The Perfect Health Diet prescription is:
About 600 carbohydrate calories per day from about 1 pound of "safe starches" such as sweet potatoes, yams, taro, white rice, sago, tapioca, and potatoes and 1 pound of fruits, berries, and sugary vegetables such as beets and carrots.
About 300 protein calories per day from 3/4 pound of meat, fish, and eggs.
Some factors influencing carb and protein intake: (1) Athletes should eat extra carbs as needed to accommodate their training; they may also benefit from extra protein. (2) Eating slightly lower amounts of protein may extend longevity.
Omega-6 fatty acids should be limited to less than 4 percent of calories. To get down to this level, do not eat any vegetable seed oils; do eat low-omega-6 oils such as butter and coconut oil and low-omega-6 meats such as beef, lamb, fish, and shellfish.
Long-chain omega-3 fats from cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, and anchovies should be eaten to balance tissue omega-6s. Up to a pound of oily fish per week is likely to be healthful.
Saturated and monounsaturated fats are the safest calorie source--indeed the only calorie source that is nontoxic in very high doses--and should provide the bulk of calories. Fish, shellfish, beef, lamb, and dairy fats such as butter and cream are the best animal sources; coconut milk and coconut oil are great plant sources.
Two tablespoons of coconut oil (6 tablespoons of coconut milk) per day will provide short-chain fats to protect the health of the gut, liver, nerves, brain, and cardiovascular system.
More short-chain fats are generated in the gut by eating fiber. Fiber should be obtained from "Paleo" foods: the safe starches, fruits and berries, and vegetables to taste. These are the fiber sources that generate the healthiest portfolio of gut bacteria and the most abundant colonic production of beneficial short-chain fats.
Unlike other mammals, humans lack the ability to transform foods with the wrong nutrient mix into the right one. In particular, we lack the ability to ferment large amounts of vegetable matter into fat. More than other animals, we humans need to eat our natural diet--one that is majority fat, minority carbs and protein.
The food reward system sometimes overshoots the mark. Evolution wanted Paleolithic man to eat more than 15 percent carbs, so it made carbs tasty, sweet, and rewarding. In the modern world, where carbs are easy to obtain, the food reward system overrewards carbohydrate consumption and leads most people to eat more carbs than is optimal. The good news: if we eat natural foods, our reward system will be a reliable guide to what is good for us, just as it was in the Paleolithic.
Most likely, purified-nutrient diets are unhealthy because they are malnourishing. Research versions of purified-nutrient diets are clearly nutrient-deficient, since extra choline, extra zinc and copper, or extra zinc, chromium, and selenium relieve the health problems they induce. More fundamentally, food is full of nutrients that we don't know we need. We share a common biology with plants and animals, and their tissues contain premade biological compounds that are valuable to us and that we may not be able to construct in adequate quantities from purified nutrients.
Optimal protein intake is achieved by eating 8 to 16 ounces per day of meat, fish, and eggs.
More protein is needed on low-carb diets and by athletes in training.
Children, especially infants, shouldn't eat too much protein.
People trying to lose weight shouldn't eat too little protein.
Lower protein intake may promote longevity; higher protein intake promotes strength.
For longevity and muscle both, try intermittency: high protein intake after workouts, low protein intake on rest days.
To maintain a lean body composition while overfeeding for muscle growth, the trick is to have rest days with reduced calorie consumption. A good rule of thumb is to overeat by 20 to 25 percent of calories in the immediate aftermath of training and to undereat by 20 to 25 percent on rest days.
Carbohydrates should comprise 20 to 35 percent of calories, except for those on therapeutic ketogenic diets (a bit less) or athletes in training (a bit more).
About 85 percent of dietary carbs should digest to glucose, 15 percent to fructose; therefore, starches should be preferred to sugars.
Starches should be eaten with fat, vinegar, and vegetables to minimize their hyperglycemic toxicity. Starches are meal foods, not snack foods!
Avoid added sugars. When you do indulge, keep to the 85 percent glucose guideline by using rice syrup or dextrose in place of honey or sucrose.
A rough rule of thumb is: To eat a moderate-carb diet, combine 1 pound per day of safe starches, such as white rice, white potato, winter squashes, taro, or sweet potato, with 1 pound per day of sugary plant foods, such as beets or fruits and berries. Add as many low-calorie vegetables as you like. A pound of sugary plants equals about three beets, three bananas, or three large peaches per day. Let's generalize that as three or four fruits or sugary in-ground plants per day.
Here are some ways to reduce the GI of starchy foods:
Cook them gently.
Avoid industrially prepared foods.
Eat starches with fat.
Eat starches with vegetables.
Eat starches with acids, especially vinegar.
The Dangerous Fats: PUFA
Americans eat five times more omega-6 fat and less omega-3 fat than is optimal.
You want to be at the top of a food chain whose base is green plants and algae; so eat fish, shellfish, and ruminants (beef, lamb, goat).
Eat tropical plants but not their seeds.
Ruthlessly purge high-omega-6 foods--especially seed, bean, and grain oils such as soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, and safflower oil--from your diet.
We recommend making fish, shellfish, and ruminant meats your principal meats, eaten five days of the week. Eat chicken and pork only occasionally for variety.
Do not take fish oil capsules. Get your omega-3 fats from fish.
The Safe Fats: SaFA and MUFA
Saturated and monounsaturated fats are safe to consume, even in large quantities.
They are the most adjustable macronutrient of our diet: the quantity eaten can be adjusted up or down to satisfy appetite.
On calorie-restricted weight loss diets, these are the macro-nutrients to cut.
The optimal macronutrient proportions for building muscle are 30 percent carbs, 18 percent protein, 52 percent fat. But the fat needs to be low in PUFA and thus high in SaFA and MUFA.
Medium-Chain Fats and Therapeutic Ketogenic Diets
One or 2 tablespoons of coconut oil per day may be beneficial for everyone.
A ketogenic diet is therapeutic for some conditions, especially neurological disorders.
How to Implement a Ketogenic Diet:
Consume at least 200 carb calories per day from fiber-rich safe starches such as taro and white potato. But eliminate fructose sources from the diet; fructose metabolism depletes the liver of ATP and reduces its production of ketones.
Consume sufficient protein to reach a minimum of 600 calories of carbs plus protein per day. Supplement with 5 grams per day of branched-chain amino acids.
Consume copious amounts of short-chain fats. Somewhere between 500 calories (4 tablespoons) and 1,500 calories (12 tablespoons) of MCT oil per day may be optimal.
Engage in intermittent fasting. During a sixteen-hour daily fast, take MCT oil but no other food except water and electrolytes. Eat during an eight-hour daily window.
Supplement with various nutrients including vitamin C and glutathione or its precursor N-acetylcysteine, plus vitamins involved in gluconeogenesis such as biotin.
Finally: apart from the MCT oil and branched-chain amino acids, eat food. Do not drink purified-nutrient shakes!
Include salmon or sardines in your diet for omega-3 fats, but avoid consuming alcohol on days when you consume salmon or sardines. The combination can damage your gut. The best foods to combine with alcohol? Beef, lamb, or nonoily fish.
Be well nourished. Eat liver and egg yolks for choline, and get extra antioxidants, especially vitamin C, to support glutathione regeneration and protect against lipid oxidation.
The Four Most Dangerous Foods
Vegetable seed oils
Multivitamins may do as much harm as good.
Some foods are such desirable sources of nutrition that they should be eaten habitually and routinely, as you would take a supplement. The following "supplemental foods" should be eaten daily:
3 egg yolks (for choline, folate, vitamin A, selenium, and vitamin B12)
A bowl of soup, stew, or curry made from a bone and joint stock (for calcium, phosphorus, and collagen)
Vegetables such as tomato, avocado, potato, sweet potato, banana, green leafy vegetables, and seaweeds such as dulse (for potassium and a variety of other nutrients including carotenoids and folate)
The following supplemental foods should be eaten weekly:
Liver and chocolate (to obtain vitamin A, choline, folate, magnesium, and other nutrients, with an appropriate amount of copper): 1/4 pound of beef or lamb liver and (optionally) up to 1/4 pound chicken, duck, or goose liver, but minimal chocolate
Seven oysters (for zinc; alternatively, supplement with 50 mg zinc per week)
Fish, shellfish, eggs, and kidneys (for selenium)
Fermented foods and aged cheese (for vitamin K2)
A few minerals are hard to get in optimal amounts from food, such as magnesium, and should be supplemented. Some are so crucial to health and safe that it's best to supplement: vitamins D and K2, vitamin C, iodine. We therefore recommend the following supplements daily (optional nutrients, which may not be appropriate for everyone, are in parentheses):
Sunshine and vitamin D3 as needed to achieve a serum 25OHD level of 40 nanograms per milliliter
Vitamin K2: 100 micrograms
Vitamin C: 500 milligrams (or about 2 pounds per day citrus fruits, sweet peppers, broccoli, and green vegetables)
Magnesium: 200 milligrams
Iodine: 225 micrograms (unnecessary on days when seafood is eaten)
(Lithium: 2.5 milligrams--a 5-milligram tablet cut into halves)
(Silicon: 5 to 25 milligrams)
And the following supplements once a week only:
B-vitamins: 50 milligrams B-1, B-2, and B-6; 500 milligrams pantothenic acid; 5 milligrams biotin; 500 micrograms B-12.
Zinc: 50 milligrams (if oysters are not eaten)
Chromium: 300 micrograms, and vanadium: 25 micrograms
(Molybdenum: 150 micrograms)
(Boron: 3 milligrams)
(Taurine: 500 milligrams)
A Recipe for Healthful Living
We all have chronic infections that become more severe as we age. If allowed to multiply, parasitic microbes will cause severe disease.
It's desirable to improve your "terrain" by helping your immune system control chronic infections.
Cardiovascular disease, dementia and memory loss, neuropathy and lost balance and falls, "grouchy old man" syndrome, cold intolerance, inflamed and arthritic joints--these may all be symptoms, not of aging, but of chronic infections.
Circadian Rhythm Enhancement
For optimal health, strengthen and synchronize circadian rhythms by:
Getting sun exposure during the day and avoiding bright light at night.
Sleeping in a darkened room and waking naturally.
Timing food intake and carbohydrate consumption for maximum circadian rhythm benefit. We should eat most of our carbs around sunset.
Doing light outdoor activity in the early morning and afternoon.