A Diet that is Like a Vacation: Bring the Mediterranean in to Your Home
“Our bodies are our gardens/Our wills are our gardeners.” – William Shakespeare
If there is one aspect of our lives that is difficult to change, it is our diet. It is easy to see why this is the case. People in the United States spend more per capita on processed food than any other country. We remain the fattest country in the world, and we exercise the least. Our corporate culture thrives on hectic work schedules that leave little time to invest in healthy, wholesome, home cooked meals.
In the early 1900’s, Weston Price traveled throughout the world to study diet and its effects upon health upon native cultures. Regardless of where an indigenous society existed, Price consistently found indigenous communities to be robust and healthy with little evidence of chronic disease…provided they followed their traditional diet. He also found that people who moved to cities and adopted a first world menu quickly developed degenerative diseases and dental problems. In short, a diet that approximates the way our ancestors ate is advantageous on all levels. This means that fresh, recently harvested, home-cooked foods convey health benefits that are beyond measure.
It is the Mediterranean Diet that supports these principles to the greatest extent. This program incorporates an abundance of food from plant sources, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. All food should be locally grown and organic whenever possible. Fish represent the primary meat, and chicken and turkey are recommended in low to moderate quantities. Red meat should be consumed no more than once or twice a month. Cheeses and eggs are also included. Additionally:
- Olive oil should be the principle fat. 10-15 olives should be eaten daily as well.
- One to two glasses of wine is permitted daily with food
- Grains used in breads and pastas should be ground from fresh berries whenever possible.
- Portions should be enough to satisfy so that no food is left over. Meals stored overnight tend to accumulate metabolites that trigger histamine and inflammation. (In Mediterranean countries, the American request for a “doggie bag” is regarded as peculiar).
- Fats should be rich in omega oils. Avocado, nuts are seeds should be consumed regularly.
- All grains should be soaked overnight. Remember that plants make seeds knowing that they will be eaten by animals. The goal of the seed is to survive digestion and exit the other end of the animal at a site distant from the parent plant…with its own supply of dung fertilizer. The seed protects itself by producing proteins that inhibit the host’s own digestive juices. Hence raw nuts and seeds may add a great deal of inertia to the digestive process. The solution is to soak them, which induces the germination process and causes the seed to withdraw the inhibitory enzymes.
- The true basis of the Mediterranean diet lies in changing our social relationship with food. Think about how meals are consumed in Greece: relaxing with family perhaps overlooking the sea. Meals are consumed slowly over an hour or more and food is chewed slowly. Do this in your own home! Invite your friends and relatives over for lunch or dinner. Celebrate the meal as being a time to connect with others. Electronics should not be permitted at the dining table.
- Meats, cheeses and eggs should be obtained only from grass fed, free range animals.
- Spices play an important role in the healing process. Use them liberally. They ideally should be no older than three months from harvest and obtained fresh from your own garden whenever possible.
Studies have demonstrated that those who consistently follow the Mediterranean diet experience significantly less diabetes, cancer and chronic disease. Inflammatory markers detected in blood tests have been shown to normalize due to the diet, and the incidence of heart disease can be lowered by as much as 50%.
Bring a little bit of Greece and Italy into your home and adopt this wonderful program.
Dr. Daniel Smith practices at Bear Creek Naturopathic Clinic. His office is on 2612 Barnett Ave. He specializes in naturopathic oncology, but still maintains a strong family practice, treating all manner of conditions. He can be reached at 541-770-5563 or at email@example.com. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please ask specifically for Dr. Dan.