Nutrition: Contradictions & Common Sense

1 Mar

As dedicated foodies and lovers of all things delicious, it’s also important for us to make sure that we’re looking after our bodies and sometimes it seems that a lot of the things we love are so bad for us that we should ban them completely!

With March being Nutrition Month, I had planned to write a blog on….well…..nutrition. Not being a qualified nutritionist, my information would have to be gathered from other sources, and believe me – there are an amazing amount of those out there! The problem is that, for the most part, no one really seems to agree on much beyond the basics……….and even the basics seem to be constantly changing.

Take Saturated fat, a tricky one really, there are obviously some fats that are bad for you and some that aren’t so bad (think four cheese, pepperoni pizza versus avocados and almonds!). However, foods like butter are quite divisive. Some would tell you to steer clear whereas others claim there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the delicious golden spread. Of course, even those in the pro butter camp have guidelines – butter should be as natural as possible and come from grass fed cows…..and you still shouldn’t be consuming an excessive amount (eating sticks of it as a snack would be going way too far!).

Salt has also been under the microscope recently, it’s been accepted advice for a while now that we should all be cutting back on our salt intake to help prevent high blood pressure, but currently there are those out there who believe that too much of a decrease in salt can actually be bad for your health! It seems that for every study out there showing a link between high salt intake and high blood pressure, there’s another study showing no link at all……

See the problem? There’s so much conflicting advice out there, all from professional sounding sources and all with reasoning to back their theory! Also, as science progresses, we’re discovering more and more about our foods all the time and advice that was the standard in its day (for example, avoiding egg yolks because of their high cholesterol content) is now rubbished (your body needs cholesterol and some studies have shown that the cholesterol consumed from egg yolks doesn’t have a link to ‘bad’ cholesterol in your blood stream which can lead to heart disease).

This year the government changed its alcohol guidelines for the first time in two decades and pretty much squashed the, possibly slightly optimistic but long-held, belief that a glass of red wine a day might be good for you by stating that there is no healthy amount for alcohol intake. The supposed benefits of red wine included protection of cells and tissues (leading to increased protection from some cancers and heart disease), increased memory function and even oral health. However, under the new guidelines, it is suggested that we should be looking to a healthy diet and plentiful exercise to reap these benefits instead.

So what (and who) do we listen to?

Well, maybe we should listen to our bodies and our brains. We all know that feeling of lethargy that comes with having over-indulged in something that’s not great for us and common sense will tell you that the more your food has been processed and messed with before reaching your plate, the more likely it is to contain something that’s not going to make your body very happy. Personally, I’d place a bet that the best thing for us all to do would be this:  avoid processed foods where you can – eat naturally, eat seasonally, listen to your body and move! Exercise – run, swim, dance – whatever takes your fancy…..but every now and then, treat yourself – have that slice of cake, that glass of wine, that doorstop wedge of hot buttered toast…and enjoy it!

Of course…….having said all that, as I mentioned at the start of this blog, I’m not a nutritionist, so maybe best to take my advice with a healthy pinch of salt………or not……..