Eat less carbs, eat more protein. Eat less fat, eat more carbs. Eat this, don’t eat that. Advices galore. The web is full of varied advice from nutrition experts, and many times it can be befuddling. So the questions arise, what do we eat ? How much do we eat ? and should we eat at all . Based on my experience as a Fitness/Wellness/Nutrition coach who designs custom schedules for athletes and non athletes, the best and the simplest solution that would work for most of us would be to diversify our food choices.
As the old adage goes, too much of anything is bad. It’s true for human nutrition as well. The only exception to this rule in my opinion will be green leafy vegetables. Yes, you can eat a lot of green leafy veggies, and they won’t harm you, unless they are poisonous
Geeks can definitely refer to the following science highlighting the benefits of vegetables and fruits.
I understand that people following very specific diets will not like what I just said about diversification. However, I strongly believe that consuming every macro and micro nutrient in the right proportion and in varied forms bundled together is the optimal solution for better health. Sticking to a specific kind of diet not only leads to a lot of limitations, but also prevents the body from adapting to the various food stresses. One big example of specialization in food habits these days is over dependence on protein powders for daily protein intake. Most of us do not need protein isolates, and the only people who probably need it are the ones doing very heavy weight lifting, or the ones suffering from medical conditions. Even for these two categories of people introducing diversity in plant and animal food intake can eliminate dependence on isolated protein source. Our bodies have evolved to absorb nutrients bundled together and not as isolates.
One classic example of over dependence on a specific food item gone wrong is Agave. Agave was touted as the next big natural sweetener. The proposed benefit was low glycemic index, and hence no spike in the blood sugar. However, it turned out that agave contained more fructose than other common sweeteners. Agave is almost 80-90% fructose, 10-20% glucose, and the body metabolizes fructose very differently than glucose. People who consume a lot of sugar in the form of Agave extract are at a risk of weight gain in the form of belly fat as a consequence of fructose metabolism. Consuming Agave is not bad for you, but consuming it as your only sweetener source is detrimental. Diversification even in your sweetener options is the way to go.
Staying away from too much sugar in any form, keeping your processed food intake under control, and diversifying your food will prevent most of your health issues. You might be wondering now, how will a diversification strategy look like on your food plate? Here’s an example.
Vegetable lovers: Cabbage, kale, spinach, brocolli, cucumber, mushrooms, bell peppers, asparagus, tomatoes, lentils, pulses, beans and other seasonal vegetables. All these veggies, and many others have nutrients in varying amounts, hence it is important to diversify our consumption.
Meat lovers: Fish, chicken, beef, pork, seafood. There are various meat options around, but it is important to not depend too much on anyone kind of meat, or only meat as a major source of nutrition.
Sweet tooth: seasonal fruits, desserts which can occasionally contain brown sugar or honey as a replacement to white sugar. Dark chocolate can also satiate your chocolate cravings and is a good diversification strategy. Not eating any sweet is not the solution, but keeping a check on your intake and consuming it in different forms is what will solve the problem for all of us.
Closely evaluate what you are eating, and how much of any specific food item are you consuming. Think of other options that you can add to your plate as there are many around. Diversification is not just a recommendation for your financial health, but is also great for general health at large. Do not keep all your eggs in one basket, diversify what you consume. Diversify your food.