NUTRITION IN THE NEW WORLD: Is Food Still Fit for Purpose?

Where it all began

In the early years of mankind, we had evolved such remarkable characteristics, especially our large thoughtful brains, that we were able to outcompete much physically stronger species such as Neanderthals due our abstract thinking skills of making tools and finding edible food sources through cooking techniques. We used our environment to our advantage in a world flourishing with potential fuel sources that only we understood how to use.

40,000 years on, human beings are being left behind in the technological age that they created, but how did we all become so out of sync with our environments – and with one of the major consequences of this being that we are becoming increasingly malnourished as a population?

From king of the jungle to lost in space

The human brain is a phenomenal machine which has created scientific developments in industrial methods and technological advancements.  These have propelled society forwards even more so than imagined in 1960s sci-fi films.

One primary focus in these developments has been the way in which we produce food, with food producers preferring quantity over quality in the crops that are grown and the animals that are reared, as well as using genetic modification to enable the cultivation of inorganic food without the complexities of growing food naturally.  Technology has allowed food production on a mass scale, increasing population sizes who require more food – it becomes a viscous cycle, difficult to maintain.

Here I will consider what these evolutions mean for humanity, and how we can make meaningful changes to our diet and wellbeing to survive in this modernistic world.

When did food lose its meaning?

If you look up the definition of the word ‘food’, it refers to a nutritious substance that we can eat or drink in order to maintain life and growth. But how much of the food that we eat today can we truly say should be classified as “food” based on this definition? The food that the majority of us eat nowadays has a high glycaemic load, is low in omega 3 fats and doesn’t contain adequate amounts of minerals and nutrients to justly nourish us anymore, so everyone is getting sick. Depression, heart disease, cancers and autoimmune diseases have all be linked to mineral and nutrient deficiencies, so we need to take action now, so our caveman-like bodies can survive in this futuristic reality.

The nutritional transition  

An interesting illustration of the effects of the western lifestyle on human health is in “nutritional transition” whereby healthy populations in Africa become modernised, eat a more western style diet and then start to develop nutrition-related diseases. Although further research needs to be conducted, it provides some noteworthy evidence that our diets and environments have a fundamental impact on our wellbeing, and our current approach to diet is not fit for purpose in the western lifestyle and needs to be revaluated.

The “Paleo” movement has provided some awareness of the mismatch between the diet that humans thrived on as part of the Palaeolithic heritage vs. the low-nutrient dense foods that people consume today. However, the practicalities of eating like a hunter gatherer, as well as the ethical and environmental considerations, are not always suitable in the busy urban lives in which most of us exist – there needs to be an alternative that complements our means, rather than trying to eat like our ancestors who lived in a very different world.

Functional foods of the future

Fortified foods enriched with vitamins and nutrients which are also low in sugar and saturated fats, are potential solutions to bridge the gap between our humanly requirements and the nutritional limitations of this new age. A new functional food revolution is emerging, whereby innovative convenient nutrient dense foods are being created to ensure your survival in these new metropolises that we set to conquer.

Japan is ahead of the curve in this game, with its “FOSHU” (food for specified health use) categorised foods which propose a new purposeful way of consuming food. Eating with purpose might not only be the trend of the future, but also an evolutionary advantage in the survival of mankind. Do you want to be left behind?

Many foods in themselves are already “functional” in nature including dark chocolate, blueberries, and green tea. Various new products are appearing on the market including drinks, snacks and even wine, which are aligning to this functional concept, so you can now make considered choices in the shopping aisle to optimise your wellbeing in this ever-evolving world.

A new human strategy

Strategic living and life enhancing approaches to the way we eat and live seems the most intelligent response to the disparity between the human body and these new-fangled surroundings that we find ourselves in. Our food needs to rightly support us to achieve a unity.

By bringing food back to its initial purpose in our lives: for nourishment and nutrition rather than eating “empty calorie” foods that have no sustenance, we can change our health and wellbeing, the way we feel and the impact we have on other people.

Here is one for you to ponder as you move through your daily lives: food with nutritional benefit is really just food; anything else you eat is essentially a fraud – at least in terms of health and wellbeing.

 

As featured in https://thrive-magazine.co.uk/nutrition-in-the-new-world-is-food-still-fit-for-purpose/

 

THE SECRET OF SLEEP & DIET: MAKING MELATONIN

Sleep is the new black

Sleep is the current health trend which costs you nothing but can have more of an impact on your health than any super-powder, green juice or bone broth. Far from the ‘work hard, play hard’ vibe of the 90’s, it is now obvious to most, that if you want to live a fulfilling, happy and productive life you need to prioritise sleep.

But is it as simple as just making sure that you go to bed earlier or set your alarm clock an hour later?  Unfortunately, not. Sleep is a complex science which is dependent on numerous biological factors that need to be balanced to ensure you get that restful and restorative sleep that your body craves.

An important factor in this web of intricacy is the neurotransmitter melatonin. Sometimes coined the ‘sleep hormone’, the amount of melatonin in your blood at night can be a key indicator of how easy sleep comes to you when your head hits the pillow and how impactful and regenerative your sleep really is.

Here I will explore ways that you can increase melatonin production in your body so that you fully reap the benefits of those additional hours of ZZZ’s.

See the stars and sleep

The production of melatonin is largely linked to the internal circadian rhythm and light (or lack of it) is one of the most important factors in its production, with the melatonin manufacturing plant in your brain peaking in activity in the early hours between 2am and 4am.  However, those cells involved in the construction of melatonin have vampire like qualities and can be extremely sensitive to light, so make sure you sleep in a pitch-black room and if this is not possible, buy an eye mask to sleep in.  Also, go tech-free at least a couple of hours before bed, as the light exposure from a laptop or mobile phone can halt production of this sleeping beauty causing disruptive and fruitless-feeling sleep.

Boosting melatonin with food

Melatonin is synthesised from the essential amino acid tryptophan which is found in foods such as turkey, lentils and nuts, and a deficiency in this nutrient may lead to a decrease in melatonin production. In the western world, deficiency in tryptophan is not common but if you eat a fairly low protein diet it might be worth considering adding these foods to your diet if you have trouble travelling to the land of nod on an evening.

In addition, some foods contain high amounts of melatonin which have been shown to increase levels of nocturnal melatonin including walnuts, olive oil, rice and tomatos. If you struggle with sleep, factor these in when you are choosing a bed time snack.

The vineyards of zen

Unsurprisingly, studies have shown that most alcohol causes the amount of melatonin made by the body to decrease, triggering troublesome sleep. However, as wine and beer naturally contain a very high amount of melatonin, the negative effects of alcohol may be counteracted when consuming these types of alcohol and they may even have a beneficial impact on our sleeping abilities.

Still, not all wine is made equal, Nebbiolo and Croatina have been shown to have very high levels of melatonin whereas the amounts in Cabernet are negligible. Choose wisely when you are pairing your wine with sleep.

Sleep well, eating the rainbow

Other potential nutrients which may contribute to improved sleep include increasing essential fatty acids in the diet, and eating foods rich in B vitamins, magnesium and zinc which have influential roles in melatonin synthesis.  Eating colourful and varied food is vital to ensure that you have all the nutrients necessary to enable your body to reach sleep the right way.

Magical melatonin

New evidence is suggesting that the presence of melatonin is not only central to proper sleep function but it also has anti-oxidative activity and helps to modulate the immune system which is important in autoimmune diseases. Melatonin may also have a protective role against cancer and cardiovascular disease.  With more of its charmed properties likely to be unveiled as the research develops, it would be unwise to ignore sleep issues which may be linked to inadequate melatonin levels in the body.

3-steps to sleep

If you are finding that you regularly have disruptive sleep or that you are habitually awake until the early hours, consider whether you need to make changes to your lifestyle to encourage more melatonin production in your body. Start by blocking light exposure on a night time, then resolve any nutritional deficiencies in the diet, and finish with melatonin boosting foods. This is the 3-step plan to the most unwittingly followed health fads going: sleep.

 

LUCUMA: INCA’s GOLD

Lucuma is a SUPA-fruit full of wondrous treasures – it is a rich source of anti-oxidants, iron, niacin and fibre. The perfect addition to a healthy lifestyle to find a sense of revival in your everyday.

The lucuma fruit was a symbol of longevity and fertility for Peruvian people for the wealth of health benefits the fruit provided, the so called ‘Gold of the Incas’. Recent research has supported this theory, suggesting that lucuma encourages wound healing and promoting skin regeneration, repairing our bodies from inside out from the wear and tear of daily life.

Lucuma has also been shown to enhance digestion so it is perfect to mix with a digestif after a heavy meal or overindulgence, or just when you need that extra digestive support.

Due to Lucuma’s antioxidant content it is also linked to improvements in various other conditions including heart health and diabetes, so a daily dose of this gleaming gold beauty is worth a try to see whether you can find harmonisation of your ailments to reboot you back to your beginnings and make you feel alive again.

It’s hard to believe Lucuma’s array of health properties when you taste its caramelly, sweet and fragrant flavour. It tastes great added to smoothies and juices, and recently it has been used in ice creams, complimenting the creamy consistency rather delightfully.

As much as Lucuma acts as a great sweetener it is actually low on the glycaemic index scale, so it helps balance blood sugar, rather than causing the blood sugar swings which affect our mood which is encountered with insulin stimulating foods that contain sugar, and that even includes natural sugars! Lucuma will keep you balanced and replenished and make you feel set to conquer the world!

Lucuma’s nourishment, delicious taste and grand history certainly proves it really is worth its weight in gold.

Try incorporating it in your every day regime to bounce back to life and set the world ALIVE!