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    catdance62's Avatar
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    corn beans rice

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    Ok, I might have asked a similar question to this before, so bear with me if I am repeating myself.
    I travel to, and live in, Central America part of the year. For the people of the Central America, rice and beans
    are staples because they are cheap and filling. The Maya of Belize (where I live part of the year) raise corn and consume it in several forms, (most notably in tortillas) although flour tortillas are consumed with many meals. Meat (except for chicken) is an expensive commodity, usually reserved for special occasions and holidays. All that said, these people are remarkably fit and healthy. I see wizened old men walking to the milpa, swinging a machete all day. I see workers of all sorts working hard and women doing laundry in the river, tending the household etc, all in decent shape (although Mayan women have a tendency to get round after the children are born). Their diet of what primal eaters eschew seems to not affect them in the least; many of them live to be quite old. Is it the amount of exercise and activity that helps them? This is the only thing I can think of, offhand.

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    Graycat's Avatar
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    Wish I had the answer for you. Maybe their crops are not GMO-ed to oblivion like ours are...

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    I don't really have a scientific explanation for how some cultures are able to eat so many grains and legumes while maintaining a lean body. However, I don't think that just because they eat a lot of beans and rice, they are unhealthy individuals plagued with inflammation issues. I know that Mark did a post on how Asians can eat so much rice and still remain in good shape. I haven't read this post, but if you search for it and read it then some of the same things might apply to the people of Central America.

    While eating a diet that includes mostly beans and rice may not be "perfect", I think it may still be healthier than what the average American eats.

    Again, I have no scientific answer. This is just my opinion.

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    There is nothing inherently wrong with a diet high in beans, rice and corn as long as the overall intake is externally controlled (maya do not have access to infinite amount of foods), no crap foods are present, and people are living outdoors, moving continuously. Carbohydrate diets high in processed foods, refined sugar and crazy fats and chemicals, available in unlimited quantities, cheap compared to income with no movement and outdoors exposures is what causes obesity and disease in the States.
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    Corn, beans, and rice are eschewed by Primals because they do have digestive irritants (e.g., lectins), although none of these appears to be as pervasively irritating as modern wheat, and because their nutrients are often rendered useless by "antinutrients" (e.g., phytic acid). Additionally, the SAD consists of an overload of refined carbohydrates (sodas, cookies, crackers, breads, cereals, pastas, ad nauseam), and corn, beans, and rice in addition to those items skews the carbohydrate overload (and resultant insulin resistance issues) even further.

    However, indigenous cultures do not follow the SAD or the American lifestyle. You've noted the physical nature of old men walking, people doing physical work, women laundering in the river rather than relying on machines. All this is very Primal, and it counters the scant possibility of excess dietary carbohydrate. I say the scant possibility because even with consumption of fruit or other dietary carbs, it's very, very unlikely that the average indigenous person is eating even close to the American pig-out amounts.

    Furthermore, there are qualitative differences in the corn, beans, and rice as well. The corn is likely treated with lye, the beans soaked to reduce phytic acid. The corn is likely a traditonal cultivar, rather than the super-GMO-starch bombs in the US. Rice is considered by many in Primal/paleo and related movements to be a "safe starch" with little negative effect (see The Perfect Health Diet). Cooking is done with traditional fats (lard, chicken fat), and not industrial oils. In fact, Primal is as much about what is removed from the SAD as what is added: removing industrial seed oils and sugar are a huge part of that, so much so that individuals who can tolerate the digestive issues with grains can cheat with them on their "20%", but the issues associated with industrial oils and sugar are IMO much more damaging cheats.

    Traditional diets and traditional lifestyles may at times incorporate elements of diet that the PB does not embrace, but they may work perfectly well for those populations, which is why it's good to remember that "one size fits all" isn't necessarily true.

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    ...and the level and kind of fats in their diets?
    ...are they eating eggs? Are they pastured eggs?
    ...and the amount of sugar they eat?

    Edit: writing while FWake was posting - ^ what FW said.
    Last edited by jojohaligo; 08-15-2012 at 10:43 AM.
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    Yes, I think the common thread linking the customary diets of all "healthier" populations is actually the low intake of refined sugar.

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    I thought the traditional trifecta was corn, beans and SQUASH. So even their diet has devolved from a more nutritious past. And I'm sorry but I wouldn't want to become one of those rounded older women. I'm rounded enough, thankyouverymuch.
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    I've spent my fare share of time in Central America/Nicaragua and noticed the same thing. By and large, they are rather trim down there. Like when you look at old pictures of the way people were built in the US in the 50s. In Central America, it's true the bulk of their diets are corn/rice/beans, but also quite fair bit of commercial junk food/soda/alcohol. And yes, the financial situation necessitates a lot more physical labor, hence they are more fit. Having been down there a lot, I will say that even though they are mostly trim, there is a high amount of diabetes down there, they love sugar. So looks may be deceiving is basically what I'm saying here, lol.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theresa92 View Post
    I don't really have a scientific explanation for how some cultures are able to eat so many grains and legumes while maintaining a lean body. However, I don't think that just because they eat a lot of beans and rice, they are unhealthy individuals plagued with inflammation issues. I know that Mark did a post on how Asians can eat so much rice and still remain in good shape. I haven't read this post, but if you search for it and read it then some of the same things might apply to the people of Central America.

    While eating a diet that includes mostly beans and rice may not be "perfect", I think it may still be healthier than what the average American eats.

    Again, I have no scientific answer. This is just my opinion.
    Most cultures that eat a lot of beans and grains (high carb) are low fat (low animal products). That is simply how they stay lean they are not eating much fat to result in fat storage. Look at the runners at the Olympics from Africa, etc and read their diet it is typically low fat.

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