Agriculture, Ancel Keys, Ancestors, Banting, Chlosterol, Dairy, Diabetes, Diet, Disease, Documentary, Evolution, Fat, Food, Genetics, Grains, Health, Heart, Neolithic, Nutrition, Paleo, Politics, Raw, Standard American Diet, Sugar, The Perfect Human Diet, USDA, Vegan, Vegetarian, Western, Weston. A Price, William Banting
I thought I’d continue on with yesterdays theme of ‘diets’ for this post. Before I start let me just say how much I love watching documentaries… today I watched one called ‘The Perfect Human Diet’.
Has anyone else heard of it? It’s a recent documentary that came out last year and is based on the host C.J. Hunt going in search of just that… the perfect human diet.
Here’s the official trailer:
It starts off in 1978 with a young C.J. Hunt at 24 years of age running on a track when all of a sudden he ‘drops dead’. He is told by medical professionals that he has to take heart medication for the rest of his life, stop any extreme physical activity, not to go anywhere without someone who doesn’t know CPR, that he should eat a conventional USDA diet (i.e. low fat, high carbs) and that he had a 50% chance of dying within 2 years.
He learnt that following this Standard American Diet (SAD) left him constantly hungry, hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) and obsessing with everything he ate. He then turned to other methods of eating ranging from diets like macrobiotic, juicing, vegetarian, vegan and raw food vegan. Soon he discovered that his body was craving protein.
The rest of the documentary then goes on to talk about nutrition in terms of human evolution.
I know it’s a Friday so I won’t overload you with too much information but here are what I found to be the most interesting points (mostly in my own words based on the documentary). Apologies if they seem a bit all over the place! I HIGHLY recommend you watching it (you can watch it here).
- There is too much contradictory advice on weight loss (just look at my last post!).
- “Health is not the absence of disease” – David J Getoff (Naturopath and Clinical Nutritionist).
- Every year 300,000 – 400,000 people in the U.S. die of dietary related disease alone. Using the September 11 tragedy as an analogy that works out to be one 9/11 every 3 days and this is continuing.
- Weston A. Price, DDS a dentist and pioneer in nutrition travelled around the world visiting different tribal groups who were still eating their traditional diets and who as yet had not been influenced by a ‘Western’ diet. Here he saw people who had pretty much excellent health, their face and jaw structures were different to ours today, they had enough room in their jaws for all their teeth (didn’t have to have wisdom teeth removed or things like underbites or overbites corrected) and they essentially suffered none of the diseases we do today. These were groups of people who were eating the same way for MANY MANY generations.
- The longest running study of health and nutrition = The history of the world.
- We were not designed to be vegetarians or vegans (we have a carnivorous GI tract not a herbivorous one).
- The first diet book that gained recognition was written in 1863 titled ‘Letter on Corpulence’ you can read the PDF here but here’s the overall gist of the story… the previous year (1862) William Banting (the author of the book) was 65 years old, 5″5 and 202 pounds and suffered many health issues. He spent 3 years following a diet much like the SAD we see today of reducing fat, cutting calories and exercising more. He saw NO change. Finally one doctor prescribed a different diet and told him to stay away from bread, butter, milk, sugar, beer and potatoes and told him to eat 3 meals a day made up of mainly meat, fish, poultry or game, small amounts of fruit, any vegetable except potatoes, tea without milk and sugar and dry wine without any restrictions on the quantity of his meals. Banting dropped 35 pounds in 38 weeks and after 2 years he was down 50 pounds and all his previous health issues disappeared.
- Back then the medical community agreed with Banting’s ideas of weight loss. That is the way to weight loss was to give up carbohydrates, starches and sugars.
- From 1865 – 1965 essentially every diet restricted carbs and focused on a diet of meat, vegetables, some fruit and a slight restriction on fats.
- Around the 1950′s things started to change. This is when we the Ancel Keys’ research of the ‘Seven Countries Study’ appeared. I won’t go into detail about that study you can Google it yourself but basically Ancel Keys came to the conclusion from his very flawed study that fat makes us fat and that dietary fat is the source of things like heart disease.
- When the study done by Ancel Keys came out everything changed… now people were told to eat less fat and more carbs except that there was NO evidence to prove that his theory was correct.
- “Fat does not make you fat” – Dr Andrew Weil M.D.
- The USDA guidelines on nutrition come out every 5 years from a specially selected panel. This panel decides what scientific evidence to include in their recommendations.
- The very first set of guidelines came under the recommendation of politicians NOT of scientists/nutritionists and these recommendations were based on the unproven theory that reducing dietary fat would reduce heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
- These recommendations have stayed the same for 30 years (take a moment to ponder that one!)
- If we look at the way Farmers fatten up their animals they are essentially feeding them a diet based on the USDA food pyramid which is now called ‘My Plate’. Basically they are using what the government is telling US to eat to fatten up their animals… again something to think about!
- If we think of nutrition in human evolution as an American football field and start at the very beginning of the field (2 million years ago) this is when the first sign of man appeared.
- From 2 million years ago to 10,000 years ago our ancestors were eating a diet of wild plants, animal products and no carbs or dairy.
- The last 5th of the last inch of the football field (if you can imagine that) is when the Industrial revolution started. This was when the introduction of refined sugars, refined grains and refined oils came about.
- 70% of what we eat today on the SAD (remember that’s the Standard American Diet) comes from the Industrial period.
- If you are standing at ALMOST the end of the football field and this represents modern day eating and you look back to the start you can see that genetically we are NOT eating the way we are designed to be.
- Our brains developed to what they are now because of a high protein diet.
- Our ancestors ate a lot of organ meats and things like bone marrow for Omega-3 fatty acids.
- The health ‘issues’ of our ancestors was basically surviving in their environment (i.e. hunting and gathering). They didn’t suffer from the diseases we do today.
- In all of the studies on human evolution there has never been a group of people that were vegetarian or vegan.
- The Neolithic period (i.e. The Agricultural Revolution) is less than 10% of the time that modern humans have been around!
- Our ancestors WEREN’T eating a fad diet.
- We have THE SAME biology as our ancestors.
- “If this is a fad diet then it is a 2 million year old fad.” – Dr. Boyd Eaton, M.D.
- “Health does not equal convenience” - David J Getoff (Naturopath and Clinical Nutritionist).
So there you have it… PALEO IS NOT A FAD!
What are your thoughts on all this? If you’ve watched the documentary what did you think?