"Secrets" of Weight Loss: Part 7: It's Not Your Fault

August 16, 2023

Joe superimposed on aerial farm view

As the therapist played by Robin Williams in the movie “Good Will Hunting” said to his patient Will played by Matt Damon about his abusive childhood: “It’s not your fault."

Phasing It In

To oversimplify, we got here in 3 steps or phases. The first phase is the evolutionary origins of our species starting with Lucy about 3.5 million years ago. The next phase was the agricultural revolution starting about 5-6,000 years ago. And the third phase began in 1953 with an unscrupulous scientist hungry for attention: Ancel Keys.

Approximately 3.5 million years ago we took a major step down the evolutionary road toward our species today homo sapiens. In 1974, in Ethiopia, Dr Donald Johansen discovered a relatively complete skeleton of a species called australopithecine. He nick-named her Lucy. She was about 3 feet tall and ate a “chimp” diet – mostly vegetarian with a few ounces of meat a week. Lucy walked bipedally like we do today, which is why she qualifies as our ancestor. She also had a small brain like a chimp. Look how small she is.

Over the next million years or so we evolved into small bands of hunter-gatherers who scavenged carcasses deserted by predators. Our diet evolved into one of almost exclusively animal meat and animal fat. This diet had a remarkably positive effect on our evolutionary progress. We began to grow tall and gracile. We also began to grow a bigger, smarter brain. About a million years ago we conquered fire and began to cook our meat. This external digestion increased the nutrition we derived from meat by about 4 times. By about 200,000 years ago we had evolved into homo sapiens. The early homo sapiens were about 6 feet tall with large intelligent brains. We still lived in small egalitarian bands of 20 to 50 people. We were exceptionally healthy. We moved everyday so we never lived near our waste. All our food was fresh and organic. Eskimos have lived on meat and fat for thousands of years.

Asian family wearing fur coatsThe second phase began about 5-6,000 years ago and is commonly known as the agricultural revolution. It began in several locations at once – one of which was the fertile crescent in the middle east. Our ancestors began to domesticate native grasses and grains. In China they domesticated rice. Agriculture allowed us to feed more people and to specialize in what we did. With agriculture came a hierarchically structured society, power, and have’s and have nots. We also domesticated animals and began for the first time to live in close proximity with animals. We lived with our waste and our animals’ waste. As is true today, many diseases come from animals. These new living conditions led to communicable diseases and eventually plagues like the black plague. At one point the Black Plague killed 1/3 to ½ of the entire population of Europe. We were getting shorter and sicker.

The third leap brings us to the middle of the twentieth century. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s heart disease went ballistic. A Ph.D. physiologist named Ancel Keys decided he was going to cure heart disease. The problem? He got it completely wrong. He demonized saturated fat and cholesterol. He promoted a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat. He promoted whole grains.

To get a sense of just how wrong Ancel Keys got it, let’s look at a few American health statistics in the year 1900. In 1900 America the number one meat that was eaten was pork. The number one fat that was eaten was lard – pork fat – 100% saturated fat. 85% of Americans lived on farms. Pigs are easy to raise. Cancer was not even in the top 10 causes of death. Obesity and diabetes were virtually unknown. I can still remember my high school in 1960. We had over 2,000 students. There was one fat student in the entire school.

Now let’s compare 2023 America. Nearly 50% of all Americans of all ages are obese – not overweight – obese – so fat it is life threatening. Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions. This statistic just appeared this week in the Financial Times newspaper: 75% of American 18-year-old males are so weak and out of shape the Army will not even accept them.

Child eating cookies with parentThe Mismatch

Genetically, we humans have not changed much in the past 200,000 years ago. We are a reward species. The hormone dopamine which your brain produces allows you to feel pleasure and feel motivated. We didn’t experience a lot of dopamine 200,000 years ago.

The food industry is smart. From a profit point of view, the perfect food would be an addictive food. You eat it and you keep coming back for more. The food scientists figured out how to give you a blissful dopamine rush every time you ate or drank their food: a Snickers bar when you’re “hangry”, a can of Coke, or a big luscious blue-berry muffin with your Starbuck’s latte. 

The food industry not only weaponized food, they weaponized marketing. If you notice, they don’t sell products, they sell feelings. You get to feel bliss every time you eat and/or drink it. The catch? The bliss does not last. And, over time, it takes more and more of the donuts or candy bars to give you that bliss feeling.

Welcome to the Vortex

America now is caught in a vicious vortex. The food industry is making billions of dollars making Americans fat and sick. The health care industry is making trillions of dollars selling Americans prescription drugs. America currently spends $4.3 trillion every year on health care – an average of approximately $12,900 for every single American per year. The results? Cancer has gone ballistic and has surpassed heart disease as the number one cause of death in America. The number one cause of cancer? Sugar in all its forms including alcohol – distilled sugar.

I have been teaching and coaching a healthy, high-performance lifestyle since 1979. There is not much money in health. Clearly, there are billions of dollars in junk food and trillions of dollars in chronic illness. 

The answer is simple. JDD shakes. Foods-as-grown especially high-quality animal protein like meat and eggs. Lots of pure water. And 3-5 Heavy Hands walks a week. 

My triglycerides are 29. My HDL (good) cholesterol is 111. My calcium score is zero. As a former All-American swimmer, I am having the best blood results in my life at age 78.

Thank you for listening.


Photo from Unsplash