DIET is not a slimming or ‘health’ regime.
DIET is the list of everything that enters the mouth and goes down the gullet: never to come back out, so stop thinking ‘sex’.
DIETS can be good for humans, or very, very bad. The choice is entirely that of the ingester. Only fools are directed by advertising.
FOOD FOR HUMANS is a subject that clutters TV progams, magazines, newspapers, recipe books, dietary advice books, medical literature, and every cafe, restaurant and food outlet on the planet, and except for a minute minority, every offering is unsuitable as a human diet. Why is this so?
WHY IS MOST FOOD UNSUITABLE FOR HUMANS?
There are four basic problems concerning our diet.
1) We are susceptible to drugs of many kinds.
2) We are wealthy, with a huge choice of ingestibles.
3) We lack education regarding our own gut, and what it requires.
Of all diets, the so-called Palaeo diet is the most intelligent and relevant, though few understand why or use it consistently. Taking number 3 first: our gut……..
OUR GUT, the extremely complicated tube connecting the mouth to the arse, is of a design which has been the result of, say, 20 million years of natural selection which has left us with the most suitable digestive tract for the average diet throughout all that period, until about 4000 years ago, when farming became more popular than foraging. It’s all downhill from then.
No doubt the little furry creatures we were at the beginning had different guts, but the point is that the best guts survived throughout the changes to out morphology over the eons, but time was endless then. 4000 years is nothing. Our guts have not changed for at least five million years………but the stuff we put in them has.
The picture is now a common image from film and book: the small band of ‘primitive’ humans foraging through the landscape, gleaning seeds, roots, fruits, insects and the occasional dead creature, if they could get to it before the carnivores. (I put ‘primitive’ in quotes because the Neanderthals had bigger brains than us.)
The picture, the small band, foraging, must be fairly accurate. Many tribal folk ‘discovered’ within the last 200 years lived exactly that way, but we must not assume their intelligence was any less than our own, even a hundred thousand years ago, and surely they had the technology for fish- and animal-traps, and the enhancement of fruit and nut groves.
So for millions of years our guts adapted to the diet that was available, to make the optimum use of the nutrients and minerals, the times of plenty and dearth, and these are the guts we have inherited. Our present diet is most unsuitable, we make ourselves fat and ill.
There is a misconception that the primitive diet is the most suitable for us, and that may be so, but that diet often lacked in many ways. Often the small band of foragers would arrive at a once-reliable food source to find it empty. Their territory may lack vital nutrients. Available water may be polluted: lead, cadmium, salt, or radioactivity are frequently found in certain springs. In the early white settlement of Australia, the open-hearted governor Phillip encountered and looked after small bands of tribespeople which arrived close to starvation. Aborigines to this day, have the genetic capability to put on an enormous amount of weight when foraging and hunting is good, to tide them over the dearths: not a valuable attribute today.
Though the foragers’ diet is by far the best for us, our guts require a regular intake of the minimum volume, interspersed with short fasts. The author Claire Dunn, who has survived and written about twelve months in a bush environment, does not eat on Fridays: painful, but exactly what is good for us, from way back in time when unwanted fasting often occurred.
Compare, so far, the above information with the food we eat today.
A simple fact: rats given minimal food will live more than twice as long as those with unlimited food.
THE FIRST POINT: 1) We are susceptible to drugs of many kinds.
AS HUMANS, WE CRAVE MANY STRANGE FOODS, DRINKS AND EXPERIENCES, some of which are called drugs, and many that affect us like drugs and demand constant satisfaction. Even exercise can act as a drug to those deeply involved.
In a hunter-gatherer society the natural cravings of the body drive it to seek out food and drink and shelter. The intake particularly desired is usually the least available: sweet, fatty, salty, rich oily delicious food. But these foods have the most energy and nutrients, so obviously they will be sought at all times. Until they are found, anything edible must be taken: seeds, stringy roots, acidic tiny fruits, lizards, insects, etc. And water must be the only drink.
When there is an unlimited supply of anything we may crave, we tend to treat that craving as a drug.
Take shelter: at the least, waterproof, windproof and warm. As a drug, a twenty-million dollar ten-bedroom mansion for two people.
We still crave sugar, fat, and salt. Now we can get as much as we want, and more. A hundred different drinks are available instead of water. Coffee, alcohol, sweet fizzy liquids are now drugs. People are addicted to them.
ADVERTISERS PREY ON OUR WEAKNESS. We cannot resist their products, and their products are now addictions for those weak of will. Wealthy countries are now breeding gross, fat, sick giants with short life-spans, no willpower, low libido and sloth-like activity. The poor are most at risk, though only as a statistic; in reality it is the least-educated with the worst diet.
In Brisbane, on a Sunday morning at the Northey St organic markets, a place frequented by the food-concious, the faces and bodies of the shoppers are happy and healthy. It is rare to see an overweight person. In contrast, at the nearby Toombul centre, perhaps 10% are gross, 50% overweight, and most look unfit.
NUMBER 4) COOKING.
COOKING-SHOWS AND RECIPE INFORMATION make drugs out of simple foodstuffs. A piece of raw meat is tenderised, soaked in honey and spices, wrapped in salty bacon and fat-layered pastry, and roasted in oil. Of course it is delicious. But very toxic as food, especially if eaten often.
The raw meat, however, may be excellent food for humans, provided that it contains no anti-biotics, or fat with traces of farm chemicals, or parasitic cysts, or, most importantly, that it is not cooked.
COOKING, in most cases, destroys essential nutrients, and is exceptionally detrimental to our diet. There are some foods that may be indigestible or offensive without cooking: roots, tubers, grains, pulses etc., but the best food for humans is not cooked, including meat. Cooking meat renders it far less digestible, even slightly toxic if roasted in fats at high temperature, which in any case destroys the valuable enzymes and vitamins. The cooked fat and protein is also changed for the worse.
COOKING-SHOWS RUIN FOOD. Heating, roasting, boiling, braising, frying, baking, simmering, seething; all these treatments reduce the essential nutrients of the original ingredients, and serve only to make them more delicious and desirable. In fact, to turn valuable food into a drug.
Food in cans, packets, boxes and jars has been processed to oblivion as far as human sustenance is concerned, and supplies simple low-grade energy, except perhaps some canned ocean-fish and vinegar-pickled products. Supermarkets follow trends of taste, and most have a small selection of ‘organic’ produce now, but beware misuse of the term.
I once had a friend whose wife, with pride, insisted on giving him ‘three cooked meals a day’. Aside from the imbalance of tasks, he ate third-rate, nutrient-poor fatty, salty, sugary food for a decade or so before dying. Cooking spoils food.
It is all too obvious that the rare foods that hunter-gatherers craved are now available by the dirt-cheap bucket-load, but the cravings remain to tantalize us. Each year the proportion of the overweight population in wealthy countries grows: just look around. It takes great willpower to NOT eat: we are programmed to do it, like breathing.
A reversal has taken place in the food market: the fat-rich and sugar-rich products are now the cheapest, and are mass-produced on a huge scale, being available everywhere. On the other hand, fresh, unprocessed, organic (as everything was at one time) farm fruit, vegetables and meat and eggs are now the most expensive and in least supply, as is ocean-caught local fish and seafood.
Cultured, farmed, labour-intensively-produced fish with artificially-coloured and antibiotic-tainted flesh is now half the price of the real thing, swimming wild on the reef.
The general idea of which foods benefit us, and which harm, if the requirements of our guts are understood, is simple:
Uncooked food, where possible
Raw food whenever possible
Processed food in cans, bottles, jars, packets etc..
All sweeteners, including honey, except in tiny amounts
All salts, except during periods of heavy sweat-loss
Meat, fish and eggs tainted with antibiotics, growth hormones and farm chemicals
Cooking where food is palatable raw
Blending food to reduce its roughage
Oils and fats except in small amounts
Commercial bread: make your own without all the chemicals and gluten
Cooking, cooking, cooking.
THE GOOD DIET
No recipes here, just don’t let the rubbish near your mouth, and don’t gorge on the good stuff. Don’t make your food so delicious that it becomes a craving, a drug. Don’t buy irresistible things for the frige: gooey cheese-cakes and quiches…….if you don’t buy them you won’t eat them,
Try Claire’s regime: no food one day of the week: the pain is worth it for the way you feel next day. But drink water. Fat people: no food at all, ever.
It’s all very well to read all this stuff; with the best of intentions nobody can stick to a diet that is perfect for them. But at least knowing what is good and bad is a start, and cutting out the rubbish is the best start: do most of your shopping at the fruit shop.
AND HERE’S THE MOST VALUABLE TIP OF ALL, AND THE MOST DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW: go to bed hungry every night (not starving). Eat you last meal between 2 and 5o’clock. You will sleep well, not being burdened with the energetic business of digestion, and wake annoyingly bright and chatty.