Diet for health: what link between diet and health?
Health diets: what link between diet and health?
The influence of food on health has been suspected for millennia … A close link is now proven by the results of numerous scientific studies. Update on foods to avoid and diets to choose to stay healthy.
On January 24, 2017, the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES) presented the new nutritional benchmarks of the PNNS (National Nutrition Health Program).
In particular, it recommends limiting the consumption of meat (except for poultry) to 70 g per day and that of cold meats to 25 g per day. This decision is based on the results of a study by the CIRC (International Center for Research on Cancer), under the responsibility of the World Health Organization (WHO), published on October 26, 2015, in the medical journal “The Lancet Oncology “. The study found that red meat is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
She also points to the risks associated with excessive consumption of processed meats (eg cold cuts, corned beef): a daily serving of 50 g would increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer by 18%.
Diet for health: beware of the consumption of simple and hidden sugars
WHO has also been at war with simple sugars (eg table sugar, fructose) and hidden sugars in industrial preparations (eg ketchup, drinks, brick soups) for many years?
Why? Because excessive consumption of these sugars promotes cavity formation, overweight, obesity and the onset of type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
In 2015, it recommended limiting the consumption of this type of sugar to 10% of the total energy intake for a day in adults and children (about 50 g per day). Successfully reducing this ratio to less than 5% would be even more beneficial (around 25 g per day). To help reduce the amount of sugar absorbed, ANSES recommends limiting the consumption of store-bought fruit juices, sodas and other sugary drinks to a maximum of one glass per day.
Salt, fat and starchy foods: consume with moderation
At the right dose, salt, starchy foods (e.g. pasta, rice, bread) and fats are good for the body. Salt provides sodium, a mineral essential for muscle contraction, cell hydration and stabilization of blood ph. The lipids present in fat provide energy, are beneficial to cell membranes and are involved in the production of many hormones by the body. As for starchy foods, they are a significant source of energy, vitamins, fibers, and minerals …
However, salt should not be abused. In its 2012 guidelines on sodium intake in adults and children, the WHO recommends not to exceed 5 g of salt per day in healthy adults, in particular, to limit the risks of high blood pressure.
In terms of fat, we must limit the consumption of trans fatty acids, in particular, trans fatty acids of industrial origin, present in various processed products such as pizzas and pastries: in high doses, they increase the risk of pathologies cardiovascular. Since 2005, ANSES has set the maximum threshold for trans fatty acids at 2% of total daily energy intake.
As for starchy foods, they should not exceed 50 to 55% of the daily intake. ANSES recommends favoring unrefined starchy foods (e.g. wholemeal bread), especially for their high fiber content.
Healthy foods to favor on a daily basis
In its 2017 recommendations, ANSES recommends eating fish twice a week, including fatty fish (e.g. salmon, tuna) for its omega-3 content. This recommendation is based on various studies that have proven the protective role of omega-3 for the cardiovascular system and its beneficial effect against high blood pressure. Rapeseed oil and walnut oil are also recommended for their omega-3 concentration.
ANSES also insists on the place of fruits and vegetables (it recommends eating 400 g per day) and legumes (eg lentils, chickpeas … eat several times a week) to provide enough fiber, vitamins, and minerals to the body.
Health diets to prevent pathologies?
Several scientists have developed healthy diets, generally inspired by the diet of a region of the world less affected by diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disorders, cancer and other pathologies influenced by eating habits. Not surprisingly, these diets have a lot less common.
For example, they are usually rich in sources of omega-3 and fresh fruits and vegetables while being fairly low in red meats.
We can notably cite the Cretan diet of PR Serge Renaud, which would reduce by nearly 60% the risks of cancer and by 70% the risks of infarction: it especially emphasizes fish, seafood, meats white, seasonal fruits and vegetables and cooking without added fat (e.g. steam, papillotes). We can also cite the Okinawa diet (fish, seafood, fruits and vegetables, poultry, algae, etc.) or the Nordic diet, which favors fish, game and red fruits.
When food helps treat an illness …
Food has such an impact on health that diets have been developed to combat certain pathologies. There are many types, used in hospitals or at home.
The low-salt diet (low sodium diet), in particular, is often used in cases of heart failure, edema, high blood pressure, liver or kidney failure, etc.
Another example: the gluten-free diet. Used in cases of celiac disease, it removes all sources of gluten from the diet (mainly foods based on wheat flour).
We can also cite the cholesterol-lowering diet, useful in case of excess cholesterol: it is above all a question of reducing the consumption of fats of animal origin to promote vegetable fats.
Last example: the anti-diabetes diet, which favors foods with a low glycemic index, that is to say, causing little increase in blood sugar (blood sugar).
Here is the perfect diet for our health and that of the planet
Lots of fruits and vegetables, almost more red meat and nuts … This is the ideal diet for humans and the planet.
By 2050, we will be 10 billion people, and as many mouths to feed. To deal with this problem, specialists explain in a report co-produced by the medical journal The Lancet and the NGO Fondation EAT what they think is the ideal diet for humans and the planet. “Food is the most powerful lever for optimizing human health and environmental sustainability on Earth”, but it “today threatens both humans and the planet”, can be read in the preamble.
14 grams of red meat
The idea here is to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables while reducing red meat and industrial sugar as a priority. On average, you should eat each day: 300 grams of vegetables, 200 grams of fruit, 200 grams of whole seeds (rice, wheat, corn, etc.), 250 grams of whole milk (or equivalent, like cheese) and 14 grams of red meat. To compensate for the drastic reduction in red meat, the proteins could come from the consumption of poultry (29 g), fish (28 g), eggs (13 g) and nuts of all kinds (pecan, brazil …) (50 g).
It is also recommended to focus on legumes (beans, split peas, lentils, etc.) and to avoid highly processed foods. “This does not mean that the world’s population should eat exactly the same set of foods,” say the experts, who suggest local adaptations according to culture, geography, and demography.
Avoid around “11 million premature deaths per year”
Such a plan would prevent around 11 million premature deaths per year worldwide. “Unhealthy diets today pose a higher risk of death than unprotected sex, alcohol, drugs and tobacco combined,” say the authors of the report, which mobilized 37 experts from 16 countries for three years. “World food production threatens climate stability and the resilience of ecosystems and constitutes the main factor of environmental degradation and transgression of planetary borders”, they add.
Finally, it should be noted that these recommendations are similar to the Mediterranean diet, which was recently ranked for the second consecutive time as the best diet to follow by the U.S. News & World Report. The Mediterranean diet, which is based on the consumption of seasonal fruits and vegetables, fish and cooking with olive oil thus allows weight loss without suffering from nutritional deficiencies (meats and dairy products are little consumed there). It has other health benefits, including reducing the risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Combined with regular physical activity, it optimizes the chances of living longer and in good shape.
5 diets to avoid
What are the worst diets to avoid?
As we approach the 16th edition of Quebec Dietitians / Nutritionists Day, I wanted to introduce you to the trendy diets that the stars are currently following and which, however, are to be avoided at all costs.
Most diets, even if their primary goal is to lose weight, are most often without guarantee and do not respect the principles of healthy eating. In addition, in most cases, the weight lost will be regained.
The miracle cure for losing weight? Eat well in a diversified and balanced way and exercise. Nothing is miraculous in life; learn to be wary of easy solutions.
Here are 5 diets to avoid, their principles and their shortcomings.
It’s almost a scourge! Initially, this diet was aimed exclusively at people with celiac disease. The diet is very restrictive and consists of removing from its diet all the cereals containing gluten and by the same token all the products containing these cereals. People with celiac disease should eliminate these foods because gluten causes inflammatory bowel destruction that leads to several problems.
Some ideas and rumors rooted in people’s minds have always been there, such as the idea that starchy foods make you fat. It’s wrong, obviously. But driven by this idea, some people started to follow this diet without having a health problem recommending it. The Order of Dietitians of Quebec and the College of Physicians of Quebec are concerned about this craze. It is obvious that by cutting bread, we reduce our amount of food and that is why we lose weight. But as soon as we start consuming it, we regain the lost weight. In addition, some people who have intestinal disorders and start a gluten-free diet without consulting a professional would never know what it really is and risk making their case worse by only following the diet halfway.
This high protein diet has been popularized by several celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Gisèle Bundchen, and Kate Middleton. If it works in the short term to lose weight, it is however very restrictive and can lead to deficiencies by not providing all the nutrients necessary for our proper functioning. And nothing seems to prove that in the long term, the lost weight will not be regained, on the contrary.
The diet is divided into 4 phases. First, we eat only foods rich in protein (meats, organ meats, seafood, eggs, tofu, and dairy), we consume a lot of water and we also swallow 45 ml (3 tbsp) per day oat bran. Then, in the second period, we alternate a day of protein and a day of protein and vegetables. Finally, the last two stages are consolidation phases where we gradually reintegrate all the food.
Dr. Dukan has been removed from the French College of Physicians and to date, 80% of those who started on his diet have returned to their original weight.
5: 2 diet
Popularized in England and designed by an oncologist and a nutritionist, this diet could have been a valid diet… The principle consists in eating normally for 5 days of the week, then subjecting your body to a fast or a drastic reduction in caloric consumption (less than 500 cal per day). The two scientists then speak of detox days.
Obviously, reducing your calorie intake helps you lose weight, but rather than reducing your consumption of food every day, the creators of the diet chose to condense it over two days. However, in reality, following this diet is not always easy. Some people will compensate for the 2 days when they will not eat by having more fun on the other days. In addition, you don’t need a drawing to understand that the detox days are obviously unbalanced, which can lead to discomfort. To date, there are no statistics available regarding weight loss for this diet.
Paleolithic or Signaled diet
This diet is fun… It recommends a return to ancestral food. Its primary purpose is not to weight loss – although with all the restrictions that are likely to happen – but rather to prevent and treat illnesses (such as cancer, diabetes, asthma, etc.).
The six main principles of the diet are: exclude animal milk, exclude modern cereals, exclude cooked products, exclude hot extracted or cooked oils, consume organic and take a vitamin and mineral supplement. These principles are taken to their extreme, can lead to risks of food poisoning (raw foods) and obviously deficiencies if the supplements are not taken.
Few studies to date have been done to find out if this diet actually has a positive impact on health.
“Breatharian” diet (clean air)
The world of food has not finished showing us all the colors.
Carefully followed by actress Michelle Pfeiffer (Madonna has also already followed a similar diet), this diet recommends eating exclusively air and light with a high level of meditation… Do I really need to continue with many explanations to convince you of the nonsense of this diet?
Nutritionists will never say it enough: a healthy body with a healthy mind requires a balanced and diversified diet as well as a healthy dose of daily physical activity. The secret is not that difficult to keep!
At the base of this food, model are plant foods, rich in essential micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), fiber and other plant compounds that can promote good health.
The abundance of pulses, whole grains, and nuts
Legumes (beans, lentils, peas) and whole grains are rich in protein and minerals and provide group B vitamins. But they are best known for their significant contribution to fiber and complex carbohydrates.
Nuts are rich in omega-3, which is important for heart and brain health.
The abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables provide few calories but are sources of water, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Olive oil as the main source of lipids
Olive oil is mainly composed of monounsaturated fats allowing it to be more easily consumed by the body and therefore less stored in the adipose tissue. It is also rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant, in phytosterol and vegetable lipids making it possible to reduce cholesterol.
Unlike the so-called “Western” diet based on high consumption of animal products, the Mediterranean diet limits this type of product in favor of a predominant place for plant foods.
The low quantity of red meat and cold meats
Although protein sources, red meat, and cold meats are high in saturated fats which are involved in raising cholesterol and blood pressure. It is therefore recommended to consume them in small quantities and at low frequency (a few times a month).
More fish, less meat
Fish is a source of proteins and lipids beneficial for health, in particular fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines which are rich in omega-3. Its consumption is, therefore, to be preferred compared to meat.
Moderate consumption of poultry, eggs, and dairy products
White meat (chicken and other poultry) is a good source of lean protein with no trans fatty acids found in red meat. No more than 4 eggs per week are typically consumed in the Mediterranean diet, this amount including the eggs used in recipes and culinary preparations.
Dairy products are consumed daily but in small quantities. Yogurts and white cheeses from various animals (goats, sheep, cows, etc.) are the most consumed because they are rich in calcium and protein but have low levels of saturated fat.
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