Courtesy DiliffWhen zookeepers at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo noticed their grizzly bears were getting flabby, they came up with a novel idea on how to turn their health around. They got the bears acting and eating more like they do in their natural environments. And the lessons learned for the grizzlies can easily be applied to us humans to eat better, too.
In fact, there's a growing trend in medicine now to for doctors and veterinarians to share their research to find out if new behaviors that can help animals could help humans, too. You can read all about it here.
But looking specifically at the grizzly bears in Chicago, zookeepers ditched the laboratory composed diets of mixing dog foods and ground beef for the bears and went to more traditional berries, grains and meats the bears would actually prey on like fish and rabbits. The food was no longer delivered on metal trays the same time each day, but hidden around the bear's enclosure, forcing them to forage and work to get their grub. Within a year, both bears had lost hundreds of pounds.
So what's the human equivalent diet modifications? For one thing, not stockpiling up several weeks worth of food is a good start. Rather, buy just a few days worth of fresher, seasonal foods at a time. Most vegetables at grocery stores now days are engineered to have longer shelf lives, but less nutrition. Buying foods at farmers' markets and the like can lead to healthier greens.
And like a grizzly, we can burn more calories if we "forage" by walking or biking to the market. Not using a cart in a store or a car to transport our food home will also limit the amount of what we buy to what fits nicely in a basket or bag.