The Perfect Food

Question: What foods can a person eat to guarantee a long healthy life? Answer: The truth is that no single food of itself, provides all the nutrients required and in the correct proportions that promote health and no herb or spice can guarantee long life. There was a time when milk was promoted as the perfect food because of its calcium content, to prevent rickets in children, yet we know it lacks iron and vitamin C and contributes to saturated fat in the diet that could be detrimental to the heart. Moreover, milk has individual negative effects such as mucus forming or lactose intolerance in some persons. In today’s society, with high levels of chronic diseases, some foods are promoted as ‘functional’ i.e. they give medicinal value from active chemicals as well as nutrients, when the food is eaten fresh, in the whole form, unprocessed and unadulterated by poor agricultural practices. Such is the credit given to fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably organic) as well as some herbs such as garlic, spices e.g. turmeric and fatty fish such as sardines for the omega oils - said to reduce inflammation and platelet clots, the root cause of most chronic diseases. The fact is that diets, not single foods, can be healthy in terms of reducing the risk for chronic diseases. As the public health issues in society change, so will the foods promoted as health giving. Because of other risk factors, such as genetic make-up and specific environmental triggers, diets must be personalized after a thorough medical and nutrition assessment of individuals, and they should consider culture, ethnicity, economics meaning food budget, and other personal factors. To guide the general public in food selection, food based dietary guidelines have been developed that are relevant for the specific geographic region and these change from time to time due to disease transitions. The current Caribbean dietary guidelines are based on six groupings of food, namely, Staples, Legumes, Food from Animals, Vegetables, Fruits and Fats. Water is essential but it is a nutrient and not a food.  See also "The Perfect Diet" for  the guidelines.  These guidelines are only useful if you can translate them into foods, meals and total dietary intake. You should therefore consult with a registered nutritionist or dietitian to see how your weight and your diet measure up to these standards.

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