The Jungle Diet

January 14, 2015
Matt 'the Pillar' Miller

Between product ads, magazines and web information the subject of diet and nutrition fast becomes a sea of confusion. So what shores do we swim to for real information?

Common sense would say to look closely at the diets of traditional cultures around the world that are free from  diseases of the modern western world including:  Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and depression .

The Paleo Diet is certainly the trend du jour. In fact most every crossfitter I know is eating “Paleo”!  And while I am 100% on board with eating whole and natural foods,  I have two  big problems with Neander-ing down that path :

  1. It assumes that our first primitive  human ancestors had it right. ( Personally I think they were scrounging around for what they had and grateful for anything!).  Different cultures have long since evolved to balance foods and their interactions with cooking in a more advanced way.
  2. My second concern is sustainability. Time and again I watch people attempt a high protein / low carb diet craving starch and sugar so much that they eventually break down into a binge-fest of carbacide.

What I propose is Paleo all grown up, or the “Jungle Diet”.

The Jungle Diet starts by throwing out much I learned and have been marketed to for the last 20 years about breaking nutrition down into its constituent parts of protein, carbs and fats.  It asks us to instead  look at diet as a whole picture.

Rather than questions like “how many grams of fat are there?” We ask instead:

What are the whole food sources?

What is the quality of how they were produced/raised? How were they processed/cooked?

Do foods react positively/negatively  with each other?

Then, for case study evidence and clues on this  we can look at “cold spot” areas on the globe that noticeably lack the instance of common disease.

In Copper Canyon, Mexico for instance there is virtually no reported incidences of diabetes. In Crete  heart disease is unheard of. Surprisingly Iceland has the worlds lowest percentage of depression. In Cameroon, West Africa colon cancer and IBS are non existent. And in Okinawa, Japan breast and prostrate cancer are a non issue.

Genetic advantage you say?! Well if you study the migratory effect of any of these populations (ie. copper canyon Mexicans to America or Icelanders to Canada ) a surprising trend emerges: first generation migrants quickly assume average disease rates of the newly adopted culture. So we must assume diet in the native culture had a significant impact on maintaining health.

Now I am not saying if you are 1/8 Korean you need to start eating Kimchee for breakfast. But I would say start looking at the ancestral foods and combinations on both sides of your family tree and start exploring them to discover  if any particularly suit you. I recently had a 25 year old female client who was a second generation Nepalanese. She came to me with complaints of being overweight, but I also noticed she was plagued with lethargy and acne. We explored a cleansing detox for 8 weeks. On her step by step progression  back to eating whole foods something very interesting happened. She began craving native Nepalanese foods made from brown rice, millet and fermented soy that she eaten as a child. I encouraged this and to this day she is svelte, clear skinned and now an active cross fitter!

Now If you are feeling adventurous and  want to explore the jungle a bit more, I would please encourage you to read one of my nutrition professors, Dr. Daphne Miller’s latest book, “The Jungle Diet”.   

It’s a perfect introduction to the NEXT generation of nutritional thought and research.  Namely that you are exactly in fact what you eat and directly absorb the quality and life force of the foods you eat.

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