Leading guidelines for an optimal diet

How do you define an optimal diet? A diet that increases well-being and longevity. Are there objectively measureable nutrients which you should look out for? Calories, Micro-nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants etc. are all things we can measure today in a food. But there are big differences between what we can measure in the lab and what ultimately happens in the human body.

Dark and intense colors are an indicator of antioxidants

I recommend to trust our senses in choosing between different options of natural food sources. It is best to go for the vegetables with the brightest and most intense colors, the most complex flavors and the greatest aromas. Going this route will lead us away from animal foods and towards a variety of wild plant foods. Wild edible greens, flowers, fruits and berries provide the greatest amount of beneficial micronutrients. Our domesticated vegetables on the other hand maximize calories and weight over flavor and nutrition. Because that is what you usually pay for at the grocery store.
So the best solution would be in my opinion to collect most of your green vegetables and salads directly in nature and add in more calorically dense foods like nuts, seeds and root vegetables from the store. Get yourself a comprehensive guidebook which you can take with you when you go out collecting edible plants. I can recommend this one in german language.

One of my favorite meals is the following green super-food smoothie:

  • Wild edible greens               100-300g
  • Frozen spinach                     100gr
  • Spirulina                               10gr
  • Wheatgrass powder              10gr
  • Cacao powder                      5gr
  • Flaxseeds                             10gr
  • Nuts or seeds                        20gr
  • Banana                                 100gr
  • Dates                                    15gr
  • Stevia                                   1 tablet or drop
  •  Lemon (with peel!)              1 slice
  • Ginger                                  10gr
  • Beet juice                             100ml

I recommend blending the greens first, with as little water as possible. Later add the powders, flaxseeds and fruits and blend a second time. (In a high speed blend I blend for 30 seconds twice.) That way you are not left with any big chunks of the tougher leaves.
In this way you will maximize your nutrition while reducing your grocery bill. Because if you wanted to buy the same amount of nutrition from the store you would have to buy much larger quantities of the vegetables that usually sells there. But you can also find exceptions like kale, red cabbage, some broccoli-types and spinach.
You can also start to grow your own highly flavorful vegetables. Try out some different herbs in the smoothies or salads and you will discover that they greatly increase the variety of flavors.
If you want dive deeper into the topic of optimal nutrition for longevity, I recommend the book “How not to die”. There you will find the scientific background on which to decide what food are healthy and nutritious and which are not. I would like to point out though that these studies usually focused on foods that are available at grocery stores. So you will not find many nutritional studies on wild edible plants in that book as well. But I guess it is save to estimate that many wild plants have similar nutritional density to the commonly consumed herbs like rosemary, oregano, marjoram, peppermint or berries like goji, acai and amla. As these foods have the highest concentration of antioxidants, we can assume that highly flavorful wild plants have similar properties.

Why strive for such a diet?
Increasing the nutritional density of your diet will make you feel energized and all around better. Your mental and physical capabilities are certain to increase. As a reader of this blog I guess you are interested in achieving higher spiritual and personal goals, you are generally interested in learning and improving your life. This is a great challenge besides the daily hassles and duties you likely have to fulfill. Therefore it is wise to fuel your mind and body only with the greatest fuel available.

Only then can you truly maximize your potential. You will feel the effects on your mood - you are able to treat the people around you in a nicer, calmer and more understanding way. That’s when you can really appreciate and see the effects of a highly nutritious diet. You can design a diet that is so off the chart amazing and nutritious that you will feel so alive it is incomparable to any standard modern diet. Once you have experienced the effects of such excellent nutrition, there will be no chance you want to go back to eating processed food. It will instantly increase your capacity to practice things like all day awareness, mindfulness, meditation and concentration. Eating becomes one more aspect of your life where you act with full presence and mindfulness. While eating the most nutritious and flavorful foods it is impossible not so savor and mindfully appreciate every bite. Your taste preferences will change within the first two weeks and afterwards you will like natural levels of sweetness and bitter tastes.

Our modern health challenges show us clearly three things. We are not adapted to calorically dense food because we can become overweight, which has health consequences. We develop inflammatory diseases, which develop because of a nutrient and antioxidant poor diet. And lastly we are not adapted to properly judge our caloric requirements in a sedentary environment. We were used to get a lot more daily exercise.

Two ratios are out of balance:

  • caloric intake and caloric expenditure
  • micro-nutrient intake to micro-nutrient requirement

What role do animal product play in a diet focused on high nutrient density

The most basic problem with animal products in that scenario is the relatively low concentration of secondary micro-nutrients and especially antioxidants in combination with a high concentration of calories and protein. Those circumstances make it really difficult to argue for the inclusion of animal foods. To the contrary certain amino-acid (like Methionine and Leucine) and fatty acids and cholesterol are likely to have negative health implications. The opinions, whether such nutrients are good or bad for our health, diverge. So it would be saver to eat the foods where there is no such consensus among scientists. And those are antioxidant rich plant foods. There is no consensus about whether such foods are healthy or not. The more antioxidants a natural food contains the better it is for our health in general. This goes even so far that a variety of plant foods are so rich in antioxidants that they have historically been used as medicine. An example is the indian gooseberry called amla. It is most antioxidant rich plant food discovered so far and has a long history of medicinal use for a great variety of ailments.

Animal foods can certainly have a place in a healthy diet. But in a very limited quantity and they must come from the cleanest sources. Because toxins accumulate upwards throughout the food-chain.