Tuesday, August 10, 2010

We'll Fix You!

A certain pernicious idea seems to have taken hold here in the U.S. The idea is that human life - the typical life we all lead - is pathological in a variety of ways and that we must turn to the experts to fix us.

We were told that our diet - a diet high in nutrient rich foods like animal protein and fat - caused heart disease and that we must therefore give it up. The inevitable result? Carbohydrate consumption skyrocketed. This has been a disaster. A low fat, low protein diet is one on which we are never sated. Insulin spikes after a high-carbohydrate meal. The body lays down fat. Glucose levels drop plummet. The body cries out Starvation!, and we eat another high-carbohydrate meal.

Ignore the experts, say I! Go back to a human diet, the diet for which the human body is designed, the diet that fed our first ancestors. (This is the core idea behind the Paleolithic diet.) Eat traditional fats and animal proteins until you reach satiety. Make them your primary fuel source. Add a bit of fruit and vegetables as you like. It's as simple as that. Ignore the expert who tells you to eat a low-fat diet and to restrict calories. They've told you to do the impossible. They've told you not be human.

We're also told by the experts that we need to exercise. Ignore it! Activity is not a duty. It isn't a treatment. It's the natural human condition. If you think that you must exercise to be fit, you've damn near got it exactly backwards. In early human communities, fitness would be absolutely essential to survival. But do you think that evolution would leave anything essential to survival up to something so fickle as human will and intention? The idea is absurd of course. Whatever is needed for survival is something that will come automatically if conditions are right. But what conditions must obtain if we are to be fit? What is of greatest importance here is what we put in our bellies. Put the right fuel in and the body will be fit. You know by now what I think the right fuel is. It's meat, baby. It's meat.

Don't think that I counsel sloth, that I think that we will be fit if we sit on our asses all day. Not at all. Of course activity and fitness are closely linked. But the causal arrow doesn't run from activity to fitness. Rather (to a first approximation) it runs the other way around. Fitness causes activity. If you are fit, you will feel a need to get the body in motion.

Let me try to drive the point home. The experts would have us believe that fitness is a consequence of a steely will. We must make ourselves get up and exercise, they say. We must whip ourselves into shape. That just ain't true. If you find that activity take an effort of will, something has gone wrong. Fix the problem, and activity - often strenuous activity - becomes just as natural as to breath or to eat. How do you fix it! Eat right! Grains ain't human food! Sugar ain't human food!

One final example. I was quite dismayed to find that a number of psychiatrists have come to the conclusion that at most a few weeks of severe depression should follow the loss of a loved one. What a terrible, terrible idea! Again the idea seems to be that we can't allowed to be human, that we can't love deeply and thus mourn deeply. The experts know better! They'll fix us!

My advice here is to cast a skeptical eye upon the pronouncements of an expert when it contradicts what you take to be plain common sense. Don't let them control you. Don't assume that they always know better. They're just plain folks like you.

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