The “Perfect Health Diet”

A new book at Amazon, a variant of paleo, though it allows potatoes and white rice.

It seems to have a lot of good reviews. Here’s another one from an Instapundit reader:

Chalk me and my family up as big fans and beneficiaries of the PHD. It’s been life-altering, literally, for myself and my two daughters.

Given the success of the PHD and other similar diets (like the Paleo Diet and the Primal Blueprint), it’s very likely that most of our chronic health issues in the United States are the result of malnutrition: following the USDA’s dietary guidelines seem to reliably lead to human malnutrition.

Malthus may have been right, although not in the way he thought.

One day people will look back on the late twentieth century nutrition advice in the same manner we view bleeding by leeches. Except the latter will be more respectable.

11 thoughts on “The “Perfect Health Diet”

  1. Brock

    The PHD concentration of fat in the diet is still pretty high. Of the natural, paleolithic and healthy neolithic cultures (yes, there were healthy neolithic cultures, no matter what the paleo fundamentalists tell you), only the Masai and the Eskimo are famous for their high-fat diets. Most of the healthy diets were built around starch. Including wheat. And a high-starch diet is easier for the body to digest, because our body prefers glucose as source of fuel, and the starch-to-glucose conversion is much easier than the fat-to-glucose one (when it happens at all).

    Diets which are starch based, but high in vitamins and minerals like the PHD, see equally good or better results in less time. Especially among those with impaired digestion.

    The real problem with the modern diet is three-fold:

    1. Substitution of natural fats for unnatural fats. Swapping in margarine and canola oil for butter and olive oil was a huge mistake. The unnatural fats are completely indigestible, and cause many of our problems. They’re also stress-promoting.

    2. The loss of minerals and vitamins, which comes from many source. It’s partly driven by a loss of soil fertility, which impacts both the fruits and vegetable we eat as well as the grain crops. It’s partly because a switch to grain based industrial foods for our farm animals means they don’t get a varied and healthful diet (which impacts the nutrient value of their fats, organs and meats). And both of the above are compounded by the industrial processing, boxing, shipping, and microwaving of foods which denatures them further and strips out what little minerals and vitamins we still have in our food supply.

    3. The demonization of sugar and salt. Sugar and salt are both necessary for healthy function. Yes, of course you can over-do it. But many people under-do it. Follow the link in my name to a recent incident of someone who died trying to eat “healthy”.

    1. Josh Reiter

      “only the Masai and the Eskimo are famous for their high-fat diets”

      Eh, there are plenty of stone aged tools that specialized in smashing bones open for the fatty marrow that refute that assertion. That’s how they often can tell it was humans who ate on the bones of a long dead animal. Humans generally ate the whole animal, even cut marks are found on the skull, and the bones were usually completely smashed into little pieces trying to extract every bit of nutritional value from the carcass. And these are tools found all throughout France, The Middle East, and Africa.

      1. George Turner

        I’ve read that few predators can crack open a large femur and the marrow inside can stay edible for quite a long time, so we could scavage animal kills for easy pickings. Marrow is also some of the most nutritious meat for fetal brain development.

        1. Brock

          The scavenger theory is interesting, but it’s unlikely that’s how we got most of our calories.

          Humans have one distinct advantage, and it’s not speed or claws. It’s our ability to function during the African heat. Most animals (predators and ruminants alike) are almost incapacitated by the heat from 10 am to dusk. That’s why lions hunt at night. But not humans. Our heat tolerance is more of an outlier than a Cheetah’s speed.

          Hunting as a group during the Noonday heat would have been a distinct advantage.

      2. Brock

        Brock: “only the Masai and the Eskimo are famous for their high-fat diets”

        Josh Reiter: “Eh, there are plenty of stone aged tools that specialized in smashing bones open for the fatty marrow that refute that assertion”

        Brock: I said “high fat“, not “no fat“. There are zero examples of cultures that consume no fat at all. (Although the Zulu come damn close) Your stone tools example is proof only proof that “some” fat was in the diet. The question is, How much?

        The PHD diet recommends 60% of daily calories come from fat. That’s really damn high. Most real world cultures (other than Eskimo and Masai, as I mentioned) do not come anywhere near that high a level of fat consumption. And both of those cultures live in areas where carbohydrates are hard to come by. The fact is, any historical culture that COULD get most of its calories from starch, DID get most of its calories from starch. Even when fat played a big part of their diet.

        The neolithic Swiss are good example. They’ve been dairy farmers for millennia, and cheese and butter important parts of their diets. But the bulk of their calories always came from rye. And they were very healthy (that’s why the Pope hired the Swiss Guard; the mountain folk raised on rye and butter were already taller and stronger than the lowland Italians).

        The historical evidence for meat eating is irrefutable. Humans aren’t supposed to be vegetarians. But we aren’t carnivores either. We’re healthiest on a diet that is >50% starch.

        1. Josh Reiter

          Well clearly it all depends on what region a culture resides that determines it’s diet. But you can take someone from the Americas and throw them into the Arctic and within a few days they will be eating eyeballs and blubber like they just hit the Ryan’s buffet. In other words there is nothing unique about the Inuit or the Masai physiologically speaking that gives them a fat digesting advantage. For many societies on the plains the animal migrations coincided with the changing of the season and successful tribes knew they had to fatten up for the winter and no doubt several weeks of meat eating took place while the herds were swollen. And then there are the coastal societies that get a great deal of their calories from oily fishes from the sea. And further more the starches that were consumed were roughly ground grains or tough fibrous roots. Certainly not the highly refined starches that we have now days. It’s the reason why Ugh the Cavemen didn’t need to brush his teeth. Aside from the odd berry, wild honey, or bitter melon their access to sugars were pretty limited; far more limited than their access to fat and protein. But anyways my point is that our bodies are clearly designed to handle the high fat loads because of tens of thousands of years of scarfing down back bacon and fatty livers.

          But I do agree with you that it is a mistake for us to consider seed based oils a healthy replacement for lard and tallow. I do most all my cooking with either lard, coconut oil, or olive oil. It’s funny that McDonald’s used to deep fry in tallow. Then, the health nuts in the 60’s pressured them to switch to “healthy” vegetable shortening for no other reason than it just seemed unhealthy to deep fry in animal fat with little to no medical evidence to back it up. Then actual medical evidence shows that deep frying in shortening with trans fats DOES cause heart disease and cancer. Suddenly those very same groups that were championing the shortening as a healthy alternative to lard do an about face and start attacking the fast food industry for killing us with cancerous trans fats. They’d of never used the trans fat in the first place if we’d just left well enough alone and kept using the animal fat.

      3. Godzilla

        Not that long ago people used lard to make meat dishes tastier instead of using margarine. I used to read comic books from before WWII and you often found that and people cooking bones to make soup in stories. It is silly to think in an age where food was more scarce people would simply throw away perfectly edible parts.

  2. Glenn

    Last time I looked, leeches were back in style for certain kinds of circulation problems. Essentially, whenever blood stagnated due to vessel damage, if I remember correctly.

    1. Larry J

      From what I’ve read in articles like this, leeches are sometimes used for cases of severe swelling such as after reattachment surgery. They are a legitimate medical tool.

      1. Godzilla

        Leeches aren’t the problem. They have legitimate uses.
        You would have to put a lot of leeches on someone for blood loss to be an issue. The problem was “doctors” doing bloodletting.

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