Nutritional Balance

Feb. 17, 2017 at 11:23am

There has never been a time where there has been more information available on healthy eating – from bestselling diet books, to infomercials for cleanses, and secret tips in glossy magazines. Unfortunately, many are not based on credible nutritional science. Watching medical experts tout the addition or subtraction of one nutrient as deliverance—only to change the channel and hear someone equally-thoroughly-credentialed touting the opposite—it can be tempting to write off nutrition advice altogether. This month we hear something is good, and next we almost expect to hear it’s bad. Why not assume the latest research will all eventually be nullified, and just close our eyes and eat whatever tastes best?

The reality is that there are no magic foods or quick-fix solutions for eating healthy. Foods are not inherently totally “good” or “bad,” as in you should always eat or you never should eat. Some, however, are better choices than others (such as olive oil rather than stick margarine.) My belief is that all food is good food. It’s just that some are eaten in unhealthful amounts.

It is important to base your dietary decisions on science from reliable sources such as the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the National Cancer Institute. I particularly like newsletters such as Nutrition Action, the Berkeley Wellness Letter and the Tufts Newsletter. Be aware that some studies are funded by food manufacturers and that some authors take a “man bites dog” approach, presenting contrarian information as a marketing “hook.” (More on misleading science in an upcoming blog.)

Once you have the credible science, it is time to apply common sense to your actions. I have used common sense and my experience in my own life as a guideline. My default position from early on was a middle-of-the-road, moderate and balanced dietary pattern based very much on the global principles of a Mediterranean-style diet: Don’t focus on one thing but on the whole diet. Be aware of the impact of nutrients on health, but center your dietary pattern on foods. I have been consistent with this in my books ranging from the Don’t Eat Your Heart Out Cookbook to The Road to a Healthy Heart Runs Through the Kitchen. My eating pattern has promoted a variety of foods: fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, fish, olive oil, lean protein, whole grains, dairy products, and even wine. I have centered my selections on fresh, local and in season whole foods and reduced or eliminated refined, processed, packaged and ready-to-eat foods, particularly those containing numerous additives, unhealthy trans fat and added sugar. In short, I have eaten well with “real food.” My cardiologist once remarked, “Joe, you have been eating and recommending the Mediterranean diet since before it was called the Mediterranean diet.”

Posted in Health Info by Joe

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