In our modern world there are so many voices and so many choices, when it comes to our diet. What foods are truly good and which are bad? What type of diet should we follow? Who do we listen to, when everyone seems to be an expert(s) claiming their way is the best? Is the food guide the way to go? In this article, I will do my best to answer these and many more questions concerning diet and nutrition.

First, we need to look at food as a whole, and not just focus on one part of food such as protein or carbohydrates. Protein and carbohydrates are not food groups, they are nutritional components within food, along with fibre, water, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants etc. Food is very complex, and when we focus on just one part or another, we lose our focus on everything else. Something else to consider is the source of the nutrition. Does it come from an animal source, or a plant source? How was the animal fed and raised? Are the plant based foods sprayed, or do they contain unnatural organisms like GMOʼs (Genetically Modified Organisms)? GMOʼs are not found in nature, they are a manipulation of nature.

Right now, a hot topic is the 2019 Canada Food Guide, as there are some radical changes that have been made from the previous food guide. There are some positives and also some negatives, as is often the case. Some positives are that it recommends higher amounts of important plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, and lower amounts of meat, dairy, and some of the alternatives. It is also good to lower our consumption of refined sugars, coffee, and alcohol. It is no secret that water is much more important to good physical and mental health, than coffee, juice, or alcohol.

I do not agree with the large amounts of grain and grain products they recommend. They unfortunately recommend some highly processed and destructive foods like canola and soybean oils, as well as soft margarines. Much of these oils come from GMO sources and are highly contaminated with toxic sprays. These unnatural foods alter and disrupt digestion and gut health, which then affects our entire body including the brain. Pure, organic olive oil, avocado oil, and unsalted butter are all better for our health, but should be consumed in moderation.

So, you may think, how do I know that these foods are better? Letʼs look at research done over a five-year period by Dan Buettner, studying the longest and healthiest groups of people on the planet, which he calls ‘Blue Zones’. These people have consistently outlived most others on the planet and have been doing it in some cases for centuries.

Here are just a couple of highlights from his findings. He found they ate mostly whole, uncontaminated, plant based foods (about 95%), very limited amounts of animal foods (meat, fish and dairy), and fairly small portions of grains. Lots of fresh water, and daily exercise which is built into their natural lifestyle. Check out the Blue Zones website for more info. This gives us a much greater understanding of what humans should follow as a diet, and then we can adjust it according to our own unique strengths and weaknesses.

In summary, it is important for both physical and mental health to consume more whole nutrient-dense, plant based foods, and smaller, more moderate amounts of animal derived foods, coffee, alcohol etc. In addition, plenty of uncontaminated clean water is important to help keep hydrated and to keep things moving.

Article by Perry Stang | Practical Herbalist | Owner of Stang’s Health Centre Ltd.

Perry Stang is the owner of Stangʼs Health Centre Ltd. in Olds, Alberta, which has been serving Central Alberta since 1971. He is a Practical Herbalist, Iridologist with 20 years experience.