I was browsing in a bookshop in Oxford last weekend and picked up “Indigenous Australians and Health – the wombat in the room”. I came across this sentence: “Early explorers observed people that were lean and healthy, attributable to a diet low in fat, especially saturated fat, high in fibre, low in sugar and salt and high in micronutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals. There is no evidence that Aborignal and Torres Strait Islander people maintaining traditional diets and lifestyles had diabetes or cardiovascular disease.” (In case anyone is interested the word aboriginal comes from the Latin for original inhabitants.) The reason for going from incredibly healthy to incredibly unhealthy follows the arrival of European colonisers and the subsequent exclusion of the Aborigines from their traditional hunting and food-gathering areas. Instead, they were given food rations containing flour, sugar, rice, tea and tinned meats which were mostly high in refined cereals and sugar, low in fibre and micronutrients and often high in saturated fat. A far cry from their traditional diets that had kept them healthy for thousands of years! It makes you wonder why there is so much emphasis on medication and so little on a return to traditional diets low in processed foods.


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