As long time readers surely know, I am not exactly what you would call a fan of the MSN Health & Fitness page. It is usually full of junk advice that is a thinly veiled attempt to get consumers to purchace some unnecessary 100 calorie snack pack or other nutritionally worthless crap. I blogged a few times about their lack of actual good advice, check it out HERE and HERE.
Just the other day though I was checking out msn.com, and I came across a headline called The Healthiest Foods on Earth. I obviously couldn’t resist to see what bullshit they came up with now, maybe they were going to start hyping acai juice as the secret to curing cancer or creating world peace, or maybe they were going to actually surprise me and have some good content.
Surprise me they did. As I am scanning through the article I decided I had to scroll back up and see who the author was. Lo and behold it was none other than Jonny Bowden. Jonny is a great nutritionist who has been a huge influence on me, and this artcile was just simple brilliance. Here is an excerpt for those too lazy to click the above link:
“What is the best diet for human beings?
Vegetarian? Vegan? High-protein? Low-fat? Dairy-Free?
Hold on to your shopping carts: There is no perfect diet for human beings. At least not one that’s based on how much protein, fat or carbohydrates you eat.
People have lived and thrived on high-protein, high-fat diets (the Inuit of Greenland); on low-protein, high-carb diets (the indigenous peoples of southern Africa); on diets high in raw milk and cream (the people of the Loetschental Valley in Switzerland); diets high in saturated fat (the Trobriand Islanders) and even on diets in which animal blood is considered a staple (the Massai of Kenya and Tanzania). And folks have thrived on these diets without the ravages of degenerative diseases that are so epidemic in modern American life—heart disease, diabetes, obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, osteoporosis and cancer.
The only thing these diets have in common is that they’re all based on whole foods with minimal processing. Nuts, berries, beans, raw milk, grass-fed meat. Whole, real, unprocessed food is almost always healthy, regardless of how many grams of carbs, protein or fat it contains.”
That brief bit was just awesome. People are always arguing about which dietary strategy is better. Low carb? Low fat? Ketogenic? The list goes on and on. I get asked daily if a particular food is good for you. My answer is always it depends. How was that food grown? Was it grown covered in pesticides and herbicides (which may not have much of an impact on me personally, but as a whole they destroy the environment). Was it injected with antibiotics and growth hormones? Was it allowed to consume it’s normal diet? Everything is context dependent.
For general health those are the most important questions to ask. When dieting the calories and macros are more important so in that context the questions might get a slightly different answer, but you still want to eat real food. Regardless of goal, real whole food should be what you are consuming, you can worry about the macronutrients and such after that has been mastered.
One important caveat is that not every food is good for everyone. Some people have allergies and intolerances to foods, so just because raw milk may be great for some people, it probably isn’t so good for someone lactose intolerant. Same goes for lots of foods, so always keep that in mind.
For more great stuff from Jonny Bowden definitely check out his book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. I know I pimp it a lot, but it really is that good. It is easy reading chock full of some absolutely incredible content. It is one of my favorite nutrition books ever.
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