Many of my patients seem dumfounded as to what to eat after I explain the problems with our typical western diet. We have been conditioned into thinking that our diet is healthy. However, research demonstrates otherwise. Humans are extremely adaptable. Nevertheless, we cannot avoid the ‘Laws of Darwinian Evolution’.
The Two Cardinal Rules
Sure, we can survive on all sorts of different types of diets. But there is only one basic dietary platform that we genetically evolved on. It has a number of variations. And it can be very flexible as well. But there are certain tenets about it that cannot and should not be avoided.
Those two fundamental principles are:
- We are not genetically designed to eat processed grains of any kind.
- We are not genetically designed to eat dairy products.
Anything produced from milk is highly inflammatory. It raises insulin which not only leads to insulin resistance and diabetes, but also suppresses cortisol and inflames our bodies. We are not genetically designed to eat milk products. This is where Darwin steps in.
Have you heard of “The Darwin Awards”? These are “awards” given to people found to be doing high risk (in other words, dumb) activities that could result in their early demise thus lessening their chances of reproducing, and therefore breeding fewer dumb people. The same could be said of dietary choices.
Dairy eaters, for instance, will naturally be less healthy. They will develop more conditions like heart disease and diabetes and will die younger. Over time evolutionarily, dairy eaters will become a “weaker” species and will be bypassed by the healthier, more robust “non-dairy eaters”.
The same will happen with “processed grain eaters”. Why do some people get cancer and others don’t? Why do some people get heart disease and others don’t? There are populations on our planet where heart disease is so rare, when someone has a heart attack, it makes the newspaper. Imagine that!
We have become so accepting of these degenerative diseases that at one time were rare. These are “diseases of civilization” and, for the most part, they are caused by our diets and lifestyles.
The Healthiest People
Darwin will determine how we evolve. The healthiest people on the planet will be those that eat only fresh veggies, fruits, nuts and some animal protein.
Now, there is a lot of controversy swirling about animal protein. Early humans ate varying amounts of animal protein, depending on what food was available in the particular environment they lived. As people migrated further towards the poles and entered more temperate climates, vegetation became more seasonal and they had to rely more on protein in the colder seasons. But one thing was certain about early humans. They did not eat dairy products or processed grains.
So, you may ask, what does a “healthy” modern diet look like? Good question. Broken down to a simple “bare bones” answer, I believe there can be much variation to a healthy diet as long as one follows two basic simple premises:
- No processed grains
- No dairy products of any kind.
Dairy is anything that is made from milk. (All butter, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, creme fraiche, cream, ice cream etc). Processed grains are all baked goods, cereals including oatmeal, rice, pasta, chips, crackers, tortillas, etc. I think occasional potatoes are OK. But generally, the less starch the better especially if you are trying to lose weight.
A Philosophy of Food
The key here is flexibility. Adopting a “philosophy of food” rather than a specific diet, makes much more sense and is easier to follow if you are consistent with avoiding the two bad food groups.
That still leaves a lot of healthy choices. Combinations of veggies, fruits, nuts and protein in numerous different proportions to ones’ preference. Just as early man ate according to his environment, we can eat according to our preferences as long as we follow the two cardinal rules of what to avoid.
Another issue to be addressed is FAT. Modern animal protein is generally too high in fat and the wrong type of fat. Most of the animal protein today comes from stockade animals. Our ancestors ate protein from wild game that had much less fat, and with no hormones or antibiotics. Today it is important to limit our exposure to artificially manipulated protein and try to eat only wild fish, free range chicken or grass-fed beef, lamb or pork. Excess animal fat is also not part of our genetic diet. Eat only wild, lean protein.
While writing this I had dinner; two turkey burgers (no buns) and a salad. That’s it! Simple, healthy, Darwinian!
I have seen many of my patients become so much healthier, lose weight, get off medications and generally feel better when they make these dietary changes.
Coupling a healthy food plan with balanced hormones, a sensible consistent exercise routine and a few supplements and you will be on the road to “Darwinian Success!”
For more information about diet and the other four vital elements of healthy ageing, download my REDDI Plan booklets here.