Saturday, February 28, 2009

starches and grains

I thought Dr. McDougall's newsletter this month gave some good arguments for eating starches and grains.  He points out that humans have been eating this stuff for 3000-10,000 years and our genes have adapted to digest them (making us different from chimpanzees in that regard).  Some of the raw food promoters say we should be eating like the apes and chimpanzees since we are so similar--so greens, fruits, and nuts.  This is pretty similar to what Dr. Fuhrman recommends too but he also recommends cooked food including cruciferous vegetables, beans and some grains and starchy vegetables.   Fuhrman recommends eating much more greens and cruciferous vegetables than McDougall.  McDougall argues that we should follow the same diets several non-western cultures follow(ed) (the ones who haven't adopted the Standard American Diet yet), which are mostly starch-based, because these societies are (were) long-lived and healthy.  I think there is merit to that, but I agree with Fuhrman that we shouldn't just copy a successful way of eating if we think we can also improve on it.  Not only that, many of us don't figure this out until middle age, so not only do we want to improve our health but we probably have to make up for years of abuse.  So piling on the greens and cruciferous vegetables probably does some good.  So overall, I still think Fuhrman is the best program.  And he is an active MD, and has treated tens of thousands of patients.  There's nothing like first hand experience.  But McDougall's newsletter did remind me that our bodies have adapted to handle starches and grains and they can be a healthy part of our diet and provide us needed calories.  Fortunately, sweet potatoes fall in that category.  I am in love with sweet potatoes.  and beets.  but sweet potatoes even more.   And I shouldn't forget brown rice.  I'm going to make some tomorrow to eat with our chili.  I think it helps me digest beans more.


Strix said...

I've been pretty quiet on McDougall the past couple years because I ranted ad nauseam about him and his diet for years! Haha. NOT a fan to put it very mildly ;) Anyway, I also like to stay positive :) One more point, I wanted to add to your post is even if the starch diet was great, it was great for its time: No one is wandering miles upon miles, gathering food, and performing manual labor like eras past. We are even more sedentary than ever and ever hope to be again. We do not need loads of carbs for fuel like back then. We may still have cavemen mentality, but not their lives :). We need nowhere near the carbs or even calories we once did. It's quite silly if you think about this: We actually have to schedule exercise. Even today, some Peoples (who are healthier than we are) live lives in continuous motion, living off the land and getting large amounts of exercise; VitD from daily sunshine; follow natural sleeping cycles; growing, working on, and living off of their own gardens -- much more activity and joy, more like the past. We, especially in the West, do not live like that.
Okay, went a little off there, but you see my point of not needing all those starches nowadays :)

kneecap said...

very good points. Plus, these ancient peoples didn't really have much choice--those were the most economical foods available. That doesn't mean we should therefore eat them exclusively now. But I'm curious if there are other reasons you aren't a fan. Do you think this is an unhealthy diet, or just not as healthy as Fuhrman's? Do you think the low-fat aspect is too extreme?
thanks for your input!


Vegan Mothering said...

I think that Dr. Furhman's diet need's more starch. I follow Dr. McDougall's diet and have more energy and not as many cravings because I am getting sufficient calories. Don't get me wrong, I think Dr. Furhman's emphasis on greens and fruit is great, but too many nuts and for active people like myself, it's not enough starch. I've tried several different takes on the vegan diet: raw, furhman, mcdougall, and the one that works best for me in terms of weight maintence, energy, and reduced cravings (I have a BMI of 19) is Dr. McDougall's. Wondering if Strix has tried the McDougall diet, and if so, for how long?

kneecap said...

HI Vegan Mothering,

Thanks for your post. I checked out your blog and it looks interesting. I think I'll link to it. I do think I have a calorie problem (not enough). I can't handle refined grains, but I do like starchy things like sweet potatoes.

Is your diet low-fat? I need 2 oz of nuts and seeds to keep my heartbeat regular. But more than that and it's a bit hard to digest I think.