Blogs     Food & Nutrition    

The Perfect Diet

Go paleo, go vegan, avoid gluten, eat whole grains, eat fat, don’t eat fat…

Dr. Padma Garvey

Is there a perfect diet?

Go paleo, go vegan, avoid gluten, eat whole grains, eat fat, don’t eat fat…..we have all heard these conflicting statements about how we should eat.    Since 80 percent of our medical problems are due to diet and lifestyle, the solution to our chronic conditions, our rising health care costs, and global warming is in our food.  History can teach us a great deal about the ideal diet.

Around 10,000 BC our pre-farming ancestors had a pretty decent diet.  They ate wild berries, nuts, wild grains, grasses, and tubers.  They consumed no dairy outside of breast milk as a child.  Depending on where they lived, they hunted wild game which was extremely low in fat or they ate seafood which meant deep diving or picking tiny creatures stuck to jagged cliffs.  All in all, they spent the bulk of their days walking, running, swimming, and climbing for their food. 

This ‘Paleo’ diet was quite healthy, entirely wild, unprocessed, and very different from the popular ‘Paleo’diet nowadays.  Modern meat is extremely fatty by any standard compared to the lean meat of the ice age and far more plentiful than anything our ancestors would have had.  Organic or not, domesticated animals, meant for consumption, are well fed, plump, and fatty.   The other misconception is that hunter-gatherers did not eat grains.  Fossil evidence refutes this.  Whether these ancestors ate grains they picked themselves or grains found in the stomachs of wild game they ate is up for debate.  Nevertheless, our hunter-gatherer ancestors did consume whole grains.  The main problem with the hunter-gatherer diet is that there simply isn’t enough wild food, plant or animal, to feed  large populations, which is exactly why our ancestors started roaming the earth, settling down, and farming.   You can see this even today in ecosystems all around us.  The higher up on the food chain you go, the fewer numbers there are.  It takes a lot of gazelles to feed one lion. 

Stating around 5000 BC, farming led to the accumulation of the most important, versatile and nutritious pillar crops humans had ever seen, pillar crops that supported a population explosion and the growth of empires, the whole grains.   Drought and war were constant threats to the food supply and the main reason for periods of hunger and disease.  But if times were good with good weather and peaceful neighbors, our early farming ancestors also ate well.  Their diets consisted of large amounts of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and some nuts.  They ate extremely small amounts of fish, meat, and dairy on special religious occasions.   Unfortunately as crop production increased, so too did processing.  Processed grains, expressed oils, refined sugar, cured meats, and cheeses are all foods that arose from having enough unprocessed crops and lots of cheap or slave labor to process the food.   Processed food consumption increased early on, and so too, did chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. 

Today there are 7 billion people in the world.  We need to eat the healthiest diet possible for ourselves, our fellow man, and our planet.  The perfect diet is one that is extremely low in fat, unprocessed, and plant-based just like the diets of our hunter-gatherer ancestors and our early farming ancestors.  The less meat, dairy, oil, and refined sugar you eat the better.  This old way of eating is new for many of us.  Learning how to prepare healthy meals that are satisfying will be rewarding.

Other posts by this this blogger

How I Cured My 20 Years of Heartburn Overnight

Dec 11, 2017

Learning about dietary changes that affect acid reflux and heartburn can help improve our lives and save us money.

Is Watchful Waiting Right For You?

Dec 4, 2017

It is important for patients to understand the pluses and minuses, risks and benefits to any test they undergo.

Vitamin B12: You May Not Want to Get It the Way Nature Intended

Nov 27, 2017

Vitamin B12 is an issue for many people nowadays, meat eaters and vegans alike. Understanding the biology will help us avoid a vitamin B12 deficiency

It's Now Cool To Be A Lentil Eater

Nov 20, 2017

Lentils are a great source of protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber. They are extremely good at helping to regulate blood sugar.

Dr. Akizuki's Miso Soup and the Atomic Bomb

Nov 13, 2017

Miso soup seems to have tremendous health benefits that we can all take advantage of starting today.

Dying a Bland Death

Nov 6, 2017

Using a variety of spices in your cooking will make eating a plant-based diet more enjoyable. In addition, spices are loaded with powerful antioxidants that promote good health.

Omega 3 and DHA: If You Understand the Science You Won't Buy the Supplement

Nov 2, 2017

There is no pill or supplement that can replace a healthy lifestyle.

Your Obesity May Not Be Your Fault

Oct 30, 2017

What's happened to our food is happening to us.

Confessions of an Obstetrician: I never took a prenatal vitamin

Oct 23, 2017

The importance of adequate vitamins and iron in a healthy, plant-based diet has been suppressed by marketing ploys aimed at promoting the consumption of expensive vitamins.

A Bug a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Oct 16, 2017

Eating foods with good bugs is vital to keeping us healthy. Good gut bugs have been shown to help with heart health, obesity, autoimmune diseases, allergies, and even depression

Paying More For Less

Oct 9, 2017

Slick advertising convinces us to buy and eat the wrong things. We inadvertently pay more money for less nutritious food.

My Life As An Unhealthy Vegetarian

Oct 2, 2017

Subtle changes over time are more impactful on our health than we may realize.

In A Pinch

Sep 25, 2017

Stocking up on some key food items will allow you to stick to a healthy, plant-based diet even when your plans to cook fall through.

Two Degrees of Separation

Sep 18, 2017

How we eat is one of the most powerful ways we can help with global warming.

The Sugar Debate

Sep 11, 2017

Sugar was quite expensive until recent modern history. Whether it is good or bad can be clouded by misinformation.

Recommendations For Eating Out

Sep 4, 2017

Keeping our eyes open for healthy options allows us to enjoy eating out occasionally.

A Diet Fit For A Gladiator

Aug 28, 2017

The push for protein consumption is misguided. Learning about how gladiators ate and how some athletes eat today can help us stay strong and healthy.

Don't Outsource Baby Food

Aug 20, 2017

Marketing ploys have misled many of us to believe that babies and toddlers need special food made by a company to ensure they get adequate nutrition.

Ovarian Cancer: Facts and Prevention

Aug 14, 2017

At present there are no recommended routine screening tests for ovarian cancer. But there are many things a woman can do to help prevent ovarian cancer.

Back To School Breakfast

Aug 4, 2017

A healthy, plant-based breakfast is key to start the school day.

Reasons For Cancer: The World Speaks For Itself

Jul 31, 2017

There are ways to actually prevent cancer. While early detection and treatment is important, by not educating the public on prevention, healthcare professionals are missing a real chance to help.

Understanding Carbohydrates

Jul 24, 2017

Understanding the chemistry of carbohydrates will help us to make food choices that promote health. It will also help us navigate conflicting statements about carbohydrates.

The Most Common Nutritional Deficiency in America

Jul 17, 2017

The misinformation about nutrition is daunting. Simplifying nutrition is crucial so that we can eat better.

Osteoporosis: One Pill Does Not Fit All

Jul 10, 2017

Preventing osteoporosis means adequate sun exposure, physical activity, and a diet rich in beans and greens.

Nature vs Nurture: Why Family History Is Not Destiny

Jul 3, 2017

Many of us have a sense of helplessness because of a family history of medical problems, especially breast cancer. Understanding the impact of genetics vs lifestyle will help us feel empowered.

Is There A Link Between Iron Supplements And Colon Cancer?

Jun 26, 2017

It is astonishing how many people take iron supplements in this country. It may surprise you to know that doing so may have some risks associated with it.

What's A Good Weight For Me?

Jun 18, 2017

Our concept of a healthy weight for us can get clouded by time and a poor memory.

The Kids' Menu and Other Dangerous Things to Keep Your Children From

Jun 11, 2017

What was once a rare treat has become a daily occurrence. Learning about healthier options for you kids when you go out is important.

Thanks Mom for the Bugs

Jun 4, 2017

Some bugs are definitely bad but most are harmless and some are actually vital to us. Understanding this relationship is important so that you can reduce your chances of some serious problems.

What a Box of Cereal Can Teach Us

May 29, 2017

The history behind our cereal boxes tells us a lot about how people ate in the past.

The Prescription For Health

May 22, 2017

The prescription for good health need not be a secret. History and health trends in immigrants tell us exactly what we need to do to take charge of our health.

Soy's Undeserved Bad Reputation

May 15, 2017

People are avoiding soy for the wrong reasons. It is one of the healthiest and most versatile foods around.

Recurrent Urinary Tract and Vaginal Infections

May 8, 2017

Understanding what causes urinary tract and vaginal infections helps us prevent them from happening in the first place. As always, diet plays a major role.

The Confusion Over Fat

May 1, 2017

Understanding about good and bad fat is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It will also help you to avoid being misled by food labels and advertising ploys.

Looking At Dairy From All Angles

Apr 24, 2017

While dairy consumption served a purpose in the past, its nutritional value in today's society is questionable.