Diet Recovery is an easy read and, true to Matt's style, there is a bit of humor thrown-in (sometimes funny, sometimes crude, sometimes self-deprecating). The book contains lots of really good information that has me thinking about health, diets, and metabolism in a whole new way. Matt wrote,
"With age our metabolism starts its slow descent into oblivion... we become ever more prone to develop heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and other degenerative ailments. The secret is to protect and prolong the number of years your metabolism is at its highest. When you manage to do that, you keep a higher ratio of lean body mass to body fat, have greater functionality, more strength and mobility, more energy, and more zest for life in general."Health and metabolism
Matt pulls on research from people like Broda Barnes, Diana Schwarzbein, and Stephan Guyunet to paint a very convincing picture that metabolism is one of the keys to vibrant health. When the metabolism drops, all sorts of problems manifest in the body including problems with weight, fertility, adrenal and thyroid glands, sleep, cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disease.
Matt outlines a program to raise metabolism that sounds shocking at first, but really struck a chord with me: eat more, exercise less, and rest more. The reasoning is that any stressors (including overwork, not eating enough, not getting enough nutrients, and even exercising) can lead to a lower metabolism.
"...mammalian physiology has a general response to stress that is virtually the same no matter what the stressor. In this sense, deficiency of any essential substance needed for the body to function correctly - including most certainly vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins... was enough to induce [the] same stress chain reaction - ultimately leading to enlarged adrenal glands and atrophied thyroid gland, thymus gland, gonads, and so forth."What to eat?
In Matt's program, people should simply eat as much nutrient-dense food as possible, and not limit any carbs, proteins, or fats. This means that you should literally eat as much as you can to feel full (or even a little past fullness), and don't skip meals!
"...disease and dysfunction of all kinds is typically not cured through hard work and depriving yourself but by doing the opposite - flooding your body with the tools it needs to repair and rehabilitate itself."Matt recommends intuitive eating. That means that, if you are craving ice cream, you should eat some ice cream. This is something I have found to be really interesting, as for years I have been over-thinking my food choices by focusing more on nutrition content than what my body wants. But really, since I only eat nutrient-dense foods (95% of the time), it makes sense to me that I should follow my body's cues for what to eat.
Rest? What's that?
An integral part of Matt's program is resting adequately. He even goes so far as to recommend at least 30 days of no intentional exercise, and sleeping as much as possible. Lots of health gurus say that rest is important, but this is something I've never paid much attention to. But Matt's descriptions in Diet Recovery have really convinced me that rest is something I need to pay more attention to.
I've never been the type to rest much; I tend to keep busy all day every day and I haven't slept more than 4 hours straight in over five years (my daughter didn't start sleeping through the night until she was 3 & 1/2 years old, and by then I had her younger brother to contend with). While I don't think I overdo the exercise (usually only 2-3 times per week, a combination of sprints, yoga, and strength training, plus some walks), it is interesting to me that the body reacts to all stresses the same, and that means that, with my already overtaxed adrenal glands, exercising could actually be contributing to my health problems!
After so many years of paying inordinate attention to what I am eating, and more recently being on the GAPS diet, the ideas in Diet Recovery really feel like liberation. Just eat as much nutrient-dense food as possible, rest as much as possible, and relax about it. And the fact that this could actually help my health sounds too good to be true. One thing is for certain: it is worth a shot!
I'll be blogging about my experience following Matt's plan in the coming months. I'll also be giving away a copy of Diet Recovery in February. If you are interested in learning more, check out Matt's free Rehabilitive Rest and Aggressive Re-feeding ebook.
Does the advice in Diet Recovery strike a chord in you? Or does it sound too good to be true?
This post is part of Fat Tuesday, Monday Mania and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways!