January 28th, 2007

ronin

The best advice about nutrition I have ever read.


http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?ei=5090&en=a18a7f35515014c7&ex=1327640400

It's long, so I'll try and summarize a few of the very best points:

- Eat 80% of what you normally eat, since the average american eats 3,600 calories a day when they should be eating 2,000. (And worse yet, we lie to ourselves and to our nutritional researchers about this fact. And most of us don't even notice when we do.)

- Push your diet to the very edge of vegetarian. Eat a lot less meat than usual. In the 1950's, the typical meat portion was 8 oz. Meat is not bad in and of itself, but regular consumption of large amounts of meat is.

- Eat whole foods, since we still don't entirely understand everything that's in food, and processed food is often lacking in micronutrients and trace elements, by design. Anything that needs a big, bright, splashy logo on the box to proclaim how healthy it is... probably isn't. Fruits and veggies don't need an advertising campaign to advertise their healthfulness. This is what he means by "eat food." Mt. Dew is not "food." Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick is not "food."

- In general, beware thinking that supplements or megadoses of individual nutrients by themselves will make you healthy. They won't. In fact, the whole idea that food's value can be reduced to individual nutrients with no synergistic effects from other ones is wrongheaded.


I have only one thing to add to this: EXERCISE. I don't care how healthy you eat, if you do not get cardio multiple times a week, you are going to feel lousy. It doesn't have to be a lot. Take a good 2 mile walk, 3 times a week. We as a society are now completely dependent on our cars. We sit in a car for an hour to get to, and then back from, our jobs. We sit at a desk all day when we're at that job. Humanity are not barnacles, we did not evolve to sit for 80% of our waking hours. We evolved to walk all day long, all across the plains, gathering plants and berries to eat, and occasionally running for brief spurts to spear an animal. More recently (evolutionarily speaking) we learned how to farm. That too was okay because it kept us out in the fields all day, on our feet, walking around. Modern "commuter culture" is not healthy for human bodies.


BTW, none of the above changes are easy to make. Simple, yes. But not easy. Making changes in your life that push you outside the cultural mainstream is never an easy thing. It takes time (which modern culture makes sure we don't have) and hassle (which we don't want to deal with because we have too much already). Hence why heart attacks are the #1 killer of people in America.