Ancient wisdom and modern science teach us that the quality of the food we eat is intrinsically linked with our level of health and well being.
The development of agriculture 10,000 years ago and the radical changes in the production and processing of food which have occurred in the last 200 years, have led to our diet moving further and further away from the natural foods which sustained our earliest ancestors 2.5 million years ago. From an evolutionary perspective, these changes have taken place too rapidly for the human genome to adjust. Biochemically and physiologically, we are virtually identical to the hunter-gatherers who roamed the earth 20,000 years ago[i],[ii].
There is growing scientific evidence that the evolutionary collision of our ancient genome with the nutritional qualities of recently introduced foods may underlie many of the chronic diseases of Western civilization, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer[iii], as well as problems such as depression, mood swings, PMS, hot flushes, chronic fatigue, inability to cope with stress, allergies and susceptibility to illness and infection.
In particular, food staples and food-processing procedures introduced during the Neolithic and Industrial Periods have fundamentally altered seven crucial nutritional characteristics of the ancestral hominin diets of the Paleolithic era: 1) glycaemic load (or the impact of food on blood glucose levels), 2) fatty acid composition (the balance between good fats and bad fats), 3) macronutrient composition (the proportion of energy coming from carbohydrates, proteins and fats), 4) micronutrient density (the amount of vitamins and minerals per calorie), 5) acid-base balance, 6) sodium-potassium ratio, and 7) fibre content.
Today, a few societies in the world are noted for their healthy longevity, including Okinawans in Japan, Hunzans in Pakistan and Vilcabambans in Ecuador[iv]. Scientific studies have shown that these people consume a predominantly plant-based diet high in whole grains, locally grown vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts and seeds, with small amounts of animal foods, sea vegetables, natural sweeteners and condiments. In other words, natural, unprocessed foods similar to those consumed by the earliest human beings.
We too can be full of energy, in excellent physical health and with minds as sharp as razors into advanced old age if we move away from eating refined, processed foods and return to a more natural diet.
You can learn how to cook with these natural ingredients at Cooking For Health courses held throughout the year in Somerset, UK. The classes cover the basics of healthy eating and focus on different aspects of the link between nutrition and optimum health and well being. Topics include Managing Your Weight Naturally, Food and Emotions, Balancing Your Hormones, Beating Stress and Fatigue and Boosting Your Immune System.
The classes not only include cooking healthy and appetising recipes, but also slowly unfold a fascinating and comprehensive study of the healing power of food.
Whether you are young or old, male or female, vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous, a novice or an experienced cook, if you are seeking a natural approach to health and well being, you will find these classes valuable, interesting and potentially life-changing.
[i] Cohen MN (1989): Health and the Rise of Civilization. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press
[ii] Eaton, SB; Eaton SB III and Konner, MJ (1997). Paleolithic nutrition revisited: A twelve-year retrospective on its nature and implications. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1997) 51, 207-216
[iii] Cordain L.; Eaton,SB; Sebastian A.; Mann,N.; Lindeberg,S; Watkins,B.A.; O’Keefe,JH; Brand-Miller, J. (2005). Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2005), 81, 341–54.
[iv] Robbins, J. (2007). Healthy at 100. Ballantine Books.