In 1982 Kerin O’dea, an Australian nutritional researcher, had an idea. She wanted to prove that indigenous Australians plagued by diabetes could potentially reverse this disease if they were taken way out into the outback of Australia, replicating how people lived, hunted and ate prior to westernization and the availability of processed foods. Lucky for her, she was able to find ten volunteers, so off they went.
For 7 weeks the researchers tracked every morsel of food that they ate and drank, which predominantly included wild game (crocodile, turtle, fish, shellfish, wild birds) and a few sources of carbohydrates like yams, figs and wild honey.
The % of carbs-to-fat-to-protein was something like:
8-33% Carbohydrates – 13% Fat – 64% Protein
So what do you think happened? According to the study, participants lost an average of 18lbs and markers for diabetes we’re significantly reduced, and sometimes reversed. (For a detailed study on the experiment click here )
Similarly, in another fascinating study, Hawaiian Doctor Terry Shatani wanted to help his fellow Hawaiians, whose population of diabetics is a whopping 65%. He conducted an experiment in which he got several Hawaiians on a traditional Hawaiian diet. This diet included a lot of green leafy vegetables, some fruits, seaweed, nuts, taro, yams, breadfruit (kind of like a potato but it grows on trees), fish and some chicken. Participants were encouraged to eat until satiety, as long is it was from traditional food sources.
The % of carbs to fat to protein was something equivalent to:
80% Carbohydrates – 10% Fat – 14% Protein
After 3 weeks on this traditional Hawaiian diet – which consisted predominantly of “whole carbohydrate rich foods”, participants lost close to 17lbs! And of course, markers for diabetes were significantly reduced, and reversed in some cases. Amazingly, they ate more volume of food than their previous diets, but close to 1000 calories less. (For a more detailed understating of this experiment click here)
So two studies, and two very different ratios of carbs and protein. What’s the conclusion? I believe that it’s crucially important to get back to your roots – figuratively and literally – and to eat whole foods that are readily available in your environment, in season and rich in nutrients. Stay away from processed foods high in sugar, trans fats and ingredients that you can’t pronounce (usually preservatives and sugar in disguise).