There’s no point wishing to change the cards you are dealt; you just have to learn to play them much better than the smug people holding better hands. And you have to play them all at once because they multiply each other – its not a game you can win trying one strategy after another. Take heart, genetics is not destiny – we can avoid expressing obesogenic genes, and this is what Jaminet turns his mind to next.
Warning, alert alert! Beware simplistic thinking, especially extreme diets…
Before I get into Jaminet’s recommendations, he strikes a surprising warning. Some of the very changes that have increased obesity, are also making us live longer – a lot longer. Our lifespan has more than doubled since the 1800s and continues to increase. We can expect to live months longer for every year we live, and this is not just end of life medical miracles. People age 60 now have the physical markers of our grandparents at age 50. People are talking about Longevity Escape Velocity, living ten years longer so that we can live 100 years longer…seriously, google it, it’s a thing (the first person to live to 300 has already been born, and so on). We have also got taller, grow faster, are dramatically smarter, and have much better immunity.
So Jaminet warns, we can’t just revert to an idyllic bucolic 1880 lifestyle (even if we did marry Mr Darcy, rather than a subsistence-farmer). So beware not to use a way to lose weight that undermines your health. It would be a shame to get skinny but shorten your lifespan back to age 40 (I, for one, would be decomposing – never a good look). Jaminet observes that good nutrition improves longevity, but the most popular weight loss strategy, dieting, often reduces nutrition, particularly micronutrients.
Top 3 X-Factor finalists for Obesogen of the Century (drum roll please…) are
So I’ve kept you on tenterhooks long enough. What are environmental factors that have changed everywhere and for all animals associated with humans since the 1880s? Many competitors for this coveted title have failed to find favour with the Jaminet judges:
- less exercise (labour-saving devices)
- the chronic stress of a modern lifestyle
- endocrine-disrupting chemicals (pesticides, plastics and birth control)
- the soup of invisible waves (electricity radio, wifi) we bathe in.
Without any further ado, the Jaminets’ top three are:
- Circadian rhythm and sleep quality (light, temperature, and activity at night)
- Microbes (hygiene, and antibiotics)
- Human-made foods stripped of micronutrients (refined sugar, flour, oils).
What I love is this list gives three completely left-field avenues to try if you have already beat to death the ‘diet and exercise’ drum to no avail. And there is a lot more to circadian rhythm than the simple message ‘no blue lights at night’, and about microbes than just ‘eat yoghurt’.
Paul and his scientist wife Shou-Ching run the ‘Perfect Health Retreat’ so you can experience and learn these factors, and if you have $3000 dollars and can get to North Carolina for a week, I would heartily recommend it: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/perfect-health-retreat/ . He also has a blog at perfecthealthdiet.com and a book of the same name.
In the meantime, stay tuned for my next exciting instalments, which will go into much less detail than the retreat but give you some of Jaminet’s excellent pointers about circadian rhythm, micronutrients and microbes.