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:
–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!