Nutrition is a primary physiological need. But at least for 20% of the population that, according to statistics, consumes 80% of the world's resources, eating is not just a matter of survival. Today we eat mainly for taste, and satisfying our gluttony even before responding to the needs of the body has become a kind of shared practice. Following this principle of analysis, it is clear that the question of nutrition versus applied nutrition is getting just slightly out of control.
Looking at black and white photos from distant eras, the first thing that strikes the eye is the physical difference between the protagonists of the shots and contemporary men. We were once thinner; we were also shorter and less muscular, but we were on average slimmer. What has changed? The culture of abundance has made us more abundant, an inevitable syllogism. But what has affected the drift of the ideal weight is above all the quality of the food that we bring to the table.
In addition to any ideology of food resistance - which is directed against intensive GM crops, the use of hormones and antibiotics in animal feed, and the abuse of pesticides in agriculture - it is still necessary to ask ourselves whether progress is pushing us in the right direction, or whether having diversified so much supply, having refined food to respond to the whims of our tastes and having disproportionately increased the individual caloric requirement is doing more harm than anything else.
According to data from the World Health Organization, the world is getting fatter. In the last 40 years, from 1980 to today, the proportion of obese people has doubled, and one third of the world's population is well beyond being overweight. The obese in the world are more than two billion. The “fattest” countries are the United States and China - where children and adolescents have a substantial impact on the total - and Egypt, where 35% of adults have overweight problems. The rest of the world is a little better off, with the exception of Bangladesh and Vietnam, the only countries where obesity is practically unknown.
Given its destructive impact on health, obesity is a real social scourge. As of 2017, in Italy alone there are 6 million obese people, with an impact on the National Health Service estimated at 4.5 billion euros, expenditure destined to grow exponentially in the coming years. The age group with the highest percentage of people in weight excess is, for both men and women, the 65-74 age group. However, children are also at risk: one in three of them has a weight above the recommended thresholds for their age.
Every year, 57 thousand people die from causes linked to the extra pounds. Being overweight and obesity are responsible for about 80% of diabetes cases, 55% of hypertension cases and 35% of ischaemic heart disease and cancer cases. Yet it would be enough just to be a little more responsible at the table, in order to keep the body in good health without disheartening the spirit.
6 rules for healthy nutrition
So how can you manage to live well eating healthily, in this big fat world? Technogym, in occasion of the Let's Move for a Better World campaign, proposes as a solution to the problem of obesity the Pyramid of Wellness, a simple and effective scheme to review the basic rules of healthy eating.
Rule No. 1 – Keep yourself hydrated
The human body is composed of 60% of water. And to function properly in its physiology and in the homeostatic process of exchange with the environment, it is necessary to reintroduce into the body at least 1.5 liters of water per day. Despite that water is naturally contained in a lot of food, a lot more needs to be drunk, especially outside of mealtimes and even when you are not thirsty. Always keep a bottle at arm’s length and proceed to take small sips, such is the earnest advice of the experts. Drinking a lot of water is also good for the shape: the more we hydrate, the thinner we are.
Rule No. 2 - Do not forget about vitamins
Fruits and vegetables should not be understood simply as an optional side dish, but should be an integral part of the meal. All nutritionists recommend to eat at least four portions throughout the day, giving absolute priority to seasonal produces, to be consumed especially fresh and raw.
Rule No 3 - Carbohydrates are friends of movement
If you have a moderately active lifestyle you should never give up carbohydrates, preferably based on wholemeal flour. Therefore, you can say yes to wholegrain bread, pasta or pizza, even though these should be eaten separately and as a supplement to vegetables and proteins, which must never be missing in light of a balanced diet.
Rule No. 4 - More protein for sport
Regular aerobic exercise should not be an exception to the consumption of protein, which is essential for muscle development and cellular metabolism in sportsmen and women. Yes to meat then, especially in the white varieties such as chicken and turkey; and above all yes to legumes, which boast high quantities of noble proteins in the absence of fats.
Rule No 5 – Dairy products with moderation
Italians hardly give up milk and cheese – after all, de gustibus not disputanandum est. When dairy products do not cause intolerance or problems with poor digestion, they are not bad. However, their high caloric impact recommends limiting their consumption, unless you have a very active lifestyle. In this case it is possible to exceed with dairy fats, as well as with those of vegetable origin such as olive oil.
Rule No. 6 – Reward your efforts
The health of the body is fundamental, but the health of the spirit should not be underestimated. And since we are not only made of metabolic cycles, but also of taste and desire, it is good to indulge ourselves some food desires from time to time. Just do a little daily movement to be able to afford a dessert at the end of the meal or an extra glass of wine, without having to regret it afterwards. Let us remember that people have been eating and drinking for centuries, but obesity has only existed for a few decades.