13 comments on “Dietary Diversity: The Forgotten “Vitamin” in Successful Diets

  1. “Our understanding of nutrition is still in its infancy.” If the public only knew how true this is.

    PS. I think you mean “deluding” ourselves, not “diluting,” although it is a poetic turn of phrase.

  2. This article makes me consider several things.
    1. While I understand that expanding our diet may be beneficial, now I am wondering if there is a benefit to sticking to one geographic area. After all, isn’t it intrusive on a European based system to eat Asiatic plants as we did not evolve to consume them?

    2. Can I get your advice on some tougher foods that can be beneficial to jaw growth, and what age does that generally apply until – I’m wondering about the benefits of eating hardy at my age (29).

    3. Having eaten a dragon fruit recently, I was disappointed with the lack of flavor. However, now that this article mentioned it, I’m wondering if it was grown and produced in a similar fashion to “Wal*Mart tomatoes,” and what I mean by that is those flavorless but colorful seed and water sacks that I have resolved never to purchase again in favor of the delicious farmer’s market variety.

    Cheers

  3. Dear Adele, thanks for your comment and for catching the typo. I did, in fact, intend to use the word “deluding”, but I so often think of how our modern lives are diluted by two many activities (i.e., people going 1000 miles per hour in too many directions), how diluted our foods have become, and how diluted our emotional/spiritual practices have become (they are replaced by activities that support the gain of material wealth) that I often substitute (accidentally) these two words. Hopefully Aaron or Beau will edit this typo. Ktankeyasin (take care of yourself). Arthur.

  4. Can you give your recommendations on which wild foods to include and how to obtain them? We mostly are unable to get these from the local store…

  5. There are many, many edible wild plants that are abundant and free. Try to find a book or website (or pay for an educational tour) that lists wild edible plats in your area with many photos of the plant in its different stages of development, noting key features such as “hairy stems” or “smooth stems”, etc. Many plants are things you might find familiar, like dandelion and its many lookalikes (none of which are poisonous. Most of them are just bitter lettuces or can be prepared the same way you would cook any greens). I just started doing this and am amazed at the free greens in my neighbourhood.

    As an aside, try to collect plants away from roadsides or from contaminated sites (ie, old metal manufacturing warehouse grounds, etc.). You will be incredibly surprised at the wonders you discover in the overlooked corners of your city.

  6. Dear Milo, (1) It can be argued that there is no need to “forage” outside of a continent or region because every continent is filled with nutrient-dense and beneficial plants (as evidenced by the indigenous who lived in those areas and consumed those plants alone). That said, rarely would there be any harm foraging outside of your ancestral region. Continents are filled with plants that share close relatives. Eastern North America, for example, has more floristic similarity with eastern Asia than people would ever guess (due to similarities in climates). There are related species of plants in these two very distant areas that look almost identical to one another due to their genetic similarity (and share phytochemical similarities). Many people are enthralled by the mystery of plants from distant lands–every region has plants that are superfoods and powerful healing agents. We have eaten a mixture of raw and cooked foods for almost 2 million years. (2) It is good to enjoy soft and firm foods at all ages (important when safe for young ones to properly develop the palate). (3) Cultivated plants are now frequently grown in mineral-depleted soils. Modern agriculture tends to focus primarily on NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium). It is a documented fact that much of the produce sold in stores and at farm stands contains less mineral nutrition than plants foods from several decades ago. Combined with the facts that (a) modern produce has been bred for various reasons but not for phytochemical potency and (b) the need for long-distance transport of many cultivated plants (i.e., the plants aren’t fresh when we purchase them), it is to be expected that some foods will taste bland when fresh-picked or wild farms are delicious. Thank you for your post and best wishes. Arthur.

  7. While I highly respect this viewpoint and the thought that has gone into this article, I would ask you to keep in mind that many of us and our children who limit or eliminate certain grains, seeds, nuts, dairy, and legumes to follow a primal or grain free, candida healing diet do so because of health reasons. Gut dysbiosis/ leaky gut makes these foods more difficult to digest and cause adverse symptoms for many. They end undigested an feed yeast in the gut. Gluten, casein, oxalates, among others can cause pain and distress when not digested properly. This is generally thought to be attributed to antibiotic use in addition to other factors. Although it is difficult in today’s society, we have found it absolutely necessary to eliminate these foods from our sons diet. If I consume even raw dairy for more than a couple of days, my chronic fatigue relapses. So for those friends out there whom cannot consume these foods, fret not. Stick to it and continue healing so that one day you can expand your diet again!

  8. Arthur,

    Thank you for your reply, I did not know that we had 2 million years to acclimate to these foods and I am still intrigued about the concept. Thanks for this article and answering, I look forward to the next time you’re on the radio or your next article.

    Cheers

  9. Everything is connected and we can validate any thought we come up with. You did a good job in presenting your points and validating them. However, we are in a transition from bogus eating habits (most of which is generationally and culturally programmed into us to a more or less degree) We all need some healing and may require to go outside of any insights you present. I doubt very much that we consumed liberal amounts of wild foraged salads. Plants today have very little medicinal properties of which the wild forage variety do and did. We would only require very small amounts to achieve a daily dose, therapeutic dose or possible overdose. We definitely require plant food and herbal nutrients to combat the insults to our modern physiology.

  10. This response is from Arthur Haines. He had technical difficulties responding:

    “Dear Anne, my article and your comments are not in contradiction. Anyone who is dealing with health issues may have alter their diet from one that could be optimal for someone else who is not dealing with said issues. Any information that someone reads must be tempered with considerations regarding their state of being, allergies, insensitivities, knowledge of food preparation, etc. My articles are never meant to be interpreted as “arm twisting” to push someone into a food or diet they don’t want to practice. I am merely trying to supply information on which people can make sound health choices. The paleo message of eliminating all grain from the diet is in contradiction with actual paleolithic habits. This is the primary message I’m trying to rely. If one has health issues that are exacerbated when consuming a certain grain, that grain should be removed from the diet (at least temporarily, possibly permanently). That is sound advice you are supplying. But if someone is not dealing with gut dysbiosis, is carefully selecting wild and heirloom grains, and is consuming appropriate amounts of these grains in a diverse diet, those people shouldn’t necessarily be convinced to avoid all grains. Likewise, if someone has issues consuming milk, they shouldn’t drink it (but that doesn’t mean all people should avoid all dairy). It is the over-simplified message that I’m trying to expose–not your carefully worded message in the comments above. Thank you for your post and your polite tone. Best wishes.

    I would also like to post this message to anonymous:

    Dear Anonymous, thank you for your post. I would politely offer that I don’t think we can validate any thought we come up with. Especially if we are looking for a marriage of traditional use with modern study (if you use one or the other as primary lines of evidence, then I agree you can validate anything you want). I combine these for important reasons (I wrote this about medicine, but it is true of food as well): “Long history of use helps determine safety and presents anecdotal evidence for efficacy, while scientific research helps validate efficacy and determine mechanisms of action. Viewing medicine through this filter (i.e., the intersection of folk use and modern study) helps paint a confident picture of harmlessness and effectiveness—two criteria a given medicine should possess.” Wild people did, in fact, eat lots of plants. These were (with many exceptions) gathered primarily by women and children and were the mainstay of many day’s diet. Hunting, fishing, and trapping were not always successful and it was plant foods that sometimes provided the main sustenance of the day. Wild-collected greens were a large part of many indigenous people’s diet. I am in complete agreement with you that our cultivated forms of plants have lost much of their medicine, which is one of the reasons I try to foster awareness of wild plants–species who’s nutrition and medicine have not be muted by breeding. Best wishes.

    Arthur Haines”

  11. When I first heard/read about the Paleo Diet, I sensed a wrongness about. I couldn’t figure it out. You have expressed it just right. Five years ago, I was on 8 different meds with multiple health issues including high bp, high cholesterol, thyroid, etc. I took a real look at my kitchen pantry and realized just how limited my diet had become.
    Since then, I have eliminated to a basic diet, then learned what each food did for me, though I missed the species connection. I have expanded my diet and will now expand it more since you have supplied a missing piece. BTW: I also had a leaky gut, thus diabetes. I am now off all meds but the insulin and am working to get that down low, then off.
    I am a fan of collecting plants from my garden/yard, and the woods. Now I do it more often.
    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge. 🙂

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