It seems to us that science has long calculated what and how much the human body needs and where these necessary substances are contained. Choose a diet that you think is reasonable, and forward – to health and weight loss. But American dietician Colin Campbell proves that in the field of nutrition no calculations diets work. How to be?
Why do not diets work? 3 reasons silent scientists
Practically all of us, professionals and ordinary people, talk about nutrition, research it, sell and consume food, caring for specific nutrients, and often – about specific doses. Vitamins. Minerals. Fatty acid. And, of course, calories. We believe that the more accurately you track the intake of nutrients, the better you control the result – health. Read more: 10 ideas to prepare a healthy menu at your child’s birthday party.
Unfortunately, this is not true. Nutrition is not a mathematical formula, where 2 + 2 = 4. It is almost impossible to calculate a diet or a diet, and there are at least three reasons for this.
Diets work Cause 1: we do not know how much nutrients will be used by the body
You sit? If not, then sit down, because I will explain what practically no one realizes: there is practically no direct relationship between the number of nutrients consumed and their quantity reaching the main place of action in the body. This is called bioavailability. If, for example, I eat 100 mg of vitamin C, and then another 500 mg, this does not mean that from the second portion in the tissue where it acts, it will get five times more vitamin. Read more: 5 remedies with pepper that you did not know
In fact, it’s very good. We can not predict how many nutrients will be absorbed and used by the body, mainly because it depends on its needs at a given time. Is not it wonderful? The organism reigns supreme over the choice of nutrients that it uses or discards.
Thus, the percentage of calcium absorbed can differ by a factor of 2. The greater the intake of calcium, the smaller its proportion enters the blood, providing a sufficient, but not excessive, content in the body. And this is true for almost all nutrients and related substances.
Diets work Reason 2: we do not know the nutrient content of foods
We do not know how much this substance uses the body. But that’s not all. The nutrient content of the foods we eat varies much more than we can imagine. Look at the research of one of the antioxidant vitamins – beta-carotene. Its content in different samples of the same product can differ 3-19 times, and even 40 times, as in peaches.
It’s true. You can hold a peach in your hands and 40 times more beta-carotene in the right than in the left, depending on the season, the composition of the soil, the conditions of storage and processing, and even the location of the fruit on the tree. And beta-carotene is far from the only example. “Relatively stable” calcium content in four types of boiled beans (black, common, Turkish and pinto) fluctuates 2.7 times – from 46 to 126 mg in a glass.
Such differences in the content, absorption, and use of nutrients by the body mutually reinforce. To understand what it is about, a simple exercise will help. Imagine that the amount of beta-carotene in carrots varies approximately 4-fold, and the fraction absorbed through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream is 2 times. This means that the amount of beta-carotene, which theoretically enters the bloodstream from each specific carrot on a given day, can differ even 8-fold. Regardless of the values of the conclusion is one: consuming any product at any time, it is impossible to say exactly how much nutrients will be available to the body and how much it uses.
Diets work Cause 3: we do not know how nutrients interact with each other
In fact, the unknowns are even greater, because the substances coming into the food can influence each other’s activity. Calcium reduces the bioavailability of iron by 400%, and carotenoids (for example, beta-carotene) increase its absorption by 300%. The interactions between the individual components of our food are strong, dynamic and have serious practical consequences.
To date, to pairs of substances with the described influence on each other and the elements of the immune system are: “Vitamin E – Selenium”, “Vitamin E – Vitamin C”, “Vitamin E – Vitamin A” and “Vitamin A – Vitamin D”. It is known that magnesium affects iron, manganese, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and sodium, and through them – the activity of hundreds of enzymes that process them.
This is only a small fraction of the interactions that occur in our body every second. All these pieces of evidence are meant to make us extremely cautious about the “shock doses” of nutrients isolated from whole foods. Our body has evolved to eat whole food and can cope with the combinations and interactions of the elements contained in them. Give the body 10 thousand mg of vitamin C – and it is not known what will come of it.
Simultaneous intake of only two nutrients usually affects the use of both. Differences become several orders of magnitude more complex and uncertain when many different ingredients (what we call food) get into the body at the same time.
We can not know how many kinds of chemicals are eaten with one bite, dish, for lunch or for a day. Hundreds of thousands? Millions? There are practically no limits.
Fortunately, the task is much simpler. If we eat the right foods in quantities that saturate us but do not overload, our bodies naturally metabolize their components and give us exactly what is needed at the moment. Our body is able to make a non-constant concentration of nutrients in foods much more stable in tissues, separating the necessary from excess.
Catch the ball
I know this seems complicated. But for that, the organism is created. This he manages best, and he absolutely does not need the intervention of consciousness.
Think about the simple action – to catch the thrown ball. Can you imagine how complicated this process is? First, the eyes should notice the object, determine that it is a ball, and not, say, an aspen swarm or a jar of petroleum jelly. Then the eyes (running binocular vision) begin to send a huge stream of information to the brain to determine the size and speed of the object.
Even if you skipped the geometry, the brain will calculate the trajectory. Even if you failed the exam in physics, it will determine the mass, acceleration, and strength of the ball. By processing all this information, the brain will contact the nerves that control the arms, stabilizing the muscles of the back, neck, and legs, as well as a parasympathetic nervous system that will come in handy to calm you after you have seen the flying object.
The body has an amazing ability to juggle these incoming signals and conduct a timely reaction: the hand is stretched, the brush closes around the ball.
But imagine that someone said: to learn how to catch the ball, you need to do mathematical and physical calculations – to measure and calculate the speed, the arc of the parabola, the speed of the wind and everything else. The school program for “catching balls” will grow, teachers will argue about the effectiveness of approaches. Approximately 1% of pupils will achieve excellent results, but most will wander under flying balls and will not be able to catch them, even if their life depends on it.
Faced with cultures in which everyone can catch balls, we, scientists, will explore their psychology, the material from which the balls are made, and their policy in the field of catching objects in the hope of revealing the mystery and finding the “cure” from the missed balls.
Focusing on individual substances, their characteristics, their content in food, their concentration in tissues and biological mechanisms, we seem to be engaged in mathematics and the physics of catching balls. It was not the way evolution evolved, and this complicates proper nutrition.