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The Diet Myth

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Nutrition is not a simple science. 

Tim Spector, Professor of Epidemiology at Kings College London, explains the proven science of diet and good eating.

There are some excerpts below but the message is the health of our bowel flora is a good indicator of our overall health. Improve your bowel flora and you improve your health. The Mediterranean diet, unpasteurised cheese and natural unsweetened yoghurt, eating a greater variety of foods, particularly fruits, olive oil, nuts, vegetables and pulses, and intermittent fasting are all good. Sugar, processed foods, including pre-prepared meals, snacks, crisps, cakes, biscuits and sweetened drinks are bad.

In the UK in 1980 only 7% of men and women were obese – now it is 24%.

15,000 years ago it seems our ancestors regularly ate around 150 different ingredients in a week. Now, we often eat less than 20. Keep a diary and find out how many you eat in the next week.

Most things we eat now are artificially refined and come from four main ingredients: corn, soy, wheat and meat. 

Most of us do not lose weight exercising. (However there are many good reasons to exercise – bone density, muscle mass, respiration, heart health, flexibility, reduces risk of chronic disease, the list is endless but we have to spend more time exercising than most of us would want to lose weight and too much exercise can be bad for us).

Approximately 270 hours of exercise per year adds around three years to a lifespan. That’s just under 45 minutes a day and walking does count.

Our brains use 20-25% of our daily energy resources.

Saturated fat in products like cheese and yoghurt is not unhealthy but likely to be beneficial provided the food is real and contains living microbes, meaning not over-processed and full of chemicals and sweeteners.

Exercise can reduce blood pressure.

For many people salt reduction only has a minor effect on blood pressure.

Extra virgin olive oil and nuts taken regularly on top of a basic Mediterranean diet reduces the incidence of disease and early death.

Brightly coloured vegetables and fruits contain polyphenols. Polyphenols and considered good. They are impoirtant in helping the body clear and regulate.

Extra virgin olive oil is definitely good which means eating saturated fat is not bad. Also natural yoghurt and unpasturised cheese is also good for a healthy gut.

There is no doubt  that diverse, real, fresh foods from the Mediterranean are what we should be eating more of.

Trans fats are seriously bad and have been banned by many countries. They are chemically manufactured vegetable substitutes that increase the shelf life of packaged foods. Margarine is a trans fat and was sold as a healthy alternative to dairy fats.

The dogma we should reduce total fat intake has no scientific basis.

Fats in processed foods with lots of salt and sugar are bad for us.

Artificially created trans fats are even worse.

Many fats such as the saturated varieties are good for us.

The Mediterranean diet is high-fat but heathy – the key is diversity, colour and freshness.