I recently watched an interesting documentary called The Perfect Human Diet, produced and directed by C.J. Hunt. The movie makes the case that for tens of thousands of years, prehistoric men and women of the Paleolithic era survived on what they hunted and gathered, primarily plants, fruits, nuts, seeds and animal products. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that diets changed and people started to eat some unhealthy foods. The movie argues that the perfect human diet is should be based on what prehistoric men and women ate, also known as The Paleo Diet.
While I don’t agree with everything in the movie, specifically the recommendation to eat such a meat-heavy diet and the argument that one diet or way of eating is right for everyone, I do think that it makes some interesting and valid points, namely:
- We need to incorporate more real, whole foods into our diet. According to Dr. Loren Cordain (founder of The Paleo Diet), 70% of the calories in the American diet are from processed foods. We rely too heavily on refined and processed foods for our nutrition. From processed breakfast cereals to highly refined grains in bread, pasta and rice, we are surrounded with foods that are no longer “real” foods and deplete our body of important nutrients. We need to take a step back and return to basics, incorporating more fruits, vegetables, wild-caught fish, free-range poultry and eggs, and grass-fed meats.
- We need to eliminate sugar from our diet. Sugar is native to India, and was mentioned in sacred texts as early as 2000 B.C. Initially, it was used very sparingly as a pharmaceutical drug – as a sedative, painkiller, sleep inducer, antidepressant, wound healer and preservative. One of the first uses of caramel was as a depilatory for harem ladies. Because sugar is so refined, it has no nutrients and, on the contrary, depletes the body of nutrients because it is so hard to digest. In addition, sugar (as well as other refined grain products, such as white flour, pasta and rice) causes blood sugar levels to rise very rapidly. This gives you short bursts of energy that are quickly depleted and need to be replenished with more sugar. Over time, this can lead to diabetes or hypoglycemia because the pancreas becomes unable to regulate insulin levels.
Everybody’s nutritional requirements are very different, based on their genetic makeup, the environment in which they live and their level of activity. So, one diet is not necessarily appropriate for everyone. Nevertheless, the one simple thing that everyone can do to stay healthy is to reduce or remove refined and processed foods from their diets to make room for more whole, real foods.
I just added some new recipes to my site, including one of my family’s favorites, Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins.
The Scoop on Wheat and Gluten
I’ll be returning to the Greenwich Audubon Center in March to talk about what’s going on with wheat and gluten in our foods and how it affects our health. Come and learn about these ingredients and get the right information. Make your reservations early!
March 5, 2013, 10-11am