Genes, environment, disease, stress and a number of other factors all affect our health, not just food. I always think of this when a newspaper headline trashes or triumphs a particular kind of food.
My fundamental conclusion is ultimately about common sense. Eat a balanced, varied diet, stay away from processed foods and don’t be overweight. Easy to say; not always so easy in practice.
What you do eat is as important as what you avoid. As well as avoiding ‘empty calories’ (energy that doesn’t have other nutritional benefits), I came to appreciate ‘full calories’: that ordinary, delicious foods are full of goodness, and that includes butter, olive oil and meat as well as carrots, oranges and fish.
Superfoods need not be expensive goji berries. Cabbage, onions, garlic, citrus fruits, tomatoes and green tea all contain micronutrients that seem to be beneficial in some way and will not break the bank.
Fats have been demonised in the past but are now back on the menu – the right type in moderation.
Wholegrains are better for you than processed carbohydrates. Jenni Muir’s A Cook’s Guide to Grains helps you explore what these are and how to cook them.
Eating less but better red meat makes sense to me in terms of diversity, cost and welfare. The advice from the World Cancer Research Fund is that you can have 500g cooked red meat a week (700g or so before cooking). That’s four meaty meals a week if you watch portions.
The World Cancer Research Fund has a number of publications and recipes based on the summary of its panel of experts after a review of all the evidence on cancer and diet.
The books of Dean Ornish and the late David Servan-Schreiber’s book Anti-cancer: a new way of life are strong arguments for particular ways of eating and living for health.
Professor Roger Corder writes sensibly and well about how red wine affects health in The Wine Diet. He favours traditionally made red wines for cardio-vascular health, for example those made with the Tannat grape in South West France.
Oliver Gillie champions Vitamin D, the ‘sunshine’ vitamin that many people are deficient in, especially as we get older. It’s hard to get large amound of Vitamin D in your diet and far easier to get it through being out in the sunshine (without burning). I’m suspicious of supplementation but Oliver Gillie makes a strong case for this particular vitamin and the details are in his report on Vitamin D Sunlight Robbery.
Foods to Fight Cancer by Richard Beliveau and Denis Gingras is a useful book and Food to Glow is a great website full of good recipes and background thoughts on cancer and food by nutritionist and health educator Kellie Anderson who works for the inspirational Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres.
MY JOURNEY WENT…
From feeling tired and confused about eating and health…
…to what a Harvard professor has for breakfast
…to the misdirections of government healthy eating advice
…to tasting different olive oils
…to discovering wholegrains such as quinoa and that you don’t have to be wholeier-than-thou to enjoy these healthy grains
…to the best portion size for red meat
…to trying to convert my husband to cabbage and diving into different veg recipes
…to the best way to enjoy green tea
…to eating outside in the sunshine
…to searching for wines to help me live a long and happy life.