Which diet? Which foods? Weight loss, illness, supplements, I'll be getting into all this stuff in this section. What follows on this page are some general ideas that many believe can help guide our investigations into a lot of health and nutrition questions...
Things have changed
The food we eat now is different to the food we ate thousands of years ago. 'So what?' you say, 'that's obvious!' But it's important because our bodies haven't changed enough to keep up.
The new types and forms of foods and our new lifestyles are causing problems because our basic physiology is not well adapted to them yet.
Of course some people cope better than others, but the presumption that we'll usually do better eating more like we did in our evolutionary past steers a lot of the advice that I relay here at GZ.
Too much food and too little action
We've all heard it before but this does seem to be a major part of the problem. Agriculture made it relatively easy to get high energy foods, then technology made even denser tastier varieties to tempt us and delivered them to our door.
When we repeatedly eat more food than we need it can lead to chronic high blood sugar and fat levels and chronic low level inflammation, which seem to be at the root of many modern degenerative diseases.
But just eating less and moving more isn't so easy for a lot of us because it's very natural to crave ice cream and a soft couch.
The wrong fats
In the last few decades it's become very cheap to produce large quantities of vegetable oils from seed crops and our intake of these fats has soared. They contain lots of Omega 6 polyunsaturated fats, which we previously didn't eat much of and which seem to cause us problems. Both the total amount of Omega 6s and the amount relative to any Omega 3 fats in our diet seems to matter.
And it's not just the vegetable oils skewing our O3 to O6 ratio, most modern livestock contain more Omega 6s and less Omega 3s than the wild game we used to eat. It's got to the stage where supplementing with long chained Omega 3 fats is probably a good idea for most people.
Low quality foods
The new processed foods are great sources of energy but many are much less nutritious than the whole foods we evolved eating. This doesn't matter much if we only eat them occasionally, but if they're the base of our diet deficiencies could develop, or we'll get hungrier till our body gets the micronutrients it wants meanwhile we're overdoing macronutrients and we've got our overeating problem again.
Foods that irritate
Some of the newish foods (to humans, on an evolutionary time scale) cause allergic and inflammatory reactions in a lot of people. Grains, dairy products, and legumes are the main three mentioned by proponents of the Paleo approach. And the affects aren't limited to an upset belly, they can range from skin and respiratory irritations through to serious autoimmune disorders. You may not even realise your condition is linked to your diet.
Grains seem to affect the most people, apparently over 80% of us have at least a small inflammatory reaction to any gluten in our diet. Think of all the foods you eat that contain flour, not to mention cereals. Even corn is a grain. And we've only been eating significant amounts of these foods for the last few thousand years, not long enough for most of us to adapt properly.
Can we go back?
You can. And it would be great if we all could eat just enough whole natural foods, but our strong natural desire for energy dense food, especially the new ones containing both fats and sugars will make it difficult for a lot of us to do all the time. (Try to think of an unprocessed food that's sweet and fatty. Nuts and coconuts contain carbs and fat, but they still don't compare to ice cream.)
At least be mindful
If we know how much energy is in the foods we eat and roughly how much we need every meal then perhaps sometimes we'll be less likely to overeat, helping with that first big point above. That's why I think it helps to try a diet like the Zone that gives good guidance on portion control.
And keep in mind other possible causes of discomfort or disease – simply avoiding a certain food could bring great relief.
Come back soon...
I'm planning on delving deeper into all this stuff in this section, hopefully sooner rather than later!