Tools for the job.

Men’s health and nutrition post February 2022.

Two years ago i started out on my first major attempt to sort out my health problems using a mainly dietary approach – those of you who have followed my story will know that i chanced upon the low carbohydrate/ketogenic diet approach and that i followed mainly that until i also chanced upon the various forms of fasting that i use today. Some visitors will know that i had some huge surprises like for instance when my treated hypertension suddenly reversed and then at about the same time when the early/new arthritis in my hands just disappeared. Today i will freely admit that i had not the slightest idea what i was doing – in the first weeks i didn’t even know what to eat and that nearly everything i thought i knew about food and nutrition was either hopelessly out of date or that it had been wrong in the first place.

Hypertension post link :

Just to recap then……i’m a nurse who was a student in the 1980’s and although we were taught basic gut anatomy and physiology and then how nutrition worked we were also ‘taught’ things like the food pyramid which told us to base our diet mostly on ‘healthy’ grains, vegetables and so on, and to avoid things like red meat and to swap out butter for ‘healthy’ vegetable/seed based oils. At the same time we learnt that obesity and diseases such as type 2 diabetes were rising rapidly in the USA and that soon after we started to see that trend developing in the UK. Nobody, as far as i knew was making the connection that maybe the high carbohydrate diet plus seed/vegetable oils might actually be driving the obesity and disease epidemics in developed countries.

Last year i made a mistake with my dietary approach in that i relaxed my discipline and vigilance because, i would claim, that my busyness got in the way ; i had a great year working on my boatbuilding project but it came along with a high consumption of coffee and biscuits……and everything else again as frequent snacks. Thus today once more i’m overweight again although i don’t seem to have all of the other problems that i had when i was overweight, hypertensive, arthritic etc and so forth. The difference this time is that i’m much less stressed about the problem because i feel i have the tools and knowledge enough to correct the problem again – equally that as i go back into my boatbuilding project time of year i at least know some of the things to do and not do ; this year for instance i’m determined to not just stop all other useful work and exercise.

Today, as i write, is a dull, grey and cold morning but it’s also still and dry so iv’e already been out for my morning exercise ‘ruck’, brought home a big old lump of wet tree in my rucking pack and then done 6 sets of 10 press ups while i did my morning chores ( empty the woodburner, stock up water, cat-poo check the garden etc etc). I’m also about 16 hours fasted so i’m just going into ketosis – i’m going to fast until at least tomorrow morning which would be a relatively short fast of 36 hours or so…..or maybe extend that to the next morning which seems to be the fasting sweet spot for me.

I joke that i like fasting because it’s simple , that i don’t have to think or worry about food at all and my only maybe-fail is to have some full fat milk in my coffee – right now my post exercise drink is a mug of hot Bovril because my taste for coffee really goes when i’m in ketosis. I’ll break my fast with either an actual late breakfast based on bacon & eggs plus a slice of toast or an evening meal of a chicken breast with olives , mozzarella and dried tomato salad plus some slices of Brie to bring the fat content up. For most of the week i’ll base my nutrition more on what i eat and when rather than any thought about caloric intake – for most of the week i won’t eat until 10 am and aside from coffee i won’t eat again until 6pm……i think my downfall over the winter has been an intense desire for toast late at night !.

This year i’m trying to keep things simple – i know for instance that i cope with fasting easily so i won’t find it hard to not eat say for one day a week or just to have one good meal a day thus my first tool is either daily intermittent fasting or a weekly 36 hour fast…..that’s slightly better in terms of autophagy. Unlike that first year i have a much better idea about what to eat and possibly my most important move was to come off all vegetable/seed oils as they might just be the inflammatory trigger ; instead i use plenty of butter and olive oil. I’m a lot less stressed about having a dietary day off once a week and when i do so enjoying coffee and cake out as a treat – i don’t beat myself up about my sugar addiction but just try to live with it and roll with the knocks a bit.

The simple man’s toolkit…….my version with the short version of my reasons and thinking.

  1. Intermittent fasting/time restricted eating on a daily basis plus/minus a longer fast at the start of the week. Reasons for that : huge reduction in insulin spikes and a chance to go into autophagy once a week.
  2. Huge reduction in sugar intake – should be self explanatory but in my case it’s harm reduction for what is essentially an addiction and secondly that sugar consumption does seem to have something like a ‘dose response’ when it comes to it’s toxicity and it’s causation with major diseases.
  3. Normal daily diet based as much as possible on low carb/keto because that approach seems to fill and satiate me much better than a high carbohydrate approach and with the latter i’m almost permanently hungry and craving the next carb/sugar hit.
  4. Daily work as exercise/work combined – in my case simple walking up and down hills combined with coming home with scavenged firewood and then using my house chore time usefully combined with some simple bodyweight exercise. Reasons… 63 i need to create some amount of muscle ‘stress’ such that i hang on to muscle mass rather than steadily losing it by sitting on my ass in front of the computer so much.
  5. Supplementing my diet with some added minerals and vitamins – in my case the minerals Zinc and Magnesium and Vitamins C, D and K2…..the current evidence pointing to this combination being of positive benefit to my immune system in a time of likely Covid exposure and with a personal background of infections last year.

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