I have been researching Nutrition Science for almost as long as I have been studying academic Biblical Studies (around 2008). However, I have never taken official coursework on Food and Nutrition Science. Therefore, I cannot teach nor argue confidently about particular views in this field of study with as much reliable expertise and rigor as I would in Biblical Studies. Nevertheless, I have had enough experience to share some basic understanding of the different views and positions and the controversies around these topics. Accordingly, I can provide some guidance and share some reliable resources.
In my early childhood and teenage years (1990s-2006), I grew up consuming a lot of cereals with loads of white sugar, lots of unhealthy snacks, pastries, cookies, and chocolates. Not only did I eat unhealthy foods, but I also did not consume enough healthy macronutrients: eggs, non-muscle meat, poultry, meat or fish broths, and leafy greens and vegetables. I grew up with loads of carbohydrates and sugars: white bread, white rice, pasta, sauces, and processed oats and cereals (with more sugar!). I developed chest pains, acne, and I remained skinny and frail. I probably did not grow to my full potential. My father has a bit of a bigger frame and he is almost one inch taller than I am. I now think that it should (and could) have been the contrary. I should be bigger and taller. Playing basketball for many years during that time did nothing! Eating my bread crumbs, practicing sports where jumping is emphasized, and stretching when waking out of bed were misinformation (I think, I don’t really know). Lastly, High School did not help my cause: I did not bring my lunch to school, so I was fed pasta or hamburgers—with some salad on the side (not even, it was ketchup!).
Around 2007-2008 until 2009, I had moved away from a Standard American Diet (the “SAD” diet) towards the adoption of some form of vegetarianism because of my chest pains, stomachs, and acne condition. (Little did I know anything about low-level inflammation, auto-immunity, and food sensitivities and allergies). It all had started with Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (Penguin Books, 2008). I also had read many of Jordan Rubin’s pseudo-scientific books where he has tried to use the Bible to show everyone what we all ought to eat! Of course, little did I know at the time that it was pseudo-science.
In 2009-2010, I had become a strict vegan (as opposed to being a vegetarian who may consume eggs and dairy products) when I had completely abandoned eggs and dairy and only ate vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, and seeds and nuts. By 2011, I had become extremely skinny (more than I am now!), my teeth had become translucent, and I had become weak and fatigued. (I am not suggesting everyone will experience the same as me. Some vegans thrive. Diets are not one-size fits all precisely due to differing microbiomes/microbiota and metabolism, epigenetics, immune system, stress, physical activity, and sleep patterns). I was pouring into the literature in Diet and Nutrition Science. But I could not find dietary or behavioral solutions to reverse what I was experiencing at that time until I read Konstantin Monastyrsky’s Fiber Menace (Ageless Media, 2005) as well as Ramiel Nagel’s Cure Tooth Decay: Heal And Prevent Cavities With Nutrition (2010). These books, which turn out to be somewhat unreliable, brought me out of veganism into some forms of “Ancestral Diet(s).” Now, veganism is not damaging in itself if applied carefully, but it could be damaging if misapplied since it can lead to Vitamin B12 and K2 deficiencies, other kinds of deficiencies, and demineralization. These Ancestral diets, like the Weston A. Price Foundation and Nourishing Traditions, emphasize the consumption of whole foods and pastured raised animal proteins, much like some of our grand-parents (or great grand-parents) eating habits. Now these were more scientifically reasonable than some of the past sources and resources I had used up to that point in my diets and nutrition journey. From 2012-2014, I had experienced these Ancestral diets and I was able to resolve to some extent my translucent teeth and muscle weaknesses, and I had gained some good weight; i.e., a normalized BMI index.
Nutrition Science and Paleo Diet
In 2014-2015, I became aware of the Paleo Diet (some proponents of the Paleo Diet now refer to it as the “Paleo Template” since it recognizes that no one diet is truly one-size fits all). I started watching debates between Nutrition Scientists and I joined some proponents like Chris Kresser. (I must clarify that the “Paleo diet” does not in reality at all emphasize meat (i.e., muscle meat), but it emphasizes vegetables and nose-to-tail animal broths). Chris Kresser is a Functional Medicine advocate and clinician; he is not a scientist such as the ones I will refer soon. Chris Kresser has a few books out now and I can definitely continue recommending him up until this day (unlike Jordan Rubin, Konstantin Monastyrsky, and Ramiel Nagel), even if his credentials are limited his Licensed Acupuncturist degree (L.Ac). Other proponents are authentic Nutrition scientists: Dr. Prof. Loren Cordain and Dr. Chris Masterjohn. These are the ones I follow the most, yet they all disagree in a variety of ways—along with Chris Kresser—on the controversies surrounding saturated fat, salt consumption, dairy, and grains. They still agree, however, on many other things. Until today, I still follow Dr. Cordain and Dr. Masterjohn, but I prefer Dr. Masterjohn and Chris Kresser overall. There are also others worth mentioning: Robb Wolf, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, Paul Jaminet Ph.D., Dr. Mark Hyman, and Diana Rodgers, RD. Both Dr. Chris Masterjohn and Chris Kresser are very productive when it comes to Nutrition and the Pandemic:
Dr. Chris Masterjohn
Chris Kresser, L.Ac
Today, I follow some form of a “Paleo Template,” but I have been temporarily slipping back into the SAD diet on rare occasions due to a lack of time to cook and due to the number of limited restaurants that are open since the Pandemic, and not without minor consequences to my nails, hair, skin, and mental/physical energy. However, I no longer have all the severe aches and health problems I had in the past before 2008; but my food sensitivities are still present. When I reintroduce common inflammatory foods (that usually contain allergens), I may re-experience some discomforts that are reflected in my hair, nails, skin, and stools. On the other hand, every time I go back to eating whole foods, as opposed to fast foods, for a number of days or weeks—mainly root vegetables and leafy greens, pastured eggs, and low-inflammatory meat and poultry (i.e., grass-fed beef tongue and feet, heart, liver, and chicken breast)—my nails and hair grow back to normal without thinning and falling, they become nicely textured again, I feel less tired, and my skin heals from wounds much faster and it also becomes smoother and more moisturized.
COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 Resources
Now, moving onto the Pandemic, I have been using some resources that have proven to be reliable; there is no point to share with you some of the unreliable websites I have used temporarily in the past. Most of these resources are based on peer review of some kind (I know peer review is not perfect, especially not in the sciences!) or are written by qualified specialists:
- ConsumerLab (consumerlab.com): Unfortunately, this site is not free. I pay a 2-year membership subscription to have access to the entire website. 1 year ($47.40 USD) or 2 years ($78.00 USD). I have been a member since December 13, 2013. They professionally review a wealth of oral supplements and organic / non-organic health and skin-care products. They have also published professional reviews and analyses on COVID-19 vaccines; HEPA filters that can help filter bacteria, viruses, pollen, and dust; surgical masks; cloth masks; face shields; and N95 masks. All the scientific literature is well published.
- ConsumerLab.com YouTube Channel: President, Founder, and Editor-in-Chief Tod Cooperman, M.D. has been publishing some video reviews on their YouTube Channel. Some people are more visual than they are readers, so these videos can encourage some to get their heads into this more aptly.
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The EPA has an official list of disinfectants that can kill certain bacteria and deactivate certain viruses:
- The above EPA site is useful since that is how I found that 60-75% Isopropyl Alcohol and some Hydrogen Peroxide can be used to disinfect surfaces against SARS-CoV-2. There is no need to horde Isopropyl Alcohol and there is no need to purchase Clorox sprays or wipes, or the like. Hydrogen Peroxide or Alcohol work if one sprays either of them on a surface and leaves them evaporate for 2-5 minutes which, in most cases, is the minimum contact time for HP or Alcohol (it varies from product to product, so follow EPA and the instructions on the bottles) to deactivate certain viruses before the product even dries. If the product dries or evaporates before 2 mins, then most likely in such case the minimum contact time is not met to even be effective in deactivation of virions (virus particles). But then in such cases, one can also re-spray a second time and let air-dry. Lastly, I know that surfaces (or “fomites”) are not the primary mode of SARS-CoV-2 transmission due to environmental factors, lower viral load on surfaces compared to aerosolized clouds in the surrounding air, and the fact that most people today do wash their hands more frequently than before the pandemic and do not touch their face as often.
- Dr. John Campbell’s YouTube Channel: Dr. Campbell is extremely consistent, reliable and informative. He does not seem to give up. He posts every day on COVID-19 and other health related matters. He is based in England, he appears in the News at times, and he has also appeared alongside Prof. Roger Seheult, MD over here.
- Dr. Vincent Racaniello’s YouTube TWiV Channel: I have already referred to Dr. Racaniello, so I will spare you repeating myself here. He is also found in the Resources of this Mtl-ct WordPress blog site.
- Dr. Jose-Luis Jimenez’s YouTube Channel: He is also referred under the Resources of this Montreal Critical Thinkers WordPress site. He specializes in Mechanical Engineering, Air Pollution, emissions, and now—in relation to COVID-19—aerosols produced by talking, singing, coughing, or sneezing as opposed to fomite (i.e., surfaces) transmission or droplet transmission. If you want to know about COVID-19 / SARS-CoV-2 aerosolized transmission and masks, this is an expert on this subject as he is a highly cited scholar in his field.