I 100 % agree with the principles that Sally Beare puts forth in her book. Her research is based on analyzing the diets of the world's oldest and healthiest populations - and, wow, doesn't that just make so much sense? Forget fad diets, forget worrying about being 100 % raw or being Paleo. No one is going to live forever, and no diet is a cure all for disease or will keep you looking young until your 80; we are human; we're not indestructible.
Beare explains the diet and lifestyle choices of five of the longest living and most disease free populations: the Okinawans of Japan, the Symiots of Greece, the population of Campodiemele in Italy, the Hunza of North East Pakistan and finally, the Bama population of South West China. Her results all seem to point to the same reoccurring diet choices and lifestyle habits that to me, make so much sense, without the stress and feeling of failure health fads give you. I've tried following a raw food diet for health, but found it so hard to stick to, and so expensive. It also made me so anxious that I wasn't 'good enough' health wise - which is complete nonsense, I realise now.
Beautiful Symi in Greece. I adore the mediterranean: I went to visit my aunt in Turkey a few years back, and I can still remember the smell of wild herbs on the hillsides, drifting through the windows of my bedroom on a spring breeze...
So, what are these principles that seem to allow you to live to a ripe old age with a sharp mind, able body and free of disease? Basically, eat a ton of fruit and vegetables, include more raw food in your diet (not 100%, but make an effort to eat more raw fruit and vegetables), eat less animal protein and more vegetable protein, consume good fats and eat whole grains. Don't consume refined grains, have little or no dairy and try to eat organic food free from pollutants (if only this one was easy and inexpensive), and keep your heart and your muscles active. You don't need to work out like crazy, but find something you enjoy, walk a lot, go hiking regularly, do some yoga... just move!
When it comes to living and cooking, these are my principles, and I believe that by sticking to these, I stay healthy and slim while enjoying (plenty of!) delicious food. It's often not hard to turn a recipe into a healthy one by simply switching from refined to organic wholegrains. In terms of vanity, I personally believe that refined grains make you gain weight, while you can eat plenty of wholegrains and stay slim (depending on your definition of plenty, I suppose! Scientific research has demonstrated, however, that those who consume unprocessed plant food have a lower body weight than those who eat a highly refined/animal based, even when consuming the same amount of calories). Interestingly, Beare cites a study where in one group, mice are fed a whole and unprocessed diet similar to the Hunza's diet and remain healthy, but when fed a diet including processed, refined grains such as white rice or white bread, they become sick and violent.
So basically, my food philosophy for health and beauty: enjoy beautiful, healthy, tasty, whole and unprocessed food, and move a lot doing something you enjoy.
Sounds pretty good, right?
Unprocessed, delicious fruits and vegetables .... beautiful aren't they? Eat up!