The field of nutrition is a minefield. An Indian guru has once gave a good peace of advice to a newly awakened soul: “Never tell your disciples what to eat!” Nobody wants to be told what to eat and even less so what not to eat. Why is it so?
First of all, we have our likes and dislikes when it comes to food. Does it matter?
In the past it did not matter. Throughout history, people always had their favourite foods, but they could not have them all the time. All foods were seasonal. There was no technology to process and refine foods. There were no artificial food additives. People would boil, bake, dry, salt, smoke or ferment their foods so that they last longer. The feasting season was followed by the lean season out of necessity. Naturally, the attitude was that if food comes your way you won’t say no.
Today there is lots of food available. We don’t even have to chase it or grow it – it comes to us! We can eat any time, as much as we want, anything we want…
Surely there is no problem with likes and dislikes of food. Surely there is no problem with good tasting food. But – why do so many people try to restrict their diet? Why is it so important to them? Could it be that following our tongue is not the best path to follow?
Let us consider one thing which has been a subject of extensive research – craveability. Around the mid 20th century, fast advances in food processing technology enabled mass produced durable “foods”. These were rather tasteless, missing the complexity of the real food flavour. In order to make this profitable, there had to be found a way how to make them taste good.
Howard Moskowitz, an experimental psychologist, was given a job after his graduation to improve taste of ready to eat meals for US army in 1969. He discovered a particular combination of salt, sugar and fat which he called a “Bliss point”.
Physiologically it is easy to see why this was so. These three substances are very precious. Salt is necessary for nerve system function and regulation of body fluids, sugar is a fast source of energy for all body cells and fat provides satiety and it is the most concentrated source of energy. It is no wonder that our body craves these.
There are pitfalls to this, of course. Refined pure sugar, for instance, is too concentrated and creates havoc in our metabolism. Also, not all fats were created equal. Excess of some fats and lack of others is damaging to every cell membrane of our body and causes inflammation.
This combination of salt, sugar and fat has proven a great success and was quickly exploited by the food industry. It brought an unexpected bonus (to the food corporations, of course): this combination is highly addictive. Craveability leads to overeating, obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes, brain dysfunction and inflammation.
Although this is well known and documented in numerous scientific studies, not much will change. The market is consumer driven – and if the consumers are driven by their addiction, it is still their “free choice”. It is not by accident that one of Moskowitz’s popular books is titled: “Selling Blue Elephants: How to make great products that people want BEFORE they even know they want them”. The hijacked sense of taste is interesting. I remember a young lady once told me in all seriousness that she doesn’t like strawberries, because to her the strawberries flavour tastes more “real” than strawberries. The fast food diet certainly alters the sense of taste and certain process of rehabilitation is required before our tongue appreciates subtle nuances again. An element of Zinc plays an important role in tasting and if our bodies lack Zinc – which is often the case – we will taste poorly.
There are several other problems with processed foods:
Of course, the processed foods will not go away. The ease of production from cheap and inferior ingredients, their durability and craveability make them an amazing product to sell to a consumer, again and again.
Over the years, people’s health and lifespan will decline, the coming generations will be weaker and will have problems having children. This is not a pessimism, it is a conclusion of known facts and of an already observable trend.
The only thing you can do about it is to take your health into you hands and nourish your children well. Sooner or later there will be a public outcry about this, but the food corporations still yield a considerable influence. They don’t want to lose their profits.I don’t want to spoil your day. In spite of all this, life IS good. Take care and appreciate what you have. There are things to live for.
A useful reference about sugar addiction:
Scientific and Clinical Basis of Nutritional Treatment
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Processed foods, your health and your tongue