We’ve all heard the old adage ‘the simplest things in life are the best’, but rarely has this thought been applied to the cornerstone of a healthy diet.
Invariably, the diets we’re supposed to follow from the myriad of so-called ‘experts’ are all about meticulous calorie counting, eating products with a reduced fat content, increasing your intake of protein, reducing your intake of dairy foods, eating more fibre, switching from white breads to wholemeal breads, and so on and so forth, with the ultimate goal of losing weight or improving your health.
For some people, these complicated regimes, of which there are many variations, provide a degree of success. But for most of us, it’s just plain hard work, and before we know it, or under times of stress, we drift back to our bad old eating and drinking habits, and put the weight straight back on again, and increase yet again our susceptibility to illness and disease.
The fact is, Australians are getting fatter. In January, 2008, the Australian Bureau of Statistics survey showed that the number of overweight or obese adults has surged by more than 50 per cent in the past 15 years to an estimated 7.4 million. What’s more, our children are not doing any better. In December, 2008, a ten year old Queensland girl was rushed to hospital after showing early signs of a heart attack. At the time, the girl weighed 80 kilograms. According to data from the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, 17% of Australian children aged 10 to 17, are overweight, and another 6% are obese. So what is going on?
The key to better health
The key to better health and a longer life is simple – leave out the foods that make you sick. There is an overwhelming body of evidence that identifies the correlation between a poor diet that’s high in processed foods, animal protein, and regular alcohol consumption, and a range of illnesses and disease, many of which are life-threatening.
In the opinion of Dr Fred Bisci, a pioneering raw food nutritionist, 85% of degenerative diseases result from living a poor lifestyle, in particular, attempting to function on a poor diet with foods that are not good for you. So Dr Bisci’s advice is simply leave them out of your diet.
What to leave out
Start by eliminating processed foods from your diet. Processed food is something that you can’t see in nature, but is seen in abundance along the aisles of supermarkets. They include packaged cereals, pasteurised orange juice, sugar, white flour, commercial breads, potato chips, confectionary, ice cream, fizzy drinks, pasta, canned sauces, pies, pastries, processed meats, cheeses, dips and more.
Often these types of foods have all sorts of preservatives, additives and colourings that have no nutritional value whatsoever. Instead, processed foods contain toxins that your body has to try and remove, or else store in its cells.
Next, try to avoid or substantially reduce your intake of animal protein. Beef, lamb, chicken and pork, unless raised by organic or biodynamic methods, are often produced for domestic consumption by the use of hormones and antibiotics that are directly linked to cancer and other serious diseases.
You should also try and leave out of your diet (or again, significantly reduce) drinks that overload your liver and acidify your body. In particular, alcohol and coffee.
What to put in
Instead of looking at food from a purely nutritional standpoint, many nutritionists are now looking at biochemical relationships. Everything in the human body is chemical, and everything is action and reaction. These chemical reactions are happening every second on a microscopic level with over 70 trillion living cells we have in our body at any one time. Importantly, the digestive system requires enormous energy to break down and filter ‘bad food’, and far less to break down healthy ‘real’ foods: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouts. That’s what it’s designed for.
Ideally, you should be eating raw food that is organically grown. Try to eat fruit and vegetables as fresh as you can by growing your own or buying locally grown produce. Fruit and vegetables start to oxidise the minute they have been harvested, and by the time they make it to the supermarket they have lost 50 to 70% of their nutrients.
If you can’t give up eating meat, since our teeth are designed for grinding and masticating (unlike the shape of a carnivore’s teeth) look for grass-fed meat, free-range chicken or turkey, and fresh fish.
These may be available in your local supermarket, and definitely at your local organic produce shop or market.
Meeting you where you’re at
The advice of nutritionist, Dr Bisci, who for 40 years has lived an exclusively raw food vegan lifestyle, is to encourage people to change their diet in a way that is both realistic and long term. By adopting his ‘intermediate diet’, which still includes some organic cooked vegetables and limited animal protein, you can gain enormous health benefits.
“The human body has a remarkable capacity to heal itself if it has the right circumstances. Your body knows what to. You just have to give it the opportunity”, he said.
“The problem is we’re eating too much processed food, too much animal protein, and too much food generally, and our bodies can’t handle it”, said Dr Bisci. In his opinion, if you have an 80% base of ‘real, fresh foods’, you can vary the remaining 20% of your diet and still obtain optimal health. Whatever your parameters, within reason, you can transform your health and fitness.
For example, by following an ‘intermediate diet’ of fresh, raw foods, and reducing your intake of animal products and alcohol, you can substantially improve your cholesterol level, blood pressure, energy levels and life expectancy”. It’s that simple.
Trust your body
The human body is an ‘heroic’ organism. It wants to live forever, and constantly demonstrates a remarkable self-healing capacity with anything that is a threat to its survival; from colds, fevers, cuts, swellings and inflammations, right through to more serious illnesses and disease.
This innate natural healing process, however, is impeded when our body is constantly being bombarded with an array of ‘junk’ that is being passed off as food, the sheer volume of which is disturbing.
“Gluttony is killing people”, asserts Dr Bisci. “The good life that people are living is not saving them. They’re dying from all sorts of terrible illnesses and diseases that could have been preventable with the maintaining of a healthy, real fresh food diet – and that’s the tragedy”.
Lance Skelton is a freelance writer who lives and works in the foothills in Perth.
He has been a columnist for ‘The Expat’ magazine in Malaysia, written for ‘Inside Sport’ Australia, and runs his own advertising and brand consultancy.
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