There are many diets around, and knowing which diet is best for you is hard to work out. There are low fat, low carbohydrate, low calorie, low gl, raw food, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, food combining (one of the better diets), and even ‘the perfect diet’; though nothing is perfect in reality.
We are not perfect either so trying to stick to a rigid diet routine is difficult enough without wondering if it is the right diet. So what is the answer. We all want to have a better diet, either for weight loss or health reasons. If it is a diet that is ‘low’ or restrictive in some way then it is probably not balanced and the nutrient content is not complete.
A complete diet is the answer and should be one that provides all the nutrients the body needs. Though I doubt any diet can do that in reality today without a lot of care and work. A diet with healthy nutritious food and few rules to follow is a good start. A diet that is not too difficult to follow and fits in with everyday lifestyles and uses everyday foods. A advocate a diet based on nutritious food and some simple rules. The main one being avoid processed foods, junk foods and soft drinks and colas including diet drinks (another story) and eat more fruit and vegetables.
You don’t have to starve yourself or count calories, and can eat as much fruit and vegetables as you like but eat more vegetables than fruit. The following is a list of foods to base your diet on and none are exotic, expensive superfoods.
Apples, Bananas, Berries, Pineapple, Broccoli, Lentils, Garlic, Onions, Mung Beans, Flax Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Nuts, Oats, Olive oil, Green Tea, Tomatoes, Sprouts (as in sproutings), Yoghurt (plain), all Vegetables, other fruits (grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, oranges, peaches, pears, prunes (high in anti oxidents)
Plenty of choice there and if you are not vegetarian make sure any meat etc you choose is organic, free range chicken and eggs, meat from organic grass reared animals and oily fish such as sardines and salmon. You don’t have to have large amounts of these or eat them every day, so the cost is not out of reach.
Age is another factor to take into account when working out a diet. While on the subject of ideal foods, the following are good for us oldies - cherries, oats, almonds, oily fish, tomato, chicken (free range), full milk (organic), together with the rest of the above foods.
Add to this healthy nutritious diet more fresh air and exercise and you have the potential for a healthier lifestyle that will make you feel good and look good.
The arguments go on as to whether organic food is really worth the extra price usually charged. That is in the supermarkets anyway. Don’t forget that the local grocers shops and farmers markets as they can be just as cheap or cheaper and the produce may even be fresher. Also while not all produce may be certified organic many small producer will grow their produce using more traditional methods. There are often reports that organic fruit and vegetables are no better than normal grown produce anyway.
It maybe true that in theory both organic and non-organic foods contain the same vitamins and minerals but that can only be true if both are grown in similar soil and that can also be true of one organic produce against another organic produce. Even if it was true that both organic and non organic are equal there is still the use of pesticides and artificial fertilisers on non organic crops and the resultant residues.
Large scale agriculture also has soil depleted of essential nutrients and micro organisms, leaving poor soil quality which means less nutrients in the crop. Chemical based agriculture, where the growing of a single crop such as wheat or soy on the same land year after year is not only lacking in the essential nutrients but is bad for the environment. It also increases the use of pesticides and fertilisers because the land has not had chance to recover its richness.
So I still think organic is best. I would also prefer meat from organic grass fed animals. Large scale factory farmed meat has the possibility of contamination by drugs such as antibiotics and growth hormones and other toxins. As well as the drugs used in meat production there is also the concentration of pesticides in animals. Pesticides used to spray the crops fed to animals that we then eat. There are also the illegal practices that crop up now and again, the most extreme recently being pork dyed red and sold as beef!
The best way to be more sure your food is safe is to buy organic. Buy local products and use the farmers markets that are now widespread. Buying food this way is also better environmentally as organic and locally grown food producers take more care of the land, the soil, etc.
You are also helping the finances of your locality since the money spent locally helps keep good food and produce alive and the money also stays in the area instead of disappearing into supermarket profits. So buy organic if you can and buy local produce anyway and you will benefit from healthier more nutritious food.
We don’t just need food to satisfy ourselves and our hunger. The cells of the body also need nutrition. The body develops from a single cell and every part of our body is a collection of cells continually dying, being replaced, being repaired and maintained. The nutrients we get in our food have to be sufficient for cells to carry out this work as they are essential to our being.
Each cell has a nucleus containing the body’s DNA. Chromosomes are clusters of DNA molecules in a cell containing 1000′s of genes. Each cell contains 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs. Genes carry the genetic code for the formation of the body and every gene is a tiny piece of DNA.
Chromosomes are therefore part of our genetic make up. Shortages of nutrients causes cell damage including breaks in the chromosomes, which leads to disease. Folic acid is one nutrient needed for DNA repair and other nutrients also work at a cellular level providing the nutrients needed. We therefore need to be aware of the importance of a nutrient rich diet. Not just to feed us on a general level but also to supply the nutrients that are necessary for the very basics of our being – the cells.
If the cells don’t get the food needed they can’t operate properly and disease is more likely. The lack of nutients goes unnoticed until it is too late and the damage is done. This is one of the reasons that we should all be following a nutrient rich diet now, as a preventative measure and to help ensure a long and healthy life. Remember your body needs food but the right food.
As you know I go on about eating more fruit and vegetables in your diet. Eating more raw foods is one way of getting more nutrition from your diet. Most fruit is eaten raw and then there are salads – the limit of most peoples raw vegetable experience. But other vegetables are also tasty raw and can be added to any meal or salad. Cauliflower is crisp and sweet raw and nothing like its boiled version. Then of course there is carrot either grated or cut into sticks. The white of leeks is also tasty and succulent chopped on salad. Beetroot and turnip can also be grated raw onto you salad leaves and then of course there are the herbs - parsley, basil, coriander etc.
So as you can see taking more raw foods is not difficult and you also add variety to a meal which is also important for getting a wider variety of nutrients. More fruit and vegetables are also good for your health. Just this week a report from a Canadian study showed that more fruit and vegetables in your diet can weaken the effects of faulty genes that cause illness. Healthy foods apparently modify genetic code variants that would otherwise increase the risk of heart disease. The scientists analysed DNA of 27000 people from a variety of backgrounds looked at their dietary habits in relation to heart disease.
It is not just the faulty genes that may cause heart disease that may be corrected by a healthier diet. There is a new field of epigenetics – the study of how our genes react to our behaviour, including diet and lifestyle. Epigenetics plays an important role in mediating between nutrition and the ensuing phenotypic changes throughout our life and seem to be partly responsible for biological changes that occur during aging. Recent studies indicate that because nutrition modulates epigenetic events associated with disease (e.g. cancer, diabetes) there is in theory a link between nutrition and a longer life. Nutrition has a strong impact on these epigentic processes and therefore has a role in health. Just type in google – epigenetics and nutrition for more infomation, though some of it is a bit scientific.
It now seems that what we eat affects our genes and we also inherit the affects of what our parents ate. But this need not be permanent and if a parent had heart disease or cancer and you inherit the faulty gene that causes the problem you don’t have to think that you will also inherit the illness. The problem need not be permanent. As the new study by the Canadian scientists shows, your faulty genes can be corrected by diet. It appears that we can control the health of our genes and diet can correct and control genes that are not working properly. Nutrients and bio active food components can influence epigenetic phenomena. No doubt there will be more on this in the future as more studies follow.
Once again it shows the importance of healthy nutritious food in a wide and varied diet together with a healthier lifestyle including more exercise. As I said at the beginning eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and as wide a variety as possible which you can do without much planning or changes to your existing diet. There is plenty of information on a nutrition diet and tips on how to vary your diet in my book The Nutrition Diet and Recipe Book which is available totally free as a download from www.obooko.com (under heading Health and Self Improvement.)
I am always going on about eating natural food as much as possible. Processed and junk food is devoid of nutrients and often contains too much salt, sugar and/or fats and too many chemicals from msg to petroleum based products. It is even more important for our children to receive food that is high in vitamins and minerals as they need these nutrients to help their growing up. In my nutrition diet I advocate more fruit and vegetables and natural whole foods and avoid processed and junk food. As an example chicken nuggets are a case in point – a children’s favourite but do we know what they are eating. The following is a recipe taken from Wikipedia (October 2010).
The chicken nugget is a small piece of white meat chicken held together with chicken breast. The pieces are then coated with batter, lightly fried, individually quick frozen, packaged, and sent to stores where they are deep-fried and sold.
The ingredients are as follows: Chicken, water, salt, sodium phosphates. Battered and breaded with: bleached wheat flour, water, wheat flour, food starch-modified, salt, spices, wheat gluten, paprika, dextrose, yeast, garlic powder, rosemary, partially hydrogenated soybean oil and cottonseed oil with mono- and diglycerides, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, ammonium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate), natural flavor (plant source) with extractives of paprika. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness).Dimethylpolysiloxane made of silicone is added as an antifoaming agent.
This last chemical added to the mix is also described as follows: Dimethylpolysiloxane is an important component in Silly Putty, to which PDMS imparts its characteristic viscoelastic properties. The rubbery, vinegary-smelling silicone caulks, adhesives, and aquarium sealants are also well-known. PDMS is also used as a component in silicone grease and other silicone based lubricants, as well as in defoaming agents, mold release agents, damping fluids, heat transfer fluids, polishes, cosmetics, hair conditioners and other applications. PDMS has also been used as a filler fluid in breast implants, although this practice has decreased somewhat, due to safety concerns.
It is not safe for breast implants but is ok in food. The answer is to eat fresh food and even better organic. If you buy processed food look at the labels, though you may need a science degree and a magnifying glass. An easy guide is to avoid buying any packet that has more than five ingredients besides the food content. Even better follow the nutrition diet as described in my FREE book ‘ The Nutrition Diet and Recipe Book’ which can be downloaded free from www.obooko.com (under the heading Health and Self Improvement).
In my book ‘The Nutrition Diet and Recipe Book’ which you can download free from www.obooko.com (under Health and Self Improvment) I wrote about how the body can react if it doesn’t get the food it needs. Basically your body needs nutrients to survive and prosper and these come from the food we eat. This means that when your body needs topping up with vitamins and minerals and other nutrients it sends out hunger signals from the brain. You eat and the body is satisfied. That is assuming you eat nutrient rich foods the body needs. If not the body asks for more food and if you continue to eat the wrong foods it will ask for more and you get fat. If you continue to eat processed/junk food instead of nutrient rich foods your body needs it will continue to send out hunger signals.
Now new research shows that the brain is affected by eating the wrong sort of foods and can be starved of nutrients. If it does not get the nutrients it needs cells in the body and the brain start to eat themselves. Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York discovered this and found that the body responds to hunger by producing fatty acids which send more hunger signals to the brain to increase the need to eat. As in my first paragraph I presume this will continue to happen if the body does not get the nutrition it needs. So the nutrition diet is the way forward.
Other than the obvious – eat a more nutritious diet – what use is the information to us. Basically it should be another tool to encourage us all to eat a healthy nutrient rich diet. Which is why I am telling you this news. If you give your body what it needs in the food you eat these urges to eat more and more will not occur and will help with weight control amongst other things.
Though the obvious thing might be to encourage healthy eating that is not often the reason for research. Often it is for commercial reasons, to produce a new wonder pill to make us slim and healthy. The researchers mentioned are looking at how this information can be used to stop the effect of lack of nutrients by blocking the sending of the hunger pangs. What would that do – stop you eating so you can get thin? It would not get you eating a healthy nutrient rich diet.
Surely it is easier, cheaper and healthier to get people to eat a healthier diet. But then you can’t sell them a ‘healthy diet’ and make lots of money, so devise a pill which will disrupt the body’s processes as with other pills on the market such as pills to block the absorption of fat to help weight loss.
Some hope of that. You take the pill and still eat the foods that made you fat in the first place doing nothing to help your health or wellbeing. Plus these pills generally have side effects. Your body also needs fat – there are fat soluble vitamins etc. (I will blog about fat later). So why block the fat. Again it would be better spending your money on nutrition help and advice and eat a diet based on nutritious food as recommended here and in my book. It is a simple fact – your body needs food but the right food.