Friday, August 16, 2013

You're in the Jungle baby!

All of this time on the bike has led to a lot of reading.  Recently I finished off The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller, a very interesting book about preventing and fighting diseases through diet.  I know that's not exactly a revolutionary concept, but the book takes a pretty unique approach.

Dr Miller is an MD who takes a different approach sometimes.  I have to take the same approach, so I really respect the way she does this with her patients. Instead of just treating the symptoms of a disease, she looks at the family history and the nutrition to find the real source of the problem.  If you fix the source the symptoms will take care of themselves.

She has looked all over the globe for "cold spots", places that are the exact opposite of hot spots for a disease.  Longevity?  where do people live the longest.  What country has the lowest rates of diabetes? Heart disease? Cancer?  By looking for traditional indigenous diets of these cultures, we can find the source of the solution.  Go to the jungle, and you can find the root.  Or go to the island, or the fish market, etc.

My family heritage is being irish, and the health history includes cancer and heart disease.  I love learning about healthy eating plans from all over the world and why they work for those people.  My background is so generic I can adapt to anything. This book isn't a vegetarian or vegan manifesto.  The chapters build on each other and the principles of that cultures diet.  The second half of the book includes recipes from each of the area cold spots.  Try to incorporate some of these recipes can really help prevent the targeted cold spot disease.

The focus is largely on foods that are local, fresh, and in season. There is a consistent push for whole foods, and away from fast food and highly processed foods. There's a big key focal point on cooking the way your grandmother would cook. It's looking at the whole picture of the weekly meal plan, balancing veg and meats and dairy in appropriate proportions. and adding spices and flavors to make it all kick!

The kicker is that not everyone will respond well to every cultural diet just because they need to protect against a specific disease. The gene pool is so blended now that what you think might work for you, might not actually work very well at all.  I like being able to try new things, so with this book you can try anything and learn the benefits.  Each of the chapters build on each other with the facts about that disease fighting cold spot.

It really is a quality read. Give it a spin if you're looking for a good diet book or have concerns about one of the diseases.

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