Human beings ate well and kept themselves healthy for millenniums before nutritional science came along to tell us how to do it. Eating in our time has become complicated — and needlessly so. Experts of one kind or another tell us how to eat, from doctors and diet books, to the latest findings in nutritional science, to government advisories and food pyramids. But for all the scientific baggage we have taken on in recent years, we still don’t know what we should be eating. Sorting through the long-running fat versus carb wars, the fibre skirmishes and the raging dietary-supplement debates, the picture is actually very simple. There are, basically, two important things you need to know about diet and health:
Fact one: Populations that eat a so-called western diet, consisting of lots of processed food and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits and wholegrains, invariably suffer most from western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Fact two: Populations eating a remarkably wide range of traditional diets, from diets high in fat, to those high in carbohydrate or protein, generally don’t suffer from these chronic diseases. What this suggests is that the human omnivore is exquisitely adapted to a wide range of food and diets. Except, that is, for one: the relatively new (in evolutionary terms) western diet that most of us are now following.
To get off the western diet and learn to eat real food in... more