The foundation of a healthy life, part 2: nutrition, an important ingredient of good health

The foundation of a healthy life, part 2: nutrition, an important ingredient of good health

The body does not operate just like that. Like with an engine, it needs fuel. The mechanical comparison immediately ends there. Although many health professionals like to approach the body as you do a machine, with parts that you can replace and a manual that you just have to follow, that’s not how it works.

Just as you can plainly see that everyone is different, and that there isn’t just one mold from which a standard human is made, you can understand that the one size fits all approach doesn’t work when it comes to health. If that were the case, we would all look the same and function the same when treating our bodies in a similar fashion. However, that is absolutely not the case. Diets that aim at losing weight are a good example of this.

Miracle diets and superfoods don’t exist

If you scientifically research different diets, you will see that with just about every diet there is a group that loses weight and then regains weight, but that there are always people who hardly lose weight and people who really lose a bizarre amount of kilos as well. We regularly see the same thing happening in other medical treatment. Conclusion: every person responds differently to the same health regime.

It automatically follows that it is prudent to look with suspicion at books that preach a certain, one-sided way of eating. It may be that something works for you, but not because a so-called authority says it is. It could work because it just happens to suit your body. Miracle diets don’t exist, however.

Superfoods don’t exist just either. There are foods that are particularly high in certain nutrients, but they don’t wear superhero capes or save lives. People who only eat a certain so-called superfood do not become healthier. On the contrary. There is no superfood that contains all the nutrients in the right amounts and proportions. There’s no escaping it, you will have to eat a varied diet to stay healthy.

What makes for good nutrition?

What is that, a varied diet? The term says it all. It must offer variation. This means that it is best to eat many different foods in order to get yourself all the necessary nutrients, in the basis evenly divided between carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Not mostly bread and potatoes, as we still see in many Dutch families. The standard Dutch diet relies largely on processed carbohydrates and is therefore out of balance. And most western diets don’t differ much from the Dutch diet.

That’s not all that’s out of balance. Due to the saturated fat slander campaign we witnessed the past decades, we have created an imbalance in our fat consumption. I even know people who are downright afraid of eating fats. They only eat food stuffs they can find in a fat-free version. The problem with this is that those often contain sugar to make it taste appealing. As a result, people who eat fat-free often eat too much sugar, which is a downright health hazard.

Fat is your friend

Fat is not your enemy. Fat is a friend, an important nutrient and supplier of energy for humans, provided we handle it wisely. And baking and frying in vegetable oil, for example, is not. There is nothing wrong with saturated fat, it even serves as the go-to fat if you want to fry something at a higher temperature.

My rule of thumb? Is a fat or oil naturally liquid at room temperature? Do not use it for frying or deep-frying. When these oils are heated they usually change structure and end up containing transfats, which are very unhealthy. In its natural form, is it solid at room temperature? Then it is a candidate. Deep-frying is of course something we don’t want to do too often. But that actually applies to everything that has “too” in front of it.

Pure and natural, or at least as much as possible

When we were talking about fats just now, I wrote in the sentence about saturated fat “in its natural form”. I did that for a reason. Thanks to today’s food industry, we can tinker with a lot to food. Some things are a blessing, such as processes that make food safer. Others are less so. I am talking about artificially created food stuffs that can mislead us.

Frying fat is one of them. Every time I live in a different country it is a problem again: finding hard fat to be able to deep-fry occasionally. You would expect that to be simple. You just look in the frying fat department which fats are solid. But that is not the case. Nowadays, you can also get solid blocks of sunflower oil , due to artificial processing. Due to the solidifying process, these contain transfats, however.

Even in France, the country of good food where they don’t look more or less on a gram of saturated fat. The country where people themselves are proof that there is nothing wrong with saturated fat, provided you eat it within a healthy, pure and varied diet.

More on this subject in the next episode…