05 Oct 8 Most Important Rules of Food
Most diets are based on marketing, however there is one that is based on science and it is known as the Palaeolithic diet.
The Palaeolithic diet is based on the types of foods our ancestors consumed before the invention of agriculture. Agriculture, and thus the consumption of cereals, only began 5000 years ago – a short time frame that has not allowed our bodies to adjust and adapt to the new circumstances, particularly when compared to the millions of years that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate game, fish, fruit, vegetables, eggs, shellfish, nuts of all kinds, seeds, roots, and some leaves, flowers and buds. Our ancestors had no way to harvest or produce large quantities of flour and so consuming bread, pasta, biscuits and pastries was just not possible.
And so with this in mind, here are eight rules based on the dietary habits of our ancestors in order to eat well, be healthy and reach your ideal weight!
Rule # 1: Know the difference between Good and Bad Carbs
The first rule is absolutely vital, particularly as in the 80s and 90s, we learnt of the difference between slow/fast sugars. For example, we were told that baguettes, potatoes and pastas were ‘slow’ sugars. In reality, these three foods are among those that quickly turn into glucose. They raise blood sugar almost as quickly as pure glucose syrup, even if they are made from whole grains. Their consumption also increases insulin levels and results in storing bad fats, including abdominal and visceral fat. They too increase insulin resistance and may lead to diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Most cereals contain more gluten, which can cause chronic inflammation and damage to the intestinal tract, leading to the malabsorption of essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids), and therefore under-nutrition. Malnutrition in turn leads to a high risk of chronic diseases. So let’s get straight to the point: your body and brain need carbohydrates, and a lot of them! But the best source of carbohydrates is vegetables; these include leafy vegetables, all kinds of cabbage, root vegetables and tubers such as yams and sweet potatoes. Eat vegetables in every meal. If you do not know how to prepare, you can always place them in a steamer, sprinkled with herbs, spices, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Other very good sources of carbohydrates are fruits, especially red and black fruits. Always prefer whole fruit to fruit juice. However, grains, carbohydrates industrially processed (biscuits, syrups, cakes, candy, cereal bars, chocolate bars, cereal breakfast) and of course sugar (white or brown) should be consumed as little as possible.
Rule # 2: Protein and fibre in every meal
Good quality protein sources including grass-fed cattle meat, organic eggs, fish and shellfish are preferred. Avoid farmed fish and grain-fed meat. For fibre, eat fresh vegetables, bios, sometimes raw and sometimes cooked as some antioxidants are better absorbed after cooking and some anticancer compounds are destroyed by heat. Always accompany your vegetable with an olive or rapeseed oil, which absorb more polyphenols and antioxidants.
Rule # 3: Beware of Hidden Sugars
Many ready-made condiments and sauces contain sugar or corn syrup. These include ketchup, ‘light’ salad dressings, cocktail sauces, marinades, as well as ice cream and sodas. Manufacturers tend to add glucose syrup everywhere as it is extremely cheap ingredient that aids in preserving the products for a longer period of time. So be sure to read the labels of your products and avoid them! Artificial sweeteners too have nothing good to do in our bodies and so it is better to avoid them altogether. Sugar is highly addictive; and so the more you consumer, the more you crave. And yet the reverse is also true, the less sugar you consume, the more natural it will become for you to avoid it.
Rule # 4: Avoid Cans and Plastic bottles
They contain bisphenol A or related compounds that are carcinogenic and disrupt our endocrine (hormone) system!
Rule # 5: Eggs, Eggs, Eggs!
Eat eggs and forget all the evil we have been told about the egg yolks. Yes, they are high in cholesterol but your blood cholesterol is made by your liver from glucose and is hardly influenced by your high cholesterol food intake. Egg yolks contain antioxidants, micronutrients, soluble vitamins, and promote the production of hormones that burn your excess fat. For breakfast, there is nothing better than pan-seared vegetables with a touch of coconut oil and two eggs you can scramble for an almighty omelet.
Rule # 6: Get Creative with Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices are packed with antioxidants, more than many vegetables and fruits. They also provide a great flavour to your food, which can also help to reduce your cravings for crackers, desserts and sweets. Ginger, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin accompany an incredible number of dishes. Try to include them all in your soups, salads, meat sauce, and vegetable dishes.
Rule # 7: Avoid corn, sunflower, soybean, safflower, wheat germ and grape seed
Rich in omega-6 inflammatory, these oils are of poor nutritional quality. Substitute them with olive, canola and walnut oil, and explore all kinds of vinegar to vary the taste of your salad dressings. For cooking, use lard or better yet virgin coconut or palm kernel oil as they have a high content of saturated fatty acids. You can also season your food with flax oil or camelina, which are both rich in omega-3, but be sure not heat them for too long as they can become toxic.
Rule # 8: Load up on Vitamin D
Vitamin D is the most important nutrient. Many individuals are below the minimum level of vitamin D intake, which is 30ng/ml. The optimum rate is between 50 – 65ng/ml.
Egg yolks and fatty fish are the best food sources of vitamin D, however they are never enough. Other great intakes of vitamin D include sunbathing every day for at least 20 minutes on at least 3/4 of the skin or a dietary supplement of vitamin D3 (at least 4000 IU per day for an adult) that will help to maintain a proper intake.