Living Out of Balance – The Key to Health
Where did ‘Everything in moderation’ come from? Is it some remnant of earlier puritanical times to prevent people from engaging in overt excessiveness? Does it come from some fear of denying ourselves the things we think are pleasurable? Or is it simply the ultimate rationalization of our denial that we as a society engage in disease-producing lifestyle behaviors?
If science has shown what the optimal levels of exercise and sleep that are needed for optimal health, and if science has shown what foods bring us not only toward health but away from disease, does it make any sense to ‘moderate’ them and ‘balance’ them out with seemingly pleasurable but negatively impactful lifestyle choices, such as eating nutrient-poor, health-robbing, processed foods full of sugar or artificial sweeteners, unhealthy oils, man-made chemical additives, flavors, and preservatives? Is it really okay to eat donuts, pasta, deep fried foods, and get too little sleep, in moderation? Is there a moderate amount of hydrogenated oils, MSG, artificial sweeteners, or soda pop made with phosphoric acid and high fructose corn syrup that our bodies can metabolize and still remain healthy? Is that even a discussion we should be having? No way.
- Should we only drink a moderate amount of water? Or should we drink the right amount, the optimal amount?
- Should we exercise moderately or optimally?
- Should we eat the optimal amount of vegetables which provide the vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber that are essential for every cell in our bodies?
- Or should we eat vegetables only in moderation, balancing those health-promoting foods with pizza, fried chips, soda pop, white flour, and processed dairy, foods nonexistent when the genetic code for optimal health physiology was being formed?
If something you eat or drink doesn’t cause immediate toxicity, but will ultimately undermine your health, is it okay to consume them over time, leading to disease? In other words, if science has shown beyond a shadow of doubt that certain lifestyle choices lead to a breakdown in health over time, is it okay to engage in those behaviors ‘in moderation’?
Seeking Pleasure and Avoiding Pain – Our Genetic Blueprint
As science has come to learn what the neurobiological mechanisms that drive us toward certain choices or behaviors, which are, in their simplest or most primitive form, the seeking of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, it is quite understandable why we would choose to satisfy cravings and desires. The problem lies with the choices available to us in today’s modern world.
During the time of our genetic molding approximately 40,000 years ago in the Paleolithic era, there weren’t the food choices that carried the burden of toxicity and disease that exist today. As early humans, we of course sought out pleasurable foods such as sweet berries, honey, fatty animals, and ripened fruit and vegetables that served to satisfy both our body’s physiologic needs for health and our pleasure drives. Foods that could cause epidemic rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and obesity either didn’t exist, required tremendous amount of energy expenditure to acquire, or were seldom consumed. For example, the choice between fresh water and foul, stagnant water was ‘no-brainer’; stagnant water didn’t taste good and it made you sick. Today, though, we have Frappuccinos, Diet Coke, Monster Energy drinks, and other unnatural, processed foods made with chemical ingredients that taste great due to their ability to hyper-stimulate pleasure centers in the brain and lead to a myriad of health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, senile dementia, and osteoporosis – food choices that were nonexistent in the history of man until very recently. We now have intensely sweetened foods and foods seasoned with a group of chemicals called neuroexcitotoxins such as MSG, that literally hijack the pleasure centers of the brain, creating unnatural neuroadaptive responses, leading to inappropriate lifestyle behavior choices driven by unnatural cravings.
The solution? Whenever you are about to buy or eat any food, ask yourself ‘Was this food 20,000 years ago?’ If you can’t answer yes, then don’t eat it; chances are, it’s what I like to call sick and sad food.
Do all the things science has now shown to promote health, in excess! Exercise, drink lots of pure water, eat lots of organic vegetables and fruit, raw nuts and seeds, grass-fed lean animals, and cold-water fish in excess (hint: you can’t do these things in excess; try drinking too much water – the body self-regulates naturally). Don’t ‘moderate’ them, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s okay to ‘balance’ those health-promoting lifestyle choices with disease-producing behaviors done in moderation. Just because they won’t kill you overnight, doesn’t mean they won’t kill you.
Pursuing health through mitigation or moderation is simply a false paradigm.
Yours in health, Dr. Paul