The term natural diet can lend itself to a range of meanings depending on who you ask, but one thing everyone can probably agree on is that a natural diet must promote good health, help to avoid disease, and be devoid of highly processed foods.
Some nutritionists believe that the paleo diet (also known as the caveman diet), which supports the consumption of wild edibles and naturally available animal products, is the most natural kind of diet in the world of dieting, because it’s based on what we think humans have been eating for thousands of years, before we had agriculture and farming. Yes, even grains, beans and legumes are often dismissed as a valid dietary choice.
Proponents of the paleo diet compare early human foraging behavior to that of other primates, and argue that humans are adapted to omnivory eating, much like their closest living relatives. Surprisingly, many paleo dieters are vegetarian and do not necessarily recommend the consumption of meat. Why is this? Because early humans relied mostly on wild animals and animal products, not industrially produced meats, which are often riddled with chemicals, and give rise to social and environmental concerns, alongside animal cruelty ethical issues.
Vegans have argued that meat and animal products are not naturally suited for the human diet, with fruits, roots and the fleshy parts of vegetables appearing to be the natural food of man. Others think that consuming organically grown foods (that is foods free from pesticides, chemical fertilizers and genetic engineering) is the healthiest way to eat because we’d consume only what nature intended us to. And yet another category of people believe in eating simple foods, with minimum or no cooking and processing involved.
An interesting bit of food for thought (pun intended) is that diets are rarely universal. This means that what may work for some could go terribly wrong for others. While general advice, like eating more fruits and vegetables and less red meat, stands true for most people, metabolic rates and health histories vary from person to person, and that influences our nutritional needs. Humans also have varying dietary needs at different stages of life, so what may be good for an adult may not be fitting for a child.
Sadly, searching for the most natural diet can be a slippery slope into frustration, simply because truly natural foods are hard to find, and may not be feasible options for many of us.