19 June 2009

Foodie Friday: Janet Gilles on Changing Diets

Evolutionary Diets and the Value of Traditional Herbs and Spices
By Janet Gilles / The Rag Blog / June 19, 2009

As our food supply gets further and further away from traditional origins, new diseases crop up in the landscape. Peanuts, wheat and other common foods can no longer be digested by bodies without the means at their disposal to do so.

A study of some of the few ancient diets remaining on the planet, remote peoples who have not changed their ways in centuries, reveals the amazing truth that entirely different diets evolved, all with exactly the same nutritional content. Entirely animal, entirely vegetable, shepherds, villagers, the vitamin A content is the same. Should not be shocking as the vitamins hold their position by virtue of being essential to human health, but how do they do that??

The hunter gatherer diet was rich in vitamins and minerals, because the wild plants have dozens of times the nutrients of domestic plants. Don Davis at UT botanical science says it has been known since the forties that the bigger the fruit, the less nutrient by weight. The plant produces the nutrients for its seeds, and so when the apple is bigger, the nutrient value remains the same. Two small apples have twice the nutrients of one big one.

So we have to eat today many times the calories of olden days to get the nutrients from our oversized produce. And it gets worse if the produce was picked green before the plant sent many of the nutrients into the fruit. This is why vine ripened fruit is so delicious.

When we changed from hunting and gathering to agriculture, the life expectancy plummeted. Aborigines expect to live a hundred years, and many peoples today on the earth still reach that age, but it is not going to happen with the supermarket diet.

Traditional diets all use herbs of one kind or another , which modern science has been discovering, have tremendous healing powers. These herbs and spices are the food supplements making up for the nutritional deficits of the various ancient diets. Those who prepared the food learned from their elders, and passed it on. This is the knowledge missing from our modern world, and has lead to the tragedy of chronic disease.

Stories appear weekly in the news of the wonderful healing power of ancient spices. For example, here are some benefits of cinnamon:

Cinnamon May Improve Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin Resistance

This is the news that is most exciting for people who respond to low-carb diets, since most (or at least a substantial percentage) of us are probably insulin resistant or diabetic. Several studies have shown improved insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control by taking as little as ½ teaspoon of cinnamon per day. Improving insulin resistance can help in weight control as well as decreasing the risk for heart disease, so this has a lot of people interested. Although the results of preliminary studies are somewhat mixed, the majority of the research seems to be pointing in the direction of cinnamon being beneficial. Along with the improvement in blood sugar, these studies have documented improvements in triglycerides, blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol.

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