Something that confuses a lot of people is what to eat and what constitutes a healthy diet. This in turn leads many, particularly those wanting to reduce weight into a pattern of trial and tribulation of diets that do not work, frustration and confusion as to what constitutes healthy eating.
As humans we like things to be fairly simple. Even more so today in our often-busy lives, keeping things simple is a big plus.
It is some what disappointing then in some respects to see that this year we will get a new set of dietary guidelines. This USA publication comes from the efforts of 13 nutrition scientists who go through truckloads of papers and studies.
They also hold a series of meetings where industry groups and presumably lobbyists can present testimony. The National Fisheries Institute has said people should eat more fish. The Salt Institute argues that salt intake guidelines should be changed. I do not know if the Cattle Industry has made submissions but no prizes for guessing what they may advocate.
Apparently nutrients are discussed one by one and the aim is to come up with “guidelines” which are supposed to allow people to get all their “nutrients” from food without the need for supplements.
What a load of nonsense. How can you possibly have guidelines that apply to all people all the time? True, the basics of what our body’s need has not changed in 10,000 years. We need fruits and vegetables, protein (animal or vegetable) and some grains, nuts and water. A bit of dairy is fine. That’s the basics, simple really.
In an ideal world we would get all our “nutrients” from this. There are assumptions in this, which may not always apply. One is that vegetables have the amounts of minerals that they are supposed to and are not from depleted soils. Another is that in our busy lives we will always eat what we actually need each day.
Also there is the assumption that everybody has the same needs and that those needs even for the same person remain constant. Again this is nonsense. A training athlete has greater needs than one who is not. When you have a virus your needs may be greater. When stressed the same applies.
This is why despite constant disparaging from governments and doctors, supplements remain popular. The term means to make complete or make up for a deficiency. It is not a replacement for eating the fuels the body needs.
The next question becomes what do I need? This will vary from person to person and will be different for the same person at different times. As a very general guide the most universally useful supplements are
- A whole food supplement such as compressed fruits and vegetables
- A fish oil (unless you eat 3 serves of oily fish a week)
- A good antioxidant.
So keep it simple. Eat real food that has color and till recently was growing or moving around. Use supplements as a top up according to your needs and circumstances.
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