What Constitutes Healthy Eating?
Healthy eating has become a controversial topic, with many differing opinions on what constitutes a healthy diet.
Is there a one-size-fits-all diet that most supports human health? If so, then why are there so many conflicting beliefs about what constitutes the healthiest diet?
Hasn't science been able to determine which foods are best by now?
Is there a way to determine the best food selections for each individual, regardless of what the 'experts' claim?
By now, most people have been confronted with a range of ideologies about what constitutes healthy eating. Some claim that we are meant to be eating what our paleolithic forebears ate, that being a more hunter-fisher-gatherer type of diet.
Others believe we will experience lasting health by eschewing the meat, and munching solely on plants.
Still others claim our health suffers because we eat cooked foods, and are destroying important enzymes in the cooking process.
Does healthy eating involve eating a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, or a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet, and if so, should it be fruit-based, or grain-based? High fat, or low fat?
So many questions surround the topic of healthy eating!
With all the conflicting dietary advice, how do we determine what constitutes healthy eating, whether for humans as a collective, or for each of us as individuals?
To clear confusion around determining what constitutes healthy eating ~ for you ~ we suggest learning a few principles to guide your choices, and immediately begin to improve your health.
Learn which foods everyone should greatly minimize or avoid, here.
- The first and most important step is to learn some nutritional basics, especially knowing which foods pretty much all agree are not part of a healthy eating plan.
- Next, recognize that your human body is still physiologically best adapted to the foods Nature made available to your pre-agricultural ancestors. The genetic and physiological changes required to be better adapted to modern foods that only came about with the advent of agriculture, about 10,000 years ago, takes a long time.
- The final, and most empowering step is to learn how to eat intuitively, and trust your true nature to help you choose the best foods for your unique needs.
A growing body of evidence indicates that it is hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance that is at the root of the majority of modern diseases, including hypertension, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, psoriasis, and more.
The human body is simply not adapted to eating the quantities of carbohydrate-rich foods that most people now regularly consume.
We sometimes also say to 'eat for your dreams.'
What you choose to eat should fit into the context of your goals and desires, along with being a match for your constitution, energetic expenditures, region you live, your ancestry ~ and your time and financial budget!
Healthy eating should be enjoyable. Foods that are good for us will help us feel satisfied, digest and assimilate well, and bring about a feeling of mental and physical well-being.
Too many of us rely on scientific data, blood tests, and the words of 'experts' while ignoring our own biofeedback systems, and direct experience. We need to Trust Ourselves, and our body's cravings ~ providing we learn how to read the messages.
To get a taste of learning how to eat more intuitively, imagine for a moment setting aside all nutritional and moral ideologies, then ask yourself the following question:
Which foods among those provided by nature ~ that are easy to obtain or prepare with minimal technology ~ are most attractive to you?
Fats provide pleasure and satiety and can be found in many plant and animal sources. Choosing the right fats is key when considering healthy eating.
According to research and epidemiological observations including the work of Weston A. Price traditional saturated fats ~ especially naturally occurring fat in meats, like ribeye steaks and 80% lean ground beef ~ are quite healthy!
Our brains need fat. Saturated fat and cholesterol are important nutrients that support the health of our nerves, hormone production, and many other important functions in the body.
While there never was sufficient data to support the claim that a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol was linked to increased risk for heart disease, there are studies indicating that those with high cholesterol have a lower all-cause mortality rate. Consumption of meat and animal foods is currently highest in Hong Kong, where they are also experiencing a longer life span.
According to Sagen Ishizuka, one of the early Japanese pioneers of the macrobiotic movement, healthy eating depended upon the right balance of potassium and sodium salts, and an appropriate level of nutrients to provide peak functioning and health of your entire body and mind.
Native populations consumed all parts of the animal, including the liver and intestines as these organ parts provided a high level of micro and macro nutrients. The blood provided needed sodium.
Sea vegetables are another excellent source of many beneficial minerals, including iodine that supports production of thyroid hormones.
How much and which of each of these foods will best support your health can best be determined through experimentation, and by paying attention to various signs and symptoms, which I discuss below.
Several decades back, prior to the spike in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, food was still sourced closer to home, and the total consumption of fruits and vegetables comprised roughly 10% of total caloric intake, on average.
The primary foundational foods included eggs, chicken, mutton, beef and pork. They were eating a healthy 'Western' diet ~ before all the modern processed foods and oil were so abundantly available diet ~ and remained slender and in good health.
There are signs and symptoms that can help you gauge if your 'healthy eating' is on the right track. Many of us believe we are eating a healthy diet, loaded with lots of dark leafy greens and vegetables ~ like we ourselves did for years ~ without realizing the health impact these foods have on us until we eliminate them for at least one or more months, and then slowly reintroduce them back.
If you pay attention, and know what to look for, you can determine if you are eating a healthy diet ~ or not ~ depending on if you are experiencing signs of nutritional deficiencies, or signs of improving health, and adjust your diet accordingly.
Hit the re-set button, and simplify your diet by taking the 30-Day Hypercarnivore challenge! You may be surprised by how much your tastes will change, and how many foods you think are supporting your health may triggering many of your symptoms!
Are you showing signs of nutritional deficiencies?
According to our recent research, vegans (and some non-vegans) can be at risk for several nutritional deficiencies, which can take some time to develop. Both Don and I were experiencing some degree of each of these signs, among others, after several years of eating a produce-rich, allegedly nutrient-dense, plant-based diet.
Some potential indicators of deficiencies of several important nutrients such as zinc, iron, selenium, and B-Vitamins include:
- Slow wound healing, and slow healing from injuries to joints, bones & ligaments
- Low libido - men especially need to ensure getting adequate levels of zinc and selenium for healthy production of testosterone, however women can experience low libido due to low testosterone as well. Even Rip Esselstyn points this out in his book, My Beef With Meat. He believes a plant-based diet increases libido. Our research has indicated the opposite to be the case. Studies indicate an improvement in libido and fertility from higher consumption of eggs, meats, and saturated fats.
It is important to be aware of how misleading studies can be, often with too little information given as to the study methods to draw any real conclusions.
- Fatigue and general malaise or low-motivation. A sign of potential deficiency of iron or various B vitamins, especially B12.
- Dry skin, and premature wrinkling and aging, especially from diets too low in total and saturated fats.
- Brittle nails and hair, and / or clumps of hair falling out ~ Signs of blood deficiency in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Can also indicate deficiency of minerals, inadequate protein in the diet, and low thyroid function.
- Pale nails, pail pink under the eyes, pale pink tongue. These are also signs attributed to a blood deficiency syndrome in TCM for which herbal formulas, and increased consumption of meat ~ especially red meat, liver, and other foods would be prescribed.
- Easily catch colds, catch colds often, or cold hands and feet - can be a potential sign of low-thyroid function, and/or low zinc levels.
- Poor vision from low-levels of Vitamin A (plant-based diets can be high in beta-carotene, a Vitamin-A precursor, while Cod Liver Oil, or animal liver, such as pork or beef liver are the best sources of Vitamin A.)
- Inadvertently over eating, feeling full or bloated, yet still unsatisfied.
- Lack of real enjoyment eating foods that you mostly eat because you heard that they were 'good for you.' This is more a sign that you are not eating according to your intuitive nature, and instead are eating what you think you should.
- Dental decay and crowding of teeth. Teeth falling out. ~ This is especially prevalent among raw vegans who consume large quantities of fruits.
- Weak bones, and poorly developed muscles. Too low animal protein in the diet.
- Poor mood states, depression, poor memory, and more. Insufficient nutrients, especially saturated fats and fish oils. Exogenous ketones are also being found to be highly beneficial for improving moods, focus, concentration, and more.
Signs of healthy eating typically include the following health improvements:
- Your skin glows
- Your hair is softer and more lustrous
- Your hair does not fall out in clumps whenever you brush
- Your moods improve
- You feel more focused and centered
- You feel better physically.
- Your blood sugar and moods will be balanced
- You will more readily reach and maintain your ideal weight
- Your sleep improves
- Your energy improves
- Less pain and stiffness
- Better elimination
Eating the right, nutrient-dense, healthy foods will help you to build lean muscle, which in turn helps you to maintain healthy bones, and your ideal weight as you age.
In early 2017, we amended what we believed to be a healthy diet, switching from eating whole grains, beans & greens, pictured below left, to a more ancestral or paleo centered around animal proteins, vegetables, healthy traditional fats, and some fruits & nuts, pictured bottom right.
We later reduced our total carbohydrate consumption even more, now eating a more ketogenic/hypercarnivore diet with plants optional.
The more we eliminated all those 'healthy' plant foods, the better were our results, especially with finally helping to clear Don's near life-long psoriasis.
Liver is among the most nutritionally dense foods, containing folate, and Vitamin A, which among other things, is great for eye health. Don't like the taste or texture? There are ways to incorporate it into meals that make it more palatable.
Try taking Now brand Liver Powder, or Universal Uni-Liver Tablets (which I usually chew. They aren't that bad! The Liver Powder shown tastes fine when mixed with a little low-sodium vegetable juice and water, along with the citrus flavored Carlson Labs Cod Liver Oil. See also top right if interested to order.
Folks who live in rural areas tend to have healthier eating habits than their urban counterparts, who rely more on take out and processed 'convenience' foods. Rudolph Ballentine discusses this in his book Diet and Nutrition, A Holistic Perspective.
Joel Salatin recounts a couple stories in his book Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People and a Better World indicating just how pervasive the disconnect from our food source has become. There are now people who pretty much only eat pre-packaged foods that can be quickly zapped in a microwave, and have no clue how to cook a simple meal from fresh whole foods.
Healthy eating requires taking the time to prepare food at home. It doesn't have to be very time consuming or complicated!
While you can learn how to make better choices when ordering out at a restaurant, you have much greater control over everything you consume when you prepare it yourself.
All of my meal suggestions and recipes in the Trust Your True Nature Diet Plan e-book are super simple! And delicious!
Our TYTN Diet Plan highlights the most nutrient-dense foods known to best support development of muscle growth coupled with fat loss to achieve an optimal body composition.
Eating protein and fat has been shown to be best for developing muscles. Having lean muscle supports maintenance of healthy bones, and healthy weight, especially important as we age. Read more in Dietary Protein for Athletes: From Requirements to Optimum Adaptation, published on Pub Med.
You don't need to be an athlete to benefit from eating a higher-protein diet either!
Since switching our diet to once again include animal foods, we have noticed great results with our own strength training routine ~ with swifter recovery, greater endurance, and more immediate and observable muscle gain.
As a bonus, our skin and hair has become much softer and shinier as well. A sure sign of healthy eating!
Not that long ago, beef was on everybody's menu. It was more affordable. Nowadays, people are having a cow over eating some of the most nutrient-rich food, while decrying the raising of cows ~ despite their ability to produce the most natural, synthetic & chemical-free, gold star of fertilizer ~ when raised on pasture, as our ancestors did.
What constitutes healthy eating will vary for each person, however there are basic rules that apply to all, such as avoiding the foods that are definitely not part of a healthy diet, as mentioned above, and as outlined here.
It is our desire to empower people to free themselves from rigid dietary boxes, prevent potential health challenges, and enjoy ones diet and life. We have experienced the cognitive dissonance that comes from adhering to dogma, while ignoring our own innate wisdom.
Ultimately, we are each responsible for our own choices, and the creator of our outcomes. Determining what is healthy eating is a personal journey, one that can save you countless dollars in medical bills, and provide you with a much greater quality of life!
You can download my produce-rich, plant-based and macrobiotic books and cookbooks here, free, or by donation.
What do you consider healthy eating? What do you want to learn more about? Feel free to share or subscribe.