By Kurt Belzer
Lisa and I have looked at and struggled to make sense of a variety of claims from different nutritional lifestyle authors and presenters, each declaring the validity of their own dietary belief systems. All in all, this has really developed into a religion among modern contemporaries. Experts, self-proclaimed and otherwise, stand up and detail the hows and whys of their nutritional plans and how it will change lives. All the while insisting that they aren’t selling a “diet” but a “lifestyle” as they seek to build a congregation of followers.
In numerous cases one might find references to an indigenous tribe of the Andes or the Amazon, Africa or the Outback, the Registan or the frozen tundras. Research on a chosen group of aboriginal people that continue to maintain the lifestyles of their ancestors may reveal an absence of obesity, diseases, and a litany of illnesses. We are encouraged to subscribe to the notions that, if we follow the diet plans of (name your tribe), we will become as healthy and happy as said peoples.
Rarely have I seen citations from experts that have studied an even cross section of a number of people following their ancestral roots to compare differences and similarities. I am not an expert researcher but I can surmise, based on general education, that different groups of people surviving as their ancestors did do not all consume the same types of food. People that do not rely on modern supply and demand are reliant on resources available in their regions and different areas of the world are home to different types of natural resources. A society that subsists on rice and fish may enjoy the same level of health as a group sustained by a diet of tubers and small primates and another that lives primarily on fruit and leaves.
The one common thread seems to be that, whatever foods are available, they are consumed in the most natural state possible. Of course, most animal products are cooked but they are not factory farm raised or laced with a ridiculous amount of spices, preservatives, or industrially-produced chemicals. The easiest way to consume foods in their most natural state is by eating them raw.
Yet, that isn’t the entire story. We forget the continuous and mounting stresses that modern social structures bring into our lives. We forget that most modern humans spend more and more of their time confined in temperature-controlled structures under florescent lighting. We forget that it is the rare person that sleeps from sunset to sunrise anymore. There is much to be enjoyed by taking on a healthy diet plan but weather you are vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore means less than the way in which you treat the foods you choose… And the food you choose is not a lifestyle. It’s only a beginning.