Letters from readers: mixed ancestry, Chinese traditional diets, raw cat food

Just wanted to share some recent correspondence from readers of “100 Million Years of Food.” The first email is from Monica in Surrey, BC, who says that the book helped her understand her health experiences when she and her husband (and their cat!) switched to traditional diets (Chinese diets in the case of Monica and her husband and freeze-dried raw cat food for the cat). The second email is a question from Renee in Burbank, CA about what to do in terms of traditional eating if your ancestry is very mixed.

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email from Monica (Surrey, BC):

“I just finished reading your book. Your theory seem to have explained to what has happening to my husband and myself over the past 12 months. I wanted to share with you our experience.
May 2015, I asked our Naturopathic physician to tune up my digestive system (and to deal with my sports injury too) using acupuncture, phenolic med etc. She put me on a food sensitivity test using the ElectroDermo machine. The test results basically indicates that I am extremely sensitive to most of the foods that I did not have when I was growing up in Canton, China during the Cultural Revolution with food ration and no refrigeration and all that.
So I had to change my diet back 50 years (am 55, a retired civil engineer), almost like your grandma’s, not eating the international cuisines we had so enjoyed cooking at home with organic produce. We used to eat one day Italian, 2nd French wine cooking, 3rd day Ukrainian (got Ukrainian neighbours), 4th day East Coast boiled dinner……..etc We miss the variety. But health is important.
2 months onto the “new” diet, or “back to traditional” diet which I had not eaten for years since 23 when I went to London English to study engineering, my fasting blood sugar started to come down. Both my family doc and myself have been trying to lower my fasting blood sugar from over 8 to at least down to around 7 for the last 13 years since I became diabetic (genetic, nothing to do with life style, not over weight at all) but to no avail.
I asked my husband (also genetically diabetic for about 14 years, not overweight, age 60, engineering manager for local government) to get our ND to do the same thing to him (he has been seeing her for sports injure before I did) because we both had same issue with fasting blood sugar though we both managed to control our 2-hour after meal sugar very well. His ElectoDermo test results also showed that he was extremely sensitive to foods he did not grow up with in Hong Kong (a little bit different than mine though). Here he went again to go back to traditional diet.
2 months later his fasting blood sugar also started to come down as well.
around Nov 2015, we both started experience losing weight even though we don’t have a lot to lose, as our friends said. The weight we lost, in both of us, were around out mid-section, which we have tried to lose for years but to no avail. Now I have not had this flat stomach since my early teen (I am actually now 13 pounds lighter than when I was 15). Your book also explains why I was on the plump side from my early teens until my late 20s: the effect of antibiotics. You are probably aware of the overuse of antibiotics in communist countries.
between Nov 2015 to end of Jan 2016, I lost about 6 lb and my husband about 5 lb. Then the weight loss stopped.
Then both our 2-hour after blood sugar started to come down after the fat around our tummy was gone. And we are sticking to tradition diet. Our 2-hour after blood sugar is still coming down but not as much. The order of magnitude is: for the same amount of metformin (I take 1000mg daily and my hubby 1500-2000mg daily) and same quantity of carb(we both don’t have sweet tooth, so no desert/pop for us other than fruits), both our 2-hour after blood sugar has come down 2.5 to 3.5 points. We used to eat the amount of carb so that the 2-hour reading was below 9.6. Now the reading is around 7 or upper 6, for both of us. If we do some strenuous physical work after the meal, the reading would come down to the lower 6. But we don’t intend to increase our carb intake.
Your book also explained why I have heart palpitation after eating some sauces, including various sauces with fermented soy and black bean (such as in Taiwanese cuisine), and gravy. Gravy is the worst for me and would raise my resting heart rate to 100. That means I have to be off my favourite French Canadian food La Poutine. Dear me.
I have told our ND about your books, and have recommended to friends who care about their health. Unfortunately my mum (still living in Hong Kong) cannot read English (they had to study Russian in university in China in the 50s). But I do tell mum about the content of your book on the phone every week, so that she knows the latest theory on how to eat right, especially about the part in which you advocate seniors should eat more meat, and we should not put too much emphasis on nutrients but should look at the whole picture of geographical tradition of diet, which is derived from thousands of years of experience on humans.

I had tune of my digestive system using acupuncture before but without the ElectroDermo food test and subsequent diet change., by a different ND/TCM. But did not experience this effect on my body as described above.

Thanks for your good work. Hope lots of people will benefit from the book.”

I asked Monica for the details of her traditional Chinese diet. This was her reply:

“Our traditional diet is Cantonese HOME cooking (very different from what you eat in Cantonese restaurants):
main ingredients: rice and rice products(pho and congee), meat, fish and leafy veggies
cooking method: steam, boil, quick stir-fry, slow cooked stew, pan fry, in the order of descending frequency and importance
seasoning: soy sauce, salt, sugar, ginger, green onion, white ground pepper and cooking spirit (strong liquor is used for cooking back home), and fish sauce
beverages: tea (Chinese and English tea), herbal teas made with Chinese herbs at home such as Chrysanthemum, prunella in Summer sweetened with honey or un-refined sugar, and Ji Sheng Cha in Winter sweetened with dark raw sugar. The Summer teas are for Cooling while the Winter one is for improving blood circulation which is especially important for us who are both curlers and spend hours on ice (that is why we both got sports injury).
Chinese medicinal cuisine: these are therapeutic soups made with certain herbs, i.e. the ones that don’t taste awful and bitter. The region between Canton and Hong Kong is a region in China where people and TCMs put a lot of emphasis on therapeutic soup making according to different seasons. I also make Chinese medicinal brandy with prescription herbs from our TMC (based on our pulse checking). We would drink 1/4 (me) to 1/2 (my hubby) shooter before bed time.
My traditional diet is a little bit different than my hubby’s because I grew up in China until 15. I had little access to beef, dairy products and wheat and most part of that 15 years food was on ration. Fish was only farmed fresh water fish when available. My hubby did have access to beef, dairy product, seafood and wheat in Hong Kong. So he got slightly different ElectroDermo test results than I.
Even though we were very International in our diet before our change of diet, we never got into drinking pop, juice or eating sweet snack or chocolates.
By the way, our youngest cat Yibo (we are pet-parents, no 2-legged kids) has benefit from your book too. You mentioned food-related hormone disruption which can result in obesity. So I put Yibo on freeze-dried raw cat food immediately when I got to the part of your book. She has lost quite a bit of her paunch now. With the previous cat food, I did not even feed her the recommended amount for her age (1.5 yr) and body weight. She is hyper-playful. Still she had developed that paunch around her waist.

Hope more people will benefit from your books. I will show your book to my family doc next time when I go for renewing my diabetic meds. I already showed it to my ND.

Before I end this email, I have to admit that our diet now is very boring. But for the sake of good health, we do not have much choice. At least our youngest cat really like her freeze-dried raw food.

Cheers!

Monica S Young, P. Eng.(retired), MBA”

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email from Renee (Burbank, California):

“Hello Stephen,

I applaud you for all the research you did on your book. I have read through it and somehow missed the part (maybe?) about what to do if your ancestors are diverse.

My ancesters are: French, Irish, Polish, Czech, German. So I guess I would do “european”

However, my children’s ancesters are: French, Irish, Polish, Czech, German, Arytrean (African), Italian, Scandanavian

Do I just try things and see what feels best?

Or do you recommend genetic testing? If so, where?

Thanks for your time,
Renee Tucker, DVM
Burbank, CA”

Hi Renee,

Thanks for your message!

The most important part of the book should be the message that we should strive to be physically active and highly mobile.

In terms of your diet, given the broad range of your ancestry and your children’s ancestry, any regional traditional cuisine should be fine, whatever you and your children enjoy eating. There is nothing dogmatic about traditional cuisines–they happen to taste good and be nutritionally balanced–so you can go ahead and tweak the cuisines to suit your preferences and ingredient availability. Cuisines have always been works in progress.

Enjoy your food and health!

Best,
Stephen

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