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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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. 


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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. 


%d bloggers like this: