On our earth, different people eat different foods and in varying combinations of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. From the Inuits who eat a diet very high in fat and protein but little carbohydrate to the Okinawans of Japan who eat a lot of high fibre carbohydrates and minimal oil or to the Greeks who get almost 40% of their calories from olive oil, are all very healthy sets of people. And yet, their eating is so very different!
Heart diseases were unheard of in Greenland, until modern fast foods invaded their diet. The Okinawan Japanese enjoy the highest longevity and health in the world and obesity is a rarity but when they migrate to western countries obesity and heart diseases affect them just as anyone else.
The healthiest diets all around the globe however diverse, share some common points. Healthy eating is not only about the foods we choose, but how we eat and how much we eat, how it is cooked and what we do not eat. Let us examine these.
a) Eat seafood and not red meat. The benefits of eating fish daily cannot be stressed enough. It gives us the essential omega3 which is cardio protective. The omega 3 to omega 6 ratio should be 1:1, but most of us do not even come close to getting this. The Inuits do because their only source of oil is from fish. So if you want to have a healthy heart, eat fish!
b) Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The Japanese are said to eat a 100 different foods in a week. No fruit or vegetable has all the vitamins, so variety is needed to get the full benefit of fruits and vegetable groups.
c) No community that eats a lot of sweets or sugars have lived healthily. So try to keep sweets and refined carbohydrates to a minimum.
d) No community living on commercial or processed foods have lived long healthily. So eat fresh. No ready to eat or fast foods.
e) Eat whole grains. India has a whole load of whole grains to choose from, differing from state to state.
f) Eat little portions and slowly. The Japanese achieve this when they eat with chopsticks. If you want to eat less, eat mindfully and slowly, instead of grabbing a quick meal and rushing off. Or use a fork to eat. The rule of the Japanese is to eat 8/10th full. No wonder they are so lean!
g) Nuts and seeds are antioxidant rich and protect you from degenerative diseases of the modern society. Make sure you eat an ounce daily. The Mediterranean love their nuts and seeds and olive oil and have one of the healthiest diets on earth.
Perhaps the region specific cooking methods and foods were developed to sustain a healthy community in early society. Perhaps it is time to return to that way of cooking and eating.
BDST: 1229 HRS, Aug-31, 2013