The Perfect Diet: My Thoughts
Did you know that none of the longest lived people on the planet were vegetarians?
Or that none of the longest lived people were actually Paleo?
Crazy, right? How could this be? Surely one of these diets is the right diet for humans.
I can promise you that there are people that will tell you that from both camps, and they’re both right.
That settles it then. So glad you stopped by. Kidding.
But seriously. The perfect diet. There’s even a video from the Paleo camp with that title, I believe.
But no. It’s actually not.
And neither is the vegetarian diet, or the fruit only diet, or the ketogenic diet, or even a whole-food plant-based diet.
You know why?
Because even you and I have very different bodies, situations, backgrounds and genetic histories. That’s why.
And I’m not even including the variable of the fact that our modern food in America is mostly crap.
I’ve read two books that detail the lives of communities where the people live to be 100 or older, while still being active and having their wits about them to the very end. Just imagine that for a moment.
None of them are vegans. Only one of them are mostly vegetarians. The others don’t eat a lot of meat either. These areas are called Blue Zones and there have been 5 of them identified.
Check out the book, The Blue Zones. It’s pretty detailed and explores the lives and culture of these 5 little pockets of people who are considered to be the longest lived in the world.
They did have some things in common though:
- They eat more scratch made food and know where their food comes from and what has been done to it.
- They eat just a little meat, more as a garnish or once a week, and in one zone, none.
- They eat fresh fruit and veggies as seasonally available.
- They are physically active.
- They have a strong sense of family and community. A support system. A tribe, if you will.
The problem with reading the book and then reading through the scientific attempts at explaining it, are the simple fact that they are ignoring two obvious points:
- We do not have an exclusive abundance of wholesome food as these cultures above did.
At least not here in the US anyway.
Processed foods have so many chemicals and compounds that are actually harmful to human bodies that it’s almost laughable that they’re called food at all.
The grains and whole foods have been genetically manipulated in a way that makes them actually cause inflammation.
The farming methods of even the healthiest of foods is so compromised, that we don’t even know what the effects are long term as we accumulate herbicides, pesticides and fungicides in our bodies.
- Culturally speaking, most Americans are not even sort of, kind of, even a little bit active. Truly.
Think about it: as a society, we have done everything possible to reduce human effort. We drive everywhere. We park as close to our destination as possible. We mostly work indoors, and do a ridiculous amount of sitting.
Even something as “tedious” as cooking a fresh meal has been reduced to removing a wrapper and heating in a microwave.
And I haven’t even included the token alarming statistics of the average hours spent watching TV, playing videos or mindless internet surfing.
Hell, we even invented a device to make it easier to do the laziest activity that people do. It’s called a TV remote. Because, let’s be honest. Do we really need to expend that extra energy getting up and walking to and from the TV when we’re already as inert as humanly possible?
So, this diet thing. It has to be considered from a larger view, and all of these issues have to be part of that view.
All of these things mentioned above cause cellular damage. Food is one of the most effective ways of repairing that damage. So is exercise. And so is going outside. It’s not a one size fits all proposition. I’m sorry. It just isn’t.
A whole-food, plant-based diet can go a long way to heal a body that is hurting. So can a diet that’s rich in fruits. But so can a diet that’s rich in healthy fats, some meats and lots of vegetables. It’s true.
But how can that be? They’re all so different.
Funny you should ask.
The answer is simple: it depends on the circumstances.
Let me explain: American humans on average are sick to a greater or lesser degree. And I believe that most of what ails us can be handled with diet and nutrition. However, what handles high blood pressure is not necessarily what sorts out colitis. What helps with Cancer, doesn’t necessarily remedy arthritis. Even the management of seizures have been addressed through diet.
But again, different dietary needs can help with specific conditions, and it is not “one size fits all”.
I’ve learned this first hand with friends and family, and even myself.
My healing process was unique to me, and I did it in stages, and ate differently at each phase: I ate nothing but fruit for over a month. I ate fresh greens and copious amounts of berries for quite some time. All organic, of course. I ate lots of watermelon for a while. The thing is that all of these foods had a specific purpose and were chosen intentionally to create a specific result.
But this post isn’t about that…
It’s really about why, as a culture we’re even looking for the perfect diet in the first place.
Which brings me back to my point: because we all want to feel good, look good and have a body that will carry us through life with vitality. So that we can live to be maybe a hundred and still be active and have our wits about us.
Well, that is attainable. I am certain of that.
But it won’t come about through a short-term fat loss fad diet. Or just any old short term fad diet for that matter.
It’s like a symphony:
You add this instrument (fresh organic vegetables), then this instrument (organic berries), and this one (healthy fats), and this (daily movement-exercise), and this (sunlight), and this (walking barefoot outside), and this (good bacteria), and this, and this… and before you know it, you have this beautiful piece of music that plays throughout the rest of your life.
I will be covering this in greater detail in future posts. But for now, I feel that a broader view is in order on this perfect diet business.
What do you think?
Resources and Links:
You can read more about the specific Blue Zones in this great article: Longevity Tips from the Blue Zones
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I totally agree with you! The missing ingredient in improving health is one’s diet (way of eating).
So true, Sally! That’s where it starts.:)
I definitely agree with you. Now you talk about even the healthiest of foods being compromised. Do you mean as well foods purchased from a health food store that are organic and/or non gmo? If so what data do you have on this?
I’ve read some about how one really should find heirloom seeds and grown all their own food to ensure quality, but I’m not convinced going to that length is necessary.
Hi Tiffany. 🙂
In this article, I’m really talking about non-organic foods and yes, GMOs. Berries are one of the healthiest foods you can eat, but also pretty contaminated with herbicides, fungicides and pesticides. So are apples. Unless you buy them organically raised, that is. I have a post in mind that covers the differences and nuances of the difference between organic, not organic, raised without chemicals, but not certified organic. It’s an important aspect of our food supply, I think. And there is a difference in nutrient quality even in organic between the original food and hybrid versions. I’m doing more research on that as well.
I love it and I have found too that our bodies respond different to different foods and it is very unique to you what makes you feel best. One of the things I’m searching for right now, (let me know if you know of anything) is what foods I need to eat to help me most against seasonal allergies. I get them so bad in Clearwater in the Spring and I have done EVERYTHING you can possibly think of other than (obviously) what is right for my body because they’re not working. I’ve done the local honey, I’ve done muscle testing and standard vitamins, Chiro, I’ve done tons and tons and tons of different vitamins, minerals, supplements, antihistamines etc etc… I can say I’ve found Quercetin to have been the most helpful. But this year was the worst for me and I’ve been eating well and exercising and the fact that some people get them and others don’t just perplex’s me. I didn’t get allergies in NZ but did get them in CA every spring and now here in FL but never this bad this year. And the annoying thing is I’ve really been looking after myself. I feel like there is something I have to be missing somehow and I think it has something uniquely to do with my body type – where it’s originally from and what I need to protect it. When I ask my body it say’s oils – high quality fish oils. Interesting eh. 🙂
Interesting, Julie. I wish I had an answer to this, but I would really suggest the very points you’ve listed already :-/ Do you eat sugar at all? That would be the only other thought I’d have on it, is to ensure that you eliminate all processed sugars and see how that goes. Let me know.
Hi Siouxie, thank you for that. You know, I had taken sugar and processed foods out of my diet for the last 2 months before the season hit and it hit me worse this year than any other year. It’s invalidating to say the least. Lol So I took a bit of a loss and now have had a bite of pie here and there and a small chunk of dark chocolate here and there and you know I found out, just like you did, it takes you right back to the old habits so easily. When I don’t do them at all there are no cravings but even a little and you can feel that pull; nag right back. So I’m back on the band wagon (after of course, this last piece of key lime pie). 🙁