Many people enquire as to what is a healthy diet. This is an interesting question because if we look at the diets consumed by populations around the World, we can see that traditional diets differ greatly. For example, the Massai consume mainly milk and meat from ruminants, whereas the populations that live around the Mediterranean consume a very mixed diet based on plant foods and whole grains. In contrast, the Eskimo diet is composed almost exclusively marine animal product and devoid of plant foods, whereas the Norwegian diet is made up partly of fish, but also contains plant foods. However despite these differences the health of all populations that consume these traditional foods is excellent. If we look in more detail at the diets of health populations what we see is that as long as whole unrefined and unprocessed foods are consumed, generally health is assured. It is the shift to the Western diet that causes the development of ill health and the Western lifestyle diseases that are now growing at epidemic rates.
Choosing a diet that works for you is therefore an easy first step because any healthy diet should be made up of unprocessed whole foods. However, it is clear that some individuals do better on a higher protein diet, whereas others do better on a higher carbohydrate diet, whereas others still do better on a higher fat diet. In this regard it can take many decades of experimentation until a clear picture emerges as to which diet best suits the individual’s biochemical needs. It is more important to listen to your own body than the words of experts. Of course information from others can be useful, and should never be dismissed without consideration, but only the individual can assess correctly if a particular diet is right for them. Experimentation is an important part of the maintenance of health and clinging to dogma and the advice of others is a sure way to ill health and failure. As the Mediterranean diet is a mixed diet, it is a great place to start, and adjustments to this diet can then be made to suit the individual as needs arise.