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New Study Reveals We Can Intuitively Eat Based On Nutritional Needs

Moral of the story: trust your gut.

  • Posted on 29th Apr, 2022 01:30 AM
  • 1206 Views
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Making positive choices with your eating habits is one of the essential pillars for supporting a well-rounded lifestyle, but sometimes it can feel like picking the healthiest ingredients is a struggle. What if we told you creating nutritious food pairings is actually second nature, if you listen to your body?

A new study has revealed that humans, along with animals, have something called “nutritional wisdom” which essentially means we have the ability to intuitively choose our meals based on their nutritional value and variety, even if we’re not aware of that information. A diverse diet helps properly nourish our bodies, so trusting your gut when building your meals may actually be all it takes to eat healthy. But what does this really mean?

What is a nutritional pairing?

When putting together the components of a healthful meal, you’ll want to consume an array of nutrients that can bolster your health and well-being. While some foods are rich in the same micronutrients (you know, vitamins and minerals), others create a more varied meal, and the study revealed that humans are naturally more inclined to reach for a pairing whose nutritional values compliment one another. 

“After comparing choices across many food pairs, we find an independent and subtle tendency to select combinations that are predicted by micronutrient content, even after accounting for a basic tendency to favor variety over monotony,” the study authors write.

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The logistics of the study

The research consisted of two different studies: in both, adults selected one of two pairs of fruits and vegetables. So while this might not relate to your choice between a bag of chips and an apple, the results spoke to our natural instincts to optimally nourish our bodies.

“Nutrient excess is avoided,” the study revealed of participants’ food pairing choices, “Which provides further evidence that micronutrients impact everyday dietary decisions.” The researchers also compared these results to data from a large national nutrition survey in the UK—where they observed a similar pattern.

The limitations

The study authors acknowledge that some nutrients may have a stronger pull than others: “With a stimulus as sensorially rich as food, it is also reasonable to postulate that micronutrient density correlates with some other food attribute, such as a basic taste, which itself determines preference.” However, the researchers do clarify that they only intended on proving that humans have the capability to choose their foods based on their nutritional value, not determine to what extent this occurs.

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The bottom line

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Listening to your body when deciding what to munch on can be a healthy approach to fueling with adequate energy, and this study provides further evidence that you can actually trust yourself to opt for the nutritional pairings most beneficial to your individual needs. 

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