A Really Simple Plan
Vegan, Paleo, Keto, Carnivore, Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Atkins…the list of diet and nutritional plans goes on and on.
How the hell are you supposed to know which is right for you?
Before we freak out let’s really simplify this. I’m not going to go into the science (or this article will span into eternity) I’m just going to lay it out using common sense.
First up you have to understand one thing. “All Food Is Toxic”
Meat breaks down into ammonia and plant foods contain lectins all of which are highly damaging to the human body.
But each food also provides a counter effect to the toxins of another. So for example the phenols found in plants counteract the toxic effects of ammonia and render it harmless.
Ergo the key to any food plan MUST BE BALANCE. Want an example of this at work?
The major problems we are seeing today are gluten and lactose intolerance. Does this mean that cereals and dairy contain something particularly harmful in them?
No…well at least no more harmful than steak or avocado.
The problem simply comes from the fact that we eat SO DAMN MUCH OF THEM.
Look at the ingredients of almost anything you pick up from the supermarket and it’ll have one of these 2 in it. As a result we are taking in such huge quantities of the toxins in these foods that they override the bodies natural defences and over time cause intolerances.
If we were to eat ANY FOOD in the quantities we eat these foods we would be having an epidemic of (whichever food we’re eating too much of) intolerances.
Each different food also contains different nutrients and we need them all. So the second component of any diet MUST BE VARIETY.
Now is a vegan diet balanced and varied? Is a Carnivore or a Keto diet balanced or varied?
The answer is NO.
In fact the closest model we have to what I am talking about is the Mediterranean diet which in study after study after study comes out as the healthiest diet for humans. Why because it includes Balance and Variety.
When you ensure you are getting this balance and variety from real foods you are getting close to the perfect human diet.
What Do I Mean By Real Foods?
This one’s actually quite simple. Draw a line from the sun. The more steps the food goes through to get to your plate the less “real” it becomes.
Broccoli growing in your garden in the sun, picked 2 minutes ago and put on your plate…that’s about as straight a line as we can get.
Grass which is growing in the sun, grass gets eaten by cow, you kill and eat the cow.
Now we’ve added in an extra step but in this case this is a good thing. Humans can’t eat grass so we’re actually getting the cow to do our job for us, extracting all the nutrients from the grass and turning it into a concentrated form we can eat.
Ok, let’s look at a different example:
A potato sitting in a greenhouse in nutrient deficient soil in Wales. (I have no idea if they grow potatoes in Wales its simply to make a point)
To make up for the lack of sun fertilisers are added daily and because of the lack of nutrients and not being in their natural environment the potatoes are prone to attack by insects so they are sprayed in pesticides regularly.
These potatoes are picked before they are fully ripe as they have to arrive at the next step in the chain ready to eat, because of this they haven’t had time to develop their full nutrient profile.
They are then loaded on to a ship to be taken to a factory in China.
Here they are covered in oil and salt, sliced by a machine and deep fried, packed up and then put back on another ship to be sent to the UK, where they sit on a supermarket shelf for 3 weeks before you buy them and enjoy a delicious packet of crisps.
These crisps have gone through so many steps they are, by the time you eat them, not food for humans any more and certainly not real food.
Simply put: The more steps the food goes through before you eat it the worse it becomes for you.
The 4 Stooges
We can actually make it even simpler.
There are 4 things common to pretty much all of these “Not-Real Foods.”
I call them The 4 Stooges and they are substances added to our foods which are entirely man made. If all you were to do for the rest of your life was to avoid these you would likely lead a long and happy life.
What are they?
- Refined cereals (as an example, most flours)
- Refined sugar (and sweeteners)
- Plant oils* (as an example rape seed oil, vegetable oil etc)
- Trans fats (often found in margarine), Oxidised Fats (burnt fats or fats mixed with sugar)
*I personally still eat small quantities of extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil as these have significantly less Omega 6 whilst being much more stable at temperature than other plant oils.
Out of all of these I would probably say that trans fats and plant oils are the absolute worst. “Simple, I’ll just cut those out,” you might be saying.
Hang on a minute…
Those nuts you’re about to eat…what were they roasted in? My guess is plant oil. That tin of corn you’re about to pop open…why has it got refined sugar in it?
The problem is these stooges are EVERYWHERE, in minute quantities maybe, but quantities which very quickly add up to cause you HUGE problems. So we need a simple way to deal with this.
Easy. Real food has one ingredient.
An egg contains…well, egg. Broccoli contains broccoli.
Build your meals from foods like this and you can easily cut out all this man made rubbish. So a simple, easy summary: Eat for balance and variety, eat food which is as “real” as possible containing 1 ingredient and avoid the 4 stooges.
We’ve just simplified millions of nutritional books into just a few words and you are now armed with more nutritional know-how than most of the “gurus” out there. Now that is actually enough knowledge to change your life and redress the balance but for those of you who want more…
Before I go any further I do not mean to come across as being flippant. I know that nutrition is a huge challenge for many people. I’m simply trying to blow apart the myths which have been put out there, often by well meaning gurus who think because something worked for them it MUST work for the rest of the population as well.