As always, this post is based on things that I learned through my studies, classes and individual conversations with my professors.
1) We limit ourselves in what we define as variety. I’m sure it’s not surprising that we are being taught that a healthful diet includes variety. This is a relative no brainer. However, what do you think of when I say to you that you need to eat a variety of proteins? Maybe you think of pork, poultry, seafood, beef, eggs, bean, etc. What do you think of when I say to you that you need to eat a variety of vegetables? Maybe you think of broccoli, red cabbage, asparagus, onions, etc. Yep, that’s variety BUT it’s not completely. Varying the types of things that we eat is definitely important, but when was the last time you ate liver or heart? What about a carrot top or turnip greens? We need to start expanding what our definition of variety means; it should rightfully include eating both nose to tail and stem to root (with the knowledge that we can’t eat EVERYTHING since some parts are in fact toxic.)
2) Following from the above, part of the reason that we should eat nose to tail and stem to root is that there are different concentrations of different nutrients in different parts of an animal or plant (how many times can I use the word different in a sentence?) To briefly provide an example, there are varying ratios of amino acids found in the various organs of animals, but limiting our intake of animal protein to skeletal muscle meat limits the different ratios to which we are exposed. This can mean that we build up a relative excess of one amino acid and a relative deficiency of another. No, you wouldn’t technically be in a toxicity or deficiency state, but it still has an impact on what our system has to work with and how hard it may have to work to get back to the proper ratio.
3) It is hammered home on a pretty consistent basis that everything we are learning about diets and guidelines is based on the needs of a healthy individual. Disease states (homeostatic imbalances) change dietary needs, even if they are not obvious diseases. I think this makes sense to most people. But this got me thinking, how many people in the US could actually be termed “healthy?” We are also told that 2/3rds of the population are overweight or obese – these are technically homeostatic imbalances – and what about the people who smoke or have some form of cardiovascular disease or cancer or osteoporosis or diabetes? Of course many people have more than one homeostatic imbalance (disease) but not all. How many “healthy” people does this leave us with? 25%? 10%? 5%? I don’t have the answer to this question, but I do find this a rather troubling thought. Finally, to extend it one step further, how might this impact any or all of the nutritional studies which are conducted? Or the various dietary guidelines or general recommendations? Again, I don’t have the answers, but these are some things that I’m currently mulling over and rolling around in my head.
What do you think? Is any of this new to you? What did you learn this week? Do you eat parts of animals or plants that others don’t usually eat? Would you like to? Would you like me to give some suggestions about how to add other animal or plant parts into your eating patterns?