The Ingredients of Optimal Health

One of the few books about diet I have read that uses the tagline ‘do you want to feel fantastic’ is Fit For Life by Harvey Diamond. Contrary to the interest-countered beliefs of the owners of toes Diamond stepped in the diet world, Fit For Life is a set of ideas, which are the most sustainable long term and which are the least faddy of all eating regimes.

Since February 2020, when I found out that in the United Kingdom, we did not get enough sunlight for half the year to make Vitamin D, I decided to find out all the micronutrients we were supposed to get through our diet and how our bodies used them.

This led me on an exciting phase of my voyage of discovery about food, which I call Raiders of the Secret Lost Truth about Food.

Like the Full English Breakfast, the first meal of the day could provide most of the micronutrients our bodies need for optimal health, leaving us more flexibility for lunch and dinner.

Here is a timeline of that voyage, which shows that there is one main route and I have explored plenty of side paths that have each brought me back on track.

I think the one key thing here is to reserve judgment as much possible. It is very easy – and if you want to write a book that makes you rich, go ahead on your chosen blossom lined boulevard – to discover something new and make up a whole plausible story about it.

How do we know when and where we’ve reached our own summit? Summit – good word. A summit is the top of a mountain, where all paths meet. A summit can also describe a meeting to mark the acculation of work by a team of people to bring all their work together and create an action plan.

Here is the time of the origins of my voyage of discovery, starting with my family.

  • 1970s – parents had chickens and a kitchen garden. Dad had kidneys and Mum had sardines for breakfast. We often had porridge cooked over night and a boiled egg.
  • 1980s – school, diets, eating disorders and peer pressure. Parents searching for answers, being annoyed at all the U turns in the media and going to Health Farms.
  • 1990s – mother died in 1992 after chemotherapy. Father reads Fit For Life and wows about it to everyone. Brother and I read it and try Lifesource Complete, a nutrient rich drink no longer on the market.
  • 2000s – still following Fit For Life working full time in London until 2003. Then weight starts to rise. See nutritionist through GP surgery. New job involves lots of walking.
  • 2010 – know nutritious food makes us satisfied quicker, work from home and worry not active enough. Reflect on what works and doesn’t work.

Here are the books I have read:

My search for answers in the pages of books

At one point, a friend who had to avoid all kinds of foods had their hair analysed, which revealed all kinds of reactions to various foods. Remembering this, I found Langton Smith Health in 2015 and sent off a hair sample. I paid around £35 for a sugar intolerance test.

Seems that fruit had come up high

In 2016, to my joy DNAfit appeared to provide a wellbeing test from DNA. The results were either way over my head, which I couldn’t extract information from or at the click of a button via Google. It also said I was 100% lactose tolerant, which was only half the story and an unhelpful misdirection.

With all the mixed messages coming from every direction, it seemed impossible at this point to settle on a plan to try and give it long enough to see if it worked. The general mockery about food intolerances delayed me wondering what it meant, so I had another look at the sugar intolerance test. It mentioned yeast and sugar being a recipe for Candida, but I didn’t really process what it was and where it came from. Maybe yeast was a problem for me?

By trial and error I tripped over a rock called ‘casein’. In all the alternative and lactose free milks, no one mentions casein. Apparently it is another name for dairy intolerance as separate from lactose intolerance. My GP said they could not test for casein intolerance and didn’t do anything to detect gluten intolerance as a person dying after 6 weeks of a high gluten diet would pretty much confirm coeliac disease, wouldn’t it?

Despite rising levels of obesity and type 2 diabetes, not to mention people already living with Type 1 Diabetes, official guidelines still told people to ‘base every meal on starchy carbohydrates’.

This took me back to Fit For Life, which recommended not eating starchy carbohydrates with fat and protein. I had never understood why properly until I read books by Dr Zoe Harcombe, who is an obesity specialist, qualified nutritionist with a PhD in nutritional research.

Through the Harcombe diet and her response to the National Food Strategy, A Call For Evidence, there was this chart#

Food and micronutrients made simple

This chart is by no means extensive. For example, if the food varieties are expanded to show what foods come under each type, buckwheat, soy and quinoa all deliver the 9 amino acids we need. I had wondered why soy has made its way into so many forms, such as dairy alternative and its flour used in bread, although it was mainly used for wall paper a short time before. Soy is one of the 4 biggest drivers of deforestation alongside beef, wood and paper products and palm oil.

Roast venison with vegetables, can last a few days

As well as framing food intolerance as a difficult dinner party guest, vegans get a bad rap as well. It has to be said, people working in health food shops up to the new millennium were not the picture of blossoming health. However, today people know so much more about their own individual health as well as how to make their own ethical choices work too. I agree that mass farming and battery hens is not sustainable and admire people who dedicate their lives to opposing these practises. They have made a difference to raise awareness to the worst conditions, expose the worst offenders and drive change in consumer behaviour, which forces big companies to change too.

Although when consumers force change, multi-national companies will try to adapt as least as they can, maybe turn their packaging green, use a more homely typeface and add a happy grazing sheep to their packages. Therefore, it is up to us as individuals and consumers to do our own research.

The idea behind Hearth is to show a path to optimal or improved health and selfcare, which anyone can take safely. By adding single-ingredient, nutritious food to their diet, they will start to feel and see the difference after a few days. They might even prefer the great range of natural tastes of various foods to the less varied, artificial tastes from salt, vinegar, sugar and flavouring.

My point

Yes, i’ve got there. It is this. Have a quick think about foods from around the world. You may enjoy curry, noodles, pizza, tacos or maybe something closer to home like a Full English or a British roast every so often. We can also enjoy Spanish tapas, Greek Meze and Indian Thali. Many of these traditional dishes feature a variety of tastes, which never require a big dollop of tomato ketchup to enjoy.

Therefore, by looking at what threads run true through all diets and traditional food from around the world, we could say it works best to have

  • 3 nutritious meals a day at around 4 hours apart
  • Anyone who does not feel good and is underweight, overweight, obese or has eating disorders ought to have nutritious meals a day, 4 hours apart with nothing in between except water for a week and chart what happens in that time.
  • Leftovers, salad and other nutritious food items, such as olives, cucumber, artichoke hearts or hummus for zero effort.
  • Foods which deliver a range of vitamins and minerals.
  • Variety from fish, eggs, meat, vegetables and dairy
  • Dietary supplements Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) to access micronutrients missed in diet.

As the modern diet is becoming less varied as we can access a range of foods all year round from somewhere, I’ve taken to buying a range of items, such as:

  • Zero effort – leftover roast vegetables, salad, olives, artichokes and hummus – filling, nutritious and tasty

    Courgette

  • Cucumber
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Asparagus
  • Hummus
  • Feta
  • Sheep’s cheese
  • Chard
  • Brocoli
  • Spinach
  • Olives
  • Kale
  • Goat’s yogurt

These seem to be tasty, satisfying and nutritious ways to not want food between meals or after dinner. Especially for someone who likes food! Also, to drink between meals (yes, water) instead of diluting the nutrients in food at meal times.

DNA wellbeing tests and food intolerance

As The Harcombe Diet shows, 3 conditions affect many people’s metabolism and food cravings. These are:

  • Candidaa fungus or harmful bacteria fed on yeast and sugar, or whatever foods your body gets the most glucose from ie fruit, gluten, fast releasing carbohydrates, dairy, alcohol, mushrooms or other food sweet, vinegary or yeasty.
  • Food intolerance – although Mitachondrial DNA is a tiny portion of the whole DNA genome, women, who inherit mitachondrial DNA down their ancestral female line, which might be unbroken without mutation since the Ice Age or before. Mutations in DNA occur when our change in circumstances or bioavailability changes abruptly and we need to adapt, as many people did at the beginning of dairy farming, particularly around the Black Sea, while those who never adapted to dairy remained lactose intolerant. More from Healthline on most common food intolerance.
  • Hypoglycaemialow blood sugar levels. This is when your blood sugar is sent roller-coastering into such peaks and troughs by fast releasing carbohydrates in your diet that your pancreas struggles to keep up with hoovering up all the glucose in your blood by releasing insulin. This is a step in the wrong direction towards Type 2 Diabetes.

Just 5 days of eating 3 satisfying, varied and nutritious meals, consisting of:

Vegans – complete proteins such as quinoa, buckwheat or soy products (soy not prepared properly can be an anti-nutrient and block absorption in some people from other nutrients the body wants to access in food), therefore ensure the lectins are inactivated via one of the methods shown in this article.

Also, various combinations such as hummus and pitta bread, chilli beans and brown rice and beans on toast provide complete proteins and it is possible to see which amino acids various nuts provide, with peanuts (surprisingly to me) at the top.

This shows that if you had, over the course of the day, 3 servings of raw unsalted peanuts mixed with one serving of brazils and pistachios, you would get all 9 amino acids over the day, plus various micronutrients

Vegetarians – All the same plant proteins as vegans, except the addition of plain goat’s yogurt, which provides lactobacillus acidophillus for the gut bacteria and – like soy – fermented and treated dairy products such as cottage cheese, kefir and organic milk and butter to minimise the anti-biotics found in mass farmed dairy products. However, a big bonus to the vegetarian diet over vegan comes from eggs. We were lied to for so long by big food manufacturers of breakfast cereals to damn the humble egg, blaming fat, not the real culprit sugar – for many of our dietary problems. Eggs contain vitamin A, most of the B vitamins, D in the yolk and various other micronutrients we need each day. 2 eggs cooked with steamed greens is a satisfying, nutritious and inexpensive meal.

Pescatarians – Sardines for breakfast provides plenty of nutrition. However, the good news for the household food budget (as confirmed by Tim Spector in his book Spoonfed), is that frozen fish can be as good if not more nutritious and free of harmful elements than fresh fish and is much less expensive. Tinned fish such as salmon and tuna make excellent instant additions to a meal alongside other deli items such as olives, artichoke hearts, asparagus, green salad, cucumber or other leftovers from previous night’s dinner.

Omnivores – This doesn’t guarantee you can eat everything. Those who eat meat and eggs might not agree with fish, beans, nuts or gluten. You might like or even love them but food intolerance often causes cravings of foods your body is addicted to. It is good to try the Elimination Diet (also known as the Auto Immune Diet) to catch any foods that put you off track. However, for many people, a diet of unprocessed, real meat, fish, eggs, salad and steamed vegetables 3 times a day, 4 hours apart for a week will provide the tastiest, easiest, least harmful and most healthy reset you can get.

We are all unique – food is science, not religion. We should not think in terms of ‘belief’ but reserve judgement, start with the facts and then lead off into our own voyages of discovery about health and self care. The greater our own health literacy the better.

Public health ought to start with providing the proven facts about how our bodies work, what they use, how these work, how to keep our immune systems healthy and how to use food to recover from infections so we can all make informed choices for ourselves. We ought not to be imposing our beliefs and opinions on others. If we give people proven facts, by understanding the whole picture about nutrition and food, they can find their own answers.

I would argue that not everyone can be vegan. I have tried a few times, in a very healthy way: raw food for a year with no coffee or tea, no meat, fish, eggs or dairy and lots of vegetables with only full grain bread, pasta or brown rice and I have had mixed results. Hair, nails and skin: fantastic, but bloated, fatigue and other symptoms such as inflammation and water retention to the skies.

All the research I have done shows there are universal truths about the human body:

We need ‘fuel’ to be healthy in body and mind. That fuel must contain a range of vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function at its best. Eating disorders, calorie restriction and other extreme diets can damage organs and leave us with vitamin deficiencies. This would be how allergies, intolerances and decreases in absorption would have adapted. If allergies were viewed as messages from the body, perhaps our responses to them could be more proactive and positive, rather than hiding them with food intolerances as unwanted dinner guests.

 

 

 

 

About makingspace4life

Currently on an incubator program at Falmouth University - Launchpad - and an MSc in Entrpeneurship. I moved to Cornwall in 2011 and did an MA in professional writing. A keen writer who enjoys life. Favourite activities include: painting, travelling on a budget to enjoy small luxuries, self-advocacy, comedy, film, books, ideas, conversations, team sports and gardening. (Currently limited to my basil plant and any others looking thirsty).
This entry was posted in 3 meals to deliver vitamins and mineral, Big breakfast, Create your own meals without recipes, Diary of an Entrepreneur Start Up and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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