One can improve the nutrients in their diet by using protein complementation. Protein complementation is combining different protein sources into a meal to get all of the essential amino acids required for normal bodily functions. One can also get nutritional improvements in their diet through fortification and enrichment of food products. The quality of one’s protein source can be defined by the amount of essential amino acids in comparison to the total amount of amino acids in the protein. One wants to maximize the amount of essential amino acids in their diet while minimizing the amount of total amino acids consumed. Most protein sources, specifically plant protein sources, have a limiting amino acid. The limiting amino acid is the essential amino acid in which is present in the lowest amount relative to need in a food product. A protein source having a limiting amino acid decreases its protein quality, because it is not meeting our requirements for every amino acid that is essential. Some amino acids that tend to be limiting are methionine, threonine, and tryptophan. No protein is perfect in terms of human protein needs, although there are some protein sources that come very close to being perfect. For example, milk is a protein source that almost meets every essential amino acid requirement in perfect amounts for human beings. In addition, eggs are nearly a perfect protein source. People in the scientific community simply consider eggs to be a perfect protein for a standard of comparison for the rest of the protein sources, because that is the closest food product there is to being a perfect protein source. Plant protein sources are not good quality proteins; therefore one must complement their proteins to obtain a substantial amount of amino acids to keep the body functioning. For example, corn is low in lysine, but beans are high in lysine, hence by eating corn and beans together one can obtain the correct amount of lysine that they require in their diets. Some examples of foods that complement each other are: beans with grains nuts or seeds, corn with legumes, vegetables with grains nuts or seeds, etc (Price). There are many types of protein complementation, such as type one, which is trying to complement proteins that have a limiting amino acid and have the same advantage in amino acids. Therefore, type one protein complementation will not make the protein source any better because it is equivalent to adding wheat to your oatmeal. Type one will not improve the nutrition of that protein source. There is also type two protein complementation, which is protein A does not provide much value per unit weight to the diet, therefore add protein B and the quality of the proteins go up, which is supplementation. Type three protein complementation is when one protein is missing a particular amino acid, then you consume another protein that is high in that particular amino acid. This is the most common and best type of protein complementation, because you are making sure that all of the essential amino acids are being consumed in a meal by including different protein sources in one’s meal. There is also type four protein complementation, which is simply one choosing to consume a particular protein over the other since its nutritional value is superior. For example, someone choosing to consume a meat protein source instead of a plant protein source, since the meat protein source has a superior nutritional quality. This type of complementation occurs in areas that have an increased economic state, therefore they can afford to consume superior protein sources. People can also just add in the essential nutrients into a food product that is missing some of the essential nutrients. The FDA established criteria for deciding whether to add nutrients to a food product or not. First, they must ask the question of: is there even a problem or reason why the population is not getting enough of a particular nutrient? They must figure out a plan to make up for the nutrient losses in the population so they must improve the quality of certain foods that are lacking in nutrients that population needs. They must also compensate for foods that have a decreased bioavailability because some foods, like corn, may have a structure or other factor that inhibits the absorption of certain nutrients. An example where they do so is the Olestra Company compensated for the lack of fat-soluble vitamins present in their food products by adding in those lost nutrients back into the food product. If there is a nutrient deficiency in the population they will add that nutrient back into a food product that everyone in the population consumes. For example, iodine was added into salt. Iodine had to be added into salt products because there are certain areas that have soil rich in iodine and other areas where the soil is not rich in iodine. Therefore, if someone from an iodine rich soil area moved to an area in which the soil was not rich in iodine, then they could suffer from an iodine deficiency. The decision is made to fortify and enrich food products when the benefits outweigh the risks. Another example of adding nutrients to food products is margarine had to have Vitamin A added to it, because butter contains Vitamin A. Since margarine was made to replace butter, they must replace the nutrients that are present in the butter as well. The nutrients that are added to foods must be bioavailable to the consumers, must not create an imbalance of nutrients in the particular food product, must be added to the food product in a quantity that will fulfill the requirements of the population, as well as the nutrient must be stable in the food product that it is added to. Also, the fortified food product must not cause toxicity; hence the nutrient must not be added in an amount above the tolerable upper intake level, which is designated by the FDA. A key issue with food fortification is the fact that the public will view these fortified foods as being more nutritious, when in fact they are just making up for nutrition deficits in the population. Therefore, the fortified foods do not contain any extra beneficial nutrients; they just make up for what is lost in the food product and make sure the population does not become deficient in any nutrient. The food and nutrition board must also analyze how much of the public is affected by a nutrient deficiency because if it is just a small subset of the population it might not be necessary to fortify the foods of the entire nation. With the fortification of food products there are consequences, such as the taste, color, texture, and smell of a food product is susceptible to change when certain nutrients are added. Certain nutrients may also compromise the stability of the food product, leaving it more vulnerable to spoilage.
Nutrient labeling has to do with the industrial business that simply wants to sell more of their food product. The FDA requires that there be certain descriptive facts on the packaging of the food products, although the industries find a way to make it less visible to the consumer. For example, the cereal industry has been increasing the amount of sugar added to their cereals over the years, therefore the FDA required that on the ingredients list the companies must put the ingredient that is in the highest quantity as the first ingredient on the label and the ingredient that is least present in the food product last.
Hence, the companies worked around this law, and began to utilize different sweeteners so they do not have to put sugar as the first ingredient and most prominent ingredient in their food product. For example, these companies use corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn sugar, sugar, etc. The FDA continues to make new laws to attempt to push the food industry into making foods more beneficial to our health. They also are pushing the food industry into doing more research before they make scientific claims for their product, such as if you consume this product it will decrease your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In 1988, there was the first surgeon general warning that just getting the essential nutrients is not enough, we must also consume foods that decrease or risk of developing cancer. Therefore, Kellogg took advantage of this opportunity and made a claim that consuming their cereal will reduce one’s risk of developing cancer. They were trying to obtain a competitive advantage in the market place. When food industries make claims, the regulators continue to establish a minimum requirement for nutritional value to be able to make that claim. This started the era of misinformation. The FDA and other regulators want the food industry to be honest and straightforward with the consumers to allow them to easily know what they are consuming in their food products. The food industries continue to find ways around the laws that are enforced by the FDA. The FDA attempted to convince the consumers to focus on their intake of the macronutrients, such as saturated fats, cholesterol, trans fats, sodium, fiber, and sugars. They advised that the consumers limit their intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol to as low as possible. This triggered new claims in the market place, considering many food products now claim that they have low sodium, low fats, low calories, when in fact they simply reduced their serving size to make it seem like the food products are more healthy than they actually are. Along with the amount of each nutrient that is labeled on the nutrition facts of food products, the food companies also have to include the percent daily value that one serving size contains. The daily values are related to the dietary guidelines that state: one should consume less than 30% of their calories from fat, less than 10% from saturated fat, less than 300 mg of cholesterol, and less than 2,400 mg of sodium. We are facing great challenges in attempting to reduce the amount of calories consumed in our population. We need strategies for our diets, such as personalized diets.
My plate is an approach to strategizing ways to keep one’s body healthy by means of diet. It is the overall diet that makes you healthy or not healthy, not an individual food that you consume. The industry is set up based on food products, even though it should be set up on whole diets. Today health is defined as freedom from disease and cancer. Although to truly be healthy, one must also need to be a healthy weight, which is still a problem in the United States.
Price, Suzanne. “American Society For Nutrition.” American Society for Nutrition. N.p., 22 Mar. 2011. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.