Back off those carbs!
One of the things I am most often asked about eating the MND way is why I suggest not eating starchy carbohydrates, particularly grains. I just want to cover that briefly today.
- Why we should avoid eating grains, processed carbs and starchy carbs in general
- New research indicates that maintaining a fairly high-protein diet reduces signs of frailty in old age
- Basically, those eating a diet higher in protein, maintained ‘strength’ longer, and those eating a diet lower in protein, reported more signs of frailty in older age
- It doesn’t seem to matter if that protein comes from veggies or meat or fish, just so long as you are eating one or all of those things
- Eat the MND way for a nutrient-packed diet with no need for nutrient-poor starchy carbs
- Just eat plants and animals
MotherNaturesDiet (MND) is a fairly-low-carb diet. MND includes masses of vegetables, many of which provide carbs, so I do not promote MND as “low-carb” strictly, more I promote MND as “no-processed-carbs”. See MND Core Principle 1 - no processed grains, and MND Core Principle 2 - no refined sugar.
Why should we avoid carbs? Why no grains?
Living the MND way involves avoiding all those starchy carbs that other people eat - bread, cereals, pasta, white potatoes, rice, spaghetti, pastries, cakes and so on.
There are many reasons for this.
All grains are members of the ‘cereal crops’ family of plants. These are all a type of grass. Grasses are cellulose plants that humans cannot eat, and these foods are not digestible without processing.
I think Mother Nature designed animals to eat the grasses, then we eat the animals.
Ruminants (cows, sheep, goats, etc.) have a stomach (the rumen, hence their genus name) designed to act as a fermentation tank. Once fermented, they can then extract nutrients from these foods. Humans do not have a rumen and cannot digest grains, hence grains have to be processed in order for us to digest them.
Personally, I think it’s healthier and more natural to let the cow do the fermenting, and then I eat the cow.
The food chain
In Mother Nature’s grand design, it’s a form of ‘upregulation of energy’ - the sun falls on the huge flat surface of the earth, helping the grasses to grow, they absorb the suns vital energy. Cows eat the grass and upregulate the output of the sun’s energy into muscle, or beef, as we like to call it. We eat the cow. We die and our blood and bones and flesh put carbon, phosphorous, potassium, nitrogen and many other minerals back into the soil, to help feed the insects and bugs and help grow more plants, and so the whole cycle repeats.
This process works in every natural ecosystem on Earth. Trees wouldn’t grow without worms to turn over the soil, the worms process the nutrients in the soil. The trees provide berries, fruits, which birds propagate, by pooping those seeds out far away from the mother tree. Birds also eat worms (life on Earth would likely cease without worms!) and when birds die, their body will rot into the ground to be eaten by worms, or the birds will be eaten by a predator, and that predator will poop out the birds remains for the worms to churn into the soil as fertilizer.
All natural ecosystems work this way, energy is upregulated and downregulated through the nitrogen cycle. Lions don’t have a rumen, they don’t even try to eat grass. If a lion ate grass, it would sick it up or poop it through undigested, either way the lion could not extract nutrients or energy from it. The lion knows this, and a starving would lie down and die of starvation in the grass without trying to eat that grass. If a cow ate lion flesh, that meat would be stuck in the rumen for so long it would putrefy and make the cow very sick.
Humans don’t have a rumen, we are not designed to eat grasses. Wheat products, cereals and oats, are grasses.
Starchy carbs for energy
Some people say they need to eat ‘starchy carbs’ for energy. I don’t see why. I’ve written about energy use here for you to read about that.
I get all the starchy carbs I need from vegetables, sweet potatos, butternut squash. My primary source of energy comes from meat, fat and the carbs in vegetables.
Of course, there are lots - LOTS - of other reasons not to eat grains!
Gluten et al
Gluten - we all know about gluten intolerance, probably the most common food intolerance on earth. Do I need to write chapter and verse on gluten? No, because MND says “Just don’t eat grains” - that’s gluten taken care of. (Actually, gluten is in many shampoos, hair conditioners and cosmetic products, so if you are sensitive, then you need to seek out gluten free hair and cosmetics products too. But then again, MND promotes low use of cosmetic products and personal care chemicals, so it’s good to minimise those things and seek out all-natural, gluten-free ones anyway.)
Grasses don’t want to be eaten by humans, they contain chemicals to defend themselves, such as gluten, phytic acid, phytates and lectins. Ancient man, thousands of years ago before food processing, would have found that trying to eat grains made him sick, because of the gluten and lectins. Again, no need to write chapter and verse on this here and now, we just don’t eat grains.
Phytates - again, chemicals in most grains that bind to useful minerals in your body, draining your body of these important micronutrients. But, eating the MND way = no grains, so no worries.
Grains are calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods. What the means is, that a big bowl of pasta, or a few slices of bread, packs a lot of calories (mostly calories from sugar, albeit sugar in the form of complex carbs) but very few micronutrients. You fill up, and it gives you lots of sugar to burn, but you don’t get much in the way of vitamins and minerals.
And finally, this big hit of carbs can cause an insulin response which is undesirable in any one other than body builders and weight lifters, promoting weight gain.
There are so many good reasons not to eat grains! And there are just so many better food choices available!
So what are people eating?
But there is also another issue. Over the last 40 years, as people have been advised to eat less meat (because of the incorrect belief that saturated fat and cholesterol were behind our health challenges) they have had to find other foods to eat instead. We know that after 20 years of teaching ‘5-a-day’, less than 40% of Brits actually eat 5 portions of fruit and veg per day (more here about MND eating 17-a-day) so if people are eating less meat, and not piling in masses of fruit and veg per day, then what exactly have people been eating over the last few decades?
Well, the answer is carbs. Grains, cereals, wheat.
With less meat in the diet, and less fresh veg, people have been eating more of these starchy carbs. When I was a kid 40 years ago, we never had pasta, and bread was only available in white, brown or wholemeal, but these days supermarkets stock whole aisles of flatbreads and soda breads, bagels and pittas, tiger bread, giraffe bread, cobs and split tins, there are aisles of rice, basmati, wild, long and short, there are 3 dozens types of pasta, in colours, shapes, nests, swirls and curls, we have more cakes, bakes and pastries than ever before and the cereal aisles stock 100 flavours of wheat covered in sugar and chocolate in every imaginable shape and formulation. There are 2 dozen muesli’s, another two dozen granola options, with red berries, blue berries, black berries…and the only thing they all have in common is that the so-called berries are not real berries!
Common sense moment…
SO…for 40 years we have eaten less meat and less veg and much more carbs. And for 40 years the nation has gotten fatter and diabetes has exploded to epidemic proportions and cancer rates are up…there is a clue in all that you know.
Research on grandmothers in Japan
And finally, I noticed a study from Japan which followed the diet and well being of 2108 grandmothers (aged 65 and over) over a period of time, 481 of whom reported frailty (defined as the participants presenting with three or more of the following: slowness, weakness, exhaustion, low physical activity, unintentional weight loss).
While I have written before about the relationship between testosterone, age and muscle mass (in men, mostly myself!) - this new study is completely different, looking at Japanese women aged 65 and over, not English men of 40 and over. But interestingly, the study comes to the conclusion that there IS an inverse relationship between higher intake of total protein (70 grams per day or more) and frailty, regardless of sources of the protein (plant or animal), as the inverse relationship between these and frailty was less significant.
Basically, those eating a diet higher in protein, maintained ‘strength’ longer, and those eating a diet lower in protein, reported more signs of frailty. It doesn’t seem to matter if that protein comes from veggies or meat or fish, just so long as you are eating one or all of those things.
Now, put all this together
STAY off those CARBS! If you eat a diet that contains a lot of bread, cereals and pasta, then clearly you must be eating ‘less’ meat, fish and vegetables, because the starchy carbs are obviously replacing something else. Not only are those starchy carbs not really doing you any good, but the foods they are displacing leave you lacking in amino acids, vitamins and minerals, enzymes and flavonoids. In short, starchy carbs offer you nothing but ’empty sugary calories’, but plants and animals offer you real fuel and real building blocks your body can use for a whole multitude of functions.
MND says “Eat plants and animals”, and “get about half your calories from plants, and half from animals.”
So, that seems like yet MORE supporting evidence to show that MND is the OPTMIUM way to live, for resisting the decline of ageing and to ensure your best chance of a long, strong, productive life.
If you wish to check out the original study of Japanese grandmothers, you’ll find more here.
MND = all the answers, just eat the MND way for optimal energy and a longer life!