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How not to die

This is the title of a book I was given for a recent significant milestone birthday. Full of advice on what to eat to prevent each disease likely to come your way. It was essentially advocating a complete plant based diet. How do you make sense of all the ever changing food advice? Do you ignore it, embrace it or take it with a pinch of salt?

I'm sure most of you would agree we live in difficult times and some might say food is the least of our worries, but: and this is assuming we humans manage not to wipe ourselves out we are on the cusp of huge changes in the way we eat food. And exciting ones in my mind, we can not go on as we do consuming all this processed food where we really have no idea what we are eating at all. The young are leading us to a more plant based diet, which I personally applaud if struggle with as I like meat quite a lot. An awful lot of research is being put into food and so we are discovering that many Old Wives tales and notions we have about certain food are becoming evidence based. Anyone who has been pregnant will know ginger is helpful for nausea. Cultures all over the world have generations worth of information about plants and their benefits which is passed on through stories and folklore. And now it's all being tested and much of it is being proven. I used to visit the Amazon a lot (in a past life!) and was always amazed by the locals' knowledge of the trees and plants which they used for medicine. I also used to wonder how many people must have died in the process of finding out which of those plants they knew to be poisonous.

Have you heard about the field of nutrigenomics? The idea that our individual genomes react differently to foods and as we are all different our diet should be personalised. Foods do affect people in different ways, take coffee which is an obvious one, the fact that it might not suit you would probably come out in a genome sequencing screening. Apparently some meals provide more calories for some and less for others also depending on our metabolic rate. Some people process carbohydrates efficiently and others would benefit from a high protein diet. This of course explains why some people have such success with certain diets but others not. There are diets out there that like the ayurvedic principals which allows you to find your type, one of three, so you can then figure out what foods suit you. This idea of different foods suiting different people is going to be taken to a whole new level with genetic screening. At some stage in the future scientists think we can maintain our good health by diet once we have learned our genome sequence. If I am not mistaken it still costs thousands of pounds for a screening but it I am guessing it won't be long before it become affordable for many.

“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; when diet is correct, medicine is of no need."

Ayurvedic proverb

Although the advice is often confusing and contradictory I tend to embrace the elements I like. One of the gems I got from the aforementioned book was to drink more coffee, as apparently it is good for your liver, especially if you like a drink. Although apparently I read recently that they have decided that even one glass of wine is better avoided. Forget that!

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