According to a recent study, obesity increases the risk of dying of Covid-19 by nearly 50%. Governments around the world are now hoping to encourage their citizens to lose weight. But with so much complex and often contradictory diet advice, as well as endless food fads, it can be hard to know what healthy eating actually looks like.
How many pieces of fruit and vegetables should you eat a day? Will cutting out carbs help you lose weight? Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Speaking to Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London about his new book Spoon-Fed, Madeleine Finlay asks why we’re still getting food science wrong, and explores the current scientific evidence on snacking, supplements and calorie labels.
Tim Spector is a Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Director of the TwinsUK Registry at Kings College, London and has recently been elected to the prestigious Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He trained originally in rheumatology and epidemiology. In 1992 he moved into genetic epidemiology and founded the UK Twins Registry, of 13,000 twins, which is the richest collection of genotypic and phenotypic information worldwide. He is past President of the International Society of Twin Studies, directs the European Twin Registry Consortium (Discotwin) and collaborates with over 120 centres worldwide. He has demonstrated the genetic basis of a wide range of common complex traits, many previously thought to be mainly due to ageing and environment. Through genetic association studies (GWAS), his group have found over 500 novel gene loci in over 50 disease areas. He has published over 800 research articles and is ranked as being in the top 1% of the world’s most cited scientists by Thomson-Reuters. He held a prestigious European Research Council senior investigator award in epigenetics and is a NIHR Senior Investigator. His current work focuses on omics and the microbiome and directs the crowdfunded British Gut microbiome project. Together with an international team of leading scientists including researchers from King’s College London, Massachusetts General Hospital, Tufts University, Stanford University and nutritional science company ZOE he is conducting the largest scientific nutrition research project, showing that individual responses to the same foods are unique, even between identical twins. You can find more on https://joinzoe.com/ He is a prolific writer with several popular science books and a regular blog, focusing on genetics, epigenetics and most recently microbiome and diet (The Diet Myth). He is in demand as a public speaker and features regularly in the media.
We observed that increased adherence to the MedDiet modulates specific components of the gut microbiota that were associated with a reduction in risk of frailty, improved cognitive function and reduced inflammatory status.
Dr Philip Smith, Digital and Education Editor of Gut and Consultant Gastroenterologist at the Royal Liverpool Hospital interviews Professor Paul O’Toole; who is Professor of Microbial Genomics, Head of School of Microbiology and Principal Investigator in APC Microbiome Ireland, an SFI funded centre at University College Cork, Ireland, on “Mediterranean diet intervention alters the gut microbiome in older people reducing frailty and improving health status: the NU-AGE 1-year dietary intervention across 5 European countries” published in paper copy in Gut in July 2020.
Diet is one of the 3 pillars ( or 4, if you don’t consider intellectual stimulation a form of exercise) of health. And there are 3 prime dimensions to diet: Quality, Quantity, and Timing. This excellent study addresses the Quality of the diet. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are the foundation.
Dietary Fiber is the main difference between the healthful Mediterranean diet and the highly processed diet so common in America.
How can you be sure you are eating enough fiber? Read on.
On almost all cans and boxes, you will find a nutritional statement, by law. Assuming that the contents are “real food”, and preferably “organic”, look for the “fiber” in grams, and the “calories” in 100’s, and mentally divide the grams of fiber by 100s of calories, and you get a number. Let’s say that your fiber for the day totals “25” gms. and your calories for the day Totals 2500; that is “25” hundred calories. Divide the 25 grams by the 25 hundred calories, and you get “1”. Anything less than 1 is low in fiber.
25 grams of fiber is about the daily recommendation for fiber. 25 hundred calories is a ballpark figure for an average diet.
PORTION SIZE DOESN’T MATTER, since your dividend is a ratio.
The bacteria in your MICROBIOME feed on the fiber, and the higher and more diverse the fiber ( within reason. Hay is high in fiber) the healthier the food.
Blueberries are good for a fruit at 4-5 gms. of fiber per hundred calories. Broccoli is a good vegetable at 10 gms fiber per hundred calories, carrots about 3, and so on.
Sugar is the perfect “bad” food, at no fiber for as many calories as you can pack in. It makes you Want more, and “desensitizes” your taste buds to the natural sweetness of fruit, or even vegetables.
HIGH FIBER foods are MORE FILLING, leading you to eat less.
Civilization and Capitalism pushes too much food and too many calories at us. Overeating , obesity, and many of the modern illnesses is the result.
Generally, fresh fruits and vegetables are preferred, though cooking doesn’t do much harm, other than some vitamin loss that can be replaced.
Whole grain cereals have fiber in addition to other nutrients. Also, the complex carbohydrates in whole grains are released more slowly than wIth refined cereals. This floods your blood less rapidly with glucose, and elicits a Less precipitous insulin response. This results in a lower, healthier “glycemic Index”.
Vegetables, fruits Legumes, seeds, nuts and their oils are the mainstay of the Vegan diet, which is healthful If enough protein and essential fats are ingested.
Fish, eggs, milk and cheeses are other components of the Mediterranean diet.
I take many of my daily Vegetable and fruits and liquefy them in a food blender. Drinking my daily vegetables and fruits is a tasty and convenient way to improve my diet. I Savor individually those items I find most tasty, like nuts, apples, avocado, And fruit in season. This exercises my jaws, which is probably healthy.
YOUR MICROBIOME helps you in many ways that science is just beginning to understand. A healthy Microbiome is a DIVERSE Microbiome. FIBER is the food of the Microbiome, and a diversity in dietary fiber leads to a diverse Microbiome. A diverse, happy Microbiome produces many biological substances, like neurotransmitters, and probably communicates with the brain directly through the gut-brain Axis.
The Podcast on the 1 year Meddiet showed how directly a diet can BENEFIT HEALTH STATUS.