What’s Trendy in Human Nutrition?

2018-03-22 16:03:10 Jimbin Mai, Ph.D., 40

What are the trendy words for human nutrition?  They are proteins, omega-3, probiotics and prebiotics, pulses, plant-based diets, Paleo diet and Forks over Knives, etc.


Let’s go over together one by one. 


Proteins seem to be trendy nowadays, even companies like PepsiCo and Coke are paying attention to their product lines with protein fortified drinks and snacks!  For those die-heart exercise advocates, protein is the king!  As for the dietary levels of proteins for different age groups, the range between 0.8-1.6g/kg body weights seem to be most recommended.  For my own generation of baby boomers, because of the concern of sarcopenia (aged-related muscle degeneration), a higher protein intake is recommended.  However, no pain no gain, in order to maintain the lean muscle mass resistant training is a must to keep muscle synthesis. Enough for protein for now!


Pulses are the general term for dry peas, lentil, yellow pea and chickpea, etc.  They are ancient foods with good protein and resistant starch.  They can grow on the dry land without much attention in comparison with the other economic crops like rice corn and wheat. It is a good source of both protein and dietary fibers.  I recommend them highly and practice it myself regularly.  People will usually ask that they are hard to cook.  Yes, indeed they are!  Take it easy, buys those canned version from the Hispanic isles in supermarket and they are ready to serve and well cooked.  Or if you prefer to cook your own from raw pulses, just soak them in cold water overnight and drain the water afterwards.  Keep the soaked pulses in the freezer to help crack the texture and cook them in boiling water for half an hour to one hour and they are ready to serve.  Of course you would ask how about pressure cooker, why not?, if you have one.


Omega-3 is needed for the dietary fat balance between the omage-6 and omega-3.  They both are essential.  However, the desirable ratio is about 4:1 between omega-6/omega-3.  Our diets, especially Western diet, keep that ratio in the range of 20-30:1 of omega-6/omega-3!  Horrible!  Omega-3, only those elongated and desaturated like EPA (eicosapentaenenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenenoic acid) count.  Don’t be misled by those shorter chained less saturated ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and SDA (sedonic acid).  Although they are omega-3, however, are less functional physiologically.  Pregnant and lactating mothers are required to take supplement of DHA in order to deliver and raise intelligent healthy babies!  New report even mentioned that omega-3 may also boost immune functions for general well-being!


Probiotic and prebiotic are fashion now, especially probiotics!  Probiotics are live microorganism and they cohabitate in our guts creating symbiotic synergy between the host and them.  Prebiotics are the foods for the probiotics.  Have you ever heard about the American Gut Project?  If you submit your fecal material to them and they will come back to you with what category of people you belong to in terms of gut health.  We human beings have one trillion cells but three trillions of mirobia in our guts. They help us in digestion, immune function, micronutrients production like vitamin B and even biochemical that might affect our mood and mental health the so called brain-gut axis.  What you eat and what gut microorganisms you have determining your happiness and mental health. It really makes sense of the old saying “You are what you eat!”


With that, here come with the plant-based diets, Forks over Knives, and Paleo Diets.  I endorse the first two but not the third.  The former two’s not only take the personal health and wellbeing into consideration but also put emphasis on the earth, sustainability, climate change, carbon dioxide and methane gas emission, and feeding the explosion population as top priorities to save the earth and humanity.  The latter just try to duplicate the ancient hunting and fishing life, a lot of meat and may be fish but very little grains, vegetables and fruits because they don’t do farming at that stage of human evolution. Only one thing I endorse is that they do exercise a lot to chase prays. 


Plant-based diets and Fork over Knives argue that just plant sources of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are sufficient for both the macro- and micro-nutrient requirement for growth, maintenance and reproduction.  Only the aforementioned EPA and DHA couldn’t be satisfied from these diets unless they can include algae which could produce the two important omega-3 fatty acids!  Can someone help me out on this?  However, I do agree these diets are most sustainable and efficient to produce by getting rid of the middle men like animals, fish, poultries, eggs and dairies.  If interested, continue follow us on this subject.  Happy reading to be continued!

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