What don’t you eat?

The last few months have seen many more studies and media reports on the increasing evidence of the health problems associated with diets too dominated by processed and highly processed food. Indeed, it has now been stated that in many countries poor diet now causes more deaths than tobacco smoking and high blood pressure.

One of the most interesting investigations has viewed the issue from the perspective of questioning too low an intake of healthy food, rather than too high an intake of unhealthy food. Considering the issue this way produced some stark findings, with one in five deaths globally in 2017 (some 11 million people) occurring not because of diets packed with trans fats, sugar-sweetened drinks and high levels of red and processed meats, but because of too much sodium and a lack of whole grains, fruit and nuts and seeds.

In the study, published in The Lancet and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the researchers found that more than half of all global diet-related deaths in 2017 were due to three main risk factors:

  • eating too much salt
  • eating too few whole grains
  • eating too little fruit

What’s more, these risks held true regardless of socioeconomic level of most nations.

It’s about what you don’t eat

So much focus is given to the unhealthy nature of many diets, especially with the rise of obesity related chronic disease. This study in comparison highlights the importance of the consumption of real food and the health benefits it can bring.  It turns out that low consumption of healthy foods is a greater problem as compared to the greater consumption of unhealthy foods. As a result, dietary policies focusing on promoting healthier eating, rather than just calorie counting, should become the norm, rather than policies simply knocking unhealthy foods.

Eat more food with benefits

Making it just routine to eat enough whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds each day sounds like a good place to start. What’s more, our Just Routine App can help. Designed to help identify the proportion of our diet from foods that can help our health versus those that can hurt us, it’s a great way to reform any eating routine. Click here to find out more or to download for free.  

Eating food for poorer health

Food is used as a generic term, yet we have reached a point where instead of nourishing us many supposed ‘food products’ can actually hurt us. Another recent study highlighted this, finding the highly processed nature of such foods drives people to overeat.

The study was reported as the first randomized, controlled trial to show that eating a diet made up of ultra-processed foods drives people to overeat and gain weight compared with a diet made up of real food – whole or minimally processed foods.

Participants on the ultra-processed diet ate an average of 508 calories more per day and ended up gaining an average of 2 pounds over a two-week period. Those following the unprocessed diet ended up losing about 2 pounds on average over a two-week period.

What’s more, each meal offered on the two different diets contained the same total amount of calories, fats, protein, sugar, salt, carbohydrates and fibre. Study participants were free to eat as much or as little as they wished but ended up eating more of the ultra-processed meals, even though they didn’t rate those meals as being tastier than the unprocessed meals.

Although the study was small, it was highly controlled, and while one group ate food from typically the packaged section of a supermarket, with the other from the fresh section, the researchers knew exactly how many macronutrients and calories participants were eating and burning, because they took detailed metabolic measurements. Findings were reported as including:

  • Participants eating the unprocessed diet had higher levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone called PYY and lower levels of ghrelin, a hunger hormone. With the ultra-processed diet, these hormonal changes flipped.
  • Both groups ate about the same amount of protein, but those on the ultra-processed diet ate a lot more carbs and fat, in part most likely because fibre was harder to replicate in this diet, as it wasn’t inherent in the processed products. 
  • People ate much faster, both in terms of grams per minute and calories per minute, on the ultra-processed diet. So, more food was consumed before their gut told their brain they were full, further enabling over-eating.

So, there you have it, whether it be for the potential health benefits or to cut the risk of gaining weight and the associated problems, yet more reasons to make eating real food Just Routine.


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Iris is the founder of No Targets Just Routine. She has researched food since 2009 and believes “Happiness is real food shared with loved ones.”

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