some of the Paleo community for this reason.

There are many different variations of the Paleo Diet, which of course will be discussed in later posts and their different effects to cater for your needs such as varying the amounts of fat, protein, carbs and many more ideas; however the main criteria is more or less always the same – lean towards meat and fish, eat a variety of vegetables and fruit and you should be fine. Stay tuned for all the daily tips.

As well as exploring various different forms of the Paleo diet, I am here to bring to you various experts on the subject, so don’t worry with all these contradicting opinions, as now you’ll be able to join up all the points and make a good informed dietary decision for yourself.

Here’s a picture of the Bathurst Island hunter gatherers in 1939. These guys are Australian aborigines and they seem in to be aging well – thus this will serve as something to aspire to in order to achieve our goals.