I would like to dedicate this first post to one of the basic pillars that has not only changed my life but is also one of the basic pillars that sustains Health, and this is Nutrition. Without a doubt there is a relationship between Nutrition and Health. Since the time of Galen, numerous diseases were treated with Nutrition and today we see how the lack of Nutrition is making us sick. Despite the new technologies and all the information we can find mainly through the internet, there is no single criterion amongst health professionals regarding nutrition, which leads to widespread misinformation towards the population, including myself. For years I applied what I had learned in the University, I followed the food pyramid, I counted calories, I counted macros, I ate every two or three hours, I ate a little bit of everything, to in the end find out that all this is a Big lie. So I had to start from scratch and relearn everything I knew about Nutrition and Health.
We have a big problem in today’s society, and this is nothing other than:
“PEOPLE ARE FED BY THE FOOD INDUSTRY THAT DOES NOT PAY ATTENTION TO HEALTH; AND PEOPLE ARE THEN ATTENDED BY THE HEALTH INDUSTRY THAT DOES NOT CARE ABOUT FOOD. “
The food industries have become a business and we already know what happens when the money rules.
Therefore Nutrition has a vital importance in our health and well-being. Every day I receive numerous questions about what is the best thing to do to lose weight, to gain muscle mass, to stay young, to be healthy, etc. I almost always give the same answer, and this is nothing else than to eat REAL FOOD. We all have knowledge about food, things we read, studied, or recommendations, advertising. We all know different types of diets and their benefits, such as the mediterranean diet, paleolithic diet, ketogenic diet, vegetarian diet. Others talk about modifying the macros (macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats). Others then count calories and add caloric deficit. But all those who consult me always get the same answer: “Eat REAL FOOD; focus on the food and forget the rest (at least for the moment)”. Basing our nutrition on real food is the most important thing, but what is “REAL FOOD”?
We could define REAL FOOD as those natural foods that are not processed or which are minimally processed, that preserve their natural and healthy characteristics; foods for which we do not need to read a label to know what the food consists of. For example, we do not need to read a label to know that a banana is a banana, or that a tuna steak is a tuna steak. However, we do need to read a label to know what a spreadable “cheese” consists of. “Cheese” between quotation marks, because it is not really cheese.
For example: homemade mayonnaise and processed mayonnaise. If you make your own mayonnaise you will need eggs, olive oil, a little bit of salt or lemon and a blender and in about a minute we have homemade mayonnaise. This mayonnaise can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. On the other hand, we have mayonnaise that we can find in any shelf of a supermarket. These lasts for months or even years. Have you ever read what’s inside? I invite you to do it the next time you go to the supermarket.
We could classify food in REAL FOOD and PROCESSED FOOD.
The REAL FOOD, is based on:
- Fish and seafood.
- Tubers and Roots.
- Nuts and seeds.
- Coffee, cocoa and infusions.
- Herbs and spices.
- Dairy products. (Do take care since there are many exceptions for dairy).
- Cereals. (Also here many exceptions or cereals. So many that I personally have eliminated them all from my diet).
On the other hand we have PROCESSED “foods”: These have been treated or modified by some physical or chemical process in order to improve their conservation or their characteristics, in terms of flavor, aroma, texture, color, etc. It is easy to recognize them because they come in bags or boxes, cans and you need to read the label to know its composition. You will also recognize them because you have seen them in advertising (quite often). These products are sold as food, but physiologically, in our body they have to a lesser or greater extent detrimental effects. This is what science has called the “Cafeteria diet”.
Here are some examples of the PROCESSED FOOD:
- Canned Vegetables.
- Canned fruits or syrup.
- Packaged juices
- Flours, pastries, breads and biscuits whether made of wheat, corn, spelt or rye.
- Industrial sausages.
- Processed meats.
- Chocolates of low quality (less than 85%).
- Vegetable oils (sunflower, canola, soybeans, corn)
- UHT milk, condensed or powdered milk.
- Processed cheeses and sugary dairy products.
- Ice creams.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Soft drinks / sodas
- Light drinks.
- Sports and / or energy drinks.
- Industrial broths.
- Packaged sauces.
- Sweeteners (Refined sugar, fructose, agave syrup, corn syrup, aspartame, sucralose, saccharin).
- Fast food.
- Commercial pizzas.
- Pre-cooked food.
These foods we can especially find in supermarkets. In some countries they make cookies in the shape of a hamburger, chips with cappuccino or waffles and chicken flavor, or soft drinks flavored with salty watermelon. But despite all efforts of the food industry, this is definitely not real food. Moreover, I personally do not consider it to be food.
Why should we base our nutrition on REAL FOOD?
Basically we must for two reasons: first not to get sick and secondly to be healthier.
- In order not to get sick: the current population gets sick and is dying because of what we eat.
We are facing an epidemic of non-communicable chronic diseases such as overweight, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune diseases, etc. In Spain more than 20 million people suffer from a chronic disease and represent the main reason for morbidity and total mortality. All these are of multifactorial origin. However, in my opinion, they all have something in common that contributes to the cause: the consumption of ultra-processed products.
In addition, the health expenditure generated by these diseases is the main economic burden of most governments. This cost represents a great opportunity loss, since big part of those economic resources could be destined to other social needs. Highly processed products generate more poverty than wealth in our society and are comparable to the damage generated by wars or tobacco.
The most decisive factors in our health and well-being are the choices we make in our daily lives. Eating real food is not an expense, it’s a long-term investment that will be returned to you by good health.
We are facing a great epidemic of chronic diseases. All of them are related to Nutrition, or rather to poor nutrition and lack of physical activity. For example metabolic syndromes and high blood insulin levels (obesity, cardiovascular diseases), type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, myopia, acne, and some types of cancer (prostate, colon and breast), neurodegenerative diseases, digestive diseases (constipation, hemorrhoids, heartburn, indigestion, diverticular disease of the colon, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, duodenal ulcer, hiatal hernia, gallstones) and autoimmune diseases. These are only examples because there are many more. I will dedicate a seperate post to each of them later on. They all have something in common that contributes to their cause: consumption of ultra-processed foods. The so-called “cafeteria diet” (soft drinks, cookies, snacks, breakfast cereals, juices …) accelerates obesity and metabolic syndrome faster than any other type of diet. This study confirms that the ‘cafeteria diet’ continues to be the fastest and most effective way to produce dietetic obesity and metabolic syndrome, a pandemic in the current western civilization. Unfortunately these are the products that we see every day, not only on supermarket shelves, but also in hospitals and health centers. There the food companies invest, both in their design and in their marketing. Next time you’re at home watching a movie; count the number of “food”-advertisements during the publicity.
In this other study, scientists tested that free access to these types of food (juices, margarine, doritos, cookies) increased the calorie consumption by 60%, which resulted in 2 extra kilos of fat in one week.
Another study shows us how obesity due to the ‘cafeteria diet’, causes oxidative damage due to an increase in inflammatory kinases altering the insulin signaling, which then leads to glucose intolerance and diabetes.
In this graph we see how obesity levels have risen since we lived with this type of “cafeteria food”.
|SOURCES: NCHS, National Health Examination Survey and National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.|
We also observed in this study how autoimmune diseases have increased in the last 30 years.
If you are suffering from any of these diseases, only with REAL FOOD you will reduce the risk of these diseases and your symptoms will improve.
- To be healthy:
If the processed products have taken us to a state of illness, the real food will make us healthier. But what are the real foods in the area where I live? Throughout history, multiple patterns of healthy eating have been created, depending on whether we lived in one geographical area or another and the accessibility we had to food. We must be guided by satiety and adherence, which only REAL FOOD brings.
How do I start to eat REAL FOOD?
The quality of your food determines your health. The processed foods are of a very inferior quality, in addition to their questionable additives. So limit your consumption of processed foods.
I am not going to tell you that it is an easy task, but it is much easier when you have the correct information. Keep an eye on the blog, I will continue to publish information on Nutrition and Physical Activity.
- Start by eating REAL FOOD, based on many vegetables, meats, fish, eggs and fruits.
- Get your carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits and tubers. Always take into account your level of physical activity.
- Eat only a little bit of cereals and dairy products. If you do include them, ensure they are of high quality.
- Do not forget to eat natural fat. Eating good fat is not the same as storing fat.
- Eliminate sugar, artificial sweeteners and industrial products completely from your diet.
- Do not get hungry.
- Reduce the number of meals per day.
- Stop counting calories.
- Learn to cook.
- Learn to read the labels.