Your body is a sophisticated biological machine, and to function properly, it needs a host of nutrients that work together in a total harmony.
And where do you get these nutrients?
Of course from your food and drinks!
Everything we put into our mouth does something to our body. And there is no such thing as moderation simply because all the cells in our body work 24/7, so they require constant delivery of high quality nutrients. The thing is if you are not careful with the kinds of food you eat and drinks you drink, you will likely end up getting sick and age prematurely instead of getting healthier, smarter, and better over the years.
Unfortunately, there are many food traps that create addiction to really bad foods waiting for us in our supermarkets.
THE BLISS POINT
In the formulation of food products, the bliss point is the amount of an ingredient, such as salt, sugar, or fat, which optimises palatability. Pioneering work on the bliss point was carried out by American market researcher and psychophysicist Howard Moskowitz, known for his successful work in product creation and optimisation for foods ranging from spaghetti sauce to soft drinks. Moskowitz describes the bliss point as “that sensory profile where you like food the most”. In other words, it is the point where the food becomes most addictive, and it has nothing to do with how healthy it is.
The palatability of a substance is determined by opioid receptor-related processes in the brain. This area of the brain has been called the “opioid eating site”. The rewardfullness of consumption associated with palatability is dissociable from desire or incentive value, which is the motivation to seek out a specific commodity. Desire or incentive value is processed by opioid receptor-related processes in the amygdala. Unlike the liking palatability for food, the incentive salience wanting is not down-regulated by the physiological consequences of food consumption and may be largely independent of homeostatic processes influencing food intake.
In simple language, 99% of the processed foods on the shelves in your supermarket use a formula to create a flavour combining fat, salt and sugar that hits the highest mark in your brain’s addiction centre – the opioid receptors. These flavours have nothing to do with how healthy the foods and drinks are, and they even have nothing to do if you like or not the actual flavour — they are simply turning you into a salt-sugar-fat junky.
Food companies are not interested in making us healthy, but they are interested in selling us their products. And there is nothing wrong with that as long as we all are on the same page and we understand that and therefore use our intellect and not our opioid receptors to shop. The multi-billion-worth companies also spend a lot of money to research on our weaknesses, and to create advertisements that induce emotions of happiness in association with their products. After all, their main interest as corporations is to sell more food, which translates to more profit. Good for them, terrible for us. Sugary beverage consumption has been found to cause obesity and diabetes, yet we see them everywhere. Instead of drinking water and having delicious fruit or a home-made smoothie, we pump our bodies with refined sugars until they make us sick. It is true that fruits contain sugar, but the good thing about consuming fruit naturally is that you are also getting the fibre you need to slow down the sugar absorption and therefore to mitigate the negative effects of sugar. At the end of the day, we do need sugar just not in such huge amounts and not in the processed form.
CHOLESTEROL AND SALT
We need fats, everyone knows that. Healthy fats are part of healthy diet, but we certainly don’t need external infusion of cholesterol that starts blocking our arteries from the moment we put our first animal product in our mouth. Studies have confirmed that even ten-year-old children have already cholesterol deposits. American researchers had the chance to examine the arteries of young soldiers who were killed during the Iraq war, and shockingly, most of them had cholesterol plaques in their arteries. In the Victorian times, when the British population was the healthiest and living the longest, we consumed more than 90% of unprocessed whole-foods and mostly plant-based meals with only small percentage of animal products. Today more than 90% of our foods are processed and 50% of all the foods we eat are of animal origin. This means that the amount of cholesterol we consume these days has increased disproportionally. Adding to cholesterol is the huge amount of salt we are consuming, which gives us high blood pressure, and we have a clear explanation why cardiovascular disease is one of the most common causes of premature death in the UK and all the other developed countries.
There is also great misconception surrounding one nutrient we are particularly obsessed with, protein. The body uses protein to make body tissues, hormones, enzymes and other important mediators that are needed in metabolism and keeping the body to function properly. In the past, and even until now, there is this notion that animal-based protein is of higher quality, which is not necessarily true. Yes, majority of animal-based foods contain more proteins than plant-based foods, but more protein does not necessarily mean better health. Majority of meats, eggs, dairy products contain around 20% or more of proteins but consuming proteins does not mean that they will be used to build muscles or mediators. Any excess of calories including proteins is turned by the body into fat. Additionally, Dr T Campbell’s extensive research that has been repeated and confirmed by other researchers has found a link between consumption of animal-based protein and cancer. He also found a link between casein (cows milk protein) and development of autoimmune conditions such as; type 1 diabetes myelitis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and multiple digestive disorders. The whole foods, plant-based diet that provides us with sufficient amount of proteins and that has never shown any adverse effects on our health has become in the last decade more and more popular. Although many of the followers may consume now and then small amounts of animal products, but the core of their nutrition remains whole food, plant-based diet. Only in the last year the number of Americans who committed to such diet rose by 1000 percent. And no matter how someone wants to argue about the importance of animal proteins in our diet or not, no one can deny the huge advantage of a diet that is loaded with vitamins, minerals, micro elements and phytochemicals but is free of cholesterol, free of processed foods and free of animal cruelty (as well as hormones and antibiotics these animal are fed with). In fact the experts predict that by 2050, most of the world will see the whole food, plant-based diet as the main source of calories. As a result of the current trend, large dairy companies have already begun to buy out the non-dairy milk, yoghurt, and cheese producing companies, and organic foods have become widely available across many USA cities as well as across UK, particularly in larger cities such as London.
Fish is not a meat or is it?
So what about fish? Isn’t it known to be an excellent source of protein, omega 3 oils, and a wide range of vitamins and minerals? Yes, it may well be. However, fish farming practices are far from ideal, even in the best of farms, making what’s supposedly healthy unhealthy. For example, up to 30% of farmed fish calories comes from what they call, sustainable sources of protein and this sustainable sources is nothing else but minced male babe-chicks and chickens manure, of which neither is great for our health. More specifically, it has been associated with the spread of the avian flu. Also, do you know that all of the farmed fish, including the famous Scandinavian salmon, are given antibiotics to treat their diseases that are inevitable when thousands of fish are confined to a tiny area where they eat and excrete their excrements? And yes, these are the same antibiotics that humans take. I bet your fish will never taste the same knowing that it is loaded with medication. The problem with this fish farming is not only that we are exposed to these antibiotics, but it also makes disease microbes resistant to antibiotic treatments, which makes treating human disease much more difficult.
So your best bet is to learn to cook and to consume as much as possible of whole food, plant-based diet and because this diet is also much cheaper, you will be able to afford to buy organic foods. Once you have learned how and what to cook and eat this diet, it will easily provide you with 8-10% of protein, which is more then a human body needs. If you still have doubts, please do some research on all the famous professional athletes who are mostly vegans. They attribute their great physical fitness to the whole food, plant-based nutrition and certainly none of them suffer with muscle wasting or weakness.
Also, fibre and phytochemicals can only be found in plants and higher consumption of them has been found to lower incidence of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and many more chronic diseases.
In a nutshell
Whether you choose to eat animal products or not, make sure that a large proportion of your calories comes from unprocessed whole food plants as the multitude of their phytochemicals is what protects you from chronic disease, premature ageing, and premature death.