Although I promised readers fairly easy ways to counteract the catastrophic relatively recent changes in our diet on our food/health, I have changed my mind!
Instead, I want to focus on a few other matters before we get there. The first, today, is to reflect what the proportions should be of the dietary intake of the healthy human.
In contemplating how our food also is our health, there are seven major classes of nutrients to consider (in alphabetical order). They are carbohydrates, fats, fibre, minerals, proteins, vitamins and water. Sufficient intake of dietary fibre, minerals, vitamins and water are crucial elements of our life and there is no contest by any expert that these should not be neglected in a healthy diet. The daily amounts of ingestion of these are also well established and do not evoke any schism in the various schools of knowledge about dietary health.
The percentages of the other three in our diet may still today be considered controversial as there are a number (and sometimes bitterly opposing) views of what is good or not. Often the suspicion that some of these “expert” views may be biased by massive industry support from such companies as Coca Cola and Kellogg’s, fuel the vigorous debate. I believe that everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but that opinion should be as informed as possible. My hope with this blog series is that Sparkling Hill’s readers would obtain enough information to make up their own minds. We need to eat as healthy as we can because food is health.
Let’s start with fat. We will then move to carbohydrates and proteins.
Fat increasingly got a really bum rap by society over the past hundred years or so. Not only were we taught that the intake of fat was a very bad idea regarding our cardiovascular health, specifically in terms of heart attacks and strokes. This movement was aided and abetted by the social stigma that piled up over the years about those individuals who gain weight. Today the phrase “fat shaming” speaks about the mindset of society to attribute stupidity, laziness, and even malodorousness to people who are seen as overweight and even those with body shapes considered unacceptable to modern society. This atrocious point-of-view is gaining increasing traction rather than censure.
The reality about fat (as fat stored in the body) is that it plays a critical role not only as a source of energy but also a source of heat and water and thermal insulation. Without that, humanity would not have survived periods of food shortages, even more so, outright famine. We should understand that those of us who are fat will live much longer than the five feet tall size zero anchorperson on the commercial television networks if the apocalypse happens.
No human can survive for a protracted period any dietary intake totally devoid of fat. Without a dietary fat intake of essential fatty acids, (omega-3 and omega-6) cannot be manufactured by the human body and we cannot maintain our state of optimal health for long.
Similarly, humans cannot live without the dietary intake of proteins. We cannot make proteins from fats or carbohydrates. Without protein, the body cannot make hormones, muscles, enzymes, bone, cartilage, skin and blood, and cannot build and repair tissues. If we take in no protein, over time, as our sources of carbohydrate diminish, we also will die from cachexia as the brain and our red blood cells must have glucose as fuel. The brain, without glucose in the body, and without getting protein from our food, will make us consume our own protein from our muscles and any other place protein is found. That is not sustainable with life, let alone health.
Although humans eat both plant- and meat-based food (and therefore, like raccoons, pigs and bears, to name a few other mammals, are called omnivores) an important question to ponder is the ratio of the plant (carbohydrate) to meat (protein) ingestion should be. We will look at that question in our next installment.
Dr. Strauss l Wellness Lead
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