The Modern Food Pyramid

This revolutionary nutrition pyramid replaces the USDA’s flawed food pyramid and reveals what you REALLY need to thrive in our modern, toxic world.


Video transcription

Hello. My name is Dr. Al Sears.

Welcome to our discussion today on the nutrition pyramid.

I want to start with saying why I developed a new idea like this.

I mean we have the food pyramid already, right?

The reason I developed the nutrition pyramid is that, rather than just follow the USDA’s guidance of eating grains every day, I want to develop a system that would provide you with the nutrients that you need in the modern world along with the rationale of why.

Let’s start there! That question of ‘why’ because logic would have it that you should get your nutrients… nutrition from your food, correct? And in a perfect world that’s what would happen. And indeed that’s what did happen for most of human existence. The problem is that we’re not getting those same nutrients today. Our environment has changed. Our food has changed. We’ve turned over food production to third-party producers that don’t have nutrition and your health as their primary goal. Of course, their primary goal is to make a profit — and that turns out to not be very helpful for you to get the nutrients that you are designed for. So I devised this system for you to make sense. For you to build a hierarchy of the reason ‘why’ because you’re not getting help from the government, you’re not getting help from the average physician who thinks that nutrients are all in your food and you don’t need any nutritional supplements. I can easily prove that that’s not true — that you do need them and you need them for various reasons. Let’s start with the bottom of the pyramid which we call primal, another word for that could be paleo. But that’s simply the nutrition that you are designed for in your native environment.

We all came from hunter-gatherer environments. We all evolved over a long period of time to expect certain nutrients in our food. That’s what determines what we can produce intrinsically in our bodies and what we have to have extraneous or introduced in the food.

Now that is a problem for us. Because the nutrition that we got — that our body is built for — is not the same nutrition that we get now. For instance, we used to eat a lot of fresh fruit that was very high in vitamin C, so our bodies dropped the capacity to produce vitamin C.

We are relatively unique in the animal kingdom where most animals produce their own vitamin C. We don’t presumably because we got lots of vitamin C in our diet. Primates for instance living in Africa get several thousand milligrams of vitamin C per day from their diet.

We have an RDA set at 60 and most people don’t get above a couple of hundred if that from their diet. So see you have a mismatch between what’s in our modern diet, what was in our prototypical diet and what our bodies are built for. So you have to address that in order to build the Pyramid for optimal health.

I can’t have a good anti-aging program that ignores the basis of health — which is the natural nutrition that you should get. Also, in this primal group we have a certain requirement for the macronutrients in your diet. That means the amount of protein, the amount of fat and the amount of carbohydrate. We change that to consume a lot more carbohydrate and less fat — a different kind of fat and a different kind of carbohydrate. That’s where a lot of the paleo diets come in. And that’s where Adkins made an advance in saying that Americans were fat — not because they ate too much fat but because they ate too much carbohydrate. That I would categorize as a primal correction or fixing the mismatch between our modern world and the prototypical world that we are built for.

Also, a daily multivitamin falls into that category.

It’s kind of insurance that you’re getting those things.

To put that primal requirement into perspective you can take an example.

I personally am a plant lover. I have grown plants for my entire life since I was a child. And I can’t help but notice that here in Florida, I can plant a royal palm, drop a seed in the ground and it grows wonderfully well. It grows fast it has no nutritional deficiencies. I don’t have to do a thing to it. I don’t have to fertilize it. I don’t have to water it. I don’t have to augment the soil. It is perfectly designed for the environment that it lives in.

It evolved here in Florida. It evolved to perfectly match whatever it finds in the soil.

If, however, I take a Chinese fan palm put in the yard. When I moved in my current house, there was some yellow palms there. Nobody knew what they were. They said, “Well they’ve always been like that. They don’t grow. They’re stunted. They’re diseased.”

All I had to do to make it work was to put some magnesium in that soil. Fertilize the soil with Epsom salt — which has magnesium. And they turn green and they came back. Why? Why does the royal palm grow perfectly without any supplementation? The Chinese fan palm require additional supplements or it will wither and die. The answer is the environment that it is built for.

We are built for a certain environment and we decided we didn’t like that environment. We created a new one. So you have to educate yourself about what is different in the modern world and how to use nutritional supplements to get that back in order to build the basis of good health. And that is the fundamental level of the pyramid that we all should be doing.

Now, what is ortho?

Ortho is the next level and the way that I think about why you should take a supplement.

The purpose of the supplement. Because in addition to lacking nutrients that we had in our primal prototypical world, we’ve also added additional things to our modern world that cause problems that were not — that we are not built to handle.

For instance, we now have heavy metals. We have cadmium and lead and mercury in our food. That causes problems. And rather than wait until it produces a disease and then treat it with drugs you can use nutrition to correct that.

For instance, we have a lot of oxidation that occurs because of pollutants that are in our environment.

We have a lot of oxidative stressors that weren’t part of our natural environment.

You can add additional supplements that work as antioxidants to address that. So, ortho is corrective. It means straightening out. So you can use nutrients to replace things that are missing that are primal. But you can also use nutrients to correct existing problems in your current environment.

For instance, homocysteine accumulates as a measure of oxidation intravascularly inside your blood vessels. We can use higher doses of antioxidants like the B vitamins — like niacin and riboflavin and vitamin B12 to correct for that problem.

Correction or straightening out is ortho. You can also take larger doses of the same things that might be primal that you’re taking to correct for deficiencies in the environment. That same supplement might be used at higher doses to fix other modern problems.

Vitamin C is a good example.

We’re not getting even our primal requirement. But in addition to that you can take more vitamin C because it’s a powerful antioxidant. Now, you’re also getting an ortho effect.

Now let’s go to the next level.

Ultra. Ultra means above. So it means taking nutritional supplements that aren’t intended to correct for a primary deficiency. Or aren’t intended to correct for a pollutant or problem in the modern world that are intended to improve performance. Certain supplements can indeed do that. As a matter of fact, this is where most vitamin manufacturers like to focus their sales pitches. “This vitamin is going to make you super smart.” “It’s going to make you super strong.” “It’s going to make you super sexy. “Perform better.” Whatever. But it’s not where most supplements are but it does exist. It is possible. For instance, caffeine which is in many common herbs. Coffee is a good example. Camellia sinensis — the herb that we make tea out of. Guarana — the South American herb. Ma huang — the Chinese herb. They all have been used as performance enhancers. They improve memory. They improve endurance. Certain things like creatine, for instance, improves strength. Adds five miles per hour to the pitch of a professional baseball player. Tennis players use it. Very common to improve performance in sports.

Many of those supplements are achieving an ultra or above average or above normal performance. So this is where you’re trying to do better than nature. This is correcting for deficiencies. Ortho is correcting for environmental pollutants and hazards in the modern world.

Ultra is trying to do something more than that and give you additional benefit. Additional capability through nutritional supplementation.

And if done appropriately, it can work. It can improve performance. Especially as we age in the normal course of aging. And involves a loss of function, loss of strength, loss of energy. Ultra nutritional supplements can help to replace some of that.

And then we have the last category

One that is unique to me and my philosophy of nutrition. And that is using nutrition to affect the way that we age. The aging program is all about that end of the chromosome called the telomere.

And the telomeres are built through an enzyme called telomerase. So we call that category of nutrition affecting how the telomere shortens during aging and affecting the turning on of the enzyme telomerase to rebuild that shortened telomere. We call that telo-nutrition or telo-nutritioneering.

And we’ve had quite a bit of success with this category. Because we can prove that we can use supplements like astragalus root, for instance, that activates the enzyme telomerase and rebuilds the shortened telomere. And in that way is reversing that central control mechanism for aging.

This is very exciting.

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