Why Eating For Nutrition Gets More Important As We Age

Do you remember feeling sick on family holiday holidays as a child? Were you cautious about the milk in France or Spain? Did it taste funny? Did you have a constantly runny nose throughout your school days?

Children absorb micronutrients easily, so richer food made us sick, we constantly have symptoms from intolerances and we grow to like foods with an ‘acquired taste’ – Image by Daniela Dimitrova from Pixabay

Today, one-size-fits-all diet advice is causing a huge amount of chaos. People of all different sizes, ages, women or men, from childhood to old age, different genetic origins, frame sizes and activity levels.l

During 2020, many people who went out to work each day experienced a sudden change to their daily routine: staying at home. Many people put on weight. In John Yudkin’s book This Slimming Business, he shows how studies of people who took little, some or much exercize varied in appetite. Both low and medium levels of activity ate less than those who were highly active.

Public health advice to base every meal on starchy carbohydrates is only correct for those who are going to use that fast-releasing energy soon after eating. If the energy circulating in our blood as glucose or blood sugar is not used, it will be stored for another period of regular activity.

This means that during lockdowns, our bodies change to adapt to our new sedentary lifestyles.

Public health seems to have become all about pharmacy and cures. Our professional bodies don’t seem to think about healthy lifestyles – Image by Welcome to all and thank you for your visit ! ツ from Pixabay

We also lack enough sunlight to make vitamin D in the United Kingdom over the winter half of the year and anytime where we don’t go outside for at least 10-25 minutes, according to our shade of skin.

It seems as if our public health officers know very little about healthy lifestyles. They prescribe drugs or vaping to stop smoking. The tell people to base every meal on starchy carbohydrates as if we were medieval peasants. They recommend 5 pieces of fruit or vegetables everyday, giving us far too much sugar. They include enriched and fortified foods in their lists, which are stripped of natural nutrients and supplemented artificially.

It has been widely reported that we need more micronutrients as we get older. This session on Nutrition Concerns for Ageing Populations, taking place at Tufts University in Boston USA says:

People become less active, their metabolism slows, their energy requirement decreases, all of which mean that they need to eat less.

Recent research demonstrates that because older adults’ abilities to absorb and utilize many nutrients become less efficient, their nutrient requirements (particularly as a function of body mass) actually increase.

Maintaining a nutrient-dense diet is critically important for older adults because of the impact of food intake on health.

As Pelchat discussed, aging is often accompanied by a loss of appetite and changes in taste and smell, all of which can lead to more limited food choices and lower intake of healthful foods.

This means that Hearth Nutrition is primarily for people aged 40 plus, particularly women, who may have stopped going out to work each day, which means their lifestyle and dietary requirements have changed too. We need to increase our nutritional intake as we get older.

We move around less in older age, our metabolism slows, we need more nutrients – Image by coombesy from Pixabay

Here is a link to a study called Immune Function and Micronutrients Requirements Change Over the Life Course.

As well as needing vitamin D3 or D2 dietary supplements during the winter in the UK, micronutrients are important to protect us against viruses. This BMJ piece shows the role micronutrients play in the wake of COVID-19

We also become intolerant to foods that don’t agree with us as we get older. Not to forget allergies, of course, which are over-reactions by the immune system to nutrients the body doesn’t need.

We can work out a certain amount of our own ideal diet by considering:

Our genetic origins: if we have fair skin and originate from colder climates, we need more fat in our diet to make vitamins we don’t get from sunlight, such as vitamin D. If we come from somewhere with tropical fruit, we can process vitamins while simultaneously using the fast releasing energy.

This would be nutritious and healthy for you if it grew naturally in your backyard

Our location: those living in inner cities will need more nutrition to deal with increased levels of pollution, which means it is healthy to have more colds if the air quality is less good. Those living by the sea benefit from sea swimming and fresh seafood, particularly line-caught instead of farmed fish fed on grains.

Our age: as we get older: we need more nutrient rich foods to get the amount of vitamins we need.

Our activity level: if we eat starchy carbohydrates, but do not use the sugar in our blood, it will be stored away for future use, as these foods contain few nutrients, amino acids or omega 3 fatty acids. In fact, too much grain in the diet unbalances the Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio we need to be healthy.

Our size: if we are big framed (measured by head, hands and feet) we need more calories than if we are petite.

This all means that our tastes, preferences, intolerances, ethics, diets and lifestyles are up to us. We need the information to be able to make informed choices for ourselves.

Below are lists of the micronutrients we need each day, foods they come from and dietary supplement recommended daily amounts (RDAs) for nutrients missing in the diet.

 

 

 

How to Maintain our Weight and Health During Lockdowns

This story is an attempt at pulling many different threads together to create a whole picture of how human nutrition governs our mental and physical health and our body shape. I can’t ask if you’d prefer the good or bad news first, so will just go for it.

The most important way to maintain our figure is to keep up daily activity over the long term – Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

Rather than peppering the flow with citations, I will show the books and sources of this information at the bottom. As a journalist, I aim to follow the facts to reveal the hidden story about weight, nutrition, exercise and health. This means I’m building a complete picture, which relates to adults in the United Kingdom under Lockdown and similar sudden changes in circumstances.

The bad news

Diets are not just for after Christmas, they are for life. We see the same high percentage of Brits on diets ‘most of the time’ today, that existed in the 1960s. Weight gain affects those who work from home more than those who do at least part of their commute every day on foot. People who stop going out to work regularly – as many have during the lockdown – results in weight gain. It is preventable but not by following any diet, calorie counter, short term restriction of starchy foods or exercise boot camp.

The good news

Our bodies are designed to absorb occasional feasts and celebrations – Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

Neither a blow out at a wedding buffet nor an indulgent, well deserved holiday are going to set your waistline on an undesirable trajectory outwards. When we over eat on occasion, our bodies respond by increasing our metabolism to burn off the excess energy. Therefore, just as the weight creeps on when we stay at home every day, keeping up a routine of taking exercise or a walk three times a day could replicate some of the previous activity when going out to work.

To set new goals for staying at home, imagine your day when you went to the office and plan a daily routine so your daily activity level does not drop off. For those who cycled long distances to work, perhaps find an activity converter to translate your weekly game of squash or cycle commute into steps.

Vitamin D for indoors

It’s good to keep up time spent moving around when sudden life changes occur – Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

During the winter in the UK, we do not make enough sunlight to make vitamin D between October and April. If we are inside a lot, it is good to take a supplement each day when we do not see spring or summer sun for at least 10 minutes a day, with longer for darker shades of skin. Vitamin D3 (animal protein) or D2 (plant) 10mcg (1000 International Units) or 25mcg (4000 IU) each day will suffice.

This is prevention rather than cure and is not a remedy or inoculation against infection, nor is it anti-bacterial. It is good to take a supplement each day, which supplements vitamin D in a nutritious diet and it is fat soluble so easier to absorb if eaten with food containing healthy fats (fish, meat, eggs, dairy, olives, avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds, oils from any of these).

How to Stay Healthy During Lockdown

Motivation comes in many forms but doing regularly is vital for health – Image by Firmbee from Pixabay

There are a lucky few people who will not naturally face worsening health during Lockdown. These people have not had a greatly disrupted daily routine. However, those people might still struggle to find the motivation to jog on spot, do sits ups, use the staircase for steps or follow a yoga or dancersize instructor on YouTube.

In order to maintain your weight and health during lockdown, it is very important you keep up some activity twice of three times a day. Otherwise after 3 months your weight and metabolism with have adapted to your new routine. This is to prevent you from bouncing off the walls or experiencing the huge surpluses of adrenalin that give you that buzz after exercize.

Why do you think so many people are on permanent diets?

We can’t rely on gyms or classes – Image by Татьяна Краснова from Pixabay

Nutritionists and doctors now know that short term, restrictive, high activity diets do not work long term. Our bodies are designed for 12 weeks of famine and intense exercise and adapt accordingly, to help us survive and keep us alive. That is the very reason short term diets do not work. When we reduce our calorie intake to less than what we need, our metabolism slows down to conserve energy so we have enough to get through ‘hard times’.

Too much information is taken out of context. Yes, people who had been in prison camps for a period of time became skeletal. Do you wonder how they survived? When they were released, special products had to be made to bring them back to normal eating again. They could not just tuck into a roast dinner on leaving their prison. Their bodies had adapted to keep them alive through extreme hardship, inadequate food and excessive activity.

How do we deal with our sedentary lives today?

Different nutrients and richness of food on holiday affects us quickly – Image by Pexels from Pixabay

The bad news: you cannot sustain an unrealistic, fashionable, sinewy teenage boy figure all your life, even if you are a sinewy, teenage boy. If you become an athlete,  perhaps you will maintain your size and shape, depending on the consistency of physical activity and, as you get older, the increasingly nutritious diet that you eat.

Think about ‘acquired taste’ and, perhaps, memories of being sick on the first few days of family holidays abroad.  These are natural phenonema.

Below are the books I read to gather information from this story, starting with the direct, succinct, to the point and light-hearted This Slimming business by John Yudkin.

Funny, clear, direct and to the point , John Yudkin clarifies the advice we still use today

Firstly, our young bodies are able to process just about any foods, which means we do not need rich, nutrient dense foods, such as anchovies, avocados, olives or too many eggs until we become adults, in order to get micronutrients we can access from chicken, potatos, cabbage, rice and peas.

The age of thirty is most associated with change to our bodies, lifestyles, routines and responses to food. Thirty may also be the age when we start our own voyages of discovery about food, health and quality of life.

The next blog will look at how to maintain our health and quality of life through food and activity.

Here are the other books. They all focus mainly on nutrition and none of them provide the complete picture and truth behind the statement that all diets run along: ‘eat less exercise more’ to show that a sustained lifestyle with daily activity is the most important part. Weight gains and goes slowly. If rushed, it will bounce back.

All these books focus mostly on nutrition, while physical exercise is half the story when it comes to health

The vital role of micronutrients through food for recovery

Amongst all the wellbeing and health messages out there, which just tell you “what?” not “Why?” food is seldom written about in a health context. Food plays the most vital role in health besides water and sunlight.

Skip Intro

Eating for Recovery

Meal Ideas

Supplements – when to take a short cut

Introduction

Fat soluble vitamins ideally taken with egg and fish meals

Modern medicine is premarily based on “cures”. Modern doctors are no longer encouraged to promote “prevention rather than cure”. However, the House of Lords has continued to call for medicine to focus on “Prevention, Public Health and Patient Responsibility” as part of their long-term strategy for the NHS.

I started my research while feeling tired, having just recovered from a heavy, respiratory cold from December, with a long lingering cough, waking up with shortness of breath and feeling very chesty. Aged 49, I found the NHS vitamins and minerals page advised people in the UK we don’t get enough sunlight to make vitamin D for half the year and to take 10mcg supplement of D3 (animal protein) or D2 (plant protein). I had almost thrown my bottle of D3 away. I started taking it and felt immediately less drowsy.

This was confusing as I was born without a working thyroid and hearing loss, which is known today be a result of iodine deficiency in the womb. Supposedly, fresh fish wasn’t easy to come by in autumn 1970 in London or my mum had a genetic deficiency of omega 3. My DNA wellbeing test bore that one out. Although I live in Falmouth and regularly eat seafood, I started taking Omega 3 and cod liver oil supplements, which contain vitamins D and A.

Intro over now I’ll get to the point.

The following meal suggestions provide the ranges of micronutrients to support your immune system back to health.

By avoiding certain foods (for those with northern ancestry as people descended from those with tropical fruit at their disposal would metabolise glucose differently and require Vitamin D all year round as well).

50% of what we eat is determined by our current lives and 50% by our genetics. It possible to find out about decreaases and increases of vitamin uptake from our diet via DNA wellbeing tests such as Living DNA, where I got mine done in January.

Eating for Recovery.

The idea is to have 3 tasty, satisfying and nutritious meals within an 8-10 hour window, which means 3-5 hours apart.

Water – ideally water is best drunk between meals and not with food. If thirsty, look to drink water before eating, ideally an hour either side so liquid doesn’t dilute the nutrients in your food.

Supplements – these are best only used to fill gaps in diet, which mean micronutrients are not accessed through food. A famous example is vegans and B12 vitamin.

Micronutrients – we only need a small amount of these, which is why combinations of real foods are nutritious, tasty and satisfying.

Meal Ideas

Thick and creamy porridge made from oats and water 1:3 ratio.

Porridge – Naturally gluten free and Vegan, oats deliver Vitamin B1, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc. Copper is an anti-oxidant. Macros include protein, starch and fibre carbohydrates. Fibre is health for longer digestion period, feeding gut bacteria and releasing sugars slowly into bloodstream.

Method – Saucepan. Half cup oats. 1.5 cups water. Pinch salt. Minimum effort – put pan on regular heat on hob. Wait til bubbles. Turn to lowest heat and stir and leave for 5-10 mins to preferred texture.

Optional – banana (potassium) chopped. Goji berries (vitamin c, anti-oxidant), other fruit, dried or diced. Cinnamon.

Combination Breakfast

Omlette – 2 eggs, whisk in cup. Small saucepan. Olive oil, heat up. with spatchelor, pour eggs into pan with hot oil. Pull egg from sides until no more runny liquid.

Options to go in Omlette – grated mozarella. Tuna. Crabmeat. Ham. Plain.

Steamed greens – Saucepan and steamer. Boiling water under steamer. Add mix of asaparagus, chard, kale, brocoli, spinach, sprouts, cabbage, leaks, spring greens to steamer. Takes around 5 minutes to cook. Anti-oxidants. Vitamin C.

Steamed salmon – can be bought from any supermarket. Read to eat.

Tapas – increase nutrients and combinations, flavour and satisfaction from meal with; olives (mono-unsaturated fats and one of healthiest foods on planet for genetics pre-disposed to fats), artichokes, hummus.

Salad – increase nutrition more with peeled slices of courgette, cucumber or other salad items available in fridge.

Salads – doused with olive oil and lemon a salad is a delicious mix of flavours, which delivers a range of anti-oxidants and vitamins.

Ingredients could contain: olives, cheese cubes such as feta, lettuce, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, tofu (basil comes in packets in natural or wholefood stores), basil, raw vegetables such as brocoli, peeled slices of courgette, spinach, red cabbage, onion, garlic and asparagus.

Plant based sources of vitamin A – While liver packs so much Vitamin A punch, that it only needs eating once a week (why French love their liver pate), vitamin A also comes from orange vegetables such as peppers, squashes such as pumpkin, butternut squash, root vegetables such as carrots, sweet potato and swede and orange fruit such as apricots, papaya and mango.

Roast – combination meal. Joint of meat in large roasting tin/dish surrounded by chunks of vegetables.

Roast – joints cooked with root vegetables are highly nutritious, delivering most vitamins and minerals in one meal. Leftovers can add variety and flavour for future meals (as we do at Christmas).

Method – Choose a joint of beef, lamb, venison or pork or a chicken.

Remove gibbets etc (chicken) and brush with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs.

Chop root vegetables plus courgette, parsnips into chunks. Pour over olive oil. Sprinkle with herbs. Chop in onion and whole garlic cloves. Cook for an hour, with turn and shuffle to distribute.

Foods to avoid

Fructose – fruits ought to be a last resort for any micronutrient as they contain sugars, which aren’t beneficial for recovery or health. Unless, you are from African origins, where your metabolism would be used to sugars from healthy tropical fruits and you may find you are intolerance to fats, such as those found in nuts, legumes and fish.

Likewise, little nutritional value comes from gluten (pasta, bread, cereal, grains, wheat, corn, flour etc).

Sugar has no nutritional value at all. Our bodies extract all sugar we need from fibre carbohydrates such as steamed vegetables. *Diabetics will know what carbs are best for them to get the insulin they need.

It seems people in colder climates adapted to live on fats to access minerals that weren’t available in vegetables and fruit. intolerances and allergies are messages on what foods to avoid. Unfortunately we can get addicted to these (Gary Taubes’ book Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It describes food addictions and intolerances well, as does Dr Zoe Harcombe).

My app prototype here (free to access and no contact info needed) provides information on all micronutrients we need in our food, the foods they come from and supplement daily doses (from NHS website) to fill gaps left from diet. Applies to any diet and leftovers, tapas, salads, eggs and porridge cooked with water can go a long way to provide plenty of nutrition cost effectively.

Process – if like to read up on food again, click here

  1. Click link on mobile phone (or other device). Logo and intro with ‘install on device’. Click this link.
  2. When prompted, install Appsheet.
  3. When prompted, can save to desktop.
  4. Dismiss messages if any about embedding Safari.
  5. OK to data pop up. Email optional, data from users ‘guest123445’.
  6. Should see logo, black background, pink OK button. Click link.

Here are the spreadsheets of vitamins and minerals with their foods.  The meals above provide all these micronutrients:

A, C, E and copper – most important for recovery, boost immunity and anti-oxidants. Ideally get as many as possible. In Appsheet, see ‘Food Staples’ bottom left for nutritious foods, such as eggs, which deliver many micronutrients.

A, C, E, copper and zinc for fighting viruses – the short cut. 

To guarantee you get enough of the right vitamins for fighting a virus, taking 1000mg of vitamin C will provide that support on top of plenty of greens. Vitamin A can be accessed best through liver, which is reasonably priced, kidneys or a steak.

Vitamin E is in olives and olive oil as well as nuts and seeds. To get all 9 amino acids, raw peanuts and raw brazils is the combination of nuts. Plus Brazils have plenty of zinc too! Vitamins A and E are best taken in diet and not too much. Ensure to get them every day. An omlette with olives will do that, plus porridge for copper. Low budget too.

When Nutrition and Healthy Food is Not Personal

It seems as if all diet advice comes with assumptions. It’s either ‘eat less of’ or ‘reduce your portion sizes’. Less than what? Smaller than what?

Somehow, diets have all become about reducing and restricting. They follow linear thinking: ‘eat less to lose weight’ rather than ‘eat less to be malnutritioned’. Malnourishment and malnutrition are global problems, despite the continual increase in food production and destruction such as deforestation to produce and sell yet more food. Food mountain may be getting higher but the amount of nutrition in that food is not increasing along with the amount of food being produced.

Humans have worked out how to make, package and sell more food, while forgetting why we eat food in the first place.

Our individual bodies determine how we use foods, extra micronutrients and how we use them – Image by Luis Oliveira from Pixabay

Our bodies and minds need nutrients to work well. A shortage of nutrients means using reserves and then the body learns to store more reserves for the future. Therefore, people might be eating more food but they are not maintaining the levels of micronutrients our bodies need, which means that food is stored as fat as it doesn’t contain the micronutrients required, so it is kept as fat so the body can stay warm, our metabolism slows down and reduces energy levels too. The body is always making adjustments to keep us alive.

Over the 3 million years of human evolution, when our circumstances, surroundings, temperature and the food available have changed dramatically, our bodies have responded with mutations so we can adjust to the new conditions.

We eat for our lifestyles, environment and genes – Image by Daniel Kirsch from Pixabay

You have probably heard mention of ‘famine genes’ or maybe tried a crash diet for a special event, only to return to your previous diet and find you have put on weight. All that effort and suffering for nothing.

Fattening foods are fattening for a reason. Yes, losing weight would mean cutting out certain foods, but if you get good nutrition, your body does not need to help you survive, store fat or keep you warm. This means that being well nourished makes it easier to manage your weight without restricting, counting, weighing or suffering.

Eggs are nutritious and low cost, but they get the blame when they are combined with less healthy foods into cake and biscuits – Image by monicore from Pixabay

Fattening foods

Foods that contain both fat, protein and sugar (milk) or protein and fast release carbohydrate (avocados) are more fattening than just a fat and protein food (meat).

The foods listed below are nutritious, particularly eggs, but we could not live healthily on these foods alone. For one thing, there is no fibre here. Fibre helps remove toxins from the body, feeds healthy gut bacteria and our systems need to work to slowly extract the micronutrients and energy it needs, while releasing toxins with the parts it discards. This makes steamed green vegetables an essential part of the human diet.

Eggs, dark chocolate, avocados, eggs, nuts, chia seeds, olive oil, coconuts and coconut oil, cheese and full fat yogurt.

Cows, sheep and goats in grassy pastures would never want to stray far or change their diets – Image by Jörg Vieli from Pixabay

These can be viewed in another, more detailed way too. For example, there are 4 types of fats, which provide us with essential fatty acids (for example, omega 3 from oily fish such as salmon), which we need to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Saturated fat comes from tropical fats such as coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil and hydrogenated vegetable oil.

Trans fats are found in partially hydrogenated oils, deep fried food and these are best left out of your daily healthy meals. Well nourished people can deal with the occasional blow out as the body learns that it isn’t a staple part of the diet. However, trans fats or trans-fatty acids form in the dairy or meat from animals that graze grass, as trans fats are made when the bacteria digest grass in the stomachs of ruminants (cows, sheep and goats). Trans fats comprise 2-6% dairy and 3-9% fat in meat. This means that poultry or fish will have healthier fatty acids than lamb, beef or venison. Trans fats also increase the LDL (bad) cholesterol, while the other 3 types of fat contain HDL (good) cholesterol.

For those losing weight, salmon and salad is a good choice

Polyunsaturated fats include avocados, seafood, fish, nuts, seeds and oils such as soybean oil and others made from these types of food, such as the oil of nuts, seeds or avocados. We need omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in our diet as our bodies cannot manufacture them. Sources include walnuts and walnut oil, canola oil, chia seeds, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil and soybean oil.

Omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA can come from cold water fish such as salmon or mackerel.

Monounsaturated fats are the healthiest ones. This why olives and extra virgin olive oil are particularly healthy. This may explain why the fattier nuts such as peanuts, pistachios, canola oil, peanut oil, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds and pecans are so tasty. They can be used for butter, milks such as almond, nut roasts, oils and even crop up in puddings, such as pecan pie and macaroons or almond slices, popular in Spain.

Spoonfed by Tim Spector gives a great overview of how different foods work and how we might respond to them

Nutritional scientists such as Tim Spector of Zoe Global have shown us how we all respond to food in our own unique way. That is a reflection of how mixed our genes are. We are not ‘pure breeds’ in the way that pedigree dogs might be. However, there are certain ways in which we would all react in the same way, which is the chemical reaction between us and food.

This is a good time to mention allergies. Instead of viewing these as some bodily defect, we could look again at these adverse and instant reactions to food in another way. Consider what we now know about nuts and seafood. If we consider factors including our genes, activity and food available as well as how our bodies use microntrients, we might get some answers.

Why would one person react to certain fats in their diet, while someone else is sensitive to starchy carbohydrates such as wheat, grains, rice or potatos or sugar carbohydrates such as fruit? Simply put, one person’s ancestors have always lived in cold climates, which means they require fat to keep them warm and strong while they only move for survival during the winter. They would require more protein and fat in their diet and minimal sugar. Another person lives in a hot country and needs instant energy to sprint away from predators or after their dinner to eat that evening or walk a fair distance to collect enough food to feed their family. These people would need sugar and starch, while keeping fats to a minimum.

This means that not everyone would get fat if their diet was high in starch or sugar carbohydrates, if they use the fast-release energy before it is stored. This also means that some people need more fat and protein in their diet and won’t store it as fat if they avoid the sugar and the starch, but still get some fibre to release toxins that get into our systems.

Detox is what fibre is for. Leafy green vegetables would work for most people, while those living active lifestyles may find sugar from fruit or starch from grains or potatos do the trick.

Therefore, there are many good reasons to understand ourselves and learn to trust and listen to our own bodies, rather than resort to healthcare, which studies sickness and cures, not health and disease prevention. Aches, pains, reactions, sickness or more severe diseases could stem from food intolerance, where your body is sending out clearer signals to ask us to avoid certain foods, particulary as we get older.

Yes, today we mostly go to the supermarket but there are still people living in extreme cold climates or out in the hot sun who have had no reason to change how they live for millenia.

Beans aren’t required for all diets as enough fat and protein may be accessed through other food types – Image by PDPics from Pixabay

Beans containing protein and fat such as soybeans can cause some people problems too. Unless fermented or soaked properly, soy beans can also be an anti-nutrient and block some systems from absorbing micronutrients from food, which is why it is mostly eaten as miso, endamame, oil, natto, tempeh or tofu. It has been said that soybean flour was used mostly for wallpaper paste but since the 1960s, it has been used in mass produced bread to preserve it and make it stay soft for longer. But how has that affected the nutrition from wholemeal bread?

Although governments don’t want to say more than they have to, we all know that various foods are more addictive than others. Officials like to suggest that it is our failing if we get addicted to their foods. They forget how much time and money they spend telling us how much we want it.

Bananas are nutritious but not everyone can metabolise all that sugar – Image by Beat Roth from Pixabay

Meanwhile, healthy food has never needed promotion or much advertising. Nutritious food doesn’t need to smell at all to make us want to eat it, particularly cooked in a good restaurant and served looking like a work of art.

Weight-gaining foods, like addictive foods and poisonous substances, affect everyone differently, according to genetics, lifestyle and what other ingredients these foods are eaten with, as well as when they are eaten. For example, if an avocado is eaten as a regular snack, more weight would generally be gained than if it was eaten as part of a meal with salad.

Like allergies, we could think of weight loss or gain as another message from the body. Weight gain might tells us we need certain foods less, more, with other foods or not at all. Someone with roots in snow-capped mountains, surrounded by plump game where vegetables were rarely found (if it appeared the game got there first) may be sensitive to carbohydrates and need more protein.

Meanwhile, people with roots in the fertile crescent in the Middle East, where animals did the work growing the food instead of ending up on a plate as the food, may prefer plenty of grain and potatos.

Some people may metabolise these foods better than others because of their genes or their systems may recognise it as something they rarely eat and deal with without any fuss. However, most people might be eating this food or ingredient quite often and not realise that we have stored it away as it isn’t useful but if that is all there it, the body must learn to adapt to it in the future.

 

Putting the Horse Back Before the Cart in Nutrition

Do you find that if you mention weight loss, most people will respond with ‘eat less, exercise more’. This is trotting out the official government recommendations without pause.

Most healthy eating apps, except Cron-o-meter and Fooducate plus ones that provide micronutrient information in foods such as Nutrition Facts and Nutrition Info, feature millions of foods in their databases. As Lose It shows, these databases allow users to scan barcodes in to access macronutrient and calorie information for packaged foods.

Historically, food data regulations have required manufacturers to only identify the core nutrient values (fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, and protein). Other micronutrient data are not heavily regulated and therefore often not reported or quantified. For this reason, that data simply does not exist in our current food database.

To enable the tracking of other nutrients/vitamins would entail a serious overhaul of our food database (which is no small feat, considering the one you’re using has been built over 11 years!)

Lose it!

Studies now reveal what happens we restrict our calorie intake, the body acts to keep us alive and slows the metabolism.

This article shows why nutrient density is important.

Official diet advice has clearly been funded by vested interests. Mixing fats with sugar and ultra-processed foods.

If you compare nutrition in food in 1900 with 2000 for the item, say a carrot, the availability of micronutients in the carrot will have dropped. This means we need to eat more calories to get the same nutrients as a century ago. However, today our lives are on average much less active then thosed lived a hundred years ago for most social groups

It always seems to me that ‘advice’ makes assumptions, attributes behaviours to the advised and all of us know ourselves better than anyone else. This means that we already know how we react to certain foods and receiving information about certain foods may cement new understanding.

No matter how good any advice is, I think we all find it hard to slot it into our lives until we understand why it is so. Or perhaps we may only understand it following a poignant experience, which teaches us why it is important.

Meanwhile, easily accessible proven facts means that we can understand new experiences and slot the lessons learned instantly into our lives.

If we see the human body like a car, we know they run on fuel, which might be diesel, electric or petrol. We also know each of these fuels are made up of different components and if the wrong fuel is put in a car, it will not run at all or will run badly with coughs and splutters, which could lead to expensive repairs or even write off.

LIkewise, we know that human bodies vary in how they process food. We are so genetically unique that we all respond to food differently from each other, but we all need a certain amount of various nutrients for our body and minds to run efficiently.

What foods we eat and enjoy can be determined by various factors including how active we are or where we live, but also how our bodies store, make, use and absorb various micronutrients from various foods. Someone with dark skin living in a country that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight is likely to not get enough Vitamin D.

In the UK and other developed countries, our governments tell us to base every meal on starchy carbohydrates, eat a balanced and varied diet, restrict portion sizes, eat 5 pieces of fruit or vegetables every day and that we will get all the micronutrients we need in the food we eat.

That is one size fits all and only applies to demographics that can process all that starchy carbohydrate and gluten, is lactose tolerant, can handle the drugs in mass produced milk and can metabolise a decent amount of sugar. That is not many people.

In 2020, clinical trials still do not publish how many women took part in each drug test and how they responded. This means that modern medicine does not serve women’s health as well as men’s, nor Black and Ethnic Minoritry communities as well as white people.

Not reporting tests on women specifically is potentially dangerous for women’s health with bodies hosting the womb, egg creation and foetus development, with babies relying on nutrients gained from the mother until the umbilical chord is broken.

As a result of investigations, we now know that tobacco, alcohol, sugar, certain foods, medicines, painkiller or other drugs, gambling and other products are designed to be addictive and are aggressively advertised on TV.

However, government and industry advice on all these unhealthy commodities puts the blame in the lap of the consumer, not the producers. Meanwhile, organic, natural, independenty sold and produced and real, natural food sales rise each consecutive year without any advertising at all.

Therefore, we know that nutritious food is good for our bodies and minds, strengthens our immunity, helps us recover from infections, puts us in control of our weight and allows us to choose when to indulge in unhealthy or entertainment drinks or foods, when we want to.

Therefore, rather than being dependent on a healthcare system which focuses on understanding sickness not on what makes us healthy, medication, anti-biotics, calorie counting or one-size-fits all advice, Hearth Nutrition will allow users to find their diet, budget and the foods to eat to get all their essential daily nutrition.

Then the horse can pull the cart with ease once more.

We Need the Whole Picture Before We Change Our Body Weight

As the diet industry makes so much money from consumers doing all the work with a distorted view of the truth, many books, tools, articles, programs and even public health initiatives all keep up the lies that mislead us.

Whether you are overweight, the right weight or underweight, you may still be healthy or not. Your organs may work well or not. You may work with your body or against it.

We require up to 30 micronutrients for optimal health. Some we need every day and some are stored by our bodies. We require fat, preferably healthy fats such as monounsaturated fats including olives and olive oil.

The fats to avoid are trans fats. Polyunsaturated and saturated fats are less healthy but there are also the changes that happen when fats are cooked to bear in mind as well.

In summary:

Olive oil only (no vinegar) poured over salad with olives is a great way to get healthy fats.

Trans fats are best avoided, where as fat in meat and dairy is saturated fat so less is good. However, we need vitamins such as B12 and minerals in foods containing saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.

We could all use a bit more science and information to understand the extent of how our bodies work to keep us alive and healthy.

Diet books, healthy eating apps and TV programs tend to only give us a selective view of the picture.

Since information has become so monetised, the cart tries to get ahead of the horse – Image by Momentmal from Pixabay

Cart Image (left) by Momentmal from Pixabay

We need to keep the metaphorical horse in front of the cart.

Myth Buster 1:

Myth: reducing calories is the only way to lose weight.

Buster: Reducing calories is a short-term weight loss strategy as the truth is bigger than this.

When we reduce our calorie intake, we are likely to eat less food, which for people with an unhealthy diet means less unhealthy foods. Ultra processed food does not get used by our bodies so is stored as fat. As soon as these foods are reduced, weight will be lost. However, we burn calories all day, whether exercising or sitting working, so if we do not have enough, our metabolism slows down thinking we are in a famine.

You will be surprised that your body deals with large portions of nutritious and varied foods

However, we need enough food each day to deliver the 26 micronutrients, protein, fat, omega 3 and polyphenols to do all the other things our bodies do to keep up alive and healthy. Cutting calories means cutting these healthy ingredients out too.

Therefore, if you cut out unhealthy food, which contains no natural nutrients, your body will do the rest. This could mean recovering from eating disorders, healing wounds, improving mental health and storing less food away in fat stores.

Myth Bust 2: 

Myth: Reduced portion sizes makes us lose weight

Buster: Our bodies will tell us we are hungry until we eat what is needed. Therefore, if junk food, with no nutritional value, is eaten, it will be stored as fat and we will still be hungry.

  • Healthiest meals are based on staple foods, which contain many essential micronutrients, such as eggs, meat, fish, plant proteins such as quinoa, buckwheat and soy beans with salad and steamed leafy green vegetables.
  • Fibre comes from foods that take longer to digest and extract glucose from, meaning we will stay full for longer as our bodies absorb what they need from our food.
  • Intermittent fasting means not eating for 3-4 hours between meals and having breakfast, lunch and dinner within an 8 hour window so our bodies are not digesting for 16 hours each day, including while we sleep.
Meals for any budget – leftovers and deli items make tasty, nutritious and satisfying meals with salad, steamed vegetables and whatever else is in the fridge.

Myth buster 3

Myth: Little and often keeps our metabolism working better

Buster: We need 3-5 hours between eating, which means ideally 3 nourishing and satisfying meals a day full of real, unadulterated ingredients. The other 16 hours of the day allow our bodies to:

  • Absorb micronutrients from natural foods (fresh, tinned, frozen or dried) and distribute them to where they are needed.
  • To metabolise the foods we eat that our bodies want to provide energy
  • To feed our gut bacteria to keep them healthy
  • To release triglycerides from our blood through use of healthy colesterol
  • To unleash symptoms to tell us what foods our bodies do not want in the form of symptoms such as bloating, inflammation, water retention, weight gain and indigestion.

If we reduce calories or portion sizes and ignore our bodies’ messages of hunger to tell us what they need, that is when we go into famine mode and our metabolism slows down to survive with less food. That is when dieters start putting weight back on, which results in:

  • Yoyo dieting with weight going up and down
  • Energy levels getting lower to slow down use of reduced calorie
  • Symptoms and other aches and pains telling us what is wrong
  • Reduction in immunity and more risk of catching viruses
  • Slowed recovery from illness
  • Eating disorders can result in lasting vitamin deficiencies
  • Obesity, Type 2 diabetes and underweight are results malnutrition and malnourishment with their resulting vitamin deficiences
Roasts are easy to cook in an hour with meat or nut roast surrounded by chopped root vegetables, cooked with herbs, olive oil and onion and garlic

What do we do:

Healthy meals include nutritious foods, which might be fresh, frozen, tinned or dried. Unadulterated food, which have not been stripped of nutrients.

  • Complete animal proteins such as cuts of unprocessed meat, poultry, fish and eggs.
  • Complete plant proteins including quinoa, buckwheat and soy products (soy needs to be soaked or fermented to be digestible – tofu, natto, miso, tempeh etc – and it can inhibit absorption of nutrients and doesn’t get metabolised by some people). Soy is a plant based estrogen.
  • Dairy: Cheese or plain goat’s yogurt (dairy products contain carbohydrates, fat and protein and many people do not metabolise it)
  • Combinations of plant proteins to get 9 amino acids from raw peanuts and brazils, beans on toast, hummus and wholemeal pitta bread, chilli beans and brown rice.
  • Steamed green vegetables such as spinach, brocoli, chard, kale, green beans, asparagus etc.
  • Roasted vegetables such as swede, turnip, sweet potato, onion, garlic, carrot, courgette, parsnip and butternut squash
  • Pumpkin or squash, such as roast pumpkin flesh, pumpkin soup and roasted pumpkin seeds or pumpkin pie with wholewheat flour.
  • Raw salad with ingredients such as brocoli, spinach, lettuce, onions, garlic, cucumber, courgette, tomato, asparagus
  • Any combinations of the above, such as salad with tinned tuna, egg and roasted vegetables, tofu, dairy and meat or other fish.

 

 

How Hearth Happened

In January 2020, I was recovering from a severe cold, which started before my birthday on around 10th December. It was after this point I discovered that we do not get enough sunlight for half the year in the UK to make vitamin D. I had almost thrown out all my supplements, but I started taking vitamin D3. It was an improvement. 

One night around 10 days into the cold I woke up in the night short of breath. I wondered if colds had mutated to become more virulent and how much the government weren’t telling us about public health. 

On a recent visit to my GP I had noticed the disproven health advice given to the general public, particularly about diet. 

Official diet advice has clearly been funded by vested interests. Mixing fats with sugar and ultra-processed foods.

I had always known that nutrient rich food was more satisfying than processed meals, that people laughed at food intolerance and the only test available was for people with celiac disease, involving eating glutenous foods for 6 weeks. It seemed nutrition and medicine were kept completely separate. 

Curiosity led me to the NHS’s Vitamins and Minerals page. This has now been moved to a page called ‘conditions’ as if prevention and proactive self-care are unheard of. 

Reports show that cases of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes have been on the rise since the 1980s. Before 1980, my parents were instinctively healthy eaters. My father had kidneys and my mother had sardines for breakfast. 

Reading through all the essential micronutrients on the NHS website suggests that the advice is not to worry as we get everything we need in a ‘varied and balanced’ diet. If that means eating protein with carbohydrates as well as 5 pieces of fruit and vegetable a day but keeping everything under 2000 calories, this is quite a headful. 

Therefore, I made a spreadsheet: 

All the micronutrients we use from our diet with RDAs for supplements to create for nutritious shopping,

This led to another list, taken from NHS website, showing how our body uses micronutrients in our food. It seemed the same thing was written in as many as five different ways. 

The idea is that we all have existing knowledge, instincts and are there after everything we eat. Currently, every healthy eating apps:

  • Asks person questions on registration such as weight, height, age and gender. 
  • Tell you how many calories to eat each day to achieve short term goals.
  • Expects you to weigh, measure, restrict, count and report to the app. 
  • Instead of giving you information, they issue advice.

I find, even the best advice is difficult to work into my life until I understand it fully. Isolated or fragmented pieces of advice are only pieces of a complete jigsaw and do not make sense on their own.

In psychology, giving advice is considered to be about power. If you give someone advice, it puts you in control over the other person.

Hearth Nutrition is about bridging the knowledge gap. By providing irrefutable, proven facts about food gives everyone a chance to make their own informed choices about food. 

The community – or tribe – of people that Hearth is for are those who are on a voyage of discovery about health, weight, immunity, recovery, prevention and self-care. 

Using information about essential daily nutrition, anyone can create their own tasty, satisfying and nutritious meals. This can reduce waste and save money. We can use left overs or get creative in the kitchen and use up what is in the fridge or the cupboard. 

The eventual app will have an online community for photographs, videos, discussion.

Variety is important as is balance in the foods we eat.

Nutritionists and caterers can use the app as a menu to show their customers. Perhaps nutritious food, meals and menus will revolutionise dining out and dinner parties. 

It is all about putting credible information at our fingertips for at-a-glance, quick reference, to make getting the most from food for our health a no-brainer. 

Do you want to feel fantastic? Nutrition is Nature’s Medicine.

Meze, Thali, Tapas – tasty, satisfying, nutritious. 

About Hearth Nutrition

Welcome to Hearth Nutrition

Here is the MVP to test the functioning app.

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After sign up the user can take a quick tour of the app’s 4 main pages. Alternatively, they can skip this and start using the app’s food library to find out about nutritious foods to add to their shopping list or, if they already have it, their food palette. 

The food library contains a library of single-ingredient foods, currently widely available in the United Kingdom shown with the micronutrients our bodies cannot make, which we need to access through our diet, ideally. 

 

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The food library can be searched by micronutrient, showing all foods that deliver that vitamin or mineral. Each food card shows all the micronutrients accessed through that food. The detail (shown right) gives more information and lets users add it to their shopping list or food palette to plan a meal. 

Users can search for foods with the search tool, top right. 

The menu icon allows users to plan meals straight from the food library. The menu sorts foods listed for each micronutrient by function, ie ‘whole proteins’ are those foods, which contain all 9 amino acids. Omega 3 fatty acids shows foods providing this crucial component. ‘Protein’ shows foods, such as hummus and pitta, beans on toast or vegetable chilli and rice, which provide combined provide complete plant protein with all amino acids. Fibre covers fruit, grains, pulses, beans and vegetables, which are slow-release carbohydrates and these provide various healthy functions as the body releases what it needs from these foods. These contain some protein. 

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These are the pages, which users can move foods to or through, to end up in the calendar. The free version of the basic app will provide a 7 day review of foods eaten and micronutrients accessed through diet. 

This will give people the opportunity to see what micronutrients they are missing, to then see the recommended daily amount (RDA) to take as a dietary supplement. 

Additonal features to be added later. 

A guide to how body uses micronutrients. 

A meal planner to create own meals for family, friends and parties with ingredients to shop. 

A gallery of meals created by users and a forum to swap ideas, recipes and interact. 

 

What is Hearth Nutrition?

Hearth Nutrition works for any budget, any diet, any effort, any place and any shop. The aim is to get essential daily nutrition through your chosen diet. 

Many food cultures feature variety, which makes food even more tasty, satisfying and nutritious.

By providing facts about human nutrition, which means the ingredients we need in ‘human fuel’, anyone can choose the foods they like, that are available and affordable. 

Hearth Nutrition provides the whole picture of human nutrition. This includes: the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, omega 3 fatty acids and anti-oxidants we need for optimal health.

Hearth Nutrition provides information so you can find all your own answers. Responses so far include:

Now I know what foods to buy I can save a fortune on dietary supplements.

I wanted to go vegan so now I know how to get what I need from foods I eat.

The right foods will help me recover

It seems that caterers and chefs are getting in on this as well. When you eat out in a restaurant, you don’t want to be faced with foods you want to avoid. 

Many restaurants fill up their patrons with bread and chips, instead of satisfying them with nutritious food. 

By creating your own meals through staple nutritious foods and adding a range of natural flavours from a variety of real, unadulterated foods, you can easily get most your essential daily nutrition through your diet. 

Many people have deficiencies or even allergies. In the UK, we do not get enough sunlight to make vitamin D during the winter so we can eat more foods, which provide vitamin D and take a 10mcg supplement each day. 

It all started here, where I wrote down all the micronutrients we need to access in our diet, with the foods they come from and the recommended daily amount for dietary supplements. 

 

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