You are what you eat: Basics in nutrition
So many people writing books or articles are vying for the popularity vote by promoting diets that ascribe to peoples wishes to continue with their bad habits. They give false evidence to support bad eating choices.
The simple truth is we need to look at our ancestors from a long time ago and understand the type of eating habits as well as physiological demands and what was naturally available to us at the time. Our physiological make up has developed over tens of thousands perhaps millions of years in natural environments. With all the technological or industrial advances over the last several centuries, we need to look at the changes of the environment and how this actually affects our physiology either in a positive or negative way.
There is such a thing as nutritional excellence. Excellence in eating the right foods at the right times delivering a body that functions harmoniously. This harmony can be tested by simply measuring BMI, energy levels, endurance, vitamin levels, hormonal levels and other factors besides the absence of disease. These tests will take out the guess work of our diets.
A body that is in harmony, is a body that feels good all the time – this is the final test.
Find the right book with a lot of common sense and scientific backing but here are some basic nutritional facts that will help:
The math is real simple: calories in and calories out. Science has shown what the average calories should be for body type, level of activity and specific goals. Strict 500 calorie diets or excessive intake of 5000 calories or more clearly do not benefit the body and must be avoided.
Getting your full complement of vitamins from food sources is always better than the synthetic alternative. This is because you will get them in a balanced form as well as the natural complex formation with other nutrients to make them specifically beneficial. Manufactured supplements are often delivered in higher or lower levels than is appropriate and typically without the particularly beneficial naturally occurring complexes. For example, vitamin E exists naturally in at least 7 different forms. When you buy the supplement – which one are you getting?
Of course if the foods you eat are deficient in the vitamins, then a supplement will be better. Best to get the type that is more naturally based.
Refined sugars reduce the immune system and promotes aging. High levels of sugar creates complexes with proteins that limit their function or cause other negative effects on tissue. Furthermore the intake of refined sugars causes extreme changes in blood sugar levels, the subsequent hormonal levels and erratic changes in physiology. Keeping your blood sugar in “the zone” is ideal.
Variety in our diet is important and too often we restrict our diets to a few choices – as we become deficient in our nutrition – we try to compensate this lack by eating more of the deficient food. Result – too many calories and too overweight. The food industry best understands this fact and caters their cookies and chips to deliver certain food elements that enhance our craving and so we eat more of them. Do you remember the potato chip commercial that states – “you cant just eat one”? the Orio cookie has over 20 different varieties of the same cookie worldwide – catering specifically to different cultural tastes the desire to eat more!
Eat big – with low calorie content. The sense of fullness of the stomach is more the result of volume rather than calories. Eat slowly too, the sense of fullness normally takes 20 minutes to register with the brain. Increasing fiber intake reduces calorie intake: 14 grams of fiber reduces calorie intake by 10%.
Milk has always received much attention as a great drink. In nature, mothers nurture their babies for a limited time. Mothers themselves drink water rather than milk – so why should we? For that matter the protein content is too high and the additives of antibiotics and hormones can’t be that beneficial to our health. Finally, most people are lactose intolerant and do not digest milk well. Better alternatives include rice milk, almond milk and soy milk and of course, water.
We recommend becoming personally educated about the influences of the different foods on our body. We also recommend getting nutritional coaching that not only focuses on the right foods but how to be creative in cooking them.
Dr. Bart Rademaker, MD