The Power of Self Experimentation

Have you ever tried going a week without sugar or bread? If you have – it’s hard, isn’t it? Sugar is a pretty intense substance. It’s addictive, and it destroys your body day by day if you overload on it. I’ll give you a little tip about modern society: Most of us are overloading on sugar.

Fad magazines and newspaper articles will tell you about “secret-killers in your diet” and other flashy, eye grabbing headlines. Unfortunately most of what they’re telling you is that you are fat and you should feel bad for it. I do feel bad for being overweight, but it’s not because I hate myself or anything silly like that, I just can’t do what I want to do. The secret killer in our modern-day diet is hidden sugar. For some, it’s not hidden, but about 50% of the people I’ve talked to about sugar don’t realize that the biggest source of sugar in our diets is bread.

“But there is hardly any sugar in the recipe for bread!” The fact that it has ANY added sugar is already cause to pause. Bread is NOT sweet. It shouldn’t be sweet. But there IS sugar in the recipe. And the “hidden sugar” is unconverted carbohydrates in the wheat. It’s amazing to me that our bodies can turn a small plant into a monstrous helping of sugar in our bodies.

Okay, so most of us eat bread, and try to stay away from candy and other sugar loaded items. Obviously staying away from candy and lightening the sugar load is a solid start, but you’re still assaulting your pancreas with more sugar than should be in your blood stream. Here’s a quick primer on the pancreas and its job.

The pancreas produces insulin, which is sent out into the bloodstream to retrieve sugar and store it. The pancreas is only built to handle a small amount of sugar. The body can create most of the glucose it needs to function every day. That’s why people who follow a keto diet that cuts out almost all carbs (if not all of them) don’t die. So imagine a city water pipe. Pretend that it is your pancreas and it is sending out insulin to retrieve sugar. On a normal expected day in the life of a sugar-free individual, the water throughput in the pipe is functioning at 100%. The small amount of sugar fed into the bloodstream is easily picked up and delivered to where it needs to go. Now imagine that it floods at the source of the city water supply. Assuming it is a lake, let’s say that it fills up 500% of its normal capacity. The city water pipes try to handle all of that water being pumped from the lake, but it’s too much and a water main breaks flooding downtown. When you pile the bread and sweets or even fruits and sugary vegetables, into your stomach, you’re essentially flooding your source of water. The pancreas tries to handle all of the sugar going through your bloodstream, but after a while it can’t anymore and just “breaks”.

Part of this is insulin sensitivity. Sensitivity declines the more load you put on the pancreas. As you age, your pancreas loses efficiency steadily until it can no longer remove the sugar from your bloodstream. This is commonly called diabetes.

 

All of that being said, eating bread may still be for you. But I recommend that you experiment with removing each part of your diet one at a time. Spend at least a week with one particular subgroup of food removed. Take note of how you feel, what symptoms/conditions are ailing you (or not ailing you!). Afterwards also take note when you return to your normal diet if any of those symptoms or issues come back. Who knows, maybe you just found the cure to that incurable disease the doctor’s said you’d have for the rest of your life.

Self-experimentation is key!

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Ancestral Man Didn’t Have Caffeine

As much as we all wish that ancient man guzzled coffee as a justification for the gallons of caffeine we consume each year, it just isn’t true. Maybe some cultures had water extractions that pumped them full of caffeine, and maybe some of those concoctions were made with coffee beans, but I guarantee you that the cup of mud you drank this morning is about as equivalent to ancient caffeine drinks as mud is to coffee beans.

If you are truly into this “I want to be a caveman” mentality (hint: I’m not personally), then you might consider Guayusa, an Amazon Rainforest leaf tea prepared by indigenous tribes. Its effects are similar to Yerba Mate, but arguably more healthy. It can be ordered online at various places and never steeps bitter, even if you let it soak for hours and hours.

I’m sure what you WANT to hear, though, is my review on this. I’ve prepared and tried this tea and to be honest, I didn’t like it very much. I thought the history was neat though. Apparently this tea is prepared by those Tribes for all-nighters where stories and knowledge is passed from elders to youth. A community of sharing that is lost in our modern world. The flavor is mild and leafy, and the caffeine, if I recall, was VERY strong. So be careful if are sensitive to caffeine.

Have you ever tried Guayusa? What are your thoughts? How does it compare to Yerba Mate?

RELATED LINKS:

Serious Eats

Runa Store

LA Mag