Have you ever wondered what the ideal human diet is? Have you ever asked yourself how on earth do I eat to nourish my body and avoid illness?? These have certainly been the great looming questions in the nutrition world for quite some time. The experts can't seem to agree and the internet has become an overwhelming maze of conflicting information. I’m sure at some point you’ve been exposed to the controversial “vegan, vegetarian and Paleo debate”, each pleading their case for the perfect nutritional paradigm. I personally don’t feel that it is quite so black and white. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another, and certainly wont work for somebody living in a completely different environment or under a different set of circumstances.
But what if the answer is simple? What if it isn't as complicated as you have been led to believe? “You are what you eat” is the old cliché that you are no doubt familiar with, but have you ever realised just how profound this notion is and applied it in your life? As a culture we tend to generally accept that some foods are good and some are bad for us but beyond this level of understanding there is no deeper meaning behind the way we eat. We eat habitually and not intentionally. We eat without conscious thought as to what this food is doing within our body beyond the momentary taste sensation in the mouth. And all because we have become so disconnected from the natural world and where our food comes from.
We have somehow come to a point in the human experience where we no longer intuitively know what is correct for us to eat. Let that sink in for a moment. Why is it that we are the only species on Earth to have this problem? There is not a single animal living in its natural environment that is overweight or suffering a chronic illness as a result of their diet. They just know what to eat. They are in touch with the innate intelligence that drives their food choices, and as a result they thrive. If this alone doesn’t show how disconnected we have become, I don’t know what will. We call ourselves the superior and most intelligent species on this planet and yet we don’t even know what to turn to for nourishment. Why is this so? Could it be, that in our quest to conquer science, technology and better living through chemistry we have lost this intuition, that innate vital force that connects us to nature and drives our most basic primordial instinct?
The truth is that us humans, just like every other form of life on Earth are biologically designed to consume things from our immediate natural environment. Throughout human history, right up until around 15,000 years ago (when we domesticated plants, animals and ourselves), we have been predominantly nomadic hunter-gatherers. This is what our digestive system is metabolically equipped for, which is quite a stretch from our modern lifestyle of remaining in the one place and foraging in the supermarket. The reality is that Mother Nature doesn’t offer a year round supply of the same conveniently available foods. She is dynamic. She is forever changing and forcing us to live on the border of support and challenge. Right where we grow and develop the most.
Long story short, we have never eaten a single universal or consistent diet. There has never been a perfect menu. No blueprint diet that will deliver perfect health for everyone. We make do with what is available to us, and when there is nothing but REAL food available, choosing the right food is not an issue. The problem we now face is an overabundance of chemically laden products masquerading as foods, and a system that makes it difficult to acquire quality plant food, which is what we require most.
So how do we apply this to our current situation? How do we live in alignment with our biological design in a world that is so distant from nature? We obviously can’t throw on a loincloth and run around hunting and foraging in the suburbs (unless you’re in an environment where this is possible, which would be awesome). But what we can do is stop relying on supermarkets and packaged foods. We can go to our local farmers market and buy quality produce that is grown seasonally in our local environment. We can start adding in the plant foods that gave our ancient ancestors such robust strength and vitality. We can leave behind the white bread culture that we have all grown up on and pay close attention to the eating habits of the healthier and disease free cultures of the world. Although there is no one size fits all when it comes to the optimal diet, there are certain fundamental principles that all of the most healing and health promoting diets in the world have in common. Principles that we can begin to incorporate into our lives at a pace that is not too overwhelming. These principles can serve as stepping-stones in your road to wellness and include:
Eating foods in their whole and natural state.
Abundant omega 3 fats especially DHA and EPA.
Limiting or avoiding consumption of pasteurised dairy products.
Avoid synthetic/man made “foods” such as additives, preservatives, artificial (ridiculously neuro toxic) sweeteners, margarines etc.
Avoidance of refined sugar and refined (milled) carbohydrates (white breads and pastas etc) that are nothing more than pharmaceutical foods/empty calories.
Eating nutrient dense, mineral rich plant foods with emphasis on dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, sprouts, seaweeds and fermented foods.
Magnesium rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, raw cacao etc. Magnesium is an absolutely essential mineral for the nervous system.
Daily consumption of fermented/probiotic rich foods such as Sauerkraut, Kim Chi, Miso, Kombucha, Kefir etc.
Avoiding the overconsumption of factory farmed animals and processed meats. These animals are slaughtered in fear and kept sick their entire lives by being fed foods that are unnatural to them and being injected with hormones and antibiotics (which end up in your body). Always aim for grass fed, organic animal products. .
Clean, pure, filtered, fresh water. 70-80% of our physical body is water.
Slowly implement each principle and watch your health and energy levels soar. Create the health that you deserve and do it for yourself, first and foremost. Listen to your body and do not jump in the deep end and get overwhelmed. Nobody knows your body like you do. You live there. Take responsibility for the state it is in and start rebuilding your temple with Mother Nature’s finest materials :).