Archive for July, 2014

Natural Truth: Is Dairy Healthy?

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We’d like to take on the often controversial natural health question of whether dairy use is healthy. You no doubt know that a variety of animal-based dairy products are consumed by people around the world today, and many are recommended by national and international health agencies.

As we will discuss, however, the objective health benefits of dairy products are mixed – depending on the product, method of production, and person. Overall, this comparatively new and special class of foods requires care and attentiveness, but we conclude dairy use can be part of a healthy approach to modern eating and living.

Cacik

Turkish Cacik, Made With Yogurt & Cucumber

As a prelude to considering the health-relevant science of dairy production and consumption, we would like to start by highlighting two key sources of controversy within the natural health community regarding dairy use. In both cases, these sources of controversy are immediately instructive, can help us to be better informed about the wisdom of dairy products in particular, and offer lessons in the ways people can and might approach the task of health optimization more broadly.

The first source of dairy controversy comes from advocates of historically re-naturalized or forager-based eating models. Here, proponents reason that since dairy products are a new, less than 10,000 year-old food for humans and therefore not natural in a strict historical sense, they should be avoided. In earlier versions of the HumanaNatura diet, we in fact took this view.

At the other end of the natural health spectrum, most vegan and some vegetarian diet programs also discourage the use of dairy products. In these cases, advocates almost always point to the ethical benefits of avoiding animal-based foods. Proponents of these diets also typically note – but often overstate or misrepresent – the ecological and personal health benefits of plant-based diets.

Importantly, although these two different schools of dietary thought within the natural health community agree on little beyond the importance of fruits and vegetables, both sets of dairy prohibitions are generally or primarily based on philosophical considerations, rather than the practical health impacts we will discuss.

For these reasons, the modern use of dairy products – by both children and adults – can be a controversial topic among natural health advocates, as well as a confusing one for people more generally. Overall, this controversy and confusion is unfortunate, since the scientific case for our selected use of dairy products, especially biologically active yogurts, is quite clear and strong. And this conclusion is especially true when we consider modern health outcomes in broader or more encompassing terms than is typical today.

Definitions & Background

When we talk about dairy products, we of course mean various foods derived from the milk of cows and other mammals, typically domesticated ungulates. As suggested already and outlined here, human consumption of these foods began with the Agricultural Revolution – or within the last 10,000 years – and the practice therefore has its origins entirely in our pre-modern, but post-agricultural, shift to farming and shepherding.

A reasonably full list of modern-day dairy products is quite extensive, and even unexpectedly so. For HumanaNatura, this pervasiveness and the persistence of dairy products in both traditional and modern diets is suggestive – that their adoption may have been highly adaptive, at least in our immediate pre-modern history. That said, other explanations for the pervasiveness of pre-modern dairy consumption are possible, including habituationaculturalization, and even supernormal influences.

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Summer Seaside Salad Meal

OurPlate Score: 10

Whether it is summer and you are by the sea, or not, this salad meal – made the HumanaNatura way and using HumanaNatura’s OurPlate guidelines – will make you feel like you are on a seaside holiday. And not only does the salad provide a burst of summer flavors, it is especially healthy too, because of the specific fish used for the salad’s protein.  While most fish is lean and healthy, this time we have selected shellfish from low in the marine food chain – shrimp, scallops, and baby squid – to avoid the high levels of mercury and other toxins often  found in large game fish. Using these seafoods also reduces costs, since these varieties of fish are often fairly inexpensive to harvest, and freeze and travel well.

Maybe best of all, especially if you are on summer holiday, this extra delicious and healthy salad meal was made in minutes and is about as tasty as food can get. It begins with a spicy saute of the shellfish we mentioned with a good dash of turmeric, onion and garlic bits, and black pepper. While the saute is cooking, we put together a salad base and mix that included a half-plate of arugula, diced cucumber, sliced mango and avocado, and quartered grape tomatoes. These warm and cool foods were then garnished with pistachios, parsley, paprika, coriander, and black pepper. A terrific meeting of sea and shore, and a model for optimal daily eating!

Learn more about creating naturally delicious and optimally nutritious meals through OurPlate, HumanaNatura’s simple healthy eating and meal rating tool, and experience how this science-based and completely natural approach to daily meals can change the way you eat, feel, and live. Perfect your skills at making delicious and naturally healthy salad meals that follow the OurPlate guidelines via the Meals tab above, our popular article Perfect Salad Meals, or the Natural Eating section of our comprehensive Personal Health Program.

Once you have begun eating the HumanaNatura way, we hope you will begin to explore your other opportunities for new, more natural, and healthier life between meals – through HumanaNatura’s complete and naturally open-ended system for lifelong and lifewide health and fitness. Check out our overview at The Four HumanaNatura Techniques.

Tell your friends about HumanaNatura… encourage new health!

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