I learned a long time ago that every part of the world lives off of a different grain or staple (a source of starch eaten every day). In TCM literature, it says, ‘of the five grains, the bean is the most nutritious.’ Beans are a humble food that provide a lot of protein, fiber, and starch. They are a powerhouse of nutrition.
A lot of people around the world live off of rice, the majority white rice, the minority eat brown rice. While it is popular and it does sustain life, it is rather high glycemic and not particularly dense in nutrition.
I once read in an old book, ‘the main foodstuff of the African is the sweet potato.’ This tuber is a good source of starch, and you could easily eat them everyday to good result.
Wheat products, like bread and pasta, are a big problem. While the middle east and Europe have been living off bread for centuries upon centuries, it is not the best crop or staple. Gluten, the protein found in wheat is allergenic to many, and the wheat itself absorbs a lot of toxins from the environment.
Corn is special. Some call it a grain while others call it a starchy vegetable. While not being particularly dense in nutrition, it is a good source of starch and fiber, and it was the mainstay of the native american diet.
Quinoa is a pseudo-grain that is really a flower seed. It is a lot like brown rice, except it has more fiber and twice the protein content. It used to be grown in Bolivia and Peru, where it was called ‘the mother grain’. The protein in quinoa is just as good as any animal protein, balanced in all 8 essential amino acids, and it’s increasing popularity is not without merit.
Potatoes also grow in abundant varieties in the mountains of Peru. There are over 80 varieties there. While one does best to avoid idaho russet potatoes, since they are a nightshade, there are other varieties which are much healthier. Red potato is my favorite. Yukon Gold is good too.
There are other lesser known staples out there. But the reason I wrote this post is to remind people that complex carbohydrates, or starch as it is known in its pejorative term, are actually quite important, and one can’t live off of protein and vegetables for very long. I know sugar restriction is useful for short term weight loss and reordering a bad diet into a healthy diet, but starch will always be the main source of fuel for the human body, and living off of ketone bodies for the rest of your life is not a good idea.
It’s an alarming trend to see Americans cling to low carb dieting without really understanding human history, physiology, nutrition, and the importance of the ecology. There is a good way to do dieting and there is a wrong way. Don’t look for quick fixes or slimness in a bottle or Paleo Pie. They don’t exist. Human nutrition hasn’t changed in thousands of years, yet science, agriculture, and the media want to lead you astray.
People living outside the West are suffering from food shortages, have no need for nutrition lessons, eat a lot more fiber, and have to walk to get anything for themselves. The American man doesn’t realize how good he has it, and I hope those who read my blog gain something from my philosophy.