By Ross Walker

It has often been said that you are what you eat. The evidence has been mounting over the past few decades that this is certainly the case when it comes to our health. There is no doubt that the greatest health epidemic of the 21st century is that of diabesity. Diabesity is, of course, the combination of diabetes and obesity. 

There is certainly a genetic component, with 30% of Caucasians, 50% of Asians and close to 100% of people with darker skin, carrying the gene for insulin resistance. This gene is a survival advantage if you are a hunter gatherer but a major disadvantage if you live in a modern society. Basically, being insulin resistant allows you to store fat around the belly after a large feed. As hunter gatherers, we would kill the beast and because there were no prehistoric Kelvinators, we would need to have a large feast and store the fat for a few days until the next kill. These days, we’re in continual feast mode with breakfast, lunch and dinner and we sit on our bums all day, with little exercise. It has now been estimated that around 70% of cardiovascular disease has insulin resistance as a significant contributing factor. 

Study suggests 50% of cardiovascular disease can be blamed on poor diets 

A recent report from the University of Washington suggested that 50% of cardiovascular disease can be blamed on poor diets. It is not just consuming poor quality food, but also avoiding wholesome foods that leads to this statistic. There have been a number of studies performed over the past few decades clearly showing that consuming two to three pieces of fruit per day and three to five servings of vegetables per day leads to a significant reduction in the rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and all modern chronic illnesses for that matter.

A number of studies have confirmed that consuming 10 to 15 natural nuts per day leads to a 50% reduction in cardiovascular disease. There have been multiple studies performed on the Mediterranean Diet, and these have confirmed significant reductions in all of the above conditions. The Mediterranean diet is very clear and straightforward. It is based around wholesome fresh foods, and in particular, fruit and vegetables along with fish, chicken, nuts, dairy and olive oil with occasional meat and no processed foods. Interestingly, it is not just the diet but also the entire lifestyle which includes a large breakfast of fruit and whole grains, toiling in the fields in the hot Mediterranean sun in the morning and then having the biggest meal at lunchtime. This meal is shared with the family and friends along with one to two glasses of wine. The carbs and the alcohol leads to postprandial sleepiness and everyone has a lie down for an hour and then goes back to work in the hot Mediterranean sun. The smallest meal is the evening meal. There are some important points to be made here. Firstly, the body is not like car. With the car, you put in the fuel and use it when needed. If you put the fuel in your body i.e. food, if you don’t burn off the fuel within a few hours it gets laid down as belly fat and possibly fat in your arteries. 

Secondly, the system is much more geared to sin then it is penance. What I mean by this is, if you go for a brisk half an hour walk, you burn 300 calories. If you have a small piece of chocolate cake, there’s your 300 calories. Also, our bodies were really only designed to work efficiently for 30-40 years wandering around a jungle with a spear. We weren’t designed to go double our use by date, consuming excess food and sitting on our backsides all day. Thus, when you’ve gone past the age of 40 and especially when the hormones go south at age 50, your metabolism really starts to tank and it becomes very easy to put on weight. If we seriously wish to tackle all of our modern diseases, we need a significant rethink about the ways we treat our bodies. Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our current problems with the same thinking we used to create them”.