Cutting out carbs, cutting out dairy and going gluten free are all trendy. However, the research around nutrition strongly shows that including foods from the five core food groups in one’s eating pattern promotes health and well-being. Each food group provides different vital nutrients that your body needs. Here are five reasons on why you shouldn’t cut out food groups, unless medically necessary.
You know what’s crazy? The fact we live in a country (Australia) that has an abundance of food available with enough variety to suit our different taste preferences, all year round, and yet their are individuals within the everyday population suffering from a condition often seen in 18th century sailors who went off on long voyages.
Recently, researchers at Westmead Hospital in Western Sydney have detected Scurvy in a number of their patients. Scurvy is caused by a moderate to chronic deficiency of Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen (a structural protein in connective tissues) and iron absorption. Your body cannot make it, so you must eat it. If you don’t, a lack of vitamin C is detrimental on the formation of collagen and connectives tissues which can result in you bruising easily, bleeding gums, join pain and delayed wound healing. In addition, as vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron from food, those deficient in Vitamin C may also develop anaemia and the symptoms associated with that such as fatigue and weakness.
Foods rich in Vitamin C include citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit), kiwi fruit, berries, papaya, capscium, tomatoes, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Yum.
With only half of the population meeting fruit recommendations and 7% eating the recommended 5 serves of vegetables per day, It’s no surprise that we are seeing a resurgence of vitamin C deficiency. To add to this, often people with diabetes tend to avoid eating fresh fruit because it raises blood glucose levels, and those following a low carbohydrate diet may restrict their fruit intake also.
Then you have the part of the population that do eat vegetables but may also be overcooking them. Overcooking vegetables can render Vitamin C inactive and cause it to leach out into cooking water. The best way to prevent overcooking is to drop the vegetables into boiling water, not allow the vegetable to come to the boil with water.
I think this new research is an important reminder that we should not be looking a foods as sugar or as fat; an orange is more than sugar
Often when we cut out a food group, without guidance of an Accredited Practising Dietitian, can cause a change in bowel habits. For example, many people report constipation with a low carbohydrate diet. Wholegrain foods such as brown rice, rye, wheat bran, wholemeal pasta, high fibre cereals, wholegrain breads etc are good sources of insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre helps make your stool more bulky and promotes healthy, regular bowel movements. Thus when we reduce the amount of grain foods we eat and don’t properly consider other high fibre sources, we may experience constipation.
3. You’re not you when you’re hangry
The foods we eat are made up of carbohydrates, protein and fat, which are digested into simple sugars (ie. glucose), amino acids and free fatty aids. These pass into the bloodstream and circulate around the body to different organs and tissues, including the brain. So as the time between meals increases, the amount of these nutrients in the blood decreases, such as our blood glucose levels.
When it comes to nutrients and energy, carbohydrates are used as our primary energy source, and unlike other organs and tissues, the brain is solely dependent on glucose to function efficiently. How our blood glucose levels respond to eating carbohydrate foods depends on the amount, type and our bodies ability to control them. Refined carbohydrate foods such as lollies, chocolate, biscuits and potato chops are quick digesting and cause large rises in blood glucose levels followed by a quick drop, which often leaves you feeling hungrier. Including nutrient-rich carbohydrate foods such as wholegrain breads, grains and cereals digested slower and thus cause a smaller rise in blood glucose levels overtime and will help manage hunger levels.
4. Abdo pain, bloating and diarrhoea are not just caused by dairy products.
When people have abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhoea, they can be quick to blame dairy products (or grains). But these symptoms can also be caused by stress, medications and inadequate exercise.
Dairy products are an important source of calcium and protein, as well as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin A, riboflavin, Vitamin B12 and Zinc. By including dairy products, you can milk an array of health benefits such as a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes and some cancers.
Even if you have lactose intolerance, the good news is that you don’t need to cut out dairy. In fact, by including dairy products you may be able to increase your tolerance to them. Research has shown that by either spreading your dairy intake over the course of the day, or starting to consume small amounts daily and then upping it weekly can build up your tolerance.
5. Favourite foods
Cut out dairy? There goes my cheese, and my gelato and icecream (and my KitchenAid icecream bowl)
Cut out cereals and grains? What is going to go with my smashed avo, or my cheese, or my curry? I’m sorry, whilst I do love sweet potato toast, it’s not the same as my favourite capeseed bread, and cauliflower rice doesn’t cut it.
Cut out vegetables? I will die without pumpkin.
Cut out fruit? Sorry, summer smoothie bowls don’t exist without fruit.
We all have favourite foods. And regardless of whether they are core food or non-core foods, they can all be enjoyed within a balanced eating pattern. I personally love being able to make up a cheese platter, pour a nice glass of wine and enjoy good company or a board game. This is a social past time that I really enjoy, and it’s not an everyday thing. Unless there is a medical reason I need to cut out cheese, why should I give up the occasional indulgence in Mersey Valley?
Thanks for reading,