Is A Diverse Diet Healthy?
Is a Diverse Diet Healthy?
Common sense and traditional wisdom has always supported diversity in our diet. But current science is actually mixed. Some science suggests that it is healthier to limit the number of foods we eat (think elimination diets), and some science suggests that the more diverse our diet is, the more diverse and healthy our gut flora is. How did we get here?
"Everything in Moderation"
I'll bet you heard that a lot growing up if you're my age. Seems as though it often came up riiiiiiight about when that chocolate cake came out of the oven!
In my teens, “everything in moderation” was an off-hand comment made after a news report surfaced detailing new dietary findings. One week they said eggs were bad for you and the next we’d hear that eggs were an important super-food. If you were comfortable trusting government dietary advice, this is where food started to get confusing. Those that simply shrugged their shoulders and said, “Eh, everything in moderation” in response were, in effect, practicing a bit of civil disobedience. It didn't seem logical that those eggs were as bad as reported. This folks kept eating as before without worrying too much.
Today, “everything in moderation” is said after reports that our food is dangerous. Many who easily navigated the egg advice are now overwhelmed by a new level of health information. Experts report that our conventional grain crops are full of weed killer. Trail mix bars are full of wood and there are neurotoxic dyes and chemical separators in prepared foods. We've even discovered that people are eating more and more plastic masquerading as bread! Common sense says that none of this is good, but to many it seems too dramatic to be true.
We've completely missed the point of this common phrase!
“Everything in moderation” was never meant to include plastic, poison and wood!
Originally the saying was about a relaxed, nonjudgmental attitude about what to eat. It also encouraged diversity in our diet. Common sense says that the more variety you have in your vegetables, fruits, proteins and grains, the healthier you will be. The phrase was popularized by folks who lived in a time with very different food options. I guarantee that the original person who said it would never in a million years have guessed that we would willingly line up to eat things that aren’t food. Can you imagine telling your great-grandmother that one day her descendants would easily be tricked into eating wood?
Dietary Variety Under Attack
Recently, Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Texas Health School of Public Health concluded that diversity has gone out of style. Her study contends that eating a diverse diet is more harmful than eating just one or two types of food all the time. Of course, you should eat this way while cutting sugar, red meat and animal derived fats (please read this with the dripping sarcasm it deserves). There is a nod here to the continuing agenda to preference industry-created, non-food over real food options that help us feel full and satiated, but I'll leave that for another time.
For today, I will simply say, of course Ms. de Oliveira Otto found that people gained more weight eating a wide variety of the “food” available to the average American! The systems in our digestion that are intended to switch off hunger no longer recognize what we are eating. Every elimination diet going seems to support Ms. de Oliveira Otto's conclusion. If you exclusively eat any one type of food for a period of time you will drop weight. Cutting out diversity means cutting out a lot of non-food that causes inflammation and bodily confusion. These diets do not equate to long-term health though. They are not balanced. They do not work with the systems in our digestion and they cannot be maintained over the long haul without either dire consequences or meticulous planning and work to achieve success.
The evidence is mounting to support the wisdom that if you cut out good sources of fat you will over-eat, period. What happens when we cut out all sugar per the current trend? Stay tuned…..
The Rules of Moderation
“Everything in moderation” was never a bad eating plan. If it gets a bad rap now, it’s because we aren’t doing it right! Moderation is not a “bad” word, but I believe there is an organized attempt to make it so. We are omnivores. Keeping our diet varied is exactly how we stay healthy. True health can not be achieved by eating an exclusionary diet of one or two carefully curated foods for any length of time. Further, the "good" or "bad" labels in regard to food aren't doing anyone any good.
It may be shocking and unpopular, but I stand by the fact that a healthy diet can include a bit of red meat, a dollop of fat and yes, a bit of sugar. The caveat is that this must all be REAL food! Real food is properly raised, not contaminated with dangerous chemicals and not made up of something that was created in the lab to give us an “experience”.
Eat a variety of real food and there is nothing wrong with saying “Eh, everything in moderation” to those who wish to dictate what the ideal diet should be.
What do you think?