Nutrition Study – Are You In This for The Long Haul? 

What you eat can make the difference between a vibrant, healthy life and disease and misery!

Fresh veggie variety

Food as medicine

Nutrition study may seem intimidating for some. However, nutrition can be a hobby, an interest or it can be a required class you care nothing about. It’s a matter of  perspective.

Where do we get good solid information?

Nutrition has been a hobby of mine for most of my adult life. I love to read and learn about its effect on health. When I finally took a class in Nutrition study, the instructor was not motivated or  interested and just doing a job. It was not my favorite class. Nutritional study can be as simple as learning what to eat and why, all the way to studying nutritional genomics; looking into the nutrient-gene connection. However, even simply paying attention to what you’re eating and how it effects your body can prove very beneficial.

Scientists have proven that our diet can make the difference between health and disease. In other words – many diseases are totally preventable. I’ve decided a long time ago that choosing health is just plain smart.

I know, no brainer right…  Wrong.

Okay, we’re not going to conduct a nutrition study, we’ll start by watching what we eat. By paying close attention to what we eat and what we expect from it, we see results. The results depend on what we eat. So what should we eat? Where can we get the most current reliable information about what to eat?

Where should we get our nutrition information?

Everywhere you turn there is information provided on nutrition and diet. One swears by high protein, low carbohydrate, another claims eating all the carbohydrate you want will be best, just decrease the saturated fat.  We’re bombarded with advice.

After all the special diets Americans have been through, we are steadily raising the number of the overweight and obese among us. Who is sponsoring these special diets anyway? What is their interest? Is it financial? Is the nutrition research performed before we jump on board. What’s the answer? What should we be eating to take care of ourselves in a responsible way.

You can trust us, we work for the Government.

You may be surprised to learn that even the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not always give sound advice for nutrition. The USDA are the folks who give us the recommended daily content and amounts for different foods.

Are the USDA recommendations based on nutrition study or some other considerations? What about the folks that have interest in the cattle industry for example… do you suppose they have any influence at the “fed” — “USDA”–Washington? Questions for a future discussion but something for you to think about as you consider sources of information.

An example of the USDA misinformation or bad advice was the recommendation to stay away from or limit ALL fats and oils. We now know that there are good fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated; and bad fats – saturated and trans fats, right? Wrong. By merely staying away from all fats, we did achieve a level of the desired result.  A reduction of coronary artery disease to name one. However, we threw the baby out with the bath water.  We dropped the healthy (mono and poly-unsaturated) along with the unhealthy (saturated, trans-fats) fats. Again, wrong, at least not that simplified.

This understanding of dietary fats and oils can make the difference between heart disease developed by plaque producing fats in your blood vessels and creating a condition in your vessels that protect you from disease. The first being saturated and trans fats and the later being mono and polyunsaturated fats. That's what we've been told. 

When you get your annual check-up. You want to know what your numbers are. Blood lipids are key for assessing how your body produces it's own cholesterol based on your genes, and what you eat. A lipid panel is a blood test that measures lipids—fats and fatty substances used as a source of energy by your body. Lipids include cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). This panel measures: Total cholesterol level. 

As it turns out, the latest science for blood lipids is like many issues in biology, it's dependent on genes and gene expression. Scientist physicians working with patients and conducting research have discovered that our standard blood lipid profiles should be broken down a bit further. Specifically, the LDL is broken into particle size. 

The USDA did not think the public smart enough to understand the difference between the good fats and bad so they recommended using all fats sparingly.

1992 USDA Food Pyramid

1992 USDA Food Pyramid

It worked, all jumped on the reduce fat band wagon and heart disease even decreased. However, what is left out is the absolute protective effect of healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats). We did not even consider the USDA recommendation to consume 6-11 servings of carbohydrates. The nutrition study had been available. Scientists had found little evidence that consuming high carbohydrates is beneficial.

Since I learned of these and other disparities in nutritional information, I began a deeper nutrition study and research into what to eat for maximum health. I began to find scientific research for food recommendations.

Later on in life I was confronted with medication recommended by doctors. Not wanting to take medications I sought other ways to meet the same result. See my blog post on how your diet can replace medications and the side effects that go with taking meds.

Euphoria or Misery!

Did you know that what you eat can determine your mood. I pretty much live in a constant state of euphoria based on what I eat. There are those who believe that you have to die of something so eat, drink and be merry. I agree with the eat, drink and be merry part. However, you do not have to die of anything diet related.  Why, because it’s yummy?  Not me. I absolutely love everything I eat, but it doesn’t affect my mood negatively as the foods I ate in the past.

You also have many nutritional foods to choose from – ones that promote health and those that cause misery. Oh, maybe not right away… but it comes. I see the effects of high saturated/trans fat diet in patients every day in my vocation and it hurts me. Why? – again because most if not all are preventable conditions if we simply realize the power of choice we have.

Many think that we will die of the diseases of our parents generation and we should just enjoy whatever everyone else eats. Some are using food as a comfort. There is nothing wrong with enjoying food. Our food should taste good and give us a degree of pleasure.  However, if we continue to eat what everyone else does, we could be headed for trouble.

Where we go wrong is in choosing our favorite comfort food is the type and amount. It is usually a high sugar or saturated/trans fat dense food with little to no nutritional value. No problem – I agree – special treats can be comforting and extremely pleasurable. The problem comes with the amount we consume… and maybe several times a day.

According to scientists, four of the top 10 causes of death in the United States are diet-related and totally preventable. The big four are:

1. Heart Disease

2. Cancer

3. Stroke

4. Diabetes

Of the four, I’ve seen the effects of Diabetes’ ravenous stages and heart disease every day for the last 20 years. A life of loss. A life of misery. All diet-related. Many preventable.  At the outside, highly controllable.

The World Health Organization (WHO) statistics show that Type II Diabetes comprises 90% of all Diabetes cases around the world. WHO predicts an increase of diabetic deaths by 50% in the next 10 years without urgent action. What is the urgent action – personal health responsibility and Nutrition study!  Again, don’t think classroom here — just paying attention to what you eat.

The Fed Basics

The baby boomers will remember grade school nutrition study in health class. Eat from the four food groups in the recommended portions and you’ll be healthy. Those guidelines were recommended from 1956 until 1977- USDA.

At that time a Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs issued new dietary goals for the United States. Now, do you want your personal health decided by bureaucrats; who most likely met over high-saturated fat lunch on our tax dollars while sitting with lobbyists with who knows what interests.

The truth is that the feds in the USDA get scientific input but they ultimately decide what to recommend. It was their wisdom that did not trust our intelligence and placed all fats at the top of the food pyramid — use sparingly.

During that time in United States history, a juicy marbled steak was a sign of wealth and health. Today the recommendation leans toward smaller portions of lean meat and more vegetables.

No, what we need is a radical wake-up call with sound science-based and evidence-based advice. We need nutrition study that we can digest. We don’t need another diet, we need a way to eat that will sustain health and wellness.

So where do we get this information. Good question – glad you asked. Well, from my perspective, it comes from many sources and from no one in particular. The advice we received from the USDA vilified fats – ALL fats. We know today that there are good fats and there are bad ones. The USDA provides some good information. I like to research all sources and go with my gut backed up by science and my own evidence based on how I feel and more importantly what the blood tells me.

I now have over two decades of personal experience as to what works for me. I weigh the same today as I did in 1983. Much of the information I’ve read in the past came from the fringes – from dietary radicals. Today, the recommendations from those then radicals have made their way into the mainstream.

What was once considered quackery is now accepted by prominent authorities like the Harvard, Stanford and Cornell Universities and the Mayo Clinic.

Follow the Money?

What? – Money? Who would be motivated by money where nutrition study is concerned? Well, I’m glad you asked because it is truly the root of all evil in this case. Did you know that drug companies don’t produce certain drugs because there not money makers. Although they would relieve much suffering, they do not produce the dollars.

Nutrition study and the dollars needed for research are treated just the same way. Scientists say that obtaining grant money for nutrition study research is extremely difficult if not unheard of for most projects. Hopefully, with the advent of Alternative and Integrative Medicine becoming more excepted, this will change.

No matter what your motivation, change is hard work. If you’re looking for a quick fix to better nutrition – better health, you’ll have to look elsewhere. If you’re in this for the long haul then come back for subsequent posts that you can use to maximize your health. Steady small changes over time can produce great results. First, make up your mind. There is little that stands in the way of a motivated made up mind.


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