The Meal Matters Most

Stress musings and perspectives

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How do you classify “good food”?

A recent question “What exactly is good food?”:

Here’s my reply…

For me I take the philosophy of a “stress approach” and systems (it depends on the system) approach to good food. So  fats/sugars can be physiologically stressful, so balance those main (high quality sourced) macronutrients (meat-carb-fat) with quality micronutrients (whole fruit, vegetables, herbs) or traditional sauce condiments that include fermented foods or dairy (probiotic source). This creates a “balanced” meal for our systems that is also delicious!

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A Stress Perspective on the Challenge of ALS

I haven’t been challenged to a bucket of ice, but a day or so ago I spent an unexpected hour with a woman who recently lost her husband to ALS. We talked about what I do on my blog about stress mechanisms and disease and we had a good cry together. What I did resonated with her and her experience and she in her own way challenged me that I need to share what I know in whatever way I can. So here is my challenge to put together a post on ALS and stress mechanisms.

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Michael Pollan thinks the Paleo diet is wrong. Here is why I think he’s wrong.

Michael Pollan is in Mother Jones with an article entitled: “Michael Pollan explains what’s wrong with the Paleo Diet” by Cynthia Graber (Jan. 17, 2014). It’s a great article and Michael is a great inspiration but he seemingly doesn’t know all that much about human physiology nor the science of ecosystems. So while most of what he writes on the history of food and the inspiration “cook for yourself” I love. What I don’t love is that his science leaves much to be desired. He’s not entirely on the wrong track. As a matter of fact I would agree with his general assumptions for maybe a large portion (certainly not all) of the general population a majority of the time: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”… and now he adds microbes. And that’s the one shining star he has above the medical model of healthy eating is that he includes microbes. Why do we include microbes? He’s got it right that it is our “second genome” and we can greatly influence it. Also that the “germs”, once the immortal enemy, are a  huge part of our immune function (stress reactivity). And he also has it right that we have been unwittingly destroying these all important germs with our out-dated and overly applied “Germ Theory Model of Modern Medicine.”

Michael writes in 2013 NYTimes article:

“Such a paradigm shift comes not a moment too soon, because as a civilization, we’ve just spent the better part of a century doing our unwitting best to wreck the human-associated microbiota with a multifronted war on bacteria and a diet notably detrimental to its well-being. Researchers now speak of an impoverished “Westernized microbiome” and ask whether the time has come to embark on a project of “restoration ecology” — not in the rain forest or on the prairie but right here at home, in the human gut.”

So, the question is: If I agree with him so much, why do I disagree with him? Continue reading

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How can someone so loved be so sad? My brief comment on the tragic death of Robin Williams


I don’t have much time to write these days, but the death of Robin Williams has me wanting to put out some brief thoughts on depression, what it is and what it isn’t.

My site here is about how we approach food, but really it’s about how we approach everyday issues. My perspective is that we approach too many of these issues with a limited singular view. That obesity is about calories or depression is about being sad. My view is that it is more multidimensional and more realistic to talk about it in more complex, but simple ways.

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“Is it our food we are allergic to or what’s been done to them?” Video by Robyn O’Brien

Thanking a friend on facebook for the link to Robyn O’Briens TED talk about GM Foods “Are we allergic to foods or what’s been done to them?”. I honestly have not looked at GM foods that much, but once she called the foods pesticides themselves I got it. I take a stress perspective to the problems she mentions; cancer, autism, allergies, ADD. That the less resources, more exposure and more misinformation we experience the more stress becomes stressful– we get diseases and disorders. Lots of things and small mistakes of what we’ve put in and what we’ve taken out for profit and for lack of a proper scientific framework create this pool of stress and stress influencers we swim in. Pesticides are endocrine disruptors. They give our hormones the wrong information, they interrupt the signals for us (children’s) immune systems and nervous system to properly gauge the environment they are in. The systems over and under respond. Its a terrible fix we are putting ourselves in, but I’m glad I finally see the role for (edited: to be fair- “certain”) GM foods. This is a great heartfelt genuine thoughtful intelligent speech by Robyn. Well done.

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The Cholesterol Conundrum: Root cause or still missing stress dynamics?

Great Speech by Irish-born Ivor Cummins. I think it’s a powerful contribution, but I think the “root cause” is more complex than sugar or fat or cholesterol. Without taking a systems (instead of thing) perspective we miss the bigger picture. My response is below.


Hi Ivor, it’s a great speech and lots of good info.

The problem I see is you are using the language of disease instead of the language of chaos dynamics in these systems from a stress regulating perspective. What that means are things toward the end of your speech you talk about eating being about what you “save”. Why do we “save”? And is not getting calories really the goal? (it could be for being buff, but is it evolutionarily viable?). I don’t argue that the low carb is necessary in our current state of disarray and also evolutionarily viable, but the science we need here is still more complex, and 100 times more elegant and simple. It’s not what we eat getting to these goals we’re trying to hit, what we eat isn’t about using/saving… it’s about building a complex structure and getting the resources it (its particular needs) in the most efficient and least draining or damaging way. Continue reading

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“Are “Genes Are To Blame” Articles Really Leading the Public Astray?” The Epigenetics of Stress Mechanisms in Disease


MindHacks” writer Vaughan Bell’s tweet subsequently retweeted by “Not Exactly Rocket Science” Blogger Ed Yong states that the media turns “blame your genes” into attention-grabbing headlines. They worry the headlines are misleading the public into thinking they are no longer responsible for their problems. That the articles are for those who want to absolve themselves of responsibility for badly behaving toddlers or so they can blame their genes rather than themselves for being a lazy couch potato or binge eating. If we can blame our genes then we’re not responsible, right? But where does that thought process come from? Most likely from our instruction that genes are out of our control random things we inherent from our parents. Therefore if genes are to blame, then we, our environment, is not. Those were our choices, either our genes or our environment were to blame for such things.

In defense of the articles, that is not what the authors or researchers seem to be actually saying.  Continue reading

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Is drinking a Coca-Cola equivalent to drinking Apple Juice?

So I was out to lunch with a friend when he expressed to me that drinking a coke was no different than drinking an apple juice. That side-by-side the sugar content is similar (sugar, is sugar, is sugar) and therefore the potential negative impacts were equivalent. (*Note: My friend stated “no matter how fresh squeezed, cloudy or full of nutrients it was”).

apple juice

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