We all want to live long and healthy lives but, if you are like me, the wealth of information out there as to what actually constitutes a healthy optimum diet can feel overwhelming! In the last few years,whilst pursuing a diet to optimise fertility, I discovered that interest in a raw food way of eating had blossomed and was becoming an increasingly more popular choice amongst nutritionist and optimum health and longevity seekers.
Whilst agreeing that including lots of raw/ living foods into our diet is the best way forward, I also became aware that all of the long living cultures in the world do include cooked food in their diet as well. I want to eat healthily and well but I do want some flexibility to include and enjoy cooked foods and various cuisines. I don't want it to be about strict denial nor becoming obsessive.
So what are the simple rules about diet which experts agree on and which all longer living communities throughout the world (who often eat different foods because of whats available in their particular environment) share in common.Let me introduce you to our very own long living cousins living on a hyper Mediterranean diet in a village in the mountains of Italy!
Aaaah to sample the local olive oil that 'tastes like the scent of the mountains on a warm summer days - fruity, grassy, perhaps a hint of herbs, strong and distinctive'
So what can we learn from the villagers about the 'Cibo Genuino' genuine food that they prize so highly and their tips for longevity and abundant health and happiness.
- Eat locally grown produce that is organic and in season. The people of Campodimele grow much of their own produce on land that is free from chemicals, harvested at the peak of perfection and eaten in season. They do use preserving techniques to store their produce but living by their rules of Cibo Genuino means that is preserved using natural techniques without chemicals, such as freezing or in olive oil, natural salt etc. They eat their fruits and vegetables raw and cooked but they eat lots of them. So to follow their example eat an abundance of colourful fruits and vegetables. Make these the heart of your diet. Learn to make smoothies and explore the world of juicing. Really enjoy natures abundance but always choose, local organic and in season when you can and if not frozen berries out of season are great for smoothies! Better still learn to grow your own or source a good supplier locally.
- Eat Wild Edibles. The people of Campodimele have a philosophy that the mountain will provide and harvest fresh green edibles all year round. They also include a simple green salad in their diet everyday. Green and most particularly wild greens pack a power punch of nutrition and they are the best secret to great health. Again an easy way to get more of those into your diet is through green smoothies and juices. A wonderful start would be to access the work of Victoria Boutenco and her green smoothie revolution (!) and her son Sergei who is an expert on picking and living on wild green edibles.www.rawfamily.com
- Drink clean mountain water . Difficult to access I know! So when possible choose spring water as much as you can, preferably from organic land in glass bottles unless you can find a local supplier!! I know its expensive but good clean water is absolutely vital to our health.
- Breathe clean air, free of air pollution.Try to get out into nature, into the woods, by the beach, climb some hills and breathe deeply as much as you can right from your belly!
- Eat meat, eggs and dairy that is free range and from lean, healthy animals. The people of Campodimele eat chicken, wild boar and hare that live wild in the mountains and free range oily fish from coastal area nearby. Meat is also limited and lots of legumes are eaten by the locals which are high in protein and low in saturated fat. If you choose to eat meat or fish always choose free range/wild and organic and limit your consumption
- Simplify your life and reduce your stress. Really prioritise whats truly important
- Take lots of physical activity. Walk, cycle, run, swim, skip, dance, play sport, do yoga, just do lots of it particularly outside and enjoy moving your body.
- Find a sense of belonging and community. Cultivate friendships. Build family bonds. Live with passion and purpose. Become part of the community, local and global through others with shared interests.
- Find a sense of spiritual connection. Cultivate inner peace and connectedness in whatever way sings to your soul.
- Recognise your connection to nature Cutivate a respect for the earth, for animals, the seasons and living in harmony with natures rythmes.
That is the simple secret to a healthy happy and active life until very old age Campodimele style.
I raise a glass to that :)