Empty Supermarket Shelves are Opportunity for New Improved Food Shopping

If you popped to Tesco for milk in Falmouth during this second week of August 2021, you might find there isn’t any but the Spar shop had gallons of the stuff. It was hard to know what was going on as many shelves and boxes were empty, with a sign blaming a ‘technical difficulty’ and apologising for the ‘inconvenience’.

In 2003 the weather was hot. A local greengrocer in North London where I lived had to install cooling units for the first time. Prior to that, fruit and vegetables were displayed in front of his shop and cost £5 for a full bag. In 2007, the first time I went to Glastonbury Festival, I took a large bag of fruit and vegetables from a shop in Bristol, which was reasonably priced.

The Natural Store in Falmouth – on the site originally used by Burger King, then a British Heart Foundation electrical charity shop, expanded to bigger premises from two separate sites further up the high street. Image by Fal River

Meanwhile, in London, Supermarkets had been lowering their fresh produce prices, while the small independent shops were facing additional costs installing cooler display units to handle the humidity outside. While these small greengrocers were teetering on the edge of survival, supermarkets well selling wide ranges of wares from around the world, available all year round. The independent local shops started closing and it seems as if, not long afterwards, the prices of fruit and vegetables went up to new higher levels.

Greengrocers started to disappear in 2003 and big supermarkets paid fines for price fixing. Image by Christian Aagaard from Pixabay

According to a Guardian article from 2007, Sainsbury’s and other supermarkets paid fines for price fixing. There still seemed to be some consumer protection, which aimed to prevent big retailers from putting profits before the interests of customers. The claim supermarkets made was that they were helping dairy farmers, especially after Mad Cow Disease in 2001.

“An opportunity has been missed to make them stop and think about the way they do business. It proves they do not have their customers’ interests at heart, despite claims to the contrary.” – The Guardian, 2007.

“Supermarkets fined £116m for price fixing” 8 Dec 2007. Rebecca Smithers.

Today in mid-August 2021, we face new challenges, which are leaving supermarket shelves empty. However, this might be the nudge most people need to start buying local food, which could attract more independent retailers and small, quality food producers onto the high street.

By the end of the 1980s, it seemed as if towns and shopping centres across the country were full of branches of mostly the same chain stores. A glance would not have made Taunton distinct from Thame. Then farmers markets started appearing around the turn of the milennium, which reduced the distance from field to fork and put consumers directly in contact with independent food producers.

Perran-ar-worthal Fruit and Veg Stall is on A39 just outside Falmouth heading towards Truro. Their Facebook Page

This meant real life stories from farmers and artisan food producers, such as jams, pickles and bakeries, could trickle into the public domain instead of being canned behind the shop front of large supermarkets. The media started to report on industrialised farming practises and fired up the British animal loving heart with pictures of debeaked chickens and caged cows being milked for humans not their own calves.

We can all jump to conclusions before getting the facts – Image by Walkerssk from Pixabay

Today, there is no appetite for veal, even when dairy farmers created pink veal from calves, which were reared outside and grass fed. The irony is male calves are a bi-product of dairy farming as milk is produced from lactating cows, which means offspring are taken from their milk-producing mothers and only female calves are kept alive. (Blythman, 2006).

In the same way in which we do not get enough sunlight between October to April to make vitamin D, which we need for calcium absorption, the United Kingdom is reliant on imports from other countries for many food items. Riverford Farms blog Wicked Leeks reports that there is the Hungry Gap, which is down to our latitude.

The Hungry Gap is the hardest time of year for UK farmers: a few weeks, usually in April, May and early June, after the winter crops have ended but before the new season’s plantings are ready to harvest.

Wicked Leeks – Riverford Farms.

Luckily, before the lockdown started in March 2020, I had a regular order coming each week from Riverford, which provided staple sustenance, while many other people were panic-buying eggs from the supermarket.

Empty egg shelves found when buying for people shielding during the lockdown

There are still Farmers’ Markets but also new and different types of small independent food shops have appeared. Research I did for my app in early 2020 revealed that organic produce sales had risen for 6 consecutive years up to 2018, when the report was published. A search for this revealed even better news for improving British food provision. An article by Kevin White for The Grocer says that in 2020, organic food sales hit a 15 year high. This was mostly from home delivery, farm shops and market stalls and independent retailers such as natural food shops. In Falmouth, the Natural Store has a wide range of local and fresh produce, which caters for a broad selection of eating preferences.

Helford Creek make cider as well as fresh fruit juices, to be found at markets around Cornwall.

While Totnes became famous for its small, healthy food shops, Falmouth has sprouted a few of its own homegrown outlets too. There is Un_Wrap, which sells mainly dry produce ranging from herbs, nuts, its own freshly sqeezed peanut butter, grains, pulses, lentils, oats and other cereals, alongside dried fruit, oil, other liquids and beans, which includes coffee. Containers can be bought, brought it or reused. A local vegetable producer Paddy’s Patch supplies loose seasonal vegetables and eggs can be bought too.

Good to take your own jars, containers and reusable bags for a host of items on sale here – mostly dry with liquids and peanut butter

Instead of providing supermarkets with a direct response, an effective message to sell more local produce, support farmers in the area, pay reasonable prices for foods and eliminate waste, packaging and food miles from field to plate, we could eat healthily on what is available from farm shops, such as at Trevaskis Farm in Hayle, markets and stalls such as Perran-ar-worthal vegetable stall, just outside Falmouth on the A39 towards Truro.

NUDE Canteen on Killigrew Sreet. Image by FFFoodie on Trip Advisor

There is the new Nude Canteen on Killigrew Street, which delivers and sells their own innovative fusion food as well as fresh produce. There is the butchers and a fishmonger in town, while Seaborne’s Fishmonger is at the bottom of Penryn High Street and recommended for a variety of foods, including fresh crabmeat for home made sandwiches. A firm Falmouth favourite.

A selection of local cheeses, salad leaves, brocoli, spinach, rainbow chard, kale and crabmeat can make a nutritious snack or picnic while a full, tasty, satisfying breakfast can be made with an assortment of ingredients, many of which are grown, packaged or produced locally, including olives.

Therefore, while supermarkets, which undercut farmers, squeeze profits from small producers, waste food, drive produce around the country to package and distribute and clearly do not put customers’ health high on their list, have empty shelves, we can find the following locally:

Fresh herbs
Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Butter and Cream
Duck, quail and chicken eggs
Loose in season vegetables grown on allotments
Small farmers producing a range of fruit, salad and vegetables
Bakeries, such as Vicky’s Bread
Olives, coffee and tea
Jam, pickles and preserves
A range of locally farmed meats
Line-caught fish, crabs, lobsters, mussels, oysters and other seafood
Leafy greens such as rainbow chard, curly kale, Russian red Kale, spinach, brocoli, mixed salad leaves, Battvia lettuce.
Mushrooms, radishes, cucumbers, courgettes, cabbages, cauliflower, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, pumpkins, samphire
Dried herbs and spices, onions, garlic and shallots

Locally grown green vegeteables

A mixture of salad, fruit, vegetables, meat or fish, egg with an assortment of real foods provides a tasty, satisfying and nutritious meal, which can be shared or kept and eaten cold or recreated. Now is the time to experience foods, which boost our mood, immune system and can provide optimal health. The more we buy locally the more we will find and the cheaper it will get. Also, we’ll be ready for the supermarkets when they start to push back.

I’m off to have a look at Sainsbury’s shelves to see how big a problem supermarkets in Falmouth are having right now. With one main road into Cornwall, the A30, Falmouth is reliant on deliveries coming past extensive road words on the roundabout, which meets the A39 into Truro. This could get interesting for the big retailers and our local farms.

Tasty Satisfying Nutritious Seafood Picnic for Social Evening on the Beach

The best thing about self-catering holidays in the United Kingdom is that you can buy local produce in a range of places, which are fun to discover as you explore. When I first visited Polzeath in Cornwall in 2001, I was delighted that the Spar shops sold locally caught seafood, which I couldn’t find in London.

Researching the various foods, which deliver all the micro and macronutrients we need has led to a tasty, satisfying and nutritious picnic, which is quick and easy to put together using a variety of ingredients. By knowing which foods provide the various macronutrients, which range across all the food groups, a picnic can be tailored to any genetic tolerance or eating preference and cater for a range of different diets.

The idea behind Hearth comes from what we learn from food cultures, which originate from Southern and Northern Europe, India, East Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America. From these different places come recipes and ingredients, which together provide nutritious, satisfying and tasty meals making use of locally grown produce, to suit the local population.

On a simple level, a person with origins from a hot, sunny country will get enough vitamin D each day from the sun, perhaps other minerals from contact from natural water, whether that is from lakes, rivers, streams, oceans or from plants irrigated by the rain may get much of their daily nutrients from tropical fruits. Papayas, mangos, avocados, coconuts and other tropical fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrates, fats and protein.

Meanwhile, in Northern Europe we relied more on storing fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamin D, which the sunlight is too weak to provide for the winter half of the year.

While the western diet is based on large quantities of one thing, many other food cultures have a dish, which means a variety of local foods; meze, tapas, thali and delicatessen. The idea of an assortment of small portions of various carbohydrate, fat and protein foods provides us with choice, to eat foods we like and leave the others.

Goat’s cheese and pear, ingredients for the salad.

A quick look at a Sunday roast, full English Breakfast or Christmas dinner shows us that variety is part of traditional English cookery as well. While royals and the gentry were feasting on game, the rest of the English nation has made the best of what they can grow, produce or conjure up from whatever is available through the seasons. The Harvest Festival was a key part of the English calendar, when people could compete to show off the biggest pumpkin, which itself produces ingredients for stews, soups, seeds and vegetable.

In the summer, a picnic is an easy way to bring together a variety of foods to share. It is amazing how much less food fills up more people if you share a wide variety of different ingredients. This makes a picnic a quick and easy meal to create and carry with you to a chosen spot to enjoy outside with other people.

Hearth Seafood Picnic

Starting with the salad, the idea tends towards alkaline raw vegetables. For extra taste and sustenance, the salad can be dressed with avocado or olive oil (monounsaturated fats) and lemon or lime juice and sprinkled with pumpkin and sunflower seeds. This keeps the salad open to all eating preferences, with items including egg, meat or seafood or cheese, which can be added from separate containers.

This is fast food in the sense, that it is quick to prepare. It is not junk food, as each ingredient is natural.

The salad base includes all eating preferences, using those on the ‘safe foods list’ to identify food intolerances: Lettuce, spinach, basil, avocado, brocoli, onion, pumpkin and sunflower seeds with olive and avocado oil and lemon and lime juice dressing.

Items, quick to retrieve from the fridge, are: hummus, crab meat, goat’s cheese, artichoke hearts, olives, vine leaves, alongside tuna from the cupboard. The salad is the main ingredient for the picnic, which requires preparation, alongside boiling and slicing up egg and making the salad dressing.

A picnic set provides space to carry the various containers of food. Spending an evening on a beach with bench tables, means the food can be shared and provides sustenance at a low cost and with little, but fun preparation for anyone who loves preparing and sharing food with friends.

Of course other people can easily add their own ingredients, such as home cooked bread and cake. Empty containers can be reused for future picnics as they can be easier to fit into the picnic and leftovers can be included as well.

Chicken and Rice – brown rice soaked for 8 hours, chicken cooked with herbs and spices, water and rice added and cooked until rice is soft and integrated into chicken and its sauce.

Macronutrients, Genes and Regaining Control of Our Own Bodies

There is a lot we can tell about the foods, which nourish us by combining knowledge about macronutrients with your own life experiences with food.

When it comes to our own health, fitness and body shape, nothing beats objective research to find answers. Sadly, we all have a jungle of misinformation, conflicts of interests and hidden biases to wade through. Following that, there are official guidance, social stimuli and endless snippets of advice, which originate from a narrow perspective.

With more facts and data, we can find our own answers and make informed choices about food, health and fitness, which can give us confidence to stay ontrack and filter out unhelpful societal, media, government or peer narratives or directives.


Articles are beginning to emerge about using our genes to determine which types of dietary fat, protein and carbohydrates work best for us. However, many of these guides are simplistic, superficial and require spinning many different plates at once to mine for any answers.

To increase the value of genetic tests and the results they may provide – or for more context – here is information about macronutrients, including detail I have gathered from various sources but not found in one place to provide a fuller picture. This is information, not advice, along with views I have formed from my own analyses, observation, searching and experiences.

Dietary Fats

Mono-unsaturated Fats – Olives, Avocados, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds.
Poly-unsaturated Fats – Fish, Shellfish, Coconut, Nuts, Beans, Pulses, Legumes, Grains
Saturated Fats – Meat, Eggs, Dairy
Trans Fats – Grass fed lamb, cow, goat or other ruminants contain a small percentage.

As you can see, there is some kind of dietary fat in many healthy foods, which also contain protein and some carbohydrate. Processed foods containing both fat (vegetable oil, spreads, dairy, nuts, seeds etc) and carbohydrate (sugar or starch) are ones to avoid as the combination of fat and sugar is highly addictive and causes many metabolic conditions such as insulin resistance and other food sensitivies and intolerances.

For those of us living in colder, less sunny countries, in order to absorb fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K – particularly between October and April, we need to have some fat with each meal, but there are many choices how to do this for your genetic type. For example, those with Northern Europe ancestry need to store vitamin D as we do not get enough sunlight everyday all year round to make it. That means those with genes created in hot, sunny countries may not need to store vitamin D and could be intolerant, sensitive or even allergic to one or more dietary fats. Allergies and other responses to foods can lead us to answers if we have the fact laid out in front of us. Nut and fish allergy? Poly-unsaturated fats may be the macro to filter out. This information may explain why the Full English breakfast and fish and chips are popular in the UK.

The amount of misinformation out there is staggering. Mainly, it is the lack of detail, which makes for confusing reading, with mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated muddled in together, which isn’t much help.


We have complete protein and part protein. Not every complete protein comes from animals though. In 2008, I had a vegan flatmate, who ate a healthy diet involving quinoa and buckwheat, which he said were protein. What I didn’t know was that quinoa and buckwheat are complete proteins as they contain all 9 amino acids as do soy products (Tofu, Tempeh, Edemame, Natto, Miso, Soy Beans).

Like various foods, I’m discovering, soy is an anti-nutrient (a plant’s way of defending itself from being eaten by insects) and needs the right preparation to stop it absorbing nutrients from our bodies. Soy has found its way into bread, chocolate and other foods where it is not needed or expected and is one of the 4 drivers of deforestation, whereas 60 years ago it was used for wallpaper paste. Personally, I avoid soy.

Therefore, complete proteins include:
Meat, game, poultry, milk, butter, cream, yogurt, kefir, quinoa, buckwheat, soy, eggs, amaranth, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds.

It is no surprise, then, that various traditional dishes are combinations of partial protein to provide 9 amino acids. These include hummus and pitta, kidney beans and rice or baked beans and potato. In other words, combinations of part-proteins can provide all 9 amino acids, for example, assortments of:
*Potato *Wholewheat Bread *Hummus *Rice *Kidney Beans *Nuts *Seeds *Legumes *Whole grains, *Coucous, *Lentils, *Pulses, *Beanshoots, *Kale, *Chard, *Brocoli, *Spinach, *Asparagus, *Artichokes, *Olives, *Avocados *Blackberries *Oranges *Guava *Avocado *Banana *Coconut *Watercress *Bok Choy *Cauliflower *Spring or Summer Greens *Cabbage *Brussel Sprouts

Some of these are anti-nutrients, which means it is a goood idea to find out how to prepare them so they don’t absorb all the nutrients from your system, such as brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach and brocoli. This was new to me, as I only discovered last year that hypothyroidism and hearing loss came from an iodine deficiency in the womb and that these vegetables could block iodine.

Glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage)—can prevent the absorption of iodine, which may then interfere with thyroid function and cause goiter. Those already with an iodine deficiency or a condition called hypothyroidism are most susceptible.

“Are Anti-nutrients Harmful” Harvard Education

Here are the 9 esssential amino acids we need from our nutrition and what roles they play.

Bananas would provide carbohydrates, fats and protein for people living in hot countries, where their needs to eat dietary fats to absorb vitamins for food would be less and opportunity to burn sugar would be more from warm sunny weather
This would be nutritious and healthy for you if it grew naturally in your backyard

For those recovering from viruses, injuries, operations, medication or illnesses, our bodies use protein for repair and maintenance, which means that eating foods containing protein can help the healing process and the immune system. To fight off infection, the blood will move protein round the body to rebuild damage, which means that protein taken from muscles will cause fatigue.

Resting when recuperating helps too. Getting all the fat soluble and water soluble vitamins, macrominerals and trace elements, taking from all 3 macronutrients would provide your system with maximum equipment to restore your health.

Let’s have a quick look at symptoms, as they deliver both good and bad news. In my view, there are recovery symptoms, which indicate an immune system at work, and disease symptoms, which are caused by the infection. Unfortunately, some lethal non-communicable diseases onset without symptoms and therefore give us no warning. This is another reason to aim for optimal health from activity, conversation, rest, honest self-awareness, creativity and good nutrition.


Again, there is a sea of value, glossed-over or inaccurate information about the 3rd and last macronutrient. Subsequently, I’ve only just found out the details. We may know them in a the more familiar form of: Starch, Sugar and Fibre but carbohydrates are essentially, simple, combined or complex. The more saccharides in a carbohydrate, the more instant energy it provides. If too much energy, or glucose, is consumed, the remainder is stored as fat. This provides more depth to various vague and lazy pieces of advice bandied around. These are interpreted in an earlier blog.
Monosaccharides – Fructose (fruit or honey) – simple sugars from natural foods
Dissaccharides – Maltose (foods with yeast, starch and gluten), Lactose (milk) and Sucrose (sugar).
Polysaccharides – Most essential are Glycogen (saccharine) and Cellulose (starch) stored in the muscle of the liver.

Carb Breakdown

The way I understand carbohydrates is: Sugar, Starch or Fibre. However, the three types shown above provide more information about the type of sugar found in real fruit (not juices or syrups) and why it provides instant energy. Various writers including Allen Carr and Harvey and Marilyn Diamond recommended fruit in the morning to start the day, to replicate the indigenous human lifestyle. In order to live in different parts of the world, people adapted to the food available and subsequently, here are the fruits, which also contain proteins.

These tropical fruits would evidently be nutritious to people with genes evolved to get enough sunlight all year round to make vitamin D, while getting fats and proteins from tropical fruits as well as energy from the carbohydrates. Many of these fruits provide complete protein, such as avocados, which are also mono-unsaturated fats and carbohydrate. That doesn’t mean everyone benefits in the same way from eating these tropical fruits as we cannot and do not all use the amount of sugar they provide.

Personally, I seem to absorb sugar from many foods and feel an overload of energy if I have too many carbohydrate in my diet. Subsequently, genetic testing has recommended that I have only 8% of carbohydrate. I do this by sticking to green, above ground and leafy carbohydrates, which also provide fibre. However, brown rice is highly nutritious and I have only just discovered that soaking it for 8 hours stops it soaking up all the nutrients in my system. To minimise the glucose in my blood stream, I prefer low GI carbs, which take longer to digest and don’t cause insulin spikes. In fact, too much sugar is the only thing that will give me a headache. Therefore:

Sugar – fruit, milk, sugar, honey, beans, peas, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, tomato, peppers, dried fruit, syrup, squashes
Starch – wheat, root vegetables, potatoes, rice, pasta, malt, barley, rye, grains, cereal
Fibre – the above plus green vegetables.

As a general rule, cultivated crops, which we have had to cook to be able to digest such as wheat, potato and rice, rather than those we have found by foraging including fruit, garlic, onions, vegetables and berries, which can be eaten raw or cooked would suit those with genes, which evolved in warmer central parts of Europe and the Mediterranean.

Hopefully, this has provided an insight into why certain macronutrients suit some people better than others. This can accompany us on our own food journeys so we can take back control of our health, bodies, nutrition, minds and fitness. It can also prompt ways to recognise messages from our bodies and minds in terms of feelings or sensations, which may include symptoms as we fight an infection or a warning to avoid a certain food or drink.

Optimised Nutrition as Pandemic Protection

In February 2020, I was feeling a little drowsy. As a person who takes an extremely keen interest in keeping healthy – I’ll illustrate why in a bit – I could not believe that the message that we do not get enough sunlight to make vitamin D, which we need to make calcium, over the winter half of the year in the UK had not reached me.

If the fact we are vitamin D deficient in the UK every winter has not reached a 49 year old with a computer and smart phone, who is health conscious and constantly researches about natural health, who does it reach? You? Did you know the UK was deficient in vitamin D every year?

Profit Before Public Health

Pharmaceutical companies fund health research. They use selective trials to prove whatever they want to say. After 2005, the science press have shown, it became increasingly difficult to get funding to research new coronaviruses emerging from demand for wild game from wet markets in China, which had insufficient biosecurity.

Research on micronutrients has been skewed by pharmaceutical industry research and the results have ended up being unwittingly quoted and repeated by scientists who seem to have integrity. The question about whether a vitamin D3 supplement, taken with appropriate fatty acids for absorption, as part of a nutritious diet would protect someone against severe disease, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 gets a spun response:

“In terms of Vitamin D there is no actual evidence to suggest that this helps prevent or cure Covid.” – Cherilyn Mackory MP for Falmouth and Truro. However, this has become the standard response to any questions about whether the UK had the most deaths from COVID-19: because we were deficient in Vitamin D. To me, this is lazy, biased towards industry interest and a result of pharmaceutical investment in research to protect their interests.

Spot the agenda

Micronutrients have been incorrectly tested in isolation, instead of together with other vitamins and minerals with the water and fat they need to be absorbed. Earlier in 2020, trials were set up to test vitamin D to protect people against COVID-19, but if these were funded by pharmaceuticals, they could have resulted in the uninformed, misunderstandings conveyed by my local MP. Vitamin D is not and has never been a treatment or cure. This article shows how pharmaceuticals used testing vitamins as cures to discredit them and smear them as “expensive piss”. Spot the hidden agenda:

This July the UK press, the BBC and CNN were full of the results of a new study conducted by Oxford University’s Clinical Trial Services Unit, led by Dr. Rory Collins, who conducted a five-year US$32 million survey known as the Heart Protection Study. The study was paid paid for by the pharmaceutical companies Merck and Roche, makers of two of the best selling cholesterol-lowering statin drugs on the market, Mevacor and Zocor.

Big Pharma Says “Vitamins a Waste of Money” But the World doesn’t buy it……..Bali Advertiser.

Diet and nutrition are essential for healthy immunity. However, a group of micronutrients plays a dominant role in immunomodulation. The deficiency of most nutrients increases the individual susceptibility to virus infection with a tendency for severe clinical presentation. Despite a shred of evidence, the supplementation of a single nutrient is not promising in the general population. Individuals at high-risk for specific nutrient deficiencies likely benefit from supplementation. The individual dietary and nutritional status assessments are critical for determining the comprehensive actions in COVID-19.

Micronutrients as Immunomodulatory Tools for COVID-19 Management.

What is the correct angle on this?

If we do not get enough sunlight to make vitamin D in the UK between October and March each year and are recommended to take a 10mcg (400 iu) D3 or D2 dietary supplement, that means, simply we are vitamin D deficient during the winter. Surely below optimal health makes us more vulnerable to disease? A supplement on its own doesn’t help everyone.

There are factors to this we must regard. In the UK, where the sunlight is too weak for us to make vitamin D in the winter or all year long for darker skin tones and those who do not go outside, taking a supplement for a fat soluble vitamin requires the supplement being absorbed with fat in the diet. That means omega 3, omega 6, DHA, EHA etc. In food terms that is: olives, avocado, nuts, seeds, fish, dairy and meat. Fat soluble vitamins A, E, D and K all require dietary fats for absorption.

There are two opposite angles on micronutrients. The correct one is prevention: Having a nutriitous diet, eating the nutrients you genetic type prefers from 4 types of fat, protein from 9 amino acids and 3 types of carbohydrate. We all need to know which are for us. A person with roots from near the equator living an outdoor life will metabolise sugar from fruit and dietary fat in a completely different way from people living in Scandinavia or the United Kingdom. However, the person with African ancestry living in London will need to find a way to supplement vitamin D for someone with a nut and fish allergy would be to take it with omega 3 or cod liver oil tablets to absorb the fat soluble vitamin.

We need more micronutrients as we get older

As children, we can absorb plenty of nutrition from most foods, but of course children would be healthier on real rather than “entertainment” foods. However, as we get older and women go through their menopause or losing blood each month, we need a nutrient rich diet. Ideally, for optimal health, it is best to aim to get all the essential vitamins from food and can add variety to the plate by ensuring we are getting essential minerals too.

Food cultures from around the world hint at assortment and variety as a great way to eat for optimal health. Think of meze, thali and tapas. Foods such as cucumber, courgette, olives, avocados, chickpeas, asparagus, artichoke and steamed greens provide vitamins and minerals and make a plate of food satisfying and tasty along with some fish, eggs, meat and cheese.

Therefore, in conclusion, a good nutritious diet would benefit us if we caught covid-19 as we would equip our immune systems with all the tools to fight the virus. Symptoms are our defences in action. We get symptoms when we eat food our bodies do not like. Pregnant women are the group most likely to listen to their bodies’ messages when it comes to what they consume. Think of cravings and nausea during pregnancy. Understanding pains, symptoms and cravings can benefit a pregnancy, as could a diet of optimised nutrition.

Secret to Balancing Calories, Activity and Nutrition for Health

While we face the amplifying affects of COVID-19 on our innate health, with a greatly strained NHS, official health bodies do anything but provide the information we need for optimal health. However, independent organisation Public Health Collaboration have published a guide to healthy eating, which addresses the incorrect advice given by Public Health England.

Before the pandemic, The NHS vitamins and minerals pages clearly stated that we do not get enough sunlight in the UK between October and March to make vitamin D. However, it did not mention the relationship between diet and absorbing fat soluble vitamins.

Public Health Collaboration have released a counter-argument to official diet advice distributed by the NHS, The Eatwell Guide. Americans have a similar travesty of truth called MyPlate. It is industry funded and therefore biased towards consumerism and away from natural health.

Nutrition plays a very important part in our innate health as does physical activity.

For decades, weight loss information has misled people about what it means to be fit and healthy, by providing incorrect information about how our bodies respond to food.

We might respond in our own unique way but we are also the same species. What is missing in the information we are provided is context. I will provide what I have discovered:

Calories: As Gary Taubes illustrated in Good Calories, Bad Calories, not all calories are made equal. For example, you could eat a nutrient rich food with few calories but alternatively, some foods contain many calories but few vitamins or minerals. We need enough and not too many calories each day to maintain our weight. However, reducing calories to lose weight slows the metabolism down, which leads to regaining the weight when the restricted diet ends.

Meals versus snacks: Perhaps eating a small quantity to top up energy if it flags ought to be called topups instead of snacks. Snacks suggest grazing, which anyone might start doing if they find themselves working from home and able to raid the fridge whenever they want. It is also easy to start punctuating the day with snacks when you first stop smoking, as that sporadic pause yearns to be filled by a short activity requiring no concentration, to allow the brain to process. A sudden change in the daily routine to a 3 set tennis match or 5 mile run would likely to require an energy top up to supplement your regular meals. Grazing in front of the TV would provide an unused energy surplus, which would pile on the pounds.

Balanced and varied: Of course this is never defined. In fact it is contradicted. The Eatwell Guide suggests basing every meal on a starchy carbohydrate. A balanced meal would contain a good ratio of health fats, protein and fibre carbohydrates. That provides every nutrient, macro and micro. Hearth Nutrition suggests creating meals by checking off all micronutrients we need each day, which in itself would result in a balanced and varied meal. Think of food cultures from around the world: French cuisine involves many small courses. Meze, Thali and Tapas involve small plates including peas, beans, lentils, rice, meat, fish and vegetables. Countries, which traditionally have not had access to the food available today all year round would have pioneered dishes, which provided nutrition, such as coleslaw or sauerkraut.

Genetic Variation: In northern European countries, we would need more fat to absorb fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin D, which we only get enough sunlight to make in the summer months in the UK. Therefore, we would require more fat in our diet to absorb vitamins A, D, E and K from our food. Meanwhile, people from sunny countries, where exotic fruits grow in abundance, would have naturally been outside in the sunshine much more than those in colder, northern climes, and would use the fast-release energy from fruit much more quickly going about their day. None the less, active people still need protein to maintain their physical and mental health, so living on exotic fruits is probably not sensible for any humans.

Eating Disorders: It has been known for a while that disrupted eating can lead to vitamin deficiencies. This might mean that supplements are required to get your daily nutrition, but a nutritious diet, which provides all the essential micronutrients to provide optimal mental and physical health is a good way to start. Then DNA wellbeing tests, hair samples and using nutriition facts and an elimination process to get the nutrition you can, through food first and supplement to fill any gaps would provide you with a strong foundation for health.

My question on Independent SAGE is the last one here, on vitamin D deficiency in UK.

Up to the start of covid-19 spreading around the UK, the NHS website provided information about vitamins and minerals, including how human bodies used each micronutrient, the amount required, whether we stored it or not, natural sources – either diet or sunlight for vitamin D – and recommended daily amount (RDA) for dietary supplements.

I spent a weekend copying this information into a spreadsheet with each micronutrient on a row with food and other sources as well as the RDA for a supplement. At the bottom I could make a shopping list to get maximum nutrition from food. I then worked out gaps in my diet and bought the supplements I required.

Although vitamins and some nutritients are more important, seeing the foods they come from and RDAs for supplements to get those missing in our chosen diet can help plan a nutritious diet

A deep dive into nutrition would reveal more information, such as the relationship between fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and fatty acids, amino acids and minerals they contain. To get a nutritious diet this information would be helpful but is difficult to cross reference, when official diet advice is subjective and lacks context.

There are also dynamics to consider, which are the result of lifestyle on health, recovery and protection against hospitalisation or death from a virus. Smoking can reduce vitamin D in the system. Alcohol reduces B12 and drinking too much can lead to a B12 deficiency. Carbohydrate density can lead to bloating, inflammation, high blood sugar, water retention and be an anti-nutrient and block absorption of essential micronutrients. Food intolerance also creates responses, depending on how much the body does not want a certain food, for example tomatos, potatos, peppers and tobacco are all from the nightshade family and soy can be an anti-nutrient if not prepared properly.

There could be a variety of causes of current ailments, particularly long COVID and ongoing conditions such as Fibro Myalgia, Endometriosis, Cystic Fibrosis, ME, Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity, Rheumatoid Arthritus, Arthritis, Dementia, Alzeimers and also the depreciated health aspects experienced by people with autism and a wealth of other common non-communicable diseases. Nutrition is no cure and research is biased in favour of medicine that seeks to test nutrition as a treatment to discredit it. What nutrition does do, however, is give our bodies and minds the best chance at fighting whatever affliction we develop.

Healthcare today seems more like sickcare and focuses on cure rather than prevention. The Independent SAGE meeting on 6th March mentioned that the government have spent 96% of funding on pharmaceuticals and every other aspect, including prevention accounts for 4% of the government’s budget. See this information on Medical News Today about vitamin E deficiency and diseases, which shows how: “Vitamin E deficiency can also result from diseases that severely reduce the absorption of fat”.

There is a lack of finance invested into researching how nutrition and tackling malnutrition with a healthy diet keeps us healthy and reduces non-communicable diseases as well hospitalisation and death from viruses. However, Hearth is based on the information provided on the NHS website on vitamins and minerals, cross referenced with Public Health Collaboration, John Yudkin, Gary Taubes, Dr Zoe Harcombe, Dr Andrew Jenkinson, Tim Spector, Harvard Health and Medical News Today.

Please see my nutrition and food spreadsheet here (Google Sheets).

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


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.


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