«

»

Jun 01

What Should We Eat?

what should we eat

Confused about what to eat?

I was listening to a BBC news story the other night about the confusion surrounding which diet is the best. What should we eat? It’s a burning question that haunts researchers and consumers alike. Based on the number of contradictory and debatable study results, diet books, and nutrition programs available, it’s easy to understand why so many people are confused when it comes to food.

As a health writer, I can appreciate the confusion. Over the past few decades I have written thousands of articles and several books that focus on various elements of nutrition and diet. I can appreciate the complexities involved in conducting research that aims to evaluate the impact of certain foods and nutrients on human health.

First of all, everyone has a unique biochemistry and genetic makeup. Then there are countless numbers of other factors that may have a role in determining end results, such as gender, age, ethnicity, environmental pollutants, cultural norms, psychological status, exercise habits, medication use, illicit drug use, smoking, alcohol use, food quality, presence of known and unknown illnesses…you get the picture.

Then there’s the fact that many studies rely on the participants self-reporting their food intake. People either lie on food questionnaires and/or they simply can’t remember so they put down what they think they should say. We cannot lock people away in laboratory conditions for months or years on end and control their every bite. Epidemiological studies are helpful, but they have their limitations as well. It isn’t possible to account for all the possible influences, known and unknown.

what should we eatOne of the more disturbing things about nutrition research is the influence of big business. Lobbying by the dairy, meat, sugar, soy, etc. industries as well as studies conducted by industry and then hawked to the public typically do not provide unbiased information for consumers so they can make informed decisions when answering the question, what should we eat?

Food controversies

The BBC report raised one of the more controversial topics: saturated fat and heart disease. For decades, we have been told that saturated fat and cholesterol are the villains when it comes to heart and cardiovascular disease. Now we are told that this advice was born of faulty reasoning and research. Saturated fat has slid back into favor (but don’t go hog wild–pun intended.) Added sugar is now being blamed for increasing the risk of dying from heart disease.

Not that sugar has been given a clear bill of sweetness up to now (even though the sugar industry still sings its praises). Added sugar has long been associated with obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

The report didn’t even touch on some of the other food fights that are ongoing, such as those surrounding the pros and cons of soy and soy foods or the health risks and benefits of dairy products. And let’s not forget the debate over whether one should or should not eat wheat or other gluten-harboring foods if one is not among the celiac disease crowd.

What should we eat?  

In my humble opinion, life is complicated enough without having to stress over all of these dietary decisions. I’m not saying there aren’t people who need to avoid certain foods because of specific conditions, such as celiac disease or peanut allergies. But I believe there’s an easy way to answer the question, what should we eat?

what should we eatI like the KISS principle—Keep It Simple, Silly. A walk through most grocery stores is like going to a chemistry lab. Most of the foods are processed and refined, chock full of preservatives, sugars, and artificial ingredients only a chemistry major might recognize. It’s an experiment, and we are the guinea pigs.

Instead, choose whole, natural foods without additives and preservatives, prepare them simply, and you eliminate much of the hassle and controversy, regardless of special dietary needs. As a vegan, my answer to the question has always been clear. I have made an ethical, moral choice and so my food selections are simple to make.

Life is a gift, as I chose foods that honor that belief. A vegan choice does not contribute to abuse, torture, or taking of lives. (Yes, even sugar is associated with animals. Did you know cane sugar is whitened using charcoal from cow bones? Beet sugar, however, is not.)

This planet is my home, so I have elected a dietary path that minimizes the impact on her soil, air, water, plants, and other resources. The environment effects of an animal-based diet are staggering.

For me the vegan choice is simple. Because it not only nourishes my body, but also my soul.

Also Read: Wasting Food is a Crime

Reference

American Heart Association. Added sugars add to your risk of dying from heart disease

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Facebook