Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Tarahmura Miracle Diet: Secrets of a Noncancerous Culture

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
In yesterday's blog I reviewed the Tarahumara's running secret: Bare Foot Running, and how we can follow in their footsteps. Today I'm going to focus on the diet of this noncancerous culture as described in Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run.

The Tarahumara eating plan is really quite simple.  Lunch and dinner is based upon fruit, beans, yams, whole grains, and vegetables and breakfast is often a salad. You may be thinking "Where's the meat?" and rightfully so....we all know how all-important protein is to muscle recovery, especially for athletes. Have you ever heard of pinole? According to Wiki, "Pinole is a Mexican Spanish word for a coarse flour made from ground toasted maize (corn) kernels, often in a mixture with a variety of herbs and ground seeds, which can be eaten by itself or be used as the base for a beverage." It also happens to be a staple of the Tarahumara diet, as well as, "an incomplete protein, but combined with beans, it is more nutritious than a T-bone steak." Well how about that! I always knew that Mexican food was healthy for me (and I should eat it for every meal, haha). Furthermore, you won't see these mighty runners fly by with a power protein bar in hand or guzzling Gatorade, but you will catch them taking swigs from their pinole jugs. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition the Tarahumara diet exceeds the UN recommended daily protein intake by more than 50%!

Apparently, phenols (natural plant chemicals that combat disease and boost the immune system) are one of the key weapons in the Tarahumara disease fighting artillery. "When Cornell University researchers did a comparison analysis of wheat, oat, corn, and rice to which had the highest quantity of phenols, corn was the hands down winner. And because it's low-fat, whole-grain food, pinole can slash your risk of diabetes and a host of digestive-system cancers - in fact all cancers!" How??? "According to Dr. Robert Weinberg, a professor of cancer research at MIT, and discoverer of the first tumor-suppressor gene, one in every seven cancer deaths is caused by excess body fat. The math is stark: cut the fat, and cut your cancer risk. Change your lifestyle, and you can reduce your risk of cancer by 60-70%." And if that's not convincing enough, when the American Cancer Society compared lean and heavy people in 2003, heavier men and women were far more likely to die from at least ten different kinds of cancer. SCARY! the facts, but how do we apply it??? How do we go cancer-free the Tarahumara way?
Step 1: Eat less.
Step 2: Eat better. 

The first is pretty self-explanatory. The second comes with some guidance. "Dr. Weinberg says we need to build our diets around fruit and vegetables instead of red meat and processed carbs. The most compelling evidence comes from watching cancer cells fight for their own survival: when cancer tumors are removed by surgery, they are 300% more likely to grow back in patients with a 'traditional Western diet' than they are in patients who eat lots of fruit and veggies, according to a 2007 report by The Journal of the American Medical Association. Why? Because stray cells left behind after surgery seem to be stimulated by animal proteins. Remove those from your diet, and those tumors may never appear in the first place." 

That's a pretty convincing statistic! By no means am I trying to push a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle of which I don't even adhere. Just sharing the facts. However, it does make me stop and think now when I choose to eat meat and animal products, and I've started limiting meat in my diet to only a few days a week. Lucky for me, my fave food happens to be Mexican (thank you Lord) so going sans meat usually isn't too tough here in ATX! I am a sucker for falling-off-the-bone BBQ, though so it's just become a less regular indulgence. :)

In the past year I've also made a concerted effort to get more "phenols" by the way of adding more fruits and vegetables to my diet. If you're like me, you may find it hard to get the recommended 7-13 servings, buying produce with great intentions only to have it rot in the fridge days later. My solution: Juice Plus+! It's a totally organic, natural way to get a variety of 17 fruits and veggies in your diet daily in a convenient, portable capsule or gummie! I still try and eat as many fruits and veggies as possible (ate a whole cantaloupe by myself in the past 2 days, lol), but know that my body will run best and regenerate best with more than I can do on my own!

So, here's to keeping it simple...the Tarahumara way!



Okuma said...

The link between weight loss and tea antioxidants becomes even stronger when combined with a healthy diet and exercise.

Anonymous said...

Check out the upcoming documentary that touches on these topics of diet, barefoot running and resistance to diseases: