Just like everything else that we did, eating also requires brain function to distinguish what we eat?
Our brain is a complex system that combines perception, emotional feelings and knowledge. As many others, I believe in the power of knowledge. What do you know about your food?
I am a food scientist and I do not know all about our food. You might thought you knew it all but no one does. I have been following few food advocates and their amazing effort to reveal what is in our food. It is a real issue where food are indeed chemical-ized and the real challenge is to distinguish and define real food.
Many of us would define modern real food as the fresh foods such as vegetable, meat and fruits from our market. These food are previously obtained directly from farmers. In the past, way before Green Revolution, foods are made for the local market. There were no issues of mass production. There were nothing called genetic modified foods. There were just natural selections to grow food that everyone perceived as real foods. The argument of natural foods now include genetically modified crops on top of synthetic chemicals.
If I did not study food technology, I am not even aware of the processing of our modern real food. Fruits are being ripen through exposure of ethylene gas and made shine through the addition of wax. Meat are being raised with growth hormones (sometimes with antibiotic too) and nitrates remaining to keep the slaughtered meat safe. Vegetables that comes with pesticides and chemicals agents. These foods found its way to our food system.
The call for organic foods is perfectly normal. We needed something that we can be more confident to consume. Our food systems have gone to a stage where the definition of foods are continuously being challenged.
How real is your food? How about processed organic foods? Is it a real foods?- An argument that I like to leave you with.
Earlier this month, FDA made an unexpected proposal on the Nutrients Facts Panels.
The proposal brought up a bigger question mark? What is wrong with the one that we currently use?
Nutrients Facts Table are based on a fix template. It contains virtually little to no room for creativity. Few updates and changes were made.
The proposed Nutrients Facts Table at a glance, appears to be simple and clear, easy to be read. However, reading a Nutrients Facts Table isn't just about simplicity and clarity. The total calories might appear huge but total calories is not the common misleading factors. It is the serving size that the total calories appears to be. Most often, consumer do not understand that 230kcal is for 2/3 cup although it is clearly written. They thought the whole serving size is 230kcal.
%DV - What is %DV? Does it help consumer to decide? Most often, consumers look at the fat, carbs and salts section to see if it is low. That's it? Make any significant different, before versus after, likely doesn't make any different.
Added information about sugar added. A bonus for those who wants to know how much sugars are added. Manufacturers are aware about the sugar added. Now, you hear sugar added being substituted by the use of whole fruit that is sweet in nature. For example, dates or prunes. Would it show on the label? Yes, in the ingredient section but not in the sugar added section.
It is about time the nutrients facts panel get some brand new look and hopefully, consumer education comes along with it.
Copyright (c) 2014 Felicia Loo.
Nutrients are not distributed equally across every foods. There is no foods that are made equal; that is what I called as genetic diversity.
Three common nutrient deficiencies that of concern are probably calcium, vitamin A and iron.
Our body internal bank. Calcium are important minerals that our body needs to strengthen bones and teeth. Calcium is also known as important signalling agents for nerve and muscle action. Calcium are absorbed into our body and deposited into the calcium bank. Most people do not realized that calcium is also need to regulate the body pH. For example, eating high acid food such as proteins and fatty acids would leach calcium out of bones, causing brittle bones.
Tip 1: High protein diet can cause calcium leach. Consume more calcium with high protein diet.
Calcium can be found mostly in dairy products such as cheese and milks. Calcium can also be found as fortified food to enhance calcium intake and storage.
Tip 2: Exercise help compact calcium into the bones.
Tip 3: Take calcium supplement suitable for you if you can not get them from food.
Common vitamin A sources are beef, liver, egg, shrimp, carrot, pumpkin, squash, spinach and mangoes.
There are distinct evidence that plant source vitamin A in the form of beta carotene are less effective compared to retinoid form of vitamin A found in animals product. Vitamin A deficiencies can bring night blindness and poor light adaptation. Vitamin A are also known to protect against cancer.
Vitamin A deficiencies can occur to vegetarian and vegan that are solely dependent on plant source to obtain their vitamin A.
Tip: Supplementation can help increase vitamin A. However, often supplementation leads to vitamin A overdose. Your skin can turn yellow if you have too much vitamin A. The condition is reversible by reducing your vitamin A intake.
Iron helps build our red blood cells and help them carry the oxygen throughout the body. Iron often are found in red meat, poultry and green vegetables such as spinach.
Similar to vitamin A, plant source iron are not readily usable by our bodies compared to animal source.
Tip 1: Our body can only use what it absorb. Vegetarian or vegan may opt to consume twice as much of the iron they need. Using iron based cooking pots can help increase the amount of iron consumption.
Tip 2: Women requires more iron (18mg) compared to men (10mg) because of the menstruation.
Tip 3: Excess iron intake (especially from supplementation) can be stored in our bodies cells and can be toxic.
Food origins and what is in our food are actively being discussed. However, at the same time, we failed to focus on something more distinct such as eating disorder.
Eating disorder ranges from compulsive eating to intense starvation and are non-related to food availability or food processing issues that we used to see. It is a complex physiological and emotional state that causes one to starve or compulsively eat. Eating disorders include
These are few of the new terms towards eating disorder:
Many of us are not alert about the presence of eating disorder and moreover, to point it out for our friends and families. It is consider a lifestyle choices for a person on the amount of food they like to eat. It is rather an eating disorder that only works if the person themselves aware and seek for help. That is why I urge everyone to share this articles to everyone so that at the very least, our friends and families are aware of this.
I never really understand how habits are repeated that it became an eating disorder until I decided to read and write on eating disorder. There were strong desire for gain attention from others - through extreme starvation and extreme eating, that turns into a habit, that is extremely hard to change. The story of how starvation turns into extreme eating (aneroxia nervosa into bulimia nervosa). Patients take years to recover and some can't completely recover. It takes time, efforts and determination to walk out of eating disorder and they need our support.
Eating Disorder. Alive.com. Retrieved from http://www.alive.com/articles/view/23751/eating_disorders
Through scientific studies and clinical trials, we know that nutrition plays a great role in disease risk modification, ie. help prevent and reduce risk of disease by slowing progression of disease.
The field of nutrition have captured the eye of many, including myself. I am a food scientist and I always differentiate the role of food scientist and nutritionist. Food scientist studies and practices the science of preserving a food, keeping them safe and tasty. Nutritionist, on the other hand, would be more concern about the nutrients within a food and the role of nutrients in our diet.
I graduated as a food scientist with less than 5 nutrition classes. I know something about nutrition but doesn't have enough knowledge to support myself as a nutritionist. I am more known as a nutritionist than a food scientist as everyone love nutritionist and no one really care what food scientist does. It is a back-end job, where you are the force behind a curtain and what the community see is the front-end, the nutritionist suggesting food to be taken and explaining nutrients in a formulation. It is a world where food scientist create a formulation and nutritionist sell the food and get appreciated for it.
Nutritionist role, however, are still limited to providing suggestion for healthy eating and living purposes. Nutritionists cannot perform medical condition diagnostic for you and only doctors and medical practitioner can do that for you. However, the nutritionist can suggest that you should be aware of any medical condition that might affect you due to your current dietary habits.
Nutritionists are educated personnel on nutrients and dietary habits. They told us to be picky eater and dictate 'good foods' and 'bad foods' as found in our diet. Do they follow what they advise? This is a question that I always wanted to get an answer. Some of my friends, nutritionists, are aware of sugar being a 'bad' category of food but still take lots of deserts -women's best friend. Are they breaking what they have said?
Yes and no. It is true that food in the 'bad' categories need to be reduce but the other key to healthy nutrition is 'moderation'. A little bit once a while, in moderation, help reduce craves and makes you feel good. The question is do you trust nutritionist's judge for food? Most people trust nutritionist because they believe in the role of nutritionist.
Another question for you is do you think natural health product or supplement store are equipped with the right nutritionist or just some sales assistance being trained few hours to sell these nutrients that are thought to be beneficial for our health?
Hope to hear from you.
Copyright (c) 2014 Felicia Loo.