Did you know that a mollusc is a sea creature that has a shell that opens and closes on a hinge? Legumes are plants where the fruit is contained in pods, which are casings with two halves that - just like molluscs - often hinge! Legumes are to the land what molluscs are to the oceans. The legume family is normally subdivided into beans, lentils, peas and peanuts.
One of the areas where Health Results differs from the Paleo way of living is in our views on legumes. Firstly, there is growing evidence to suggest that our primal ancestors consumed certain beans and other legumes, such as peanuts, as part of their diverse diet. As a result, I don’t think it will be too long before those practitioners of strict Paleo diets begin endorsing them!
Plus, even though in other topics that CARBS is an acronym for Carbs Are Really Bad Sugars, it was more to highlight the fact that the body eventually turns all CARBS into sugar, rather that we should banish them completely. While it is true that we could survive without ever consuming a single carbohydrate, avoiding them completely would mean missing out on many fruits and vegetables.
Living healthily isn’t about total CARB abstention, but avoiding those that are devoid of health benefits, such as the white and brown category of CARBS including rice, sugar, bread, pasta and potatoes.
If, like Paleo, we abstained from legumes, we couldn’t have dark chocolate and who would want to miss out on dark chocolate? And a chilli con carne would not be a chilli con carne without kidney beans. Plus, I would personally find it too difficult to live life without the occasional handful of peanuts.
While most legumes do contain CARBS, they are rich in protein and fibre and are often very advantageous to the bacteria in our microbiome. Many are full of vitamins and minerals, making them highly nutritious. One of the reasons legumes sometimes receive a bad press is because they often contain the anti-nutrient phytic acid, which binds minerals together in our digestive system resulting in lower quantities being available for the body to absorb.
Legumes, nuts, seeds and grains store the mineral phosphorus in the form of phytic acid. When phytic acid bonds with a mineral it is known as phytate. Even though there are drawbacks of having too much phytate in the body, allowing some useful minerals to be excreted rather than being utilised, some experts suggest that phytate itself may contain protective properties against cancer, diabetes and CVD. With the jury still out, my advice is to consume legumes in sensible quantities. Let’s just pick on one legume, the kidney bean, to highlight why I am happy to consume them in moderation.
Named because they look similar to our kidneys, kidney beans are a great source of minerals, vitamins, proteins and fibre. Yes, they do contain CARBS, but at least they are of the complex form.
Like other beans, kidney beans are a rich source of flavonols. These are a group of phytonutrients that our body uses as antioxidants to fight against inflammation and also to neutralise free radicals. As a result, researchers believe beans are beneficial in helping to treat and even prevent certain types of cancer. Along with several others, they are said to reduce the bad LDL cholesterol without impacting the good HDL. Research has also demonstrated that kidney beans can reduce insulin levels and therefore help in fighting diabetes.
Kidney beans – in fact pretty much all legumes – help release short chain fatty acids, which strengthen the cells in our intestines, thereby helping us to better absorb micronutrients. Recent research has shown that they also help us to feel full quicker, so are therefore beneficial for those who want to lose weight. One of the few downsides
of beans is that they do tend to make us pass wind. The culprit is a certain sugar called oligosaccharide which, unlike other sugars, is not absorbed into the bloodstream. It’s oligosaccharide that causes the beans to become musical in our gut, fuelling their embarrassing tunes that we all know tend to announce themselves at the most inappropriate time. Technically this happens as the sugar arrives in the colon, where our bacteria begins to ferment it, a process that unfortunately produces a lot of gas. But, other than the embarrassment of letting one go in public, take pleasure in the knowledge that it’s our good bacteria that are getting fed.
Potato and Sweet Potato
Firstly, this is only a brief overview on potatoes. With more than 5,000 different varieties of sweet potatoes and 4,000 varieties of regular potatoes, we could talk about them all day long. With more people on the planet now being overweight than malnourished, it’s important to start with a CARBS warning. Both types of potatoes are loaded with them. Personally, I avoid potatoes as they seem to travel straight to my waist. But if you just can’t give up on them completely, then try to find a variety of sweet potato that you like and boil or bake them.
Just like fat, salt has had a bad rap over the past few decades, but it is in fact essential to our health. The best salt of all is coarse sea salt. As we begin to follow the principles of a primal life, we will be drinking more water and eating less processed foods. Therefore, we might need to check whether we are actually consuming enough salt. It is certainly unlikely, when living primally, that we will be taking in too much.
This is especially true if we work out a lot in the gym and build-up a sweat, or on days when we are sprinting or playing a game of tennis or golf, when we might find that we need to deliberately top up our salt intake. If you feel that you are not taking on board enough salt (sodium) and don’t like adding it to food for the rest of the family, then add one or two stock cubes (or if you are in America we mean bouillon) to a glass of boiling water and enjoy a quick broth. With your newfound knowledge in nutrition, spend a little time studying the different ingredients from the top brands of stock cubes and you will be surprised at how healthy some of these can be.
Dr James DiNicolantonio
The word ‘salary’ derives from the Latin word for salt – ‘sal’. A common saying is that someone is “worth their salt”. The linguistic evidence points to salt being a prized and important commodity rather than something that should be limited and shunned.
The truth is, our most hallowed health institutions cling to outdated, disproven theories about salt – and their resistance to the truth is putting our public health at risk. From an evolutionary standpoint, the evidence does not suggest that we evolved on a low- salt diet. Instead, much of our evolutionary theory seems to support the fact that we evolved on a high-salt diet.
No one truly knows how much salt our Palaeolithic ancestors ate or how much salt our human brain evolved on – but it’s probably much more than experts think. Some experts believe that 45 to 60 per cent of our Palaeolithic ancestors’ calories came from animal foods that are naturally high in salt.
What everyone needs to understand is the physiology of how our body regulates salt. If you have normal kidney function, you are going to pee out what you don’t need. So it is better to get more and pee out what the body does not need, than not get enough of it. Because we can’t manufacture or synthesise salt, yet it’s an essential mineral, which we have to get through what we eat. To give you an example of how good our kidneys are at filtering salt, they can filter a teaspoon of salt every five minutes. So thinking primally, we used to consume the entire animal, that included the salty blood, the salty organs and all the interstitial and salty fluids. Now you just get a dry piece of chicken breast, and there is no salt there. Even when eating real foods nowadays, we have lost the salt brine that has been encapsulating all of the organs we use to consume. So today, if you are eating real food, you need to add that salt back, or you are not getting it.
Berries made it onto our Superfood list because they are simply awesome, so too did the amazing avocado (which is technically a berry as well). Most other fruits are also healthy, but because of their high sugar content just be sure to eat them in moderation.
Does organic fruit make much difference? I want you to answer the question yourself after considering the following; other than those at the very top of the food chain, all animals and plants have predators, and all animals and plants have developed certain tools to defend against these predators. Most fruits and vegetables too are full of a variety of antioxidants to defend against predators such as animals, mould, insects and too much sun.
Our primal ancestors use to eat lots of natural fruits and our body started to use these antioxidants to defend against various illnesses. When we eat organic fruits, our body puts these antioxidants to work. They form a first line of defence against many internal enemies. However, when we consume fruits that are not organic, that have been developed and modified rather than grown exclusively by nature, many of their natural antioxidants are diminished and, in some instances, removed completely.
Think about it like this. An organic fruit or vegetable that manages to survive its harsh environment must be full of powerful antioxidants. Those that aren’t wither and die and are therefore never consumed. But when a fruit or vegetable is protected by pesticides, their natural antioxidants aren’t necessary and don’t develop. What’s worse, their artificial life support machine means that they reach their ripening age and can make it all the way to our dinner plate without any antioxidants at all.
Various experts have written articles on the differing quantity of antioxidants found in fruits that are organic compared to semi-manufactured varieties, and I put the median average of all their reports at about 9:1. In other words, on average an organic fruit is nine times more beneficial than an enhanced fruit. In The Disease Delusion, author Dr Jeffry S. Bland writes, “Organic fruits and vegetables have a higher phytonutrient index than their non-organic equivalents. Remember that an organic vegetable or fruit has to work harder to defend itself from the stress of its environment. It therefore manufactures more phytonutrient stress-fighters than do foods coddled by pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that do the stress-fighting for them”.
Think about this for a minute; isn’t it crazy we have had to create a new word, “whole foods” or “real foods” or “organic foods”, to define food that is not created in a laboratory or factory. That makes me furious!
While I have put brown rice in the eat moderately section, if you are overweight or obese, then please cut out this page and Sellotape it into the food to avoid section. And for clarity, although you have probably guessed it by now, never, ever eat the heavily processed and bleached white rice.
Wait a minute I hear you cry. Don’t half of Asia rely on rice for their diet and if it is true that it turns to sugar, then surly they should all be obese. I understand your scepticism. This was the first question I asked when I was told about the evil way of CARBS. But before I tell you about Hara Hachi Bu, bear in mind that in Asia, they tend to be far less sedentary than us Brits, intermittent fasting is also common place and in the main they have far less toxins in their homes than we do in Great Britain. In other words, they live far more primally than we do. But what is Hara Hachi Bu? The Huffington Post summarised it best in a recent article, “The Japanese practice something that makes such sense that I can’t believe we don’t start teaching this to our kids. It’s called “hara hachi bu”. It means, eat until you are 80% full. You have probably heard about the Okinawan people and how they often live to 100. They are the longest lived, healthiest people on the planet, and they practice hara hachi bu”.
The Okinawan people don’t eat until they feel full, they eat until they are no longer hungry. Both of these feelings are controlled by hormones, which is the next subject we will take a look at. They also eat a lot more slowly, which also makes them feel like they have consumed more. Eating more slowly has also been attributed to the longer life span of people living in the Mediterranean.
Why do we overeat in Great Britain? Is it simply because we were told by our parents not to leave anything on the plate? Possibly. But more likely it’s the supersized portions of sugar loaded takeaways and packaged foods, that have damaged our brains response to a hormone known as leptin.