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What Are the Basics of Nutrition That You Need to Know

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

Vitamins and Nutrition - When dieting just isn't going to cut it!

Getting the basics of nutrition right can be difficult for some of the best intentioned doctors but staying healthy is more than eating a plant-based diet. Two of the main factors affecting the diets of today are carbohydrate and fat intake.

In the video below Prof. Eran Segal on the TEDx Ruppin stage presents conclusions from his latest research which made us question common dietary beliefs. How do you find his conclusions?

Prof. Eran Segal is a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science. He works on developing quantitative models for all levels of gene regulation, including transcriptionchromatin, and translation.

In 2007 Prof. Segal was awarded the Overton Prize by the International Society for Computational Biology. In 2011 he was made a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

There's nothing like hearing from a renowned professor on the basics of nutrition and below we discuss how glucose and fat affect us on a dietary level.

Prof. Segal claims there is no "One size fits all" diet, in the sense that people will respond differently to certain types of food. Through a study utilising continuous glucose monitoring and food journals, Segal produced some evidence that the glucose response to specific foods differs significantly between people. He hypothesized that personalised food plans based on further research could be beneficial in reducing the occurrence of diabetes.

Later, he employed blood DNA testing, feces analysis (gut bacteria) to gather data which was analyzed with a machine learning method to create personalised diets that were expected to improve glucose responses after eating. This method was tested on a population size of 26, the results of the study supported his hypothesis, though required further testing. Source: Wikipedia

It can be deduced that too many carbohydrates can not only lead to obesity and diabetes but it can also lead to a higher risk of associated mortality said lead researcher Dr Mahshid Dehghan. He confirmed. "A high carbohydrate diet - greater than 60 per cent of energy - is associated with higher risk of mortality. Source: The Telegraph It is recommended that 45% of the daily diet come from carbohydrates.

Nutrition Basics - Where to Start It's very difficult to know which diet best suits you and your lifestyle. The truth is, it can change from one time frame to another. I know that I can't eat the same things that I used to eat when I was younger without putting on weight or feeling sluggish and unhealthy.  One thing is for sure, we all need the right micro and nutrients including the right amount of healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. In today's age it's very difficult to get the right balance if you are consuming ready-made or processed foods. This is because manufacturers concentrate on their bottom line profits and not necessarily the health costs of the products that they are producing.  There are so many things to consider when sourcing products today. It's no longer as easy as going to the shop for fruit and vegetables. We now have to buy organic foods where we can avoid it due to the over-spraying and growing of vegetables and fruit with pesticides. We can't eat alternative products to dairy and meat now without worrying about hydrogenated fats. It's all a mind field but hopefully, you'll be able to gain some valid insight into what to do and how to do it from the links shared below.  Healthline: According to Nutritionists, These Are the 7 Ingredients Your Multivitamin Should Have Medical News Today: Top 15 sources of plant-based protein Medical News Today: Can fat be Good for you?

Good fat is essential for good health

Recently there has been a move away from fat being bad for you to fat being good for you. Certain diets are advocating a high fat, low carb diet, but not all fats are created equal. Fat is not harmful in general and modest amounts but animal fat and saturated fats can cause harm to the body. Experts in the subject of plant-based diets such as Doctor Greger, Dr Campbell, Dr Oliviera and Dr McDougall suggest moving away from harmful fats and towards good fats. A diet low in essential fats can lead to many ailments and diseases including reduced brain functioning and cardiovascular disease.

Researcher Dr Andrew Mente, from McMaster University, said: “Our data suggests that low fat diets put populations at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. “Loosening the restriction on total fat and saturated fat and imposing limits on carbohydrates when high to reduce intake to moderate levels would be optimal.” Source: The Telegraph So, in essence there is a need to consume the right amount of fat to sustain a healthy body.

Good examples of vegan foods containing good fats are as follows

Nuts including cashews, almonds and walnuts

Nuts are one of the healthiest foods on the planet and a great source of fat. Nuts are beneficial for vegans as they are also a good source of protein, with a ¼ of a cup providing approximately 5 g of protein. Nuts also contain fibre, which helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer. They also help to reduces cholesterol. Too many nuts will, however, make you fat so keep your daily amount to a healthy 12 nuts not the whole bag.

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Chia Seeds

Two tablespoons of chia seeds provide you with around 8.5 g of healthy fat, mostly in the form of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. This is particularly important as there are few vegan sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

The same portion will provide you with 4.5 g protein and a whopping 10.5 g fibre!

Omega-3 fats are an essential fatty acid which we can only obtain through our diet as our body is unable to manufacture the fat itself. Omega- 3 fats are important for the absorption of fat soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K. Another thing, they are great at gluping out your meals so you feel full for longer.

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I love coconut and it is a high source of saturated fat in the form of a medium-chain triglyceride. Triglycerides function differently to long-chain fatty acids which are found in animal products. Medium-chain triglycerides go directly to the liver to be used as energy rather than to be stored. For a healthy snack you can eat coconut chips instead of crisps, cakes and biscuits

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Avocado is full of nutrients, they are 80% healthy monounsaturated fat, specifically oleic acid. Oleic acid is not only anti-inflammatory but it lowers LDL cholesterol and increases the healthy HDL cholesterol, reducing your risk of stroke and coronary heart disease. Half an avocado a day will help to protect your body from inflammation and keep your cholesterol levels down.

Olive Oil

Olive oil has a longtime been associated with good health benefits. It is said to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. Avocado also contains mono-unsaturated fats and is a rich source of phenols, which are potent antioxidants.

Fat is an important source of energy. For adults, the daily fat intake should not exceed more than 33% of the total food energy intake, limiting saturated fat to 11% of your daily intake.

When thinking about ho to put a meal together there are some simple guidelines to follow. The Harvard MyPlate identifies how you should correctly proportion your food.

Hopefully you've learnt a little about the basics of nutrition here especially fat, I will be covering Carbohydrates and Proteins in a future blog but for now, if you enjoyed this blog please share it so others can benefit.

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