I’m sure you’ve heard by now about the latest health advice from the World Health Organisation, no less, that processed meats and too much red meat cause cancer. It’s caused quite a furore – enough to turn people off their burnt barbie sausage completely! I have to admit surprise that people would actually think processed meats were harmless in the first place. Nitrite-free bacon or sausage is a different thing altogether.

The conflicting views and impassioned responses from both sides of the farmyard fence show this issue has hit a nerve in Australia at least. Who doesn’t have a barbeque?

But it’s got me thinking about the health and dietary advice that has come our way in past years and what a huge impact it’s had on all our lives, too often in an unhealthy way.

Not so long ago eggs were a complete no-no – too much saturated fat and cholesterol. Now we’re being urged to eat an egg a day because they’re so good for you! I love eggs and instinctively have always known they were good for me so I ignored that earlier advice. And I’ll go easy on the later piece of wisdom too. Maybe somewhere in the middle makes more sense.

Margarine is another that rankles me deeply. In my twenties and thirties, in all my wisdom gleaned from the latest health advice back then, I ignored my mother’s unwavering support for butter and slapped polyunsaturated margarine over everything. I’m sure mum was a bit hurt and probably concerned about my “I know best” attitude. After all, wasn’t polyunsaturated margarine the darling of the medical profession and butter the bogeyman? Remember those ads only two or three years ago with a cardiologist spruiking its benefits? Now I don’t allow margarine in my house, let alone on my meals.

It’s by no means a complete list, but the point that’s being highlighted by this latest health beatup is that surely we are far better to just trust our own innate wisdom and eat food as close to its natural state as possible. Many people espouse vegetarianism, while many more love their meat.

Whatever your choice, how can we go wrong if we refuse to buy packets of this and cans of that and instead cook our meals from scratch with real ingredients we’ve bought or grown ourselves? Free range or organic all the better but not necessary. Our parents and grandparents, my mother, would, I think, be amazed at what we’re prepared to put into our mouths these days. And those were the generations before the epidemic “lifestyle” diseases that cause heartache to so many, not to mention enormous cost to our country.

As our inveterate NOVA writers have always advised us over two decades now, good health depends on the choices we make and nothing is more important than the food we eat.

So while you’re preparing something scrumptious and natural for your dinner enjoy what we have for you this month. Peter Dingle, always a fan of raw food, can see an important role for supplements in boosting heart health, Jeremy Ball explores Russian healing methods that have now come to the West, David Arenson seeks answers to life’s biggest question, we offer an overview of yoga’s main styles to help you make a choice, discover why meditation actually works, learn how Chinese medicine treats one of the major causes of infertility and enjoy some delicious ways to whip up some strawberries.

Wishing you bountiful health in the month ahead

Margaret Evans

Margaret Evans has a background in teaching, journalism and publishing. She is the editor of NOVA Holistic Journal.