For some reason, our diet is probably one of the most controversial subjects in our lifetime. An essential part of our life, that really should be in our control, at our hands and intuitively easy, has become something rather political and economical in our world. Apart from the odd breatharian, we all need to eat to survive; there is no question about it. We need the macro and micro nutrients of the food that we eat as well as its life force and medicinal properties, for the betterment of our own beings. It wasn’t too long ago in our history, where humans hunted and gathered their own food; this was also a time where obesity and diet related diseases were rare, if not extinct. So how is it that the human race is now at large, confused with how and what foods we are best to eat for our nourishment and well being? In general, I would say that it comes down to enormous food companies and their need to create products that sell all over the world, that have long shelf lives, that generate solid profits, and with little concern for environmental and worker’s well being, like all the processed foods that literally fill entire supermarkets. Smart advertising campaigns are applied to inform consumers how amazing, if not fast and easy processed food is. Something, that used to be a whole natural food, transformed into a chemical, sugar and salt laden edible substance, is handed out for public consumption with such confidence, that most of us do not even think about what it is we are eating. In my view, these foods are not fit for any being’s consumption.
It wasn’t until fairly recently that scientists struggled to create research studies on obesity in lab rats. The reason why, was because whenever they increased the natural diet of lab rats, the lab rat’s metabolism would simply go up, the rats would consume more energy but also start generating more energy through increased activity, and so they did not gain weight. This baffled scientists for a while until they figured that they should feed the lab rats a diet that was not natural to them, one high in simple carbohydrates and sugars; they called it the cafeteria diet. The cafeteria diet, fattens lab rats up successfully, and causes similar signs and symptoms of obesity as in humans. The cafeteria diet is also pretty much the same type of diet most Westerners eat. Namely, a diet high in processed carbohydrates, hidden sugars, trans-saturated fats, food colourings, preservatives, chemical substances and rather low in raw plant foods…almost as if anything raw is looked at as plate decoration.
If we were to use the failure of fattening lab rats on their natural diet as an example, it becomes pretty clear that we should have a diet that is natural to us too, and consequently if we ate a lot of it, it would have similar effects on our bodies as the lab rats, in that our metabolism and energy output would naturally go up as well. When it comes to natural eating, it is so simple and affordable for everyone, yet baffling how people have some kind of aversion to eating this way. I am not so sure why, and I am getting a feeling it comes down to various reasons unique to each individual’s background and life experience as well as the propaganda that is out there, confusing us from our own truths.
Most of us are aware that our bodies constitute 60-70% water. This is an astonishing fact that almost likens us to cucumbers. If we were to take on board this one fact about our human body, would it not make sense then that our diet should constitute a large percentage of foods that have a high water content too? I certainly think so, more importantly, my body tells me so, based on the feedback I get when I eat a natural diet compared to a highly processed one. The diet that I believe is most suitable for human consumption, and I am certainly not alone in this, is one where your dietary base line consists of as much raw and or steamed plant-foods as possible. To this mountain of plant-food that we should be ingesting daily, small amounts of protein and carbohydrates of good quality can be added. When we eat a diet high in vegetables and zero in processed foods, we do not need to worry at all about how much fats we eat, provided they are from good sources. Olives, avocado, nuts and seeds can be used as wished to dress meals. Extra virgin olive oil is the best for dressings as is a good quality apple cider vinegar with the mother in it. Coconut oil and toasted sesame oil are great for cooking as is ghee and traditional butter; they can all handle a great amount of heat without denaturing. Good quality sea salt is the only salt one should be eating, and be sure to use herbs and spices freely in your cooking. Fruit is a great source of fibre, vitamins and antioxidants but they can also be high in sugar so use them in moderation and prioritise berries, citrus fruit, pineapple and pawpaw over others. Dried fruits are really high in sugar and can cause intestinal dysbiosis if eaten too much and too frequently, if you love them and desire to have them in your diet, eat them sparingly and choose fresh dates, goji, mulberries and other berries before other types. However, dried fruit should really be considered as lollies.
I am one of those people who do not support dairy; I think it causes more havoc than health and more misery to the animals involved than benefits for the human race. Having said that, if I were to suggest any dairy, choose goats and sheep products such as soft cheeses, yoghurt and kefir, sparingly. I am plantbased myself, so I tend to eat legumes and tempeh as my source of protein. A balanced wholefoods plantbased diet offer all the amino acids a body needs to stay healthy and maintain good muscle tone. There are body builders and amazing athletes in our world, who are capable of accomplishing extraordinary things on a plantbased diet. If plantbased is not your thing, then make sure you choose good quality and as much cruelty free sources of animal protein as possible. When I say this, I mean organic, grass fed and or wild.
I am not huge on grains, but I do not dismiss them either. When I travelled the world a lot, and visited third world countries, I noticed a couple of things. The locals looked amazing and had a natural muscle mass and glow to their bodies, and they ate pretty much like I am stating here. They also ate alternate grains to wheat, and in their natural state, that is simply cooked and not processed. They ate their grains in lesser quantities than vegetables. Based on this observation, as well as my own knowledge that I have gathered over time, it comes down to choosing the right type of grains in small quantities. Eat sprouted bread and 100% seed crackers rather than the fluffy refined stuff made from flour. Choose natural grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, millet and black, red, green and wild rice. Chia is a seed, but incredibly satisfying like a grain, it is rich in minerals and essential fatty acids and I highly recommend it. Grains should really only be a small part of our diet and used more like a garnish.
Lastly, I am a bit of a sucker for fermented foods. When I was younger and first embarked on my health and fitness journey, I came across a great little macrobiotic cookbook written by Michio Kushi. I read this book until it fell apart. Although I am not macrobiotic, the one thing I have taken from this way of eating is the use of fermented foods. Fermented foods are great for the establishment and maintenance of our gut flora, and a necessity for all humans of all ages. Maintaining healthy flora in our guts supports our digestion, immune system and emotional well being. Foods that are naturally high in probiotics are sauerkraut, miso, umeboshi plums and kefir, ideally one or more of these foods should be part of our everyday eating routine. As well as prebiotic foods such as legumes and root vegetables with skins on, cabbage, leeks and garlic etc.
When we eat a natural diet, magical things happen. There is no longer a need to calorie count (which makes no sense anyway and if you want to know why, ask me in the comments) nor count macros, because our body becomes self-regulating and our metabolic rate goes up. Sugar and savoury cravings disappear, and a proper hunger and satiety cycle shapes. On a natural diet, our digestion improves, our lymphatic systems have a better flow, our skin glows, our eyes become clearer and our hair has more lustre. A natural diet also automatically causes less household waste and is much more symbiotic to our ecology for obvious reasons, than mainstream processed food.
What we eat, not only becomes our physical representation, but it also reflects our consciousness.