The first book I read is Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s “Antifragile”. Taleb is a commodities trader, philosopher and mathematician who deals with random theory. The 500-page book is a serious and challenging read. I finished it in two days, including an all-nighter. The last time I did anything all night was decades ago and it didn’t entail reading a book!
Talab’s last book was the bestseller “The Black Swan”, dealing with rare disruptive and unpredictable events like 9/11, the financial meltdown and Google. Virtually nobody saw them coming and these events radically changed our lives.
This book deals with the concept of fragile versus antifragile. If something is fragile (like our modern economy), it tends to blow up when subjected to Black Swans. If something is antifragile, it benefits from such events. Biological systems tend to be antifragile—up to a point. The human species benefits from low levels of stress and evolved to survive Black Swans. Although individuals may die, those that survive are stronger after such an event, leading to a more robust population. This is the basic tenant of evolution.
•Intermittent fasting and starvation are good stressors that improve health and prolong life.
•Additive therapies such as medications should only be used when people are seriously ill. If you are only a little ill, subtractive therapies such as removing sugar, HFCS and grains from your diet makes more sense because this approach respects our evolutionary history.
•The only beverages he drinks are water, coffee and red wine. This mimics my preferences.
•He believes that aerobic exercise is for fools. He does extreme weight lifting, interval training and long, slow walks.
•He follows the Greek Orthodox calendar to guide his eating and to provide variety in food composition and quantity. Our ancient ancestors did the same not out of choice—they had to eat whatever was available to them and this was not on a set schedule. I am also Orthodox and do the same.
•The only fruits he eats are those he recognized from when he was growing up in Lebanon. They tend to be small and sour rather than large and sweet like our modern fruits.
•He rarely eats breakfast.
Even if you disagree with Taleb (and many do), he is considered by many to be one our most profound thinkers of the modern era. I find it interesting that when it comes to medicine, we share identical views even though he has no formal medical training. That’s because unlike most physicians, he understands how the world works on a very profound level.