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The Evolutionary Long-Jump – So What Should We Really Be Eating?

If we think about the consumption patterns of our ancient ancestors, the low carbohydrate diet starts to make a little more sense. As hunter-gatherers, we know that their diet would have consisted largely of animal products and limited amounts of carbohydrate.

A few thousand years ago, grain based agriculture began to take a foothold, with far ranging consequences for our consumption patterns. This rapid change in our diets has had detrimental effects on our health. If we focus on the changes over the past 50-100 years we can see this more clearly.

100 years ago, our diet consisted largely of grains, fruits, vegetables and animal products (meat and fats). As we moved through the industrial age, the range of food available to us through supermarkets has increased exponentially. Much of this food is highly processed, with chemical additives, flavour enhancers, colourings, preservatives etc. In evolutionary terms, we have just gone through a very rapid transition, and our bodies have been unable to keep up!

To regain control of our bodies, we need to eat more like our ancestors did – after all, this is what our bodies have evolved to require. In summary, we should minimise the highly processed carbohydrate laden foods so commonly available today, and increase our consumption of good quality protein and fats.

Foods to include in your diet:

Great carbs – Fruits and vegetables that are high in fibre and low in natural sugars. These foods are more slowly digested and keep you feeling satisfied for longer. Examples include berries, melons, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, asparagus, celery, zucchini, capsicum, mushrooms, lettuce and eggplant.

Great protein – Protein is one of the most important elements for maintaining good health and vitality and is of primary importance to the growth and development of muscles, blood, skin, internal organs etc. In adults, protein deficiency may result in a lack of stamina, mental depression, and poor resistance to infection. Good sources of protein include lean cuts of meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds.

Great fats – Despite what many believe, fat is an essential part of the diet. It carries a range of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) and also helps to keep you satisfied after a meal. Unsaturated fats like extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, avocado, fish, nuts and seeds should be a considerable part of every diet.

Foods to avoid in your diet:

Not so great carbs – Sugary, starchy and highly processed products. These foods are quickly digested, raise insulin levels and leave you feeling hungry shortly after eating. Examples include pasta, bread, potatoes, white rice, soft drinks, most cereals, corn and corn products, sugar, honey etc.

Not so great protein – Fatty cuts of meat.

Not so great fats – Fats to limit are vegetable oils that are not cold pressed, vegetable shortening, excess animal fats, margarine and processed foods containing “hydrogenated vegetable oil".