Interview with nutritionist Malte Rubach on the subject of "healthy nutrition"

Ernährungswissenschaftler Malte Rubach - Gesunde Ernährung

A specialist in healthy eating – Dr. Malte Rubach studied nutritional science in Germany, Turkey and the USA after becoming enthusiastic about nutritional topics as a competitive athlete in his youth. The nutritionist has been working on the topics of nutrition, health, sustainability and innovation for more than 15 years. He also has already gained experience as an author. To date he has published eight books on health and nutrition. These include Healthy with Coffee and The 30 Best Tips for Your Diet.

1. What does healthy eating mean to you?

It's simple: you can eat anything and you should eat anything, just not too much. A balanced mix of everything you like and ideally cook yourself whenever possible. This means you are automatically on the safe side when it comes to healthy eating.

2. What was the basic idea for the book “The 30 Best Tips for Your Diet”?

In 2016, I founded the think tank “Reduction2020” together with a few colleagues. We provide scientifically based knowledge for food companies on the latest trends and challenges. We noticed that the same questions come up over and over again about what exactly a healthy diet actually means. Also with companies that constantly strive to meet the tastes and needs of consumers. As I said, it's actually not that complicated, but due to the amount of incorrect and often pseudo-scientific information in nutrition books, magazines and YouTube videos, many people are completely confused. The more people believe this, the more products will be developed and produced for them. Everything in the supermarket reflects the needs of customers. A full-range retailer now offers 30,000 to 40,000 foods, which makes the choice rather torture if you also have to pay attention to 1,000 rules. That's why the 30 best tips are really the simplest things a person needs to know in order to eat healthily without much effort. Without any hocus pocus or complicated science behind it. Because that doesn't initially sound that exciting for a large publisher, we initially used it as a self-publishing project.

3. Which tip is your top priority?

“Keep it simple” or better tip number 6: “Never make the wrong purchases again”. We recommend limiting your choice of food to a fixed range. You have to imagine that the emergency food supply that the Federal Ministry of Nutrition recommends only contains 48 foods. That's all we need to survive 14 days. This list is the best guide for weekly shopping. If you just stick to it and swap out the foods every now and then, test new recipes and vary them a bit, you will automatically walk through the supermarket quite fresh and without much distraction.

4. What is your personal tip for starting a change in diet?

The most important thing is competent advice. This means that everyone should first analyze their own situation and goals. This works best with a nutritionist who has an outside perspective. But be careful: Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist because it is not a protected professional title. There are also countless charlatans hanging around who simply want to sell you a dietary supplement or who simply have no idea but can only give tips based on their own experience. If someone offers you a nutritional supplement without first having had a personal consultation combined with a measurement of your blood and body values, you should immediately refrain from taking it anyway. No matter how great it sounds, it's usually just a sales pitch. The best contact for a certified nutritionist is your own health insurance company, which you can trust with a clear conscience. And from there it's a matter of implementing it, ideally with regular feedback from the consultant and also in groups, which keeps motivation high. If there are health problems, a doctor will of course be consulted, which is absolutely necessary. So my tip: competent support right from the start, this increases the chances of success enormously and the health insurance company often pays for it.

5. Healthy eating: OK. But do you ever have something unhealthy?

No, never, because there are no “unhealthy” foods. There's just too much of one or the other. Even with water you can drink yourself to death, just like with alcohol.

6. How did you become aware of the topic of “coffee”? Was there a specific reason?

Yes, at the time I was doing my master's thesis in biomedical research at an institute in California. It was all very exciting, but far removed from my passion for food and nutrition. When I was looking for an interesting field of research for my doctoral thesis, I came across the topic “Coffee and its effect on gastric acid secretion”. From that point on I never left the topic of coffee. I've already written two books on it and, funnily enough, I haven't had any coffee during my research. That only came after I met my wife, who comes from Brazil. Nothing works without coffee and then I finally had my first real cup of coffee ever in Rio de Janeiro.

7. What constitutes a healthy lifestyle for you?

In my book “The Me Diet” I get to the point with the 4Gs: enjoyment, balance, frugality and serenity. The latter is particularly important because there is a lot of scaremongering and fear-mongering going on when it comes to health and nutrition. You can always make a lot of money with this if a saving straw happens to be offered at the right time. Frugality speaks for itself and being in balance means that everything is connected to everything else. If we change something on one side, something automatically changes elsewhere in our body. By treating yourself and the environment with care, everyone can only win. And of course, enjoyment, it doesn't work without it, that's how we humans are. But here too, conscious enjoyment counts. Take time, feel and use your senses. And stop when it's best, then you'll look forward to the next time even more.

8. You were a great support to us in creating our Feel Good Booklet. What message should the booklet convey?

The Feel Good Booklet is all about this healthy lifestyle. Ultimately, many people today don't have the time for a balanced diet. And as I said, the market of options is huge and there are many providers of “healthy nutrition”. They promise to use only the best and freshest ingredients, to deliver the gentlest processing and of course the best taste. And to be honest, anyone familiar with food technology knows that heat treatment of fruit juices alone can lead to the nutritional content being compromised. Flavors and aromas also suffer. The booklet addresses these topics, explains the background to high-pressure pasteurization , which does not require heat, and why the ecological selection of fruit and vegetables makes sense in the long term. Actually, this is nothing new, but quality costs money. Clarification was therefore necessary.

9. Who is the Feel Good Booklet aimed at and how can you integrate it into everyday life?

The booklet is aimed at anyone who is interested in a healthy diet. No more and no less.

10. How important is “organic” to you in everyday life?

Very important. We buy organic and regionally produced food as much as possible. I would like to emphasize that these do not necessarily have to be healthier than conventionally produced foods. But by adhering to the guidelines for organic farming, certain agricultural chemicals and medications are simply not used and this reduces residues in our environment in the medium to long term. So you pay twice into the health account, now and for the future.

11. How can healthy eating be combined with stress (work, family,...)?

There's only one thing that helps: clear guidelines are shared meals that everyone has to take time for. It must be possible to eat together once a day. Otherwise, something is overall wrong with the social and professional environment, which will end in a fiasco in the long term. Food is a basic need, followed by social needs. Both belong together, so you should take care of it immediately if it isn't already there.

12. What was the most exciting insight you gained in your years of research?

That you only gain the greatest insights when you question your own views. And my wife always says “contra fatos não há argumentos”. In Portuguese it means “there are no arguments against facts”. Too much opinion is often presented as fact, leading the debate in an emotionally charged direction that makes solutions increasingly difficult. Then the loudest screamer with the simplest solution often wins people's attention, which is fatal. Every person should be their own researcher, observe themselves and the environment and draw their own conclusions from it, talk to as many people as possible about it, read books, watch documentaries and videos. Then he comes pretty close to the “truth”.

13. What projects are coming up in the near future?

New book projects, research and good food.

14. What advice would you like to give to people who want to change their diet?
At least as important as competent advice is that you believe in yourself and are convinced that you will make it. Then you will be able to do it too!