I love food and thoroughly enjoy delicious, well-prepared meals. At the same time, I have always been utterly convinced that food forms a crucial foundation for sustaining our health.
Unintentionally, I began to notice over the years that what and how I eat (amongst other lifestyle factors) exert a tangible impact on how alert, energetic or “well” I feel, and I found myself on a quest of sorts to find the best way to enhance my health, starting with what I feed myself.
When I first read Deep Nutrition, so much of it resonated with what I had learned on my wellness journey both intuitively and by devouring countless books, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries and engaging in discussion with experts in related fields.
Encouragingly, the authors reiterate what I had gleaned from multiple sources about epigenetics and neuroplasticity. In short, that what we eat and how we live has a direct impact on our genes, signalling them to turn on or off accordingly. And that our brains continue to grow and regenerate into old age so again, how we live and what we eat directly affects brain efficacy.
“Thanks to the plasticity of genetic response we can all improve the health of our genes and rebuild our genetic wealth.”
No summary of this book can give you the essential foundational insight on which to base your food and lifestyle choices and decisions, so I urge you to read it because the authors, Catherine and Luke Shanahan, walk you step by step through the research and evidence they have compiled, explaining their reasoning so clearly that you cannot help but come away with an illuminative understanding of how your intricate body system is impacted by your choices.
The chapter on sugar, for example, describes clearly how it disrupts both hormonal and cellular function, damages your brain cells and how wide-ranging this impact is on numerous systemic functions.
And the benefit of exercise is described equally simply.
“As we get older, we gradually lose the growth factors that help maintain our fat where we want it and keep our muscles, bones and joints strong. But during and immediately after exercise, growth factors and hormone levels spike, so you get an infusion of youth serum every time you work out.”
“Aerobic exercise cleanses your system of inflammatory debris”
For me, however, the most significant insight from Deep Nutrition is just how toxic industrially produced vegetable oil, that is, canola, soy, sunflower, cottonseed, corn, grapeseed, safflower, rice bran, non-butter spreads, is for us.
From how these oils are produced and processed to the cascade of negative effects vegetable oils give rise to in your gut, brain, arteries and countless bodily functions, vegetable oil should clearly be viewed as detrimental to our continued health.
It takes twenty or more steps to refine, bleach, deodorise these oils and alarmingly, “one of the initial steps in making vegetable oil uses hexane, a component of gasoline.” The production process then does further damage because “refining these oils ultimately destroys both healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and their complementary antioxidants, converting them to distorted, unhealthy molecules. So what was once healthy in the seed isn’t healthy in the bottle.” When these oils are used, the heat from cooking causes more harm, producing free radicals and trans fats, destroying complex nutrients, which in turn gives rise to inflammation (the precursor to many major illnesses) and cell death in our bodies when we consume it.
“Processing distorts the fatty acids in vegetable oil… which hampers cellular function so profoundly it can kill your cells.”
The authors recommend what they refer to as The Human Diet, defined by a set of four strategies, the Four Pillars, which they describe in detail in the book:
1. Meat cooked on the bone
2. Organs and offal
3. Fresh (raw) plant and animal products
4. Fermented and sprouted foods
If you want to eat better but are confused by the plethora of fad diets assaulting you from every conceivable medium, these strategies are a good place to start as you begin to devise what works for you. Because the truth is that there is no single perfect diet applicable to everyone at the same time, only you can determine the details of what ultimately works for you.
I think Deep Nutrition presents an excellent starting point for any wellness journey because it provides knowledge and a set of simple strategies, encompassing both food and lifestyle factors like exercise and mindfulness practices, for an uncomplicated approach. This is always one of my first book recommendations to family and friends and I continue to refer to it at different stages of my own journey.
For a jump start on Deep Nutrition’s strategies, see here:
“Our cells are extremely sensitive to the specific nature of the chemical messages we send them every time we eat. By altering the blends of nutrients (or toxins) in our food, we can actually control whether our cells function normally, or convert to fat, or turn cancerous.”
Thanks for reading,