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Primal Nutrition with Nora Gedgaudas

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Primal Nutrition with Nora Gedgaudas

What is Primal Nutrition and how does it differ from Paleo?
 

This is what we're discussing today with clinical nutritionist and internationally recognised expert on ancestrally-based nutrition, Nora Gedgaudas.

Nora is the international best-selling author of Primal Body, Primal Mind, Rethinking Fatigue and Primal Fat Burner. She is also the co-author of Australian best-seller Going Paleo with chef, Pete Evans.

Nora is a sought after educator on the topic of ketogenic and primal nutrition and is regularly interviewed on tv, radio and other media. Ahead of her webinar for the Australian Traditional Medicine Society in June 2018 on Rethinking Brain Health and Nutrition, Nora talks to Andrew about what to expect in the webinar and shares her journey into to the concept of primal eating and how it has shaped her career and the way she practices nutrition. 

Covered in this episode:

[00:30] Introducing Nora Gedgaudas
[01:13] The awakening journal to primal eating
[10:14] Influence of Weston A. Price
[13:47] Foundational nutrition principles
[17:15] Cultural nuances of diet
[22:58] The guiding principles of primal eating
[28:52] Most of what endangers us, cannot be seen
[31:41] Is meat carcinogenic?
[38:08] Fill your metabolic woodstove with wood, not kindling
[40:38] Nora's forthcoming webinar for ATMS
[43:20] The marketing trap of contradictive terminology
[45:21] Final thanks to Nora


Andrew: This is FX Medicine, I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook. Joining us on the line today is Nora Gedgaudas who's a board-certified nutritional consultant and a board-certified clinical neuro-feedback specialist with over 20 years of successful clinical experience. A recognized authority on ketogenic, ancestrally-based nutrition, she's a popular speaker and educator, and the author of the bestselling books, Primal Body, Primal Mind, as well as, Rethinking Fatigue. 

Nora, I'd like to warmly welcome you to FX Medicine. How are you? 
 
Nora: Oh, I'm doing great, and thank you so much for having me. And I'm always happy to do anything with Aussies.  
 
Andrew: Now, I've got to say, I snipped off so much of your bio because you have done so much, not the least of which is something that's close to my heart, your affinity with wolves. But could you take our listeners through a little bit of your professional background and your awakening to paleo principles from being you know, a stock standard nutritionist? 
 
Nora: Right, right. So a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I actually spent some time working with wolves and doing some work in wildlife science. And I had a rare opportunity, really kind of a once in a life time thing, to travel to an area that's just 500 miles south of the North Pole and spend an entire summer living with a family of wild wolves in the company of the world's foremost wolf biologist, man by the name of Dr L. David Mech. Who works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Central Forest Experiment Station, which is out of Minnesota, and which is where I used to live. 

But at any rate, when I traveled up there, we were going to be in an area that was exceedingly remote. The closest human village was 350 miles to the south of us, and there was a military weather station, some distance away, where we could store some things. But there was not going to be any grocery shopping. There was not going to be any foraging for plant foods or whatever out on the tundra. You know, it was all permafrost. Really, whatever we could hunt or whatever we could haul in with us was what we had. 

And so when you travel to remote places in nature and under challenging conditions, you want nutrient density and lots of calories and whatever. So we have a lot of fat rich food with us. And I knew all this was coming, but at the time I was… even though I was quite passionate about nutrition even back then, this was back in 1990, 1991. I was, at the time, bought into the kind of basic concept in that were popularized or officially recognized in nutrition that everything was a low-fat paradigm, that your diet was supposed to be carbohydrate based. I, at the time, I had been just eating lots of big salads and doing lots of juicing. I was eating some meat, but I was trying to eat, you know, lean mean, right? 
 
Andrew: Mm-hmm. 
 
Nora: And I was trying to be a good girl for the most part, and I was still eating some grains and legumes and things like that, that I don't consume anymore, but whatever. But I was quite concerned about what was going to befall my health when I went up there and couldn't get my fresh vegetables, right? I thought, "Well, how am I going to make it through a summer without that?" 

And when I got there... Well, actually on the way there, we stopped in a remote Inuit village on an island that was south of Ellesmere Island where I actually spent my summer. And it was a little community called Resolute Bay, and about 200 Inuit, I think, living there at the time. And the people there were living so remotely that maybe once every other week or so, a small Twin Otter plane would fly in with some different mail and some different provisions, and maybe a few limp vegetables and some perishables. And then they had a grocery store, that you could probably touch, you know,  stand in the middle of the store and touch all the walls, you know, it's small space.  
 
And they carried some process crap and things. Cereals and whatever else. But the problem with all that is that it was expensive. And the community... It's not that the community didn't like those foods, but I think that they liked the taste of those foods and, in fact, now that they've become more accessible, it's become a very real problem for them. But back then, it was like too expensive. The most practical way to live was through subsistence, and so at least 80% subsistence anyway. 

And so people, they would hunt seals and walrus, and whales, and muskoxen and polar bears and whatever have you. They would do their certain amount of catching station, whatever have you. And that's how they lived. And the front yards were basically the freezers. You'd see dead seals in people's front yards and things like that. 
 
Andrew: Really? 
 
Nora: You know, natural refrigeration, yeah.  
 
Andrew: Wow. 
 
Nora: And even in Artic summer up there, it was still freezing temperatures. And I noticed this sort of curiously, because I'm thinking, "Okay, these folks, they don't get salads up here. You know? There's just no way. And they really don't have access to the supposedly healthy grains and legumes everybody else is supposed to be eating. And nobody here...you know, everybody here looks pretty healthy. 

People were not obese." They weren't allowing alcohol up there either, which was a good thing for them I think. It was a dry community or whatever. So they basically were eating meat and fat for the most part and not a whole lot else. And I didn't see people who are obese, I didn't see... Everybody seems really happy and well adjusted, and it just seemed like a peaceful, happy community. I just didn't see any problems. And the kids who were out playing on the monkey bars at 1:00 o'clock in the morning in the 24-hour daylight with their Teenage Mutant Ninja T-shirts on and things like that in the freezing temps. They were just happy and curious and well-adjusted, and all kind of giggling, and asking lots of questions, and just terrific, terrific kids you know. With rosy cheeks and everything. 

And it was all kind of niggling at me. Because I'm thinking, "How can this be? I mean, how can you have people who are just living up here eating nothing but meat and fat which were supposed to be the worst things we can eat?" And that's what they live on. And they look great and they seemed fine.  
 
So, and then I got to Ellesmere and I had another disconnect. Because where I expected to be craving salads and juices and things like that, suddenly, I found myself craving fat. For the first time in my life. And I spent the entire summer sitting on my backside on the tundra and not moving very much because the wolves would get upset if we moved around too much. They were quite comfortable with us and came with even a foot or two of us sometimes. But we had to sit fairly still, and then they were comfortable. If we stood up and walked around, it was a little bit discombobulating for them, they get a little agitated by that. 

So, fat. So no working out. No going for jogs. I occasionally took a stroll after hours. We would wrap things up and I would just sometimes go for a little walk on the tundra. But you couldn't walk very far or very fast because the ground was so uneven from all the frost eating and stuff.

Andrew: Yep. 

Nora: And so needless to say I didn't move very much, sat on my butt. I was heavily bundled against the cold. And at the warmest, it actually got into... well, I can only speak in Fahrenheit terms, excuse me, but I'm not from a metric country. But it was, I think, 65 degrees at one point was the warmest day that we had. But mostly it would had hovered around freezing or whatever. But I was very well-bundled and comfortable.

Andrew: Yep.   
 
Nora: And I was eating cheese and salami, and just all these fat rich foods. Nut butters, nuts, whatever have you. And then once a week, I would go to the weather station and the officer in charge told me I could get anything I wanted out of the mess hall, and all I wanted in the mess hall was this huge bowl of butter. Which I was heaping upon, you know, small pieces of toast and eating one after the other until I was too embarrassed to continue every chance I got. And I thought, you know... And I couldn't understand why I wasn't gaining any weight. And not only did I not gain weight, but by the time I went home at the end of the summer, I'd lost close to 25 pounds.  
 
Andrew: Right. 
 
Nora: And again, I understand that such a thing is a thermogenic effect. And I don't doubt that was at play. But that wasn't the whole story. And again, based on everything I had learned up to that point about nutrition, that should not have happened. 

But it... and so it niggled at the back of my mind until I got back to the States again. And then I happen to stumble across the work of Weston A. Price. And I don't know how familiar your listeners are to his work? But he was a nutritional pioneer that spent time studying native indigenous and also aboriginal cultures. From you know, worldwide, over a period of about 10 years, and he covered about 100,000 miles studying the 1920s, late '20s and early '30s. And discovered that wherever people had consumed a diet that was native to their culture, to their primitive or traditional culture. That people were remarkably healthy and free of disease and dental problems and skeletal abnormality, birth defects. I mean, all the things, all the metabolic disease, that God knows, the things that plague us today at an extraordinary... 
 
Andrew: Exactly. 
 
Nora: …ever extraordinary rates. And what he discovered after, again, a full decade of doing this. And countless cultures that he looked at. That among the healthiest people that he studied, he discovered that there were two things. Now, mind you, we're talking people, everywhere from the outback in Australia where you are, to the jungles in South America, to Africa, to the remote Celtic Isles and things like that, and Northern Canadian tribes, etc. Obviously, we're talking about vastly different sources of food... 
 
Andrew: Huge. 
 
Nora: …in some respects, right? Lots of different varieties of things. And the thing that I think of all too people take away from Weston Price's work is to their conclusion, it's just eat real food and you'll be fine. 

But Weston Price was smart enough to ask a very important question, "Among all of these primitives and indigenous and traditional groups that appear to be optimally healthy. That had nothing wrong with them. What do all of these different diets have in common?" And there were two things he found that they all had in common regarding where they were in the world. Number one, they all consumed as many animal source foods as were available to them. In other words, there weren't any vegetarian or vegan cultures.  
 
He looked for them, he was extremely disappointed to not find one. He was sure there had to be one out there but he couldn't find one. So they all... And good grades or the variety of animal foods and things like that, the better off they seem to be. But they all consumed as many animal source foods as were available to them. 

And then the second quality that was present in every one of these optimally healthy people groups, was that the most important food in every case, the most sought after, the most venerated in every case, was those foods that were richest in both fat and fat-soluble nutrients. To the letter.  
 
So, to me, what you have is a way of distilling down a kind of solid foundational framework that is true across the board. And then what you have with all of these other differences is nuance. And some of those nuances may have added beneficially to their health, and others may have been, on some level or other, potentially compromising. Except that as long as the foundations were in place, and their genome was robust enough, which ours isn't anymore, they were able to compensate to whatever degree they needed to for the things they consumed that may have been less optimal for them. 

But it's not rational to assume that just because our ancestors did something, we should be doing exactly the same thing. Because they weren't necessarily trying to extend their life span. They were... 
 
Andrew: Surviving. Yeah. 
 
Nora: They weren't necessarily thinking in terms of health, they were looking to survive. There were certain foods perhaps that they preferred and were able to seek out more consistently. But they would have consumed whatever they had available to them. But it's irrational to assume that everything that they put in their mouths that didn't kill them was of necessity optimal for their health, much less ours. 

And so what I do in my work is I also... I mean, to me, the only rational starting place is the idea that the selective pressures that would have been present as an evolving species and the kinds of foods we would have most consistently had access to, as an evolving species, would have served to forge our basic physiological make up and our most basic nutritional requirements. To me, that is the only rational starting place.  
 
But then beyond that, then, what I do is I apply those basic principles to human longevity research. To kind of cross-pollinate these concepts and arrive at a more optimized version of what they did. 

Andrew: Yeah.

Nora: And we know that two things that are going to shorten anyone's lifespan are the excessive demand for insulin. And that's consistent across the board in longevity research. And also, the excessive consumption of protein is also one of those things that can activate metabolic pathways that serve to shorten, unnecessarily shorten, our lives. 

The difference between the two things is that we do have a fundamental requirement for protein. And I believe that protein is best gotten from animal source foods. But there is no scientifically established human dietary requirement for any form of carbohydrate food, whatsoever. And we can manufacture all the glucose we need from a combination of protein and fat in the diet.  
 
Andrew: Right. Okay.  
 
Nora: So you can have an essential fatty acid deficiency, you can have an amino acid deficiency, but there's no such thing... 
 
Andrew: As a carb deficiency? 
 
Nora: …In our species, as a carbohydrate deficiency. There is no such a thing. 
 
Andrew: Okay. But when we talk about these geographically-diversed cultures. Australian Aboriginals is a classic, because they were almost...because they were landlocked, they were snipped off from the rest of the massive continent. 
 
Nora: Well, some of them. You know, the Anangu in Northeastern Australia, they get an appreciable amount of seafood. I mean there were aboriginal people groups that had access to ocean-based things... But your point is taken. Yes, I understand what you're saying.  
 
Andrew: Yeah, but even Australian Aborigines started to make these bread-type foods…

Nora: Oh Yes. 

Andrew: …But out of, you know like, toxic nuts like cycads, you know, macrozamia or something. But they did it by washing it in a stream, not one, not two, but three days and then pulverizing it, drying it... It's a really convoluted way of making a bread. 
 
Nora: Right. 
 
Andrew: But they all sought these energy-rich foods to survive them. What I think is interesting though is, on a hunt, and you mentioned the words, "hunt, haul". And of course, alcohol. Only one word of which fits into the jobs of accountancy, police officer and nurse in our Western society and that's alcohol, you know? Hunt and haul. So is the real problem of our society that we just don't move enough. Like I know that you said that you didn't move a lot, but you had to get to the wolves.  
 
Nora: No. I lived right next to the den, so... 
 
Andrew: Oh, really? Oh, okay. 
 
Nora: So I didn't really have to. And when we traveled, we would follow the wolves on their hunts, but we traveled on four-wheelers. 

Look, our prehistoric ancestors didn't have running shoes or gym memberships. They moved. They had to hunt and gather. They had to move around and do things. 

But you didn't have elite sports like we have, where people are just pounding themselves into the ground one day to the next. I mean, I think your average Iron Man triathlete would just completely befuddle one of our pre-historic ancestors. So they would have thought, "These guys were nuts," and yet those pre-historic ancestors probably could have outmatched them physically in any one event.  

Andrew: Yeah.
 
Nora: And the thing is, is that I'd say at least 70% of the equation is diet. I'm not saying that movement and exercise isn't important. But it is not the foundational... It is not necessarily the foundational thing that we need to be focused on when it comes to health. I mean, I'm all for getting out and moving and walking and engaging in activity and whatever else. It's really important for a lot of reasons. But being sedentary doesn't help, but it's not the source, that's not the core of the problem.  
 
Andrew: Right, right.  
 
Nora: A very high percentage of the fat we consume goes to replenishing and rebuilding structure. Like our brain, our nervous system. It goes to fueling our immune function, and also making a virtually every cell membrane in our bodies. And whatever is left over from that, you know, if we consume fat in significant excess of what we need, a certain amount of it may get squirreled away, but it's not... If you have high triglycerides, I promise you, the problem is not dietary fat. The problem is dietary carbohydrate. 
Andrew: Right.

Nora: The majority of unwanted body fat that people have are the byproducts of excess carbohydrate consumption and not excess fat. 

However, I will say that the combination's that is very, very bad. It's like taking a lit fuse and putting it on a powdered keg. You kind of have to choose. If you're going to choose between the two, you know, we have a requirement for fat and fat-soluble nutrients from a variety sources. We have no foundational requirement, whatsoever, established by science, for carbohydrates of any kind. Not many humans... Not in any textbook of physiology, any medical textbook anywhere. 
 
Andrew: Jeff Leach has commented against the paleo principles saying that the Hadza tribe ate as much as 30% of calories from honey, but in season. Of course, unlike us though, they walked to work. What's going on here?  
 
Nora: Yeah. There was a study published actually, looking at the Hadzas, it was in fact the Hadzas, and also looking at modern humans. And, gosh, I would have to dig to find that study, but I will tell you right now that where it was once believed that our energy expenditure is what differentiated our health and wellbeing or whatever, between primitive cultures and modern day. It turns out, studying both the Hadza and modern Western culture, that in fact, the energy expenditures from both groups were roughly the same and we're not distinguishable. We're not the distinguishing factor between... They just said, we have to look to diet to account for these differences in the health and wellbeing of our...  
 
Andrew: Wow. Nora, the foods you ate and lost weight on, when you mentioned them, there seemed to be a couple of little, let's call them 'excursions' away from ancestral diet, the paleo diet. You said there was a few carbs that you ate? 
 
Nora: Sure, sure. 
 
Andrew: How much of diversion away from a strict paleo diet can you make with, let's say, retaining some Western diet without compromising your weight loss in your ancestral sort of diet by chemistry, if you like? 
 
Nora: Right. Well, so much of it depends on how you define paleo. 
 
Andrew: Ahh, okay. 
 
Nora: In my... And there are almost as many versions of so-called paleo out there. There are individuals claiming to practice it. You're using a term that has become kind of entered into the cultural parlance, if you will, and there's certainly a bit of commercialism that sprung up around it.  
 
Andrew: Yeah, sure. 
 
Nora: I selected the term, primal, only because... And I… you know, really, the terms are probably interchangeable in most respects. There isn't a technical definition of primal that's different, but I chose the word primal, to describe things because it implied something older, something more basic, something more foundational. And in my mind, to me, the term is just a little bit more... Because paleo has come to mean so many different things. You know, there's a pre... or, there's sort of ice age Paleolithic, if you will, and then there's the Neolithic. There are Neolithic cultures. 

And the fact is that our world changed enormously of just a little over 10,000 years ago. And completely re-sculptured the landscape and every living thing on it. And we're up to 2.6 million years of our evolutionary trajectory. We shared the planet with close to 120 species or extra species of mega fauna. These enormous herbivorous that vanished almost in the wink of an eye about 13,000 years ago. In a fairly classic cataclysmic theories of changes to our climate. We think… the most current theory at hand that seems to have the most to back it up, is that there were pieces of a comet that struck the planet. And back and forth violently over a period of a few years and these massive ice sheets ended up melting practically overnight and at the end of it all. And we were left with a bottleneck of life on earth. There was an extinction event that rivaled that of the dinosaurs. And so all of a sudden, now we're living in a different world. The animals that we're hunting are leaner and more flee to foot and as opposed to these enormous woolly mammoths and mastodons, and giant slogs and Irish elk and arcs and whatever have you.  
 
And so we had to come up with other things. And most people's version of paleo seem to extrapolate from more Neolithic indigenous tribal kinds of dietary concepts. That are endemic to our more climatically temperate world. And that isn't necessarily the world that we evolved in you know? 

I kind of really didn't really answer your question concerning the, "How far can we stray?" And again, a lot depends on how it is you want to define paleo. What I use... The term that I used to actually define what I do and how I view things is, I just recently trademarked this term, and it's Primalgenic

In other words, we're talking about a very low carbohydrate approach to diet. That is moderate in its protein level, this is not a high-meat diet, but that protein, I believe, should be coming mostly from animal source foods. But animal source foods of, absolutely, uncompromising quality that are totally grass-fed, organic, all that. And then a very wide variety of fibers, vegetables and greens from, again, a variety of sources, cooked raw, cultured, however you preferred them, again, of uncompromising quality. And I don't... I really don't embrace the use of dairy products. And a lot of people eating paleo do. And for a variety of reasons we could go into, but I would be digressing. 

And then this, ultimately, fat is used as the primary source of calories. Now, it makes it sound like it is basically a fat-based ketogenic approach. But the fats come from an enormous variety of both animal and plant source foods of uncompromising quality. Being careful to make sure that there are sufficient essential fatty acids and animal-based fat-soluble nutrients. And there are quite a number of them that cannot be gotten from plant source foods. That we have to have if we want to be optimally healthy. 

And so, as long as you're operating in alignment with those principles, I think you're fine. And as long as you're as optimally healthy as you can be. You may have, is the degree to which you have wiggle room, right? With respect to what it takes to remain optimally healthy. The problem is that we live in a world that is so burdened with toxicity. With compromise to our air, water and food supply. With EMS pollution, with radiation contamination now. Our oceans have become cesspools of all kinds of things that now are barely pronounceable. 

And because of that, one of the things I'm fond of saying is that, in the face of so many things that we seemingly have no control over, it's just important to take control of what we can. And compromise as little as possible. And I think that we're living in actually a much more hostile environment than anything our ancestors could have fathomed. 

Most of what threatened them was quite tangible. You know, you had your sabretooth tigers, your cantankerous woolly mammoths, your big storms, your volcanic eruptions, whatever have you. Climate changes or seasonal changes, whatever. And for us, we get to live in climate-controlled environments and watch "Dancing With the Stars" or whatever is on TV, and feel a certain sort of complacency about it all. But the fact of the matter is, is that we have a range of, most of what endangers us is not visible to us. It's floating in the air we breathe. 
 
Andrew: That's a really good point.  
 
Nora: It's in the water that we drink. It's genetic modification of the food supply and pesticides and herbicides and 100,000 industrial chemicals around the world. And water treatment facilities that not only... you know, even the most modern of them don't test for more than about 200 potential contaminants. But then we're adding contamination by dumping for a flurosalicylate into the water calling it fluoride. And guys with hazmat suits dumping bags with skulls and cross bones on them and warnings to not come into physical contact with the contents are going into our water supply, supposedly for our greater good. 

And, yeah, we can go on and on about all of the things that are compromising us, but we're largely oblivious to it because we're not wired for paying attention to things that we can't see. 
 
Andrew: The WHO put out a directive with regards to animal fat and certainly preserved animal meats as being probably carcinogenic, but they always and only mention animal fats. They never, as far as I'm aware, mentioned animal protein.  
 
Nora: No, actually the World Health Organization announced... Their announcement back in 2014 was that it was red meat was this probable carcinogen to humans. And, of course, because it was a source of saturated fat, evil saturated fat. 

Look, for 2.6 million years of our evolutionary history, we've consumed appreciable amounts of these fats. And the first cases of, say, coronary thrombosis actually published in the journal of the American Medical Association, and I believe it's 1911 or 1912. And it was seen, you know, cardiovascular disease was seen as a strange rare anomaly. It's like, "Whoa, where is this coming from?" And Dr. Paul W. Whyte who was personal physician to President Eisenhower at the time was fascinated with this emerging area of pathology in human health.  
 
And he decided... He endeavored to undertake the study of this emerging problem of cardiovascular disease. And his colleagues thought he'd lost his mind. They're like, "Look, you're so brilliant. Why would you waste your talent on something so unprofitable?" And, of course, by the 1950s, it was a leading cause of death. 

Cancer rates, cancer among indigenous societies, and even among older indigenous peoples is virtually non-existent. It has been. There's very, very, very rare incidence. And yet all of a sudden, cancer rates are exploding all over the place, cardiovascular disease exploding all over the place, autoimmune disease exploding all over the place, and on and on and on. And did we suddenly start eating saturated fat in animal source foods?  
 
The fact is that, in the last few generations now, that these official dietary guidelines and all of the fearmongering around dietary fat. For the first time ever in our history as a species, that we actually have reduced our intake of animal source foods and animal source fat. And what has gone up instead is the preponderance of dietary carbohydrates, both refined and unrefined, and also vegetable oils, frankly, and all sorts of processed vegetable fats that are artificially saturated. 

Andrew: Yeah.

Nora: And this, of course, includes things like trans-fats but also interesterified fat, which are rapidly replacing trans-fats in the marketplace, and they are just as bad, folks. Just as bad. 

And so we know that malignant cancer cells have many more receptors for insulin than healthy cells do. That the one thing that cancer needs in order to flourish is glucose. That's the primary fuel for cancer. Cancer can't use ketones, at all.  
 
Now, excess protein can be an impetus for cellular proliferation, and if you're pregnant or trying to become pregnant or you're a baby, child or teen, you'll need the extra protein, you'll need to be able to make new cells. But if you're anybody else, consuming protein in excess of what you need to meet your basic requirements provides an impetus for activating a certain metabolic pathway, we call mTOR. Mammalian target of rapamycin, that's a protein sensor. And when that pathway gets activated, it results in cellular proliferation. You know, it's basically a reproductive mechanism, is what it is. It's your body looking around, "Are there enough nutrients to make new life?" If there are, then your body gets to work, making new cells.  
 
But if there aren't, something kind of magical happens. If you restrict your protein intake to just what you need, but not in excess of that, then what gets switched on instead, is you're also suppressing your requirement for insulin at the same time, by obviously minimizing carbohydrate intake. What gets upregulated instead is maintenance and repair. And, in fact, this is a loophole in mother nature's design. That it was designed to attempt to optimize our functioning in the face of what could be an apparent famine. So that we can live long enough and be healthy enough in order to maybe reproduce another day.  

Andrew: Yeah. 
 
Nora: And so this is the loophole we can all take advantage of, and that's part of my approach to things. Is to moderate that protein intake to just what we need and not more. Because we don't need the carbs, leave them out with the exception of fiberous vegetables and greens. And then use fat. Fat is a free fuel in this equation. Fat does not actually activate any of these aging pathways at all. So fat can be consumed with relative impunity if it's of sufficient quality, right? 

And the human brain is unique in all of the animal kingdom, including other primates. In that it's the only brain on the planet, that we know of, that is capable of running full-time on almost nothing but ketones.  

Andrew: Ahh. 
 
Nora: Now, there are other animals that can create a state of ketosis for brief periods of time. Under certain circumstances. But we are the only species capable of making use of ketones as a full-time fuel, especially our brains. And in fact, we're born in a state of ketosis. The moment that we come pop out of the womb and start suckling, ketones become the major fuel for brain development. aAnd we don't start craving carbohydrate until adults start feeding them to us. 
 
Andrew: Hunger and being time poor. The archetypical pressures of modern life and the power of convenience.  
 
Nora: Right. 
 
Andrew: How do we overcome these? If we're already in the mill, how do you get people to break out and eat a more ancestral diet while they've got these cravings that have been driving them for so long? 
 
Nora: Right. Well, fill your metabolic woodstove with logs and not kindling for starters. 

In other words, the type of dietary approach I talk about in my books is the one in which you will be the least hungry. Think about how, maybe whoever's listening to this, might want to think about how they might feel if they went for six or seven hours without eating anything, right? Would you be, after six or seven hours of that, how would your energy be? Would you be dragging a little bit? Would you be feeling a little bit irritable? Would you be craving something? Would your mood be a little wonky, brain fog? Might you be something that rhymes with itchy?  
 
Or, once you've eaten a meal after not having eaten for a long time, how do you feel then? Do you feel more energized? Do you feel like, "Okay, now I can take on the world?" Or do you feel more like taking a nap? Well, if you said yes to anything, anything that I have just said, you have a problem. If none of those things are what are physiologically normal. How are you supposed to feel if you haven't eaten all day? There is only one normal, healthy answer to that question, and that's hungry. And how are you supposed to feel after you've eaten? Again, the only normal, healthy answer to that question is, not hungry, and if is anything else, it's a problem.  
 
Andrew: Right. 
 
Nora: And so by establishing a fat-based metabolism, you won't be hungry. If you want convenience, you can try to make larger meals once a week, sit down, make some stews, make some soups, make some things that you can prepare in bulks. You know, big roasts, whatever. And then portion up into small containers and freeze and heat up or whatever, and live on for the rest of the week. And, you know, that's relatively convenient.  
 
Andrew: You'll be doing a webinar for Australian health practitioners for the ATMS on June, the 5th [2018]. Titled, Rethinking Nutrition and Brain Health. Can you tell us just a little bit more without giving too much away about what you'll be discussing. What practitioners can take home? And I'm going to work in a second question into this. And will you be discussing how to break your intermittent fasting, how to break fast? 
 
Nora: I basically will be helping people think in terms that… we talk about a mind body connection. And I think of that as a myth. That the brain and the body are part of the same either function or dysfunctioning system. And they have to be understood together in context. You can't... Last I looked, most people heads, they're screwed onto their body. And so what impacts our physical health is invariably going to have an impact on our brain health, right? Our mental and emotional and our cognitive functioning. And so we have to understand that our body is our subconscious mind. That these things are not inherently separate. And a lot people have real problems seeing those things as part of the same thing.  
 
I know people that think that as long as they're not catching a flu bug and they can get up and there, they're above ground every day and going to work and they, whatever, seem to do okay. That they're physically... that they're healthy even if they're depressed or anxious or they can't focus well. Or maybe they have other kinds of neurological compromises, that's not necessarily, by most people, recognized as being a part of intrinsic foundational health. 

So understanding the ways in which these things work together, and what the foundations are of optimized brain function. And how that can have an impact on virtually everything that adversely… everything that is a mental, emotional or neurological disorder. And so it's going to be quite a wild ride. But I think it's going to be fascinating for starters, and I think really paradigm shifting for a lot of people that listen. Or that participate in that webinar.  
 
Andrew: Well, you've really made me wake up about a couple of concepts, which I thought were you know, the new way, if you like, or the correct way of doing things. And it's like, "Hang on, mate. You know, we're going down this marketing thing." Like for instance, how often have you heard 'paleo dessert?' 
 
Nora: Exactly. Just don't even get me started. This is why I coined the term Primalgenic. Because I feel every time I get up in front of a paleo audience or even ketogenic, is equally becoming commercialized now and mean all kinds of different things, and there are cookies and cream keto bars and things like that. 
 
Andrew: Yes, that's right. 
 
Nora: I mean, I'm ready to tear my hair out of my head. I feel like I'm trying to shift myself like a square peg into a round hole. 

Because what was inevitable with this? Because it struck a nerve. There's something about the paleo concept that seemed rational and logical to a lot of reasonable people. But what was inevitable was that industry was going to look for ways of co-op that. And taking it over and commercializing it in a way, that became profit-based instead of something designed to actually optimize health. 

And our culture is very, very vulnerable to those marketing gimmicks. And unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there making a lot of money, telling people what they want to hear and selling people things that may taste good, but may not do a damn thing to benefit their health. 

I mean, if you have a box of organic, gluten-free, non-GMO brownies. That are 'paleo-friendly' or whatever else, it's still crap by any standards. But these things, just because you have something with a cellophane wrapper and a cave man stamped on the label or something like that, this is supposed to be an ancestral food, and that's just not frequently the case. And so I'm careful to distinguish.  
 
Andrew: I've got to urge all of our listeners to get your books. Look up on your site, the primalbody-primalmind.com, primalbody hyphen primalmind. And to tune in to the ATMS webinar on June 5, 2018. That's Australia time. I'll certainly be listening in. And I've got to say, if you ever come to Australia, I'm going to treat us as Tatooine and I'm going to get you a light saber. 
 
Nora: Excellent.  
 
Andrew: And I thank you so much for taking me through really exploding some myths around paleo and primal diet, and what we really should be awaking ourselves to. Thank you so much for joining us on FX Medicine today.  
 
Nora: Oh, it's been an honor and a pleasure being here and, yeah, thank you. Thank you for having me.  
 
Andrew: This is FX Medicine, I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook.

Additional Resources

Nora Gedgaudas
Primal Body, Primal Mind
Rethinking Fatigue eBook
Primal Fat Burner
Going Paleo
Australian Traditional Medicine Society
JUNE 2018 Webinar | Rethinking Brain Health and Nutrition with Nora Gedgaudas
L. David Mech
Weston A. Price
Jeff Leach
Primalgenic Diet and Lifestyle


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The information provided on FX Medicine is for educational and informational purposes only. The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional advice or care. Please seek the advice of a qualified health care professional in the event something you have read here raises questions or concerns regarding your health.

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