Eat for Health not for Illness
By: Laurence T. Gayao MD
For the past few years we have been inundated with different information about health diets, but in spite of that we are as people getting more and more obese which results in the increase of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases and many other illnesses. Some nutritionist advocating low-fat diet and some low carbohydrate diet and to add to the confusion different fitness companies offer food products and nutritional food supplements for better performance and health.
Do we really need expert nutritional advise on a healthy diet? I don’t think so. We basically already know what to do: eat whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, minimize sweets like sodas, candies and other food known as empty calories. Of course every one knows that moderation is important in our food intake.
Why all these confusion if it were that simple? Well, we are bombarded with many of these complicated nutritional mis-information that are provided by different food companies promoting their products. These are mega food corporations wanting to to make money spend multimillion dollars in advertisement and in other subtle promotional ways. Yes, we have a good idea how to eat right, but to actually change our acquired eating habits is were we run into problems.
Why is this?
Problems with our diet, first of all we are more and more eating processed foods. We rely on packaged foods which is more convenient and caters to our taste buds though deficient in nutrition. The processing destroys much of the nutritional content and removes much of the fiber. To add to this, these foods have higher caloric content which is not destroyed by the refining process.
Our life styles have also changed, so many things that now demand our time in this fast paced world. Social media keeps us busy, computers now enables us keep in touch with work 24/7, communication in business goes out in a split of a second, not much time left to prepare and enjoy home cooked meals. It is easy to fall into the fast food eating habits because they are more readily available to fit into our frenetic lives. These heavily processed foods are not only deficient in nutrients but also high in salt, preservatives, flavoring and chemically altered fats and sweeteners.
Unwanted presence of preservatives, pesticides and antibiotics in foods also the natural balance of the bacterial population in our bowel which may lead to many health problems.
Because of large-scale commercial farming our food is not as nutritious as it was few decades ago. Soil has been depleted of nutrients due over farming. Chemicals are used to control weeds and insects are widely used and these chemicals finds their way into our food chain. They use fertilizers to grow plant food fast and in bigger sizes yet low on nutrients.
Knowledge vs Practice
The evolution of dietary patterns among human beings had nothing to do with keeping one in optimum health. It was more influence by what food was available and what catered to ones taste buds. For centuries the average life expectancy of humans was less than fifty years. Most people died of infectious diseases and their complications. With the advent of modern medicine people are living longer because for many of these diseases we have found treatments or cures. Now we are confronted more with life style and nutritionally related illnesses. We acknowledge roll of nutrition in our health, yet applying what know in our daily lives has not change much. The problem is we are dealing with in-grained habits that are reinforced by our environment. Despite of the national fruit and vegetable campaign in 1991 the fruit and vegetable intake among Americans have not increased. Studies have shown only 10% adhered to the recommendation, 50% did not eat any vegetable at all and 40% did not eat any fruit.
Food as Medicine
As general rule: Eat foods that are whole and natural while exclude those that have been processed. (I may not win friends in the food industry.)
Eat variety of healthy foods: Food such as vegetables, whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. Eating sparingly or avoiding if possible animal products such as meat, fish and dairy products. With variety one would include proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber in the diet.
What about fats?
There are fats we need to avoid its use are safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, grape seed oil, and cottonseed oil which are high in omega 6 fatty acids and very low in omega 3. Omega 6 fatty acid which tend to cause inflammation especially if the omega 3 fatty acid is low.
Fats that are recommended are plant oils, such as olive oil, soy oil, avocado, canola oil, flaxed oil, oils from nuts & seed and fats from fish whose diet is made up of algae, contain a predominance of omega 3 fatty acid. This prevents inflammation of the intima (inner lining) of blood vessels which causes coronary heart disease. One study showed that replacing corn oil with olive oil and canola oil to reach an n-6:n-3 ratio of 4:1 led to a 70% decrease in total mortality. That is no small difference.
Fibers gives us a full feeling preventing over eating and it also plays a important role in the digestive system slowing the rise in blood sugar and allowing nutrients to be more fully absorbed. It also aids in the elimination of waste by preventing constipation. Lately it has been found to enhance good bacteria which prevents the development of colon cancer.
Foods to Avoid
Hydrogenated Fats and Saturated Fates
Trans fatty acid otherwise known as hydrogenated vegetable oils. Manufactures uses the process of hydrogenation to increase the self-life of food. Such fats affects function and responses in many cell types and results in blood vessel inflammation.
Saturated fats (fats saturated with Hydrogen) are fats from meat, cheese, and butter which has been linked to obesity-a big cancer predictor and need to be avoided. These fats also causes high levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood thus increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
High fructose corn syrup has been known contribute to increase in increased caloric intake. The metabolism of high fructose syrup differs from ordinary sugar. When we eat ordinary sugar, the body produces an important signaling hormone called leptin that tell the brain the body is full hence controlling the appetite this is not so in high fructose. This may explain the study that found 34% of increase of metabolic syndrome in subjects who even on those that drink diet soda.
Research has long showed both in animals and humans that moderate caloric restriction slows down aging. Marion Nestle, a New York University nutritionist said it well, “Eat less, move more; consume plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grains and avoid too much junk food.”
Keep it simple. Eat for Health not for Illness, it is for your decision. It is your body my friend, yes eat for health.
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