The Three Silent Assassins of our Diet

You probably don’t need an introduction, but you’re getting one anyway. We, as a species, have never been unhealthier than we are today. Which is ironic, considering that we have better access to high-tech healthcare than ever before. We’ve never known more about the human body, metabolism, and illness. And, since a decade or so, we can look up literally all the information we need to take care of ourselves, simply using the internet. Yet we fail, as a group, to do so.

One day, you will walk into that doctor’s office, and you will be diagnosed with diabetes, obesity or cardiovascular disease.

The reason for this is that, while we are pretty good at avoiding direct threats — we have a tendency to dodge speeding vehicles and leave burning houses — we’re actually quite horrible at avoiding less direct threats. Slow threats. Things that creep up on us and seem harmless at first. Humanity has a blind spot for those.

The three biggest slow threats are actually in our diet. These silent assassins are eating us away from the inside, and we’re failing to see and address them properly. Heck, most of us are even denying it, in quite a similar fashion we deny and dismiss other blatantly obvious problems, such as global warming or plastic waste piling up in our oceans.

But the difference between those global issues and the three silent assassins of our diet is that the assassins are quite likely to get to you within this lifetime. One day, you will walk into that doctor’s office, and you will be diagnosed with either diabetes, a cardiovascular disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s or one of many, many other conditions caused directly by our diet.

However, you can prevent this. Quite easily, in fact. You don’t need a diet book or a personal coach. You don’t need to adopt a new training regime, again. And you certainly don’t need to buy supplements, exotic extracts or funky seeds from a remote part of the Amazon rainforest.

What you need is positive restriction: avoid the three silent assassins to massively improve your long term health. But don’t just take my word for it. Get your labs checked today, spend six months actively avoiding the assassins, and then get your labs checked again. It’s not magic — it’s human metabolism and a little bit of science.

I promise you, the difference in your lab results, but also how you feel about your new life, will blow you away.

Assassin one: Sugar

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Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann

Sugar is an amazing source of energy that your body and brain absolutely adore. It is quickly absorbed and therefore provides near-instant energy. In earlier times, sugar was scarce. Our main source of sugar was fruit, and maybe honey. We’d stumble upon those every now and then, but sugary foods certainly were no staple.

Today, sugar is abundant. Our bodies never had time (or reason) to adapt to this abundance. So, even though we have sugary foods all day long, our bodies still believe it’s scarce, and therefore keep craving it. The result is that we over-consume sugar, massively.

Food manufacturers eagerly tap into this love for sugar and spike many of our foods with additional sugars, or they try getting away with adding sugar by labeling them differently, or calling them “natural”. To your body, however, sugar is sugar, and the long term effects of them are all the same.

Avoid sugars as much as possible. This includes incognito sugars like corn syrup, fructose, honey, cane sugar, maple syrup, and “natural sugars”. Also, sugars in fruits are still sugars. Avoid them as much as possible. Sure, you can have a banana or some strawberries, but don’t binge on them on a daily basis.

Assassin two: Processed vegetable oils

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Photo by Daria Nepriakhina

I remember growing up and watching my parents prepare dinner as a kid. I was always fascinated by cooking and paid close attention to everything involved. Vegetable oil was something that I had always seen as something good. To me, butter was bad, and vegetable oil was good.

I could not have been more wrong. Yet, this is still the common misconception today. People associate the “vegetable” part of vegetable oil with something positive. However it’s exactly those vegetable oils that are nearly always processed, and are therefore a seriously vicious assassin.

It’s beyond the scope of this story to fully address, but oils become dangerous to our health once heated to a certain temperature. This temperature is different for each type of oil. Most harvesting methods of vegetable oils (which should be more accurately labeled as seed oils) heat the oil (far) beyond these temperatures. The result is a dangerous, slow poison.

Avoid processed vegetable oils. Some safe options for cold use are extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil, and coconut oil is great to cook with. Be aware that processed vegetable oils (such as canola oil) are in everything. Condiments, sauces, marinades, dressings, cookies, donuts, and even some candies are stuffed with them.

Pay extra attention to the fats you cook with — stick with coconut oil, or better even: butter or ghee. Note that deep-fried foods are often fried in vegetable oils, too.

If you’re feeling adventurous (and you can spare a few extra bucks at the grocery store), you can look for cold-pressed oils. But even these oils will become unhealthy if you heat them above their smoke point. A great table of many types of fat and their smoke points can be found here. Absolutely avoid cooking with sesame, walnut, almond, flaxseed, or peanut oil.

Assassin three: Grains

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Photo by Jonathan Brinkhorst

Back to the history books. We began cultivating grains about 11,000 years ago. Before that time, our diet would consist of whatever we scavenged from the forests, and the prey we caught through hunting. Ergo; we ate meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and the occasional fruit.

As with sugar, our bodies haven’t changed to accommodate eating so many grains. Today, grains are a staple food, and much of our daily caloric intake comes in the form of carbohydrates which in turn came from cultivated grains such as rice, corn, and wheat.

In addition, there is another link between grains and sugar. Your body actually transforms much of the energy contained by grains (carbohydrates) into a form of sugar: glucose. In fact, there isn’t much of a difference between eating grains and eating sugar, apart from the time it takes your body to absorb the energy. In the end, all sugars and all carbohydrates are turned into glucose, which is then carried through your body. Some of it is used directly as an energy source, but most of the energy from sugar gets stored in your muscles and as body fat.

Avoid all grains as much as possible. This means you’re avoiding all types of bread, pasta, rice, corn, and pastries. If you’re having carbohydrates, try getting them from other sources such as potatoes, legumes or nuts.

Six-month challenge

Now, I know you’re not going to do this, but I’m challenging you anyway. If you struggle with your weight, are feeling lethargic and tired all the time, are unmotivated, have bad skin, or life just feels like a burden — try it.

Try avoiding these three silent assassins for six months. If you can, get your labs tested before and after. I promise you, the difference in your lab results, but also how you feel about life, will blow you away. Your age doesn’t matter. Your current weight doesn’t matter. Even if you’re feeling good right now, this is not a guarantee that you will feel this way forever. The silent assassins are doing their damage behind the scenes.

Above all, remember that I have nothing to gain from this. It’s just advice, which is easily verifiable. I’m not selling anything, there are no diet plans, no coaching, no supplements, no exotic seeds or powders — none of that.

I just want you healthy, and happy.

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