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by Dr. Jon Repole, DC, NC, HHP, CFMP, CPT

OK, I have to admit – I think the entire nutrition community has gone NUTS!
For example, they:
gluten-free candy- overlook the “bird’s eye view” of using whole foods as the primary foundation of any nutritional program
- debate the merits of different processed foods
- show an inability to recognize that gluten-free products are still processed foods
- promote completely outdated ancestral-type diets
- deny the health, environmental, and spiritual concerns regarding animal agriculture!

There are so many diets, so many conflicting opinions, so much research – and all from “respected” individuals flaunting prestigious badges that include: PhDs, MDs, DCs, RDs, etc. Think about this – your ENTIRE life can literally change depending on what book you pick up at the local bookstore, what TV program you are watching, and what doctor or health professional you visit and the type of diet they fancy on the ever-expanding dietary smorgasbord - Zone diet, Atkins diet, South Beach diet, Paleo diet, etc.!

So, who the heck is RIGHT?

Drum Roll…

If I were to tell you that there is really only ONE (or possible TWO) diets to choose from, would you believe me? Diet comes from the Greek work, dieta, meaning “a way of living.” Thus, the only real diet is one where you eat in accordance with nature’s laws while at the same time respect your individual uniqueness and the collective consciousness of Gaia and all her inhabitants.

Let me explain!

For starters, these are the only food groups that exist on planet earth:
Nuts and Seeds
Processed Foods
Animal Products: fish, meat, dairy, etc.

- Cupcakes, bread, candy, bagels, pastas, and the like are NOT FOOD GROUPS!
- Dairy is also not a food group. 99% of all dairy products come from a COW. All mammals, of course, lactate – and we simply don’t include cats, dogs, and the like as specific food group. So why would we choose a cow to represent a food group? Thus, we will lump dairy into the “animal product” category.

We will begin the discussion with the category of “Processed Foods” which was given prominence and mass distribution during the Industrial Revolution.  No matter what side of the fence you are on, I think we can ALL agree that hostess cupcakes, Twinkies, doughnuts, etc. are all man-made foods that are in direct opposition to the health of our body and should not be considered when discussing the optimal diet.

Even the most prominent nutritional studies (such as the China Study) speak to the magic of a WHOLE FOODS PLANT-BASED DIET and NOT to processed plant foods such as soy burgers, soy chips, processed plant mylks, etc. So the paleo community and plant-based community can both agree to this point. The motto here is – JUST EAT WHOLE FOODS! These are foods that exist in their natural state – unadulterated by man or womankind and do not include additions (pesticides, herbicides) or altering (GMOs, animal agriculture)!

This brings us to the first food group in our mini discussion – FRUIT.

What exactly is a WHOLE FRUIT? To use a visual, it is one that is picked from a tree and brought to strawberry jamyour grocery chain. It is ideally fresh, in-season and local (when possible). This will, of, course, make it easy to find when trying to navigate the grocery store as it will be found in either the fresh produce or frozen section/aisle. Don’t be fooled by foods that have “fruit ingredients” or are “MADE FROM FRUIT” and found in the dry aisles of the grocery store. For example, when I leave a banana out on the table and come back in a week – the living enzymes begin to digest it, ripen it and eventually (if left alone long enough) will cause it to turn rotten. Let’s be clear – there is NO SOUND WAY that fruit can stay on the shelves in the supermarket for weeks to months to years without some form of processing or degradation of its inherent wisdom. Always allow COMMON SENSE to trump what is written on the package even if the package says that there is fruit in the INGREDIENTS. Thus, fruit jams, fruit roll-ups, cereals (with fruit) and the like are NOT WHOLE FOODSs. They should be considered in the processed foods category.

Next on our list are Vegetables. The same idea can be applied here, as well. Shop the produce section veggie chipsand/or frozen section in your grocery store. Don’t be fooled by vegetable chips, vegetable breads, etc. If it’s a vegetable – one should expect it to decay within a week or so! If you put a zucchini in a bag and kept it in your pantry for a few months – it simply would rot! Therefore, when buying zucchini chips, for example, allow COMMON SENSE to trump wishful thinking.  They obviously did something to the zucchini in order for this phenomenon to occur – used parts of it (not the whole food), processed it, dried it (taking out crucial enzymes), and probably added preservatives and other non-food ingredients. Thus, we would consider this in the processed food category, as well. Albeit a healthier processed foods than say – SODA.   

Moving on…

Beans, Nuts and Seeds are also easy to recognize in their whole food state. Best choices are raw nuts and seeds, dried beans, frozen beans, or organic canned beans.   

Grains are one of the most difficult food groups to speak of.  We can, however, apply the exact same grainswisdom from the above examples. The idea is eating whole grains rather than products made from whole grains. A true whole grain, for example, follows this rather simple equation – one part grain, two parts water, boil, simmer and PRESTO – a whole grain dish such as wild rice, buckwheat, etc.
Breads, pastas, bagels, pita, etc. are ALL products that are made from whole grains. Remember, “MADE FROM WHOLE GRAINS” is not the same as, “A WHOLE GRAIN.” Through the act of processing a grain – the embryo (where the vitamins and minerals are stored) and the bran (the protective coating that gives us our fiber) is disrupted. What we produce is a spectrum of pseudo grains with increasing concentrations of pro-inflammatory concentrated sugars. On one side of the continuum we have white flour (mass annihilation of the embryo and grain with huge concentrations of sugar), then possibly a product like wonder bread and instant oatmeal (moderate annihilation of the embryo and bran) and on the other end of the spectrum are products such as Ezekiel bread (less annihilation of the embryo and bran). To be clear, all the products that lie on this continuum are, for example, once or twice removed (i.e. Ezekiel bread) or eight, nine, ten times removed (wonder bread and white flour) from the actual unadulterated grain. Therefore, we will put ALL these products in the processed foods category. Remember, there are bad (white flour), good, better (Ezekiel bread) and best products within this so called processed food group.

Saving the best for last – ANIMAL PRODUCTS.

If you are a paleo foody, we mustn’t ignore the fact that 99% of ALL animal products come from factory farmslaboratories, CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), factory farms, and the like. This is not a PALEO WHOLE FOOD! So for starters, 99% of all animal products sold in the US are, in fact, another type of processed food. This one takes the form of decaying flesh and animal secretions whereby the animals were fed grains (mostly GMOs), and injected with antibiotics, growth hormones, etc. and treated in concentration camps as nothing more than food products with total disregard to their sentience, desires, wants, and needs.  

What about the other 1% of animal products left? The ones from the “good” farms? Arguments here are plentiful and include:
- Animal agriculture is linked to environmental destruction
- Increased longevity (years here on earth) are found within individuals and groups enjoying a whole foods plant-based diet  
- Decreased aging (quality of life) are found within individuals and groups enjoying a whole foods plant-based diet
- Animal consumption is elitist. Using a current political analogy it can be likened to the “Bernie Effect” – whereby only “1/10 of the 1%” so to speak could enjoy such luxuries. In other words, this voracious appetite and means of food production is unsustainable for the 7+ billion people on the planet as it ties up grain (that could be used to feed starving people) and would use up enormous land acreage (to produce the idyllic conditions for “humane” treatment of animals).
- All ESSENTIAL nutrients come from plants (except for b12 and vitamin D, which respectively come from bacteria and the sun)

But the real kicker is that we only eat animal products because of WANT rather than NEED. And an even more profound pondering is that we live in the 21st century and are evolving. Evolution can simply be defined as “change over time” and involves a form of transcendence in much the same way that molecules have transcended and included atoms. And cells have transcended and included atoms and molecules. It’s a never-ending process of increasing complexity, depth, and inclusion. So the real question is – do we have a right to USE animals simply for taste and pleasure and continue the immoral practices of animal agriculture (the 99% of animal products currently being “made”)? Or do we allow a small segment of the elite class the ability to eat “idyllically” produced expensive “free-ranged” meats, fish and dairy (whereby using up enormous land acreage and tying up grains)? Are we evolving? Or going through a form of devolution?

So back to the original premise – how many diets are there really? One or two? You decide!

To start with – we would begin with a whole food diet thereby immediately eliminating processed foods along with 99% of the animal products currently being “served” (due to the fact they come from laboratories or factory farms and should be considered Frankenstein-like processed foods). Thus, we have a whole foods diet – one with complete reliance on plant-based nutrition or one that includes the 1% of “idyllically raised flesh and secretions. That’s it!

The idea is to look at your plate (or before you put it in a blender, soup, etc.) and simply have FOOD GROUPS that stare back at you and can be recognized.

Regardless of what side of the fence you fall on – we all, of course, need to make individual choices that resonate with our individual spirit and the spirit of Mother Nature. We need to take into account the fact that we live in the 21st century and in a not so distant future have to look back and say whether we stood on the “right” or “wrong” side of protecting our children’s inheritance, environment, and the animals without voices.