Welcome to the jungle

Another of the UCTV lectures I got sucked into was “Bringing the Wisdom and Science of Traditional Diets to Our Own Plates,” given by Dr. Daphne Miller, a family physician and author of The Jungle Effect.

I had enjoyed reading Dan Buettner’s The Blue Zones, so I could see immediately that Dr. Miller’s lecture was right up my alley. She had traveled the globe looking at little pockets where communities had maintained their traditional diets, despite encroachment of Western-style foods into their countries (with all the processed and fast food that entails).

Perhaps not surprisingly, people eating traditional diets were healthier. They had markedly lower rates of diabetes, heart disease and depression. What might surprise some people (unless you’ve already done a bit of reading on this subject), is that these healthy traditional diets varied a fair amount from each other. Considering that she studied diets in Iceland, Nigeria, Camaroon, Mexico and Crete, you would hardly expect them to be similar! Basically, what these healthy diets had in common was that they did not include processed food. At all.

No processed food? That may seem like bad news to you if fast food, take out, frozen meals and canned soups are a huge part of your diet. But the good news is that there are many ways to eat that are healthy. You can eat higher protein, higher carb, vegetarian, non-vegetarian…whatever suits your preferences. Just shift your food choices so that you are eating real foods.

Imagine my excitement when I found that I could download Dr. Miller’s book in e-book format from my library? Instant gratification! I jumped straight to the recipe section, and found exactly the thing to make for today’s lunch. Two eggs from my backyard hens, scrambled with mustard greens from my garden (first sauteed in a little olive oil) and a tablespoon of feta cheese, topped with six sliced Kalamata olives and some cherry tomatoes. She suggested serving it with whole grain toast, so I had a slice of sprouted grain bread, toasted and spread with a touch of almond butter. Perfection!