Back when I was fat, I'd wake up with my hands noticeably weaker on some days than others. A nagging voice in my head asked, " If something is making your hands weak, what else is it doing?" I started researching possible causes and found that my weak hands, spare tire, double chin, puffy skin, and even my man boobs weren't made of fat - they were signs of inflammation. As an atiaging biohacker, I knew that inflammation is a major cause of aging, but I hadn't realized that nearly everything else happening to my biology was related to inflammation too.
Inflammation is the body's natural response to a pathogen, toxin, stress, or trauma. It is necessary for proper tissue repair. You get healthy inflammation after you lift weights and body works to repair the stressed muscle. When you cut yourself increased blood flow ferries in white blood cells to heal the injury.
It is when inflammation becomes chronic that it causes serious problems. You don't look or feel good when you're carrying around excess inflammation, and doing so is actually quite dangerous. Together, cardiovascular diseases, various cancers, and diabetes account for 70% of all deaths in the U.S., and the common link between all of these diseases is inflammation. Inflammation is also linked to many autoimmune diseases and some mental health issues. Unchecked inflammation takes away your mental edge long before it causes you to feel physical pain or discomfort. That's right: Treat your brain fog or constant bloat now because they can be warning signs of more serious problems down the line,
I realized that inflammation was limiting my physical performance and to some extent my mental performance, too. But what was causing all this inflammation? I began studying causes of inflammation and found a huge body of research on the abundant anti nutrients in most standard diets that can cause chronic inflammation. They do this by irritating the gut, which triggers the immune system, or otherwise damaging the body's repair and detoxification system. The body responds as if it's been inferred and becomes inflamed in an effort to heal. Then it gets even worse - your irritated intestinal lining allows undigested food particles and bacteria to enter your bloodstream and trigger a wider inflammatory response as your body attacks those foreign particles. It does this by releasing a stream of small inflammatory proteins called cytokines into your bloodstream, which eventually enter your brain. In inflamed brain is an unhappy, low-performance brain that will make you act like a jerk even if you don't want to.
Antinutients play a much bigger role in how you feel every day than you might imagine. They can be a source of sever food cravings that distract you from whatever you're trying to accomplish, or they can rob you of nutrients and interfere with your hormone function, wearing down different systems in your body. Depending on the severity of antinutirent exposure and your genetics, your body may mount an autoimmune reaction. The trick is to reduce your body's immune response by eating fewer foods with anti nutrients and avoiding entirely the foods that trigger your immune system. Most people are aware of toxins, one form of antinutrients that may be added to food, such as preservatives, pesticides, or colorings, but few understand that those toxins can cause food cravings and diminish mental performance.
Even fewer people are aware of naturally occurring antinutrients that are hidden sources of Kryptonite in your daily life. These toxins form in plants and plant products as they are growing or in storage, and their main function is to keep animals, bugs, and fungi from eating the plants so the plants can reproduce. That's right - plant did not evolve for us to eat them: they evolved complex defense system to keep us from eating them.
By avoiding these nutritional land mines, your body and mind will be able to functional their best. Don't get me wrong; humans have survived for generations eating foods that are high in antinutrients, but the goal of the Bulletproof diet is the opposite of surviving - it is thriving. The main categories of naturally occurring antinutrients are lectins, phytates, oxalates, and mold toxins (mycrotoxins).
A lectin is a type of protein that permanently attaches itself to the sugars that line your cells, disrupting small-intestine metabolism and damaging gut villi or even your joints. There are thousands of types of lectins, and they are part of most life-forms. Not all of them are toxic. The lectins we're talking about are specific compounds made by plants that bind to joints, irritate the gut, lead to bacterial overgrowth, and contribute to leptin resistance, a condition that causes the brain of an overweight person not to receive the signal that the stomach is full. A few of these antinutirents are found in lots of plants and animal foods, but certain plants such as beans, nuts, and grains contain dramatically higher levels than others.
Certain people are more sensitive to specific types of lectins than others. If you eat something that contains the type of lectins you're sensitive to, the result is inflammation that you may experience as brain fort, sore joints, bad skin, or even migraine. For example, the type of lectins found in the nightshade family of plants, (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes, etc), is one that many people are sensitive to. It is a common rheumatoid arthritis cases and is a trigger for skin problems.
Luckily, most lectins are destroyed by heat and can be reduced or eliminated by using certain cooking methods. But there are some foods, including the nightshade family of vegetables, whose lectins are not destroyed by heat. The Bulletproof Diet helps you steer clear of the problems by having you eat fewer of the high-lectin foods.
Phytates are another plant defense system evolved to prevent animals and insects from eating them. They function by binding to dietary minerals that animals need to be healthy, particularly iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium. This slows or prevents the mineral absorption so you get little nutrition from the food. Whole grains, nuts, and seeds are the major sources of these atinutirents. Phytates are actually antioxidants, molecules that prevent other molecules from becoming oxidized.
Consuming antioxidants is normally a good thing, but some antioxidants, like phytates, have both negative and positive effects. Eliminating them from your diet completely wouldn't be possible, but it's a good idea to minimize the main sources so your minerals will be absorbed. Cooking certain foods that are high in phytates and then draining the water or soaking them in something acidic like lemon or vinegar minimized phytates, but many grains and seeds that contain phytates are irritating to the gut even when cooked.
Certain animals like cows and sheep have special bacteria in their guts to help them break down. This is one reason it's good to eat more grass fed cows and sheep, allowing them to filter out the phytates for you.
Oxalic acid (oxalates) is another anitutrient that forms in plants to protect them from predation by animals, insects, and fungi. They're found in raw cruciferous vegetables such as kale, chard, and spinach, as well as buckwheat, black pepper, parsley, poppy seeds, rhubarb, amaranth, beets, chocolates, most nuts, most berries, and beans.
When oxalates bind to calcium in your blood, tiny, sharp oxalic acid crystals form and can be deposited anywhere in the body and cause muscle pain. When this happens in the kidneys, it is one cause of kidney stones. For sensitive people, consuming even a small amount of oxalates can cause burning in the mouth, eyes, ears, and throat. In my time as a raw vegan eating tons of raw kale, broccoli, and chard, I experienced oxalate-related weakness that was hard to explain until I understood this.
As with phytates, soaking in acid or cooking and draining away the cooking water minimizes oxalates, so I don't recommend eating raw kale, spinach, or chard in salads or even smoothies. It's also important to choose your nuts and chocolate carefully, and I'll guide you through this in the book.
4. MOLD TOXINS
Coffee has been a great passion of men since I first discovered that it improved my grades in college. While studying computer science, I was worked to sign up for an 8AM calculus class. Being opposite of a morning person, I ventured into the world of triple expresso shots before class and earned the only A I ever got in 2 years of studying calculus. Imagine my dismay a few years later when I began to notice that coffee was't serving me. I'd drink it, get a boost, and then start to feel fatigued and cranky, like I needed more coffee. I was constantly upping my dose, which sometimes led to headaches. Wanting to rid myself of these symptoms, I gave up the lack brew for 5 long, dark years.
I dug into the biochemistry of coffee and the agricultural and economic research to discover that all coffee in sot he same, and that coffee often carries naturally occurring mold toxins. It turned out that my reaction to certain coffees had nothing to do with the coffee; it was a reaction to the mold on the coffee.
When exposed to even low levels of mold toxins many people lose their edge. At higher levels, mold toxins can cause serious damage, such as cardiomyopathy, cancer, hypertension, kidney disease, and even brain damage. The amount of mold on coffee beans can vary from batch to batch, especially for large coffee producers. Mold toxins are present in a significant amount of coffee.
Mold is such a problem in coffee that governments around the world - from the European Union to South Korea and Japan - have instituted safe limits for one of the mold toxins in coffee in the parts per billion levels. Clearly, the type of coffee beans you purchase is incredible important. Besides coffee, the main sources of mold toxins in your diet are wheat, corn, and other grains. Peanuts, fruits, chocolate, and wine are often tainted with mold toxins, too.
Mold toxins accumulate in the milk from cows that eat contaminated grains. In fact, products from grain-fed animals often pose a higher mold toxin risk than the grains themselves because the controls on the levels of mold toxins in animal feed are much more lenient. One of the unacknowledged reason low-carb diets work is that when you eliminate grains, you end up with a lower level of mold toxins in your food. You are not only what you eat, but also what your food ate.
Our big brains make us one of the most susceptible mammals on earth to the effects of mold toxins, and it's important to know that they may be causing your unexplained fatigue or making your focus waiver. This is a common problem among my high-performance clients . Eliminating high-risk foods usually helps with brain focus first. This is why the bulletproof Diet goes far beyond a regular Paleo or low-toxin diet (GAPS-Gut and Psychology Syndrome-, etc)
~ Source: book "Bulletproof Diet" Chapter 1~