Michael Pollan, Maira Kalman
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Most people don’t eat enough raw fruits and vegetables. They eat ‘grab and go’ stuff that’s less messy but more high-calorie dense and they eat as they handle multiple tasks. This is not good.
Populations that eat a so-called Western diet—generally defined as a diet consisting of lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits, and whole grains—invariably suffer from high rates of the so-called Western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Populations eating a remarkably wide range of traditional diets generally don’t suffer from these chronic diseases. These diets run the gamut from ones very high in fat (the Inuit in Greenland subsist largely on seal blubber) to ones high in carbohydrate (Central American Indians subsist largely on maize and beans) to ones very high in protein (Masai tribesmen in Africa subsist chiefly on cattle blood, meat, and milk).
There’s a lot of money in the Western diet. The more you process any food, the more profitable it becomes. You are mostly sold processed food as it is highly advantageous for the companies, even though it is an unhealthy diet.
The healthcare industry makes more money treating chronic diseases (which account for three-quarters of the $2 trillion-plus we spend each year on health care in this country) than preventing them.
Noncaloric sweeteners such as aspartame or Splenda, research (in both humans and animals) suggests that switching to artificial sweeteners does not lead to weight loss, for reasons not yet well understood. But it may be that deceiving the brain with the reward of sweetness stimulates a craving for even more sweetness.
If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
Scientists may disagree on what’s so good about plants—the antioxidants? the fibre? the omega-3 fatty acids?—but they do agree that they’re probably really good for you and certainly can’t hurt.
There are scores of studies demonstrating that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits reduces the risk of dying from all Western diseases; in countries where people eat a pound or more of vegetables and fruits a day, the rate of cancer is half what it is in the United States.
By eating a diet that is primarily plant-based, you’ll be consuming far fewer calories, since plant foods—with the exception of seeds, including grains and nuts—are typically less "energy dense" than the other things you eat. (And consuming fewer calories protects against many chronic diseases.) Vegetarians are notably healthier than carnivores, and they live longer.
Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plant foods] is better than eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating what stands on four legs [cows, pigs, and other mammals].
Another bit of traditional wisdom with good science behind it: The water in which vegetables are cooked is rich in vitamins and other healthful plant chemicals. Save it for soup or add it to sauces.
Two of the most nutritious plants in the world —lamb’s quarters and purslane—are weeds, and some of the healthiest traditional diets, like the Mediterranean, make frequent use of wild greens.
The fields and forests are crowded with plants containing higher levels of various phytochemicals than their domesticated cousins.
Many traditional cultures swear by the health benefits of fermented foods—foods that have been transformed by live microorganisms, such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, soy sauce, kimchi, and sourdough bread. These foods can be a good source of vitamin B12, an essential nutrient you can’t get from plants. (B12 is produced by animals and bacteria.)
Many fermented foods also contain probiotics—beneficial bacteria that improve the function of the digestive and immune systems and help reduce allergic reactions and inflammation.
The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.
We know that people who take supplements are generally healthier than the rest of us, and we also know that in controlled studies most of the supplements they take don’t appear to be effective. How can this be?
Supplement takers are healthy for reasons that have nothing to do with the pills. They’re typically more health conscious, better educated, and more affluent. They’re also more likely to exercise and eat whole grains.
There is now considerable scientific evidence for the health benefits of alcohol to go with a few centuries of traditional belief and anecdotal evidence. Mindful of the social and health effects of alcoholism, public health authorities are loath to recommend drinking, but the fact is that people who drink moderately and regularly live longer and suffer considerably less heart disease than teetotalers.
I have a passion for architecture. Always eager to learn new things.
We have been eating wrong all our lives. This book shakes our belief patterns on food and diet.
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Peter D. Schiff, Andrew J. Schiff
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