Let’s start by looking at where we are now and where we were in the past with our food. For starters, Colorado State researchers discovered that over 70% of the food we commonly put on our plates was not eaten for over 95% of human history! Our ancestors subsisted on meats, fish, seeds, berries fruits and native vegetables. There were no sweet treats and honey was a luxury to our ancestors.
How is that possible – 70% of our food foreign and unknown to our ancestors? Well, the agricultural revolution ushered in a completely new source of food – grains. Grains are loaded with starches – carbohydrates. These starches provided ample calories and up until recent modern history they were consumed along with ample vegetables, fat and protein sources. For the most part their introduction added to our available food sources without causing drastic dietary issues. But the grains and their starches were not the only addition to the pantry.
In recent times added sweeteners, refined oils, dairy and myriad types of alcohol became available. Processed foods, loaded with sugar, artificial ingredients and preservatives began flooding the grocery store shelves. Many, if not all of these “meals” in a box contain metabolism destabilizers. Eating these foods for any length of time can lead to – (1) Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a complex condition characterized by insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and hyperglycemia; it is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, T2D, stroke, chronic kidney disease and cancers , . (1) Its prevalence is increasing along with the increase in obesity, and it is reaching epidemic proportions affecting between 24% and 34% of the adult US population . This massive increase in Metabolic syndrome doesn’t even include the huge numbers of Americans who are over – weight or obese. Most of America’s obese population will in fact develop a serious health condition with type 11 diabetes reaching epidemic proportions.
Author links open overlay panelJerrold J.HeindelPhDaBruceBlumbergbMathewCavecRonitMachtingerdAlbertoMantovanieMichelle A.MendezfAngelNadalgPaolaPalanzahGiancarloPanzicaiRobertSargisjLaura N.VandenbergkFrederickvom Saall
These agents are found in our processed foods, chemicals in the environment – DDT, in plastics – BPA and in many of our commercially grown foods. The effects of these agents not only lead to obesity but obesity up through the third generation. What a mother eats during her pregnancy, the chemicals she takes in and environmental toxins will affect her child, her grandchildren and great grandchildren. This obesity epidemic will see this generation as the first in modern history that will not outlive their parents.
When did America begin to blossom? What happened? In a “nutshell” bad science, a complicit government and a food industry focused on profit happened. In the 1950’s a researcher compiled data on populations looking for a link to heart disease. He selectively chose a limited number of countries (6) to look at and avoided examining the total data which would have proven his thesis wrong – ignoring conflicting data in the other 16 countries. With a preconceived notion that fat was the cause of heart disease in the populations he chose to examine he concluded his investigation and published research that listed “fat” as the culprit. Fat soon became the enemy along with cholesterol.
As this misleading and inaccurate information made the rounds in newspapers, press and television the clamor began to remove fat from our packaged foods and to go “fat” free. In its place, the food manufacturers substituted “sugar”, “artificial sweeteners” and a myriad of other “non” food additives. These additives, flying under the radar of the FDA, were preservatives and metabolic destabilizers. The FDA looks at foods and additives that have been shown to be potentially cancer causing or linked to cardiovascular disease. They do not look at food additives that affect our metabolism.
To a very large degree, it is in fact the chemicals, preservatives, stabilizers etc. that are in our foods that have led to this epidemic of obesity in this nation. These disrupters create havoc with our hormones leading to metabolic disorders, leaky gut, irritable bowel, auto immune diseases – diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Not to forget, sugar is one of the major players.
What can we do to get out of this trap? For starters processed foods should be avoided. Fresh produce, foods that can be pulled from the ground like our grandparents ate, should become a part of everyone’s diet. The produce aisles in the grocery store is where we should spend the bulk of our money. Sugary foods, foods with added sugars or artificial sweeteners should be avoided. In addition, since products made with white flour act on our blood sugar levels as fast as or even faster than pure sugar – they should be avoided. When grain products are part of one’s diet, they should be made from whole grains. The first ingredient on the package should state this. For bread lovers choose organic whole grain/wheat bread and if gluten sensitive gluten free bread. Eat sparingly from this group.
For non-vegetarians, quality meats – grass fed and certified organic should comprise our red meats. Chicken, poultry and eggs should come from free ranged birds fed organic feed. Seafood, such as wild caught salmon and most fishes sold in the stores such as haddock, cod, halibut can be a part of a quality diet as well as scallops and shrimp. Avoid seafood with known levels of high mercury – larger fishes – sharks, tuna or orange roughy. Canned tuna can be eaten sparingly and should contain only water, no vegetable oils. When given the choice of fish, farm raised or wild caught – always go with wild caught.
Healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil should replace processed and heavily refined corn oils and vegetable oils. Healthy fat sources such as nuts and seeds should be added along with high cacao dark chocolate, cocoa and coconut. Berries, low in sugar and lower fructose fruits – two servings per day, can be eaten and added to the diet.
Grains, when consumed should always be the smallest portion on the plate. Grains are loaded with carbohydrates and calorie for calorie are dwarfed by the more nutrient dense vegetables. Starchy carbohydrates process quickly and end up affecting our blood sugar levels much quicker than proteins and fats. One way to slow this down is to combine proteins and fats with your carbs – slowing down both digestion and entry to your blood over a longer period of time – keeping glucose levels under better control. When choosing grains opt for brown rice over white and add quinoa for its super nutrient content. (quinoa is actually a seed)
You are one of tens of millions already overweight or obese. How can I restore my metabolism to operate within a healthy weight range? More importantly, how can I maintain a new comfortable healthy weight? Like so many others, dieting has been tried and found to fail in over 95% of cases. Yo-yo dieting is something that many of us have already experienced … losing weight on one diet after another only to see the weight quickly regained after ending the diet with the added insult of even extra weight. Often, the ability to lose weight on follow up diets becomes even harder. Our metabolism is at play here … “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” In effect, dieting, cutting back on the amount of food consumed, over exercising or ignoring hunger would lead to your metabolism slowing down … in effect burning and needing fewer calories and packing them on as fat … in response to what was perceived as a period of starvation.
What is the secret? Believe it or not … eat more, exercise less and insure that the food you eat is “quality” food. A calorie is not a calorie and calorie counting needs to stop. A calorie from a French fry is not equal to a calorie from a vegetable. One type helps to regulate our hormonal system. The other disrupts it. Our body can process a large amount of the right kinds (quality) of food and maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis – definition – refers to the maintenance of a stable internal temperature and environment that enables the systems in the body, specifically, metabolism, to work to maximum efficiency. … Metabolism depends on the work of enzymes to catalyze the chemical reactions necessary for the breakdown of food into energy.(Feb 12, 2016 Coral Springs charter).
High intensity interval training, periods of exercise ranging from 10 to 30 minutes, can produce the same health benefits as periods of moderate exercise lasting twice as long. The idea of going out for the long run, hitting the elliptical for an hour and being consumed with exercising for at least a half hour or more per day can be replaced. The upshot – more ability to fit exercise into our often busy and hectic schedules.
Eating the right kinds, quality, of food will reset our metabolic furnace to a healthy setting. This involves adopting a new healthier lifestyle to become effective. We need to consume 12 to 15 half cup size of vegetables a day – in salads, on our plate – steamed broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini etc. Looking to pick a “rainbow” of colors from the produce aisle will mean that we are getting a complete complement of essential vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and the important phytochemicals and antioxidants that are so prevalent in these vegetables. A god rule of thumb here is to have at least half of your plate filled with vegetables. Protein should fill approximately ¼ of your plate. A good way to approximate this is to use the palm of your hand as a rough estimate for this portion. Pasta, vegetable pasta – not pasta made from white wheat, can fill the remaining ¼ of your plate. Healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado or coconut can be used to add taste and healthy monounsaturated fats to your plate – either in cooking or added to a salad.
Healthy nuts and seeds such as pumpkin, hemp seeds, sesame seeds etc provide healthy snacks and are a great addition to a full – bodied salad. Remember, these foods are nutrient dense but also pack a lot of metabolic fuel – rule of thumb a handful or equivalent per day.
Healthy foods can be procured directly from the produce aisle or from the frozen food aisle. Flash frozen vegetables (try to choose organic) have basically the same nutritional content as fresh. Keeping the freezer stocked with these frozen foods will allow that your daily servings of vegetables can be met.
Make sure to stay hydrated. Six to eight glasses of water per day can be used as an average. If working out drink more. In hot weather drink more. When you feel thirsty you are already slightly dehydrated. Drink most of your water during the day and taper off before bed. Drink your last water of the day two or more hours before bed. This will pay dividends in fewer nocturnal trips to the bathroom and more quality sleep hours.
Hey, we haven’t talked about dairy products. Well, dairy products do provide an excellent source of protein and can be consumed, just not in excess. Organic, grass fed milk and goat milk are excellent protein sources. Organic, unsweetened Greek yogurts are loaded with quality protein and good bacteria. Cheeses can be included as they are high in protein. However, they do include some less than desirable fats and should not be a go to food. Here, eating less is sensible.
Let’s look at a healthy menu. The following recipes are taken from “The Calorie Myth” by Jonathan Bailor.
German Chocolate Pancakes;
6 egg whites
1 c. water
1 c. non fat Greek Yogurt
1 c. chocolate (organic) protein blend
½ c. raw unsweetened shredded coconut
1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch-processed)
6 Tbsp of either erythritol or xylitol
Cinnamon to tast
Coconut oil spray
Chicken, Avocado, and walnut salad
“My” special soup recipe …
Easy Carrot/Summer Squash Soup
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 celery stock, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (optional)
2 inches (squeezed) pure organic garlic paste
1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
½ tsp. ginger
2 cups water
4 cups chopped organic carrots
1 cup butternut squash
4 cups organic chicken broth
½ cup light cream of ½ half & half
½ tsp. salt
Black pepper to your taste
Enjoy! You can prepare this ahead and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and/or freeze it for up to 3 months.
I made this soup without the onion and it was delicious. You can serve it with that special dinner or as an accompaniment to your favorite sandwiches.
Dark Chocolate-Espresso Cookies
Second desert – my recipe:
Organic Banana Raisin Breakfast Treats
2 very ripe large organic bananas
1 cup organic whole oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup organic raisins
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Note: there is no added sugar in this recipe. If total carbs are a concern, you can eliminate the raisins. This is a great recipe to help you curb your sugar cravings.
Bonus desert: my recipe
No Bake Peanut Butter Date Granola Bars
1 ½ cups of packed/pitted dates – if your dates are dry, soak them in purified warm water for 7-10 minutes until sticky. Pat dry.
½ cup of salted organic (no sugar added) peanut butter plus 1 tbsp. (Often the oil in natural organic peanut butter will have risen to the top of the jar, so stir the peanut butter until the natural oil is well blended before using)
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. of organic whole oats
1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil if you prefer
½ tsp of cinnamon
This is another great treat to eat instead of sugar-laden deserts. It is healthy, organic and high in fiber.
The above are just some examples of the creative ways you can make eating quality foods a part of your new lifestyle. We all have choices in this life. We can continue to indulge in our obesity driven western diet or … we can take stock of where we are and understand that if we continue on the path of sugar laden foods, food with little or no fiber while spending a few days per week at the local fast food restaurant – non quality food … you can expect to be one of the hundreds of millions in this world who will develop type 2 diabetes … be stricken with heart disease, cancer or afflicted with an insidious auto-immune disease.
Before the craze of low fat, processed foods and fast food restaurants our parents and grand parents did not suffer from the obesity epidemic that is plaguing us today. They ate whole foods, foods picked directly from the ground. They ate meat and fatty foods and ate until full. The dieting craze wasn’t even an issue … not until later – the sixties and continuing. Fresh fruits, berries and garden vegetables were often canned for use during winter months. In many ways they were healthier than we are today. Sadly, the epidemic of obesity is showing no signs of declining. In fact, in real costs …
In addition to its serious health consequences, obesity has real economic costs that affect all of us. The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illness are a staggering $190.2 billion or nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the United States.
Commit yourself to eating quality foods today. Your body’s internal thermostat will begin to adjust as you change your eating habits and begin eating whole quality foods. You will be able to eat more, feel fuller and regain your healthy weight without dieting. It will take will power and a firm understanding that your good health is in your hands to hold or to lose as you see fit. However, imagine a healthier you, a lighter more fit you that will be able to enjoyably live your life without the anguish of major illnesses, or diabetes, heart disease or cancer. You are in control of your own destiny.