July 25, 2015
Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.
Every morning I start my day with what I call my “big-ass smoothie”. In a moment, you're going to find out what this has to do with my guest in today's podcast, Richard Aiken, who is pictured above on his horse Teeko, which he used to race in Western “Ride & Tie” races, an endurance race up and down mountains for two people and a horse.
Anyways, back to my smoothie.
The smoothie begins with a huge bunch of greens. I prefer kale, but spinach, bok choy, mustard greens, etc. also do the trick, and lately I've been making a concerted effort to go out into the forest near my house and pick at least one or two “wild” plants to throw in too (such as plantain, nettle, wild mint, etc.)
Next, I add some kind of herb. Cleansing herbs like parsley, cilantro or thyme are nice. Rather than opting for the old, dried, powdered versions you buy from the grocery store, I buy them fresh or pick them fresh from my garden.
Next is half an avocado (or occasionally a whole avocado if it’s a high calorie day) along 2 teaspoons organic cacao powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, a teaspoon of sea salt (I use this fancy Aztecan stuff), and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil.
Then, before blending, I add just enough full fat coconut milk to make all my plants blend. I prefer an extremely thick smoothie that I have to eat with a spoon (so that the digestive enzymes in my mouth can work on pre-digesting before the food even makes it to my gut). Like my mom always said, “Chew your liquids and drink your solids.”
Then, I blend everything above for about 60 seconds-ish. I've always had a hunch that it may not be that great to pulverize things like protein powder, collagen, etc., and I also don’t want to pulverize the chunky chunks of goodness I'm about to toss in. So after blending, to my green goodness, I add 20-30g of a “clean” protein powder, 1 large handful of unroasted, non-vegetable-oil coated walnuts or almonds, 1 small handful organic dark cacao nibs and 1 large handful organic unsweetened coconut flakes.
I then use a spatula to ensure the entire contents of this relatively expensive smoothie make it into my giant morning breakfast mug, although I have been known to simply eat it straight out of the blender container when in a hurry. Depending on how exact my measurements are, my big-ass smoothie weighs in in at anywhere from 700-1000 calories.
Throughout the remainder of the day after the smoothie, I consume a giant salad at lunch, and heaps of vegetables for dinner. So I'd estimate that I probably consume 20-25 “servings” of vegetables each day, typically accompanied by boatloads of oils and fats such as olives, olive oil, coconut milk, coconut oil, avocados, fatty fish, bone broth, and organ meats.
OK, so why am I telling you all this?
Here's why: I just read a book called The New Ancestral Diet, and it's reinvented the way I think about all these plants I've been eating.
The New Ancestral Diet is described like this:
“We as primates have struggled mightily during the past 85 million years to find and eat enough food for survival. Fortunately, every one of your ancestors was successful so that you might succeed in that same endeavor. However, today that survival is in jeopardy. Recently and suddenly, from an evolutionary standpoint, the problem of subsistence in “civilized” countries has inverted: we have plenty of food but are not making selections that lead to long-term survival.
Our plant-based ancestral diets for which we have become genetically adapted have become animal-based. For thousands of millennia, primate nutrition happened while seeking a wide variety fruits and vegetables sufficiently energy-dense to supply our needed daily calories. Today we still seek energy-dense foods, but in the form of high fat animal products or sweet processed foods. Nutrient-dense foods, formerly our staples, are tolerated as side-dishes.
Taste, the most primitive of our senses, over the eons existed for our survival (as all the other senses), that is, to deselect plants sufficiently bitter as likely toxic or non-digestible. With the expansion of our brain capacity, taste was joined by higher brain regions’ appreciation of flavor. The result is a demand for flavorful energy-dense foods. Every meal experience must “taste good”. Dietary patterns based on such flavorful energy-dense foods has lead to chronic inflammatory states with high morbidly and mortality in the Western world.
This book suggests a return to our true ancestral dietary patterns, supplemented by what is known from the latest scientific research concerning nutritional health. It is clear that we have evolved to be quite versatile eaters and while we can eat a variety of foods, a whole-food varied plant-based diet is best for our long-term health and happiness.”
In the book, author Richard Aiken, a medical doctor and PhD in chemical engineering, describes how plants wage a chemical warfare against our body, why we should be careful with pulverizing and blending the hell out of our vegetables, why epidemiological data is very strong for a whole-food, primarily plant-based diet, and much more.
He holds a PhD in chemical engineering from Princeton University and an MD from the University of Utah. He has lectured throughout the United States and Europe, is the author of numerous peer reviewed scientific articles on nutrition and chemistry, and is a board certified psychiatrist with a clinical practice in Springfield, Missouri.
During today's podcast interview with Richard, you'll discover:
-How endurance runners can keep up with horses during races in the mountains…
-Richard's journey from getting a PhD in chemical engineering from Princeton, to starting a space exploration company to singing opera to attending medical school…
-How human beings progressed from insectivore to fruitarian to herbivore…
-Why the advent of cooking tubers may have been more important than the advent of cooking meat…
-The amazing recent research on chlorophyll, sunlight and the potential ability for humans to photosynthesize…
-Why you should go out of your way to eat things that don't taste good…
-Whether blenders can damage plant matter and if so, what the alternatives are…
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
–Denise Minger's refutation of The China Study
–The Hillbilly Vegan Facebook page
–Richard's website MoodForLife
–The New Ancestral Diet book
-The recent research on chlorophyll, sunlight and the potential ability for humans to photosynthesize
Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Dr. Aiken or me about this episode? Leave your thoughts below!
14 thoughts on “How Blenders Can Destroy Food, Why I Eat 20-25 Servings Of Vegetables Each Day, The Vegan-Paleo Debate & Much More.”
Hi, great podcast as usual. I’m a vegetarian (not vegan), but was interested to hear his take on flax seed as being more than enough for dha/epa. You did mention twice about the low conversion of ala to dha but there was not an answer. I now supplement with a vegan omega three algal based dha, but its pricey enough and some flax seeds or flax oil (tastes horrible!) would be handier if conversion wasn’t an issue. I don’t notice any difference taking these omega threes but figure I should be given I don’t eat fish.
Thanks very much,
I tend to agree. But surely this means that, by consuming moderate to high levels of fat consistently, you (and I) are not abiding by the evolutionary template we aim to follow.
PS well done on calling the guest out on the meat lobbying nonsense. Grain industry dwarfs the meat industry. It was a shame to hear such an obviously well read, intelligent individual regurgitate the drivel put out by people like Campbell, Esselstyn and McDougall.
Hi Ben, I eat pretty much the same as you. I went through the meat at every meal thing but soon realised that it simply did not make sense from an evolutionary standpoint. I have recently come to question why we think it is ok to eat so much butter and coconut oil. If we are assuming our ancestors did not have access to meat consistently, what other sources of Sat fat did they have access to?
In fact, what other sources of fat in general? Olives, avocados and nuts are the only fat rich pant foods that spring to mind (maybe I am ignorant of other extinct foods) and at least two of those would rarely have been plentiful. thoughts?
It's likely that, similar to meat, our ancestors got large portions of saturated fat all at once (e.g. from feeding on a kill), then would go longer periods of time without it. One reason I say this is because of human being's inherent capability to be able to store fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin D (e.g. we can take 20IU per week rather than, say, 3IU per day)
Hey Ben. I am successfully vegan for several years now, and I follow your recommended supplement guide for vegans. I am curious if you know of a comparable vegan multi to the exos line you now use? And raising a toddler vegan do you have any must have nutrients/supplements you would recommend for healthy development other than lots of veggies/beans/fats? Thanks for the great interview.
The only non-vegan suitable ingredient in both of the EXOS multi's is the Vitamin D. Vitamin D is sourced from lanolin, which comes from sheep's wool. In our case the we source our lanolin from wool from shorn sheep. Meaning it is just a normal process of them getting a 'haircut'.
Amazing podcast :) Enjoyed every second of it!
Ben I have to ask though, Richard gave his view on the optimal diet for the average person who is not training intensively. I really hope you can share with me(us) your take on the optimal diet for the average person, who does not need to recover from intense activity and who does not need to become fat adapted so there is not MASSIVE amounts of carbs coming in.
I would be absolutely thrilled if you could take a moment and share just a general take on this excluding specific situations for certain people.
Thanks again for you great objective straightforward view on things, and sharing the whole spectrum of ideas people have as far as nutrition is concerned!
This would be a GREAT question for the podcast. Can you call it into 877 209 9439 or leave on the right sidebar here?
Just called it in, excuse all of the "uhh's" please hahaha. Thanks!
There was a guy I believe you had on a few years ago(can’t remember is name) who was an older endurance athlete as well who similarly dismissed anti-China study arguments and belittled the credentials of I believe Masterjohn or Minger at the time. A sure sign of someone who doesn’t have an argument and highly unscientific(also ironic in this particular case) Otherwise he had some interesting ideas.
Ben – I enjoy how you invite on guests who have totally different points of view. It does make me think about if/how to adjust nutrition, fitness and life habits. It really opens up the mind to new possibilities.
Unfortunately, this guy in particular demonstrated his great hypocrisy and closed mindedness with his comments on Denise Minger. When you asked his opinion of her critique of the China Study, he provided a well rehearsed, 20+word ad hominem attack on her, and never addressed the substance of her argument. And he finished it off by saying that most of her arguments were ad hominem attacks on Colin Campbell anyway and should be ignored. A classic of irony! You showed great professionalism to not call him out right away and keep interview going.
In any case, I'm a regular listener and enjoy the podcast. Many thanks for all you do.
Agreed there was some illogical ad hominem going on there…
I tend to take organic kale and dandelion greens and blend them with RO water and some ascorbic acid to help cut the greens bitterness. I pour these into cubes and freeze. Then when it is smoothie time, I take a few green cubes out, add coconut milk, avocado, chia seeds, and a brazil nut and blend, then slowly add in grass-fed protein powder from Whey USA.
I hope this process helps me to extract the best goodness and nutrition from those plants.
Many people add vitamin C or vitamin C rich fruits to green smoothies containing fats. According to this article this is a recipe for the production of nitrosamines in the stomach, since blending turns nitrate into nitrites, as does chewing. Therefore either leave out the nuts, needs, who or leave out the vitamin C or acid fruits from your smoothies? Would like feedback: