David Mapletoft and Ray Price – guest post
Blokes these days want to take more responsibility for their nutrition and health. The trouble is that much of the information published is written from a woman’s perspective, or attempts to exploit men’s vanity for wanting a hyper masculine physique. Protein powders and “miracle” supplements promise a body that women will crave and while the commercial machine that creates the hype gets richer the blokes get poorer and more and more disillusioned about food and health.
Rarely are nutrition principles explained from a male perspective. Women’s relationship with food is continually being studied and exploited and the same principles are being used to exploit men’s vanities. This situation doesn’t lead to healthier men.
Fundamentally, men need to know that their body is much like a motorcar. The body has the potential to be like a Formula 1 racing car, or a burnt out wreck depending on how it is managed and treated. In order to take man on his journey through life, his body requires good clean fuel, regular care and maintenance, a few spare parts, and least of all, useless extras.
Translated into food, the preferred fuel for the human body is carbohydrate, readily found in breads and cereals, rice, pasta and starchy vegetables, and should be consumed with every meal to keep blood fuel levels adequate.
The foods that provide substances with care and maintenance functions for the human body are vegetables, fruits and legumes, and it is important to eat broadly from these foods daily.
The foods that contribute substances with spare parts functions that aid growth and repair of life’s vehicle are those which are high in protein including meat, fish, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese, etc and to a lesser extent legumes and nuts.
Ultimately the adult man’s body needs more fuel, care and maintenance that it does spare parts so protein foods should only be eaten in moderation.
Useless extras include foods commonly referred to as “junk”. Useless extras are typically high in calories and low in nutrients and include pies, chocolate, alcohol and soft drink. We all like them, but we don’t need them and eating them in greater than small amounts will ultimately contribute to the extra fuel deposits many of us tend to carry around these days, commonly referred to as “body fat”. Indeed, being overweight can be likened to carrying around a 44-gallon drum of fuel on your car’s roof rack.
Although the human body prefers to run on carbohydrate, it can run on other fuels, such as protein (meat), fat (butter, marg, oil, or the fat in foods such as fatty meat, cheese, etc), or alcohol (beer, wine spirits), but does so less efficiently. If you had a petrol vehicle and you wanted good performance from it would you ever consider filling it up with diesel? Yet many men will sit down to a “hearty” mixed grill of steak, chops and sausages, wash it all down with a six pack of beer and fail to eat the slice of bread that came with the meal. The body will perform best after a mixed meal that includes a source of carbohydrate from foods such as bread, pasta, or rice.
Ongoing care and maintenance.
The healthy human body is constantly undergoing care and maintenance procedures to keep it in tiptop shape. The nutrients that are necessary for these processes to occur are the vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Only fruits and vegetables, not pills or supplements, can give you these nutrients in the healthy combinations nature intended. The value of these foods is promoted through the NTDHCS Go for 2&5 campaign with the recommendation that we should increase our daily intake of fruit to 2 serves and vegetable intake to 5 serves. For many blokes this will mean at least doubling their intake of these foods.
Eat a rainbow a day
For sources of the nutrients that are catalysts of ongoing regular maintenance, eat the fruits and vegetables from the following colour groups daily:
· Green coloured fruits and vegetables are important sources of Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Indoles, Vitamin K and Potassium which are essential for the development and maintenance of healthy eyesight, healthy bones, healthy blood pressure and for cancer prevention. Common examples include spinach, lettuce, Bok Choy, cabbage, broccoli, kiwi fruit, and honeydew melon.
· Yellow/orange coloured fruits and vegetables will provide Beta Carotene and Vitamin A, the nutrients essential for healthy skin, strong immune system, good eyesight, cancer prevention, heart health, healthy teeth, and the prevention of high blood pressure. Common examples include carrots, pumpkin, mangoes, oranges, pineapple, bananas and apricots.
· Red coloured fruits and vegetables provide Vitamin C and Anthrocyanins, the nutrients that promote healthy bones and teeth, wound healing, healthy blood circulation, healthy nerve cell function and cancer prevention. Common examples include raspberries, watermelon, red capsicum, tomatoes, beetroot, red onion, and kidney beans
· Blue/purple coloured fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin C, Anthrocyanins and Phenolics, the nutrients essential for healthy circulation, nerve cell function, cancer prevention, and general overall health. Common examples include blueberries, purple grapes, prunes, raisins, and eggplant
· White vegetables contain Allium and Allicin, the nutrients that promote a healthy immune system, healthy cholesterol levels and provide cancer prevention. Common examples include garlic, onions, leeks, and chives.
Increase the revs regularly
Over thousands of years the human body has evolved into a highly efficient walking and working machine. However, changes in technology, workplaces and homes over the past 50 years mean that how we live our lives and do our daily chores is vastly different from our parents and grandparents. While few of us would willingly aspire to “The Good Life” and toil over a washing board to wash our clothes, chop wood to cook with, or trade in the car for a horse and sulky, many of us could benefit from engaging in activity that our body was designed for: manual work.
Just as it makes no sense to keep your Lamborghini in the garage, your body also needs to be given a run from time to time. And while a stroll to the shops to buy the milk and paper is technically “exercise”, to remain in good condition the human body needs regular activity that raises the heart rate, increases the breathing rate, produces some sweat and gives the machine a bit of a workout.
It’s up to the individual to choose a type of exercise that suits his/her interests and capacity but it is important that the exercise is performed relatively frequently, regularly and of sufficient intensity to get the heart rate up above normal, but not so high as to blow a gasket.
More Rabbit Food
Aussie blokes frequently deride fruits and vegetables as being “rabbit food”. Yet almost every man would aspire to emulate the breeding ability of our furry vegetarian friends. However, to emulate the breeding prowess of rabbits one needs reproductive equipment in good working order. Australia has levels of overweight and obesity second only in the world to the USA, and overweight and obese men are much more likely to suffer with health problems brought on by cholesterol corrosion in the arteries that supply blood to all parts of the body, including the reproductive equipment. It follows that if you aspire to the breeding ability of a rabbit, you might have to eat like one too.
In summary, the general food & exercise advice for most Australian blokes is
1. halve the meat, and cut the fat off
2. double or treble the fruit and vegetable; eat a rainbow a day
3. cut down on the grog and fatty fast food
4. give the machine a regular workout
Roy Price is a Public Health Nutritionist and Dietitian in Central Australia
Do you think that the basics of this article ‘Food and the Aussie Bloke’, applies equally to ‘the Aussie Sheila’s’ ?
What strikes a chord with you in this article?
Are you taking your Ferrari out for a spin today 🙂 ?
David – Diabetes Educator