Here’s a secret we live with every day, and it’s one that needs to be told, loudly. While it’s not news that we often don’t choose the foods eat because of their nutritional value, this part may hold a surprise: Our food choices are mostly guided by a broad array of cultural beliefs and behaviors that are endorsed over a lifetime by our family and friends, the tribe and in-group we believe we’re part of and want to remain so. In other words, to an extent, we pick our foods because of our need to belong.
And look where that’s gotten us. Might a present-day Groucho Marx have quipped, “I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that makes me sick”?
No need to rattle off the litany of bad health that plagues us in this country; we’ve heard that all before. Instead, let’s take this ripe moment to understand that we have far more control than what we’re exercising in the matter of our food – and our health.
For starters, we’ve farmed out (no pun intended) our food choices. The food products we pick from are often mere facsimiles of food, designed by food engineers; what (if any) produce we eat has very often been drained of much of its nutrients for being grown a thousand miles away; and what may have begun as whole food has been processed beyond recognition and as a result is dramatically reduced from its original nutritional value.
A whole foods, plant-based diet: These are words you’ll see here often at The 200 Project. The research that shows the benefits of such a diet is convincing; once you’ve seen it argued, it’s one of those things that you can’t un-see. This food regimen is an ideal that we must familiarize ourselves with, and here’s why: The closer we get, meal by meal, day by day, to a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle, the better our health will be. A growing body of research shows that this food path reduces one’s odds of developing heart disease, many types of cancers, lower respiratory ailments like COPD, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and kidney disease (which are seven of the top ten causes of death in the U.S., and they’ve all been shown to be directly linked to the Western Diet).
And besides all that heavy stuff, hey, you’ll just feel better. So even if it didn’t add years to your life (which it surely can), consuming a whole foods, plant-based diet puts more life in your life right now and every day you eat this way. And here’s a bonus: It’s better for the planet overall, since with fewer animals raised for food, the level of carbon emissions we put into the air is reduced. Now there’s a club we should all want to be a member of.
So give your body a chance; investigate this possibility for yourself. Check out our resources section, or pick up a copy of T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study. Your body will thank you for the rest of your long and happy life.