Diet

Diet is one area that arouses passion and firm belief. I like to start at the other more basic end by asking some questions:

Do you have a regular bowel motion?

ideally once a day or more. We are told that bowel motions are dependent on fibre. Are they? A friend lives entirely on meat yet has reasonable bowel motions. Most fibre is either soluble or insoluble. Soluble includes pectin from fruit (especially dried fruit), linseed or flax (best eat it crushed), oatbran, the outer skin of oatgrain, beans, lentils. Soluble fibre clears out the bile duct and gall bladder.  Insoluble fibre builds up bulk in the stool. Wheat fibre or bran used to be popular. However it can lead to reduction in calcium and intake of other minerals. It can irritate the gut. It used to be given to horses until they realised that it caused colic. The diet of horses was switched to include linseed and the colic cleared up.  Bread is unfashionable but the way that the bread is baked is more likely to be an issue. Most of the soft, commercial bread from major bakers is made by the Chorley Wood process. The dough is whisked at high speed, cut into chunks and proven in less than an hour. Lower protein wheat can be used. The short time allows no time to break down the glutens or to reduce the phytic acid content. The result is soft bread or rolls that makes us bloated and uncomfortable. Sourdough or stone baked bread is slowly proven to give time for the dough to mature. It is an entirely different food to commercial breads.

Is your urine output a reasonable colour and not too smelly?

Instead of taking the endless advice about drinking more water have you ever tried measuring your output. Roughly speaking a 70 kg person would have a healthy 24 hour output of 1.5 litres. That means they are drinking enough. On a wilderness Canadian canoe trip I filtered all our water from the river or lakes. Our average intake for 8 young people (all 18 or over), myself and another older person, was 2.5 litres a day. We probably lost the rest through sweat or bowel motions.  Urine can turn strange colours like red with beetroot, green with taking B vitamin supplements, dark brown if blood is present. Ideally a light yellow, green is fine.

What are your energy levels and stamina like?

A diet high in carbohydrate and processed foods often leads to low energy levels. B vitamins help convert food into energy. They are found in brown rice, green leafy vegetables, wholegrains, sunflower seeds, nuts, eggs, cheese, some meats and mushrooms. Personally I think that human beings are amazingly adaptable. For instance prisoners of war in Burma lived on watery rice soup and a small fish if they were lucky. Many of them lived into their nineties. People who drink fizzy cola, who are on warfarin, even some vegans or pure meat eaters are susceptible to osteoporosis. The first signs of long term deficiency include teeth problems or easily cracked ribs. My own view is plenty of colours, plenty of variety and home cooked if possible. If you choose a radical diet be aware of the consequences. Unless you do your homework you are likely to suffer a deficiency in something. Our bodies need variety but our minds and feelings get fixated. If a radical diet has healed us we reason that it must heal everyone. It is hard to listen to a food campaigner lecturing about the dangers of lectins, or barbecued food, or carbs, or meat, how to save the planet by eating vegan, or vegetables and avoid milk or wheat. There is probably a grain of truth in m most diets but  our relationship with food is emotional. In most parts of the world indigenous people have no choice. Animals like goats, yaks, camels, reindeer, sheep, cows, seals or fish eat foods that human beings cannot digest because of the high cellulose or lectin content. They convert the indigestible foods into highly nutritious meat and milk that enable human survival.

Nothing is right or wrong but this is a typical breakfast. Porridge or muesli with full cream milk and yoghurt, cinnamon, black treacle, Guernsey butter, pomegranate, dried apricots (high in fibre and iron), tomatoes or olives, mango sourdough roll or bread and sometimes two gently fried eggs. My wife often wonders where I get my energy from. Breakfast is one answer.

Summary

Eat a variety of colours, eat soluble fibre, keep sugar intake low. A simplistic rule for sugar is to ask yourself, does this stuff stick to my teeth? if so it will probably rocket my blood sugar and might even make my red blood cells sticky. Honey, molasses and maple syrup don’t stick to your teeth so they are easily absorbed into the bloodstream.