According to family practitioner Dr. Daphne Miller, unlocking the wisdom of centuries-old indigenous foods from around the globe can help prevent the many diseases afflicting modern-day humans. Dr. Oz talks with Dr. Miller about her findings, which she writes about in her book The Jungle Effect: A Doctor Discovers the Healthiest Diets from Around the World—Why They Work and How to Bring Them Home.
Dr. Miller says there’s no single, magical ingredient or food that will stave off illness and help you live longer—rather, it’s the combination of whole, natural foods found among all the indigenous diets she’s studied that, when eaten together, pack a highly nutritional punch. On the Greek island of Crete, for example, Dr. Miller says the combination of foods such as locally produced olive oil, wild greens and whole grain bread has contributed to some of the lowest rates of heart disease anywhere in the world.
Foods raised or grown locally have richer nutrient contents as well, Dr. Miller says. In Iceland, for example, she discovered a food supply rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, found in everything from fish to wild berries to grass-fed sheep. She says these healthy fats have been linked with the Icelandic people’s long life expectancy, as well as significantly lower rates of heart disease, depression and diabetes compared with people in other Western countries.
Dr. Miller says many of the health benefits of traditional diets can be enjoyed right on your own table, beginning with meals prepared at home with local ingredients whenever possible. Choose complex carbohydrates and fermented foods for their probiotic content and eat meat sparingly, she says. And, adopting the right attitude toward food is as important as what you’re eating—Dr. Miller says the healthiest people around the world celebrate food and share meals with loved ones as an almost sacred ritual. “We need to go back to that—giving our food real meaning within our lives and eating as a family,” she says.