What's this thing called Health?
What is real health?
A quick answer might be the absence of disease but it is more than this.
Most diseases start with baby steps and in ways we are just starting to understand.
Expecting good health as we age means we need to tackle the early stages of the many and varied diseases of nutrition.
How do you rate your health?
Is one or more of the following the way you see achieving your ideal health?
Is food a PREVENTATIVE against illness for you? Do you plan, shop and cook your meals to protect yourself from diseases of nutrition?
Do you strive to avoid symptoms of sicknesses, react quickly should they appear and commit to slow the negative effects of ageing? Perhaps your lifespan AND your healthspan are important and a good quality of life needs to stretch from now into old age.
We now know that we are not well for years and then suddenly ill from what seems to be an over-night appearance of illness. We do OK up until the age of 40 or so and then we seem to grow ill as we grow old.
The thing is that if we do nothing, we will not keep our youthful health. We will drift downwards as we age in ways that are not necessarily desirable. We work with people who want perpetual youth and some want it sooner rather than later.
Some even come to us after their specialist recommends they get their affairs in order - you can guess what I mean. Well, 10 out of 12 are still here and one was just 10 years too late while the other went back to his specialist after 5 years of a clean bill of health. He took the advice of "just one more session to be sure". They made sure all right. The procedure was a success. However, the patient died some 6 months later.
But to continue ...
Is PERFORMANCE a consideration for you? You might be in a competitive sport or be competing against yourself in a personal fitness plan or as a body-builder or martial artist or yoga practitioner.
You may be equally or primarily concerned with your on-going mental performance; focus, concentration, awareness and the rate of ageing of your brain and the avoidance of neural diseases matter to you.
Both of these performance outcomes rely on daily health investments and a goal focus on accomplishments and success.
Or it might be WELLNESS benefits embracing a balance between life and work, living a purposeful life and feeling good. This is a wholistic (with a focus on whole mind, body, spirit) approach to health care. Superior nutrition is basic to this as is moderation, more plant-based foods and significantly expanding the variety in your diet.
The other consideration is lifestyle. Have you worked out your purpose for living and are you investing, planning, scheduling and doing the things to achieve this purpose as a daily activity?
Wellness may even mean a regular inventory of the quality of the people in your life. Are they positive and supportive or ball and chains that slow you up or drag you down? Avoid toxic vibes with as much focus as you should do with avoiding ultra-processed foods. A ‘Happy Meal’ is neither.
Then there is the care-giver who is driven by NURTURING. Food and nutrition are about supplying a sense of caring for others and their health and quality of life.
The associated sense of satisfaction that you get from helping others is as important as the quality of outcomes you engineer through your focus on growth and development, aging and healing.
Or maybe you like all of the above. I know I do.
Let me cover some answers to a few questions I got sent to me that might begin to introduce some of the challenges we face in getting and staying healthy.
Just tell me. Ethical concerns aside, which diet is the best: vegan, vegetarian, keto, paleo or omnivorous?
Well the World’s longest living culture relied on an omnivorous diet but paleo in nature due to the foods themselves being wild and not significantly selected or manipulatively bred. It is impossible to shop for paleo foods in any food store or supermarket today because modern foods are either so bred as to be better suited to be picked early, stored chilled and ripened before distribution or export. Even wild caught seafood is now rich in microplastics and domesticated animals are eaten for marbled muscle meats and offal mostly goes into the pet food industry. We are only now starting to consider insects as food again.
When it comes to game land animal meats, offal is again, generally not for human consumption although the muscle meats are low in fat, higher in polyunsaturated fats and are more slowly digested than domesticated meats.
I eat fresh fruits and vegetables and a little meat, more white than red, occasionally. I think I am a flexitarian by description. Is this not making me healthy?
Unfortunately, it is not and cannot. Our fresh produce has been falling in nutritional quality for half a century as the corporate food industry buys up family farms and amalgamates them for factory farming.
Our foods, even our fresh produce is making us fat and ill. Sure, fruits and vegetables are better than most processed foods but they are still a shadow of their wild ancestors’ quality and we can’t keep pretending that they will make us healthy. Our only option is to include more wild foods in our diet.
Our Government Health authorities recommend that we eat more fresh produce and even suggest 2 and 5 or some say between 9 and 13 plant foods as daily goals for good health. Isn’t this a plan for better health in the longer term?
Our health authorities recommend only 2 fruits a day because they recognize our fruits have been bred to be so high in bad sugars (sucrose and fructose) that many can have 3% MORE bad sugars than the same weight of Coke or Pepsi.
These fruits include mangoes, pineapple, melons, stone fruits and anything bred to be super-sweet. Maybe eat a small serve of sweet fruits once or twice a week.
I know that dieticians say that fruits are packed with antioxidants and other phytonutrients but 'packed' is a relative term. Most of the nutritional value in fruits and vegetables goes towards undoing the damage from the high levels of bad sugars and the absence of fibre, organic acids (sourness) and fat soluble antioxidants. Notice how many plant foods also rot more quickly these days? This is due to their load of moulds, fungi, yeasts and bacteria which are happily munching on the sugars and starchy carbs. Even citrus are now sweet. What's with that?
And here's another surprise:
Dried fruits e.g. dates, can have more than 65% bad sugar content by weight and craisins, sultanas and the like are around 45% bad sugars. Avoid dried fruits for reasons you should find in the 33 Myths ebook. They have little to offer as foods.
The best thing about the apples is the skin and the core, both of which provide fibre and some polyphenolic antioxidants (more on these in future emails). The rest of the flesh of an apple is up to 10% bad sugars and not worth eating, even if organically grown. Remember apples were also once sour and crisp, not sweet and powdery.
Traditionally living Indigenous Australians, in many coastal and productive landscapes, ate more like 10 fruits and 2 vegetables, not 2 and 5, respectively. Add to this is the fact that wild fruits and vegetables are far more nutritionally dense than modern produce, most of which is becoming barely worth eating.
But we have so much more food available today. We can buy produce all year round and easily hunt a piece of meat from the butcher or chilled section in the supermarket. We have countless dairy products and then there’s all that ‘health food’.
We are still a wild species ourselves in terms of our biochemistry but our foods are anything but wild or even near wild.
Grass-fed cattle are often finished on grain fir a few weeks before slaughter so that the yellow fat that is a result of eating grass, turns white. This is what consumers want even though eating grain and fermenting it in their gut is stressful to animals.
Dairy products - calcium, calcium and more calcium. And casein or milk protein binds those brightly coloured antioxidants classed as anthocyanins and removes them from being important phytonutrients. We excrete them as waste as we do all those synthetic chemical vitamin and mineral preparations from Big Pharma.
Lastly, if you are wondering what the diseases of nutrition are: Here's a bonus which is Chapter 3 from my book, Wild Foods; Looking back 60,000 years for clues to our future survival.
Look out for another Health Talk email coming soon.