Eating well

February 6, 2021

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Nutrition is a field of science plagued by very similar problems to brain science. You're trying to make sense of a system that's enormously complicated. So complicated in fact that it's almost impossible to figure anything out at any level of detail, let alone how to perfect nutrition for every single person. But, just like brain science, there are a few very useful rules of thumb.

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Nutrition is a field of science plagued by very similar problems to brain science. You're trying to make sense of a system that's enormously complicated. So complicated in fact that it's almost impossible to figure anything out at any level of detail, let alone how to perfect nutrition for every single person.

Specifically, nutrition is what you'd call a complex dynamical system where any number of variables have any number of interactions with any number of other variables. From genes, to the microbiome, the way different foods interact with each other and the amount of exercise we get. All these things and more make a play. This makes it impossible to quantify exactly what thing you're eating is going to have what kind of impact, and under which conditions. There's an enormous amount of variation, and the complexity makes detailed research into a bit of a crapshoot.

But, like brain science, there are also a number of general heuristics that make for a helpful starting point. They aren't always easy to find though. It's far sexier to talk about nutrition trends and speculate about performance 'hacks'. It's not even that a basic knowledge is assumed. It's that nutrition has become entertainment. Thus, we find ourselves trying to triage the parts of various fad diets that won't actively kill us, or wondering whether we really should consider adding six micrograms of some random supplement to our diet. This, instead of really understanding what we should be eating and why.

So, this is a project on nutrition. Not the weird, complex, biohacker stuff. Just, you know, how to eat so as not to die. The very basic principles of how the body interacts with the stuff you put into it. The minimum possible to know what parts of a diet are sensible, and what parts are ideology. What parts of the scientific literature are just the random results of a single study or lab, and what parts are pretty reliable. Most importantly, we want to know what we should be paying attention to, and what nutrition advice is simply fun to consider.

Once we've got that covered, then maybe we can hit up Rhonda Patrick to find out how much Lion's Mane we should eat to restore those hippcampal levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor or speculate on why both the carnivore diet and the vegan diet seem to produce top-tier athletes despite being notoriously controversial health-wise.

Let's cover some general heuristics with less of the distracting nonsense.

All food is toxic

I sneakily moved this to it's own article here.

Next up, macros

But I haven't written that yet.

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