Diet - what you need to eat to slow the normal ageing process
EAT A PALEO-KETOGENIC DIET
Human beings evolved over millions of years eating particular foods. Neanderthal man was a carnivore and only ever ate meat. More recently man expanded the diet to include root vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds which he could scavenge from the wild. It is only in the last few thousand years since the Persians, Egyptians and Romans that we began farming and grains and dairy products were introduced into the human diet. A few thousand years from an evolutionary point of view is almost negligible. Many people have simply failed to adapt to cope with grains and dairy products and it is very likely that these foods cause a range of health problems in susceptible people.
Modern studies on ancient tribes who continue to eat a paleo ketogenic diet show that these people suffer from no diabetes, obesity, heart disease or cancer. If they can survive the ravages of infectious disease, childbirth and war wounds, then these people live healthily to a great age.
So the secret of a healthy diet, which allows one to live a long and healthy life, is to copy what our ancestors ate - a paleo ketogenic diet. In practical reality this is not easy and some grains and dairy products are bound to come into the diet in small amounts. So long as one is not allergic to those foods, small amounts occasionally will not matter very much so long as the emphasis is on balance. At present four foods, namely wheat, dairy products, sugar and potato make up 70% of our calories. This artificial restriction of modern diets means we are likely to be missing out on many essential nutrients which could otherwise benefit us.
EAT SMALL AMOUNTS OF HIGH QUALITY FOOD
In addition to choosing the right foods to eat, one can further improve their nourishing value. The first thing to try and ensure is that ideally these foods should be grown from a soil in which the mineral content has been corrected. Modern farming simply applies three elements, namely NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), resulting in soils which are grossly out of balance. There is a net loss of minerals such as selenium, zinc, magnesium, cobalt, copper, manganese (to name but a few) from the soil and from there that loss is passed into plants and animals, and also from there to humans, with human waste not recycled back to agricultural soil, being an additional problem.
One of the most important determinates of longevity is the amount of food you eat. Rats, which are fed on diets only just sufficient for a healthy life lived up to 50% longer than rats fed on identical foods but given ad-lib. The same principles are likely to apply to humans.
Foods must also be as free from toxins as possible, such as pesticide residues, hormone residues, antibiotic residues etc. To achieve this, buy as much organic as much as possible. One of the criticisms I have against some organic farming is they do not routinely treat the soil to correct mineral levels.
Food which tastes good is likely to be good food. Taste is a sense which is trace element sensitive - i.e. foods which are deficient in trace elements don't taste so good. For example, zinc deficiency in children is very common. Zinc is necessary for taste buds to work and so food for these zinc deficient children is tasteless. So they tend to go for salty, sweet or spicy foods to compensate and end up eating "junk foods", thereby further worsening the zinc deficiency. Most people can tell you the difference between home grown fresh vegetables and 3 day old shop vegetables. The true free range chicken is a rare beast but quite different in taste from the factory bird. This "food vitality" may be difficult to quantify but it makes it no less real!
For most people "everything in moderation" applies - so long as the "everything" applies to high quality foods. For the allergics "one man's meat is another's poison". Most people will have to sort out their own diet based on healthy principles (see below).
FAT IS GOOD FOR YOU
We have been brainwashed into believing that high fat diets result in high cholesterol, which results in arterial disease and therefore premature death. There isn't a shred of evidence to show high fat diet causes high cholesterol and there is a good bio-chemical reason for this. 80% of cholesterol is synthesised in the liver as a result of sugar metabolism. There is no convincing evidence that links high fat diets with high rates of arteriosclerosis. The key issue is to eat high quality fats. Many toxins bio-concentrate in fats and therefore it is important to eat as organic a diet as possible. Fats that are heated to high temperatures will oxidise and these oxidised fats (so called lipid peroxides) are potentially dangerous. So avoid highly cooked barbequed food and cook meat at low temperatures.
This belief suits the food manufacturers well because fats (except cooking oil and margarine, which they have erroneously convinced us have health benefits) are expensive and it is difficult to profit from them. Carbohydrates however can be bought cheap and sold expensive - potatoes can be bought for £100 per ton and sold for £15,000 per ton as crisps. Carbohydrates are addictive - what better to increases company profits than to sell a product which is addictive? Fat is essential for normal human metabolism - it is a case of eating the right sort of fats - natural, unprocessed and not burnt by cooking. I cook with lard, dripping or olive oil.
Margarine is bad for you. It is artificially prepared by heating oils to high temperatures. This causes formation of trans fatty acids, which are poorly metabolised in the body. Margarine has no "health" advantages over butter. Use best quality "cold pressed, virgin" olive oil for cooking and salads. Other oils have often been heated and therefore denatured. The mono-unsaturated fats are thought to be best in protecting against heart disease.
Our Western diet is relatively deficient in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids - so aim to eat oily fish and good quality vegetables and seeds twice weekly and/or use linseed oil.
SUGAR AND REFINED CARBOHYDRATES ARE BAD FOR YOU
I'm coming to the view that sugar and refined carbohydrates are as dangerous as smoking cigarettes in their potential to cause disease. High sugar and high glycaemic index diets result in high blood pressure, insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, and arterial disease. They are also a major risk factor for cancer - something which is not generally appreciated. We now know the reason why sugar is so dangerous - it sticks onto other molecules to form advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) which literally accelerate the normal ageing process. See section Ischaemic Heart Disease - what really causes it?
GOOD QUALITY WATER
General Principles - Drink good quality water. Spring water (direct or bottled) is undoubtedly the best. Second best is filtered water (water filters should be changed regularly), with tap water a poor third. Many drinks (tea, coffee, alcohol, pop) contain substances which are diuretic and make you pee out minerals.
VARY THE DIET - EAT FOODS IN SEASON
Have as varied a diet as possible - everything in moderation is the key. Government advice to eat five pieces of vegetable and fruit a day is fine so long as the fruits are low glycaemic index berries, not high GI tropical fruits or fruit juices. Don't forget nuts and seeds - these are one of the richest sources of trace elements and vitamins - use for snacks.
EAT FOODS FRESH AND UNPROCESSED
As soon as something "dies" it rots and loses its goodness. So avoid such "dead" foods as those in tins and packets. Buy fresh, "alive" foods. Eat meat which has "had a life". The fatty acid content of factory farmed fish, pork and poultry reflects that of the food it eats - i.e. poor quality. Eat free range - lamb and beef probably offer the best value in this country. There is a myth that chicken is a healthy meat - if one could see the conditions under which chickens are kept and the quality of food they eat, then one would understand why chicken is a low quality food. Fruit contains sugar and this can make it addictive!
Use Solo which is sea salt from which the sodium content has been reduced and so it is much closer to our physiological requirements than table salt (sodium chloride). If you do not eat processed food then you will need to add salt to your diet.
ENJOY ADDICTIONS IN MODERATION
Alcohol in modest amounts may well be beneficial to health and red wine comes out at the top of the list unless of course you have an intolerance.
Tea and coffee should be avoided at meal times because they chelate up minerals and prevent them from being absorbed.
Chocolate has many health benefits but avoid the highly sugared bars. Ideally go for organic high cocoa percentage solid chocolate.
COOK FOODS LIGHTLY
Vegetables which are boiled to death lose most of their trace elements in the water. Or if you like your vegetables done this way then you should drink the cooking water (or use it in the gravy). Burned fat from cooking meat is carcinogenic.
As a general principle, proteins and fats are more sustaining, carbohydrates are stupifying. I recommend eating protein and fats at breakfast and, if any, carbohydrates in the evening. Breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king, supper like a pauper! This is especially important for people suffering from fatigue.
Large breakfast: protein/fat (eggs, meat, onions, tomato, mushroom)
Modest lunch: meat, fish, vegetables, berries, nuts, Kefir.
Small supper: meat, fish, lots of vegetables, salad, nuts, seeds, berries, small amounts dried fruit, 70% cocoa chocolate. If carbohydrates (potato, root vegetables, pulses) are consumed then they should be in small amounts. Bloating is a cardinal symptom of fermenting gut as indeed is a tendency to low blood sugar.
- Ischaemic Heart Disease - what really causes it?
- Ketogenic diet - the practical details
- My book The PK Cookbook - Go Paleo-ketogenic and get the best of both worlds.
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