March is National Nutrition Month and what exactly does that mean? Well, for starters it provides an opportunity for you to assess your current nutritional intake and health. How do you care and feed/fuel your body, your amazing organic machine? Before you think about that let’s start with a basic explanation of nutrition.
The Encyclopedia Britannica defines nutrition as “the assimilation by living organisms of food materials that enable them to grow, maintain themselves and reproduce. “
Since attempts to find a definition on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Medical Association failed, I looked on MedicineNet. They define nutrition as the “process of taking in food and using it for growth, metabolism, and repair. Nutritional stages are ingestion, digestion, absorption, transport, assimilation and excretion.
Your body, your weight and your health depend on what you choose to eat and drink. Nutrition is key!
The study of nutrition has been around for centuries; however, only in the last 100 years has the role of nutrition in complex non-communicable chronic diseases (diabetes, heart, obesity, renal and cancer) been studied at length. The first vitamin was chemically defined and isolated only in 1926 (thiamine)! It was synthesized in 1931 and called vitamin B1. Vitamin C was identified in 1931, 200 hundred years after a ship’s surgeon (James Lind) realized that lemons worked for the treatment of sailors with scurvy. Between 1910 and 1950 the focus centered on the identification and synthesis of essential vitamins and minerals. This knowledge led to the prevention and treatment of nutritional deficiency related diseases such as rickets, scurvy and nutritional anemias (to name a few).
The Great Depression and World War II created fears of food shortages. It was at this time that the US government along with the British Medical Association and the League of Nations generated minimum recommended daily allowances (RDA). These were announced in 1941.
From the 1950’s through the 1970’s the discussion of sugar versus fat was all the rage. Calories became important. The development of processing foods at a low cost fortified with minerals and vitamins led to the rise of diet related non-communicable diseases.
From 1970 through the 1990s the push for the modernization of food processing and agriculture continued. What followed was a rise in type 2 diabetes, obesity and several cancers.
It has been a scary time from the 1990s to the present. With the growth of agribusiness and the increase of manufactured foods we have no idea what the long-term health issues will be. The way crops are planted (GMO vs Non-GMO), livestock are fed and housed, grain milling, etc. we must be even more mindful of nutrition and what we should feed ourselves and our loved ones. Do we want to live to eat or eat to live.
Nutritional advances have shown that diet patterns and foods rather than nutrient (vitamins) have more of an effect on non-communicable diseases.
Whether you are a vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, flexitarian, paleo, keto, DDF*, PNP* – the message is this: less is more. Your mouth is NOT supposed to have a party at every meal. Eat to sustain life not reduce it.
What simple change can you make that will affect your health and your weight? Make Wednesdays and Fridays VEGAN days. Avoid all animal products from meat and cheese to eggs and yogurt. Focus on avocado toast or an apple with almond butter for breakfast, a salad with quinoa and chickpeas for lunch. How about brown rice pasta with marinara sauce, along with a salad for dinner? It is not that hard. Give your organic machine a break from heavy eating. Keep it simple.
Try it for the month of March. Who knows, it just might become a healthy habit and part of your 2021 lifestyle.
*DDF – Data Driven FuelingTM
*PNP – Pancreatic Nutritional ProgramTM
*Remember to consult with your physician before beginning any new way of eating especially if you are on medication!
Candice P. Rosen, R.N., B.S., M.S.W., C.H.C. is a health counselor and creator of the PNP and DDF. She is the author of The Pancreatic Oath and Forget Dieting! (available on Barnes & Noble and Amazon). She lives and has a private practice in Los Angeles. www.candicerosenrn.com
@candicerosenrn (twitter & instagram)