What the Mediterranean “Diet” really is

I’m Greek. I’ve lived both in rural, mountainous places of mainland Greece (I grew up near the supposed entrance to Hades Underworld no less!), and near-sea towns.

Now that I live in the US, what kind of grinds my gears is when I read about how great the Mediterranean Diet (MD) is. Don’t get me wrong. The Mediterranean Diet is better than most other regular Western diets out there. But the health benefits researchers had seen prior to 1970 in these regions is only partial to the diet. The rest, is lifestyle. It’s a logical fallacy to separate the lifestyle of these people from their diet. Western researchers like to pick and choose elements, so they can easily make their case, but in this case, either they have to represent the whole lifestyle of Mediterranean people, or they need to shut their holes about the MD diet.

And what was that lifestyle? Well, take a peek:

Prior to 1970s, before the Westernized diet also took hold even in rural Greek places, here is a typical day for my grandparents, and my parents (my mother lived 15 years in that lifestyle, right until electricity finally came to these villages in 1971, and my father for 22 years):

– Morning
Wake up in the crack of dawn. Open the chicken’s coop door. Eat some sour milk (similar to kefir) or yogurt (not strained yogurt like FAGE, that’s not truly traditional Greek), or boiled eggs, or cheese & olives and home-made (well-fermented, with OLD variety of wheat) bread for breakfast, along Turkish-style (unfiltered) coffee. In the winter, they’d eat “trahanas”, which looks similar to porridge, but it’s made out of lacto-fermented wheat.

Kids get ready to go to school, father (or older son) will go up to the mountains with the goats/sheep (usually 150-250 animals) and the dogs (usually 2-5), while the mother (& older children) will go down to the valley to work in the fields, or the trees, or in the house’s vegetable garden (each house had one). Going up the mountain is steep, and it takes about an hour to reach the top (they could climb up real fast! — my grandfather was impossibly fast up to the age of 80). The village itself is usually situated in the middle of the mountain, so it takes the same time to either go down to the valley and back up again, or up to the top and down again.

– Midday
Father would go from pasture to pasture with the animals, and at around midday, the goats/sheep will find some shade and sit around at the hottest time of the day. He would eat largely the same thing he ate for breakfast: eggs, feta cheese, olives, bread. After he ate, he’ll sleep for 1 sleep cycle (1.5 hours) under a tree. The dogs would take care of any potential wolf problems.

The mother in the fields will do the same. Eat and sleep, and then restart work. Here’s a picture from National Geographic from the 1940s Thessaloniki wheat fields, eating lunch:

The younger kids would finish school by 1:30 PM and come back home. They’d eat some lite lunch at school (it used to be free up until the early ’80s) and then they come back home and eat some more and then start working around the house: do the laundry by hand, prepare dinner, make some yogurt from scratch, bake bread if required (usually they’d bake bread twice a week), do some homework if they have time etc.

– Afternoon, after 6 PM in the summer, 3 PM in the winter
Father and mother would start to come back home. If it’s the season, and there are young goats/sheep, one of the kids will have to take these out of the stable (usually up to 50 younglings), and go with them to a nearby pasture so they can eat. Young animals can’t make the trip yet with their parents all the way to the top of the mountain, so they get limited pasture-time, nearby only. While at the pasture, the kids will also gather wild vegetables, including dandelion greens, purslane, mustard greens, chicory in the winter, asparagus in April, and amaranth greens in August (in Greece, we never eat the quinoa-like amaranth seeds, we only eat the greens, and ONLY before the plant has flowered/seeded!). In the even older days, there would also search for wild parsnips and other types of veggies from the wild (e.g. centaurea, goosefoot *greens* which is nothing but a European version of quinoa, nettles etc), but since the 1950s and later, when cans/pasta/flour became more available, these were stopped getting picked.

Upon coming home, some food are given to the chickens, and then they will be locked in their little house.

– Evening
The animals are now in the stable. It’s time for milking (in the near-dark, no less). Mother & father will go through the female goats/sheep one by one, while leaving some milk for their babies too. The kids will help by allowing the animals to pass through one by one, so they can be milked.

Then, it’s dinner time. The biggest meal of the day.

It’s usually greens year-round with bread. There are garden veggies & potatoes in the hot months, and (pre-soaked) beans in the winter. Fruits when in season only. Honey a few times a year. In general, all grains & dairy products that consumed are well-fermented. Some would drink raw milk directly from the animals, but this stopped after the 1960s, because that’s when their animals would get mysteriously sick (even if antibiotic shots didn’t start by law before ~1975 — maybe pollution was catching up from the rest of the world in the ’60s in these rural places?).

There will be fish, crawfish or eels twice a week, either by the nearby river, or from salesmen from the nearby sea towns who come with their donkeys once a week (salted fish and shellfish in that case). Sea town people would eat fresh fish from the sea 3-4 times a week instead.

There might be chicken (from their own chickens) once or twice a month or so only. BTW, look below how a TRUE pastured chicken from my grandmother looks like — it looks like duck meat!

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When you cook it, the bones are so incredibly white because they have so much calcium! And the meat looks, and tastes like red meat!

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There will be red meat, but only once a month. That would be goat mostly, sheep a bit less, pork less often than sheep, and beef very rarely. Because they didn’t have fridges, when someone in the village would slaughter an animal, they would share with other families, so they don’t go bad. When the other families would slaughter one of their own animals, they would share back. In village/religious festivities there would be a bit more meat going around too (usually boiled goat, or lamb on a spit for Easter day). The whole animal was eaten, head to toe. Most of you are aware of liver, heart, kidneys, brains and tongue, but that’s nothing compared to how we eat these animals: we’d also eat the stomach & intestines (in an incredibly good soup, called patsas), the spleen (which tastes something between liver and boiled oysters), thyroid glands, eyes, testicles, and lungs (I’d say, “mushy” lungs are the least yummy part of the offal, with spleen being the yummiest for me). Occasionally, in the winter when they had time away from the fields, they might catch a hare, or a small bird too, with traps. Greece used to have deers, wild boar, pheasants, and many more hares, but these now are mostly gone (over-hunted).

Nuts & seeds were eaten periodically, but not religiously.

Everything was cooked with olive oil, or butter (which was white btw, not yellow).

After dinner, they’d throw scraps to the dogs (and some to outdoor cats), and then everyone would go to sleep. Dogs are sleeping in the stable with the animals (goats/sheep, often donkeys too), chickens in the coop, and cats, only god knows where. And the day starts again anew the next day, even on Sundays (only people who had older children to take care of business they’d have time to go to church). The animals need to eat every day, you see. There was no such thing as “day off”. If you had to leave for a few days (e.g. to visit a doctor in a town), you’d have to ask others in the village to take care of your animals, water the vegetable garden, feed the kids etc.

But fear not, they did have fun, daily. It’s called gossip.

Now, here’s the twist!

Greeks are/were religious. The Greek Orthodox fasting was observed by all. Fasting in Greek Orthodoxy (and in old Catholic church) does not mean “intermittent fasting” (IF). It means: no animal products (except shellfish that were allowed because they contain no blood — although most people would not eat them anyway). Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the most religious would be vegan (mostly women, men would remain vegetarian).

However, the whole family would fast without exception, in the three biggest religious celebrations of the year: Christmas, Easter, and Assumption of Mary (August 15th). This means that people would go vegan for 40 days before Christmas, 40 days before Easter, and 15 days before the Assumption of Mary. This means that for 26% of the year, everyone was vegan. For the women who were also fasting weekly, or periodically, that goes to over 40% of the time. And let’s not forget that when they were NOT fasting, they were mostly vegetarian anyway. This means that these people were vegan ~30% of the time (as an average), 55% of the time vegetarian, 10% vegetarian/pescetarian, and only about 5% of the time land meat eaters.

The only Greek people eating a bit more meat (mostly in the form of fish instead of land meat) were the more affluent people in cities.

Most interestingly, in the final week before Easter, olive oil & butter were not consumed either (which means no bread either, since it requires some oil in the recipe). They’d basically just eat veggies (often raw, with raw garlic), fruits, and soaked beans cooked in plain water & sea salt. I guess that part of the fasting is the closest they ever got to raw veganism (minus the cooked beans).

Q: But why was this lifestyle healthier in the Mediterranean than other parts of the world?

A: The lifestyle mentioned above was NOT unique for Mediterranean people. But it proved to be healthier there because of various reasons. Lots and lots of D3 due to being a sunny place, with both seafood and land food in good balance. Civilization thrived from ancient times there because simply, the geography, food, climate all helped out. Not to mention that because of the closed sea and proximity to both Asia and Africa, merchants could bring over fruits or foods not available directly to their region (something not as easily done, as let’s say, in Northern Europe – the fruits would spoil before they could reach these countries). The only other place where people lived a similar lifestyle with plenty of field work, D3 and circadian rhythms, and ate similarly-balanced foods, was Okinawa. And we already know how well these people did before the Western Diet caught up with them too.

Conclusion:
If you want to get the Mediterranean Diet effect, then you need to change everything about your life. It requires huge changes to how you sleep, work, being out in nature all day long away working on your own garden and animals, and be away from pollution/cellphones etc. It’s not just the diet.

I’d go on a limb here and say that if you can’t do everything as well as they did, but you want to come close to their results, you might get some extra push if you ditch grains (except some rice), particularly modern wheat. Their (low gluten, old variety and very fermented) wheat had nothing to do with modern wheat and flours.

The future of CubeSats is co-operation

As you may already know, I have the most interesting dreams, hehe…

Apart from seeing weird alien entities during my nap time, I was also shown how the CubeSat idea can be properly commercialized. Beat that, MIT (or DMT).

So basically, I was shown a bunch of 3U CubeSats (around 10 or 12 of them), held together by some sort of string, forming a web. At the edges of the web, there were semi-large solar panels and antennas, while in the middle of the web, there was a propulsion engine, not larger than a 3U CubeSat itself.

Right now, all CubeSats are released in the wild on their own, with no propulsion (sometimes they end up facing the wrong way), terrible power abilities, and even more terrible communication (FM among others!!!). These satellites usually die within 3-5 months, quickly burning in the atmosphere. On top of that, they’re usually get released as secondary payload in LEO, while CubeSats are benefited in higher SSO orbit.

Here’s the business idea behind of what I saw:

– You let customers buy one of the CubeSats and customize it out of an array of most-popular components (third party components that pass evaluation can be accepted — that costs extra).

– The CubeSats run Android, so writing drivers for it, updating them over the air, or even completely erase them to their default status can be done. Each of the 12 CubeSats runs a slightly different version of the OS, and has different hardware — depending on the customer needs.

– The customer can access their CubeSat via a secure backend on the manufacturer’s web site. Even firmware updates can be performed, not just plain updates or downlink data.

– Because of the shared propulsion, the constellation web can be in SSO for up to 5 years.

– 1 year of backend support is included in the overall price, but after that time, owners can continue using it for an additional fee, or lease or sell the rights to their CubeSat to another commercial entity, getting back some of that invested value.

– Even if 1 CubeSat goes bad, the others continue to work, since they’re independent of each other. Triple redundancy system in case of shorting. To avoid over-usage of power due to faulty hardware or software (that could run down the whole system), a pre-agreed specific amount is allocated to each CubeSat daily.

– Eventually, a more complex system could be developed, under agreement with all the responsible parties, to have CubeSats share information with their neighbor CubeSats (either an internal wired network, or Bluetooth — whatever proves more secure and fast). For example, if there’s a hardware ability one CubeSat in the web has, but the others don’t, and one of the other CubeSats needs it, they could ask for its service — for the right price.

– Instead of dispensing the CubeSats one by one, the web is a single machine, about 2/3s the size of a dishwasher. The CubeSats have very specific allowed weight in their specification, so overall, while the volume is medium size, the overall weight doesn’t have to be more than 100 kg. That easily fits on the payload of small, inexpensive rockets, like the upcoming RocketLab Electron, which costs just $4.9 million per launch. Falcon 9 becomes cheaper only if it could launch 13 of these webs at once. While it can very easily lift their weight, it might not have the volume required (the Falcon9 fairing is rather small at 3.2m).

– This comes overall to about $600,000 per CubeSat overall (with a rather normal configuration).

The current 3U CubeSats cost anywhere between $20k and $50k to make, plus another $200k or so to launch. Overall, sure, $600k is more than the current going price, but with the web idea you get enough power, communication that doesn’t suck, propulsion, and an extended life — plus the prospect of actually making money out of them by leasing them or selling them. A lot of the revenue will come after the launch, as a service/marketplace business.

In a sense, this business idea is the equivalent of a shared hosting server service, which has revolutionized the way servers work, and has democratized people’s ability to run code or servers online. PlanetLabs is doing something similar by leasing “time” on their CubeSats, but by releasing them one by one, they fall on the stated shortcomings.

For all of this to become true, the CubeSats themselves would need an overhaul of how customizable their modularity is, and easy access to the latest mobile hardware. Overall, we’re probably 2-3 years away from such an idea getting even started to materialize, and possibly 5 years away from becoming reality. I haven’t seen anyone else suggested it, so, here I am. Thank my weird dreams.

Netflix’s next move

A few years ago, Netflix had said that by 2015, they would stop their DVD subscription, and have almost everything streaming instead. 2015 came and left, and we’re not only still have DVD subscriptions on Netflix, but their streaming service has become weaker, with fewer noted titles. At the same time, Netflix is being battled by the establishment, be it Hollywood studios, or internet and cableTV carriers.

Sure, I’d love to have Hollywood’s latest offers streaming for me via Netflix, but this is obviously never going to happen. Not for $10 per month anyway. If people could pay $25 (or even $50) per month, a more full Hollywood catalog could be offered, but that’s not going to gather a lot of subscribers because the price is too high. Creating tiers of subscribers (e.g. $10, $25 etc with different catalogs for each), will anger customers too. So what could Netflix do?

I personally see only one way out of this mess, and it’s two fold:

1. Adopt an iTunes & Amazon model, where most Hollywood movies and TV shows are offered for a rent price (e.g. $3 for a movie, $1 for a TV episode).

2. Produce in-house about 250 productions per year (instead of the current 50 or so — episodes are counted separately here).

Let’s run some numbers on a back of an envelope:
There are 30 million Netflix subscribers in the US today. Each pays $10 per month. This means it has gross sales of $3.6 billion per year. Taxes and operational costs aside, should leave the company with $2 billion to invest in its own productions.

What this means is that on average, each production can cost up to $8 million. Which is plenty of money to shoot amazing movies *if you employ the right talent*. Consider the recent and well regarded sci-fi movies “Another Earth”, and “I, Origins”, by the same director. The first one was shot for just $70k, and the second one for $1 million.

Also, considering that some TV episodes don’t necessarily have to cost more than $2 mil (at least for dramas), it means that some more expensive than the average $8mil movie productions can take place too. I certainly don’t see why the first season of “House of Cards” cost $100 million…

So anyway, every other day a new episode or a new movie can debut on Netflix, that no other service has access to. I’m personally in favor of smaller TV seasons of 6 to 8 episodes (instead of the current 10-13), with the 3 first episodes streaming immediately together, and the rest every few days. Overtime, all these new productions will accumulate, building a strong catalog.

The first couple of years might be rough, while the catalog is building, but I think it can be done successfully, since a lot of their current streaming deals will also be active for a while before they go offline from the subscriber version of Netflix (these can still re-appear on their renting side). Plus, some of these productions (e.g. documentaries) are cheap enough to license anyway, so they can still remain at the streaming side of things.
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How to lay smooth gouache and watercolor paint

For the kind of illustration I’m interested in, the style requires some very smooth, matte, single-color backgrounds. Traditionally with watercolor people would do large washes of 2 to 3 colors (e.g. for a sky), but for the kind of illustration I do, which has a lot of details, traditional washes are not a way to go. I could not find a single article or youtube video that shows how to do large, non-square areas of matte, smooth painting, so after a lot of tries, I found this technique:

– Get some paint on a plastic palette. About the size of a raisin for a small area.
– On a separate palette hole, add thrice as much water as the raisin size of paint above.
– Use a size 8 “pointed-round” soft brush (Kolinsky sounds good).
– Mix the paint with some Titanium White.
– With the tip of the brush, get some paint (just a little bit, maybe about 1/6th of it), and mix it well with the water. It will create a very pale color, but it will still have a color.
– Strain away as much water as possible from the brush. It should not be full of water when you lay it on paper.
– Start laying the pale color on your paper. Use as large brush strokes as possible, and move the pools of paint towards a single direction.
– Let it dry for a minute or so.
– Add 2/6ths of the paint (basically, double as much as before), on a bit more water than before (maybe about 1.5 times as much as before).
– Mix well, strain the brush, and paint over, the same way as before.
– Let it dry for 3 minutes or so.
– Add the rest of the paint to about 2x more water as in the beginning, strain the brush, paint over again. The consistency should be that of a melted ice cream.
– Let it dry for 5 minutes before you decide if you need yet another hand on top, or add details on it.

That’s it. Basically, you need multiple layers to get a smooth, matte finish.


My illustration “Divorce Papers”

Another way to do it with gouache, is to lay gesso+medium in the paper before painting, just as if you were using acrylics. The 2-3 gesso hands would then serve the same way as the multiple hands of paint. Personally, I prefer the first method.

Cultural bias when judging art

I’m almost shocked by the Pitchfork review on Yeasayer’s new album, “Amen & Goodbye”. To me, over the years, it was baffling why originally Pitchfork endorsed Yeasayer in 2007, but they killed them in their subsequent albums (which in my opinion were more interesting). This was answered in the first paragraph of their latest album review. Basically, Pitchfork hated the fact that Yeasayer weren’t writing lyrics about things they truly believe in, that they were in fact, trend-hoppers.

Wait a second, so did Pitchfork truly believed back in 2007 that a bunch of kids from Brooklyn would ever want to leave the city and become “handsome farmers”, as their lyrics claimed? Are their writers that gullible? Or do they live in a fantasy world that the first Yeasayer album reinforced in their heads, only to be deflated by the clearly urban sound of the albums that followed?

Why blame Yeasayer for it? Why blame a bunch of musicians who want to make it in the industry? Why would anyone think that art is only about what the artist believes and not what the masses want to see/hear? Because let me tell you, if you’re a professional artist, by definition you have to make art that people want to see or hear. Only a part of it could coincide with what the artist actually truly likes/believes. Why? Because that’s what “professional” means. It’s not about “selling out”, it’s about literally being able to sell.

The artists who create only what THEY want to create, they’re by definition either not professionals, or they can’t live off their craft (and need a second job). It is EXTREMELY RARE that an artist creates only what they want to, and have commercial success at the same time. And even when that happens, it also means that they will be out of favor within 3-5 years, as trends naturally change. Tough luck after that time passes.

I know a lot of people would like to make art sound special, but art today is no different than anything else. It’s democratized immensely, and that also means that it’s been commoditized. And anything that is a commodity, is bound to trends. Even trendsetters have to build on top of existing trends, nothing happens in a vaccuum. Everything is connected.

So yeah, going back to that Pitchfork review, I have trouble understanding how they can call Yeasayer “trend hoppers” but also at the same time “out-of-step with current trends”, and judge their music on their character or how they do business, and not on the music itself. In fact, a lot of Pitchfork reviews are like that: they judge the people themselves, not their work. A lot of bands have been destroyed just because Pitchfork didn’t think they were hipster enough, or for being hipsters in disguise.

In my opinion, the album itself is rather “blah” (not as interesting as their 2010 “Odd Blood”), but I try to judge the music itself as music and what it does to my synesthetic brain. Does it turn it On, does it transport me to another dimension? Does it make me feel something, or makes me see something that wasn’t there, as true psychedelics do? If yes, it gets more points, if not, it gets fewer. I care not about lyrics, because I almost never care about what others think about stuff. To me, especially as a non-native English speaker, it’s only about the music.

But I won’t judge music or art in general based on the creator’s character, or what my own beliefs expect that creator’s character to be. This raises the philosophical question: “is the art separate from the artist?”. And the answer to this depends on your point of view, how you consume art. From the point of view of the artist, the art and the artist are not separate. But for all third parties, it depends: if you can only understand art by understanding the artist, then yes, judging the artist himself, might make sense. But if you make the art your own by separating it from the artist (as I usually do), then I don’t need to know about the artist’s convictions. Because at that point, his/her art and me, are one. And by proxy, that makes myself and the artist one. So it’s a synergistic/symbiotic way of consuming art, rather than a conditional one (e.g. “I might like that art if its artist is in agreement with my beliefs”.)

My score for their new album: 5/10 (lower than Pitchfork’s score in fact, but without a cultural bias attached to it)

The evolution of things

Libertarians want a small government, where corporations have almost unlimited powers to do their business. Business and economic growth is the name of the game, and in fact, the only game in town. Unfortunately, along with that, they support reducing personal freedoms: the right to marry the same sex, abortion, privacy, surveillance etc.

On the other hand, the liberal lefties believe the opposite: they want more personal freedoms, and fewer corporate freedom.

Which one is the more “correct” or “best”?

Well, here’s the thing. Not one size fits all. It all depends on the level of consciousness found in the society at the moment. If this was still the old days, where people needed to build a new world and escape the medieval times, then libertarian conservatism makes more sense.

Think about it like this, as in an example: You just freed a Siberian village of some random mining slaves (ie the peasants of the medieval times). Do you just give them unlimited personal freedoms but not enough business-growth freedoms, or do you let them grow out of their slavery, in a way that they can prove to themselves that they can be free citizens that can contribute to the whole? In this case, the latter is a better option when taking into account the intellectual growth of these people *in the long term*. Newly freed people still need something to lean to in order to properly function until they grow out of it. This is the role of religion and nationalism that has played, and why restricted personal freedoms are still best for undeveloped intellects (and I’m metaphorically talking about the whole human race here).

In other words, the human race required this type of capitalistic right-leaning individualistic growth in the past, in order to prove to itself that it is a creator race that can stand on its own legs.

So there comes a time, where continuous business growth has its negative effects, to both society (e.g. shallow consumerism), and the environment. At the same time, the strictness of character found among conservatives, would need to be challenged in order to optimize and heal what we already built (and destroyed) in the last 200 years. Coming out of that phase is a sort of graduating.

That’s when social-democratic leftism (that is not communism or pure socialism, but rather left-leaning capitalism) can help.

The newly gained personal freedoms that liberalism/progressiveness calls for will create a new kind of more responsible citizen. One that does not require to “belong” in order to have an identity (as in the case of religion, or nationalism). While this personal transformation towards more personal freedom takes place, corporations would have to be restricted of absolute power simply because the humans that run them haven’t developed that sense of responsibility yet (they need to work for it first on personal level).

After another 200 years of leftism, and when personal responsibility has been tackled, a new kind of philosophy would be born yet again, to replace this type of social democracy. One with a smaller government, freer citizens AND freer corporations (that at the time might evolve themselves into “projects”, rather than plain business). Interestingly, that new order of things would be closer to left anarchism, than right wing libertanianism.

Basically, what I’m trying to say here is that everything evolves, and at each level of evolution, we have a set capacity of collective consciousness that reflects our economic and political system. So what I described above is simply one of the possible natural ways of society evolving away.

Change is inevitable. Flow with it, and you’ll be alright. Fear not fear.

My weekly Pegan regiment

No1 point for health is sunshine, not food. You can eat all the shit in the world, but if you get a lot of UV, you can still be healthy as a horse, up to a certain age. For those of us who don’t, we need to be more selective. Here’s a rundown of my Pegan diet: a diet resembling a lot of both raw vegan but also a Paleo version with emphasis on some wild fish, rather than land meat.

– Regarding fats: it’s a medium to low fat diet. You can’t have it both ways (both high fat and high carb) without compromising health. I chose moderate-to-high carbs over moderate-to-low fat.
– If you live near the equator, get more vegan. If you live close to the Arctic, eat more fats, fish and less carbs. For us in the middle geographically, ratios are somewhere in the middle too.
– Beans and nuts/seeds are soaked before consumed. Brown rice is sprouted, otherwise white rice is used (once a week). Dairy must be fermented and preferably raw. Beans are eaten twice a week.
– Every breakfast is a smoothie of fruits, greens, kefir, and super-food powders.
– Every lunch (except Sunday’s) is a raw salad with a raw dressing. Monday’s salad also includes a boiled, pastured egg.
– Dinners are mentioned below. Dinners also include some salad, cheese, fruit, and additional veggies (depending on the recipe).
– There’s wild, low-mercury seafood 3 times a week, and pastured bone broth in soups, occasionally. Offal once a month, if labs show inadequacy in B12.
– Vitamins (unfortunately, our soils are depleted, so some supplementation is required). To be taken with a fatty meal: K2-Mk4 once a week, CoQ10 Ubiquinol twice a week, Magnesium thrice a week before sleep, Methyl-based B-complex once a week, D3 5000 IU twice a week in winter time only. DHA too, if not enough fatty fish is consumed.
– 75% of the whole diet is raw. Over 90% of it is vegan.

MONDAY (dinner)
beans (mostly lentils)

TUESDAY (dinner)
wild fish (mostly sardines) + veggies

WEDNESDAY (dinner)
Baked white potatoes + cheese + 2 boiled eggs

THURSDAY (dinner)
beans (any kind)

FRIDAY (dinner)
shellfish (mostly canned oysters) + sweet potatoes + veggies

SATURDAY
veggies + 2 eggs (lunch)
rice + Indian veggie curry (dinner)

SUNDAY
Fish: Alaskan wild salmon + veggies (lunch)
white potatoes + veggies (dinner)

Epi-Paleo Manifesto

These are the principles that I have built my diet around. Only changes I’ve made is that I do eat beans (as per my Mediterranean ancestry), and I don’t go too low on carbs (due to thyroid issues). Lots of veggies instead, and seafood. Working on getting closer on the lifestyle points too.

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Jack Kruse vs the Paleo Establishment

Something very interesting is happening right now in the Paleo turf. The Paleo poster boy, Robb Wolf, got into an online shout match with Dr Jack Kruse, the “quantum epigenetics” poster boy. Robb calls Jack a quasi-mystical fraud, while Jack simply asks Robb to look at the evidence and research before he opens his mouth.

Robb is the big guy here, followed by many thousands, and having written the Paleo “bible”. Often, the 4-5 well known Paleo gurus would go in an all-out attack against the medical establishment, arguing how closed minded that establishment is for not agreeing with their points of view (e.g. that grains & pseudograins are all very bad for you, vegetable seed oils are bad, legumes are bad, dairy is bad etc). They basically call them out for not looking too hard at the evidence, that long-term health “starts with food”.

However, as with any system, after a while, it gets cemented. Same with the Paleo system. While it has somewhat evolved in the last 3 years, to not be as hard-core against fermented dairy, or against white rice, it still holds its basic truths cemented, and no one seem to want to research further. The various gurus have a reputation to protect, and products to sell now, so they need to stay true to what they originally preached.

So, when someone like Dr Jack Kruse comes along to shake their castle, by claiming that “it starts with light”, they themselves become the same as the closed minded medical establishment they hate. They react extremely violently against Kruse, without bothering to read his evidence or even just trying to understand his logic. They try to prevent the carpet pulling (that is probably inevitable as science moves on).

It’s funny, really. They fell under the same trap as the medical establishment has.

As for Dr Kruse, he has some blame for the situation too: the guy can’t write properly. The reason why Paleo gurus are “gurus”, is because they know how to communicate. They can write in a very understandable, friendly way, so the people fall behind them easily. Jack on the other hand, feels like he has a super-computer brain that is connected to the outside world only via a 56k modem instead. It also doesn’t help that he’s arrogant, and just not very likable as a person.

But that doesn’t mean that what he argues is wrong. It is my feeling that he’s the one who’s on the right path towards a deeper truth, but he has this extreme difficulty getting the information out properly.

Basically, what Dr Kruse is claiming is that we’re quantum machines. For that machine to work, we need a lot of natural UVB light (in the AM) and no blue light at night. Basically, he’s arguing that proper circadian rhythms, and being a lot outdoors, can have a bigger effect to long term health than “simply cutting down grains”. In terms of food, he argues that the biggest change one should make, is to add more seafood in their diet, because the iodine/DHA help with transporting energy in the mitochondria.

This could explain why Okinawans used to live to be over 120 years old, even if they ate a few grains, and lots of soy (both an anathema to the Paleo doctrine). It’s because they would also eat ungodly amounts of seafood (especially seaweed), and they would work outdoors in their gardens all the time.

Another thing he argues is that depending on location, and time of the year, your diet should vary. For example, most people in the Western world, should eat enough carbs in the summer, but be near-ketogenic in the winter. That’s how we evolved anyway. Also, people who live in the equator, can eat as many carbs as they like and not get fat (e.g. exotic fruits), because they expose themselves into a lot of UVB, and that balances things out in the “machine”. People in the North (or very South) though, need to practice cold thermogenesis, and they need to cut down on the carbs, and eat more seafood in order to be healthy in these harsh environments (which are locations we migrated to out of Africa, we are not fully evolved to live there, therefore, some food and lifestyle changes are required to be healthy in the North)

I can see what he says can sound like mumbo-jumbo, however, I think that what he’s arguing makes sense to me, and he does have basis on facts. Just not Western facts. A lot of the research he cites on his blog, are from Russian research papers. Some of that research has been done by UK and US scientists, but not everything. He has gone into great lengths to get access to these papers, and to have them translated.

So, he’s definitely controversial. But I really think he’s on to something.

Paleo-pesco-vegetarianism (or, Pegan)

I’m full on in my mostly-vegetarian (“Pegan”) diet now. I believe that all popular diets have something to teach, otherwise, their followers wouldn’t swear for their efficacy. It’s just that not a single diet has all its facts right. So, after years of researching the matter, I have finally found what works for me the best. This is how I have dissected each diet and what I get from each:

– Paleo agreement: no grains (except a bit of white rice), no sugar, no seed oils, no processed foods.
– Where Paleo falters: Not allowing beans, dairy, and having too much emphasis on meat. I now allow beans (except soy), fermented dairy, and mostly fish rather than meat (I eat wild seafood 3 times a week, and land meat only every Sunday — just as my own Greek ancestors did).

– Veg*n agreement: Veggies are good for you. Out of my 21 meals in the week, 17 are vegetarian and/or vegan.
– Where Veg*n falters: The right fish/meat can also be good for you, as long as you don’t over-indulge in it.

– Raw vegan agreement: Raw foods are really good for you.
– Where raw vegan falters: Raw foods ALL the time is not that good for you. We owe our big brains to cooked food, in part. I’d say 50% raw is a good balance.

Please note that my choices have nothing to do with animal ethics. For me, the choice of diet is only about MY health. I don’t see this as selfish, because I’ve been too sick over the years to have to give priority to others (humans, or animals). Having said that, I do choose pastured/wild animals only, while I mostly try to consume parts of the animal that are highly nutritious and are the parts that the animals were NOT killed for (e.g. bones, liver, heart — the parts that Americans throw away).

I find all these a good compromise in my mind.