Disease Proof

Listen to Your Variety Driver

What’s a variety driver? Good question. In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman explains it’s just one of those things that go along with having a big brain. I’ll let him explain further:
All primates, including humans, are driven to consume food from a variety of categories. Contrary to popular belief, a monkey does not sit under a banana tree eating bananas all day. He eats bananas and then may travel half a mile away to find a different type of food. He has an innate drive to consume variety; just satisfying the caloric drive is not enough. So as a higher-order animal with a bigger brain, we search for a variety of nutrient sources, and this variety assures that we get the broad assortment of nutrients that increases our immune function and longevity potential. I call this desire for different foods our variety driver.
Despite this innate human characteristic it seems many humans still can’t wrap their heads—or, more appropriately, their bigger brains—around proper nutrition. More from Disease-Proof Your Child:
Humans suffer greatly from misunderstanding what our nutritional requirements are. We have evolved to a level of economic sophistication that allows us to eat ourselves to death. A diet centered on milk, cheese, pasta, bread, and sugar-filled snacks and drinks lays the groundwork for cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, and autoimmune illnesses to develop later in life. It is not merely that sugar, other sweets, white flour, cheese, and butter are harmful; it is also what we are not eating that is causing the problem.


When you calculate all the calories consumed from the typical foods most children in America eat, you find that the calories coming from natural foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, raw nuts, and seeds is less than 5 percent of their total caloric intake. This dangerously low intake of unrefined plant food guarantees weakened immunity to disease, frequent illnesses, and a shorter lifespan.
I think this article by Julia Moskin of The New York Times harks at the variety driver concept and how it might inform your Thanksgiving. Disheartened by the typical shades of brown and mushy texture of the usual Thanksgiving feast, Julia petitioned to add a little snap of color to the meal. She might be onto something here:
I began experimenting with fresh herbs and citrus zests, bitter greens and whole spices, garlic, ginger and vinegars. Without wandering too far from tradition and into the realm of broccoli rabe and bok choy, I found that pairing those aromatics with crisp autumn vegetables like brussels sprouts, cabbage, greens and green beans led to combinations perfectly at home on the Thanksgiving table.


Pink rings of quick-pickled onions landed on top of slightly bitter Swiss chard, a shower of lemon zest on a fast sauté of brussels sprouts, and earthy, sharp cumin seeds on a tangle of wilted cabbage and onions. Radishes, usually relegated to the relish tray, showed off their sharpness and color in a quick braise with butter.
Okay, I’m not digging the butter, but she’s certainly on the right track. Every Thanksgiving table I’ve ever sat down at was bustling with melted butter amalgams, creamy sauces, and sausage-based stuffing. I think some crisp veggies would be a nice departure from these standard American mainstays. And, it'd probably gel nicely with our bigger-brain instincts. What do you think?
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