Here’s an interesting look at how our diet has changed over hundreds of years – a good indication of why we might not be at our best as a population (obesity/cancer/diabetes/heart disease etc) and a good reminder of what we should be returning to. I hope you enjoy it.
Our ancestors’ diet was 100% ‘whole,’ it had 19-35% of calories from protein, 28-58% from fat and a ratio of omega 6 to 3 was equal ie. 1:1. Mostly lean meat and fish with large amount of veg, fruit, nuts and seeds. It had a high antioxidant (ORAC) score and was very low GI.
We then move to our agricultural age, now a 90% ‘whole’ diet, a large increase in grain consumption like wheat, barley etc which contained more omega 6 fats, more grain-fed meat and less veg. The omega 6:3 ratio changed to 5:1 and the ORAC and GI scores shifted to medium.
Then we come to the Industrial Revolution when we start to process food and we are eating a 65% ‘whole’ diet. We began to refine our grains and fats (think white flour and margarine) and introduced refined sugar. The omega balance is now 10:1 in favour of omega 6, we have a high GI score and a low ORAC one.
Next we compound our processing to create our modern diet. We introduce trans and hydrogenated fats, have a very low intake of the original vegetable matter of the diet – veg, fruit, nuts and seeds and are hooked on poor nutrition convenience and fast foods. Now 35% ‘whole’ as compared to the original diet with an omega 6:3 ratio of 20:1, a very high GI score and a very low ORAC one.
Oh dear. The consequences of this are many: lower nutrients for our body and mind systems to work efficiently, a gain of weight especially around the middle due to loss of insulin control, faster ageing processes causing early damage to tissues (as in heart disease and arthritis) and a much higher inflammation in the body generally.
This is crucial knowledge as many experts believe that most of our poor health is related to increasing body inflammation. Inflammation is totally linked to the amount of the different omega essential fatty acids in the body – and just look at the way omega 6 (which can cause inflammation when too high) has risen over hundreds of years, whilst the omega 3 (which dampens it) has reduced dramatically. Now, perhaps, we can understand why we keep seeing all these studies coming out about omega 3 seemingly helping everything from behavioural problems in children, to depression, obesity, heart disease and cancer in adults. Makes sense when you think about it, doesn’t it?
Have I made my point? What are you going to do to retrace your diet steps a bit? All the stuff I witter on about all the time. Reduce meat, eat more fish, nuts, seeds, veg, fruit and pulses, avoid trans and hydrogenated fats as margarines, processed cooking oils, ready meals, cakes, biscuits and roasted nuts and lower your grain level down. Eat food that’s as simple as you can and not messed about with and you can’t go far wrong. Lecture over – until the next time!!