Saturday, June 17, 2017


Diet almost needs no introduction; it’s so fundamental a building-block to our health and we all know that we probably need to make some changes, and often these changes require very little scientific insight.
Animal fats = Bad.
Processed food = Bad.
Alcohol = Bad
Vegetables = Good.

And actually thinking in this simplistic, macro-perspective isn’t so bad. Many popular ‘nutritionists’ promote the benefits of obscure, specific nutrients (chromium being an example.), perhaps as a rather cynical scheme to sell their own brand of supplement pills. There may be individuals in the world who suffer from strange deficiencies and who need to micro-manage their diets in this fashion, but for the most part, we need to paint with a broader brush.

But the evidence is that plants - and I want to make this clear - it’s not the ingredients in plants, it’s the plants. It’s not the beta-Carotene, it’s the carrot. The evidence is very clear that plants promote health. This evidence is overwhelming at this point. You eat more plants, you eat less other stuff, you live longer - not bad.
Mark Bittman, What’s Wrong with What We Eat. (TED talk)

It isn’t our goal to berate you in this chapter - we know that putting down the chips or wine glass isn’t just difficult in the moment, but it subtracts from a certain cheerful colour in life. We don’t expect (or want) you to become a calorie-counting master of self-control if that ultimately leaves you less happy than you were.

Instead we want to make sure you maximize the pleasure of each calorie.

And this means eating mindfully: empowering you as a consumer, so you don’t waste your health (and money) on products that aren’t worth the risk.

The problem in this is that often we simply don’t know what we’re putting into our mouths; harmful substances are packed liberally into processed foods, just below government guidelines, or what our taste buds can detect, but the effect they have on our bodies remains - delicious and insidious.
What, pray-tell is ‘mayonnaise’? What is pesto exactly? If you could extract the ingredients one by one and have them staring back at you, you probably wouldn’t feel compelled to ingest them!

A good rule of thumb is to only eat foods that you can list the ingredients of from memory:

‘Sugar. Err... E405… extract of vanilla…. Err…. it’s…’
‘It’s a pear.’  

A Diet Strategy

Any dietary strategy for need to have the following goals: [16]
     preventing excess weight gain and obesity
     preventing diabetes
     preventing cardiovascular diseases
     preventing cancer
     preventing dental diseases
     preventing osteoporosis

The recommendations from the World Health Organization [16], regarding diet in aging populations, is as follows: 

     Emphasize healthy traditional vegetable- and legume-based dishes.
     Limit traditional dishes/foods that are heavily preserved/pickled in salt and encourage the use of herbs and spices.
     Introduce healthy traditional foods or dishes from other cuisines (e.g., tofu in Europe and the tomato in Asia).
     Select nutrient-dense foods such as fish, lean meat, liver, eggs, soy products (e.g., tofu and tempeh) and low-fat dairy products, yeast-based products (e.g., spreads), fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, whole-grain cereals, nuts and seeds.
     Consume fat from whole foods such as nuts, seeds, beans, olives and fatty fish. Where refined fats are necessary for cooking, select from a variety of liquid oils, including those high in ω-3 and ω-9 fats. Avoid fatty spreads.
     Enjoy food and eating in the company of others. Avoid the regular use of celebratory foods (e.g., ice cream, cakes and pastries in Western culture, confectioneries and candies in Malay culture, and crackling pork in Chinese culture).
     Encourage the food industry and fast-food chains to produce ready-made meals that are low in animal fats.
     Eat several (5–6) small non-fatty meals. This pattern appears to be associated with greater food variety and lower body fat and blood glucose and lipid levels, especially if larger meals are eaten early in the day.
     Transfer as much as possible of one’s food culture, health knowledge and related skills to one’s children, grandchildren and the wider community.


The leading cause of death throughout the world is Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), and dietary fat has been shown, consistently, to have a strong causal link to CHD as well as other cardiovascular diseases. [16] 


WHO strongly recommends an increase in potassium intake from food to reduce blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart disease in adults. Generally (as the amount may vary for certain individuals.) They recommend a potassium intake of at least 90 mmol/day (3510 mg/day) for adults.

Food Group
Appropriate Potassium Content (mg)
Beans and Peas
Cowpeas, pigeon peas, lima beans, African yam beans
Hazelnuts, walnuts, cashew nuts, brazil nuts
Green Vegetables
Spinach, cabbage, parsley
Root Vegetables
Carrots, onions, beetroot
Other Vegetables
Tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins,
Bananas, Papayas, dates
Source: WHO


The WHO strongly recommends a reduction in sodium intake in order to reduce blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart disease in adults. They strongly recommend a reduction to <2 g/day sodium (5 g/day salt) in adults (strong recommendation).

Food Group
Appropriate Sodium Content (mg/100g)
Table salt, baking soda, baking powder
Bouillon Cubes, powdered brothers, soups, gravies
Soy Sauce
Snack Foods (e.g., pretzels, cheese puffs, popcorn.)
Sauces and spreads
Cheese, hard
Processed Vegetables
Butter, margarine
Cheese, soft
Processed fish
Cereals and cereal products (e.g., bread, breakfast cereals, biscuits, cakes, pastries.)
Fish, raw/frozen
Milk and cream
Vegetables, fresh, frozen
Fruits, fresh/frozen

Source: WHO


This is the continuation of a weekly serialization of this new ebook on active retirement, by Wamala and Cooper, which book is available through for $0.99: 

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