Friday, 15 December 2017

N Nutrition

Diet is the Engine of Your Health Destiny

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Diet is the engine of your health destiny but who’s driving the car?

In the last 60 years Big Food companies have transformed the way we eat by filling dinner tables with affordable processed foods, low in fat, high in sugar or salt and low in nutritional value. The result is an effect researchers call the nutrition transition.

It’s changing the way we look. Today, more than one in two adults and more than one in six children living in a developed country is overweight or obese. It’s changing the way we feel about food too. It’s estimated that more than 70 million people worldwide have an eating disorder.

It’s having drastic effects on health. Heart disease is now the number 1 killer, killing more than 17 million people in 2015. Cancer killed more than 8 million people the same year. The incidence of diabetes amongst adults over 18 has doubled in the last thirty years from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014.

Yet, the demand for information on food nutrition has never been higher and the market for functional foods such as dietary supplements is thriving. There’s a new push towards locally produced food and farm to table cooking, and a new understanding that the most nutritious food is organic.

What is the Nutrition Transition?

100 years ago, if you wanted milk, you walked a mile down the road (barefoot, in snow?) to the diary farmer. Today, you drive to the closest McDonald’s and get a shake. Then you go back to work and sit at a desk for four more hours till you get home and sit in front of the TV while you eat.

100 years ago, you got meat and poultry from your local butcher, and on certain days he had fish. It’s very likely the butcher knew your name, or even the name of the animal he was slicing up to sell to you. Today, meat and poultry is factory farmed and raised on genetically modified grains. Animals are numbers, no names.

100 years ago, arable land was not full of pesticides and chemical fertilizers that diminish the nutrient value of fruits and vegetables. Today, even organic farmers struggle to produce nutrient-rich crops due to soil depletion. Fruit and veg are bought from supermarkets, pushing local producers out of the market.

On top, today we’re bombarded with ads for tasty (translation: high in sugar or salt or both) energy-dense foods and drinks. Junk food is cheap and easy to find, the most convenient option for busy lifestyles.

Studies have linked these diet and lifestyle changes to diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. One study confirmed that the easily availability of food high in saturated fats and processed sugars created a “perfect storm” in the current obesity and diabetes pandemics.

What They Tell You to Eat

Yet, it’s known that diabetes can be treated or even avoided with the right combination of diet and physical activity. Doctors encourage those at risk for heart disease to eat foods that lower blood sugar and blood pressure, meaning less red meat, more veg and no salt. The core message: eat less fat because too much fat is bad for you.

For years we’ve been told low fat, high carb diets are healthy. But current research is debunking this advice. Participants in a Canadian study increased their risk of death by 28% when carbohydrates made up 60% of their diet. In 2014 The Economist named The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz the #1 science book of the year.

Nina’s book is one of millions on healthy eating and there’s no shortage of advice online. Open Facebook or any lifestyle magazine and see headlines like: “How to Eat Healthy on a Student Budget.” “The Perfect Way to Lose Weight over 40.” “Proven Ways to Eat Less Junk Food.” The most popular accounts on Instagram promote health eating.

There’s so much advice, it’s hard to know which sources to trust. Especially when those sources don’t agree with each other. There’s the current growing movement towards veganism, and at the same time, the Paleo Diet (a rebranded version of Atkin’s), a meat-based diet, has never been more popular.

What most people don’t know is that research into food nutrition is often unreliable due to the number of variable factors that influence diet including age, income and genetics. As a result, measuring individual factors across diverse populations is inherently flawed as the writers of this study on eggs point out.

What You’re Meant to Eat

Current research is focused on evolutionary biodiversity to try and understand why some diets work for some groups of people and not others. Why, for example, people in northern Europe are predisposed to be lactose intolerant or why some people see immediate results from certain diet changes and others don’t?

Perhaps in the future, doctors will be able to run a DNA scan and prescribe a perfect match diet based on your genetic profile? For now, the only way to know your true health status is by doing an evidence-based test, a full blood scan that measures your micro-nutrient levels.

Using a test like this, it’s possible to create a diet plan that addresses any deficiencies. But diet is more than tests and statistics. It’s the most visceral connection between you and nature, meaning the more conscious you are of where your food comes from, what and how you eat, the more connected you are to your body and your long-term health.

Simple changes can have big effects. Grow some basil on your windowsill. Take an hour for lunch every day and eat slowly. Opt for some fruit or veg you wouldn’t normally buy at the supermarket. Measure the sugar count in the food you’re eating. Try new recipes.

Diet is the fuel that powers you through life. If you’re not already in the driver’s seat, here’s are 10 simple tips to help get you there.

1. Drink a glass of water with every meal.

2. Never go shopping when you’re hungry.

3. Make sure to eat before you get too hungry.

4. Pre-prepare healthy meals and store them in the fridge for easy access to healthier choices.

5. Opt for healthy snacks.

6. Avoid sugary sodas.

7. Instead of cappuccino opt for green or mint tea.

8. Replace refined carbs with whole unprocessed carbs.

9. Add fruit to your breakfast.

10. Eat sitting down and make time to digest every bite. Feel the food nourish you.

 

 

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