Hundreds of thousands years of evolution. Hunting and gathering, eating real food.
The taste buds that best led their human to valuable nutrients reproduced superiorly, and thus these taste buds became the most prevalent.
Highly nutritious food is what’s supposed to taste good.
And so it went, hundreds of thousands of years.
Then, all of the sudden, agriculture and civilization. All in a blink, just a few thousand years.
But evolution is slow, and our genes are still suited for the old environment.
Modern civilization. The ability to create new stuff that can be eaten.
I’m not calling anything ‘food’ if it can’t nourish to a high margin. Junk food is just junk, not food.
Soon, we developed the ability to hack our taste buds into believing that this new stuff-that-can-be-eaten tastes good, despite it providing little—and often negative—nutritional value.
The food we’ve created may taste good, but it’s not supposed to. Clearly the junk we eat isn’t supposed to taste good, because it’s not helping us.
Taste is evolutionarily meant to be a compass towards nutrition. We need to protect it. We can’t trust our senses when it comes to food that has been created.
Old genes. New food and competitive human stupidity. Which is going to win if we’re neglectful?
71% of American adults aged 20 and over are overweight or obese (2015-2016).
How does the country that spends the most on healthcare per person—more than double of what other wealthy countries with similar life expectencies spend—have 71% of it’s citizens obese?
And I checked, no, humans aren’t naturally overweight.1
For example, we have quite the taste for sugar, but it’s completely toxic.2
Why do we like sugar then? Well we probably like sugar at all because plants that taste sweet are generally trying to signal that they’re not poisonous.
However, in the environment our genes evolved, concentrated sugar did not exist.3 So there was no pressure for our genes to develop defenses against too much sugar, as it’s only been possible in the last blink of evolutionary history!
We can’t trust our taste buds when they lead us to artificial foods. Our taste for sugar and other ‘artificial things-that-can-be-eaten’ is an accident, and it’s killing us!
Don’t let yourself be manipulated by fake food and false happiness.4
When I was 15, three years before writing this essay, I questioned the purpose of food, and I realized that my diet of oreos and salami sandwiches was not optimized. I came to the conclusion that the purpose of food was to make oneself as strong, energetic, and capable as possible. To nourish.
The logic I’ve outlined in this essay is what, from one day to the next three years ago, turned me off sugar and onto deliberate nutrition. Partly due to evolutionary reasoning, I came to reject grains and carbohydrates to instead focus on eating meat, fish, leafy greens, and nuts. However, in 2020 September I switched to a more radical and more restricted diet that seems to have cured my acne. [Link at end of essay.]
Something else that motivated me to change my diet was that changing then, as a 15-year old, would be far easier than later changing as me, a 28-year old. Habits only get harder to change.
Secondly, if you expect to change your diet in the future anyway—to heal a disease, to prevent disease (ex: Alzheimer’s), to live longer, to lose weight, to have more energy, to gain muscle without exercising any more, to stop the headaches, to sleep better, to feel better in every moment …—then you might as well start now, it makes no difference.
Again, I believe pleasure from sugar is false happiness.
Sugar’s toxicity explained here:
Yeah my preferred aggregating source on health is youtube videos by some guy in his twenties. And yours is, what, the fucking FDA? [See notes]
On “false happiness”, timestamps 3:19 to 5:05:
It took about a year to find good sources of nutritional information. I believe the vast majority of nutrition information sources, including governments and world organizations, spew nonsense.
For example, there are good arguments that have come out in the past few decades against the common ideas of counting calories to lose weight, exercising to lose weight, worrying about LDL cholesterol (and not in combination with any other metrics), low-fat diets (what else are you going to eat, sugar?), plant-based diets for health (especially without extremely technical interventions). But these are often promoted in modern nutrition sources.
Curiously, the best source on nutrition I’ve found to recommend is Joseph Everett. He may not be writing papers, but he is solidly the only source on health that I’ve ever found to be actively looking to make things simple and accessible. And I think that matters a lot more than necessarily rigor (though his arguments, in my opinion, are usually quite rigorous), especially when it comes to changing your own behavior. So in terms of ‘reward per unit effort’, I think he’s definitely the best source I know of.
Also, there are no trillion-dollar industries that care what he thinks.
I would like to make this essay better. There’s a lot I’m still thinking about. Let me know if you have any ideas.
Posted 2020 October 24, last revised 2021 February 5.
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