Food House Project™

The Food Growing, Cooking, Preserving & Healing Self-Sufficiency Adventure

Recipe for Great Health: Grow and Forage Your Own Food

Beautiful young woman in denim shirt harvesting pumpkinsThe Food House Project is all about empowering yourself through food self-sufficiency and food independence.  On the most elemental level, it means taking great care of your health.  My husband Curtis and I started this adventure many years ago, trying to become more responsible for our own food every year and not relying on a questionable food supply chain that doesn’t really care if we are healthy or not.

It turns out we are on the right track, according to a recent study of the Tsimane people of the Amazon, arguable the healthiest people on the planet. 

The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that the Tsimane people have been minimally impacted by food trends around the world and buy only a small amount of their food from markets. The researchers also found that they eat a high carbohydrate diet, getting 64 percent of their daily caloric intake from carbohydrates, 21 percent from protein, and a surprisingly low amount of fat with only 15 percent of their intake coming from fats. Carbohydrates form nearly two-thirds of their diet with rice and plantain acting as staples.

Based on their diet, the Tsimane people of the Amazon almost never suffer from heart disease. And, that’s not all: they rarely suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes. These diseases and conditions run rampant in our industrialized societies.

The dietary guidelines for Americans recommend getting 45 to 65 percent of carbs, 10 to 30 percent from protein and 28 to 35 percent from fat. The Tsimane people are on the high side of the carb recommendations, middle of the protein recommendations, and much lower than the fat recommendations, suggesting that the guidelines may need revising in consideration of such profound evidence that the Tsimane diet is superior to just about any diet around the world. Of course, the particular foods they eat should also be considered, since caloric intake only provides a small amount of the picture.

The Tsimane purchase only 8 percent of their food from stores. Additionally, they eat over 40 different species of fish. The researchers also found that, unlike most people of the western world, they suffer from few nutritional deficiencies and have high intakes of magnesium, potassium, and selenium. Considering that the researchers believe the Tsimane have the healthiest hearts of any they’ve seen, it’s not surprising that their diets have high amounts of magnesium and potassium—two critical minerals for heart health and for which many people who eat a Standard American Diet (SAD) are deficient.

The Tsimane eat almost twice as much fiber in their diet as most Americans. While they have traditionally eaten only small amounts of oil, salt, and sugar, pressures from globalization are causing them to start eating more of these less-than-healthy foods. They are also highly active people. While they don’t engage in routine exercise, they remain highly active by growing or foraging foods from fields and forests. Who needs and gym membership or expensive yoga sessions when you can tend a garden or hike through the woods foraging responsibly? These are great ways to stay active and engaged with the food we put into our bodies. Not only is the resulting food typically higher in nutrition, it is also lower in pesticides and other toxic chemicals we shouldn’t be putting into our bodies. It seems that the Tsimane people have figured out how to maintain a healthy heart and body. We could learn a lot from their example.


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