The table is pleasure and conviviality. And it is precisely with this hedonism that nutritionists and health recommendations – considered by many restrictive and a little punitive – have to deal. The result is that few succeed or want to follow them: since the last relationship Eat-Lancet, it emerges that worldwide the consumption of original animal products is 300% higher than the recommendations, as well as that of starchy vegetables, for example potatoes, while that of vegetables such as fruit, vegetables and legumes is decidedly lower than the recommended doses. Often people do not bother to follow the advice until health problems arise, for example obesity, which in Italy alone in the last decade has increased by 82%.
Advice adapted to everyday life
With the awareness that people’s lives are made up of an unpredictable everyday life, of the pursuit of pleasure and therefore of eating, the 2003 Group for Scientific Research has produced a dossier on immunonutrition, thinking about what may be some nutrition suggestions ” real life “.
Not the canonical ones of the guidelines, but more flexible and adaptable to real life. Four strategies, for now, that experts recommend trying to follow most of the time to counteract weight gain and the onset of cardiovascular risk factors.
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First strategy: at least one vegetable on the plate
The first suggestion concerns foods of plant origin. “Who can eat the famous five portions of fruit and vegetables every day? Few,” he comments Mauro Serafiniprofessor of the Faculty of Biosciences and Food and Environmental Technologies at the University of Teramo and coordinator of the dossier on immunonutrition.
“The optimum is to do it, otherwise our goal must be to always associate a food of vegetable origin (legume, vegetable or fruit) with meals. In this way we enhance the effect of its bioactive molecules, which during the digestive process can fight post-prandial stress and buffer the inflammatory and oxidative response “.
Eating is stressful for the body
To understand what fight we are talking about, we need to know that every time we eat, physiologically, our body enters a state of metabolic stress in which it undertakes to digest everything that has passed from the plate into our belly. It is an inflammatory reaction, because the organism has to respond to a certain amount of foreign substances and to do so it produces in turn the molecules that are necessary for it to return to equilibrium. This disposal is all the more tiring the more demanding the meal we face.
Plant foods against fats and sugars
“If it is high in fat, the body will have to cope with an increase in triglycerides, if it is very sugary or high in carbohydrates, it will have to contend with blood sugar, and so on,” explains the expert. “So, if in addition to fats and sugars, we also consume plant foods, their high concentration of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds guarantees a protective effect, because a part of these molecules are not absorbed by the body but are sacrificed in the battle, helping to fight inflammation and oxidation “.
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Second strategy: for dinner we look at the clock
The second real life tip is about when to dine. While there have been some post-pandemic changes, the options for finding a late-evening or late-night meal are numerous. There are delivery food apps, but many places are also physically open, especially fast food chains, kiosks or vendors of kebap and other ethnic food.
“This deviation of the moment when we can eat compared to when we should do it following our biological clock, has an effect on the inflammation we were talking about a little while ago. Not to mention that usually night meals are also very high in calories”, continues Serafini.
“In line with circadian rhythms our metabolism slows down in the evening, so it happens that, with the same meal composition, the late hour leads to greater metabolic stress. Although not much evidence is available yet, it has been observed that the glycemic and insulinemic response of diabetic subjects to the same meal is three times higher when dinner is eaten at 7 pm compared to 10 pm “. The ideal would be not to eat after 20-21, or at least try to avoid it for most of the weekly dinners.
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Third strategy: after the excess, a day off
Precisely because life’s events and appointments lead to copious lunches and dinners (pleasant for the palate but stressful for the body), the third real life nutritional advice is played the day after excess.
“Either by putting into practice the two previous strategies, therefore not eating too much and too late in the evening and inserting a vegetable in the meal”, recalls the nutritionist, “or by reducing the overall caloric intake of the day, thus avoiding fats and sugars. The goal is to allow our body to relieve the inflammation of the previous day, without exacerbating it. Returning to the ranks will allow us to face another important meal, perhaps the next day, in a more relaxed way “.
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Fourth strategy: alternate stress
The inflammatory mechanism described, which is triggered after eating, is natural and transient. In the sense that it starts about half an hour after starting the meal and can last up to six to eight hours depending on the quantity and quality of calories ingested. So based on the heaviness of what we eat, it can be more or less tiring for the body.
“If the post-prandial stressogenic event is occasional and limited in time, the body manages the inflammatory response, quickly returning to a state of equilibrium – explains Serafini -. If, on the other hand, the stress-inducing meals represent a continuous event, considering the number of meals that are eaten daily, the six to eight hour stress condition can extend for most of the day and, consequently, become chronic over time, with triglyceride and blood sugar levels struggling to drop. “
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It is as if our body waged a continuous battle, with the risk, sooner or later, of losing. The last piece of advice is therefore to avoid high calorie, fatty and sugary meals one after the other and frequently. “If we are healthy and it happens every now and then, no problem, but metabolic problems can arise in the long run – concludes the expert -. If we are already diabetic, heart disease or hypertensive, the inflammatory response, starting from a higher level than a healthy subject is much higher and stays longer, increasing complications even in the short term “.