Here are the 5 bad habits to avoid ‘at the table’ to stay healthy. The ‘rules’ come, after the first publication in 2014, fromItalian Association of Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition (Adi), also in light of the health emergency linked to Covid-19, which it updated, in collaboration with Slow Medicine, the five recommendations on nutrition addressed to the population and professionals, which identify the incorrect, and at the same time most widespread, practices associated with nutrition, with no health benefits.
Drafted as part of the campaign “Doing more does not mean doing better – Choosing Wisely Italy“, Promoted in Italy by the association of professionals and citizens Slow Medicine for a sober, respectful and fair treatment, the five recommendations have been revised in the face of social, economic and climatic changes in recent years with particular attention to environmental sustainability issues and eating disorders.
These are the five recommendations:
1) Do not follow “no diets” or fasting. They are specific nutritional approaches for certain pathologies and only the doctor can recommend them. The examples are many and widespread: diets that exclude certain foods (carbohydrates, gluten, fats, lactose, animal proteins, etc.), dietary approaches based on presumed food intolerances (not diagnosed by scientifically validated methods), or blood groups, or diets paleolithic or intermittent or continuous fasts. These dietary approaches can cause damage to health and nutritional deficiencies and do not solve the problem of obesity, but rather favor eating disorders. The advice is to contact your doctor or a specialist in the sector.
2) Avoid going to professionals who are not experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders, because only specialized or competent health care teams belonging to different disciplines can take care of these serious pathologies in a multidisciplinary way. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses – the experts recall in a note – which significantly affect the psychic and physical health of the person, altering the social and relational sphere. The most frequent abnormal eating behaviors in these diseases are: food restriction (drastically reducing nutrition, as in anorexia nervosa); binge eating (as in binge eating disorder) and using practices to compensate for calories, such as self-induced vomiting, drug abuse, and excessive exercise (as in bulimia nervosa).
These are complex mental illnesses, which through a physical discomfort express psychological discomfort, and unfortunately in times of the Covid pandemic their incidence among young people has increased. It should be noted that, among the mental disorders, they are those with the highest mortality rate among young people. The approach to eating disorders must include the involvement of different figures (child psychiatrists / neuropsychiatrists, doctors with nutritional skills, internists, pediatricians, endocrinologists, dieticians, psychologists, nurses, professional educators, psychiatric rehabilitation technicians and physiotherapists), involved in the various health areas of competence, in coordination and in a shared work in the different phases of care. In fact, the treatment is not limited to the nutritional aspect but must also include the psychosocial side, with the support of specialized centers.
3) Do not encourage extensive and indiscriminate use of vitamin and mineral supplements such as
preventive factors of neoplasms and cardiovascular pathology. The habit of using vitamin and mineral supplements for an alleged prevention of oncological or cardiovascular diseases is extremely widespread, especially in Italy, with a considerable expense to be borne by citizens. However, solid and recent scientific evidence is available that has not documented a real protective effect on cancer risk related to numerous neoplasms deriving from the use of nutritional supplements of micronutrients.
Supplementation with vitamin and mineral supplements – the experts explain – does not even produce benefits in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases or on mortality from all causes in the general population. The true effective prevention is represented by the correct habits of life: healthy eating (which is addressed in recommendation 5), physical activity, abstaining from smoking and limiting the use of alcohol. In addition, if you take supplements it is very important to communicate this to doctors during visits because they can alter the results of laboratory tests even significantly.
4) Obese people of any age are not to be blamed. The stigma of obesity worsens the condition of those affected. This recommendation concerns the approach to obese people by both other people and institutions and health professionals. In both cases, blaming obese subjects can have a negative impact on their physical, psychological and social health, especially since they often belong to fragile categories. When the stigma comes from institutions and health professionals it can also have negative effects on the accessibility, appropriateness and quality of care: the person suffering from obesity must be welcomed and treated with the dignity and respect that one has for all other pathologies.
5) Do not follow Western-style diets with high environmental impact. Only healthy diets such as the Mediterranean diet can guarantee the physical health of individuals and the planet. In fact, food has a weight on environmental resources, in terms of consumption of water, soil, energy, as well as the production of gas, acidification and eutrophication.
‘Western diets’ (rich in refined foods, animal fats, sugars and low in fiber) are those that involve the greatest environmental burden, as well as being those that favor the onset of metabolic, cardiovascular, oncological diseases. Conversely, ‘healthy diets’ (mainly plant-based – whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit – with good fish content, moderate amounts of meat – preferring white to red ones – and with vegetable fats) have the advantage of being protective for the health of individuals and more respectful of the resources used for the production of food to be consumed. By reducing the consumption of meat and increasing that of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fish, we therefore bring important benefits to both our health and that of the planet (co-benefits).
Together with the five recommendations – concludes the note – Adi and Slow Medicine, in collaboration with Altroconsumo, have also developed a practical sheet for citizens on how to recognize the most common errors that are committed in the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders.