What constitutes a healthy diet? Paleo, high fat/low carb, low GI.......
I follow a basic, probably traditional Aussie style diet, with a multicultural influence! Probably the closest "diet" to what I eat is the Weston A Price dietary guidelines. They focus on high quality (grassfed etc) meat, raw milk, bone broth, fermented foods and traditional foods. Grains are okay as long as they are properly prepared. Basically a balanced diet, low in sugary foods, high in good quality fats, especially meat and dairy fats. It suits me!
The recent conference we went to with Dr Arden Anderson challenged my idea of a good, healthy diet. I fully agreed and endorsed everything he said about farming and grazing in a biological way, but when it came to his recommendation for a healthy diet I'm not so sure. I'll list what these recommendations were and my thoughts on them below.
1. 80% plant based diet. This includes 1-2 dozen different varieties of fruit or vegetable - staying away from any GMO foods. It means eating meat about once per week. He didn't think that grain fed meat was any worse than grassfed (with regards to beef or lamb), we just need to eat less.
My thoughts - I agree that most Australians eat too much meat, I don't agree with the idea that grain fed is okay. Grain feeding animals, especially in a feedlot is just not good on any level - ethically or to create a healthy food product. I also find it hard to consider the idea of one meat meal a week. I thought I'd try to do one a day, but so far that isn't working either. For me and my family personally, we work a physical job and we need meat for energy. We also produce our own high quality meat. I think if I had to buy meat, I would drastically reduce the amount we eat, but probably not to the advised level. I probably should try it, but I think I'd get too hungry. With regards to 12-24 different plants per day, some days that would be easy, but other days quite tricky! We often have salads for lunch and stir fry veg for dinner, so there's a good variety in those things. I think that is the take home message - just try and get as much variety as possible. Different coloured fruits and vegetables have different nutrients, so that makes a lot of sense. We will continue to increase our vegetable intake, while reducing our meat - mostly by portion control.
2. Supplementation essential. On the whole we have poor quality food, due to depleted soils and top of that we have too many stressors in life.
My thoughts - Soil health does determine the health of the food grown in or on that soil. Choosing good quality organic or biologically farmed produce will help to ensure the food is not of poor quality. Growing your own or buying from local farmers or farmers that you can trust, is the main thing, along with staying away from any processed food. I know that our soils are deficient in some things - especially iodine and selenium, so that would be a good thing to remember. Iodine is easy - use good quality sea salts and eat seafood and seaweed. I have been told in the past that selenium is one thing we should be supplementing with as it's hard to find a food source of it. At the end of the conference he suggested us taking a super duper multi nutrient daily tablet, which we could order on line from a particular website. This website has close links to him and his wife, so I'm not completely sure how impartial that recommendation is.
3. Water is essential - 1/2 your weight in ounces. Which for me works out about 2-3 litres/day. I fully agree with this one.
4. Exercise is essential - not necessary to be high intensive - walking for 20-30 minutes is good. I agree with this one too. Exercise is so good for general health and well being, but especially for mental health.
5. Sleep - 7-9 hours per night. Couldn't agree more!! I definitely suffer if I have less than this on a regular basis.
These were the main things he mentioned. So now I have this dilemma - when you hear a respected doctor tell you that you should follow a certain diet that you don't really agree with, what do you do? I think that's what's so confusing about health. We get bombarded with differing viewpoints and it's really hard to know what's best. I was listening to Cyndi Omeara on a podcast the other day. She's another person who I think has a lot of good stuff to say about diet and health. She made the comment that it's not old foods that are making us sick, it's new foods. If we go back a couple of generations and look at the diets, they were pretty basic, but all included real food, grown in/on healthy soils. No processed junk! No glysophate! Just quality meats (and meat fats) and vegetables and a little bit of fruit and whole grains! So I think I'll just stick to that kind of a diet, which is what I'm doing anyway.