We all know that we should eat more fish. Over the centuries, as far back as the Paleolithic area, fish has been a staple food for most humans. Among other things, fish provides:

  • Complete protein
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • B-complex vitamins
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Antioxidants

Even with the best of intentions, it can be difficult to pick what kind of seafood is safe to consume nowadays. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch offers a downloadable guide that explains what fish are best to buy depending on where we live, which in turn also helps to promote sustainable fishing practices and avoid overfished species. This list is updated regularly. 

It is usually recommended to avoid the bigger fish (tuna, shark, swordfish, etc.) in the food chain as there is more chance for them to be contaminated with a high amount of mercury. In The Bulletproof Diet, by Dave Asprey, the fish that contain the lowest amount of mercury are listed as follows:

  • Anchovies
  • Haddock 
  • Petrel sole
  • Sardines
  • Sockeye salmon
  • Summer flounder
  • Wild tilapia
  • Wild trout

If you buy canned fish, it is better to buy fish canned in water, as even the olive oil used by some brands can be questionable.

As a final note, I would like to share with you this TED talk, “How I fell in love with a fish,” by Chef Dan Barber, in which he highlights the promises of truly sustainable fish farming, as opposed to conventional fish farming (ever wonder what is being fed to traditional farmed fish?).

May eating fish be a weekly delightful experience for you!

References

“The Bulletproof Diet Roadmap to Swanky Neighborhoods.” The Bulletproof Diet: Lose up to a Pound a Day, Reclaim Energy and Focus, Upgrade Your Life, by David Asprey, Rodale, 2014, p. 172.

“Action Item #3: Make The Healthiest Choices Across the Spectrum.” The Primal Blueprint: 21-Day Total Body Transformation, by Mark Sisson, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2016, pp. 110-112.

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Every year, the EWG (Environmental Working Group) issues a list of foods (the dirty dozen) that you should buy organic to avoid exposure to a high amount of pesticides and chemicals. Also, they list the non-organic fruits and vegetables (the clean fifteen) that are alright to buy if buying everything organic is too expensive for our wallet. It is good to keep in mind that the closer we are to buying everything organic, the better it is for our health and the health of farmworkers who are even more exposed to a high amount of chemicals.

So the fruits and vegetables to buy organic (for 2019) are:  

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Hot peppers

And the fruits and vegetables that don’t have to be organic (for 2019) are:

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet peas frozen
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Eggplants
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwis
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Cantaloupes
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Honeydew melons

When in doubt, at the store, just consider the thickness of the skin. The thinner the skin of the fruit or vegetable, the more chance it has to be an organic option only.

Of course, it is always better to buy in-season produce at a local farmers’ market, even if it isn’t certified organic. Where I live, there are quite a few Amish farms and farmers’ markets, which is very helpful in bypassing the stores’ offerings. But I am also happy to find some organic options at the local supermarkets.

And in order to consume a wider variety of plant specimens, something that our ancestors were privileged to do, I like to order vegetable powders from Dr. Cowan’s Garden. Using those powders saves a lot of prep time to anyone who has a busy schedule but still wants to eat as healthy as possible. It can also be a great way to have children eat more vegetables without them realizing it if the powders are mixed in, say, the batter of a given recipe.

As an alternative to green vegetables, when not at home, I like to consume the algae tablets that the company Energy Bits offers. They go well with staying in mild ketosis during the day.

Finally, if you can grow a few herbs or vegetables in pots or in a garden, even though it can be time-consuming, it is a very rewarding step to take towards eating healthier.

There is more than one way to increase our consumption of vegetables and fruits (the latter truly to a lesser extent) and to avoid the conventional chemical-laden varieties. It is whatever fits our budget and works with our busy schedule.

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As I have mentioned previously about the state of being in mild ketosis during the day, which implies the use of ketones, now might be a good time to further explain what the use of ketones to fuel our energy levels really means, as opposed to being traditional “sugar burners.” First, a couple of quick, simple definitions to help you understand this topic better:

Glucose = A type of sugar, main source of energy for most people

Insulin = A chemical excreted by the pancreas to transport sugar into the body’s tissues

Ketone bodies = A type of energy source produced from your body fat

A traditional “sugar burner” is mostly fueled by the glucose provided from any carbs eaten. When we eat, the hormone insulin kicks in to dispose of the nutrients, which are now in the blood, and send them wherever they are needed. If we eat too many carbs (healthy or not), quickly after a spike of energy, we feel tired because (among other things) a lot of insulin has to be produced to dispose of this excess sugar. Ever wonder why you felt like taking a nap after that lunch you had? That’s the spike of insulin talking. If we are “sugar burners,” we have those ups and downs on a regular basis throughout the day.

Now if we start to consume more healthy fats throughout the day and limit our carb intake, we don’t have to deal with all those ups and downs that excess sugar and overproduction of insulin trigger. Isn’t it a nice thing not to feel like taking a nap after lunch, especially when we can’t? Healthy fats keep us more satiated for longer periods of time.

So we have the healthy fats that we consume and we have the ketone bodies, both to fuel our energy levels in a more linear fashion when we become fat-adapted. Eating healthy fats means consuming foods like avocados, olives, nut butters, certain oily fish,  grass-fed butter or ghee, coconut oil, MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oils, extra-virgin olive oil, and avocado oil.

Ketones are a by-product of body fat that is tapped into if we fast or if we limit our carb intake to a bare minimum. If we are keto-adapted, we can use those ketones (we are in ketosis) but, if we are “sugar burners,” those ketones are close to useless. MCT oils are the only oils that also increase ketones in the body, such as the Brain Octane oil I blend in my coffee. MCT oils are processed right away by the liver, so a surge of energy can be felt pretty much immediately, especially if consuming C8 MCT oil. This is another way to increase ketones in the body and reach a state of mild ketosis without literally having to fast.

Being able to utilize ketones as fuel to power ourselves each day is an awesome tool at our disposition to better our lives.

References

“Ketosis Is the Mostest.” Head Strong: the Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster-in Just Two Weeks, by Dave Asprey, Harper Collins, 2017, pp. 98-105.

The Primal Blueprint: 21-Day Total Body Transformation, by Mark Sisson, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2016.

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Today, I thought I would talk about how I have been changing my eating habits since April 2014. After reading the book I mentioned in my first blog post, Your Personal Paleo Code, by Chris Kresser, I went ahead and started implementing the Thirty-Day-Reset plan suggested in it. I had a headache for the first three days, but it eventually went away. Weaning ourselves from processed foods we have been eating for decades can trigger this type of reaction at first, but almost right away we can also feel an amount of energy that seems miraculous. I had such a sweet tooth up until that point, but I knew I needed to change that. I started putting coconut oil in my coffee instead of sugar, eating 1-2 eggs with ½ an avocado in the morning, enjoying a green smoothie as a snack, and eating simple whole foods the rest of the day.

In 2016, I discovered the Bulletproof template and started making Bulletproof coffee with grass-fed butter (or ghee) and Brain Octane oil. Drinking this coffee gave me even more energy, and now it is all I need to have in the morning, right after a cup of warm water with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and Celtic sea salt. I stay in mild ketosis* during the day and refeed with healthy carbs, part of a balanced meal, at the end of the day. Whenever I start to miss bread or tortilla chips too much, I go online and purchase some of the many paleo options the site Thrive Market offers. 

Removing the foods we have been eating for decades can seem overwhelming at first, especially when it comes to comfort foods. But by taking it one day at a time and finding new delights in the many different ways we can prepare simple whole foods, it actually makes eating paleo/primal a very feasible option. And not every day has to be perfect. There is the well-known 80/20 rule which gives a 20% margin of not eating 100% primal/paleo. This rule usually doesn’t affect, in most cases, the efforts we’re making to better our health. 

I do not contemplate, even for a minute, going back to eating foods that make me feel sluggish. Having enough energy each day to accomplish whatever we have to do is, in my opinion, the key to finding joy in life, whatever the challenges we have to face may be.

*Ketosis is a state in which our energy levels are fueled by mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cells) using ketones instead of glucose, as explained in Head Strong, by Dave Asprey.

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