The Mediterranean and Paleolithic diet


So, be cautious and individualise it for yourself. I think that’s the best advice that you’ve been giving us throughout this interview is: individualise everything. You know, look at how your body reacts and how you feel and your energy levels. And you can go banting and you can go weight watching. You can go low-GI if you like. You can try the fasting. But use common sense. You know, go back to, maybe look at the Paleolithic diet. Let’s have a look at that one. Let’s have a look at that versus the Mediterranean diet. You know, because that’s the fun one. They have olives, cheese, and you have bread and red wine. It’s a lovely diet to be on. Shouldn’t we just all be on that one? Is that your next question? That’s my next question. Mediterranean is one of my favourites. You know, we all have our favourite local spots that we like to go to. For a long time my dad’s gone sailing in Greece. He bought a boat and he’s been doing it up for years. I go there when I can. And I love the culture there, it’s much more laid back and if you really want to press the off button for a couple of days or weeks it’s great. Their culture is like the Mediterranean pyramid, the base is physical activity but it’s not drive to the front door of Virgin Active go on a moving machine for an hour and then come back home. It’s like walk, cycle, socialise is in there. They socialise quite a lot around food, but the actual food content is a lot of vegetable matter grown locally. And in some Mediterranean regions they don’t even know the word ‘organic’. It just is. And because it’s just from that hillside behind the taverna it’s much healthier. They get fish direct from the sea. They’ve got some red meat but it’s not huge consumption. They get plenty of olive oil so they’re not shy of their fats. Some nuts and seeds. And they’re not low-carb either, you mentioned bread (that’s a fairly semi-modern kind of construct) but starchy vegetables, fruits they’ve in their diet. So, it’s very varied. So, to me it’s not a diet but a lifestyle. It’s the old-fashioned construct. You’re going to try and put low-carb high-fat low-GI into that one. They all apply and they all don’t apply. So Paleolithic, Ian? Is that the next one? Okay, so you’ve chosen my two favourites, because they’re not really diets. They have both been interpreted as diets, in this modern era. So, if you go into Dr Google and type in ‘Mediterranean diet’ or ‘Paleo diet’, you’ll get some dietitian’s interpretation of what that is, but that’s (to me) dangerous. The old-fashioned Mediterranean principles, it’s like which country are you in. They’re all very different but share common values. Paleo just means the Paleolithic era in time, which is 10/20 000 years ago. So, a long time ago. And there was a book called The Paleo Diet written more than ten years ago and the construct of it is no grains, no dairy and it’s basically just animal produce and plant matter, nuts and seeds. So, very-very basic. But then there’s another book (and I can’t quite remember the name of it now) that argues that there is archaeological evidence for grains found in sites during that era and of dairy use, and so on. That becomes controversial. But yes, we could probably all reduce the grain consumption that we have. We can all probably reduce the reliance on dairy. Kind of like in the Mediterranean way, they don’t overuse it, and they ferment a lot of it. Now we’re so reliant on milk, for example. So, some people with the Paleo they do actually very well with cutting out milk and grains. And we’ll go into the blood types in a minute, but I find the O’s (O blood type) overlap with Paleo quite well actually. So, tend more towards animal and plant, cut the grains down or even out and cut the milk down to a minimum or just a little bit of fermented cheese or something. I did the Paleo once, for a while, but then I started personalising it. So, I found that I struggled without any grains whatsoever so I added in some rice and then I said, ‘Right, we’re doing the Japanese Paleo diet’. Then I personalised it further because then I met Rachel and she was into fermentation, so started finding some really good-quality feta that my stomach tolerated really well. And then she made kefir which I tolerated well. So, I individualised it. That’s the word, you’re using it again. It’s about being an individual, eating as you are unique. Yes. So, using info and advice from all the different paradigms and all the different diets then applying it to yourself. Now, when you’re applying it to yourself – we can talk about the blood type and eat for your blood type now – but I’d also like to look at genetics. And how to test and make it a bit easier for you to understand, ‘Where is my individuality and how does that relate to the food I choose?’ Thanks for asking that question because as I talk to you I am aware that I’m bringing forth the complexity of the body and how we shouldn’t actually try and compartmentalise nutrition as we do nowadays. But people at home are going to be thinking, ‘Well, what do I do now?’ And I’ve lived a journey – it’s been a passion of mine – from my running days trying to eat as well as I can. And beyond that I’ve always worked really hard and got myself into health imbalances and trying to correct that. So, I’m always on a journey trying to further myself. But that’s many years of awareness and you don’t learn that overnight. So, I find genetic testing very useful because you can take somebody and say, ‘Right. We’re going to go out to the middle, so it’s not looking at the extremes. It’s say moderate carb, moderate fat, and let’s take a Mediterranean template to start off with and see how you get on’. And like I just described, we’ll personalise that to you and we’ll learn more about you. Or somebody else might test as their fat metabolism is actually excellent, genetically, but their carb metabolism doesn’t work as well so we go towards the banting. Maybe not a full-on banting or ketogenic approach. We can do that for a short period to bring the weight down or whatever our goal is. But then we’ll personalise that and then really just evolve it over time.

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