Mia Clase and Lina Nertby Aurell: “Focus on what to eat, rather than what to exclude”
We’ve asked some of our favorite foodies to answer 10 questions about clean, green and healthy eating. This time we pick the brains of Mia Clase and Lina Nertby Aurell, authors of the Food Pharmacy books and blog.
What’s your food philosophy?
– Focus on what to eat, rather than what to exclude. We normally consider ourselves “nutrient hunters”. We have discovered that if you think about food as fuel for the body and make sure to replenish it with as many nutrients as possible each day, in the end there’s no room left for “stomach fillers”.
How much effort do you put into making greener choices in your everyday life?
– A lot, especially since part of our job is to educate people about healthy—and environmentally friendly—eating habits. For environmental reasons, a lot of people should decrease their intake of meat.
– Worldwide meat consumption has tripled over the past forty years. Even countries like India and China, where people traditionally ate very little meat, are starting to copy our western meat-and-dairy-centric dietary habits. Keep in mind that meat consumption alone is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases, which in its turn is one of the biggest threats to our existence here on Earth.
– From a short-term intestinal flora point of view: no, you don’t have to become a vegan. But if most of us don’t decrease our intake of meat, our world will not survive, and our intestinal flora will go down along with it.
What are the benefits of skipping meat and going plant based?
– For both environmental and health reasons, we eat a primarily plant-based diet, but we haven’t given up meat altogether. From our intestinal flora’s perspective, as well as from our dear Professor Stig Bengmark’s, it’s perfectly fine to eat up to 33 lb (15 kg) of meat per year (about 10.5 oz or 300 g per week).
– So, it’s not necessary to be a vegan, and it’s important to know that being vegan is not automatically the same as being healthy. A vegan who only have processed food, pizza, bread, sugar and pasta is far more unhealthy than a person whose meals are primarily based on vegetables but have small portions of good meat every now and then.
– Scientific proof that your general health will be improved by abstaining from eating meat entirely just isn’t in yet. However, there are many things to take into consideration—like what the animals are being fed, how the meat is cooked, how much of it we consume, and so on—but enjoying meat in limited quantities doesn’t seem to be harmful. In large quantities, however, meat will give the bad bacteria in your body plenty of ammunition.
What’s your current “food obsession”?
– Jerusalem artichoke—in smoothies! It’s a great source of fiber.
“For both environmental and health reasons, we eat a primarily plant-based diet, but we haven’t given up meat altogether.”
How do you feel about detoxing?
– Detox can mean a lot of different things for different people. We maximize the benefits of the everyday detox that our bodies go through naturally, after the last meal of the day to the first meal the day after. During this period the organs rest, and the body is having a natural detox.
– Every time we put something in our moths our organs immediately start working. Studies have shown that if we stretch the time between the last meal and first meal the day after, we encounter a lot of health benefits. Before we knew about this, eating was the first thing we did when we woke up in the morning, and the last thing we did in the night before brushing our teeth and going to bed.
– Today, we maximize the natural detox process of our bodies by simply lengthening the number of hours we’re not eating. Practically this means we have our first meal at around 11 a.m. and the last one around 6-7 p.m. We live like this 3-4 times a week, when we’re not invited to dinner or breakfast with friends.
What are the biggest food/health myths that you’d like to bust once and for all?
– Let’s clear up three myths about being a vegan: That you won’t get enough protein, that you won’t get enough iron, and that you won’t get enough calcium. First, you don’t have to worry about not getting enough protein if you, for example, eat a large salad that includes lots of leafy greens, nuts, buckwheat, and legumes. Ok, it’s true that vegans and vegetarians tend to suffer from iron deficiency in larger numbers than omnivores, but if you’re aware of this, it’s easy to fulfill your requirement for iron even with a vegan diet. It’s fortunate that many protein-rich vegetables are also rich in iron.
– And what about the calcium? Eh, hello! Milk lobbies in for example America and Sweden are very strong, and that’s why studies listing the health-giving properties of milk are given more airtime than those suggesting that a high intake of milk might not be all that great for us. It’s been drilled into us since childhood that milk gives us strong bones, but in all honesty it’s been a long time since milk was the best source of calcium available to us. Even though Americans and Swedes are some of the biggest consumers of milk in the world, they also suffer some of the highest rates of bone fractures. Recent scientific research even links higher risk of fractures to drinking milk.
What was your most recent “aha moment” when it comes to sustainability?
– When we realized that we could eat the entire vegetable, and the entire fruit—core and all. It’s not only good for the environment, but also for the health. There’s no waste, and you’ll get a lot more vitamins in you.
What do you make/eat to really treat yourself?
What are your favorite health improving ingredients/foods of the moment?
What’s your recipe for a healthy, happy life?
– “Clean eating”. Clean eating implies that the food is intact and not processed. Then all prefab, candy and not good foods disappear from the shopping list automatically. If you don’t only want to eat raw food (we don’t) it’s important to process the food with care, meaning you heat it for a longer time, on low temperature. There are actually not so many things you have to take into account, as long as you keep in mind that food should be clean and simple. And, last but not least: enjoy yourself, and don’t be too hard on yourself. That’s the most important thing.
Food pics from the new Food Pharmacy Cookbook, photographed by Ulrika Ekblom.
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