Essen gesundheitIn the meantime, however, it is clear that vitamins in tablet form are ineffective at best, as proven by a long-term study of 160,000 women, among others. At worst, they may even increase the risk of cancer, as Danish researchers have discovered. For vitamins from vegetables. Fruit, on the other hand, does not pose a threat. The German Society for Nutrition in Bonn advises eating five portions of food a day. This rule still applies, but: While experts previously amed that "five a day" would prevent 20 percent of cancers, a Europe-wide study with 519,000 participants has now lowered the hopeful figure to a meager 2.5 percent. "Food provides not only vitamins, but also hundreds of other substances, some of which we don't even know about yet," says Prof. Bernhard Watzl, head of the Department of Nutritional Biochemistry at the Max Rubner Institute in Karlsruhe, Germany. "These substances probably interact in the body in a highly complex way – very little is known about this yet."
So the question must be allowed: What do we even know? You can get the most up-to-date and sufficiently researched answers now! With this ie, VITAL starts a four-part series dealing with the latest findings on healthy nutrition. The first step is a big test that puts your eating habits under the microscope. Then you will learn which nutrients are particularly beneficial to the various organs. We summarize all recommendations for you at the end in ten simple rules. They ensure that your metabolism gets what it needs every day.
The best VITAL SUBSTANCES for the whole body
Of course, all cells of our body benefit from a balanced diet. Nevertheless, some vital substances are particularly important for certain organs because they z.B. specifically support liver function or prevent elevated blood fat levels from leading to vasoconstriction. VITAL asked the nutritional physician Prof. Hans Hauner from the Technical University of Munich and Prof. Claus Leitzmann, former director of the Institute for Nutritional Science at the University of Giessen, which foods contain these "organ helpers" and how much of them we should eat each day. The brain is the body's command center. Switching point of the entire nervous system. Everything we think, feel, want and do originates here. In order for the highly complex processes of its approximately 100 billion nerve cells to function, it absolutely needs fat. Unsaturated fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which make up almost two-thirds of all fats found in the brain, surround the nerve cells like a protective cushion and help to transmit electrical and chemical signals smoothly.
Since our body cannot produce such fats itself, the supply must come from food. High-quality vegetable oils. Fats cold water – fish are the best sources. Valuable omega-3 fatty acids are also found in walnuts, flaxseed and green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. If you eat them frequently, fry them with sunflower or rapeseed oil, and prepare herring, mackerel, salmon or sardines twice a week, you'll be providing your gray matter with the best possible care – and investing in the future: "The development of diseases such as dementia can be halted if you pay attention to unsaturated fats," explains Prof. Hans Hauner.
Good" fatty acids are also important for the psyche and mental equilibrium. Studies show that in countries where a lot of fish is eaten, significantly fewer people suffer from depression. In addition, DHA levels in the blood of children with ADHD are often too low. Presumably, unsaturated fatty acids play an important role in the production of certain messenger substances in the brain. It is certain that unsaturated fatty acids put us in a better mood and enable us to perform mental work in a calmer and more concentrated manner.
Dietary fiber protects our most important muscle
When thinking and delegating, however, our "upper mind" consumes more than 25 percent of the energy that food provides. That's why complex carbohydrates from potatoes, wholemeal bread, brown rice or muesli are the perfect nourishment for the nerves: the body can obtain a lot of energy-rich glucose from them for a particularly long time. Cereal products also contain vitamin B1 (thiamine), which helps transmit nerve impulses, and vitamin B9 (folic acid), which improves cognitive performance and may reduce the risk of dementia. So it's best to use these foods every day.
Heart + Circulation: Dietary fiber protects our most important muscle
It weighs about 300 grams and is hardly bigger than its owner's fist. Once a minute, the heart pumps the entire volume of blood through the body, supplying every single cell with oxygen, hormones, nutrients and antibodies. Major international studies show: By eating heart-healthy foods, everyone can do a lot to ensure that their "life motor" works as trouble-free as possible for as long as possible. "Basically, one should pay attention to a predominantly vegetable-emphasized diet. This provides the body with lots of healthy fiber, which is particularly protective of the heart," explains Prof. Hauner. Whether whole grain products, raw vegetables, dried fruit, salad or cereal flakes – 30 grams a day is best. The indigestible polysaccharides in it lower cholesterol and blood prere, keeping two of the biggest "enemies of the heart" in check. That's why cardiologists also recommend the fiber-rich Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean combination of fresh fruit, salad, vegetables, legumes, olive oil, fish instead of meat, bread, pasta, rice and nuts means that Turks, Greeks, Italians and Spaniards are much less likely to develop cardiovascular problems.
But this is not only due to the dietary fiber. Also high-quality proteins and abundant unsaturated fatty acids (see brain + nerves) make the Mediterranean – kost an effective heart and vascular protector. Dutch researchers who studied the coffee and tea consumption of almost 38,000 people for 13 years have now found that three to six cups of tea per day reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by up to 45 percent. Further studies show: The mineral magnesium, z.B. in millet, green vegetables or bananas, relaxes the heart muscle and protects against dangerous vascular occlusions (thromboses).
Thyroid gland: Sufficient iodine – more is not expected for its work
A lot depends on the job they do: whether we weigh too little or too much, whether we sweat or freeze, whether we are hectic or long-suffering – and even whether women become pregnant or not. The thyroid gland is the most important hormone factory. However, the butterfly-shaped organ below the larynx only works optimally with a certain amount of the trace element iodine. The body cannot produce this by itself, so once again nutrition plays a decisive role. The thyroid gland needs about 200 micrograms of iodine daily to produce sufficient amounts of the key hormones triiodothyronine (T3 for short) and tetraiodothyronine (T4). But this is not so simple. We consume just 70 micrograms via vegetables, fruit or cereals. "The iodine content in German arable soils is very low. The daily requirement must be covered by iodized salt and cold-water fish," advises Prof. Dr. Dr. Wolfgang Schafer. Claus Leitzmann. That means eating the top natural sources of sea fish and seafood twice a week.
However, since a lot of iodine is lost during preparation, raw fish is optimal – ten pieces of sushi can cover the recommended daily ration. Seafood and fish are also considered good sources of selenium. This trace element – daily requirement: 30 to 70 micrograms – also benefits the thyroid gland: during T3 and T4 production, it intercepts cell-damaging oxygen compounds that can promote hypothyroidism.
Vitamins and plant substances sharpen the eye
Balancing act: It is often not easy to combine food every day in such a way that it tastes good and is healthy
More than 85 percent of our perception runs through the eyes. They are the sense organ on which we rely most heavily. According to a Forsa survey, in addition to cancer, Germans fear. Alzheimer's nothing so much as premature blindness. But we put our eyes through a lot every day: VDU work, cigarette smoke, car exhaust, fine dust or too much sun can significantly impair vision over time.
To prevent this, two plant pigments in particular, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, kick in. "Both are found in high concentration in the macula on the retina, the area of sharpest vision. Regular intake of these substances preserves and even improves vision," explains Prof. Leitzmann. Lutein. Zeaxanthin is z.B. Lutein and zeaxanthin are z.B. in kale, cress, arugula or tomatoes. Ideally, you should consume six milligrams a day, which corresponds to a large portion of spinach. The eyes also urgently need the plant substance beta-carotene, which is involved in the formation of rhodopsin, the so-called visual purple. Without this substance, the light-sensing cells of the retina would not function. The body also converts beta-carotene into the "eye vitamin" A – essential for light-dark vision. Vitamins C and E, found in citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli, wheat germ oil, nuts and asparagus, scavenge harmful oxygen compounds produced by sunlight that may attack the retina.
A recent long-term study by the National Eye Institute in the USA shows that omega-3 fatty acids from sea fish or vegetable oils can also protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration, or AMD for short.
Stomach + intestines: plant fibers and lactic acid bacteria strengthen the mucous membranes
After a meal passes through the mouth and esophagus, the stomach is the next to deal with it. Then the intestine absorbs all the important vital substances from the food pulp. More than 100 million nerve cells, the so-called abdominal brain, connect the stomach and intestines. They react very sensitively to mental. Physical overload. Stress, anger, worries, but also too hasty, too fatty or too spicy food and too large portions lead to flatulence, diarrhea, abdominal pain or heartburn. Conversely, it is quite possible to avoid stomach-. Intestine-friendly diet. This means avoiding fried foods, grilled foods, deep-fried foods, and high-fat sausages and cheeses in particular. Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils are recommended. But: increase the portion size only gradually. "Smaller amounts are usually well tolerated, and with a slow increase, the stomach gets used to it," says Prof. Leitzmann. Also recommended: oatmeal. They contain the mucilage substance lichenin, which covers the stomach lining like a protective film. The intestine bring dietary fiber from cereal products. Fruit on the go – 30 grams a day if possible. A Europe-wide study of nearly 34,000 participants shows that they also reduce the risk of colon cancer by up to 27 percent. Lactic acid bacteria contain putrefactive germs in the intestine and have a detoxifying effect. They are formed from carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta and are z.B. in sauerkraut: one to two forks daily keep the intestines healthy.
Bitter substances relieve the high-performance system
The liver runs at full speed around the clock. It filters pollutants from the blood, produces hormones, influences blood clotting and builds up energy reserves. Your most important helper is bile, which is produced in the liver and collected in the gallbladder. It makes the fats in food usable for the body. However, along with alcohol, fat is also one of the biggest enemies of the liver. "Above all, saturated fats, which are often found in meat and sausage products, put a strain on the organ. Therefore, reduce high-fat foods," advises nutrition expert Leitzmann. The same applies to alcohol: men should drink no more than 20 grams of alcohol per day, women only half that amount! For them, this corresponds to about 0.25 liters of beer or 0.1 liters of wine.
The liver likes tomatoes, carrots, artichokes, beet and dandelion. They contain bitter and other plant substances that stimulate the flow of bile. By the way: coffee in moderation (2 to 4 cups per day) has a positive effect: caffeine prevents the formation of gallstones.
Kidneys + bladder: plenty of fluids and vitamin C keep the excretory organs healthy
They monitor water and electrolyte balance, control blood prere, produce hormones and stimulate the formation of red blood cells: Just like the liver, our kidneys are true multi-talents. Also among its most important tasks is to rid the body of harmful substances. They cleanse the blood, release breakdown and waste products into the urine, which is then excreted through the bladder. Plenty of fluids, preferably mineral water or herbal tea, is therefore the most important thing for the health of this organ system. Ideally, drink 1.5 to 2 liters a day, and an additional 0.5 liters per hour when exercising.
A diet that is healthy for the kidneys and bladder contains many vegetable components, i.e. plenty of vegetables, fruits and grains. Hold back on meat and sausage consumption: the protein it contains is converted into urea, which puts a strain on the kidneys. Go sparingly with salt. Hot spices around. Season with fresh herbs instead. Foods like kiwis, currants or sea buckthorn with lots of vitamin C stimulate the flow of urine – that leaves germs in the bladder no chance. A glass of cranberry juice every day has a similar effect: the proanthocyanidins it contains prevent bacteria from settling in the bladder and thus protect against annoying inflammation.
Bones + muscles + joints: Calcium and protein strengthen the skeleton of the body
1206 bones, more than 100 joints and 400 muscles, ligaments and tendons hold the body together. Endurance sports and exercise are the best means of ensuring that this "framework" remains stable and healthy for as long as possible. Nutrition follows right behind. Ideally you combine both. Outdoor sports increase the production of vitamin D in the skin, which in turn improves the absorption of bone-strengthening calcium from food. Calcium is found in all plant foods, especially cabbage, broccoli, leeks, cress and basil. "The best sources of the mineral are dairy products such as whey, kefir and cheese, with the lactose found in milk further enhancing absorption," points out Prof. Hauner. Already 250 milliliters of milk and four slices of sliced cheese cover the daily calcium requirement of 1000 milligrams.
For joints and muscles to remain efficient, they need high-quality protein (z.B. in almonds, cheese, spirulina algae). The rule here is: 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. Vitamin C (z.B. in peppers, potatoes, kiwi) and B6 (in whole-grain products) strengthen additionally. It is better to eat meat in moderation: It contains nucleic acids, which are converted into uric acid during digestion; uric acid crystals can cause painful inflammation (gout) in the joints, however.