Hardly a day goes by where we don’t read confusing advice about nutrition. However, there are a few food facts experts can actually agree on. Here are those that are accepted as irrefutable these days:
During various food processing steps, many of the nutrients our bodies need are removed and stuff our bodies shouldn't have is added. Fiber, which humans need for various bodily functions, is removed and sugar, refined wheat and saturated fats are added instead. Worse, various artificial chemical ingredients are added that haven't even been tested for potential long-term harmful effect on humans.
Every human being is unique, so there's no perfect diet that suits all. Differences in genetics, environmental factors and culture are also factors that influence our dietary needs. Typically only our doctor or nutritionist will be able to determine our ideal diet - after some experimentation and tests.
Large parts of the world's population show insufficient Omega-3 intake. Three main sources for omega-3 fats (fatty acids) are known to be essential for our well-being: DHA and EPA, derived from animals, and ALA, mostly derived from plants. The latter must be transformed into EPA or DHA before our bodies can process it correctly - unfortunately, there is evidence the conversion process does not work properly in humans. This means we rely on omega-3 that is derived from animals, such as fish, fish oil and grass-fed meat sources. Omega-3, such as DHA, will make up around 40% of the polyunsaturated fats in our brains. Meaning, anyone not getting enough omega-3 will have a lower IQ, is likely to suffer from depression, heart disease and various other diseases and mental disorders.
Also referred to as partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats are created by blending unsaturated fats with hydrogen gas at high temperatures so that they mimic saturated fats. Trans fats are responsible for raising "bad" cholesterol and reducing "good" cholesterol in our blood, which results eventually in abdominal obesity, insulin resistance and inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer's and anything else that rhymes with SERIOUSLY BAD FOR YOU. Thankfully the US has banned trans fats – let’s hope other countries follow suit.
As a kid you may have pushed that veggie stuff around your plate with a look of disgust on your face, but vegetables supply our bodies with vitamins, fiber, minerals and an abundance of trace nutrients scientists are still exploring. Studies conducted around the globe have shown eating a combination of 5-a-day fruit and vegetables improves our health and reduces risk of heart disease, cancer and various other health problems.
Vitamin D functions as a steroid hormone in our bodies and is naturally created by our skin, when we are exposed to ultraviolet sun rays. This process supplied us just fine throughout evolution - until we discovered house building, moved to miserable climates and began to stay indoors to watch TV and play video games. A large part of the world suffers from Vitamin D Deficiency, even where people live in sunny climates. They prevent ultraviolet light to reach their skin with sun screens, blocking the natural production of vitamin D. Lack of vitamin D is responsible for cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and other serious diseases. Take vitamin D3 supplements or a tablespoon of cod liver fish oil if you can't get enough sun.
Refined carbs are bad for you, it's official. Eating the stuff sends our blood sugar sky high, creating spikes which are followed by a surge of insulin. This in turn kick-starts fat storage and eventually makes us resistant to insulin. Refined carbs are blamed for obesity and diabetes.
If you are eating a healthy balanced diet, you should not need supplements. A balanced diet will provide everything you need. Supplements should be exactly as they are named – something to make up a deficiency in your diet. Do not simply substitute pills for food. Whatever it is you’re deficient in, there’s 99 times out of 100, something in the food world that can deliver it.
Added sugar is a disaster. Sugar in the form of sucrose and high fructose corn syrup is merely empty calories, deficient in nutrients. Sugar – especially fructose types – is being implicated as a leading cause of obesity, cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, all of which are growing in the Western World as major causes of death. Want to know the science bit? Fructose makes our brains resistant to a hormone called leptin, which effectively makes our brains WANT to get fat. Eating an excess of added sugars sets up a relentless biochemical drive in the brain to keep eating sugar, creating a vicious circle of getting fatter and eating even more sugar. (source authoritynutrition.com)
No diet to lose weight is effective on its own. Without a lifestyle change, which means eating healthier and doing more exercise more regularly and more frequently than previously, a diet will only give short term results.
None of these facts about nutrition are new, nor are they earth shattering news. It’s just good to remind ourselves of them every now and then to counteract all the other “facts” that get thrown at us.
What new info about nutrition, diet and food have you heard lately?
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