South Africa saw a huge shift in focus in 2016 from a diet perspective, from a meat and potato mentality to an almost zero carb mentality. Is it sustainable and is it even healthy?
I must say that I have really enjoyed the fact that people are now questioning what they should put into their mouths. People are actually reading labels and going back to good old fashioned cooking. Having Banting alternatives in restaurants is also great for all the gluten intolerant people out there.
Is the Banting or low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) diet the right diet for everyone? I don’t think so. A “one size fits all” style diet will never work for everyone, it really comes down to our genetics and how our bodies metabolise what is being put into them.
Some people work better on high fat diets, some better on low fat diets and some on a Mediterranean diet. I do agree that a high carbohydrate diet is not good for us, purely because of the sugar content of it. Sugar is the real “baddie” in this equation, as it is the molecule which wreaks the most damage on the body and is definitely taken in in excess by most people.
I think that the focus of our diet should not be based on fat content, but rather on nutrient content. It should be a nutrient-dense diet, rich in colour and variety and consist mostly of real food that is unprocessed. If you choose a high fat diet, then it is very important to look at the type of fat being consumed as well as the origin of it.
I am still not convinced that high amounts of saturated fat or dairy are good for us, especially if they are not organic, as many toxins are stored in the fat of animals. It would be fine if we were eskimos and needed large amounts of fat to keep our bodies warm and to sustain us through the lean months. We are not eskimos, however, and are mostly sedentary, meaning that we do not burn off the excess energy and so may end up storing it. Dairy is also “insulinogenic”, meaning that it stimulates the secretion of insulin, so if weight-loss is your goal it should not be consumed in high amounts.
We need a wide variety of nutrients in our diet on a daily basis to keep our bodies and minds at their best. Our cells are only as good as the building blocks that they are given. We need about 50 different vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids which the body cannot make and needs to take in from our food and drink. On top of that, researchers have identified around 1200 phytochemicals which are believed to be important for protecting us against cancer and the other chronic diseases.
No single food, or group of foods, supplies all the nutrients that we need. That is why it is necessary to eat a wide variety of foods. Researchers are saying that we should strive to eat 12 or more different foods in a day and 30 or more every week, but even this may be conservative. In Japan researchers suggest aiming for 30 different foodstuffs every day!
In conclusion, I think that the Banting diet may survive this year, but will need to be tweaked and amended if it is to be adopted long term. What we really need to concentrate on is nutrient density and variety. Variety is the spice of life!
Some links for further reading
This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at zucchiniandzest.co.za