Just what should we eat to be healthy?
The truth about what to eat to be healthy, just what is the impact our life style has on our health, the health of others and our planet. And what small things each of us can do to make a positive change.
- 7 out of 10 deaths in the UK are avoidable. Mostly lifestyle related. That’s what you eat and what you do.
- The number one cause of death in the UK is… Alzheimer’s. Much of which is lifestyle related.
- 43% of all cancer in the UK is preventable. With minor changes to how we live.
- 21% of cancer deaths are diet and exercise related. (probably a hell of a lot more but the research has not been done), It won’t get done either as long as more money can be made hawking a drug that extends the life of a terminal cancer patient from 12 weeks to 13 weeks.
- 3% from eating any red and processed meat.
- 2% from not eating enough fiber.
- 19% are smoking related
- 2% are because women didn’t breast feed for at least six months (that’s cancer in the mother not the child).
- Life span has increased by 10.1 years in the last 15 years, but healthy lifespan has only increased by 6.1 years. That’s 4 more years of ill health on top of an average of 10 years of ill health we experience now.
Busting some myths.
- The Food labeling Myth, the big con.
Never believe what it says on a food label.
The Food industry wants a debate around food labeling.
They hope all the hype and news hours generated leads us to accepting that all ‘food’ has packaging. That all food has labels. And that all food has ingredients.
Real food doesn’t, only processed food does and to the food industry, processed means increased value or more accurately increased profit. – It’s not about what to eat to be healthy, it’s more, low cost ingredients, high selling price, long shelf life.
- A 175g tub of plain yoghurt is advertised as less than 3% fat, and as there are a total of 5g of fat in it, that’s a fair description… or is it?
- Well yes, less than 3% of it’s weight is fat, but when we plan a diet we don’t use weight, gram’s, we use energy Calories. So, if 3% of the weight is fat, let’s look at what percentage of the energy comes from fat;
- In the tub there are 5g of fat at 9Cal/g, that’s 45Cals of fat.
- There are 10g of carbs at 4Cal/g, that’s 40Cals of carbs and there are 6g of protein at 4Cal/g that’s 24g of protein.
- A total of 109 Calories, with a whopping 41% of those Calories coming from fat, 37% coming from carbs and the remaining 22% from protein.
- Can you see how the food industry uses food labeling to con consumers, legally advertised as 3% fat and actually having 41%.
- If we tipped 1 liter of vegetable oil in to in to 9 liters of water, we could advertise the mixture as 10% fat, right?
But 100% of it’s calories (energy) would come from fat.
Speaking of nutrient values in foods
What food do you think this is:
- 9% fat.
- 71% carbs
- 20% protein
- 2.6g of fiber
seems like a perfect food, if a little heavy on protein.
clue 1. It doesn’t need a food label.
clue 2. It’s green.
If you guessed Broccoli, you’d be right! That’s what to eat to be healthy
The Protein Myth.
It has long been believed that we require a lot of protein in our diets to be healthy.
Also, that the best source of protein is meat and dairy (animal protein).
This has been pushed in recent years by The Atkins diet and the Paleo diet.
Yet ask any doctor when they last saw a patient with protein deficiency. They’ll tell you they’ve never seen one.
We don’t need animal protein in our diets, as mentioned earlier.
The World Health Organisation states that 3% of all cancers are caused directly by eating red and processed meat.
Also, sources of animal protein are usually accompanied by large amounts of saturated fat, the type that causes heart disease.
Dr Atkins died prematurely from heart disease, he was obese.
In his fascinating book The China Study, Colin Campbell proved a link between casein (milk protein) and cancer.
Are you getting enough?
If you ever consider “am I getting enough protein” STOP.
Answer this one question before you carry on;
How much protein do you need?
Do some research and you’ll soon see that anyone eating a wholefood diet, rich in beans, greens and grains is getting plenty.
Measuring it or manipulating it to increase the protein would be pointless.
Nutrients make us fat
- For well over 40 years we have had an obsession with nutrients. Either macro nutrients, the ones we get calories from or the micro nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
At the same time, we’ve seen an explosion in lifestyle related diseases like Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Could it be that our obsession with counting nutrients is making us fat?
- It’s of no surprise. We’ve taken our eye off the ball. We’ve been eating nutrients instead of food. And nutrients make us fat, while wholefoods (real foods) make us healthy.
- Don’t get me wrong there is a place for supplements, as medicines, but that’s for a doctor of dietitian to prescribe. For when illness or famine has caused a deficiency that real food cannot cure.
Isolated nutrients can be powerful medicines and all medicines have side effects. We would do better to put our focus on food and not nutrients.
Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy foodHippocrates
- When Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”. He didn’t mean using one particular food to cure one particular ailment.
He was talking about what to eat to be healthy and meant The food you eat (a healthy, Real Food diet) will act as medicine. It will prevent you from becoming ill.
Good fats and bad fats.
The fat you eat is the fat you wear.
We hear a lot lately about good fat and bad fat.
FAT is nothing to be scared of, it’s an essential part of our diet. It’s used by our bodies to transport and store many essential nutrients derived from our food. It supports cell growth and is used to produce important hormones.
BUT eat the wrong kind and you get heart disease, eat too much and you get fat.
Although our bodies require fat we can manufacture all the fatty acids our bodies need from other foods, with the exception of the two essential fatty acids Omega 6 and Omega 3.
In fact, it’s been found that the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 plays an important role in preventing heart disease, asthma and some cancers. High omega 6 ratios are even associated with violence and depression.
Although we need both fatty acids in our diet if we have too much omega 6 compared to omega 3 it can lead to heart disease.
When we were hunter gatherers we had a ratio of 1:1, even a ratio of 4:1 is believed to be very healthy. The modern western diet gives us a ratio of about 16:1 that’s 16 omega 6 molecules to every 1 omega 3. Some people have been found to have ratios of over 25:1.
Obviously the food industry response to this is to sell us fish and fish oil supplements. These are said to be high in omega 3, so we can balance out our ratio.
The problem here is the fish is usually farmed and fed on pellets made from grain (high in omega 6). Alternatively it’s fed on other fish, and there’s not enough fish to go around.
The omega 3 in fish or any other animal has come from the plants it ate or the plant what it ate, ate. Omega 3’s come from plants.
What fat to eat to be healthy
The fact is getting enough, omega 3 was never the issue, it’s a myth, if you eat a diet rich in plant foods. (ground flax seed is the richest source)
The problem is the amount of omega 6 in the vegetable oils people use and the amount of vegetable oil used by the food industry in processed foods.
Remove these from your diet and you will have a healthy omega 6 to omega 3 ratio with all the protection and reversal of disease that comes with it.
Here’s a quick question for you
Where does fat go when you lose weight?
What do you think happens to it?
Human body fat is made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. C, H, O2.
It’s a slow process to break the bonds between these molecules but when we do we get energy to power our movements and keep us warm.
After breaking these bonds new compounds are formed which our bodies need to expel. These new compounds are H2O and CO2, water and carbon dioxide and we breathe them out.
When we lose weight we breathe out the fat.
So, if you want to increase how much fat you burn, do activities that force you to increase the rate at which you breathe out. Simple!
The Calcium Question
From the youngest age we are told that milk is a superfood, mainly because it’s a rich source of calcium. This has to be right, doesn’t it?
After all, it’s all we are designed to eat for our first six months of life.
How did we make the leap from human breast milk, the most natural thing for us humans to consume, to the breast/udder milk of a cow?
Did you know?
Two thirds of the worlds population can’t digest the lactose (milk sugar) in milk after being weaned from their mother’s milk at around age 2.
But in northern climates like Europe, out of necessity to prevent starvation probably. We evolved to be able to digest and tolerate it as a supplement to our diet when food was scarce. Once this ability spread through the population, through most of our genes it became accepted as a regular part of our diet.
It may have given us advantages over our adversaries, but, the job of cow’s milk is to grow the bones, fat and muscle of baby cows at a rate of about 1kg (2.2lbs) a day.
So, it makes us grow.
As life expectancy a few thousand years ago was a fraction of what it is today the side effects of cancer (see The China Study), obesity (look around you) and osteoporosis were rarely seen.
There is evidence to show that as the amount of dairy consumed by a population increases, so, bone health decreases with age. And not the other way around as we have been led to believe.
Just because dairy is high in calcium doesn’t mean it gives us strong bones. Dairy is also high in animal protein which is very acidic in high amounts.
Your blood needs to remain at a neutral PH for survival.
So your body takes alkaline calcium from your bones to neutralize this acidity. So weakening your bones.
A diet rich in fruit and veg will be alkaline forming and bone protecting.
Good dairy-free sources of dietary calcium are:
- Whole wheat products
- Vegetables in the brassica family: broccoli, kale, cabbage
- Dark leafy greens, e.g., kale,
- Beans/legumes, e.g., tofu; black-eyed peas, black beans, dried beans
- Nuts and seeds, e.g., almonds, sesame seeds
- Mineral water
what to eat to have healthy bones
Any healthy diet containing plenty of the foods mentioned will contain enough calcium, but this doesn’t necessarily mean we absorb this calcium.
There are 20 known compounds and probably as many we don’t yet know of, that aid the absorption of calcium. The chief of which is vitamin D.
Ideally, we get this from exposure to the sun, if not, we rely on supplementation.
It’s a varied diet rich in the foods listed above, and exposure to the sun, that provides calcium and all these aids to absorption, and not a diet full of dairy products.
The real reason dairy is so prevalent in our diet today is, you guessed it, food industry profits.
Even our own NHS has dairy as a food group in its Eatwell Plate. Leading people to believe dairy is an essential part of our diet.
It isn’t we don’t need it for calcium and we don’t need it for protein. Also, evidence suggests it’s a major contributor to obesity and a risk factor for cancer.
The term wholefood has been hijacked by the food industry to make its processed foods seem healthier.
But the word wholefood is not a health claim that appears on a packet.
It’s simply a term to describe eating the whole food and not a part of it or a nutrient derived from it.
For example; an apple is a wholefood; freshly pressed apple juice is not, it’s a processed food.
Likewise, an olive is a wholefood; extra virgin olive oil is not, it’s processed.
They are both missing the fiber and other integral parts of what was the wholefood. This processing doesn’t make them unhealthy per se, but it is processing. Risking making what was a healthy part of a balanced diet in to something that is potentially unhealthy. It could among other things, contribute to weight gain.
For example, it would be hard to eat so many olives in one sitting that it would make you fat. The fiber and water content would be too bulky. But consuming excess energy from the extracted oil would be easy.
While I don’t like the term Superfoods.
Like the term Nutrients it distracts us from eating a variety of wholefoods, which is the basis of a healthy diet.
There are some foods not nutrients that are proven to play a major role in disease prevention and even reversal.
While we don’t have the time here today to go through all these foods and their benefits here is a list recommended by Dr Joel Fuhrman in his book Super Immunity.
A bean, a green and a grain makes a balanced meal.
Download my free checklist
I’ve put together a downloadable Daily Checklist for you, it’s based on similar ones from Joel Fuhrman and Dr Michael Gregor.
It’s a simple way to get all the protective foods in your daily diet. And a good reminder of what to have available.
Print it out, laminate it, stick it on the fridge and tick them off each day.
The Carb Conspiracy
Why have we become so afraid of carbs?
Maybe it’s because of how we have come to think of carbs. We think of carbs as the refined flours, or fat filled fries or the sugary soft drinks.
With very little need for digestion they instantly flood our bloodstream with sugar.
These are the carbs that we see being blamed for the obesity epidemic happening around us today, and rightly so.
Although they’re not exclusively responsible, remember, the fat you eat is the fat you wear.
While it’s never going to be good to eat anything that is refined and processed, carbohydrates are not evil.
Carbohydrate comes in two forms.
There are the simple carbs (sugars), we get naturally from fruits, and complex carbs (starches), that we may get from whole grains, and beans.
In general, starches, because they are a longer chain of molecules, take longer to digest are thought to be better for us.
Whereas sugars in whole fruits are also good, the fiber in the food is what makes it take longer to digest.
As humans we have evolved to get most of our energy from carbohydrate, we are more sensitive to sweet tastes than any other. The only cravings we have when we are healthy are for sweet things or salt (to do with hydration).
We have dexterous fingers for picking fruits and digging for roots and tubers.
We have better colour vision than most other mammals to enable us to identify ripe fruits.
Carbohydrate is what we have evolved to thrive on. We are not carnivores like cats or even omnivores like dogs and bears.
we are carbivores.
Rather than being the thing that is causing the obesity epidemic, with all its resulting disease risks, wholefood carbohydrates and particularly wholefood starches can be our savior.
You see, when eating a diet of predominantly wholefood starches and whole fruits and whole vegetables its almost impossible to put on fat.
Do we need to exercise?
We’ve been talking about what we eat and its impact on our health, but healthy eating alone won’t make us healthy.
There’s something else we have to consider if our healthy eating is going to give us all these benefits. That’s exercise, or to be more precise, exercise and activity, they are different things.
As discussed earlier our metabolisms have evolved to use predominantly carbohydrate as the preferred fuel.
From our days as foragers and hunter gathers our days have been full of activity and toil.
But now, in our 21st century, fast paced lives, we fail to keep up to these continuous activity levels. That’s when things start to go wrong with our health.
Our modern-day workaround to a life without constant activity is exercise.
Exercise to be healthy
Science has proved that we do need to exercise.
Exercising at a certain intensity almost every day.
Also we need to keep fairly active in between bouts of exercise, if we are to get the benefits we desire. The benefits are a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cancers, dementia, depression. And we’ll get that protection for an extra 6-8 years of Healthy life.
This doesn’t just come from the exertion of the exercise. It’s the turnover of energy. The strengthening of our immune system. It’s the demands placed on all systems of the body that stimulate them to become stronger and more efficient.
And we’re only talking about 30-60 minutes a day. Simply alternating a yoga class and a 60 minute power walk each day would give you all the strength, flexibility and cardiovascular conditioning you need to maximise your health benefits.
Our diets shape our environment
Our environment plays a role in our health. From pollution in the air, rivers and the sea to having green space around us to enjoy our recreation.
But the fact is each individual one of us play a greater role in the health of our environment.
- 40% of all land on the planet is used for farming
- 30% of all land on the planet is used for rearing livestock for humans to eat.
- The grain produced to feed these animals is enough to feed 20 billion people, three times the worlds population.
- Rearing livestock for food accounts for 51% of annual greenhouse gas emissions.
- If your four-person family skips steak 1 day a week [for a year], it’s like taking your car off the road for almost 3 months.
- Livestock production uses up one third (1/3) of the planets fresh water. So, if you’ve ever eaten any meat please consider making a donation to CharityWater.org
MY CLOSING ADVICE
I hope you’ve learned something new here today and I’ve given you something to think about.
- Don’t stress about nutrients, just eat real food, mainly or even exclusively plants, it may sound drastic, but like so many things in life, is surprisingly easy once you commit to it and give it a go.
- Download my daily checklist (BELOW) and stick it to your fridge, you won’t have to think about it. Just tick them off through the day.
- Exercise regularly, daily, not once a week when it’s not raining.
- Be active, move around get outdoors and get some safe exposure to the sun, daily if possible.
- Do these few simple things, and you’ll not only have a long life, you’ll also have a healthy, Vibrant Life.
- And you’ll have a pleasant, safe environment to enjoy it.
- You won’t be the one spending the last 14 years of your life dribbling in the corner of the nursing home.
On top of that you’ll become part of our growing movement of like minded people who are taking responsibility for our own health, while doing their bit to improve our environment along the way.