Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lighten Up to Lighten Up

This article is also available on Nutrition in Motion's blog NIM Dish

Lighten Up to Lighten Up
Sarah Reid, RHNC
The rise in cases of clinical depression, especially in young adults, is becoming more and more attributed to the low quality of the modern western diet. The latest culprit is trans-fatty acids, according to a 6 year long Spanish study. The lead researcher on the project team noted that the volunteers who ate more trans fats, appearing only in concentrated artificial form in processed foods, had an almost 50% increase in the likelihood of developing depression.
Good nutrition provides a host of benefits, and the trans-fat blacklisting is a step towards better physical and mental health for the coming generations. Limiting the processed, prepackaged foods you choose is imperative, but not all fat is bad! Indulging in some salmon, nuts, seeds and even small amounts of low-fat dairy products is the perfect way to get some quality protein, but protective Omega-3 fatty acids too. Higher Omega-3s, along with the other antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients in a whole foods-approach diet, fight against the damage done by the trans-fats and help protect you from any more. For mental health concerns, essential fatty acids form the coating of the nerves and help keep the synapses firing properly. The result? More even moods, better concentration, and a general improvement in the quality of the ability to adapt and cope with change.
The movement towards “trans-fat free” labelling is an important one, but when shopping don’t assume it’s automatically healthier. There is still evidence out there that supports ties of preservatives, additives and sweeteners to both physical and mental issues – particularly with childhood development. Those Oreos may have no trans-fats, but they’ve been replaced by palm oil (which raises cholesterol at the same rate), sugar is the first ingredient, and – surprise! – there’s a hefty dose of High Fructose Corn Syrup too. What’s shocking is that Nabisco decided to take on the Oreo first, and not a biscuit commonly given to teething infants – Arrowroot. Those still have partially hydrogenated oils, two kinds of sugar and HFCS (if you’re interested, arrowroot flour is in the ingredients... 5th from the bottom).  The partially hydrogenated oils can actually be worse for you – containing up to 50% trans fats compared to fully hydrogenated oils which are completely trans-fat free (though higher in saturated fat).
The thing to take away from this is not an all-or-nothing approach to living. Trans-fats are out there, in everyday foods – including healthy, natural ones like meat and dairy. However, the natural trans-fats will never be as abundant or concentrated as those in processed foods. Making the shift to a less-processed, fresh-foods lifestyle and controlling what type of fats you eat (as much as you can) will keep everyone lighter – and reduce their weight as well.
Sarah Reid is a Holistic Nutritional Consultant with her company NEW-trition

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I started my "working life" as a holistic and allopathic nutritional consultant with a love of cooking. Teaching the value of wholesome meal choices to families became close to my heart after I battled a long history of struggles with weight and health, and the passion for teaching led me into where I am now. My blog, which focuses on "bringing good taste to healthier food" through creative use of whole grains, fresh produce and acknowledging the importance of the occasional treat, also features a wealth of "specialty diet" friendly recipes for gluten-, egg-, dairy- and sugar- tree nut-free items that everyone can enjoy without alienating those who need them.

Overall, I want to bring back the desire for good quality, homemade, (mostly) healthy food into the hearts and kitchens of families so that the next generation will be less box-reliant than mine. I firmly believe that any “homemade” food, even when labelled as "naughty", is a more wholesome treat than pre-packaged, cookie-cutter junk. With the knowledge of good food (and how to cook good food) as a base, a healthy lifestyle can follow, and then anything is possible!

Today, my love for teaching is branching out even further - I'm in Montessori training to solidify my love for the system and working with children and families!