Not surprisingly, because of man’s propensity to opt for the less difficult task when given a choice, the growing worldwide trend towards healthy eating is being equated and substituted for healthy lifestyle – i.e., healthy eating is healthy living and vice-versa. This is not only erroneous but dangerous, because of the mistaken impression that all it takes to be healthy is eat right (plus some exercise and some other additions).
It is true that eating right is important, but it is not the principal or primary aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Instead, it is the physical activity that is the main and most important aspect. Eating right is just to support the right physical activity, which is our primary purpose for being here.
To support this argument, I present all the different peoples who lived long and practically disease-free lives. They vary in their diets (because of their unique geographical residency and social environment) but they have one thing in common – their physical activity. They will always lead active lives that are stress-free.
If one were to research on known so-called “blue zones” – communities of people where long life is not unusual – one will find that physical acitivity or exertion is at the top of their list. And, physical exertion means moving around without the benefit of the “modern” conveniences, such as automobiles, elevators, escalators, etc. In fact, the footwear is not even as comfortable and as “well-engineered” as even our low-end shoes. In other words, they live the simple rural life of our ancestors, enjoying  (REALLY) fresh and locally available food – as in just harvested, picked, caught, slaughtered – that are grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides,  fresh and clean air and water and alcoholic beverages,  a positive and optimistic outlook with family and community support, and  good resting and sleeping habits and without stress.
If their diets differ, then it means the type of food does not really matter. And, since they are isolated from the rest of the world, it means the food is locally found and grown.
Although the food differ, the manner of obtaining them parallel – they way the food crops are planted and gathered, the food animals are kept and grown, the water is sourced and drawn from, and the social interaction. Aside from the food, all the others involve some kind of physical activity.
Moreover, from a TV program (in the Philippines) back in the 1980s, an old woman in her 80’s or 90’s was interviewed and ask what she ate that kept her healthy and strong. The old lady said her daily meals consisted mainly of cooking bananas (saba) – i.e., almost no variety in the daily diet. But, she would go into the jungle behind her house every day to gather fire wood, food, and other essentials. She did not bother about what specific food she ate, just thankful that she was alive, have something to eat, and no illnesses.
And, although some of these people cook (heat) their food while others eat them raw (mostly because there is little meat in the diet), another thing common in their diet is the food – if and when heated – is never heated beyond 120 degrees C (or 248 degrees F), the temperature ceiling of wet cooking. Disease is practically unknown because their immune system is at peak performance – all the vital and essential nutrients are intact and bio-available (i.e., the body recognizes and can readily make optimal use of the compounds in the food). [This is like equipping your defense units with high-quality and superior weapons and ammunition to better fend off invaders.]
Because our body is designed to survive, its immune system is primed to adapt to any pathogen or external threat (please refer to: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65S01S20100629). And, when given the proper support (nutrients), it is capable of identifying and neutralizing any external or internal threat – be it a microorganism, a toxin, a hormonal imbalance, cancer, etc – short of being mortally wounded. [Again, to draw a parallel, even if your defenders can recognize and know how to fight and even if they have the best equipment, if the weapons do not have (or have sub-standard or unfamiliar) ammunition, they will not be able to effectively repel and/or overcome invading hordes.]
The secret to health is mobility because our body is designed to be in motion. Sedentary lifestyle is the biggest culprit – the real killer. Eating should be critically balanced, both quantitatively and categorically. We should eat only foods that the environment provides – what nature provides – this is the categorical aspect. As for the quantity, over-eating means too many calories which will lead to all sorts of illnesses (among them are obesity, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, hypertension, cancer, etc).
On the other hand, going on a starvation diet will also lead to many problems (surprisingly obesity will be one of them).
Surprised?! How can starving lead to obesity, you might ask?
It seems that when you starve yourself, the body takes this as an emergency situation and prepares for the worse by hoarding the calories instead of burning them off as you eat. This results in fat accumulation, which ends up as obesity. Small but frequent meals is the ideal because it gives the body the impression that there is a steady food supply so there is no need to hoard calories.
Eating under stress is another factor. The most-oft cited culprit mechanism is the “fight or flight” instinct that is supposed to be responsible. It would appear that one of the actions taken by this survival mechanism when confronted with imminent danger is by releasing adrenaline (a hormone) that triggers the conversion of stored fat into energy for the muscles in preparation of either engaging the threat in a fight or to flee. It would seem that this mechanism, when food is ingested, will quickly convert all food into fat to serve as stored energy, to be called upon when needed by the muscles to address the threat.
Anyway, going back to the topic at hand, meaningful physical activity is the single biggest factor in determining health, not food (even if it is organic, natural, local, whole, raw, or what-have-you). Food’s role is to support the activity; to provide the fuel for the muscles to perform physical activity. A sluggish or sedentary individual would mean an equally docile or unresponsive defense (immune) system, which will make the body vulnerable to attacks.
Update: Refer to http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=11234721