Food as health or death


Dear Readers,

Today, I’d like to share with you my personal thoughts on two new studies. Both are about the effects of food consumption on the body, yet they focus on very different aspects. While one study highlights the benefits of consuming diverse foods, the other instills a sense of fear, which may damage the food waste movement (but only if we let it).

The reason this is important is because the studies highlight once again that we are what we eat. And being very intellectual creatures, who don’t just rely on word of mouth to make decisions, these findings can present some important facts on which to build sound and logical conclusions.

Ok, enough with the introduction, let’s leap into the research.

The Good News

Those of you who already love vegetables and fruits, you are well positioned for a long and healthy life. A new study shows that we need to uptake our fresh produce intake from five (as originally thought) to 10 fruits and veggies a day.

The study completed by Imperial College London demonstrates that such a diet can lead to “24% reduced risk of heart disease, a 33% reduced risk of stroke, a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13% reduced risk of total cancer, and a 31% reduction in premature deaths.” Wow…that’s a handful!

So what does 10 portions, or 800 g, of fruit and veggie intake look like? Here’s a nice visual for you by The Guardian. This article also mentions that some fruits and veggies are better at increasing certain health factors than others.

Specifically: “Apples and pears, citrus fruits, salads and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and chicory, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower were found to be best at preventing heart disease and stroke”.

Those who worry about cancer risks (which is very understandable, as any symptom search on Google will likely suggest possibilities of cancer), you can focus on “green vegetables (beans), yellow and orange vegetables (peppers and carrots), and cruciferous vegetables”.

Unfortunately, these benefits are mainly found when biting into real food, and less so through supplements and other pills. So those who are short on time, consider replacing your breakfast with a green smoothie (or if that’s not filling enough), at least try to make that your first drink of the day, before switching to coffee (or anything else that strikes your fancy).
The Bad News

Now, onto the bad news. Another study, completed by a researcher from Harvard University, demonstrated that because food makes up the building blocks of our cells, “eating older organisms (or food) – which have more molecular damage themselves- might cause an animal to age faster than one that eats younger organisms with less molecular damage”.
Specifically, “the old diet shortened lifespan by 18% in yeast and 13% in flies. In the mice, the old diet shortened lifespan by 13% in female mice, but there was no significant effect among males”, (lucky males!).

But as these experiments were done on animals, (not humans), we do not know exactly what effect this would have on humans, so let’s not jump the gun, but, let’s think a bit more about what we put into our mouths (and subsequently our bodies). And if you are unsure whether the food is safe to eat, please use your smell and visual senses before tossing aging produce into the bin.

My Conclusion 

It’s time we see food as more than something we consume to quiet our hunger (the sounds and feelings of an empty stomach are real). And let’s not just see it as a source of energy and fuel. Instead, let’s see food as a living and breathing ‘thing’ that interacts with our body, provides materials for our building blocks, and sends instructions to our brain.

“Food contains methyl groups (a carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms (CH3)) capable of methylating (silencing) genes, [which] brought into focus the capability of food to profoundly affect disease risk as well phennotypal expression. If folate, B12, or Betaine– 3common food components — can literally ‘shut off’ gene expression with high specificity, food becomes a powerful information vector. One which may actually supervene over the DNA within our body by determining which sequences find expression”.

Phew, that’s a lot of scientific terms and chemistry in one paragraph, but the bottom line is this: food not only gives you fuel, or activates your taste buds (which in itself is lovely), but it is a very powerful tool, one that can determine your health and longevity.

This means that when you are hungry and looking for something to eat, what you reach for will not just satisfy your hunger, it will also determine your near future. Therefore, we should consider the idea of ‘real food’ vs. ‘food like’ items. Things that have been processed, filled with chemicals and created in a lab (mainly junk food). These foods not only lead to obesity, but they also wreak havoc on your health and beauty.

The best example of this are the Nenets and Khanty tribes in northern Siberia who now have cases of obesity thanks to the introduction of instant noodles, pasta, bread and sugar.

And since not many of us live on a farm (or even close to one), and definitely don’t have time or money to go shopping at farmers markets (and those who do sometimes lack the time to cook what they haul until it’s on the verge of decomposing in the fridge or shelf),  I would like to urge all of us to think more about frozen food!

Frozen foods can have as much nutritional value (if not more) as their fresh counterparts. How? Well, they are packaged at the peak of their ripeness (so all the good vitamins stay where they are). Also, as they are frozen, they can be the quick and easy go to option for those short on time and money (admit it, our lives are stressful and hectic). On top of all that, as our years continually get warmer, keeping your food in the freezer can ensure that it stays crisp and delicious, without going to waste.

Here’s a nice video to summarize the above paragraph:

Final Words

I hope this post widens your understanding of food, and peaks your interest in seeing fruits and veggies as more than a ‘side dish’ around the protein on your plate. Hopefully, they can slowly become the staple of your diet, the one that helps you live a healthy life.

If you have any thoughts or comments, please share them below.

Happy eating friends!

New Beginnings a day Novruz was! So many new beginnings, and while some beginnings start on their own, others rise from the ashes of those that came before.

My new years was a ride of ups and downs. From unseeable obstacles popping out on my path, which I had no control over, to amazing people stepping in to help out. And then having a sudden load of happiness fall on my lap when I received a Google Alert on “food waste” and saw this very blog featured on the list! And in all that excitement, I watched the most tragic event, my computer absorbing its last charge of energy before it left my life forever.

And yes, we know that nothing lasts forever, but we avoid believing in it for fear of the changes it could bring. Even this very period of springing life and budding future comes at the heels of a cold winter, when everything lay dormant, cold and dark. And my computer was a metaphor for that.

It had a very difficult past. It came into my life suddenly and became a dear friend. It had its own share of troubles, from cracked screens, to near death experience, to actual death, and me spending lots of money trying to bring it back to life, because I wasn’t ready to let it go. And exactly two months after it was brought back to life, and came into my arms once more, I had to watch it die in the moment of so much joy and excitement. There’s no other explanation. It is a sign from the universe telling me to let the past be the past, because so much positivity is waiting for me ahead!

And no matter how much energy, money, time and love we invest, some things aren’t meant to last. No tight grips of the hand, or breaking of your back, wallet and mind, will keep that special something in your life. It needs to be set free.

Without much choice, I let go. It took a long time, but I’m finally able to embrace the ‘now’ of life. Realizing that instead of worrying about the future or trying to revive the past, it’s time to breathe deeper, speak softer, live calmer and love harder, because we never know at what moment our end may come.

2014 is going to be an amazing year- I feel it! And I can’t wait to see all the beauty, adventure and happiness, along with some sadness, it will bring my way.

On that note, I’d like to share with you some beautiful Azerbaijani pastries that I mentioned to you in the previous post, that are now accompanied with pictures. As well as, debut my beautiful ‘samani’, which you can see above this post. It grew into a lush green field on my small plate and I couldn’t be more thrilled. If you’d like to see more, then visit the Say No To Food Waste Facebook page.

I’d like to end this post by cheering to life, new beginnings and happy living!

Much love to you all!