How Smart Nutrition
Still among the
poor souls who haven't realized travelers'
diarrhea, food poisoning, and most other illnesses
like the common cold and flu are choices, not
necessities brought on by the vagaries of fate?
Healthy people should very rarely or never become
ill with travelers' diarrhea and other maladies
because a good diet and a few sensible precautions
prevent these problems from ever cropping up.
I've been traveling through Asia for more than a
year now, visiting some poor and undeveloped
countries with little medical infrastructure and
less-than-adequate knowledge of hygiene like
Cambodia, Laos, and Indonesia, as well as some of
the poorer areas of Thailand, yet so far I haven't
been stricken by a single illness.
I've drank from streams likely contaminated with
agricultural runoff while hiking and sipped from
several sketchy urban faucets, flirting
dangerously with the
commandment. Still, I've remained untouched.
All the while, I've watched
fellow travelers drop like flies. The two slow
carb diet eaters? One of them got sick, along with
another guy on a more general paleo/primal diet.
The numerous vegetarians and vegans? Their
avoidance of flesh didn't keep them illness free.
The SAD eaters? Too many became better acquainted
with squat potties than they would have liked.
The difference between me and them is as much
about what what I'm not eating as it is about what
The Savvy Get Sick, But Not
I was inspired
to write this article when reading a rant by popular
entrepreneurial, freedom, and personal-development
blogger Tim Ferriss, whose work I highly respect.
He's a smart guy who gets results while living his
life how he wants, things worth big points in my
I was interested when his ranting turned against the
care he and his girlfriend received after they ate
bad fish and got a nasty case of travelers'
diarrhea or food poisoning.
Their fevers left them delirious and in need of
hospitalization, and Ferriss's beef is the care he
and his girlfriend received at a
supposedly-reputable medical facility was shoddy.
I'm sure it was a horrible experience, and his
criticism points out something that should be
I don't generally make it a point to critique
individuals, preferring to just address issues
broadly on Raw-Food-Health.net, but with much love,
I have to wonder why smart guys like Tim, so
obsessed with optimal living, are still eating diets
that allow them to get ill frequently.
Healthy people should almost never require a trip to
a doctor or a hospital unless there's been some sort
of physical trauma. Ferriss has made a career out of
maximizing results and experiencing the
crème de la crème
life has to offer, so why is he still accepting
What Are You Feeding Yourself?
Ferriss is a proponent of what he calls the slow
carb diet, a combination of the philosophies of
low carb eating and what passes for primal/paleo
The basic outline is to avoid carbohydrates and
embrace proteins. He warns you away from the
food we evolved eating, fruit
raising concerns over its high fructose content
because he feels it will interfere with fat
loss, despite no
studies supporting this idea and
many contraindications seeming to rule it out
It's a fair characterization to say the slow
carb diet and the low
fat raw food diet
Raw-Food-Health.net are at odds. I'd say the
food he eats on the slow carb diet, as well as
whatever he's consuming on the standard American
diet he embraces when going on one of his
much-touted food binges, are the main causes for
his multiple bouts of food poisoning and
According to Ferriss's blog post, he's no newbie
when it comes to travel-related illnesses...
the floor of Chinese hospitals? Check.
Getting probes and pokes (not that kind)
in Argentina? Done. I’ve roughed it
plenty of times and know the world isn’t
covered with linoleum...I’ve been in
dozens of hospitals and ERs around the
world, had multiple surgeries, had food
poisoning 4 or 5 times..."
I may not be quite as widely traveled as Ferriss,
but why is he ill so frequently? I haven't had so
much as a head cold since I started eating a raw
food diet in 2005, but I used to be ill regularly.
Where exactly does the difference come in?
Travelers' Diarrhea: Watch That Meat
Traveling around Asia, it's become obvious to me
that even if meat eating wasn't a bad idea, it
wouldn't be smart to eat it in low-income regions of
Take a stroll around the awesome Muang
Mai wholesale market in Chiang Mai, Thailand,
which I've touted as the best fruit market I've ever
been to. Walk down what I like to call the "street
of flesh," and you'll see what condition the meat
you get from street stalls and restaurants in Chiang
Mai is in before it appears on your plate (Muang Mai
stocks most of the the restaurants and stalls in
Slabs of flesh sit out in the sun without
refrigeration or ice. Flys and other bugs hover
about the scaly fish and skinned chickens, landing
for a bite or to lay some eggs. When they get a
chance, the stall sellers swat at the bugs a bit,
and some of the proactive ones have rigged fans
overhead with little streamers to automate the
process, but don't fool yourself, this meat is
neither preserved from decay or free from
All the meat-selling markets I've been to in the
rest of southeast Asia have been the same way, and
it boggles my mind that people are surprised when
they fall ill after eating this stuff. Of course,
I've seen plenty of vegetarians and vegans fall ill
too, but eating meat seems like the biggest and most
easily-avoided red flag.
Travelers' Diarrhea: The Fever Advantage
When Tim was fighting to stay cogent in the face of
a 101 °F fever and incompetent care, he was
missing an important advantage those following low
fat raw food diets possess: a significantly lower
It's mid afternoon, and I just took a thermometer
out of my mouth. Although I came in from a 2-hour
run a few hours ago and I'm presumably warmed up, it
reads 96.4 °F, well under the 97.2 to 99.5
°F considered healthy by the medical community.
A very unscientific survey I conducted a few years
ago of 32 low fat raw foodists who had been eating
the diet for at least 6 months brought back an
average temperature of 95.8 °F, indicating that
I'm not alone in the change.
This has some very practical implications. For one,
the discomfort many describe while living in
tropical locations, or even temperate climates
during the heat of summer, becomes less of an issue.
Given that we evolved in the tropics, it make sense
that we shouldn't be ridiculously uncomfortable in
the nice heat buffer you get to experience while
Not only do I sweat much less than most people I
work out with, but I have an advantage in the sense
that I have to really work hard to overheat (Heat
stroke is a real concern for many athletes, and
almost every year a few kids playing football or
lacrosse in the heat of summer die of it).
Since I don't really get sick, I can't say if this
would cause me to have less of a fever, but it seems
probable. More importantly though, most healthy raw
foodists don't get fevers.
My personal theory is that due to their damaged
cooked diets, most people are walking around
with a permanent low-grade fever, and that much of
the increased mental clarity experienced by healthy
raw foodists is caused by the lack of this fever.
The impaired thinking and agitation that goes with
illness is well known, and brings us sayings like,
"fever dream," a "fevered pitch," or "spring fever".
However, I think most peoples' normal is still
Although I haven't tested the temperature of a slow
carb diet eater yet, I have tested two paleo diet
eaters and they had temperatures in the "normal" SAD
range of the medical community, but given that a
follower of Tim Ferriss's diet complained at
CrossFit the other day that a 48-hour flu had made
him miserable over the weekend, I see no reason why
the slow carb diet would produce different results
than general SAD or paleo/primal.
You want to avoid Travelers' Diarrhea, food
poisoning, the flu, colds, and the diseases most
people die of?
Nature's Purified Water And Food
If ever there was
a food fit for a wanderer dead set on avoiding
travelers' diarrhea, it would be fruit.
Take a beautiful nam
dok mai mango
. It's outer skin protects
it from contamination, and inside it's 83
percent water. That water has been purified by
the roots of the the mango tree as well as the
thousands of soil microorganisms and other
plants inside the tree's interconnected root
Rather than eating dry meat or grains
which make you thirsty, why not eat a food
that contributes to your hydration? By eating
water-rich fruit, and avoiding the many dry
foods that suck water from your body during
their rehydration and digestion, you'll need
to drink less water eating raw foods, meaning
you don't need to worry as much about having
pure drinking water on hand at all times.
the purposes of honesty, I should
note I once feasted almost entirely
on dragon fruit for several weeks
when they came into season, which
was my first large-scale exposure to
them. I had a very minor bit of
diarrhea after a few days of eating
them by the bagful, and I actually
wondered if my no-sickness streak
had come to an end because I'd just
drank some sketchy water. After
awhile It became apparent I was just
eating way too many dragon fruit. I
cut back on them and the diarrhea
disappeared. Because it was so minor
a case and didn't cause me to
curtail my activities, I don't
consider it worthy of classification
as a sickness.
The skin of a fruit offers good protection
(although not complete. Animal waste carrying
ecoli sometimes gets on fruit), and some have
very thick rinds like watermelon. While I'm a
bit more careful with fruits which have skin
you traditionally eat, like apples, I have so
far proven impossible to sicken via fruit.
I've eaten some very ripe nam wa bananas in
Cambodia with their skins partially knocked
off and fruit flies buzzing about them
lustfully. They were also sitting on the dirt
floor in a rather smelly and unsanitary
After cutting off a few of the more
questionable areas, I dove right in, and
suffered no ill effects. I'm pretty convinced
that as long as I avoid the fermented and
dirty stuff, I'll be fine, and I've had plenty
of dodgy-looking fruits that turned out to be
Besides being free of contamination in most
instances, fruit also doesn't need to be
cooked, which damages
. Human processing is where people
are most likely to pick up sicknesses, as even
vegan food can be chopped on dirty surfaces or
cooked (and undercooked, for that matter) in
However, the important idea is that raw food
is healthy food, and it's going to leave your
system healthier and better able to deal with
any issues that come up than if you're eating
cooked junk from a stall.
Diarrhea: Eat Smart
Adopt a low
fat, fruit-based raw food diet because healthy
eaters don't get sick. Can it happen? I'm sure it's
within the realm of possibility, but my own
experience and that of other long-term low fat
raw foodists I've known is that they don't really
fall ill, and are immune to most travel bugs.
Eating raw fruits and vegetables has transformed
my life, allowing me to lose a massive amount of
weight, escape colitis, and improve my vitality
and happiness in many ways.
I imagine that, presented with this article, Tim
Ferriss would baulk at my diet, but it's done
wonders for me and I don't find it restrictive at
all. He may say the diet would impede his life.
Personally, I look at his tales of medical woe and
wonder how those aren't a serious impediment.
Personally, I'm going to choose health so I can live
my life to the fullest, including travel that's free
of feverish, shoddy hospital care necessitated by
poor food choices.
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