Is there a diet that works for everyone?

Editorial by David Mulvain

For over 3 million years our hunter/gatherer ancestors were free of the degenerate diseases that plague us today. They ate meat, much of it red meat, and hundreds of species of wild plants. The decline in human health began with the advent of agriculture between 8,000 and 12,000 years ago. As farming increased, the hunter/gatherers disappeared in all but the most formidable areas of the planet. Where they still exist today the hunter/gatherers are still free of modern diseases.

Farming produces far more food per acre than raising animals. The protein and fat calories that came from meat in the earlier hunting societies was replaced with high carbohydrate (sugars and starches) foods in farming societies. Most of the calories came from grains and still does. Grain farming resulted in a loss in height, a decline in health and shorter life expectancy. The people of the farming cultures experienced an increase in nutrition deficiencies and diseases that were rare to non-existent among hunter/gatherers.

Weston Price, a dentist, spent much of his life studying the diets and health of numerous cultures around the world during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. He found that all of the cultures that he studied that were still living off the land were far healthier than their nearby city counterparts. The foods consumed varied between cultures, but all the foods they ate were natural, organic and whole. They all consumed animal products. Their diets were high in fat and included saturated fat. They consumed no sugar, refined or processed foods, seed oils, or junk food. There were no vegetarian or plant based diets.

More recently, in 1988, the president of the American Heart Association proclaimed that if Americans would lower their total fat intake from 43% to 30% or less of their calories, reduce their saturated fat intake to 10% and lower cholesterol intake to under 300mg per day, heart disease would be practically eradicated. Americans did it! The result was an epidemic of over-weight, obesity, diabetes and a 10% increase in risk of death from heart disease since 1991. Fat is obviously not the culprit. The problem is that high carbohydrate diets raise blood sugar and insulin.

Human genetic makeup has not changed in the past 10,000 years. We have the same genes as our healthy hunter/gatherer ancestors. The diet that worked for them will work for us. The low fat diet has not only failed to prevent a decline in the health of Americans, it is the biggest contributor to the rapid decline of our health. Each generation is less healthy than their parent’s generation.

So why are we now doing just the opposite of what’s good for us? For starters, it’s government policy. There isn’t enough farmable land to raise enough healthy food to feed the entire US or world population. Out of necessity, the USDA’s food priorities are adequate supply, conformity to the agricultural policy and long shelf life. Also, junk foods and nutritionally deficient, high calorie foods that stimulate over-eating are very profitable and are heavily advertised. Little consideration is given to the nutritional value of food.

In summary: Since our ancestors began walking on two legs, all of the healthiest cultures in the world ate animal products, had relatively low carbohydrate, high protein and fat diets, including saturated fat. They had no junk food, refined foods or sugars, or seed oils in their diets. Everything they ate was natural, organic and whole. We need to re-examine how far we have drifted from our ancestors’ food choices.

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