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"The Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional recommendation inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Greece, Spain and Southern Italy. The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruit, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products." [Mediterranean Diet - Wikipedia]
The Mediterranean region is the area around the Mediterranean Sea that has a Mediterranean Climate, typically where olive trees grow. If you look at a map on Wikipedia you will see that it incorporates most of the north of the Mediterranean region from Spain all the way around nearly to the Suez Canal, part of Egypt and a section of North Africa. Despite its name the Mediterranean Diet is not based on the entire region but only on a part of Greece, Spain and Southern Italy - Specifically the Nuoro province of Sardinia and the Greek island of Ikaria. However, "on December 4th 2013, UNESCO recognised this diet to be an intangible cultural heritage of Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Italy, Greece, Cypress and Croatia." [Mediterranean Diet - Wikipedia]
Dr Weston A Price was the Cleveland Dentist, who in the early 1930's travelled the world to study isolated groups of people living on a traditional diet and compare their health to those people living on the foods of commerce. He studied people in "sequestered villages in Switzerland, Gaelic communities in the Outer Hebrides, Eskimos and Indians of North America, Melanesian and Polynesian South Sea Islanders, African tribes, Australian Aborigines, New Zealand Maori and the Indians of South America".[Sally Fallon. Weston A Price Foundation]
What he found was compelling. Those people living on a traditional diet had less than 1% tooth decay, did not suffer from degenerative diseases like cancer or heart disease, the women had no difficulty in childbirth, and members of the group were not only well proportioned but shared similar physical and facial features.
Even though Dr Price found many examples of healthy groups living on a traditional diet his research has received little attention from the mainstream - so why has the Mediterranean Diet received so much attention?
To answer this question I did an Internet search for, "who recommends the mediterranean diet". Clicking through the search results I found recommendations for a diet off fruit, vegetables, fish, chicken, red meat, grains, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and red wine - and regular exercise. And as I read some of the recommendations I began to wonder. "Who are they talking to?" And then it dawned on me - their target audience is the United States of America. (I am an Australian) And then I asked myself, "What is the typical American diet?"
An Internet search pulled up a list of pages. At random I selected the following:
"The typical American plate is filled with refined grains, foods with added sugar and fats, meat and poultry. Although lack of exercise plays a role, the growing obesity epidemic in the United States has a lot to do with what Americans eat."
"Two of the top five sources of calories in the American diet are sweets, which come in at No. 1, and soda, which comes in at No. 4. Sweets include foods such as cakes, cookies, pies and pastries." [The Typical American Diet. Jan 09, 2014 | By Jill Corleone]
I looked at that diet and I thought to myself, any change they make has to be an improvement. Perhaps it is not so much what the Mediterranean Diet introduces as what they cut out of their diet that makes the difference?
Think about it? If you cut out refined grains, food additives, GMO, sugar, candy bars, soft drinks, seed oils, and meat, poultry and pasteurised dairy from factory farms, and eat real food then it stands to reason that you should see an improvement in health. And by real food I mean not the junk that people buy in a carton, sachet, tin, plastic bottle or paper cup but something that has life in it - that you dig out of the ground, pick from a tree, catch in the ocean or farm on green pastures, without the use of chemicals.
Proponents of the Mediterranean Diet tell us that:
"The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruit, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products." [Mediterranean Diet - Wikipedia]
So what are they not telling us?
"In Northern Italy, for instance, lard and butter are commonly used in cooking, and olive oil is reserved for dressing salads and cooked vegetables. In both North Africa and the Middle East, sheep's tail fat and rendered butter are the traditional staple fats, with some exceptions." [Mediterranean Diet - Wikipedia]
Some groups cook in olive oil and yet others only use it as a dressing. Some have a diet low in dairy and yet others eat a lot of dairy. Proponents of the Mediterranean Diet generally recommend low fat dairy and yet:
"Heart disease was rare in America at the turn of the century. Between 1920 and 1960, the incidence of heart disease rose precipitously to become America's number one killer. During the same period butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. [Why is Butter Better? by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD. westonaprice.org]
In recent years butter is coming back into favour with the medical profession. On TheGuardian website an article by Aseem Malhotra, a Cardiologist at Croydon University Hospital London, states that, "butter and cheese are better than trans-fat margarines", and that "saturated fat is not a problem, low-fat products are often full of sugar and statins are over-prescribed."
But considering that so many authorities on nutrition get it wrong what process of inquiry could we follow to uncover the truth? We start by asking questions to uncover missing information. I have often wondered what happens to organ meat so I did an Internet search for "sicily diet organ meat". The first link on the search results takes us to the Best of Sicily Magazine with an article by Robert Gangi titled, "Pane con la Milza".
"Spleen burgers? A western Sicilian thing, but there's hardly a region of Europe without its specialty food made from some kind of organ or "variety meat." Scotland has haggis, England has kidney pie, Germany has liverwurst and France has its fois gras. There was a time, long before the days of mass-breeding and slaughtering of livestock and poultry, when such giblets or "sweetbreads" were considered something tantamount to a delicacy. Tripe, made from beef stomach, used to be common in most of Italy, including Sicily. One of the more interesting Sicilian entries in this esoteric culinary category is roasted goat brain --admittedly a bit exotic-- but poultry or calf liver seems to be part of the cuisine of many countries." [Robert Gangi - Best of Sicily Magazine]
Keep in mind that we gathered this information by keeping an open mind and asking questions like, "What else did these people eat? What is missing from this picture? What are the media, food and medical industries not telling us? What could be other reasons for the health and longevity of these groups?"
The Nuoro province of Sardinia and the Greek island of Ikaria are two of the places that have become associated with the Mediterranean Diet. Keep in mind that we are told that:
"The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruit, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products." [Mediterranean Diet - Wikipedia]
An Internet search for, "mediterranean diet sardinia" take us to an article on the ABCNews website, "On the Table in Sardinia: Red Wine, Bread and Cheese" by Suzan Clarke and Maria Cohen. We read about black wine which is notably high in antioxidants, almonds, hazelnuts, fruit, vegetables, fava beans, small quantities of meat, less emphasise on fish, and what looks like a reference to sourdough bread. Cheese made from grass-fed sheep and live maggot cheese is given a degree of importance.
Now we do a search for, "sardinia organ meat", and one of the first pages we find is by Mary Ogno entitled, "The Top Ten Strangest Foods Sardinia Has Offered Me". We learn that the Sardinians eat pig, goat, sheep, lamb, duck, rabbit, horse and buffalo - every part of them and dairy products made from them. They eat all the organs and 'all' would have to include the eyeballs, brains, intestines, testicles and blood. If that is not enough to get you wondering they also eat roasted pigeon and crow, octopus salad, the egg pouch of grey mullet, snails, maggot cheese eaten only with live maggots, and whole grain sourdough flat bread.
So far my research looks nothing like the politically correct Mediterranean Diet so I emailed Jeanette Gray B App Sci (Physio), Dip Clin Nutrition - Nutritionist, Lifestyle Coach (Gold Coast Australia) to hear what she has to say.
"Ikaria is definitely one place that is used to refer to the 'Mediterranean diet'. I'm not sure about Sardinia, specifically.
However, the whole idea with a Mediterranean diet is not just about a place, but about certain foods/macronutrients that a lot of Mediterranean people included in their diet. These being:
"All of this food was not processed and locally grown and picked fresh daily. Animals were their own or in the community. Dairy products were naturally fermented, as were vegetables and fruits. You can see this is one of the major variations from the western diet where for the majority, their food is processed or semi-processed and often not fresh.
"The other thing that stands out with Mediterranean eating with the 'social' aspect, which I think is one of the most important parts. Meal times were important parts of the day to be shared with family and friends. I also think that most of these people had to be very resilient and make use of everything they could as they were poor and living under fairly austere conditions.
"So I don't think you can base the diet on any particular town or region, just that the above list is what researchers have found to be the stand out differences from the Mediterranean diet and the western diet. Many of the migrants who came here from Greece and Italy in the 1950's were found to have lower rates of death from heart disease and stroke, despite having many of the classic risk factors (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, overweight) compared to the Australian. This is why they started to look at the Mediterranean diet." [Jeanette Gray B App Sci (Physio), Dip Clin Nutrition Nutritionist, Lifestyle Coach. Quote used with kind permission.]
We start by doing an Internet search for, "mediterranean diet ikaria", which takes us to, The Greek Reporter and an article entitled, "Ingredients of the Ikarian Longevity Diet". We learn that:
"Their diet patterns are characterized by simplicity and variation following the generally known Mediterranean diet, which calls for more natural edible ingredients in combination with exercise and a healthy social life."
Scanning down the page we find the following foods mentioned: olive oil, fruits and vegetables, red wine, green tea, garlic, strawberries and blueberries, sardines, salmon, herring, trout, almonds, walnuts, whole grain bread, pasta and rice.
On the New York Times website we find an article edited by Dean Robinson from the work of Dan Buettner, entitled, "The island where people forget to die". It begins with the story of a Greek war veteran named Stamatis Moraitis who moved to the USA in 1943. In 1976, in his mid-60s, Moraitis was diagnosed with lung cancer and was given nine months to live. Rather than die in the USA he decided to move back to his birth place in the island of Ikaria. Within months he regained his health and still going strong thirty five years later at 97 years of age.
We learn that typically the traditional Ikarian's:
"Wake naturally, work in the garden, have a late lunch, take a nap. At sunset, they either visited neighbors or neighbors visited them. Their diet was also typical: a breakfast of goat’s milk, wine, sage tea or coffee, honey and bread. Lunch was almost always beans (lentils, garbanzos), potatoes, greens (fennel, dandelion or a spinach like green called horta) and whatever seasonal vegetables their garden produced; dinner was bread and goat’s milk. At Christmas and Easter, they would slaughter the family pig and enjoy small portions of larded pork for the next several months." [The island where people forget to die by Dan Buettner and edited by Dean Robinson.]
So far we have not found a typical diet amongst the longevity groups so what could be the difference that makes a difference? The author Dan Buettner continues:
"Chrysohoou also suspected that Ikarians’ sleep and sex habits might have something to do with their long life. She cited a 2008 paper by the University of Athens Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health that studied more than 23,000 Greek adults. The researchers followed subjects for an average of six years, measuring their diets, physical activity and how much they napped. They found that occasional napping was associated with a 12 percent reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease, but that regular napping — at least three days weekly — was associated with a 37 percent reduction." [The island where people forget to die by Dan Buettner and edited by Dean Robinson.]
So perhaps lifestyle, attitude and state of mind plays a more significant role in health than is normally given credit? Before we look at that let us continue our search for information on the diet of the Ikarians.
On doing an Internet search for, "Ikaria organ meat". We find an article by Greg Carver, "Kokoretsi Part 1: Lamb organ meats". He describes his experience of making Kokoretsi, a traditional Greek dish.
"I obtained the necessary organ meats from a local Greek butcher: liver, spleen, lungs, and heart. These were trimmed, cut into large chunks and marinated well in good Greek olive oil, oregano, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. Also needed were two sets of fascia, or the connective tissue, and several sets of lamb intestines (which would normally be used for sausage casings)." [Greg Carver. Kokoretsi Part 1: Lamb organ meats.]
A new search for, "kokoretsi" gives us the following excerpt from an article by Peter Minakis at Kalofagas.ca which gives a similar description to the above recipe for Kokoretsi with some great pictures.
"Another usual suspect that’s present at the Greek Easter table is Kokoretsi. It’s a rotisserie dish made up of skewering seasoned lamb or goat organ meat, wrapped in caul fat and then by yards of cleaned intestines. There are taverns in Greece that specialize in grilled meats, rotisserie and serve up Kokoretsi all year ’round but for Easter, practically every Greek home will undertake to prep and serve their family their very own version of Kokoretsi." [Peter Minakis. Kokoretsi]
So far in our investigations we have found little to support the politically correct version of the Mediterranean Diet. So how did we find this missing information? We did it by keeping in mind the question, "What is missing from this picture?"
If the Sardinians and other traditional groups ate 'head to toe' then what did they do with the fat from the pig, goat, sheep, lamb, duck, rabbit, horse and buffalo? My suspicion is that if there is pork on the menu then we may find lard in the kitchen so now we do an Internet search for, "mediterranean cook in lard", and we get this snippet.
Michael R.Eades, M.D. writes on his blog that based on his travels to Italy and Sicily, and from conversations with others in his field that, "There is more and more olive oil used in Italy now because tourists expect it. But behind the scenes most cooks at most restaurants, I would be willing to bet, use lard."
Going back to the Google results page I click on another link which then takes me to an article on the WestonAPrice website, "The Mediterranean Diet: Pasta or Pastrami?" by Sally Fallon Morell and Mary Enig. The authors tell us that,
"Recipes of All Nations was published in 1935, almost two decades before the new diet religion was proclaimed to the suffering millions. Consider the description of food in Sardinia. Grains are certainly a part of their diet, consumed as bread, pasta or polenta, but in most interesting ways. "One of their favorite ways of cooking macaroni is to cook it in either lamb or pork fat (emphasis added). . . with small pieces of either lamb or pork, chopped tomatoes, chopped garlic and curd, mixed with a little water and salt and moistened with a little game stock, if this is obtainable." Gnocchi is flavored with saffron and "served with a tomato sauce, or with gravy and cheese made from ewe's milk." Bland polenta is enlivened with "chopped salt pork, small pieces of sausages and grated cheese." La Favata is made with "pieces of salt pork, cut in large chunks, ham bone, special homemade sausages, a handful of dried beans, wild fennel, and other herbs and a little water.
"Nothing lowfat so far. But perhaps Keys and his entourage were right when they said that meat is eaten sparingly in the Mediterranean region. Read on. "The Sardinians are great meat eaters, but their methods of cooking various kinds of meat are simple-almost primitive, in fact." Like most Italians, the Sardinians prefer young animals-lamb, kid or suckling pig-usually roasted in front of a wood fire. "The meat is finally browned by constant basting with hot fat. . . " The baby pigs "are so tender that even the skin, ears and all can be eaten."
"The diet of Corsica "has in no way been subjected to any outside influence. . ." No new catechism, no diet evangelists here. So Corsicans can enjoy the following without guilt: All manner of fish, including small lobster, cuttlefish and shellfish; anchovy paste made with the addition of figs; dried salt cod; beef browned in lard; strips of goat fillet, salted and sun dried; chestnuts mixed with polenta and cream and served with different kinds of meat or black pudding." [The Mediterranean Diet: Pasta or Pastrami?" by Sally Fallon Morell and Mary Enig. WestonAPrice.org]
Just in case you thought black pudding was something like chocolate mud cake - black pudding is actually a sausage made with blood, meat, fat and a filler such as barley. Blood, fat and meat from any animal may be used.
From the article by Sally Fallon Morell and Mary Enig we learned that the Sardinians cooked in lamb and pork fat. They made cheese from ewe's milk but we read nothing about low fat cheese. We learn that lamb, goat and pig are roasted over a fire and basted with hot fat - the fat is not specified but I very much doubt that it is olive oil. We learn about a wide range of fish that are eaten, and then we learn about beef browned in lard, and chestnuts mixed with polenta and cream. And then further down the article we read that, "butter is the cooking fat of choice in northern Italy, lard in the middle region and olive oil in the south".
The Okinawan's are renowned for their longevity so let's see what information we can uncover? Wikipedia tells us that, "Pork was highly valued, and every part of the pig was eaten, including internal organs." Average consumption of pork was about 150 grams (5.2 ounces) per week in 1979. So then I checked eight more websites to find that only one of these mentioned pork and that was limited to pork belly.
So what do we learn from this? That if we want to uncover the truth that we need to be relentless in our search and look for the information that is missing - and that can be a challenge when you don't know what the missing information is - and you don't know what question to ask. My way of uncovering the truth is to ask myself, "What is not right with this picture? What is missing? What are they not telling us? What filters have they applied?"
If pigs are found in Japan then I assume that perhaps they might be consumed as food. If there is pork belly on the menu I wonder what happened to the rest of the animal? I wonder what happened to the fat? Did they trim it off or did they render it and use it as lard?
Perhaps the article on Wikipedia was incorrect? So now we do a search for, "okinawa pork" and I locate an article by Stan Bleszynski entitled, "Beware of Okinawa Diet scam". I follow a link from his page to another article at westonaprice.org entitled, "Food in China: Variety and Monotony" by Sally Fallon Morell and Mary Enig.
"And what do Okinawans eat? The main meat of the diet is pork, and not the lean cuts only. Okinawan cuisine, according to gerontologist Kazuhiko Taira, "is very healthy-and very, very greasy," in a 1996 article that appeared in Health Magazine.19 And the whole pig is eaten-everything from "tails to nails." Local menus offer boiled pigs feet, entrail soup and shredded ears. Pork is cooked in a mixture of soy sauce, ginger, kelp and small amounts of sugar, then sliced and chopped up for stir fry dishes. Okinawans eat about 100 grams of meat per day-compared to 70 in Japan and just over 20 in China-and at least an equal amount of fish, for a total of about 200 grams per day, compared to 280 grams per person per day of meat and fish in America. Lard-not vegetable oil-is used in cooking." [Food in China: Variety and Monotony by Sally Fallon Morell and Mary Enig]
Not satisfied with relying upon articles on the Internet, at every opportunity I ask people what they eat. A handsome, well built, young man in his early twenties told me that where he came from in the Australian outback all the teenagers were lean and strong, and he was surprised to see the number of fat people on the Gold Coast. When the media cholesterol scare was in full swing his mum encouraged his dad to have a cholesterol check. The blood test showed that his cholesterol levels were perfect. What did his dad eat? Sausage, bacon, eggs, beef, lamb and chicken. No bread, some vegetables and little fruit. To top it off he drank beer and smoked cigarettes.
A young Brazilian woman with a great smile told me rather shyly in a health shop that as a child she ate funny meat. Further questioning revealed that to be liver.
An Okinawan man told me that his favourite recipe was tongue but I don't remember from which animal. Recently a young Chinese woman from Taiwan told me that I should go to a Chinese restaurant and order chicken heart. Keep in mind that I did not ask these people if they ate meat or organ meat. The question that I ask people is, "What did you eat as a child? What did your parents eat when they were young?" And then I continue, "What else? What else?"
Then I make a mental note of the person's face and body proportions and file it away in my memory. Were they tall, short, skinny, fat; face narrow or broad; jaw narrow or wide; mouth narrow or wide; teeth straight or buckled; body well proportioned or not, handsome or not?
In 2012 I visited the area west of Kualur Lumpur in Malaysia. There are a number of distinct ethnic groups - Malays, Indians, Chinese and groups from the Middle East. Wherever I looked I saw handsome well proportioned people in stark contrast to many of the people in my home town on the Gold Coast of Australia. So continuing my Internet research I found an article by Mark Sisson entitled, "The Asian Paradox".
"Traditional Asian food is highly nutritious. Go to a Vietnamese noodle house and the signature dish is pho, a big bowl of homemade beef marrow bone broth, tripe, tendons, brisket, and rice noodles. Go to a real Thai restaurant and get bone broth soup with cubes of pork blood, greens, rice noodles, and a duck egg. Go to a Chinese restaurant and get sauteed (alas, in soybean or corn oil these days) pork kidneys with Chinese broccoli and rice on the side. Go to a Japanese restaurant and get wild caught salmon eggs rolled with seaweed and rice, mackerel sashimi, and some fermented miso soup with kelp strips. Go to Korean barbecue and eat a dozen different kinds of kimchi, grilled short ribs, beef tongue, and liver all wrapped in lettuce, with rice on the side. In all these foods, rice is present, but so are real bone broth, fresh meat, fermented cabbage, offal, and vegetables. The presence of rice does not invalidate or negate the presence of every other nutrient." [Mark Sisson. The Asian Paradox]
According to an article on the Mayo Clinic website, the Mediterranean diet emphasises:
And yet my research revealed some articles that agree with that and some that differ. Where is the acknowledgment of the use of butter and lard? Where is the acknowledgment of 'head to toe' eating of pig, goat, sheep, lamb, duck, rabbit, horse and buffalo? Where is the acknowledgment of salt used in traditional recipes of the longevity groups? Instead we find proponents of the politically correct Mediterranean Diet recommending canola oil, low salt and for some strange reason low fat yogurt.
What they all acknowledge though is the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Circumstance may have dictated that the longevity groups work long hours in sourcing and preparing their food but in addition they all seemed to hold a positive frame of mind. They all seemed to embrace life - to be thankful for what they had to eat. They had community and were not driven by the clock to work 9.00am - 5.00pm under the greed of corporate directors. Traditional groups were very much connected to their food supply - they planted the seeds, they tended the flocks, they caught the fish, they slaughtered the animals, they prepared the food - they played an active part in both life and death.
In contrast the average 'Westerner' has been conditioned by the Protestant work ethic in service of corporate greed. People are no longer treated as people - they have become consumers. Sadly most people would have no idea where their food comes from and have no idea where the rubbish goes to.
Previously we learned from the article by Dan Buettner and Dean Robinson that, "occasional napping was associated with a 12% reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease, but that regular napping - at least three days weekly - was associated with a 37% reduction". [Dan Buettner and Dean Robinson. The island where people forget to die.]
So is there any other evidence to support the mind body health relationship? In fact there is heaps. Click here to read articles that demonstrate for example that meditation has been show to physically reverse heart disease, and that meditators experience 80% less heart disease and 50% less cancer than non meditators.
Now our investigation gets really interesting. Up until now we were looking for differences in diet and this is what most people seem to do. They want to know what to eat - they want a supplement or a magic pill from the doctor that will make all their problems go away. But perhaps we have been looking in the wrong place? Perhaps the stressed doctor who sees eighty patients a day is not the person to get advice from on health?
In fact have you considered that there might be a difference in the state of mind of the Westerner and those in the longevity groups? Do you think there might be some difference in the mental and physical health of the office worker who suffers from commuter constipation and the Sardinian who gets to work when he is good and ready? Or the Westerner who grabs something to eat while driving to work and the Bolivians who rejected McDonald's and insist that meal preparation should take a long time.
How does the meaning we give food affect our health? What does food mean to a family who eat microwaved pizza? What does food mean to a family in traditional Italy, Greece, Okinawa?
What else are we missing from our picture? Did the longevity groups spray their food with pesticides and herbicides? I doubt it but then a simple Internet search revealed that in some cases governments did so. Between 1946 - 1950, 267 metric tons of DDT were spread over the island of Sardinia in an attempt to eradicate malaria - and that included spraying inside their homes. (Program to Eradicate Malaria in Sardinia, 1946–1950) Even though Sardinia has gained a reputation for the number of centenarians - it may be surprising to learn that Sardinia had a reputation at one time as an unhealthy island. Malaria infested the swampy low lands but the longevity groups came from remote mountain villages.
Did the longevity groups refine their food and add chemicals? Did their bodies have to deal with chemicals leaching from plastic food wrap, plastic food containers, styrene cups, vinyl in motor vehicle interiors, carpet and vinyl floor coverings, paint, electronic equipment, mobile phones and pollution from factories and motor vehicles?
Another point that is sometimes missed is genetic makeup. Some people can manage dairy while others can not; some can manage a diet high in grains while others can not; some can manage a high fat diet while others can not. In some cases entire groups may fall into one or the other categories. Problems may occur when people generalise from one group to another and try and take on a diet that does not fit their genetic makeup.
Perhaps the longevity studies show a small group of people who by chance eat a diet that matches their genetic makeup? Keep in mind that only a small percentage of the longevity group actually make it to one hundred years of age. Perhaps the role that genetic makeup, food intolerances and allergies are factors that have been overlooked, until recently?
At all times in our investigations we need to keep in mind the NLP Meta Model and ask questions that get us specific information. If for example, longevity groups ate meat then we want to know what is meant by meat? Meat from what animal, factory farmed or pasture fed, what part of the animal, how prepared, eaten with what else, eaten when, eaten how often, what quantity? Keeping in mind that some of the people studied were not much taller than five feet?
We sometimes read that longevity groups ate a spoonful of honey each day but what do they mean by honey? What is different about their honey and the honey that you can buy at your local shop?
If the proponents of the politically correct Mediterranean Diet advise us to eat less salt, then what do they mean by salt? Is the salt sold at the local supermarket the same as the salt used by the longevity groups?
What grains did the longevity groups eat? Did they eat wheat, rye, barley, millet? If they ate wheat did they eat the exact same variety of wheat that Westerners eat? Did they eat GMO wheat? Did they use chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides? How did they grind the grain into flour? Was the grain steel milled or stone ground? Was the grain milled just before use or did they use a flour that had been sitting in a warehouse for six to twelve months? Did they bleach the flour, irradiate it or add chemicals?
How did they make their bread? Did they bake unleavened bread, did they use fast acting yeast, did they use a sourdough method or did they sprout the grain? If they used a sourdough method then specifically what was that method? What is different between the type of bread that they ate and the foods of commerce?
What is the difference between the dairy products that the longevity groups consumed and the dairy products found in a Western supermarket? Canola oil might bear a similar fat profile to olive oil but what are the differences that make a difference?
We are looking for similarities and differences [NLP Meta Programs] between the longevity groups and the typical Westerner. For example, is rushing off the gym to ride an exercise bike and lift weights the same as tending a vegetable garden on a windy hillside overlooking the ocean? Both may involve cardiovascular exercise but the behaviour, frame of mind and environment is very different. Both longevity groups and Westerners might eat meals in a social setting but did the longevity groups phone out for pizza and eat in front of a television while they checked their Facebook account?
A search of the Internet takes us to the UNESCO website which puts the Mediterranean Diet into a new frame of understanding.
"The Mediterranean diet involves a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, symbols and traditions concerning crops, harvesting, fishing, animal husbandry, conservation, processing, cooking, and particularly the sharing and consumption of food. Eating together is the foundation of the cultural identity and continuity of communities throughout the Mediterranean basin. It is a moment of social exchange and communication, an affirmation and renewal of family, group or community identity. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes values of hospitality, neighbourliness, intercultural dialogue and creativity, and a way of life guided by respect for diversity... It includes the craftsmanship and production of traditional receptacles for the transport, preservation and consumption of food, including ceramic plates and glasses." [Mediterranean Diet - unesco.org]
Reading the UNESCO description of the Mediterranean Diet brings to my mind images of the Gold Coast Organic Market - images that are the opposite of what corporate agriculture, the USDA and the biotech companies promote, and yet even though the organic food movement is growing - and even though traditional groups may try and hold onto their lifestyle, corporate agriculture is relentless in its quest for profits. The government of Pakistan has recently initiated corporate farming in the agriculture sector of Pakistan which has stimulate much debate.
"When we create a garden and are mindful of the plants growing in it, we ourselves grow from being in closer contact with the same natural cycles affecting the plants. The budding flower unfurls its spring banner before us, the heavy fruit heralds the end of a growing season and the withered stalk whispers of seasons past and yet to come. The synchronicity between seasons and plants is a vibrant illustration of the natural patterns which affect all life. Recognizing that we too are an expression of these patterns is the very heart and soul of farming naturally." [The Natural Way of Farming by Kirby Fry on Corporate Farming. Pakissan.com]
Dr Weston Price, author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, noted that those people living on a traditional diet had less than 1% tooth decay, they did not suffer from degenerative disease, the woman gave birth with ease, their bodies were well proportioned and family members not only looked like each other, they also looked like their cousins. Whereas those people of the same racial stock living on the foods of commerce had rampant tooth decay, suffered from degenerative disease, had a narrowing of the racial form hence difficulty in child birth, a narrower face and smaller mouth hence crooked teeth; brothers and sisters were different shapes and sizes, and they did not look like their relatives.
I'd like to leave you with a task. If you can learn to recognise the influence of diet on body type then I know that you will be able to make a difference in the world.
Make it a habit to look at people in a new way, whether you meet them face to face, see them in the street or on television. Start by making a note of ethnicity, gender, age and socioeconomic group, then check the body proportionality. Are they tall, skinny, petite, large framed, fat, muscled or not, legs straight or bowed, feet straight or bowed? If a man then do they have broad shoulders - which sport could they play best? Soccer, rugby, basket ball or other?
If a woman then do they have small or large breasts; do they have child bearing hips or not; do they have mens shoulders? What shape is their face? Is is long, square, round or triangular shaped? Do they have a wide or narrow mouth? Since most people have access to dental care there is little point looking for buckled teeth. Does the person have a handsome face? Is it easy for them to give a winning smile?
Observe what people eat, when they eat, where they eat and with whom they eat. Watch what they put in their shopping basket. Whenever you can, ask what they eat now and what they ate as a child?
We could try and educate people but that will never work as there will always be some expert who disagrees or a corporation ready to re-educate people with conflicting information to support their interests.
We could go after the food manufacturers. That could work but another option is to go after the food outlets such as McDonald's, KFC, Red Rooster, Hungry Jacks, Subway, Wendy's, Gloria Jeans, Zarraffa's, convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, petrol stations, and bakeries such as Brumby's, Bakers Delight, Muffin Break, etc.
We need to make the owners of the food outlets understand that they have a responsibility to serve wholesome food in the manner of the longevity groups. Selling junk food needs to be stigmatised as a shameful act. We need to make the corporations, the franchisee's, the managers and the staff understand that if they sell junk food then they are responsible for the degenerative disease and misery that follows. To sell food should be a privilege not just a means to generate an income and make a profit. We need to remind anyone and everyone in the food chain that they have a responsibility to the community to raise strong healthy children.
How do we do this? One way could be to make a post on their business Facebook page. For example a post to a bakery could read:
"It is well known that sugar, processed foods, refined flour, food additives and seed oils play a part in degenerative disease - that is heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, eating disorders and mental health problems. Please do your bit to improve the health of the community by removing junk ingredients from your menu and replacing them with real food as consumed by the longevity groups."
Your contribution to this article is welcomed so please take a moment to leave your comments below. And if you are interested in NLP Coaching then please contact Abby Eagle using the contact form on this page.
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