Archive | October, 2014

Perfect Health Diet

28 Oct

I have been following the “Perfect Health Diet” for the past week. My ally (recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease) is joining me again this time. It’s definitely a lot easier to follow a restrictive diet with a partner in crime.

The Perfect Health Diet is a book written by a married couple: Paul Jaminet, once a Harvard astrophysicist and his wife, Shou-Ching Jaminet, a molecular biologist & cancer researcher. Combining their saavy research skills with Paul’s experience overcoming a chronic illness, the following diet was born…

The main idea is to avoid the foods that have been found to be the most toxic to mammals: legumes, sugar, grains, & vegetable oils & to emphasize nourishing foods including “safe” starches, meats, nonstarchy vegetables, & healthy fats. As shown by the picture, pleasure foods are encouraged in small amounts, including full-fat dairy, especially fermented dairy, nuts, dark chocolate, fruit, fructose free sweeteners (such as brown rice syrup, which is mostly glucose), & alcohol. It’s a fairly nonrestrictive approach to healthful eating. There are also chapters dedicated to regulating your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle), healthy exercise, intermittent fasting, & which vitamins & minerals should (& which ones SHOULD NOT) be supplemented for optimal health. For a science nerd/dietitian/chronic illness sufferer such as myself, this book is nothing short of fantastic.

The first couple of days on a new diet are always rough as you try to get into a new rhythm and learn to replace old staples with new staples. On the 2nd day, my sugar cravings were pretty intense. I had heard about supplementing with L-glutamine (an amino acid) supplement to ease sugar cravings and thought it was worth a shot. I took just one pill, and it actually did seem to help. Now, of course this could have been a fluke. I haven’t had any sugar cravings since that day, so there hasn’t been another testing opportunity. I always find letting go of sugar insanely difficult in the beginning but second nature soon after. Eating sugar makes you crave it all the more. Once you mostly (or entirely) cut it out, there isn’t (generally) as much of a pull to consume it. More often than not, it’s an emotional/social void I am trying to fill when I reintroduce sugar after an established period of elimination.

This diet requires a bit more effort than the gluten-free challenge I recently completed. The biggest initial obstacle for me was getting used to the idea of cutting back on sugar (my drug of choice) again. For the most part, I have been trying to keep up with the daily & weekly recommended supplements. It’s expensive to follow a Paleoesque diet (when you insist on buying only the highest quality animal products). Therefore, I have only been supplementing with items that I already had on hand. I have been taking magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin C daily. The daily recommended supplemental foods I have been eating include 3 egg yolks, a bowl of bone broth, potassium-rich fruits/veggies, and dark chocolate. A daily chocolate recommendation? Who couldn’t love it?  Even coffee is allowed on this diet…

Well, unfortunately, I have decided to give up all caffeine for awhile again. This includes dark chocolate. I just ran out of the last of my stash last night, so as of today, I will be embarking on a new self-inflicted caffeine-free hiatus. I don’t do this because I am a masochist, I assure you. 🙂 The reality is that caffeine (even the small amounts found in decaf coffee & dark chocolate) tends to make my fibromyalgia flare up. Sore muscles & foggy brain fuel? No thanks. I am also curious to see if removing caffeine will make my PMS symptoms better (in particular, a new trend of having sore boobs for WEEKS before I get my period.  Not cool).

The weekly supplements that I have been taking are: B12 & Zinc, and the weekly supplemental foods: salmon & red palm oil (for vitamin E). I have a huge stash of lamb liver in my freezer (thanks to previous Paleo experiments). I will be adding this next, but I keep “forgetting” to take it of the freezer to thaw. Let’s be honest, liver ain’t that tasty, but it’s incredibly nutritious. I’ll get there.

I have tried intermittent fasting twice since beginning the diet. This means that I go for roughly 16 hours without eating. For example, if I finish eating supper at 7pm the night before, I wouldn’t eat breakfast until 11am the next day. Calorie restriction in lab animals has been linked to longer life spans. The basic premise of intermittent fasting is to reap all of the benefits of calorie restriction without the downfalls (stunted growth, disease vulnerability). Short fasts may actually protect us from intracellular infections.

If this is boring, I’m sorry. If you can’t get enough, read the book!

I have started to notice a trend that certain meats give me reflux. Lean meats in particular, such as poultry & fish, give me indigestion. I know from my own research that most cases of reflux come from situations in which stomach acid is too low (NOT too high as conventional pill pushers insist). As a result, I have also started taking Betaine HCL with pepsin at meals. Hydrochloric acid is the acidic medium in your stomach that allows food to be digested properly. Pepsin is a digestive enzyme designed to break down proteins. For a person such as myself who typically eats a mostly vegetarian diet, it’s quite the shock to your digestive system to start eating a bunch of animal protein at every meal without some extra help. In fact, eating a vegetarian diet (which is low in zinc & high in antinutrients) can even cause low stomach acid. So far, I can definitely tell a difference. However, it’s clear that my digestive system is still getting it all figured out.

I plan to follow this diet for at least a month. I will let you know how it goes.


Jaminet, P. & Jaminet, S-C. (2012) Perfect Health Diet