What’s probably the most controversial question in the world of health? I know, good one to launch the blog with!
A few years ago Channel 4 released a documentary called ‘The World’s Best Diet’ . Obviously, I was right there with baited breath waiting to find out. (It was very well done and worth a look if you haven’t seen it – http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-worlds-best-diet)
They looked at lots of different criteria to determine where each country came in the league table, such as life expectancy, obesity levels, levels of diabetes and heart disease, etc. What was fascinating, was that the top 5 were completely different diets.
The chart topper (to everyone’s surprise, I think!) was Iceland, with a diet high in fish, high-quality, grass-fed meat and dairy, and very few vegetables. Second and third were Italy and Greece – your standard Mediterranean diet. Fourth were the Seventh Day Adventist in the USA, who are vegetarian, and Japan was fifth with a diet high in fish and vegetables and no dairy.
So what are we to make of that? The film-makers drew the conclusion that the common denominator that made these diets the healthiest was high-quality and minimally processed foods – local, seasonal and traditionally prepared. That almost always also means low in refined sugars, and high in fibre and good fats.
Good to know that it doesn’t have to be complicated really!