Food and nutrition information is constantly changing. Much of this change can be attributed to new and ongoing research on the impact of diet, human health, and our environment. But there is another reason we are all confused; influencers, bloggers, and celebrities are all jumping on the nutrition band-wagon because there is great money to be made. Health Feedback conducted a study with the Credibility Coalition and found that articles with accurate diet content got less positive reviews, while articles that have exaggerated claims about diet get the most positive reviews.
Yet one way of eating has remained constant throughout time and research; a plant-based diet. I am not talking about being vegan or vegetarian. Being plant-based simply means having more plant foods (vegetables and fruits) on your plate than any other food. In fact, 75% of your plate should be from plant foods. I like to encourage vegetables over fruit. Fruit is healthy but it can impact your blood sugar levels. With the epidemic of diabetes and obesity, we need to restrict our sugar intake no matter where the sugar comes from.
Most people then ask “where do I get my protein from?” The answer to that question is nuts, seeds, and legumes. This does not mean one cannot have any animal-based food, but it should be kept to a minimum. The Harvard Health Study and Canada’s Food Guide also stress a plant-based diet. This is where we get our much needed micro-nutrients from. Of course, no matter what way of eating you decide to follow, eliminating or greatly reducing processed and packaged food is necessary to ensure good health.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations also agreed that eating a plant-based diet is more sustainable for the environment, while being health promoting. Without getting too technical, livestock farming accounts for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Land needed to raise livestock contributes to deforestation. The more trees we cut down, the greater the impact on the planet. Animal agriculture uses 34 – 76 trillion gallons of water yearly. Think about this: 477 gallons of water are used to produce one pound of eggs. As many have said, we only have one planet to live on so we must protect it. Imagine being able to improve your health and protect the planet simply by eating more plant food.
So how do you know what to believe today? Ask questions! Here are a few I would suggest: is the information based on expertise and science, are there credible references to legitimate studies or scientific organizations? Is there a promise of a magic bullet or miracle cure, does it sound too good to be true? Is the person presenting the information educated in nutrition or just trying to sell something? WE can protect ourselves from false claims and information by being our own detectives.
Nutrition really isn’t confusing. We can use the power of food to promote health, to prevent disease, and to help protect the planet we live on. The truth we seek is available. Work with a nutrition professional who is trained on the subject of nutrition. Science is your friend and it has shown time after time food is medicine; 80% of chronic diseases are preventable through simple modifiable lifestyle changes of which diet is the largest contributing factor.
Let us help you navigate your way thru the often conflicting nutritional advice out there. Call our office to schedule and appointment!