Nowadays you only have to scroll down your Facebook news feed and you will easily be greeted with an array of nutrition based articles, whether it be how to incorporate the latest superfood into your diet or a study about the harmful effects of too much red meat on the body. Whatever it is, we just cannot stop talking about what it is we should be putting into our bodies, and rightly so! Food on cellular level affects our skin, hair, nails, blood, tissue and vital organs, so of course we should be concerned.
So why is it then that one minute coconut oil is classed as a ‘health food’ and can help you burn fat and increase brain function, and in the next breath we are being told it increases your LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) which contributes to cardiovascular disease and heart disease? Wait a second, how can this be?
I am here to tell you that unfortunately, chances are, both could be be correct. Now bear with me here. Joshua Rosenthal, the founder of the largest nutrition school in the world, IIN said “Nutrition is a funny science. It’s the only science where people can scientifically prove opposing theories and still be right”. Hard to grasp, but it’s true. Let me give you some examples.
Take dairy, it has been proven that yoghurt is fantastic in helping you maintain a healthy gut flora due to its probiotic qualities, yet at the same time it has also been shown to be linked to prostate cancer and heart disease.
Here’s another. The omega three fatty acids in fish have been shown to reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack, great! Yet in another breath we are advised to avoid fish such as king mackerel and bigeye tuna to minimise exposure to contaminants such as mercury.
So faced with this contradicting science that bombards us on a daily basis, here are some of my top tips to help you navigate through the confusion.
It’s All About Balance
As we know already, too much of a good thing in life can sometimes be bad, especially in nutrition. So what we need to strive for in order to create a healthy diet is balance. For example, we all need protein (not as much as society thinks we do) but we still need it, however too much protein can cause bad breath, headaches and constipation.
Try to make sure you vary your diet with a mix of different proteins (plant and animal) such as red meat, lentils and beans, complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole grains, sweet potato and healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados and nuts.
Eat Mostly Plants
Plants are the key to vitality and health and they were put on this earth for us to consume and enjoy. Eating a diet high in fruit and vegetables means you are consuming plenty of essential phytonutrients which have been shown to prevent chronic illness, strengthen the immune system and to even prevent cancer. Yes, cancer!
It is also essential to vary the fruit and vegetables you are eating as you benefit from different essential vitamins and minerals from every plant. Another tip is to always try to eat what’s in season as it will taste amazing and the nutrient content will be at its highest.
Always Choose Quality
Nowadays we are blessed with so much variety on the shelves of our supermarkets, however, sometimes this can lead to confusion as to what to buy. When purchasing meat, poultry, eggs or fresh fruit and vegetables it is always preferable to buy organic if possible.
This means that your produce will not contain any harmful antibiotics, artificial hormones, GMO’s, ionising radiation, herbicides or pesticides which all can negatively impact our health. I appreciate organic can be expensive sometimes, but it does ensure the healthiest outcome for our bodies.
The Avoid List
Now, I know nutritional studies seem to contradict each other, but they stand united in one area and that’s what not to eat! In order to ensure you are eating a healthy diet it is essential to eliminate the following; All processed foods, refined carbohydrates, refined sugars and harmful fats such as trans fats.
Now I know you don’t want to hear it but the reality is that burgers, french fries, sodas, pizza, sweets, cakes, biscuits and baked goods are never going to be healthy. So if you truly want to adopt a healthy diet then do your best to cut out these nasties, as these foods are one of the main reasons that we have seen such a rapid rise in chronic illnesses and obesity in our society today.
As much as one person will tell you dairy helps their gut, there will be several others that disagree with you and tell you that it causes them no end of issues. That’s because we are all unique and news flash, there is actually no perfect diet! Yes, it’s true, only a diet that suits you.
Some people may thrive on a diet including animal products and others will benefit from a more plant-based approach. As a Health Coach, I advocate bio-individuality and this simply means that no one diet fits all. One man’s food is another man’s poison so the key is to truly listen to your body and find out what works best for you.
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