It seems that there are several camps on either side of any nutrition debate and that most experts agree to disagree. There are some facts that are pretty much considered as gospel by all though:
Overconsumption Of Sugar Is Dangerous
Not all experts agree on why this is so but all do agree.
Sugar has not one single nutrient in it and so if you are eating sugar instead of other foods, you are nutrient deficient.
There is a lot more to it than that though.
Other problems are now coming to the forefront.
Because of the fructose in sugar, it has been held up as the main cause of weight gain, heart disease and adult onset diabetes.
The problem is that the body is not able to process fructose as it does glucose. It can only be processed in the liver and gets converted to fat. This leads to fatty liver, a resistance to insulin, higher levels of triglycerides, dangerous visceral fat and higher levels of cholesterol.
It also affects the way our brains react to leptin - the hormone that controls the way we store fat.
Eating sugar in excess creates a number of reactions in our bodies that predispose us to eat more sugar and a vicious cycle is the result.
Most Of Us Are Deficient When It Comes To Omega-3s
We know that Omega-3s are vital for good health.
This is true to such a great extent that a deficiency can manifest in a loss in cognitive function, depression, a number of mental issues and cardiovascular problems, to name just a few.
Omega-3 can come from three basic sources - Plants in the form of ALA; Animals in the form of DHA and EPA.
ALA cannot be used as is and must first be converted into one of the other two types. The problem is that the human body is not very good at this.
It is best to get these fatty acids from animals then - fish, livestock that has been raised on grass and not grain and enriched eggs. A supplement is a viable alternative.
No "One Size Fits All" Diet Exists
Each one of us is different to the next - culturally, physically and in terms of the environment we live in. That is why there is not just one right answer for everyone.
What works for you may not work for me, and vice versa.
You may need to play around with different plans until you find the ideal one for you.
After all, you are the one that will have to stick to this diet.
Trans Fats Are Toxic
If you see the label "hydrogenated oils" or trans fats, put it back on the shelf.
They are chemically altered in order to make them act more like saturated fats.
The process in order to achieve this is really not a good one and the end product is downright toxic.
Trans fats are the real villains of the fat world - they create high levels of the bad form of cholesterol and reduce the good cholesterol, increase levels of visceral fat, make your body resistant to insulin and increase the inflammatory response.
There is nothing good that can be said about these fats - they need to be eliminated completely.
Eat More Veggies For Health Reasons
Yes, your mom was right - you do need to eat your veggies.
They are a great source of all the good things our bodies need, packaged in the quantities and combinations that will optimize absorption.
They have been proven to improve health and protect against disease.
They also help you feel fuller for longer and add vital fiber to your diet.
Eat them with every meal and eat a range of them.
Vitamin D Is An Essential Nutrient
Vitamin D is unlike any other. It acts within the human body as a steroid hormone.
It is made by the skin in response to UV exposure from sunlight.
This was the way we always got enough in the past.
Today, however, many people are finding that they are not getting enough.
Whether it is because of our tendency to work longer hours indoors, the success of the sunscreen campaigns around the world or simply living in a place that is not that sunny, many people are now deficient.
This deficiency is no joke and has been linked to several dread diseases like cancer and osteoporosis.
The only way to be sure that the levels are right is to have a blood test.
The problem is that it is hard to get sufficient quantities through diet alone.
You need to actively try to get more sun or, failing that, start taking a supplement. Cod liver oil is also a good option here.
Processed Carbs Are Bad
Whilst the debate about the quantities of carbs and fats in the diet will probably rage on indefinitely, there is a general consensus that refined carbs are not good for you.
Some high-carb foods, such as grains, do have valuable nutrients in them. The problem is that processing pretty much obliterating the nutritional value and leaving you with a substance that is really about the same as pure sugar.
The effects on blood sugar are pretty much the same - eating too many refined carbs paves the way to getting all sorts of diseases.
For me personally, there is nothing in grains that cannot be gotten elsewhere. That said, whole grains are definitely a much better bet than the refined alternative.
Man Cannot Live On Supplements Alone
There is a belief that food is really just a mix of various nutrients and nothing more.
The idea is that we can create a similar effect by gathering those individual ingredients together in the form of a supplement has been disproved.
The problem is that we really do not understand fully what the natural formulations entail. Nature also gets the exact quantities right and mixes nutrients together to aid optimal absorption.
There is so much more to this that the supplement can never replace the good real food.
There are supplements that are useful, even beneficial but it is not simply a case of eating whatever you like and hoping that the supplement will mop up the damage. It doesn't work like that.
Best Dietary Advice: Change Your Lifestyle
Diets do not work. That has been proven.
Whilst you may see some benefits in the short term, the minute you go back to “normal“ eating, you start to gain weight again. The problem is that the extra pounds bring along some buddies and you end up fatter than you were before.
That is why you have to look at this as a lifestyle change and why you need to find something that works for you. Once you find a healthy eating plan, use your resources to help you stick to it.
For example, a roommate or spouse who will also commit to eating well or a plant-based product to help you curb your hunger. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to aid weight loss and promote optimal health.
Unrefined Food Is Best
The more refined and processed the food is, the worse it is for you.
Consider how the general health of all people has been affected by industrialization - we are sicker than ever before.
Processing by its nature removes most of the good stuff from food.
To improve the flavor of this "denatured" product, artificial flavourants and chemicals are added. Trans fats, sugar and wheat form the basis of increasing how good processed foods taste.
It also makes them deadly.
It is not worth subjecting your body to this rubbish - stick to real food.