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Health Nutrition

Stop thinking about calories, start thinking about nourishment

Many diets focus on calories alone, ignoring quality. It’s important to remember that the food we eat is what our body is made from, yes – you really are what you eat!

I hear people say things like “I will need to go to the gym later to work off these calories” or “my friends can eat whatever they like and get away with it” based on the fact that the person doesn’t gain weight. This common attitude would have you believe that food is just about calories and the only affect it has on your body is your weight. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Every time you eat, you have an opportunity to nourish your body or the potential to cause inflammation and disease. It’s important to remember that the food we eat is what our body is made from, yes – you really are what you eat! Nutrients from your diet are used to make new body cells and control their function; they create and run your body and mind! You are constantly making new cells in your body throughout your life; it is not a fixed process that stops when you reach adulthood as some would appear to believe! Your mind and body will only ever run as well as the nutrients you eat and absorb. Note that if you have digestive issues it may be impairing your ability to absorb some nutrients.

Currently in Australia, there are people being diagnosed with severe deficiencies that we previously read about in history books. In 2016 a 14 year old Perth boy was diagnosed with a severe Vitamin A deficiency, his diet of chicken, potatoes, dry bread and coke had left him so malnourished he was going blind. In the same year, doctors in Australia reported resurgence in patients suffering from scurvy (severe vitamin C deficiency); remember reading about that happening to sailors in the 18th century! Vitamin D deficiency is also extremely common in Australia.

We can sometimes be slow to diagnose these deficiencies in the developed world because we tend to associate malnourishment with being thin. In developed countries like Australia, you can be malnourished and be a regular weight or even overweight.

Dr Mark Houston, Cardiologist explains that “atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) is a post prandial (post meal) event”. He is referring to the effect that foods have on your triglycerides, insulin levels and inflammation in the body after a meal.

Did you know that what you eat can switch genes on or off, drive inflammation and disease, or nourish your body and mind? There is a saying that states: “It is our genetics that load the gun but our environment that pulls the trigger.” Food is one of the things in the environment that can pull the trigger. You may have a genetic risk for a certain type of disease, for example, Type II Diabetes; however what you eat can actually prevent it from developing or drive the disease!

For good health, ensure you have protein with every meal, have good fats such as cold pressed olive oil, avocado, pure block butter, full fat yoghurt, cheese, full fat milk, eggs, oily fish, nuts and seeds. Eat a rainbow of mostly vegetables and some fruit (the colours all contain different nutrients). Drink plenty of water too. Keep sugary snack and ultra-processed packaged foods to a minimum.

We often hear a calorie is just a calorie; however we need to think of food in terms of nourishment. A can of cola has approximately the same calories as ½ an avocado, however one will nourish you and the other will drive inflammation and strip nutrients from your body!


Loved reading this? Read more here – Four simple food choices that help you lose weight and stay healthy