One of the world’s biggest (and most expensive) challenges today is mopping up the disease that results from eating too much food. For the first time in human history we live in a world where there is more obesity than there is starvation. Some would have us think that weight loss is simply a matter of calories in versus calories out. “Just eat less and move more and you can be healthy - simple…” Not! We now know that whilst there is some degree of correlation between our weight and the number of calories we consume versus the amount of energy we expel, it’s the nutritional composition of those calories that have the biggest implication to health. The common fast-food meal of a burger, large fries and a cola, that many of us might consider a good lunch, can contain over 1,500 calories of energy but it’s what that meal doesn’t contain that’s the problem. These types of meals, now a staple for so much of the world’s population, might be energy dense but they are nutrient poor. And with food, it’s pretty much a zero-sum game. The more times we visit a fast-food restaurant in the week, the more likely we are to develop nutrient deficiencies.
We know that without enough of all the essential micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids) our biochemistry can’t function optimally and overtime, this catches up to us in the form of dis-ease. Imagine what the cells in our body can do with a 400 calorie plate of salad made with a variety of colourful vegetables, leaves and perhaps a piece of wild fish compared to eating a large order of french fries, also about 400 calories. It’s no wonder we’re a world that is over-fed but under-nourished.
Health and weight management is so much more than calories in vs. calories out. It’s what those calories do to our bio-chemistry and how our cells react that makes all the difference. Eating a diet that focuses more on nutrient density than energy density is the answer. This can be as simple as eating more plants and striving for colour in our diet; Aiming to make plants account for more than 50% of what goes into our mouth; Trying to eat fewer beige foods and more colourful foods - and I’m not talking about skittles and m&m’s ;-). I’m talking about the rainbow of colours found in fruits and vegetables which protect our cells from oxidative damage and give our body a better ability to repair itself.
If you put cheap petrol into a car, the engine might not run as well and may not last as long. It’s the same for the human body. Go for quality when it comes to the fuel you put into your engine; e.g. vegetable produce preferably grown in organic soil without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides; a bit less meat on our plates but of a higher standard and welfare - e.g. organic grass-fed beef and pasture-reared chicken... you get the picture. When it comes to food and our health, quality trumps quantity all day long.