The title of this abstract comes from my patients who lament that every food on the planet has been demonised. Meat gives you cancer, fish are full of metals, grains inflame your brain, dairy causes arthritis, carbs elevate your insulin, fat clogs your arteries, legumes are ‘anti-nutrients’ (contain lectins) and vegetables are poisoned with pesticides. The food pyramid has been turned upside down and Humpty Dumpty is still sitting on the fence. So what’s left?
Moderation and understanding bio-individuality.
We now recognise that genes, microbiome and epigenetic factors play a major role in individual responses to different foods. We can no longer tell people ‘You are what you eat’ because we now know this is only part of the picture. We are what our genes, hormones, gut bacteria and fit or unfit bodies do with what we eat. Add that to the role of stress, socioeconomic factors and cultural beliefs in determining food choices, and you have a recipe for mass public confusion. It also doesn’t help that every blogger and celebrity is a nutritional expert, and personal stories with a sample size of one carry more clout than scientific data.
This presentation examines the need for health professionals to focus on delivering simple and consistent core messages that will help people make daily choices that lead to better health. We also need to agree on a uniform goal. Should we ditch the BMI in favour of waist circumference? Should we be focusing on improving fitness rather than reducing fatness? Remind people that happy meals are not real meals? We need to think outside the plate and rebrand health as a way of life, not a fad diet or annual detox. When health is reframed as a daily decision not a distant destination it empowers people to make positive changes.