So many people today struggle with weight issues, chronic diseases, and a variety of health problems that prevent them from fully enjoy their life.
Yet, in most cases, we can significantly improve our health by just changing our diet and eating habits.
When it comes to diet though, things can get confusing. There are so many out there, the internet is flooded with contradicting diet advice from professionals and health passionate. Statements like “vegan is the only healthy way”, “paleo, the healthiest, ancestral eating”, and again vegetarian, high carb, low carb etc each of them promoting their “unique” benefits.
In short one diet fits all. But is there such a thing? Do we all have the same needs?
Dr Price didn’t think so. Different people need indeed different diets. And he was one of the first doctors to prove this in the ’30s. He was a dentist.
He started to notice that his younger patients suffered more dental problems, such as cavities, crowded teeth (but also other health conditions like allergies), much more than their parents and grandparents.
He thought the main reason could be related to a change in diet, the Western diet, in particular, which brought new methods of commercially preparing and storing foods, stripping away many vitamins and minerals. This diet was lacking in certain nutritional factors and likely contributing to the health deterioration of his patients.
To prove his theory he decides to embark on a 7 year documented journey across the globe, in search of groups of people still living on their traditional diets, uncontaminated from the westernised influence composed of refined grains and oils, white sugar etc.
He observed in details the diet followed by these isolated groups and their health, focusing in particular on the health of their teeth. He studied the Eskimos in northern Alaska, the Masai in Africa, the Peruvian Indians in the Andes, the Maori in New Zealand and others.
The Eskimos, in particular, were an astonishing example. They ate mainly meat. No vegetables, no fruit, no seeds, no nuts, no grains. None of these foods, in fact, grow in the Arctic Circle region.
Their diet was an 80% saturated fat, yet, traditional Eskimos were among the healthiest people on earth.
In fact, Dr Price was struggling to find any cases of cancer, any heart disease, arthritis or high cholesterol levels!
The Eskimos were thriving because they were following their traditional diet.
Different people, different geographical locations, different needs.
The Polynesians would follow a diet consisting mainly of seafood, roots and fruit, boasting again excellent health, excellent teeth and no degenerative diseases.
The work of Dr Price showed that as long as the groups were using their traditional food they benefited from great health.
However, when they became westernised later in the 50s and started to integrate refined grains and sugar in their diet, their health deteriorated and diseases such as obesity, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and cancer became epidemic.
Obviously today isolated groups like those observed by Dr Price don’t exist anymore and the “civilised” diet is everywhere.
The point surely still remains that humans vary greatly in their dietary needs.
However, while specific needs regarding food intake and choice varies, there are some general rules that I believe should apply to most of us:
- Take nutrition seriously, you really are what you put in your body
- Eat wholefoods, choosing organic when possible
- Make sure to include a good amount and a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables
- Take in omega-3s and avoid an excess of omega-6s
- Limit sugar
- Avoid refined foods
- If choosing meat, grass fed and organic offer the most benefits
- With fish, wild salmon and sardines are healthier choices. Limit the intake of fish containing higher amounts of mercury like tuna
- Pay special attention to the liver, kidneys and lympathic system. They help to neutralize and eliminate toxins in the body.
- Include vegetables like carrots, beets, zucchini and artichokes.
- Exercise is also crucial. It helps to stimulate your lymphatic system, it helps to strengthen the muscles and to increase the body’s anti oxidant defenses. Find the right activity for your type. I personally find yoga and meditation very beneficial.
- Avoid environmental toxins (such as air pollutants, toxins found in cosmetics etc) and dietary toxins (pesticides, oxidized fats, artificial additives, artificial sweeteners etc) as much as possible.