1 January 2006

Food for Thought

Why Nutrition Changes
By Catherine Saxelby

People often ask me why we nutritionists keep changing our minds! One year, carbohydrate is wonderful, the next year it’s not. One year, fat is a no-no, the next year, it’s only saturated fat the we should worry about, the other fats are ‘good’ fats that are OK to eat and enjoy. Protein was ‘forgotten’ for some years, now it’s back and considered important for satiety and weight loss. And the same happens with foods. Eggs make a good example. They were off the acceptable list for many years due to their high cholesterol. Anyone with a high cholesterol was advised to limit them to only 2 a week. Now it’s OK to eat an egg a day if you wish. As long as you don’t drown it in butter or cream! The body regulates the cholesterol it makes in response to what you eat. But it can’t cope with the saturated fat that’s already a big problem in our daily diets.

However I rationalise and justify these paradigm shifts, there’s no doubt that nutrition changes. It evolves, it twists and turns, it often swings back to an earlier position. This is confusing for consumers but hardly surprising for a new science that is blended from biochemistry, physiology, medicine, food science and the culinary arts. As new terms and new discoveries keep popping up, there are shifts in thinking on many issues.

Just 5 years ago, we dietitians were still talking ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ carbohydrates. How naive was that thinking?! Thanks to the GI research, we now have a better understanding of what happens to foods like bread, potato, rice and pasta once we’ve ingested them. Some are fast, some are slow. It’s got nothing to do with simple or complex – it’s much more complex than that.

So should you NOT take on board the latest advice? Even though nutrition changes at the edges, the basics remain similar and I often remind people of those ‘golden rules’ or ’10 commandments’ as I like to call them. For a healthy diet:

  • Aim to eat plenty of vegetables and fruit (note the order)
  • Cut back on sugar
  • Cut back on salt
  • Choose whole grains
  • Go easy on fat
  • Steer clear of overly-processed and refined foods
  • Aim for more fresh and home-prepared meals
  • Be moderate with alcohol
  • Eat a little of what you like, and (last but not least)
  • Moderation in most things
Sound familiar? It’s probably your Grandma would have told you.
—Catherine Saxelby is a dietitian and author of Nutrition for Life (Hardie Grant $29.95). For regular updates on nutrition as it happens, you can join her popular Foodwatch Club at www.foodwatch.com.au

Catherine Saxelby


Anonymous said...

What you have to consider is this. There are 6 Billion people on this beautiful planet and each and everyone of us requires specific needs or we would perish. Each and everyone one of us require affection, love, companionship and many other emotional and physical needs. However we are going to review what our needs are from a nutritional standpoint.

Each and everyone one of must have:

Air - more specifically the oxygen in the air, the oxygen, which is taken in by the body from the atmosphere around us, is picked up by the hemoglobin in the blood and distributed to all of the body's seven trillion cells where, among other things, it is then used for another vital process called oxidation

Water - absolutely essential to life, there are virtually no functions or reactions in the body that can take place without the presence of water. For the body to function properly, it must be hydrated properly.

Food – Food is essential to life, without it you would starve to death. But not just any food, we must obtain essential nutrients from our food.

Sleep – Humans must have sleep, this is when your body recovers, when your body regenerates, heals and repairs your body’s cells, tissues, organs and systems.

Exercise – The body has an incredibly complex set of processes to meet the demands of working muscles. Every system in the body is involved. To meet the needs of working muscle, the body has an orchestrated response involving the heart, blood vessels, nervous system, lungs, liver and skin. It really is an amazing system!

Your body is incredibly complex and to maintain health and wellbeing you need all of your systems working harmoniously together.

If any component is out of balance that is when dysfunction of bodily systems start to occur.

Lets review nutrients from food
Specific nutrients have been clearly identified that are vital to health not for one individual but for all 6 billion people on this planet.

You see humans are not that much different, our basic and essential requirements are virtually identical. That is why we have all heard "an apple a day keeps the doctor away". Because no matter which person on this earth eats that apple, their body will absorb the nutrients from that food and support their body’s systems.

If there was a glass of orange juice, or glass of water, or a tomato, or cherry, or lemon slice, a box or raisons, a pear, a carrot, or any other type of food or liquid once again no matter who consumed these essential foods on this planet their body would process, break down, absorb the food and nutrients and then turn around and use those nutrients to support their various systems in their body.

And that is all the person did was eat these foods, it is their body that does the rest. Their body is what processed the foods, their body absorbed the nutrients, and their body used the nutrients to support the functions of their body. It is the human body that is the miracle, it really is amazing and it is preprogrammed to know how to use the all the essential needs you provide it with.

The point of this is to ensure that you understand that your body's needs are no different from another body's needs. This is the basis in which scientific research in the wellness industry is moving towards. Supporting specific needs of the human body!

More specifically to identify what all 6 billion human body's needs are, then to use diligent science to uncover not some but all of the needs of the human body. Then to find the various food sources wherever they may be on this planet that support your body's needs.

This process has to begin where life begins at the cellular level. The true needs of the body have to begin at the level of the human cell. This is where science is uncovering the specific needs that are required for optimal health.

We are seeing the nutritional value of our foods continually decline, sadly we are processing several nutrients out of our diet. As part of this scientific research on evaluating the body's cellular needs an essential group of nutrients have been identified called glyconutrients.

Remember when the essential requirements for a person’s body have been identified and validated, those same essential requirements are required by all 6 billion people.