SUGAR V. SALT: Things I've Learned After DECADES of Dietary Experiments + A Salt-Free Experiment

Meats & Sweets ~ A High Vitality Diet


After having earnestly tried so many dietary styles over the course of many years, our Meats & Sweets, A  High Vitality Diet  is like a home coming.  It’s versatile, balanced, liberating and very simple and satisfying while being easily adaptable to individual preferences and needs.

Don and I each have spent decades traversing the dietary spectrum with our quest to resolve various health issues.  Our dietary experiments included high and low-carb, cooked and raw, and with or without grains, dairy, sugars, all plant foods, and even minimal plant foods.  We've eaten vegan, fruitarian, macrobiotic, low-carb, Hypercarnivore (as in 70%+ animal-based), and ketogenic diets.  Despite many ups and downs ~ including losing then regaining body fat ~ we did learn a thing or two after all that experimenting!  I share some highlights of what I've learned, below.


In the end, Meats & Sweets best replicates the true original American diet, and that of our European ancestors ~ long before the advent of food processing during the Industrial Revolution.  Foods that could be grown, raised, or gathered are nutritionally superior to  mass produced refined processed foods containing excesses of salt, fats/oils, refined sugars, and other unidentifiable,  non-food ingredients, including preservatives, dyes, gums, and others. This should be obvious!  And now we are in the genetic revolution, as foods continue to be tampered with, without labeling or accountability. 

I thought I’d share a few things I’ve discovered through all my years of dietary experiments ~ always focusing on what I believed to be healthy while more or less avoiding processed refined poor quality low nutritional foods. (Believed being the operative word here.)

In a nutshell:  animal foods consumed in appropriate amounts plus the right types, quantities and quality of plant foods and fats will provide a solid foundation of health. 

Likewise, avoiding foods that are not compatible to good health is equally important, and perhaps more so!  The real problem is that what is most toxic to the body may be the opposite of what most people now believe and even promote!  Hint:  it's not the sugar!  


What I've learned after decades of dietary experiments

Trigger warning: my discoveries fly in the face of many common nutritional beliefs! What I’ve discovered is from direct experience! Your results may vary! 

I share this to help others break free from the nutritional boxes we all got stuck in. 

I want you to have good health, age well, stay out of hospitals, have a healthy relationship with food, and bear much fruit!  

Spare your time, money and resources, and learn from our trial and error!


  • While eating an all raw diet sounds like it would be healthy ~ with all those intact enzymes allegedly helping improve digestion and absorption of more nutrients ~ I’ve yet to hear about any population sustaining a raw diet long term.  It’s neither more appealing ~ to me and most people ~ to eat all raw all the time, nor necessarily healthier.  Many foods are better digested when cooked, with a greater net nutrient absorption. All raw may be trendy in some vegan and primal circles, but it’s not necessarily superior ~ despite what promoters of these diets claim.  Traditional diets do contain some raw or fermented foods, but rarely all raw. Have at it if you crave it, skip it if not.
  • All foods can be nutritional, neutral or toxic, depending on the dose, although some foods we all commonly accept as natural and necessary may NOT be as healthy as we have been led to believe!  (Read on and I'll disclose what in particular I am referring to.)
  • ‘Carbohydrates’ ~ in and of themselves ~ are NOT the enemy.  Glucose is NOT the enemy.  Fructose is NOT the enemy.  However processed foods containing refined flours, sweeteners, salt,  artificial and natural flavors, unhealthy fats/oils, dyes and preservatives are nutritionally inferior foods that are often found WITH carbohydrates, and likely the real health robbers when consumed regularly.  (A big reveal still to come.)
  • Traditional fats may be better than commercial plant oils, but that doesn't mean you can eat fat with impunity, and without negative consequences.  
  • Excess dietary fat stores as...ready for this...fat, especially in conjunction with excess total energy consumption.  (Calories.)  Sorry, but total calories does matter!
  • Red meat offers many health benefits. That doesn’t mean you should eat only ribeyes every day.
  • Animal foods in combination with plant foods provides nutritional balance. Your diet doesn’t need to be only one or the other ~ all meat or all plants.  Perhaps it's not the meat or the plants, but what you put on them that is the real cause of your digestive woes and other health imbalances.
  • You can lose weight following pretty much any diet, especially as total calories consumed tends to be much less when first trying a different diet.  I experienced this with vegan, carnivore, ketogenic, low-carb and high-carb diets.  I experienced a rebound with each of them as well. These diets restrict major food groups.  If you were to have tracked meals, before and after a dietary change, you may find that you've consumed fewer total calories, at least initially.  Over time, you may acclimate and incrementally increase the total calories consumed, whether you are aware of doing so or not.  The type of diet isn’t the magic. However, studies have linked salt consumption to increased appetite and total caloric consumption.  I've linked a few of these below. Since most don’t want to take the time to track meals and macros, they prefer to find a way to eat that allows them ~ allegedly ~ to eat to satisfaction without going into excess. I've found that plan to be flawed.  Track to know for sure what you are eating!
  • Bacon might taste good, but it is not a health food. 
  • Pork, shellfish and other scavenger animals, birds and fish are unclean animals. They are more likely to cause health problems associated with contamination and parasites. They are the clean up crew, whether of the land or the seas.  Think of your air conditioning filter.  All the nasty stuff you want out of your environment are in their bellies and tissues!
  • It’s ok to add a little sweetness to your life. Completely avoiding all sugars, and especially all fruit, honey, syrup, and most carbohydrates/plant foods tends to lead to increased irritability, poor quality sleep, and low moods and energy. Now that’s a sad diet!
  • Stress, poor sleep, anger, habitual negative and worrisome thoughts may be negatively impacting your health more than what you eat. 
  • Living disharmonious to God’s laws is likely the greatest culprit of poor health that the majority of health gurus neglect to consider because you know, trust the science. 

So now for the major reveal.  

Don recently reordered a book he once had, Salt and The Seven Deadly Ills, by Karel Sporek, a chemist who discusses how salt, and more specifically sodium in conjunction with chloride found in salt (salt is ~ 40% sodium + 60% chloride) may be the real culprit undermining everyone's health ~ especially coupled with a deficiency of potassium!  


A special order at Longhorn Steak House ~ our favorite salad with fruit and grilled chicken.  

Longhorn Steak House is the restaurant of choice when my mom and I go out for lunch as they
are very accommodating.  We asked for the chicken to be seasoned without salt, skipped the salty feta cheese, and asked for extra fruit, plus a potassium-rich potato.  Awesome!
 


Get this:  Excess salt in the diet is linked to a litany of diseases, including:  obesity, inflammation, edema, high blood pressure, hypertension, gastric and other cancers, asthma, kidney disease, skin conditions, hormonal imbalances, allergies, dental decay, osteoporosis, and other major health conditions.  Perhaps even Alzheimer's disease and MUCH more!

Ever wake up with puffiness under your eyes?  I did ~ often, especially while following a salt-rich vegan macrobiotic diet, Carnivore diet, and ketogenic diet!  

Constipation with hard, dry stools?  Perhaps what each of the diets I tried had in common, and why my near life-long bouts with constipation was so slow to resolve was because of salt!  Salt is drying and damaging to our GI tract!  The one thing I failed to consider, until now.

Have swollen ankles or feet?  Many seniors do.  Don had ~ especially while following low-potassium, sodium-rich carnivore, keto, and low-carb diets.

Have skin issues, allergies, or other conditions that don't seem to resolve?  Weight that is difficult to lose?
Welcome to the club!  Perhaps it is the SALT!

In a nutshell, potassium is largely ignored in nutrition circles. Yet, it's part of all life.  Humans were never meant to consume sodium in the quantities we do, nor to get so little potassium-rich foods.  

There are many studies available providing evidence for high salt intakes leading to increased consumption of food and beverages.  Every bartender understands this.  Add salt to food, or have salty chips or pretzels around, and people will drink more, and eat more to dilute the toxic effects of salt!  The body prioritizes hanging onto water to keep salt diluted, hence puffy eyes and swollen feet.

Who hasn't had a moment of being overcome with a salt addiction?  Remember Lays potato chips?  You can't eat just one???

What is it about pizza, spaghetti and meat sauce topped with parmigiana cheese, buttered popcorn, chips and salsa, pretzels and cheese, potato chips and dip that makes them so appealing, and hard to 'eat just one?'  No doubt each contains some amount of carbohydrates and fats.  But they all contain salt.  And perhaps that is the icing on the cake that makes these foods so alluring.  

Sometimes you have to go around the dietary block a few times before finally returning home.  Home being the common sense dietary suggestions that have now become demonized.  Eat a balanced diet.  Include at least a few servings of whole, fresh fruit and perhaps a cup or two of orange juice or concord grape juice.  Enjoy dairy, eggs, lean meats, and better quality fish and poultry, plus vegetables, root vegetables, and unsalted whole or sprouted grains or grain products as you feel drawn to eat, and feel good eating.  

To know what is working best for you may take trial and error.  But, if you have the inclination, join us in our salt-free Meats & Sweets experiment, outlined below. 

There's more to this salt story.   What I mentioned above about salt is just THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG!

SALT IS DAMAGING OUR PLANTS, ANIMALS, AND ECOSYSTEMS!  This is alarming stuff!

Stay tuned.  I'll have Don fill you in on some startling details about the detrimental effects of salt in the next post!  I've included a few links to studies about salt, and our salt-free dietary experiment, below!  


I plugged this meal into Cronometer as follows:  2 Eggs, 1/2 cup cooked white rice prepared with 1/2 tbsp. nonfat dry milk powder added, 1 cup winter squash, 1 cup grapes and 1 cup OJ (not shown)
There was no added salt.  It contains 1503mg potassium (k) & 152mg sodium (Na) ~ a 10:1 ratio of
potassium:sodium considered far better for health 



Try your own salt-free, Meats & Sweets dietary experiment along with us: 


Eliminate added salt and foods that have salt added from your diet.  For example, choose salt-free canned tomatoes if using for cooking, and look no sodium breads and pastas.  Create your own sweet treats using the fruit of the season, adjusting recipes as needed by eliminating the salt.  Try my Healthy Oat & Dried Fruit Bars,  Sugar-Free Apple Sauce, baked or poached pears, or Apple Cranberry & Date Crisp, pictured below which is great with Greek yogurt on top for breakfast!

Cook foods with fresh or dried salt-free herbs, fresh citrus, fruits, preserves or juices, including apple cider.  I add grape juice, carrots, celery and potatoes when preparing slow roasted beef, and either fresh apple and celery, or apple juice or cider when roasting poultry.  (Be sure to skip the salt and garlic salt in my linked roast beef recipe!  I have some adjusting to do!)

Keep it simple and basic.  Eat lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy foods (great source of both potassium and calcium) including Greek yogurt or kefir (low or nonfat if weight loss is a goal, whole otherwise as per your preference) and at least three pieces of fruit (or 1 cup of grapes or berries, or 1/4 cup of dried fruit) and/or 1-2 cups of orange juice, concord grape juice, or fresh apple juice or cider each day.  You can sub winter squash for some of the fruit if needed, or enjoy both.  Have rice, potatoes and whatever vegetables you desire with your meals.

Try it for at least two to four weeks.  Perhaps longer as it may take time to transition as likely you have plenty of salt-rich foods in your pantry or refrigerator.  Slowly wean them out, as we are also doing.

In the mean time, increase your fruit, juice, squash, and potato consumption to increase your potassium.  

Give it a try.  You have nothing to lose, and possibly much better health to gain!

Perhaps...

  • Your tastes will change, and acclimate to no added salt in the diet.
  • You may find that in time, several nagging issues that never resolved no matter how 'healthy' your diet may start to resolve.



Apples, cranberries and chopped dates baked in a little apple juice, topped
with a salt-free oat crisp topping with a little whole grain flour, cinnamon
and maple syrup







If you want to learn more, I've linked a few studies below.  Here is an excerpt from the Science Daily article, Salt Intake is Strongly Associated with Obesity:

Professors, Dr. Heikki Karppanen of the University of Helsinki and Dr. Eero Mervaala of the University of Kuopio report that an average 30-35 % reduction in salt intake during 30 years in Finland was associated with a dramatic 75 % to 80 % decrease in both stroke and coronary heart disease mortality in the population under 65 years. During the same period the life expectancy of both male and female Finns increased by 6 to 7 years.
According to the same article, salt intake in the United States increased by 50% between the mid-1980s to late 1990s with a subsequent increase in high blood pressure, previously on the decline.  

The professors also found a close link between salt intake and obesity, as increased intakes of salt leads to progressive increase in thirst, leading to an increase consumption of calories from beverages.  So, perhaps it's not just the sugar in the beverages after all. 

I warned you, this isn't popular in the dietary world.  I worked in restaurants and catering, and I know that salt is life to chefs.  Salt is added to almost all foods, especially processed foods of any sort, with few exceptions.

I suggest considering any resistance to the mere suggestion as a good indication that something is going on.  Some liken salt to a drug!

I know many people have strong salt cravings.  If so, just wean yourself slowly.  Add more fresh fruits and other potassium-rich foods, including meats, dairy, fruits and vegetables.  

Take your time, but don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger!  Don and I desire to know the truth, even when it's controversial.  Even when we feel like slapping ourselves for not connecting the dots much sooner!

Here's a few studies linking excess salt consumption to obesity, hypertension, and calcium loss.  You may also want to read through the Safety Data Sheet for Sodium Chloride!



 

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