7/21 — An Integral History of Nutrition and Strategy for Health Coaching

Paul Hess

Paul Hess

Paul Hess

What can we learn about nutrition from stages of human history?

How can nutrition and health coaches design nutritional solutions and help people understand why and how to implement the plan in detail? 

This presentation explains how coaches or other health providers can integrate wisdom from the first 7 stages of nutrition history and cognitive development at stage 8 using a new paradigm of applied science based on six sigma engineering methods and systems theory. With the following objectives:

  1. How to design complete customized nutrition and health protocols.
  2. How to coach clients to implement their protocol:
  • How to help clients understand their plan through the shift to a higher stage paradigm of nutrition.
  • Solving problems and improving the protocol with integral level science methods.
  • Shift the paradigm of moral reasoning through the coach client relationship so the client can take responsibility at the highest level of understanding.  

This is based a combination of cited book sources, online sources that are easily found on your own, and my own experience as a health coach after a long period of chronic fatigue.

STAGE 1: Primate, Animal

Diet: Omnivore

Humans are omnivores as identified by what the teeth are designed to do and archaeological and historical records.  We have eaten from all the food groups leaving out the extreme of being able to chew big bones or subsist entirely on grass because we lack multiple stomachs like cows to break it down. Nor can we thrive as much on fruit as gorillas because the difference in our brain is a huge leap that requires more animal food. And even mostly plant eating primates eat meat sometimes.

Individuals can vary greatly in this range. Most research is designed to prove a certain diet rather than state variations that no one can explain. My general observations are that the statistical distribution is a bell shaped curve with a small percentage on each end with people who report great results from fruitarian on one side, and eat just beef or carnivore on the other. Most people are in the middle with many unique details.

Since an omnivore’s range is broad and many foods are available in modern societies, choice is important. Sensing what to eat instinctively can be a useful skill.

How they Know: Instinct

The first stage of cognitive development is basically animal instinct. Instinctual eating is when animals sense what they need to eat for survival with accurate cravings or smelling a food before eating.


This is the animal brain speaking most directly to biological needs and not artificial cravings and eating based on taste.  It can also tell you when to stop eating. 


Instinct or intuition can be limited by experience in the modern context because you cannot crave something you never had before or know how to satisfy a healthy craving. That’s where the accumulated experience of human beings can be helpful, which requires language and conceptual thinking to categorize and translate across contexts. 

Traditional, Ancestral Wisdom: Tribal

Tribal culture is a huge category with much variation based on climate, terrain and level of social complexity.

Diet: Hunter Gatherer, Paleo
The earliest diets are suggested in the term paleo diet or hunter, gatherer: hunting of meat and fish; and gathering of vegetables, fruit, honey, eggs, etc.
One of the unique contributions of tribal societies is the extent of eating raw meat and organ meats as documented in the case of Native American plains Indian tribe the Comanches who were based in the Texas Pan Handle country (Gwynee, G.C, 2001) The Comanches were superior warriors and difficult for the U.S. Army to beat. They were defeated by slaughtering the buffalo upon which they depended and then forced to surrender.

Native American elders were still recommending raw meat for health conditions as late as the 1970s, according to research by Aajonus Vonderlanitz (2005); raw meat and other raw foods make up his Primal Diet.

Modern cultures that normalize raw meat recipes include steak tar tar in France, ceviche in Mexico, and sahimi and sushi in Japan. Fish in Japan are eaten with Wasabai spices that may be the traditional remedy to control parasites. This fear is overblown as most American who have parasites have never eaten raw meat and never would given their emotionally conditioned reactions that make it almost impossible to have a rational discussion about it. People from other countries are not as reactive and more familiar with the concept.

How they Know:  Experience, Experimental Learning

 Under survival conditions with instinctual sense relatively intact tribal peoples experimented with what works. Their methods are empirical and results driven. Some tribal cultures were known to accumulate vast knowledge of plants and animals. While tribal cultures are easy to romanticize, their practical knowledge is worthy of study.

STAGES 3 & 4:
Traditional, Ancestral: Agriculture

Stages 3 & 4 in Integral theory include societies between tribal and the modern technological era;

  1. “Heroic” powerful individuals that motivate by loyalty through either inspiration or fear as a value in those societies lead by patriarchs, kings, monarchies, conquerors, etc.
  2. Governments under the rules of law or religious orthodoxy with moral reasoning beginning to replace arbitrary authority. Dogma in later stages, like dietary dogma, is often blamed on too much of this stage relative to other stages.

The values of these stages don’t relate to nutrition directly but to moral development involved in the coaching process discussed under stage 8 below.

Diet:  Agricultural

Throughout both 3rd and 4th stages agriculture grew and will be treated as one stage of nutritional development.
Agriculture is characterized by domesticating animals and growing crops.

Domesticated animals provide meat, dairy and eggs.

Agriculture also provides steadier supply to reduce starvation and disruption. Grains and beans in particular can be stored for long periods of time including over winter to feed animals and humans.  
This had its down sides. Narrowing the food sources to grains and corn, for example, could deteriorate health, archeological evidence suggests in weak bones and tooth remains in North America. Depletion of soils has contributed to nutrient deficiencies and even desertification in some areas.

Nevertheless, many farmers provided for themselves the full range of animal and plant foods, fresh and organic. Many of these dietary practices are assembled the nutritional recipe book, Nourishing Traditions, (1996) by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig.
One of the treasures of agricultural societies found to be of value today is raw dairy: milk, butter, cheese, cream, kefir, yogurt and colostrum.
Many ancestral diets have in common raw milk and dairy as part of everyday diets and healing regimes from the ancient Greeks to the early 20th century sanitariums with raw milk diets used by medical doctors for many diseases.  
A common ancestral tonic is a raw egg in glass of raw milk, reported to me personally by people from India, Italy and Oklahoma, USA. Eggs and milk are relatively complete foods since they are designed to grow a baby as the sole source of nourishment.

From Indian tradition comes ghee, a clarified butter which is butter with the traces of milk sugar and protein boiled off to reduce the possibility of allergic reactions. Ghee is part of traditional diet in India, still popular today, and is also considered healing in traditional Indian medicine Ayurveda.

Weston A Price: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

The classic research on ancestral diets was conducted by the dentist Weston A. Price in his book, Nutritional and Physical Degeneration, written in the 1920’s when he captured the transition to modern diets. Price had set out to prove that vegetarians were healthier but concluded the opposite that all traditional healthy peoples ate animal protein with extra fat. He found that people in the same families, controlling the variable of genetics, ate traditional versus modern diets had different results. The modern eaters developed more health problems including crowded teeth, cavities, and narrow faces. 


Dietary wisdom seems to have been empirical trial and error with some degree of survival feedback and selection.  There is much variety within traditional and ancestral diets from low-carb paleo to high carb grain eating.


Just because a tradition exists does not mean it was selected for optimal survival. There are other objectives that are social, like stable quantities through storable foods like grains and beans that could lower the quality of diets overall while achieving greater quantity of persons surviving.

Science Under the Microscope: Fragmented Science, Fragmented Nutrition

The scientific revolution brought deeper understanding of physics, chemistry and biology through the narrower focus of microscopes, isolating variables in experiments, and specialization of research. As knowledge becomes more specialized it also became fragmented and harder to keep track of the big picture of whole systems of the body and ecosystem, along with the unintended consequences of science applied as technology.  Science applied to technology gets specific results like greater agricultural yields or immediate treatment of symptoms in medicine, without regard for the consequences throughout the ecosystem including the human body.

Quantity over Quality: Lowering Nutrients & Increasing Toxicity that Damages Digestion

Chemical Agriculture

Quantitative yields were boosted in agriculture yields at the expense of quality of the food and health.
Fertilizers added only a few ingredients like nitrogen to increase yields but other minerals in the soils have fallen.
Pesticides increased yields but created the problem of toxicity that create health problems. 
Pesticides also decrease absorption of nutrients from the soil by destroying bacteria and fungus necessary to turn rock minerals into minerals plants absorb. Specifically, fungus producing fulvic acid in the humic acid of soil helps assimilate minerals and break down decomposing dead matter in soil. Fulvic acid is used by humans as a supplement for this two way action to assimilate nutrients and break-down toxins.
Herbicides especially glyphosates in Round-Up increase yields but are the final food products and the air since Round Up is used to kill weeds in residential areas, too, around home, schools, and commercial buildings. Glyphosates are reported to damage guts and blood brain barriers that protect from toxicity. Used since around the year 2000 this interacts with the metals in vaccines, mercury and aluminum, to create statistically significant correlations between autism and vaccines, according to MIT researcher Stephanie Senoff. This is part of the recent epidemic of childhood diseases autism, asthma, allergies, and ADHD.
Food Processing

The more specialized the economy the further food has to be shipped so that it has to be preserved in some ways that often involved denaturing: heating, canning, preserving with chemicals, all which can reduce nutrient value.
The heating of milk to preserve it, pasteurization, was deemed necessary to make milk free from pathogens. This was decided after one major case of milk from sick cows was contaminated and now is law in many nations.  In the USA, states have their own laws some allowing raw milk in various degrees from stores, to available at farms only, or illegal.
From limited cases of food poisoning from milk, there was an over-reaction that was solidified into a dogma as part of what raw milk advocates have called “germophobia.” Raw milk advocates site that there is scant evidence of a widespread danger of raw milk, and a longer history of its usefulness in health and healing.
Pasteurization denatures milk making it harder to digest by destroying all the enzymes that help digestion: like lactase for lactose in the milk. As a result many people are allergic to pasteurized dairy, but many of these people are not allergic to raw.
The shelf life argument for pasteurization is not convincing since raw milk kept refrigerated lasts more than a week easily and really does not make any difference except that raw milk can be more easily fermented into sour milk, kefir or yogurt, whereas pasteurized milk spoils.
Stage 5 science positions itself as over and against nature, at war with nature or dominating it, as in the case of war with bugs and weeds, when there are more natural ways to control both or just chose another priority with more important benefits.  


The nutritional supplement industry is influenced by the model of fragmented science and the medical model of health.
Supplements are less effective when minerals and vitamins are isolated, denatured and have slightly toxic substances added or by leaving traces of cleaners or extraction solvents in the manufacturing process. A more holistic approach uses whole plants or foods for multiple nutrients and less processing.
Even a natural approach may treat symptoms in a “take this for that” manner, in isolation, without a framework for understanding underlying causes.
Pill forms of nutrients are to be a “supplement,” not substitute, to changing diet where most nutrients must come from.
The huge supplement industry illustrates how under capitalism life is a shopping experience with too many hyped choices and not enough standards and quality control.
Medical View of Nutrition

The medical view of nutrition is informed by objective lab tests. This is a great step forward in producing information. But the right questions have to be asked, and enough questions to get a complete picture.
Fragmentation of focus can be seen in routine medical testing where each thing is considered in isolation and incompletely. Blood tests emphasize calcium and iron but do not even look at most minerals.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which there are not enough minerals in the bone, especially calcium bound to phosphorous, calcium phosphate. The solution is often considered to increase calcium intake. This is a simple input-output version of a system. A truly systematic view asks how is calcium being utilized? As it turns out there may be calcium deposits all over the body, meaning there excess in the wrong places and deficiency in the right places. This is improper processing due to a lack of cofactors especially magnesium, also silica, boron, vitamin A, and more. All of these parts are part of the system of bone and tooth mineralization.
Anemia is a lack of iron the blood. The usual solution is to take iron pills. But there may be iron deposits all over the body causing inflammation from oxidative damage, rusting, while iron also can feed chronic infections like candida. They measure too narrowly.

Why is iron not be utilized leading to its toxic accumulation?

Lack of copper to utilize iron.

Why lack of copper, which also may be unutilized and accumulating?

Lack of magnesium and vitamin A.

Thus the medical system does not make even one connection to copper. Morley Robbins has assembled the research on this at his website for his “Root Cause Protocol.”

This critique is integral level systems thinking at level 7.
Further customization of protocols is necessary to reach level 8 as explained in that section below.
By taking things out of context the fragmented model of science can actually lead to the opposite of the correct conclusion of what should be done and make things worse by taking iron or calcium that is not utilizable and accumulates in an unbounded form that is toxic.  
Consumers: Shopping Addiction

The fragmented world view leads to health and nutrition as a shopping experience without a systems perspective of how it all fits together. Economic markets are characterized by a lack of standards and 3rd party information to make informed decisions.

The metaphor of “biohacking” comes from computer technology in Silicon Valley. In discussion groups people ask for advice as “biohacks” for X. Much of the approach is a “take this for that” according to the fragmentation weakness of this stage of development. Other biohackers think more systemically as explained below.

Health practitioners that are predominantly stage 5 utilize mostly objective data like lab tests. 
Relationships are still influenced by service delivery model of separate transactions in a combination of doctor like authority and shopping experiences. 


Scientific knowledge is unique in that it can break down chemistry to explain observable results.
Double blind studies are the gold standard in this realm to isolate variables.
Lab tests of correctly chosen and comprehensive enough can tell us much more that general experiences.

They will also rely on generalizations from scientific studies that may not apply to the individual. Individual cases are complex and sensitivities and reactions to foods and supplements can be unpredictable and baffling. A staunch stage 5 person may be tempted to overlook the patient’s response because scientific generalizations about known or assumed variables are always right.

This leads to a take this for that, matching symptoms and remedies in a universal manner, which assumes a universal truth for individuals who are the same. Complexity frustrates people who assume this.
A strict sense of scientific standards demands double blind studies. However, requiring proof before acting rules out innovation and creative clinical solutions to unique individual needs that are never captured in general studies. 
The microscopic view usually loses sight of the big picture without integration into an overall framework that can sort-out the few root causes from the many symptoms. Some health consumers are impressed by technological knowledge of experts, but this is often a misleading pretense by experts. The model of knowledge as an accumulation of facts lacks useful theory for interpretation and guidance on what to focus on clinically. There has been no clear definition of root causes available, as I explain below.
Applications of this fragmented science tend toward technologies to manipulate an immediate result, all in the name of  “getting to the point” and giving people something “concrete” that “they can, like, relate to,”  but this is tampering with a system that destabilize it and create other symptoms, that are then treated reactively again through this narrow medical model of disease. This way of thinking is still influential in the alternative health world as treatment of symptoms, which is sometimes helpful, but not enough.


The scientific revolution created methods to explaining nutrition and nature at a level that tribal societies never could, but has still not caught up with much of what tribal societies did understand with their practical knowledge. There many nutritional options available from supplements and foods from all over the world to help customize individual protocols to help compensate for the toxicity from modern environments, if you can find the small percentage of quality products that you need.  It’s a trade-off and most people are on the losing end because it is so hard to assess needs and identify quality in the market place.
Stage 5 remains the dominant model within American society and world-wide, while other stages exist along with it in the minds of each individual.  

Developmental Challenge

The methods of science were developed through narrowing of focus and specialization, but the steps forward to progress are for integration as a whole through systems theory: looking at relationships and processes within the body, ecosystems, and social system. The next stage of human evolution begins to confront some of these challenges. 

STAGE 6: Science of Environment and Lifestyle

Stage 6 looks more at systems, social and ecological, and the consequences of stage 5 capitalism and fragmented science.
There is more value seen in integrating natural, traditional and even tribal ways.

Organic agriculture and food is favored as part of an ecosystems approach with long term and root cause analysis.

Environmentalism: reduction of toxic pollution of land, air, water, foods, and medicines is favored.

The critique of sage 6 or green politics is that it sometimes operates out of over generalized moral categories from lifestyle rather than science. This is sometimes the case with vegetarian and vegan diets
Vegetarian & Vegan Diets
The China Study (Campbell and Campbell, 2016) is perhaps the most popular study of this genre and recommends a more plant based diet. Without going into a long review, it does not approach the historical and cross cultural scope of the Weston A. Price research, nor does it correspond to my personal experience and research about what works for most people with chronic illnesses or sports performance. It’s not taken seriously among most practitioners working on chronic illnesses. Many people I see are seeking to recover from veganism, fruitarianism, vegetarianism, although for a few people those work.
The concern for kindness to animals is sometimes matched with anger toward people, even when it does not involve killing animals but only drinking milk on the part of vegan’s who eat no animal products.  This opposition to milk drinking is stated with a stridency and contempt that “milk is designed to grow a cow into a thousand pound animal in 2 years” as if the logic of this is self-evident. It is not. This anger in Integral theory is called “the mean green meme.” Certainly not all vegetarians and vegans are moralistic like this but these types are recognizable.

The moral orientation often associated with food ideologies is compassion that is not balanced with responsibility, and this becomes relevant in the coaching process, a moral problem that goes way beyond vegetarianism. It is an imbalance of masculine and feminine moral processes.  Compassion is for the victims, animals and people, with blame placed on the white male patriarchy and such. The victim stance is hyper feminine disconnected from the masculine of responsibility for self. I say more about this under coaching in stage 8.

The next set of nutritional practices are very different, abut I place them within 6th stage. There is more variety within each higher stage since each stage integrates the previous stages in different ways. Vegan and vegetarianism is low in stage 5 science integration, and returns to stage 4 orthodoxy in form but the content is its own, sometimes seeking a foundation in romanticized tribalism or fictitious agricultural matriarchies if the past, or various eastern and new age spiritual beliefs.

Some are only interested in purported health benefits according to theories that assume animal products are the root of disease by creating mucous. My vegetarian gastroenterologist explored that theory through colonoscopies on meat eaters with chronic health problems and only found pink flesh, not mucous.

The next example is both rooted in 5th stage microscope science and integrated to high level of systems theory at stage 7. I place it in stage 6 because it is in between in these ways and often tends toward ideology in the mannerisms of its followers, which is 6th stage relying heavily on 4th stage orthodoxy in form, while remaining strictly scientific in terminology. 

Physics of Nutrition: Sunlight, Earthing and Magnetic Fields

We actually absorb nutrition from the sun, like plants. Sun is not just for vitamin D but energizes the water of our bodies as the sun’s photons of light are converted to electrons.

This is one of the principles of the physics of nutrition (and physics of toxicity), which is a totally new concept for many people. Much of the science is has been synthesized by Dr Jack Kruse, considered a leader of “mitochondriacs” and biohackers through his online posting found all over social media and You Tube.

A new theory of water in a fourth phase, H302, is a part of this theory, as put forth by Gerald Pollack.

This has even contributed to a new theory of cardiology but Dr Thomas Cowan, in which the blood is pulled by electrical charges in the capillaries more than being pushed by the heart as a pump.

The chemical nutrition needed to assimilate sunlight is explained by MIT research Stephanie Senoff in online post and videos, with an emphasis on sulfur and cholesterol being healthy. I can confirm that this combination prevents sun burn no matter how long I am out at any time of day.

Lifestyle and environment in health captures how sun is a major nutrient, and electronics is a major kind of toxic exposure.

Exposure to environmental toxins at the level of physics includes electronics, wired and wireless create unhealthy electromagnetic radiation. There is no central reference to sum it up, information is scattered.

Artificial lights especially at night create over exposure to blue light that disrupts hormones, especially melatonin.  Dr Jack Kruse goes deep into the science of this.

The earthing movement involves walking barefoot on the ground or grounding beds and chairs indoors through wires to the ground outdoors (not the neutral ground of the outlet, in my opinion) to receive a stream of electrons from the earth.

Another example of the physics of nutrition is the recognition that we require the earth’s magnetic field to survive, as NASA has proved and sends people into space with a magnetic field artificially created. Health enthusiasts have found the magnetic mattress pad by the Magnetico company to be beneficial for many things like pain, sleep, and detoxification. The magnetic fields increase the spin of electrons on atoms and this has a beneficial biological effect.

Increasing the magnetic field is said to be beneficial in this time period of earth that has a very low magnetic field compared to other times in geological history that can be easily measured in rocks. The earth’s magnetic field is stronger in some places like the Yucatan of Mexico where a crater was left by an asteroid 65 million years ago and that stronger magnetic field many people say is healing.

While the most advanced physics of nutrition involves integral stage 7 with its systems theory, the chemical nutritional science is sometimes more at 5th stage with the use of isolated supplements by some in this community. Sometimes the attitude is cultish, although strictly scientific, it functions a religion when the attitude is of knowing everything, without a lot of flex and flow and seeing things from other points of view. So I place it here in the middle at stage 6, although individuals can vary. 

The healthier parts of Stage 6 is a step forward into combining individual choice with collective responsibility. They are more aware of cultural bias and open to the way of other cultures. However, stage 6 still is too certain that their views are right and does not deeply understand how other stages think, and does not see the full complexity of things. They confront some of the problems of fragmented science and knowledge and make more systemic connections to social problems.  This leads naturally to integral stage systems thinking and many people are partly there. And yet, this stage often still suffers from mechanical over-generalization and dichotomies leading to a logic of separation not integration.

TIER TWO THINKING stages 7 & 8

Tier two Integral thinking is a huge qualitative leap where people are able to understand different points of view beyond the simplistic, “I’m right and you are wrong,” that most people are limited to. They are able to see that other people have different basic assumptions that lead to different conclusions that are logical given their assumptions, not just bad people who are stupid. They thus become more aware of their own basic assumptions and biases and then chose premises more consciously.

What this leads to is combining the best of all perspectives, integrating the different stages of cognitive development and nutrition, thus the term Integral. This is anti-dogma of people who flex and flow in discussions to incorporate other ideas in a consistent manner.  Tier two stages 7 and 8 are a matter of degree and each individual has a unique combination of all stages.

Stage 7: Nutrition in Root Causes of Health: Systems Thinking

Systems thinking means treating the whole person for a complete solution that addresses all weak links in a person’s body and mind at root cause level since a person is only as healthy as their weakest links. 

While there is a role for specialists, someone should oversee the entire process of identifying and treating root causes. A health coach is a generalist that can do that and refer out to specialists like orthodontists and dental surgeons when that person is ready nutritionally to adapt to those interventions without getting worse.

What is Systems Thinking?

Systems thinking is more complex and involves a synthesis of ideas and facts: how all the parts fit together as a whole. The scope of a system can be anything: the human body, a food or agricultural system, global ecology, or a system of thought that attempts to understand all of the above.

While there are certain formal concepts for understanding how parts relate, like equilibrium and weak links, it is more a matter of taking the time to think-it-through before you get interrupted or tired, until you “formulate the mess” to a useful level.

A key systems concept is complexity that implies greater uncertainty in at least two ways: lower predictability and lower generalization.

The environment becomes more unpredictable with too many variables for certainty, for example, with the same foods like an apple containing different nutrient levels due to varying soil conditions at farms or toxic exposures to the food.

Generalization becomes limited as each individual has unique nutritional needs, so truth is context specific.

And yet, there is a balance between the extremes of universal generalization versus relativism (everyone is different) since general scientific laws are always relevant.

Statistics is Really about Conceptions of Systems

Most people don’t know that there is a new paradigm of statistics within a new paradigm of applied science in the engineering thinking called six sigma.

Six Sigma a statistical term for sixth standard deviation from the norm on a bell curve. That’s about 6 parts per million that is used a stretch goal as that many defects in a business process under quality control and assurance. But this is not just about “quality” in business: it is new model for business (such as health coaching) based on a new way of seeing the world on every level. I explained the new model of the corporation or firm within this paradigm in an article in Integral Leadership Review, based on my PhD research.

The existing statistical paradigm at the stage five microscopic view or fragmented science is probability theory.  This assumes that variables are known and can be predicted and expressed in numbers.

Probability theory was refuted by William Edwards Deming, (1993) a famous pioneer of  the forerunner of six sigma, variously referred to as quality improvement, continuous improvement, kaizen, total quality management, etc., constantly being repackaged for marketing fads. Academics who use probability theory are generally completely unaware of this critique and the applied statistics that are used to enable their car to start reliably to get to work and sue their computer that is manufactured at a lower cost with greater reliability and speed. Many have heard of Moore’s law in microelectronics but few know how it is achieved through quality improvement using applied statistics.

Deming stated tersely, “Theory is prediction,” meaning that if you assume that certain variables are present in your theory, then certain outcomes will occur. This tells us little except that the quality of the theory affects the interpretation of results. Then you need a direction to investigate specific unpredicted results, and that is what the new statistics does: point you in a direct, but you still need to do more data gathering and interpretation.

The new statistics begins with a practical metric like defects in a manufacturing process. It analyzes patterns in quantitative outcomes, known as variation of a system, to determine the nature of the cause: is it from the design of the system versus an individual making a mistake. Design of the system is what engineers and managers have done for the product and production. Individual operators are required to follow the work standard for implementation. This distinction got the attention of workers and unions who are tired of being blamed for problems they are not even allowed to solve on their own because the systems does not allow it. The new way of working shifts authority away from formal positions to be replaced by “management by fact” with all individual relevant to that context supplying information to solve the problem.

The application to nutritional coaching is that that failures like the clients feeling worse or lacking progress need to be investigated in terms of whether something is wrong with the design of the protocol or is the client not implementing correctly. This is the concept of statistical variation of a system, but does not require the math of statistics used in analyzing large quantities. I explain further below.

Defining a System Through Root Causes

Systems theory is based on the idea that “everything is related to everything” in a vast web of connections throughout the universe. But that does not tell us where to start within this overwhelming complexity, how to focus practical efforts.   

Nutrition should be seen as part of health as whole, since individuals seek health as a goal and nutrition as a means. We can simplify a definition of health and the body as a system by identifying the few root causes that determine the many symptoms.

Astonishingly, I could not find in any literature a definition of root causes including precise criteria what makes a cause a root cause. Researchers are lost in the details of their specialties and preoccupied with statistical techniques for assigning probabilities to poorly conceptualized variables.

Academic researchers follow deductive methods of starting with a previous theory from an authority or previous publication, and then seek to confirm or disprove it. That’s called confirmatory research and does not generate new ideas.

Exploratory research to generate new theory is very rare. Six sigma has simple tools to do this inductively starting with a measurable practical result and asking “Why?” five times at least or more until you get to a root cause. So with health you start with a symptom ask why? So something hurts, why?

The broader idea of inductive theory generatio  in the social sciences is in grounded theory research design using the constant comparative method to formulate categories to classify facts and themes (Glasser and Strauss, 1967). It is messy process and cannot be “reproduced.”  The conclusions can be empirically tested by the confirmatory paradigm, but the method cannot be understood within the confirmatory paradigm. The famous management guru Peter Drucker stated that solving complex business and management problems is a matter of, “formulating the mess.”

To get right to the point: the root cause is identified when it is from outside the body because body parts don’t cause their own problems, body parts are where symptoms show up. A systems concept is that cause and effect can be separate in time in space, so symptoms can have hidden causes. Body parts do not cause their own problems in the sense of being genetic, since the new paradigm is epigenetics that is shaped by the environment dynamically, while genetics explanations are usually a lazy excuse for lack of explanation. With evidence that problems can be solved it is not simply genetic and therefore determined.

Three Criteria for Outside Causes as Root Causes 

1. Something Missing          
-Nutritional Deficiencies
-Developmental Processes physical or emotional

2. Something Invading:
-Emotional Abuse

3. The mind’s responses to stress and how health decisions are made. 

Mind is from outside the body because it is not the body, or necessarily consistent with bodily needs.

Six Root Causes and Nutrition

  1. Nutrition provides energy for health. The body can heal itself when it has the all the nutrients it needs, in combination with other therapies when necessary.
  2. Toxicity requires nutrition to detoxify, damages digestion.
  3. Infection: use nutrients to kill or reverse pathogenic mutations and strengthen immunity.
  4. Misalignment of bones from teeth to toes due to missing developmental processes requires nutrients to rebuild muscles, bones, teeth.
  5. Emotional and spiritual. Nutritional problems can create moods, depression or anxiety. The brain needs to have energy to solve emotional problems. Emotional problems can prevent implementing nutrition. 
  6. Mind’s responses to stress, health choices, and nutritional choices: paradigm problems, which is what Integral is all about.

This kind of root cause list is used in the quality improvement methodology of six sigma in the form of a fishbone diagram, a basic tool taught with the 5 Whys to all beginning level employees involved in process improvement. The fishbone diagram is a like a fish skeleton or pine tree laid sideways with the empirical outcome stated (the problem or goal) where the spine starts at the head, or the trunk of the pine tree, and then 4 to 8 root causes listed on the ribs or branches. This is a way to discipline people to consider all the possible root causes in a situation as a reminder to not jump to conclusions and then visually organize the possibilities to investigate.

These simple tools are more useful than just about anything in the social or physical sciences that operate at flabbergasting levels of intellectual sloppiness with their incompetence hidden behind technical pretentions like use of statistics that proceed from unexamined assumptions. Explaining the difference between academic and quality methods, and between American and Japanese cultures and management, is Richard Tabor Green’s 800 page plus book, Global Quality (1993).

Body Parts Don’t Explain Anything: Hormones


The fixation on hormones like thyroid and adrenals illustrates how people do not understand root causes or even basic physiology under fifth stage fragmented science that understands each organ separately but does not train people to see their interrelationships as a habit of analysis.

Hormonal glands do not create energy, they help regulate activity. Hormones are messengers of what to do, like adrenal glands pulling nutrients out of storage for activity from standing up to running from stress, or thinking a lot. The nutrients have to be there to be mobilized. Hormones are the gas pedal and not the gas tank. The gas tank is the digestive organs and nutrition collectively.

Low hormone levels in lab tests are a symptom but that does not tell you what to treat. Nutrition, toxicity and infections can be causes of low hormones.

Thyroid expert David Brownstein MD explains that basic nutrition like iodine for every cell in your body is better than thyroid hormone supplements for low thyroid conditions, including Hashitmotos.

The narrow interpretation would assume that taking thyroid hormone is the more complete direct solution, since thyroid hormone consists of iodine plus tyrosine, an amino acid.

The problem is that low thyroid activity is actually mostly an adaptation to slow metabolism rather than its cause. So trying to speed up thyroid hormone output can worsen symptoms like heart pounding because things are imbalanced.  If you press on the gas pedal with low fuel in the tank you run out of fuel faster.

Low thyroid gland hormonal output is inseparable from other causes.  More iodine is probably needed for every cell than for thyroid hormone, so the body would distribute iodine to cells and then to hormones at a matching level of activity to regulate the energy created by the mitochondria of cells.

Iodine also detoxifies chlorine, fluoride, and bromine from fire retardants on furniture and bread. These toxins are halides like iodine so bind in the same receptor sites. Iodine deficiency lets these in. Chlorine and fluoride in tap water is a daily exposure. 

Nutrition and toxicity are different sides of the same coin.

The next level is to master theory well enough to apply it.

STAGE 8: Nutrition Coaching through Customized Complexity Engineering

Another level of sophistication is to apply theories to improving  complex systems like individuals’ health.

Here I give a model of nutrition and health coaching I use.

  1. That defines what a complete nutritional solution looks like.
  2. Testing methods to design and monitor protocols.
  3. Implementation support though coaching.

Customizing Complete Nutrition

  • Right diet by food groups to include: meat, dairy, eggs, vegetables, fruits, etc.
  • Macro nutrient ratios: Protein, Carbs, Fat, low carb, low meat, etc.
  • Deficiencies to focus on: minerals, vitamins, probiotics, proteins, fats, carbs, sunlight
  • Excesses
  • Food intolerances and allergies: eliminate the food or cure the reactions?
  • Upgrades of foods and supplements
  • Digestive root causes and remedies
  • Focus on weak organs to rebuild.
  • Meal timing: intermittent fasting, etc.
  • Physics of nutrition: sun, earth grounding, magnetic mattress, far infrared lamps or sauna.
  • Test energetically every food, supplement, and method to see what strengths or weakens the person, and can rate on a scale of 1-10.

Assessment and Testing of Nutritional Needs

Methods of assessment include:

  1. Interpretation of symptoms
  2. Lab tests
  3. Energetic testing of any question

Lab Tests

Lab tests carry the more convincing authority of hard science with numbers.

For nutrition, hair and blood cell tests can be helpful.

However, there may be some things missing and labs can only assess, not prescribe what can work.

Customer focused engineering requires detailed design of health solutions on a prescriptive level. 

Energetic Tests

Energetic testing can be used to get answers to yes or no questions, especially to determine what foods weaken or strengthen a person and in what amounts. The more specific the question the better the result.

Energetic testing is not involved in six sigma at all.

These methods are common practice in alternative health. 
I don’t have any reference that summarize methods, only  more explanation at my website, Primal Rejuvenation. 

Types of Energetic Tests:

  • muscle kinesiology on client or surrogate including self long distance
  • sway tests
  • dowsing with a pendulum,
  • electronic machines that scan frequencies.
  • feeling energy looking at pictures or holding a product in the hand,


  • Range of questions asked is infinite.
  • Prescribes in detail, labs cannot prescribe; works forward in time.
  • Quantifies for engineering level requirements of protocols: how much, when, in combination with what, etc.
  • Faster: can be done for immediate results, not waiting for lab results. Just in time
  • Works long distance
  • Can be used to monitor implementation remotely without talking to the client.


  • Subjectivity and bias of the tester can affect the result.
  • With muscle testing the person has to have a balanced nervous system not in autonomic system dysregulation, to get accurate results.
  • The testing is only as good as the question asked and the solutions proposed.
  • Hijacked by energetic entities when done without safeguards.

Implementing Nutritional Plans with Coaching Support

Implementing a health plan is a matter of integrating concept and execution in an iterative manner involving:

  • Clarification of instructions
  • Review to assure quality of implementation
  • Problem solving with reactions to foods, detoxification, etc.  
  • Additional upgrades and revisions of the plan

Questions can be answered electronically on a daily basis just-in-time rather than waiting for a monthly appointment that is usually way too long for client to be implementing on their own and avoid multiple failures.

Problem solving begins with the question of whether symptoms identified as “defects” in a quality perspective, are failures of the design of plan or failure to implement, the first question in the theory of statistical variation of complex systems. 

Or have health needs changed that require revising the plan to respond to new events like uncomfortable detoxification that usually happens as people get stronger.

Reviews of implementation can be done proactively by asking the client what they have done for each step of the plan.

It is also an option to test energetically and remotely for key indicators like nutritional deficiencies that still remain. It can be a shock when you write the client asking if they are doing the one thing they are not doing. I have done this multiple times.

Problem Solving for Lack of Implementation

Implementation depends on the relationship between the coach and client.

Solving implementation problems also often involves challenges in the paradigm shift for the client or the coach.

The following is what each stage contributes to an integrated approach and some challenges at each stage.


The person must learn to feel what is working. They must align craving to needs accurately, that is instinct. Feelings of cravings can be wrong: cravings for carbs is often the response to what is actually deficiencies of fat or protein. It helps logistically to have the person eat meat and fat first before the more carby or watery part of the meal like vegetables so they don’t fill up on that first. Eventually they can learn to guide themselves.

There are different theories of how mineral deficiencies create sugar and starch cravings.  This is why addressing all nutritional deficiencies like minerals and vitamins is important for making any diet work. 

Tribal Connection

Tribal living is in a cohesive community close to nature.

That has been blown to bits with modern fragmentation of people and distance from nature.

The coaching relationship strives to be a tiny microcosm of tribal-like connection through the wilderness of people who do not understand and blame them for being sick. They need to get closer to nature by:

  • Sourcing food that is fresh as possible, sometimes direct from the farm.  
  • Walking barefoot on the earth and getting sun.
  • Fighting the modern day beasts of toxicity and technology: electronics, light, pollution and separation from earth.

Individual Power

Third stage is about how individual power of the coach that can inspire loyalty.  Healthy loyalty is given by the client, not called in as obligation, based on the coach’s example of personal success, insight, and integrity in everything. 

The client’s power increases with physical strength and mastery of health. 

Collaborative Process

Fourth stage shifts from the formal authority of being a medical doctor who is always right.

The new legitimate authority is “management by fact” that is collaborative. Complexity demands everyone provide facts about the results being experienced to evaluate what methods are working and what the cause are. This is an ongoing discussion, an iterative process of continuous improvement to revise the plan and tactics of implementation.

Lack of understanding is usually a cognitive paradigm shift problem not as a failure to obey authority by rank. On the other hand, if the client is argumentative the coach can remind the client that if you knew everything then you wouldn’t need to come to me.

Fragmentation versus Focus

Focus is the biggest problem in a world of interruptions and brain fog. People can’t read long enough to understand and if they don’t revise basic assumptions they will not understand their plan to address the root causes they actually have, and return to shopping for what they think the answer looks like.

Fifth stage presents a fragmented model of science under the microscope what feeds endless marketing of products like supplements and healing technologies that can be distracting. This leads to shopping addiction and the search for something new instead of implementing what you have first to see it works. Poor implementation leads to poor conclusions, “that didn’t work.”  People often fail to make connections and think things through and repeat of cycle of poor implementation and shopping for an easy miracle.

Clients in shopping mode or unfocused do not ask enough question and are off on their own, trying things without consultation, etc. So the coach has to drive the review process.

Feelings and Compassion versus Responsibility

Healthy wixth stage may explore motivation internally more as unconscious emotions that lead to self sabotage.

Unhealthy sixth stage would be making decisions based on feelings and quit because something doesn’t feel right, but they don’t even know what it is.

 Some feelers want all compassion instead of confronting lack of responsibility in communication and collaboration in being lead through implementation. It’s a balance between moral reasoning of the nurturing mother and strict father or the masculine leading.  Clients must be able to confront their own limits and not feel like a victim when the coach explains they will not succeed if they go week after week without follow-up, especially when the follow up sessions they have done indicate they are still not implementing and still have key symptoms not improving. 

Specific emotional healing can be considered, but before going down another path of emotionally healing, like new age energetic healing magic, the person’s daily system should be analyzed for opportunities in process improvement, an engineering approach.  

Engineering the Lifestyle and Environment

At seventh and eight stages implementation understanding the customer’s experience as a system is important. The relational part is asking questions and listening to everything they say; competent technical investigation can create more reassurance that compassionate gestures as client and coach come to a deeper understand of root causes together. Their problems might be a paradigm assumption or might simply be logistical as managing the complexity of their lifestyle in their environment. 

For example, a mother who had trouble eating enough meat. There was no reason, which indicated a lack of focus.  It came down to being interrupted and not able to finish larger meals while taking care of young children. The solution proposed was to put the full daily portion out on the table, in one or two servings, and she could work on it in more than one sitting.

This is called process improvement engineering with visual management. When thoughts are continuously interrupted, food staring you in the face competes better with the flow of interruptions, and the portions are more decisively measured to begin with. This is also called debuffering: the refrigerator door is a buffer or barrier to thinking about that food and you have to open it and serve it. Every move counts in the battle for attention when it is difficult to complete a thought. This is managing complexity with simplicity.

Supplements can be set out on a counter or space to remind one to take each one.

While managing a factory and raising children are at the opposite ends of a spectrum of systems,  some of the same engineering techniques can be used for managing work flows and dietary processes.


This integral theory of nutrition and coaching is a synthesis of:

  1. history of nutrition
  2. new paradigm of integral level science based on six sigma engineering
  3. energetic testing

The full model of nutrition and coaching can be seen at This further explains all root causes and how nutrition is important in addressing the other root causes. This includes the 6th root cause of how the mind makes health choices through paradigms, so it is important to explain what is involved in the shift from old paradigms to an integral health paradigm. 

Energetic testing is further explained at Energetic testing is the element most likely to be rejected by people who are predominantly fifth stage scientific. The irony is that engineering requirements of detailing customer health needs cannot be satisfied fully with the current state of scientific diagnostics and prescription limited to lab tests. Energetic testing can answer all kinds of questions to fulfill engineering requirements, although further discussion of making such methods reliable is important.

The new paradigm of science and customer driven business is explained further me my article on the Sustainable Firm, Integral Leadership Review, April 2014. Six Sigma can be understood as a new organization principle for society at the integral level, in which legitimate authority is based on management by facts about the effectiveness of means in meeting human ends. This is the basis for the collaborative process between coaches or other health providers and clients.


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Glasser, Barney G., Anselm Strauss. 1967. The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research.  New York: De Gruyter.

Greene, Richard Tabor. 1993. Global Quality: A Synthesis of the World’s Best Management Methods. Homwood, Illinois: Business One Irwin & ASQC Press.

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About the Author

Paul Hess, Ph.D., Sociology, Brandeis University, also studied business at MIT and social movements and political economy at University of California, Berkeley. He spends his time modeling systems in detail, including implicit thought systems using Integral theory. His work on organizations is especially concerned with strategy in sustainable business that includes environmental health and toxicity as the more urgent concern of many customers, compared to the predominant focus on climate change—although these issues are related. He works as a health coach in his business, Primal Rejuvenation, helping people with chronic fatigue eat to energize and detoxify. He is also developing and writing about a comprehensive theory of gender that informs his men’s relationship coaching program (and coaches women, too). He lives in Plymouth, Michigan and can be reached at:

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