What is a healthy diet? There is so much contradictory information in the world of nutrition that it's enough to make a health-conscious person scream! Some say eating meat causes disease; others, that grain consumption is the culprit. Raw milk is healthy; raw milk is dangerous. You should eat several servings of fruit per day; too much fruit is bad for you.

If you've been confused by al the debate, you are not alone. There is good news, however. Finding a diet that is truly healthy for you is a matter of following a few common-sense principles that come from both a study of the longest-lived people in the world and anecdotal evidence from those who have tried a variety of eating lifestyles.

The principles are as follows.

1. Eat food in its most natural state possible. 

Whatever you can enjoy raw, eat it raw. Eat whole, not refined grains. Consume meat that has been raised naturally. Choose fresh fruits and vegetable over canned.

2. Eat according to your ancestry.

Asian bodies – particularly the pancreas – are adapted to digestion and assimilation of grains. If your ancestry lies in northern Europe or Africa, however, you will probably find that a healthy diet for you means to avoid grains and to adopt a hunter-gatherer diet. Likewise, unless you are descended from a tropical tribe, you will probably compromise your health if you try to live on bananas and mangos.

3. Eat chemical-free foods.

Whatever you eat, make sure it is grown without intentional use of chemicals, such as pesticides or fungicides. Meat should come from animals raised without having been shot up with antibiotics or steroids. Growing some of your own vegetables and, if possible, keeping a few backyard chickens will make this goal more attainable.

4. Drink plenty of purified water.

Consume at least eight eight-ounce glasses every day; more if it’s hot or you have been exercising. Or, drink half your body weight in ounces – if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water per day. Whatever you do, don’t drink city tap water. Research and buy a purification system to avoid putting all manner of heavy metals and toxic waste in your body.

5. Include healthy fats.

Your brain needs saturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids to function properly. Women need to consume healthy fats to regulate reproductive hormone production. Healthy fats also boost the immune system and – ironically – facilitate in the burning of excess body fat. Decrease the amount of Omega-6 fatty acids in your healthy diet, and completely avoid trans fats, those which appear on packaged foods as “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated”.

Put these principles into action – remembering always not to overeat – and you will finally be able to ignore the many dietary contradictions with a happy sense of knowing you are on a healthier path.