Like many of you, I'm sure, I'm a huge fan of Seth Roberts and his pioneering work in self-experimentation (-something Brent Pottenger also writes wonderfully about. As it happens, both of them are involved in the Ancestral Health Symposium). I've come to think that, while scientific evidence has a vital place in finding out about our bodies, there is always a lot that will, for various reasons, fly under the radar of the scientific establishment. Self-experimentation is the key to finding out a lot of that stuff.
I think self-experimentation is especially fruitful when people share their results with others, thus this question: What have you found out through your own experiments? Also, I'd be very interested in any methodological thoughts y'all might have.
As for myself, the most useful thing I can remember finding out was long before I went paleo. I found that certain kinds of pu'er tea killed my craving for tobacco.
Anyway, I'd be grateful for your thoughts!
I could have never dreamed how much better I would feel eating purely meat and fat. I do love veggies for their flavour and variety, but I can't deny that every single aspect of my physiology runs better on pure animal products. Amazing. After a lifetime of being told I should eat loads of fibre, let alone how vital carbs were for energy and nutrients, it was stunning to discover that my guts actually ran more smoothly and I had more energy when I cut fibre out completely. For every suggestion of the necessity of the antioxidants & vitamins etc that are primarily provided by fruit & veg, the results of my carnivore experiments stand there and say "well maybe, but your metabolism & digestion won't operate as well." So I swing back and forth, always returning to meat-only to cleanse (how backward would the mainstream folks find that one?!) and get my system firing properly again.
While I have experienced huge successes with numerous "self-experimentations," none have been as fruitful as my dental issues. Some people might not agree with me, but I'll try to summarize my experiences below.
My experiment: I grew up with a TON of cavities and generally was considered to have very "soft" teeth. After going paleo, I noticed a huge reduction in the amount of "grime" in my mouth. After some research I decided to remove fluoride from environment completely (water, toothpaste, etc.) and without fluoride figured, "what is the point of toothpaste?" For over 7 months now, I have been brushing daily with baking soda, mostly just to remove any grime from my teeth. Once or twice a week I will use natural, fluoride-free and GLYCERIN-FREE toothpaste mixed with baking soda if my mouth feels particularly dirty. I swish nightly with coconut or butter oil for 5 - 10 minutes and only floss occasionally (1 - 2 times per month).
Conclusions: My recent dentist visit confirmed numerous things for me. One, my mouth looked "awesome" according to my dentist. Two, my receding gums were actually at healthy levels! Three, the two teeth that I had marked to watch because of pitting, etc. were no longer an issue. My dentist actually said he might have made a mistake because the pitting is just not an issue.
I know some people will disagree with this, but this has worked for me. To each his own :)
Longer fasts. When I wanted to lose weight and started a condensed eating window, I wondered what it would be like to do longer fasts. The first one was tough, then easier and easier. Now I do one 40 hour fast a week, from Sunday night to Tuesday lunchtime. Surprisingly easy, and erases any dietary slip-ups I have in the week. Before experimenting, I never would have thought I could do that, or would benefit from it.
I run farther and faster without food in my stomach, But I've also found that I have to eat a few carbs afterwords to recover the glycogen to be able to do it again right away, when I use fructose base, my performance suffers, with potato/sweet potato, I perform much better the next time.
Also, lacto-fermented foods. Energy galore, try it
I've been attempting a ketogenic version of a paleo diet for about a week or so now staying solidly under 30g of carbs except one day where I slipped and it was a "cheat" day but still not blowing it up too far. I've already dropped 3lbs of scale weight and I'm not hungry AT ALL the way I used to be even just free-eating paleo foods. I'm pretty impressed with the satiety factor as well as with the results. I miss piling on my veggies and it's more expensive to eat this much meat, but if it continues to work, I'll know my back-pocket lean-out plan for the future if I ever want to use it. Or maybe any leaning-out I do now will stick :)
Dropping dairy has helped me get leaner, and lose inflammation. I didn't think it was a big deal, but once I dropped ALL dairy (including replacing the cream in my coffee with coconut cream) I started to feel better, I became more regular (TMI-sorry!), and I have become leaner in a short period of time. No dairy isn't for everyone, but has been good to me!
Spent last month eating rather more fruit (6-8/day, mostly pears, plums, peaches, nectarines, and bananas) than usual. The Miraculous Paleo Weight Loss(tm) stopped, and my blood sugar numbers went up.
I cut way back on the fruit last week, and the weight loss resumed and my glucose numbers improved.
I'm now solidly in the fruit=sugarbags/candy bars grown on trees camp.