Comparing Different Cultural Diets - Argentina

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 25, 2012 at 9:13 PM

I'm not sure how to answer this question, but I will give this anecdote and see if it helps.

There are comparitive differences between my family and grandparents and my boyfriend's family and grandparents (and their health).

I've been thinking about this for quite some time, mind you.

My family is from Argentina. Although in the past 5-10 years things in Argentina have changed, my family that still live in the country grew up eating lots and lots of grilled grass fed red meat, offal, and fat (steaks galore), eggs, olive oil and vinegar in enormous salads, handmade high quality cheeses and salami/deli meats (about 2-3 times a week), plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, occasional french fries fried in tallow and home made french bread, and the occasional indulgence of a pastry about 1 a week. About once a week there is also a bowl of pasta or a lasagna or some gnocchi, all made by scratch at home, and an occasional but most of what they eat is meat, fish, and salad. Good Wine is daily staple, and much more is drank over the weekends. Carbs are present, but they don't happen every day, steaks do.

My boyfriend's family, however, is different. Most of them have move from either Cape Verde or Portugal within the past 40 years, and have adapted some American ideals along the way as well. They eat lots of potatoes and plain white and multi-grain bread, tons of rice and beans, some meat and fish, and plenty of sodas, simple sugars. Although most of their diet is home made, it still consists of exorbant amounts of simple carbohydrates. Alcohol is usually only on the weekends in the form of straight whiskey or mixed fruity drinks.

Anyhow, the correlation. My family (in Argentina, not so much in America) stays pretty healthy. They play, they relax, they sleep, they walk. Most of them have hot bodies. They don't overeat, and sometimes they do intermittent fasting without thinking about it. They are pretty healthy, especially my super hot 65 year old aunt who looks half her age. She is, in my belief, in optimal shape.

My boyfriend's family, however, on both sides, are stricken with Diabetes that they get later in life, usually when they get in their late 20's. Some are overweight, some aren't; most maintain their weight pretty well, including the older generation, but their health is failing. Their bones break more easily, they don't generally workout (except for a few younger bodybuilding types). There is much more IBS than I've seen in any family. Constipation is a daily issue on both fronts. They have back problems, such as disc herniations, and sad and scary things like stroke happen at younger ages than they should.

Can it be what you eat that makes a difference in how well oiled your machine is? What do you make of these differences? I'd like to know if there is some research about different parts of the world and how they eat, and how it affects health.



on March 26, 2012
at 02:15 AM

The main difference in the 2 families seems to be sugar. One group drinks sodas and the other doesn't. Both groups indulge in gluten though not as much as Americans and perhpas not as bad as American wheat. But since your boyfriend's family eats a higher glycemic diet (whether refined or compelx carbs), u combine that with sugar/fructose and liver derangement, what results is T2 diabetes. I've seen this over and over. It is excess sugar, i.e., fructose, eventually raising your liver enzymes, resulting in fatty liver and the metabolic syndrome.

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on March 25, 2012
at 09:35 PM

OMG - I LOVED living in Argentina!!! Talk about eye candy! Anyway, my experience being very sick in B.A. and having a doctor tell me "You need to eat more meat." really made me reconsider my 'nearly veggie' diet. I was shocked to hear that I was eating too much fiber. Can you imagine a US MD telling you that ?!!! Anyway, if I were to move anywhere to reclaim my soul and body from S.A.D. it would be Argentina.

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on March 25, 2012
at 10:47 PM

Americanization of world diets is killing the planet, from native Americans to third world countries. Carbs are addicting, found pre-processed in a nice box and are cheap. We know they are killers. India has the highest rate of diabetes in the world and we know how much animal fat they eat. Look at the Mediterranean diet- the American version is all about grains with a little use of olives and nuts, some fish and vegetables but the real diet uses lamb- plenty of it well available as well as goat and seafood. We try to rer-write everyones nutirtional background. Very SAD- no pun intended.

We talk about the French paradox- well it should be the Argentine paradox. Long live Frances Mallmann and the seven fires of Argentina


on July 19, 2012
at 03:31 PM

This is great to read! I am from Argentina and only know a handful of people here who have even heard about Paleo, but it really doesn´t change your diet that much. I even went cold turkey on carbs and only had 48hs of some low-carb flu symptoms. Unfortunately in the last 10 years things have changed a bit, mainly in Buenos Aires (population 13 million) regarding the quality of meat in general and grain-fed beef has appeared, leaving the grass-fed as "premium beef" making harder to find. The greatest difficulty is the typical Sunday pasta! It´s my cheat meal yet although my body is not happy with me the next day. The best thing about paleo here: eating cow tongue! don´t be afraid to try it, it is the most tender meat you will EVER have.

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