by Dr. Sarah BrewerNovember 2011
The molecules found within most cells in our body are replaced at least once a year. Even our bones are constantly remodelling with 10% of their mass replaced every year. Unlike plants, we can’t use the energy of the sun to photosynthesise new replacement building blocks – we need to obtain them from our diet.
But we each have a complex relationship with food that goes beyond obtaining the nutrition required to fuel growth, body maintenance, physical activity and good health. Some live only to eat – planning meals and snacks in advance, experimenting with new tastes and craving old favourites. These people are likely to obtain more nutrition than they need and struggle with weight-related health issues. In contrast, some only eat to live, juggling their body image, hunger and appetite to obtain just enough nutrition to sustain life. While a so-called starvation diet is associated with a longer lifespan in some cases, particularly rats, in humans it is more often accompanied with protein and micronutrient deficiencies that attract their own health problems. So the ideal answer is to strive for balance and aim for both – living to eat as well as eating to live.
We all know the basics, such as eating at least 5-a-day fruit and veg, cutting back on salt and concentrating on obtaining healthy fats such as fish, nut and olive oils. It’s putting the guidelines into practice that’s difficult. Spend a day writing down EVERYTHING you eat, from the tiniest mouthful through to the last drink. You may be surprised at what and how much you eat mindlessly - without your own permission!