Eating everything is not healthy eating | Science

Eating everything is not healthy eating | Science

Should we take "everything a little", as in the song I am a truhan, I am a man? Julio Iglesias is not a nutritionist, but he was Francisco Grande Covián, who published the book in 1981 Nutrition and health, which advocated eating a bit of everything to improve our nutritional status and prevent pathologies related to food. It is a simple advice, which seems common sense and relatively easy to implement. But common sense and science do not always go hand in hand.

Studies published in 2001, 2003 and 2006 confirm that the greater the dietary variety, the higher the risk of obesity

To know if the council of Grande Covián is valid in 2018 we must think about the food supply that was in Europe in 1981 and compare it with what we find today in our supermarkets, full as they are of unhealthy and very cheap products. But we can also understand that it is necessary to quarantine a message that is almost 40 years old. Especially if we know that PubMed, an important database of scientific research, collects about 50,000 studies in which the word "nutrition" appears in the title, published from 1981 until today.

The doctor Miguel Ángel Royo-Bordonada analyzed in 2007 the research on the concept "varied diet" in the book Nutrition in Public Health, in which we find these important considerations: "[…] Although the dietary variety can improve the nutritional profile of the diet, it can also modify the satiety threshold and, therefore, increase the amount of food eaten. […]. In populations with a Western dietary pattern, a greater variety of the diet is associated with a greater consumption of highly processed foods with high energy density ".

I gave him the reason in 2010, in my book No more diet. I cite studies published in 2001, 2003 Y 2006 who noted that the greater the dietary variety, the higher the risk of obesity. I also indicated that although the World Health Organization coined the concept "variety" to define a healthy diet, he does it in such a way that there is no room for ambiguities: "Follow a nutritious diet based on a variety of foods of primarily vegetable origin, rather than animal." In 2011, Dr. Nicole M. Avena also detailed, in the magazine The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that the overabundance of ultra-processed foods in which we are immersed makes it really difficult for us to stop eating when we are satiated.

We know how unbalanced our diet is: 32% of the calories that Spaniards eat come from ultra-processed products

I continue in a few lines with the concept "varied diet". But first, a question that is related to this concept: have you heard the phrase "there is no good or bad food, but healthy or unhealthy diets as a whole"? Nutritionists support it much more often than we would like. It is an argument that sounds good, but that is fallacious. Giving our children a slap is bad, whatever our education "as a whole". Will they become criminals? Surely not, but considering the slap in an educational system is as preposterous as considering skids on a bus trip with passengers. Similarly, it is a mistake to pretend to justify the inclusion of unhealthy products in our diet on a regular basis, especially if we know how unbalanced our diet is (in October 2018) we have known that 32% of the calories that Spaniards consume come from ultra-processed products).

For all that said, we should not miss these statements issued by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian (an epidemiologist and recognized expert in nutrition) in July 2011: "The notion that it is okay to eat everything in moderation is a simple excuse to eat what want one. " Mozaffarian opines (and I as well) that who is wishing that we believe that "there is no good or bad food" is the food industry, which does not want to diminish its sales.

But Dr. Mozaffarian has not remained idle since 2011 until today. He participated, in September 2018, in a scientific consensus of the American Heart Association (AHA) focused on the "dietary variety" (Circulation, 2018). In the document we read that the available scientific evidence shows that the increase of diversity in the diet is related to "suboptimal feeding patterns". It is logical: the more we vary our diet, the greater the risk that we consume too many superfluous products. "Eating everything" also translates, unfortunately, into a lower consumption of fresh foods.

Who is wishing that we believe that "there is no good or bad food" is the food industry, which does not want to diminish its sales

For the AHA, following a varied diet "may be associated with weight gain and with obesity in adults". The reason seems to reside in this explanation: eating a wide variety of foods seems to diminish the sensitivity of our mechanisms that regulate satiety (that is, we will continue to eat after covering our energy requirements). This effect will increase the amount of calories we take and, consequently, our risk of obesity.

The consensus concludes that "current data do not support greater diversity in the diet as an effective strategy to promote healthy eating patterns and a healthy body weight." Or, in other words: "Do not eat everything"

Julio Basulto (@JulioBasulto_DN) is a Dietitian-Nutritionist who tries to convince the world that eating badly is not compensated with a carrot. He also lectures, works as a teacher in several academic institutions, collaborates with different media and is the author of numerous scientific and informative publications (

NUTRIATE WITH SCIENCE It is a section on food based on scientific evidence and knowledge contrasted by specialists. Eating is much more than a pleasure and a necessity: diet and eating habits are now the public health factor that can most help us prevent many diseases, from many types of cancer to diabetes. A team of dieticians-nutritionists will help us to better understand the importance of food and to tear down, thanks to science, the myths that lead us to eat badly.


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