The Big “Fat” Lie in America
In the 1970’s doctors and scientists began to understand more about our cardiovascular systems. There were many associations being made about cholesterol, the build up of arterial plaque and the likelihood of developing heart disease. Many foods naturally containing cholesterol also happened to be high in fat, particularly saturated fat. However, correlation doesn’t always equal causation.
The general public was told avoid fats if they wanted to keep their hearts healthy. Dietary fat was also seen the main culprit behind the rising obesity epidemic… Well, here we are today. I won’t give you the statistics but the rates of heart disease, obesity and now also diabetes and cancer are higher than anyone could have ever imagined 30+ years ago.
The Rise of Sugar
Our bodies are designed to run off the calories we obtain from food. The calorie is a basic unit of energy and the three main types are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. One serving of fat will provide more than twice as many calories versus carbs and protein. The primary function of protein is to rebuild muscle tissue after heavy use and the body will only burn muscle for energy as a last resort. The other alternative is carbohydrates, also known as sugar. This form of energy is quickly utilized and ideal for bursts of high energy.
So the sugar (carbohydrate) takes over as the “energy of choice” for the average person, however this presents several issues. Naturally occurring sugars such as those found in fruits, vegetables and grains contain fiber which helps slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, preventing extreme spikes and crashes and keeping the body full and satisfied for longer periods of time. Once those sugars have been refined or processed their chemistry becomes increasingly easy for the body to break down. In addition to causing the aforementioned spike in blood sugar, the reward response system in the brain goes crazy and often creates a habit loop, which makes sugar very hard to resist. When your body receives a constant flow of carbs/sugar and you aren’t creating a demand for that energy, your body is very likely to store it away for future use (as fat tissue). In addition, the body can become very resistant to insulin, causing the complications associated with Type II Diabetes.
Sickness in America: Enter the Trans Fat
A recent diagnosis called ‘metabolic syndrome’ has emerged because a cluster of symptoms are being routinely seen together in patients. These include excess adipose tissue (body fat), large waist circumference, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood glucose (sugar) and diabetes. Now once again, correlation is not the same as causation, but the problem is hard to ignore. Even though Americans followed the recommendation to limit the consumption of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, we are sicker than ever before.
Once people began to eat less full fat dairy, red meat, eggs, etc. the low-fat and fat free trend emerged. Food packaging everywhere began advertising as low fat and in the consumer’s mind, a healthy alternative. Sugar consumption skyrocketed with people eating crackers, chips, cakes, cookies, cereals, grains, soda, fruit and fruit juices. In addition they deprived their body of natural fats and began eating low fat dairy and cooking with shortening and Crisco rather than butter and lard. These ‘healthy’ alternatives contain trans fats, which were engineered to be solid at room temperature and have a long shelf life; they were marketed as the better alternative for cooking and baking. The chemistry of a trans fat closely resembles plastic and the FDA is already phasing it out of the food supply. These fats do not belong in our bodies and create blockage in the arteries, leading to an increased workload on the heart. These are the only fats that pose a significant health risk. Foods that commonly contain trans fats are margarine, packaged cookies and cakes, donuts made with vegetable shortening and cheap deep fried foods and fast foods.
Natural saturated fats are essential for a variety of functions such as regulating hormones and the lymph system. They should be included in a well-rounded diet with fats coming from sources like organic seafood, eggs, poultry, red meat, nuts, seeds and oils. Vegetable oils are toxic and are not a much better alternative to trans fats.
So Why Haven’t Things Already Changed?
An increasing number of researchers and physicians agree that processed/refined sugar (mainly fructose) and trans fats are two of the main factors driving the disease epidemic in America. If you aren’t familiar with the GMA or Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, I strongly recommend you learn about this organization. Essentially a small handful of companies are responsible for as much as 90% of the food you see in grocery and convenience stores, presenting the consumer with the illusion of endless options to choose from. I find it interesting those same companies produce the majority of the OTC, pharmaceuticals and vaccines, many of which are used for the treatment of these common preventable diseases. I wish I could tell you it stops there, but this same group also controls the majority of the seed supply for genetically modified corn and soy, which can be found in just about every food product that comes in package. To top it off they supply all the pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and just about any other chemical they can spray on the crops (that they patented and genetically engineered to withstand being soaked in poison).
If you are currently following some form of the standard American diet (SAD), chances are you are suffering from inflammation in some form. Everything from arthritis, allergies, asthma, heartburn and even cancer, heart disease and diabetes complications all destroy the body through chronic inflammation. You can buy a set of PH test strips to determine if you are overly acidic. This imbalance can easily occur when your body is presented with stress, imbalance in your gut micro biome, and a diet heavy in toxins and processed sugar and carbs. If you experience lack of energy, poor memory or mental clarity, overeating/binging patterns, candida infections or overall poor health and inflammation, chances are your body needs a PH balance to heal.
Regain Your Balance
The best way to start balancing your body is through small daily changes. Begin with the end goal in mind but don’t try to do it all at once. Pick one new habit to create, master it and then build upon it with another positive change. Here are some healthy habits to consider:
- Add extra daily activity – Taking a short, brisk walk every day and reducing your sitting time by 20% will be enough for significant improvements. If you have more ambitious body composition goals, consider a weekly routine including High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), balance, resistance and flexibility components.
- Eliminate Dietary Toxins and Fix Gut Microbiome – There are thousands of chemical additives in our food supply that are approved and classified as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). That seems like a pretty large margin for error. Watch out for artificial sweeteners, MSG, fructose and other sugars and fats made from GMO corn and soy. Tiny bacteria, protozoa, viruses and fungi live in your gut and this microbiome outnumbers your own cells 10 to 1. They account for much of your digestive and immune function. Feed the good bacteria and starve the bad to create a health-promoting environment.
- Balance your PH – Eat more vegetables than fruits; if you’re eating from the top of the food chain (meat and dairy) make sure they were responsibly and organically raised. Just remember that you are what they ate also. Other options for fat and protein include nuts, seeds, beans and oils. Limits your carbs, grains, sugars and alcohols to a maximum of 3 servings per day. If you crave sweets look for options that are lower in sugar but not containing artificial sweeteners. Season food with herbs and spices and choose a salt that hasn’t been demineralized such as sea salt or Himalayan.
- Eat the Healthy Fats – Once you can recognize and eliminate trans fats from your diet, you can focus on consuming a healthy assortment of natural fats. Unsaturated fats include, olives, nuts, seeds, avocados and fish. Saturated fats would be dark chocolate, coconut, palm, egg yolk, red meat and full fat dairy. If more fats and less carbs are consumed, the body will usually run much better. You will feel full longer and have more energy during the day.
- Drink More Water – I know you’ve been told many times but almost everyone is dehydrated. Aim to consume a minimum of a half-gallon a day. Also realize every beverage containing sugar or caffeine will count against that daily total.
- Enjoy Time without Staring at a Screen – Most people are required to sit in front of a computer for most of the workday, it really adds up when you include time on your phone, tablet or TV. Spend time reading, playing or listening to music, enjoying outdoors, praying, meditating and having conversation.
- Get Enough Sleep – Provide your body with nutritious foods and then give it plenty of rest time to repair, maintain and regulate all the functions that are necessary to run an incredibly complex machine.
Even a thousand mile journey begins with a single step, do something to move in the right direction today. Don’t believe the lie that dietary fats and cholesterol are the primary cause of disease. Cheap, processed sugar and grains along with trans fats have taken over the American food supply. Eating these damaging foods makes it a question of when, not if, you will get seriously ill. Eliminate toxic foods, eat a variety of healthy fats, reduce your sugar intake and you will improve your quality of life.
Yours in Health,