claims that the food industry is guilty of using our “sophisticated nutrition wisdom” against us.
The new study claims that humans have an inherent ability to select a healthy diet – known as ‘nutritional wisdom. The food industry seems to be influencing our natural food choices. The research shows that
Humans have a surprising level of nutritional intelligence. The research shows that we don’t eat just for the calories, but also have a nutritional intelligence which means we can instinctively search for vitamins and minerals to avoid any nutritional deficiencies.
The international study, led by the University of Bristol in the UK, published in the journal Appetite , gives renewed weight to the infamous research carried out in the 1930s by an American paediatrician Dr Clara Davis. Here, a group of 15 babies were allowed to “self-select”, in other words eat whatever they wanted, from 33 different food items. Although no one child was allowed to eat the exact same foods, all children were able to maintain good health and a healthy weight, which was considered evidence of nutritional wisdom.
Later, the findings of this study were scrutinised and criticized. It was impossible to replicate the findings as this type of experimentation with babies is considered unprofessional. It has been almost a century since scientists attempted to prove nutritional wisdom in human beings. This faculty has been also found in rodents and sheep. To overcome these obstacles, University of Bristol Professor of Experimental Psychology Jeff Brunstrom developed an innovative technique that measured preference using images of various fruit and vegetable combinations. This allowed people to make informed choices and their wellbeing could not be compromised.
In total 128 adults participated in two experiments. First, the study revealed that people like certain combinations of food more than others. Apple and banana may be preferred slightly over blackberries and apple. These preferences are predicted by how many micronutrients are in the pair, and whether or not they provide a balanced amount. They also tested the results with other foods to confirm their findings.
To complement and verify these results, they also looked at real-life meal combinations reported by the UK’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey . These data also showed that people mix meals so they are more likely to consume micronutrients. Particularly, popular UK dishes, like ‘fish and chips or curry and rice, offer more micronutrients that meals that are randomly generated, such as chips and curry.
” Professor Brunstrom said that the results are significant and surprising ,”. We have shown that humans can be more intelligent about food selections than ever before .”
The study could have interesting implications for food industries such as the potential benefits of natural eating and paleo diets.
The research raises important questions in today’s food world. One example is our culture’s fixation on fad diets that restrict or forbid certain foods or make it difficult to eat them, or does this disrupt the dietary intelligence’? Mark Schatzker, a writer and journalist and co-author of the study. He also serves as the writer-in residence at Yale University’s Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center. He also used this research to charge the food industry with influencing our food choices.
“Studies have shown animals use flavour as a guide to the vitamins and minerals they require,” he explained. ” If flavour plays a similar function for humans then it is possible that we are giving junk food like potato chips or fizzy drinks a false appearance of nutrition. We may also be adding flavourings. In other words, the food industry may be turning our nutritional wisdom against us, making us eat food we would normally avoid and thus contributing to the obesity epidemic.”
Are bliss points overriding natural ‘stop’ signals? Dr Bunmi Abuaba is a nutritionist who assists clients with food addiction. She also believes that the food industry has created ‘blisspoints’ in food preparation to maximize deliciousness. She stated that this mixture of sugars, fats, carbs and salts creates an intense dopamine rush. ” What happens when your brain mirrors the dopamine surge ?”? The pre-frontal cortex (or the thinking portion) of the brain finds it hard to make rational decisions. Hence the choices made are heavily weighted towards the food that ‘ignite’ the pleasure /reward pathways.”
Once a person is addicted to certain “trigger foods”, argued Aboaba, those foods change the brain in ways that make abstaining from them very challenging — even for those who desperately want to stop and with all the determination they can muster.
“There is a continuing misconception that people have absolute control over what they eat and drink. Bad diets can simply be explained as a result of poor individual choices. It is simply not true. Instead, people tend to eat what they are exposed to, what is readily available, and what is accessible physically and economically.”
Micronutrients and food choice: A case of ‘nutritional wisdom’ in humans?