My article touches on nutrition and the different diets polluting the media purporting particular fads. One promoting low carbs, the next one low fat and some in-between flavor of the month. One day we hear something is good and the next we almost expect to hear it´s bad. Why not assume the latest research will all be nullified and just close our eyes and eat whatever tastes best?
I consulted with the experts to come up, not with the ¨ideal¨ diet, but with a simple healthy food plan that will provide your body with essential nutrients, fluid, macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats and essential elements required by organism in small quantities such as vitamins and dietary minerals and adequate calories.
What is Healthy Food
Marion Nestle (Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University) expresses the mainstream view among scientists who study nutrition:
The basic principles of good diets are so simple that I can summarize them in just ten words: eat less, move more, eat lots of fruits and vegetables. For additional clarification, a five-word modifier helps: go easy on junk food.
Follow these precepts and you will go a long way toward preventing the major diseases of our overfed society— coronary heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and a host of others….
These precepts constitute the bottom line of what seem to be the far more complicated dietary recommendations of many health organizations and national and international governments—the forty-one “key recommendations” of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, for example. …
Although you may feel as though advice about nutrition is constantly changing, the basic ideas behind my four precepts have not changed in half a century. And they leave plenty of room for enjoying the pleasures of food.
The Fundamentals of Healthy Eating
While some extreme diets may suggest otherwise, we all need a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in our diets to sustain a healthy body. You don’t need to eliminate certain categories of food from your diet, but rather select the healthiest options from each category.
Protein gives you the energy to get up and go—and keep going—while also supporting mood and cognitive function.
Too much protein can be harmful to people with kidney disease, but the latest research suggests that many of us need more high-quality protein, especially as we age. That doesn’t mean you have to eat more animal products—a variety of plant-based sources of protein each day can ensure your body gets all the essential protein it needs
Fat. Not all fat is the same. While bad fats can wreck your diet and increase your risk of certain diseases, good fats protect your brain and heart.
In fact, healthy fats—such as omega-3s (fish, plant oils, and fortified foods)—are vital to your physical and emotional health. Including more healthy fat in your diet can help improve your mood, boost your well-being, and even trim your waistline.
Fiber. Eating foods high in dietary fiber (grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans) can help you stay regular and lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can also improve your skin and even help you to lose weight.
Calcium. As well as leading to osteoporosis, not getting enough calcium in your diet can also contribute to anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulties.
Whatever your age or gender, it’s vital to include calcium-rich foods in your diet, limit those that deplete calcium, and get enough magnesium and vitamins D and K to help calcium do its job.
Carbohydrates are one of your body’s main sources of energy. But most should come from complex, unrefined carbs (vegetables, whole grains, fruit) rather than sugars and refined carbs.
Cutting back on white bread, pastries, starches, and sugar can prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar, fluctuations in mood and energy, and a build-up of fat, especially around your waistline
What is The Best Diet
Science compared every diet and the winner is real food. There´s no question that a healthful diet is closely associated with longevity and decreases in risk of most chronic diseases.
No one is arguing that diet is less than extremely important to health and well being, but seemingly everyone is arguing as to what constitutes the best diet
In this context I would like to refer to David L. Katz (Director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, Griffin Hospital, Connecticut) and Yale colleague Stephanie Meller publication of a journal in a paper titled, “Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health?”
This publication (see Annual Reviews table below) compares the major diets of the day: low carb, low fat, low glycemic, Mediterranean, mixed/balanced (DASH), Paleolithic, vegan, and elements of other diets (see table below) . Despite the pervasiveness of these diets in culture and media, Katz and Meller write, “There have been no rigorous, long-term studies comparing contenders for best diet laurels using methodology that precludes bias and confounding. For many reasons, such studies are unlikely.”
They conclude that no diet is clearly best, but there are common elements across eating patterns that are proven to be beneficial to health. “A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”
Among the salient points of proven health benefits the researchers note that nutritionally-replete plant-based diets are supported by a wide array of favorable health outcomes, including fewer cancers and less heart disease.
These diets ideally included not just fruits and vegetables, but whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Katz and Meller found “no decisive evidence” that low-fat diets are better than diets high in healthful fats, like the Mediterranean.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in veggies, fruits, nuts, whole grains, lean proteins and low fat dairy. Red wine is cool in moderation (one glass per day) as are red meat and sweets.
This diet also promotes the social and mindful aspects of enjoying food. The end result is favorable effects on heart disease, cancer risk, obesity and “is potentially associated with defense against neurodegenerative disease and preservation of cognitive function, reduced inflammation, and defense against asthma.”
Katz and Meller also found carbohydrate-selective diets (see table above) to be better than categorically low-carbohydrate diets, in that incorporating whole grains is associated with lower risks for cancers and better control of body weight.
Finally, in a notable blow to some interpretations of the Paleo diet, Katz and Meller wrote, “if Paleolithic eating is loosely interpreted to mean a diet based mostly on meat, no meaningful interpretation of health effects is possible.”
They note that the composition of most meat in today’s food supply is not similar to that of mammoth meat, and that most plants available during the Stone Age are today extinct. (though it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Paleo extremists are crowd-funding a Jurassic Park style experiment to bring them back.)
Eating right sounds simple. Watch your portion sizes and choose fruits,
vegetables, whole grains and lean meats more often. But knowing how to eat right does not always lead to eating right.
Eating balanced meals with fruits and vegetables and listening to your hunger and fullness cues can help you to eat right. Medical News Today states the top 10 benefits of a healthful diet as follows
Reduced cancer risk
Heart health and stroke prevention
Strong bones and teeth
Improved gut health
Getting a goodnight´s sleep
The health of the next generation
I have presented you with general knowledge of main nutrients in food and what constitute what I consider my eating right.
My food plan is based on Nutrition Australia´s Food Pyramid (The Nourishing Hope) recommending eating from six core food groups every day: 1. vegetables and legumes, 2. fruits, 3. grains, 4. dairy products, 5. meats, eggs, nuts and seeds, and 6. healthy fats. It also encourages enjoying herbs and spices, drinking water and limiting added sugar and salt