Nutrition’s Simplest Rule: Maximize Your “Plant to Animal Ratio” for Health
Should I eat more “healthy fats” or less? More protein at every meal or less? Are grass fed beef, chicken, and lamb really healthier? Do I add butter, coconut oil, and uncured bacon to nourish my body? Eat high carb? Low fat? Paleo? Vegan? Mediterranean? Isn’t it enough to drive you mad?
To figure how out to eat for health, it’s instructive to turn to the Blue Zones of the world. These are communities around the world (including Okinawa, Japan, and Loma Linda, California) with the highest concentration of centenarians (people living over 100 years of age). Although the dietary patterns of Blue Zones vary, what they have in common is a high percentage of plant-based, whole foods that provide optimal nutrition.
In Okinawa, Japan, for example, on average, only 6% of the Okinawa diet was from fat. About 9% of calories were from protein and 85% of calories were from complex plant carbohydrates like grains and legumes with a strong preference for sweet potatoes. The results? Okinawans enjoyed rates of heart disease that were 80% lower compared to those in the US. Rates of breast and prostate cancer were 75% lower, and dementia 67% lower.
So what can we learn from this? Increase your calories from plants and decrease calories from animals — or increase your P/A ratio (“plant to animal”). You can never go wrong and it is a simple strategy that has not title to incite an argument or confusion.
How do you handle the crosstalk of all the dietary recommendations from “experts”, some real and some self-appointed? If the first, second, and third thing out of an expert’s mouth is not “eat more fruits and vegetables, raw when you can”, run for the hills. Perhaps Michael Pollan summarized it best on the cover of his book In Defense of Food: Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants. Take a high P/A ratio to your plate and bowl and add you will have a strategy to optimize the years to your life.
The reason that I opened a based gourmet restaurant, GreenSpace Cafe, in Ferndale, Michigan was to make it easy for guests to have a high P/A ratio in an elegant setting and no hassle. In fact, all the items have a P/A ratio of 1 as we use only plants in all items. The extensive menu dazzles, nourishes, and provides a sustainable and cruelty-free feast from A-D (appetizer to dessert with a libation if you choose).
We know that food is medicine that provides direct information for our genes for health and longevity or disease and sickness. It is a decision based mainly on your P/A ratio in your diet and the quality of the whole plant foods you choose (sorry, potato chips do not cut it). Live longer and better with the highest P/A ratio diet you can muster. If you travel through the Detroit area, and you should, visit GreenSpace Cafe and sample the highest P/A ratio in town, putting the cleanest fuel into bodies in the Motor City.