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Stay Close to Nature

 

The human race evolved on the foods that were available -- plants and animals that were gathered and hunted. Our bodies adapted to use the nutrients available in these foods. In the last few thousand years, humans learned to cultivate foods to make their supply more reliable and convenient, but domesticated plants and animals still contain all the nutrients of their wild predecessors.The healthiest diet for humans contains a wide variety of plants; usually has whole grains and beans as the staple foods (the ones that supply the most calories) and may include meat, fish and dairy products in smaller amounts.

 


Our ancestors began to create nutritional problems when they found that they could store foods longer, make them easier to prepare and more tasty by removing the parts that spoiled quickest and eating only the starch, sugar or extracted oils. They discarded the minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals and omega-3 fatty acids that are found in the germ of seeds, creating serious deficiencies. We now have laws requiring some of these nutrients to be added back in to commercial flours, but that has only corrected the most obvious problems.

For most of human history the struggle has been to get enough food, so the survivors were those best equipped to cope with deprivation and scarcity. For most North Americans today, the problem is too much food that is too cheap, too convenient and too tasty to resist. We are bombarded with huge portions of sweet drinks, fried foods, bakery products made from white flour and other "empty" foods. It's all too easy to meet your whole day's calorie needs (2000-3000 calories or even more) with foods made almost entirely of sugar, white flour and added fats.

You may be able to exist on an unhealthy diet for a while, even for many years, but eventually it will catch up with you. Diabetes, heart problems, obesity, many cancers and other health problems are caused by or linked to unhealthy diets. If you are already in trouble, it's never too late to make dietary changes to help to reverse your health problems. It's far better to start early and eat in a healthy way all your life.

The next several pages summarize the nutrients you should get from your food, and their functions.

 

July 25th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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