Medical ArticlesDiet For A Healthy Person
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Finding Your Ideal Dietary
Category: Diet and Nutrition
Source: How And When To Be Your Own Doctor
Anyone that is genuinely interested in having the best possible
health should make their own study of the titles listed in the
bibliography in the back of this book. After you do, award yourself
a BS nutrition. I draw certain conclusions from this body of data. I
think they help a person sort out the massive confusion that exists
today about proper diet.
First principle: Homo Sapiens clearly can posses extreme health
while eating very different dietary regimens. There is no one right
diet for humans.
Before the industrial era almost everyone on Earth ate what was
produced locally. Their dietary choices were pretty much restricted
to those foods that were well adapted and productive in their
region. Some places grew rye, others wheat, others millet, others
rice. Some places supported cows, others goats, others had few on no
domesticated animals. Some places produced a lot of fruits and
vegetables. Others, did not. Whatever the local dietary, during
thousands of years of eating that dietary natural selection
prevailed; most babies that were allergic to or not able to thrive
on the available dietary, died quickly. Probably of childhood
bacterial infections. The result of this weeding out process was a
population closely adapted to the available dietary of a particular
This has interesting implications for Americans, most of whose
ancestors immigrated from somewhere else; many of our ancestors also
"hybridized" or crossed with immigrants from elsewhere. Trying to
discover what dietary substances your particular genetic endowment
is adapted to can be difficult and confusing. If both your parents
were Italian and they were more or less pure Italian going way back,
you might start out trying to eat wheat, olives, garlic, fava beans,
grapes, figs, cow dairy. If pure German, try rye bread, cow dairy,
apples, cabbage family vegetables. If Scottish, try oats, mutton,
fish, sheep dairy and cabbage family vegetables. If Jewish, try goat
dairy, wheat, olives and citrus. And certainly all the above ethnic
derivations will thrive on many kinds of vegetables. Afro-Americans,
especially dark-complexioned ones little mixed with Europeans, might
do well to avoid wheat and instead, try sorghum, millet or tropical
root crops like sweet potatoes, yams and taro.
Making it even more difficult for an individual to discover their
optimum diet is the existence of genetic-based allergies and worse,
developed allergies. Later in this chapter I will explain how a body
can develop an allergy to a food that is probably irreversible. A
weakened organ can also prevent digestion of a food or food group.
One more thing about adaptation to dietaries. Pre-industrial humans
could only be extraordinarily healthy on the dietary they were
adapted to if and only if that dietary also was extraordinarily high
in nutrients. Few places on earth have naturally rich soil. Food
grown on poor soil is poor in nutrition; that grown on rich soil is
high in nutrition. People do not realize that the charts and tables
in the backs of health books like Adelle Davis's Lets Cook It Right,
are not really true. They are statistics. It is vital to keep in
mind the old saying, "there are lies, there are damned lies, and
then there are statistics. The best way to lie is with statistics."
Statistical tables of the nutrient content of foods were developed
by averaging numerous samples of food from various soils and
regions. These tables basically lie because they do not show the
range of possibility between the different samples. A chart may
state authoritatively that 100 grams of broccoli contains so many
milligrams of calcium. What it does not say is that some broccoli
samples contain only half that amount or even less, while other
broccoli contains two or three times that amount. Since calcium is a
vital nutrient hard to come by in digestible form, the high calcium
broccoli is far better food than the low calcium sample. But both
samples of broccoli appear and taste more or less alike. Both could
even be organically grown. Yet one sample has a very positive ratio
of nutrition to calories, the other is lousy food. (Schuphan, 1965)
Here's another example I hope will really dent the certainties the
Linda Clarkites. Potatoes can range in protein from eight to eleven
percent, depending on the soil that produced them and if they were
or were not irrigated. Grown dry (very low yielding) on semiarid
soils, potatoes can be a high-protein staff of life. Heavily
irrigated and fertilized so as to produce bulk yield instead of
nutrition, they'll produce two or three times the tonnage, but at 8
percent protein instead of 11 percent. Not only does the protein
content drop just as much as yield is boosted, the amino acid ratios
change markedly, the content of scarce nutritional minerals drops
massively, and the caloric content increases. In short, subsisting
on irrigated commercially-grown potatoes, or on those grown on
relatively infertile soils receiving abundant rainfall will make you
fat and sick. They're a lot like manioc.
Here's another. Wheat can range from 7 to 19 percent protein. Before
the industrial era ruined most wheat by turning it into white flour,
wheat-eating peoples from regions where the cereal naturally
contains abundant protein tended to be tall, healthy and long-lived.
Wheat-eating humans from regions that produce low protein grain
tended to be small, sickly and short-lived. (McCarrison, 1921, 1936,
1982; Albrecht, 1975)
Even cows have to pay attention to where their grass is coming from.
Some green grass is over 15 percent protein and contains lots of
calcium, phosphorus and magnesium to build strong bodies. Other
equally or even better looking green grass contains only six or
seven percent protein and contains little calcium, phosphorus or
magnesium. Cows forced to eat only this poor type of grass can
literally starve to death with full bellies. And they have a hard
time breeding successfully. The reason for the difference: different
soil fertility profiles. (Albrecht, 1975)
When people ate local, those living on fertile soils or getting a
significant portion of their diet from the sea and who because of
physical isolation from industrial foods did not make a practice of
eating empty calories tended to live a long time and be very
healthy. But those unfortunates on poor soils or with unwise
cultural life-styles tended to be short-lived, diseased, small,
weak, have bad teeth, and etc. The lesson here is that Homo Sapiens
can adapt to many different dietaries, but like any other animal,
the one thing we can't adapt to is a dietary deficient in nutrition.
So here's another "statistic" to reconsider. Most people believe
that due to modern medical wonders, we live longer than we used to.
Actually, that depends. Compared to badly nourished populations of a
century ago, yes! We do. Chemical medicine keeps sickly, poorly
nourished people going a lot longer (though one wonders about the
quality of their dreary existences.) I hypothesize that before the
time most farmers purchased and baked with white flour and sold
their whole, unground wheat, many rural Americans (the ones on good
soil, not all parts of North America have rich soil) eating from
their own self-sufficient farms, lived as long or even longer than
we do today. You also have to wonder who benefits from promulgating
this mistaken belief about longevity. Who gets rich when we are
sick? And what huge economic interests are getting rich helping make
Next: The Human Comedy
Previous: Lessons From Nutritional Anthropology