I’m speaking purely from observational experience. I know observational studies are not that reliable but I’m not writing a paper so take this for what it is.
It’s also inconclusive but I still think there are benefits to be gained.
While reading the Pioppi Diet by Aseem Malhotra and Donal O’Neill, they observe that a diet is more than just food. It is lifestyle, the culture, the location and a range of other variables, many of which may simply be fortunate than by conscious design.
I see this in my wife’s family, particularly her and her parents.
The following are simply observations, don’t shoot me! I also realise many could cite counter examples. Again, just observations.
My Wife’s Parents
Amadeo and Giselda, Italians from a small village (Villa Oliveti) in the Abruzzi region. Local farmers who migrated to Australia in the mid-50s to settle in Guildford, WA.
Mum and Dad both worked jobs during the day and then came home to a half acre property of which most was tilled and turned into a vegetable garden.
There was constant work and things to be done. Tend to the garden, make dinner, housework, more gardening if light permitted and only then, sit back and relax, go to bed and do it all again the next day.
The gardening was constant and hard work at times. The rotary hoe used to break down constantly but the soil still needed to be worked. So it was.
Dad made his own sausages from the pig he’d keep out there back and fatten up over time so the meat you ate could not have been fresher and guaranteed of no added hormones or chemicals.
The annual tomato sauce making ritual started at 5am. You had to be there at 5am which, for me, meant getting out of bed at 4am! WTF!
Because it was a production line everyone played a role which developed the social aspect. But first, coffee. Espresso to be exact and my god, how good!
Then on to the sauce and how we made it. And how our sauce was the “best in WA” and no-one could make sauce like ours and it was only Mum who could make Lasagne properly so don’t even try, girls! (Yes, a little sexist back then). Yada, yada, yada. It was an all-day affair. Usually on a Sunday.
But it was family and, after a few years, being an Australian from a completely different background you get used to it, look forward to it and enter into the banter along with everyone else. Even, perhaps, more than my wife who grew up with this ritual. It was a great social event on the family calendar.
The fundamental family environment was never ending from a constant movement point of view.
Dad would often say to me: “Bill, slowly, slowly”. And he was right. There is no rush with gardening. Take your time and do it properly. It’s not a task to be finished. It’s an activity to be enjoyed. If it took all day, so be it. The point was you weren’t so knackered that you were useless the next day.
Mum and Dad lived like this until they passed away. Dad at 87 and Mum at 91.
Neither had diabetes or heart disease. Mum could still easily touch her toes 20 times the year she passed away.
The simple point to make here is, with our current sedentary lifestyle, if I may categorise it as follows:
“Work in order to finish your tasks as quickly as possible so you can sit down and relax …
… a lifestyle where there is always something to do, going about it slowly and methodically and only rest when you need to.”
I’m not suggesting people are lazy or hate work and don’t want to be constructive and productive. What I am suggesting is there may be benefits in the latter approach above that will help our overall health by constant movement and constructive socialising that we may inadvertently be missing out on by only looking at diet to address whatever malady besets us.
Yes, diet is important. We are what we consume. But consumption isn’t related only to food and drink.