Mother Nature’s Diet - 6 years later, and the experts are starting to agree…
You may be interested in reading this editorial, which includes a number of statements from one of the leaders of a study called the PURE Study.
The quotes I find to be particularly interesting are:
“…many of the most significant and impactful nutrition recommendations regarding dietary fats, salt, carbohydrates, and even vegetables are not supported by evidence.”
“Yusuf displayed data showing that the incidence of cardiovascular disease in the PURE population increases as carbohydrate intake (as a percentage of total calories) rises.”
“Previous guidelines said reduce fats and compensate for it by increasing carbohydrates … and so essentially we’ve increased carbohydrate intake in most Western countries and this is likely damaging. We were in for a big surprise. We actually found that increasing fats was protective.”
6 years later…
For the last six years we have been promoting Mother Nature’s Diet as the best all-round healthy lifestyle for living a preventive medicine lifestyle. It seems now that research, such as the findings from the PURE Study reported above, are coming out in support of the Mother Nature’s Diet way of life. We suggest laying off processed grains and starchy carbs, and we promote Mother Nature’s Diet not as a low-carb diet per se, but as a healthy carb diet, or natural carb diet.
The article states “The PURE data show a steep increase in CV risk as carbohydrate intake increased beyond 55% of total energy. WHO guidelines state that up to 75% of energy can come from carbohydrates. “But that is wrong,” said Yusuf.” - at Mother Nature’s Diet, we recommend eating only plants and animals, and cutting processed grains, confectionery, and processed foods from your diet. Following the Mother Nature’s Diet way, your carbohydrate intake will stay safely down way below 50% of your total calories.
A side note on carbs
You may have read the above and questioned why I stop short of prescribing what precise percentage of your diet should actually come from carbohydrates. Should it be 20%, should it be 30%, perhaps 40%?
Well the reality is that one size does not fit all. We have covered this before, you may like to read this post for a huge grasp of common sense. It would be naive and bordering on irresponsible for me to publish a blog post suggesting any exact target percentage, when I cannot possible know who you are, the reader.
You might be a 28 year old male, 265 pound weightlifter. Or you might be a 54 year old female, 110 pound marathon runner. You may have gut flora, genetic traits, blood group, allergies, metabolic traits or pancreatic function that make you particularly well suited to certain carbs. Or conversely you may have gut flora, genetic traits, blood group, allergies, metabolic traits or pancreatic function that make you particularly unsuited to eating certain carbs. There is just no way for me to know.
However, you probably do know.
Perhaps you eat bread and it makes you fart. Perhaps you eat pasta and it leaves you feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Maybe you thrive on white rice and it makes you feel strong, and makes your muscles look full in the mirror the next day. Perhaps you can’t stand fibrous veggies, they give you gas and make you belch. Maybe you eat bread and it gives you constipation. Perhaps you eat potatoes and they cause diarrhoea. Maybe you thrive on oats and they are your perfect pre-race fuel.
The chances are, you probably know what works for you and what doesn’t…or if you listen to your body, maybe it’s giving you clues. I can’t tell you if your diet should be 20% carbs or 50% carbs, I don’t know you, your size, shape, genetics or metabolic nuances. I don’t know what you’ve been eating, how you train or whether or not you need to lose weight. You have to be the judge of that. The 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet are guidelines, broad and non-prescriptive, designed to be simple to understand, and as broadly applicable as possible to as many people as possible. You have to take them as sign posts, guiding you in the general direction, then you tweak the details to best suit you.
Nothing wrong with eating good fats
The article continues “We actually found that increasing fats was protective,” he said. Low consumption of total fat was associated with increased risk. Very high fat is also “probably bad,” Yusuf said, based on earlier studies from Finland with people who had “extremely high fat levels, not the usual fat levels that populations consume.” - again, this fits with Mother Nature’s Diet, where we recommend opting for fattier cuts of meat (such as chicken thigh, versus breast) providing you are buying quality, organic meat, and we recommend a diet high in oily fish and free range eggs, avocado and olive oil, buts and seeds. Eating this way, your calories from fat, as a percentage of total calories, will be substantial, but not ‘extreme’.
Dr Yusuf talks about fats from dairy foods “Yusuf also took aim at milk consumption trends in the US. “Even if you consume milk they want you to consume 2% or 1% of fat” but, he asked, “what is the evidence?” “A big, big, zero,” he said. In fact, he said, there “really are no data at all to reduce the fat content of milk.” Here at Mother Nature’s Diet we aim to avoid mass-market dairy, as much for the benefits of animal welfare as for nutritional purposes. In this post, I explain the nutritional benefits of good fats in organic, grass fed butter. When we raise dairy cows in harmony with nature, it’s a good life for the cows, and it makes good food for us. It’s a win:win.
Eat the burger, ditch the bun
I love how Dr Yusuf suggests ‘eating the burger, not the bun’ in this quote -
Yusuf came down squarely in favor of fats over carbohydrates: “Fundamentally, some fats are good, some fats may be neutral, but it’s carbohydrates that are the worst thing.” He offered a piece of advice: “so when you eat a hamburger throw away the bun and eat the meat.”
I have been writing for at least four or five years that blaming ‘the meat’ part of a junk food burger meal is to miss two things - firstly ‘there is meat, then there is meat’ and secondly, let’s not ignore all the sugar!
This quote is worth writing in bold -
Yusuf summarized the PURE findings, which found that saturated fats from dairy sources were protective and saturated fats from meats were neutral. White meat from chicken or fish appeared to have a beneficial effect, while red meat in moderate quantities was not associated with harm.
Mother Nature’s Diet is so easy:
- Half your calories from animal sources, that’s fish, meat, poultry and eggs
- Half your calories from plant sources, that’s vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds
- Drink mostly water, some coffee and herbal or fruit teas
- It’s really very simple
The Mother Nature’s Diet ‘food plate’ is really very easy to follow.
In the article, sodium is mentioned. Because Core Principle 3 eliminated processed foods from our diet, we may add some salt back in, especially is training hard or sweating a lot in hot weather. otherwise, in most people, your sodium should take care of itself eating the balanced MND diet.
Finally, the article mentions that there is little evidence to support eating ‘5-a-day’. Personally, I was under the impression that the WHO recommend people eat 400 grams per day (5 times 80gm servings) of fruits and vegetables, because the fibre content, and the vitamin and mineral content, offered protective effects against cancer and certain bowel disorders. I have not had time to study the evidence behind that.
At Mother Nature’s Diet, we recommend far more than 5-a-day. I mean, we’ve cut the grains and starchy carbs, we’re eating plenty of good fats, but we don’t want ‘extreme’ amounts. Most folks can’t avoid to eat more than three ‘servings’ or protein per day (a palm-sized piece of meat, fish or eggs at every meal) and most folks would not want to, so people have to fill up the rest of their diet with something!!! Vegetables it is! And seriously, vegetables are high in micronutrients and fibre, they are high-bulk, low-calorie (great for weight loss) and you can grow some at home in your own garden (trust me, broccoli is easier than keeping your own cow) so a diet high in vegetables is advantageous in many ways.
The article points out that many people in poorer parts of the world cannot afford fresh fruits and vegetables every day, and indeed I would add that those same people can rarely afford fresh meat and fish too. There are many complex reasons for this, and they have as much to do with politics and economics as they have to do with nutrition, farming and human health.
Long-term sustainable, affordable, preventive
I believe Mother Nature’s Diet, based around the 12 Core Principles, is a long-term sustainable, affordable, preventive medicine lifestyle.
- Long-term sustainable - Mother Nature’s Diet is simple, non-prescriptive, and presented in plain English. No calorie counting, no starving, no complex tracking of your macros. Just common sense healthy living
- Mother Nature’s Diet is affordable. Folks tell me how it’s elitist, they can’t afford grass-fed meat, organic vegetables are expensive, gym membership is too much. But I often find those same people have been spending £50 to £100 per month, or more, on alcohol for the last decade. They drink wine and beer at home every night, they have £75 per month going on satellite TV, they buy confectionery and high-street coffee every day, and they spend a fortune on cosmetics. Personally, I find that the money I save by cutting all that stuff out, more than pays for the investment in quality food. I don’t use a commercial gym, I go for a run or do some push-ups, and I grow lots of fruits and vegetables in my garden, saying a fortune in organic produce
- Preventive medicine lifestyle - as I have written many times before, I believe Mother Nature’s Diet is the best all-round preventive medicine lifestyle you can live
Six years down the line, and it seems that quite a few more mainstream experts are starting to agree with us.