I have recently received this beautifully descriptive email from Benjamin Seeds who was travelling in France.
Belinda and I were there a few years ago and bike riding along those French canals has given us some of our fondest memories. We have observed what is described as the ‘French Paradox’ – a healthy population eating a diet high in saturated fat.
Followers of this blog may have seen that Benjamin has written a book on ‘The Fructose Disease’ which is a short and very informative read – worth getting hold of the hard or e copy.
I currently stay in La Rochelle, a lovely town at the French Atlantic coast.
People here often buy their food fresh from the daily market at the village square.
Lots of fresh fish and sea food combined with olive oil, lots of delicious French cheese (also as dessert) and butter, many eggs (for French crepes), vegetables and seasonal fruit, meat, and of course a daily glass of French wine.
There is neither a McDonald’s nor a Starbucks in town (a Subway managed to sneak in, though), and I haven’t seen anyone ordering a Coke for lunch (they prefer water, or possibly a glass of wine smile emoticon
At the macronutrient level, I see the local people consuming lots of Omega 3 and saturated fat, next to no Omega 6, and very little sugar (HFCS is unknown here) .
Even if they consume sugar, it’s typically part of a piece of fresh, homemade pastry (e.g. a croissant with chocolate filling) with lots of butter and no processed Omega 6 vegetable oils.
A glass of insidious orange juice managed to conquer some breakfast tables, though the standard for adults is an espresso coffee, often without any sugar at all.
They also eat lots of fresh Baguette (white bread), but usually without jam/marmalade, just with salted butter or some cheese. And don’t be fooled, the French love to eat!
What is the result? The result is that the only overweight people I see here are tourists from the UK and Germany! smile emoticon The local population looks naturally slim (but not NYC-style skinny!) and healthy, no matter their age. I have yet to find an obese child. The daily baguette white bread apparently doesn’t harm them either, which is what I would expect in such a low-fructose environment (overall their carb load is probably still rather moderate, if you think about it).
I also noticed that while people like to walk along the coast or ride the bicycle in town, few of them do actual ‘sports’ in the sense of jogging or work-out (they prefer a glass of wine instead smile emoticon, which is why Nike is not selling too many shoes here…
Local diabetes prevalence is at a record-low 3 percent. Now take a look at the impressive gradient of diabetes prevalence between Atlantic coastal areas of France and the landlocked region bordering Germany, rising from 2 to 8 percent (image attached, source here).
In Germany, diabetes prevalence is already 7 to 11 percent. I suspect that this effect might be caused by a combined gradient of seafood/Omega-3 (decreasing towards Germany) and sugar & Omega-6 (increasing towards Germany), all of which aggravates insulin resistance, chronic inflammation and metabolic syndrome.
Of course the prevalence of heart disease in France is also at a record low, only about a quarter compared to the UK values, with a similar regional gradient inside France (see image attached for coronary artery disease mortality (couldn’t find prevalence values), source here).
How is this called again by orthodox medicine? The French Paradox. Well, the only paradox to me is how this orthodox view could persist for so long…
Sadly, if a happy healthy Frenchman encounters a doctor who measures his serum cholesterol to be higher than GlaxoSmithKline recommends, the doctor will replace butter with margarine, olive oil with soy oil, eggs with ketchup and cheese with tofu, plus prescribe a daily statin…
Makes you seriously consider moving to France.
Benjamin and I have worked together coming up with the ‘Nutritional Model of Modern Disease’ and I value his observations.
To see what we have been up to: