Should you eat like your ancestor?

  • If you want to stay healthy and avoid modern lifestyle ailments, traditional diets may be the answer.

    Across the globe, go back to the basics is the new catchphrase among the health conscious. You’ll find words like caveman diet, clean eating, plant food and gluten-free thrown around in conversations.

    Are these dietary trends really the answer? Does the solution lie closer home – in your ancestral kitchen?

    With fast-paced life taking control of your waking hours, processed foods and ready meals are steadily replacing home cooking. You pick up and adopt unhealthy food habits along the way.

    Negative side of junk and processed foodstuff

    As children and adults, you relish these tasty alternatives to regular and simple meals. What starts off as a one-time treat turns into a daily habit for some.

    You can’t really be blamed for loving foods rich in salt, trans-fat and sugar. Foods that are loaded with chemicals and artificial preservations to enhance flavour and texture, and increase shelf life. These foods are highly addictive and your body and brain craves for them. For years, people enjoyed these high-calorie, nutrient-poor diets without bothering about ingredients used or health aspects.

    Modern diseases and food connection

    In recent years, negative effects of this eating lifestyle became apparent. The soaring rates of obesity, particularly among children, and rise in patients with heart disease, diabetes and cancer has made everyone sit and take notice.

    Extensive studies have shown the clear connection between food you eat and your body’s reactions to it. Lifestyle diseases and fat accumulation, especially around abdomen, are essentially nutritional disorders. Lack of exercise, sleep and stress are additional factors.

    How do you stay healthy and remain fit?

    The traditional-ancestral diet

    Some say grains are bad for you. Others say meat and dairy products are evil. But what works for others may not be suitable for you. Regional food diversity, racial characteristics, cuisine practices, and your genes play a role in how your diet affects your health.

    Instead of dumping groups of foods, the healthier way is to take a cue from your grandparents and forefathers. Remember the way they lived and ate. Embrace their food habits and overall lifestyle. They were hunter-gatherers and fisherman who lived off the land. They cooked and ate fresh produce from sea, forest and farms. If you look closely at the type of everyday foods they consumed, you’ll notice a pattern.

    • Lean meats with proteins for building muscle and endurance.
    • Whole foods rich in omega-3 acids and natural fats for heart health.
    • Fibre, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals from vegetables and fruits.
    • Low sugar and low salt recipes that prevent weight gain and blood pressure.

    Wholesome ingredients that boost immunity, provide muscle strength, increase brain power, and improve energy levels.

    They consumed fish rich in omega-3 fats and protein-rich pork, eggs and chicken. These were cooked on open fires with few condiments and spices. Nourishing plant food like coconut, sago, peanuts and bananas formed part of their meals. They thrived on fibre-rich and energy giving foods like tubers. Taro, yam – you name it. Water kept their body well-hydrated and flushed out toxins.

    Health and fitness lessons from elders in the family

    Food was just one reason for their lean and healthy frames. They were physically active, spent time outdoors, got quality sleep and had lower levels of stress. This is still the way of life for many South Pacific Islanders who don’t reside in urban centres.

    Youngsters can do well to follow their simple but effective lifestyle. Eat clean food cooked the traditional way, get some fresh air and exercise, avoid intoxicants, limit junk meals, and most importantly, learn to relax.

    Habit forming starts at a young age and shapes your future. The sooner you make changes to your diet and lifestyle, the better health and fitness you’ll enjoy in later years.




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