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Go to bed slightly hungry
November 01, 2020

Go to bed slightly hungry

Greetings from Bernard Preston to this eleventh email about combining the virtues of green zones for the planet's sake, and those of blue zones for our own well-being, at your home.

It is interesting that twice as many people die from obesity as from starvation. And mostly it's not because we eat too much food, but we are consuming refined starches from which the best parts, the fibre and the nutrients, have been extracted and sold to the pig farmer. We humans are left with the empty calories.

It is fascinating that quite independently the folk in all five of the Blue Zones of the world deliberately go to bed slightly hungry.

Our dinner tonight consisted of celery soup with brown rice and lentils, hummus and half an avocado on bread made with 100% wholemeal.


Professor Craig Willcox, commenting in the Okinawa Centenary study, says that two-thirds of longevity is determined by our diet and way of life, and the other third by genetics.

Do you have some family members who live to a vigorous ripe old age? You could too by following some of the principles of the Blue Zone people and follow in their stead.

"At 80, you are merely a youth. At 90, if your ancestors invite you into heaven, ask them to wait until you are 100; then you might consider it."

- Okinawa saying


One of the really odd things is that the obese are constantly hungry; they have huge amounts of energy stored in their bodies but they are unable to utilise it. Instead their bodies are constantly growling for more food.

It is all about satiety; enjoying those foods that give one a sense of satisfaction, of fullness, but don't leave you feeling famished a few hours later.

Blue zone folk are gardeners, enjoying the fruits of their labour. They enjoy fresh foods that give them that sense of enough, and allowing them to go to bed slightly hungry, not suffering from feeling bloated, and confident that they won't soon feel ravenous yet again.

"I've been trying to eat tiny portions get rumbles later at night tho' ...the 10 o'clock growls!! Do I give in or not??

- dear friend who needs to lose a lot of weight

There are three factors to this infernal conundrum that has left Western man so perplexed, constantly trying this or that new diet, yet unable to lose the weight that they know is killing them.

As the saying goes, every time they get off their fat butts and onto their dying feet, one or other part hurts. They know something is wrong but have no clue has how to deal with the problem.


Fibre is that part of the meal that we are unable to digest but provides bulk for the stool, and food for the teeming billions of bugs in our bellies, the microbiome, that break it down, providing essential nutrients for the body.

And fibre provides satiety; that heavenly feeling that you have eaten well and feel replete. And are happy to leave the table still slightly hungry.

The average Western person is eating only about half of the required fibre; it comes as no surprise that we are constantly feeling hungry.


More fat in the diet also provides that sense of a satisfying meal. The misinformation all started when the McGovern US dietary guidelines some forty years ago declared that Americans must eat much less fat, especially from animals, and turn instead to carbohydrates for energy.

Limiting the fat in dairy, meat and eggs left Western man feeling constantly ravenous and needing snacks to keep them going until the next meal.

Within thirty years the nation was obese; today 72% of Americans are overweight or obese, and an astonishingly over 50% are either frankly diabetic, or on the verge.

South Africans are no different. Ironically taking the fat out of our food leaves us constantly growling for more; and becoming obese.

“Every complex problem has a solution which is simple, direct, plausible — and wrong.”

- H. L. Mencken

But yes, it's not that simple. There are good and bad fats.

It's also controversial; should we be having only low fat milk, or does it contribute to us feeling hungry and reaching for a snack? But everyone agrees that the so-called fruit fats in olives and avocados are very healthy, and provide satiety.


No question of it, the famed Atkins diet works; the extra protein and less starch gives us that sense of satiety and helps us lose weight.

But blue zone people are not into a lot of meat, and certainly not beef, enjoying small amounts of pork and chicken rather.

In all five blue zones they grow broad beans, also known as favas; they have the highest amount of protein of all the legumes. You are most unlikely to find them at the greengrocer; you have to grow them yourself.


Hummus is snack made from chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, that is widely used by Blue Zone folk. It is high in fibre, olive oil and plant protein. It provides satiety and can easily be adjusted to suit your palate; more garlic, less chili, or teaspoons of lemon zest?

Hummus, authentic recipe


So, the obese are constantly hungry because of the large amount of highly refined carbohydrate in their diet.

Researchers following large numbers of people from every single diet found that after one year, only 5% had actually lost weight, and many had put on.

Weight loss is essentially about management of hunger, not the counting of calories; that's a sure way to spoil a meal. Blue Zone folk rarely feel their stomachs growling for more.

McGovern dietary guidelines

Some fifty years ago the US senate select committee on nutrition came up after extensive consultation with new guidelines that changed the face of America; for the worse. Within twenty years obesity and diabetes overwhelmed the nation.

On the face of it, it may be difficult to criticize the recommendations.

1. Increase carbohydrate consumption to 55 - 60% of energy intake.

2. Less meat and fat, especially that which is saturated.

3. Less refined and processed sugars.

4. More fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

5. More fibre.

In short, a move from food that produces little blood glucose (fat and protein), to that which produces massive amounts, especially when refined.

"The first goal will surprise those who still imagine that starchy foods are unhealthy or that bread and potatoes are especially fattening."

- Review of the dietary goals of the USA (Lancet 1977)

Good and bad

But bread made from refined wheat flour and potatoes from cold storage ARE fattening. So how did these seemingly good guidelines turn America into an obese nation, and befuddle the so-called experts from a prestigious medical journal?

In exactly the same way as super mealie-meal (cornmeal) and sugar have together made South Africa officially the most unhealthy nation in the world; refined starch.

Firstly, by reducing the fat intake, the food made according to these guidelines leaves us constantly hungry and reaching for snacks.

And secondly, it was and still is extremely difficult for the public to purchase whole grains; instead Americans began eating more bread and pasta made from low fibre refined flour, white rice and potatoes, and South Africans enjoying putu made from refined mealie-meal. They are all highly glycemic, raising blood glucose which is stored as adipose tissue if we are not very active; and ironically leaves us unsatiated and constantly hungry. It's not easy to leave the table slightly hungry; you feel the need for a sweet dessert.

Because refined carbohydrates are tasteless, more salt and sugar was added. The unintended consequences were and still are obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

Of interest, new potatoes have much less of an effect on blood glucose, but generally they are difficult to find at the greengrocer, and expensive.

New potatoes are far less glycemic

Ikaria is one of the five Blue Zones

Ikaria is an island in the Aegean sea lying between Greece and Turkey. It is untouched by Western food culture; inhabitants enjoy a diet high in vegetables, whole milk and eggs, with regular but relatively small amounts of chicken and goat meat. Herbs like oregano and garlic, and of course olive oil exemplify their recipes.

They eschew preserved foods.

Watch this fascinating 60 Minutes video of their lifestyle.

Ikaria Island where people live longer than anyone on earth @ 60 Minutes

Good food, good wine, good company

These people live life to the full and the elderly remain very much part of the community; no old age homes for them.

"Drinkers outlive non-drinkers," says lead researcher Dan Buettner wryly. But don't assume their natural local wine is the same as that we get from the bottle store.

“Honor your father and mother” (which is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on the earth.”

- Ephesians 6:3

Ikarians are religious

Could it be that by honouring their parents in this way, keeping them vitally in the community, giving them purpose to their lives to the very end, that they live so long? The elderly have so much to offer to their children and their offspring, be it the wisdom of the ages, or their long experience of life, that our children are deprived of by putting our mothers and fathers away in old age homes?

"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."

- Madame Marie Curie

Our responsibility to vote

A few thoughts for Americans at this time.

"Voting is not only a right, it is a solemn duty; and that makes not voting a dereliction of duty."

- Dr Mardy

"In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote."

— David Foster Wallace

"Always rise from the table with an appetite, and you will never sit down without one."

- William Penn

A challenge

If you think this newsletter worth reading, would you forward it to ten friends who would be intrigued by the possibility of a long and zestful life? If it's really not worth their time, and has been a waste of yours, then perhaps it's time to unsubscribe.

Next week

Next week we return to a Green Zone issue; something that will help preserve the planet.

Pass this newsletter on to friends and family, but only if you feel it is of value; we all get more than enough spam.

And start thinking about how you are going to add more fibre to your diet, and avoid refined starches; it won't be easy.

Take care of yourself; take care of the planet. Plan to live to a strong and zestful ninety, and who knows perhaps even one hundred.

Till next week.


1. Bernard Preston Homepage.
2. Back Issues for Create a Cyan Zone at your home.

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