What did the Healthiest People in the World Eat?

I’ve been reading a great book lately for my course called “Healthy at 100” by John Robbins. It’s an inspirational read about health & positive attitudes towards aging.

The first section is about 4 different cultures that once had the oldest, healthiest people in the world before they became ‘Westernized’ and it all started to fall apart (the Abkhasians, the Vilcabambans, the Hunzans and the Okinawans – just in case you want to Google them).

While a lot of their habits are unrealistic today, I think there is a lot we can learn from their dietary habits such as:

-Their diets were all low in calories (avg male ate 1900 cals/day), they ate slowly, and only until they felt 80% full (it takes 20 minutes for our stomachs to tell us we are full, which is why eating fast usually leads to over-eating, and weight gain!)

-They ate a lot of whole grain carbs, seasonal fruits & vegetables, legumes, nuts & seeds and small amounts of dairy & animal protein

-Because they were quite isolated they rarely ate packaged, processed foods or foods high in sugar, salt, preservatives, food dyes, artificial flavors or other chemicals

-They ate healthy monounsaturated & polyunsaturated fats from natural sources such as: nuts, seeds, & fish, rather than saturated fats from butter, baked goods, dairy & meat fat

-They didn’t have a lot of fuel for cooking so they ate all of their vegetables raw or steamed in small amounts of water

-They didn’t even know about pesticides, fertilizers & other chemicals so all their food was organic

-They exercised on a regular basis

-They enjoyed alcohol, but in moderation

What’s most inspiring about these cultures, is that for the most part the elderly people remained healthy up until they died, which was usually into their late 90s and in some cases 100s. They weren’t put in nursing homes or hospitalized, and avoided a lot of common diseases that come with aging. None of them suffered from dementia, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, joint pain, osteoporosis, etc.

These cultures didn’t follow the Atkins, South Beach or Paleo diet. They didn’t do crazy detox cleanses where all they did was drink liquids for days on end. They simply ate a healthy, fresh, whole foods diet, and lived a healthy lifestyle.

I’m not saying adopting this sort of diet & lifestyle won’t require you to make some changes. But the way I see it: if you’re willing to make some changes, you’ll see some changes (in your body, your energy, your mood, your skin, your hair…the list goes on & on). And the changes I’m talking about are sustainable over time, not like fad diets that only last about 6 months.



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2 Responses to What did the Healthiest People in the World Eat?

  1. Senior May 25, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    Thanks Lauren for posting this.

  2. mom May 29, 2012 at 3:45 am #

    Inspiritional and yet simple!! xoxo

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