Most people have some idea about what they should and shouldn’t eat, but many are very misguided. Magazine articles, cereal boxes, celebrity endorsements, TV advertisements and supermarket displays can have a big influence. Are they worried about your health or are they just trying to sell you something?
Perhaps it’s a good time to review what you are eating and feeding your family.
We gradually entrench habits into our diet. Our food environment is changing and we have been seduced by fast food, convenience food, soda and snacks. Reviews of the research behind current diet guidance have uncovered poor science and unhealthy influence by politics and business in the same way that doctors once promoted cigarettes.
Our first priority must be to provide our bodies with the best nutrition it needs. Think about the protein, fats, carbohydrate and vitamins we need for growth, repair and daily operation. When planning meals, always consider protein first. This is crucial because many processes in your body depend on you eating these essential amino-acids. Animal proteins are much more accessible to your body than plant sourced proteins. You need at minimum, 1 gram of protein for each kilogram of body weight, with up to 2 grams for aging, growing, or very active people. Spreading the protein throughout the day’s meals is also important.
What about the fats and oils you eat? Old advice to limit saturated fats has now been thoroughly discredited. We have recently learned that so-called vegetable (seed) oils are particularly unhealthy, increasing inflammation which is now recognized as a major cause of heart disease. Some of our critical vitamins, A,E,D and K2 are only delivered in fat. If you are eating plenty of animal fats, coconut oil, butter or olive oil then you are on the right track.
Next think about the carbohydrates in your meals. Most people eat far too many carbohydrates. The healthiest carbohydrates are found in green vegetables and fruit. Refined carbohydrate in grain foods such as flour, bread, rice, cereals, and sugar based products, immediately converts into sugar when eaten. More than about 1 teaspoon of sugar in your blood is toxic for your body, so if you consume too much sugar or refined carbohydrate, your body must immediately set about reducing this by moving it off into muscles, your liver or, converted and stored as body fat.
Most body fat was originally eaten as carbohydrates.
Finally, focus on the nutrients and use hunger as the guide for how much to eat. Factory made (ultra processed) food has added chemicals and many nutrients are stripped out during processing. These empty calories add to weight gain. To maximize the value of food for your body, avoid ultra-processed food, instead selecting unpackaged food.
Seek professional medical advice before making dietary changes, particularly if you have underlying health problems.
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Good health, George Elder, Diet Researcher, Dip. Nutrition.