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What Is the Food Matrix?

This Approach to Dieting Will Change the Way You Look at Certain Foods

Photographer: Lauren PerlsteinRestrictions: Editorial and internal use only.

It's normal for most of us to approach the way we look at food in a very one-dimensional way. Most of us grow up with the knowledge that some foods are bad, and others good, but there's generally not much focus on the grey that sits in between.

However, as our knowledge of how certain foods impact the human body continues to develop, the lens through which we measure and examine what we should, and shouldn't eat, continues to and evolve and change, and a perfect example of this is the Food Matrix.

It's its most simple form the Food Matrix is a way of looking at foods based on their structure, rather than just on the individual nutrients that they contain. To find out more, we spoke to practising dietitians, Chloe McLeod and Jessica Spendlove of Health Performance Collective, to learn how this approach can change the way we look at certain foods.

What Is the Food Matrix?

The food matrix looks at overall structure of food and that we eat food, not nutrients. The structure of foods may explain why certain health effects can't be explained by looking at nutrients on their own.

Why Should We Care About the Food Matrix?

We eat foods, not nutrients. Often we hear of people cutting out foods, such as dairy due to purported negative health effects. However if we look at the dairy food as a whole, rather than simply say, looking at saturated fat, we may come to different conclusions on health effects.

Why Should We Be Looking at Our Diets This Way?

Looking at our foods this way is more holistic. When consuming a food, yes we are consuming the nutrients it contains, but how foods are put together is more than a simple sum of parts. A great example of this is full fat dairy; consumption has an effect on maintaining a healthy body weight and lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and poor bone health, which effect cannot be traced back to nutrients. The structure of dairy products causes interactions in the dairy matrix that may lead to various positive metabolic reactions.

What Are Some Foods That Traditionally Get a Bad Wrap, but AreViewed Differently by the Food Matrix?

Full fat cheese is a great example. Through it is rich in fat, it is also rich in protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals. It may be that nutrients found in cheese influence the blood lipids response, through the overall matrix of the cheese.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lauren Perlstein
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