Sometimes, really, truly I feel an emotion somewhere between hysterical laughter and crying when I read headlines like ‘A high protein diet is as bad as smoking 20 cigarettes a day’ and then when I see it repeated on the morning BBC News backed up by a presentation that is equally uninspiring alongside ‘let’s find out what frank in London says on Twitter’.. Well… I practice deep surrender… the world is crazy, and that’s OK.
In actuality there are of course many considerations when it comes to diet and balancing your macro nutrients (proteins, Fats and carbs) and I turn to history, physiology, psychology and a reasonable dose of common sense to find the right balance.
Is a high protein diet melting my insides!
Let’s for a moment take a look back in time and see what history can tell us in evolutionary terms about what foods may be good for us and which ones may be causing problems. In the 1930′s, Weston A Price researched and wrote a book called ‘Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. It’s considered a classic and although in today’s standards it does have some rather extreme and non-PC views on various matters the core content of the book is extremely enlightening.
Weston A. Price travelled the globe (as a dentist) studying the teeth of many of the native populations of the world and had the unique opportunity to see what happened to these peoples when they were introduced to westernised foods which included tinned foods, flour, sugar, salt, and commercial dairy. Flour, sugar, salt and dairy were named the four white devils by the Native American Indians, I think this says it all.
His initial studies of all these populations showed that when they were eating the native diets they had evolved to eat were extremely healthy strong people with incredible dental structure and vigour. They had few or none of the diseases that commonly afflict us today most importantly heart disease and cancer. What’s more interesting is the incredible variety of diets that nurtured this incredible robust health. The rainforest pygmy peoples had a diet high in complex carbohydrates with smaller amounts of proteins; The Polynesians had a more mixed diet of sea foods and complex carbs; whilst the Masai and the Eskimos (The Yupik and Inuit) peoples eat almost exclusively protein diets eating organ meats for the vitamins and minerals.
So, why did the Native Americans call these western foods the four white devils? Well, because they destroyed their teeth and destroyed their health. This was the same picture across the board with many of the native peoples who started trading with the west. We gave them the four white devils and they gave us wonderful healthy oils and foods.
This tells us that when we eat foods that are close to our genetic heritage, that are close to nature, that are unrefined and whole, we can experience powerful health and wellness. It also tells us that protein in itself is of course not bad but vital to the repair recovery and growth of our bodies. So why then is it that high proteins diets could get such bad press? Well we must take some to these issues in to account.
- Know your metabolic type – Are you a Masai warrior or a rainforest dweller, do you need a high protein diet, a high complex carbohydrate diet or something in the middle? We are all individuals and bio-chemical individuality is a certainty. This means we will tend to have different responses to different ratios of proteins to carbohydrates. Find out which is right for you and eat that way by reading the metabolic typing diet by William Wolcott and Trisha Fahey. It’s a revelation.
- Eat organic locally produced foods – It is absolutely critical that we take into account the quality of the foods being eaten. Modern farming processes and degenerating soil quality means that the level of toxicity in food is going up and the quality of food is dropping. Whatever your dietary requirements you need to get the highest quality food that you can find and afford.
- Plant proteins for the environment – There simply are not enough high quality organic meat protein to go around. It is also quite hard to get very high quality meats and it is simply not sustainable for us to keep increasing our meat consumption. Eating more proteins from vegetable sources is a great alternative to meat although as a protein type I do find this challenging. Frankly, I need the meat. I do find protein supplements useful to fill the gap.
- If you’re eating a high meat protein diet, chew your food properly – You should really chew your food until it’s a liquid then swallow. Yes, it does take a while to eat a steak however there are numerous benefits to doing this. You can tell when you’re full without over eating, you absorb more of your food and it’s easier on your guts.
So as it turns out we have known for a very long time that eating refined sugar is indeed a serious problem and does appear to be at the nutritional heart of much of the disease in the western world. So why is sugar so bad for us?
- Eating refined carbohydrates can lead to rapid weight gain - As the overloaded liver can only store so much energy, the rest goes straight to the fat reserve.
- Sugar is all empty calories, no vitamins minerals or anything of any value - This means that many high sugar content foods can be classed as non-foods or foods that take out more vitamins and minerals to digest absorbed and assimilate than they put in. This is the equivalent of running a bank account in to debt however, in this case, the debt is disease.
- Eating too much refined carbohydrate in one go will cause a spike in blood sugar. Your body responds to spikes in blood sugar by releasing insulin to get the blood sugar down and in to cell storage. If we habitually eat a high carb out of balance diet then the body’s cells can become insulin resistant. This can cause a chain of events leading to type two diabetes and obesity. I could go on… however I think we get the picture.
The conclusion to this is really quite logical and simple, find out what your personal nutritional requirements are by reading the metabolic typing diet and tune in to what you need. Eat the highest quality food you can get your hands on and don’t listen to the majority of what is said in the media – no attention seems to be paid to anything sensible! You’re far better of working it out yourself and taking responsibility for your own journey of health and wellness.
In health and happiness