Over the years I’ve helped a lot of people with their diet, both through online communication and in my work as a trainer/coach. Also, since nutrition has long been one of my main interests, I’ve naturally paid a lot of attention to how people in general design their diets, which types of supplements that are commonly used, and the nutritional trends in our society.
Through working with clients and paying attention to what goes on in the world of nutrition I’ve started to see patterns as to why people don’t get the results they are hoping for. If I had to pinpoint the biggest problem I see, it’s simply that a lot of people aren’t eating real food!
Rather, they consume evolutionarily novel, nutrient-poor foods, including plenty of grain products and pasteurized, low-fat fairy foods, replace meals with various types of shakes, and eat a lot of protein bars, “paleo” cookies, and other similar food items. Not only that, but a lot of people use fiber supplements, cleanses, detox products, vitamin supplements, etc.; perhaps because the poor diet they are following isn’t giving them the result they were hoping for.
Have we forgotten what healthy food really is?
How did we get to a point where the diet outlined above is what is viewed by many as a healthy diet? I think there are several reasons, with the overarching theme being that we’ve largely forgotten what healthy food really is.
TV commercials are constantly bombarding us with information about new supplements, energy bars, and “health foods” that will make us look younger and slimmer, and grocery stores are packed with processed food products that are labeled as low in fat, high in fiber, and heart-healthy.
Few of us see how the food we eat is actually produced, much less take an active part in the process by slaughtering an animal or working on a farm. Small-scale, organic producers have largely been replaced by huge, multimillion-dollar companies such as Monsanto, which produce foods that often have an evolutionarily abnormal nutrient composition.
We’ve completely disconnected ourselves from nature and the animals and plants that our food is derived from. Most of the foods at the typical grocery store today are markedly different from those traditional populations and hunter-gatherers eat/ate.
Top that of with the fact that there’s so much conflicting information on nutrition out there – a lot of which has no scientific support or is based on flawed reasearch, and we can start to understand why things are like they are.
Here are the simple facts:
- The grain-based, low-fat diet that a lot of people in contemporary industrialized societies view as healthy, isn’t particularly healthy.
- Nut butters, protein bars, most “paleo” cookies, meal replacement shakes, etc. shouldn’t be a large part of a healthy diet.
- Most supplements, detox products, cleanses, etc. are a waste of money.
A healthy, nutrient-dense diet is the foundation that “everything” else rests upon
For a lot of people, adhering to a real food, Paleo-based diet is enough to get them the results they are looking for. Few, if any, supplements or specific “superfoods” are needed. (Of course, other lifestyle factors such as physical activity, sleep, and microbial exposure are also important to keep in mind, but for today’s article, the focus is on diet). It’s not going to be enough for everyone though, as some people need a more individualized plan that is tailored to meet their specific needs.
Metabolic dysregulation, HPA-axis dysfunction, gut dysbiosis, and many other chronic health conditions that underlie many of our modern diseases are reaching epidemic proportions in contemporary Western societies, and “just eating real food” is not always sufficient to combat these problems. For some people, “eating real food” is just the first step on the healing journey. This is one of the reasons why Darwinian-Medicine.com covers so much more than just basic diet advice.
However, that doesn’t mean eating real food isn’t important in these cases. I’ll argue that adopting a diet that’s primarily composed of nutrient-dense whole foods (e.g., meat, vegetables, eggs, seafood) is a good first step for anyone who’s looking to improve their health.
Are you “guilty” of making some of the diet mistakes I outline in this article?
– If yes, what does your current diet look like, and are you going to make some changes?
– If no, has “just eating real food” given you the results you were hoping for, or have you felt the need to make some specific adjustments (e.g., diet, supplements)?
Picture: Creative Commons picture by Global Panorama. Some rights reserved.