A little bit about me:
I’ve always been active in sports and fascinated by the fact that some people seem indestructible and others chronically prone to injuries. Only when I relocated to Hawaii, the state with the longest lifespan in the US, did I realize that I was immersed in a culture of amazingly healthy people who could teach me the secrets of what I’ve come to call “genetic wealth.”
Common External Signs of Genetic Wealth (Men and Women)
- Strong joints
- No grey hair by age 50
- Strong nails
- Limbs proportioned according to the Golden Ratio
- Long nose, high cheekbones, full lips, and strong jaw
Many of my patients were employed at the Hawaiian resorts. Mostly women, in their 50s and 60s, they worked all day long lifting, scrubbing, bending, reaching, and then when they got home they kept on going, making dinner for their husbands or chasing after their grandchildren. They had beautiful skin, supple joints, and few if any grey hairs. Every last one had grown up in a rural area where they were raised as their parents and grandparents had been, on home-grown fresh foods prepared according to simple traditional culinary techniques.
But…Traditional food is not what organized medicine says it is.
Everything I learned about diet from the medical establishment was turned on its head by my experience in Hawaii. Animals are actually easier to raise than vegetables, requiring only pastureland and water, and so many of my patients also raised their own goats, pigs, and chickens, and caught fish. I realized I was seeing firsthand the kinds of practical food-gathering, storing, and cooking solutions that our ancestors used throughout history; I was learning the foods that made us human.
Over the years I spent in Hawaii, I studied culinary traditions practiced by my patients, and found a world of delicious food and incredible sources of nutrients that is hidden from most Americans. Luke and I wrote Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food to begin to draw the connections we both had learned to recognize between food and beauty and genes and health.
All traditional diets are composed of TWO distinct and essential elements, which the Paleo Diet also incorporates. These elements united the people who invented/perfected/depended on them to the land they lived in, and to each other as well as to their own heritage. They are:
- Paying attention to source. This includes the quality of the soil and the health of the lake/oceans etc, as well as seasonality.
- Paying attention to the culinary practices handed down over generations that enabled people to maximize the resources of their region.
While in Hawaii, my patients (from all over the world) taught me me that no matter what climate they were born in or what their landscape provided, they all did the same four things, which we call The Four Pillars of World Cuisine.
I support the PaleoDiet (as defined by Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson) because, while not strictly a traditional cuisine, it has evolved into its own kind of culture. “Modern Paleo” now represents a well-defined, practical fusion of traditional techniques and ingredients and is an easy to understand diet option I use to help people recovering from a variety of chronic diseases.
Catherine Shanahan, MD
Queen of the Valley Medical Associates
Telephone: (707) 251-3681
Family Health and Wellness Center
980 Trancas Street
Napa, CA 94558
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