50 days to go
If you had a health pension advisor, one of the main areas of your lifestyle they would explore would be your dietary intake.
Humans evolved from early primates over a period of millions of years and our digestive systems evolved on the natural foodstuffs of our hunter gatherer ancestors. Agriculture and farming of animals has been part of our diet for around 10,000 years. Adapting to changes in our diets takes millennia not decades. Our bodies are ‘designed’ to function on the nutrition provided by naturally occurring, unprocessed food which has a balance of carbohydrate, protein and fats and fibre together with the micronutrients of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants our bodies need in order to function optimally.
Why is this important? Over the past fifty years or so we have seen an enormous increase in processed food. Walk along a supermarket aisle – tinned foodstuffs, chilled or frozen ready meals, oven chips, biscuits and cakes with long shelf life, chocolate, sweets, crisps and other snack foods, cans of soft drink and so much more – all of these are processed and contain high levels of sugar, fats, salts and chemicals. Through the processing they will have been stripped of important stuff like fibre and vitamins and minerals. Take away foods are also full of salts, sugars and fats that we really don’t need. Our digestive systems and bodily functions will not adapt to this diet over a few decades.
High sugar, refined carbohydrate, salt and transfats, all found in high quantities in processed food can cause inflammation in the body which over time can lead to the development of health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease amongst others.
It’s all too easy in busy lives to choose processed foodstuffs and in fact it is difficult to avoid them. However, what’s important is the balance in your diet between these ‘bad’ foodstuffs and healthy food.
Healthy food is real food, the stuff you can grow like fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, grains, oats, beans and lentils fish, chicken, beef, eggs.
Your health advisor would be exploring your typical weekly menu of meals and snacks. How much of your diet was processed and how much was healthy and then helping you form a plan as to how to move towards a more healthy diet. As mentioned above, it is difficult to avoid processed food but a good target to aim for in your diet would be 80% healthy food.
Do you know the balance of your diet? It’s your health and it’s your choice but if you kept track of everything you eat over the course of a week you may be surprised how much is processed.
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