Last Updated on April 9, 2013 by Jimson Lee
If you want to see my training routine for my six-pack abs (yes, I really do have a six-pack at age 45), I’ll bring you to a shopping trip for food and groceries rather than bring you to the gym.
I recall an interview with 1964 Olympic 10K winner Billy Mills where he discussed his eating habits. I hate the term “diet”.
Mills came from a First Nation heritage, and I liked his approach to choosing the right foods.
His secret was eating foods that contained the colors red, green, brown, yellow, and white. As well, he chose foods coming from the air, water, and ground.
On a 4 day cycle, he would eat from the 3 different “dead” groups, and every fourth day was vegetarian. He classified air, water, and ground as “dead” foods which can be anywhere from goose (air), beef, chicken or turkey (ground) and fish (water).
For fruits and vegetables, he would eat from all 5 colours: fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes
You can take this one step further and choose those foods in order of preference. Below are some examples, and their justifications. I won’t go into the organic vs. non-organic choices, as you can read prior articles on this Blog.
Bell Peppers: Red vs. Green, Orange or Yellow
A red bell pepper is simply a fully grown green bell pepper. The nutritional difference is the same, but red peppers has a slight advantage.
Red bell peppers contains lycopene, an antioxidant known for maintaining prostate health. Red peppers also contain beta-cryptoxanthin, a carotenoid that may lower the risk of developing lung cancer.
Choose Organic Red bell peppers. Read the Top 43 List of Foods Ranked by Pesticide Loads.
Grapes: Red or Purple vs. Green
Choose red or purple. The darker skin contains resveratrol, a phytochemical that prevents blood clotting and other medicinal factors. Resveratrol is also common in red wine and nuts – which I’ll save for another article.
So at your next cocktail party, tell them SpeedEndurance says to choose red wine and nuts!
Eggs: Brown vs White
Choose any color. Shell color depends on the specific breed of hen. There is no difference between the nutrition in brown eggs vs white eggs.
But if you do choose eggs, look for eggs that are omega-3-fortified, as these eggs contain 20 percent less cholesterol. The effects of Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation are well documented on this Blog, so increasing it in your diet won’t hurt either.
Bread: Brown vs White
First of all, don’t assume brown bread is whole wheat bread. Brown bread can be white bread with molasses.
Instead, choose whole-grain breads over brown or white bread. To hear more about the effects of white flour and white sugar, read Raymond Francis’ podcast or book Never Be Sick Again: Health is a Choice, Learn How to Choose It.
Rice: Brown vs. White
I’m Asian, so I’m an expert at this topic. DISCLAIMER: I ate white rice every day growing up, and I’m fairly healthy with 10% body fat.
White rice has been processed and stripped of its natural vitamins and fiber, but if it came down to a dinner at A&W over a home cooked meal with white rice, meat and veggies, guess what I’m going to choose?
There’s a lot of research that shows diets containing whole grains and brown rice may help to lower the risk of gastrointestinal cancers and “hormone-dependent” cancers such as breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer.
But if you know someone with gastrointestinal problems, white Basmati rice has been reported to be an easier rice to digest.
What Color Is Your Diet?: The 7 Colors of Health
What Color Is Your Diet? by David Heber was published in 2001 and you can easily buy the book used for under 3 bucks.
David Heber is a MD and Ph.D and the director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. He has coded plant foods into seven colors, all of which have different health-protecting qualities:
red, red-purple, orange, orange-yellow, yellow-green, green, and white-green.
Most Americans eat far too few foods with any color in them. Instead, we tend to eat a high-fat, highly processed “beige diet” full of snack foods and refined grains (i.e. bread, cake, pastries) that don’t fit the requirements of our genes. The typical American diet features the brown and beige colors of meat and starches with fruits and vegetables often nowhere in sight.
So it looks like the First Nation people had the trick to good health and longevity long before Ph.D science.