On the last count the word ‘diet’ produced in excess of 157 million web pages of diet plans, pills, potions and dieting tips from health institutions, diet companies, nutritional professionals and otherwise – from all over the world. And yet we are approaching the peak of an obesity epidemic which is causing untold mental misery and depression, aside from the ever increasing debilitating diseases being linked to those overweight or obese. With such an abundance of information available – how can this be?
The trend is unforgiving and is second only to smoking in terms of the cause of self-inflicted premature loss of life, but left to its own devices within the next five years obesity is sure to take the number one slot. Mother Nature is ruthless in her approach to life, in that she only allows the fittest to survive and the trend we see today is her reaction to the effects of a diet that is clearly not suited to the well-being of the human body and mind. We only have to stop, take a step in back and look around us to see that there is one hell of a serious problem. There is no need for statistics, reports or media news to tell us such. It’s clear that we as individuals have to make a change in what we do if we have any intention to reverse the current obesity trend. The ultimate responsibility lies with each and every one of us to act for the benefit of ourselves.
We have to accept the fact that the grocery industry is a host of contradiction in that it sells both dietary products along side the very products that cause us to be overweight or obese in the first instance. This is so obvious in our supermarkets today. It has become human nature that profit has a higher weighting than human health, and this is evident in many industries around the world, and is far from unique within dieting circles. We must also bear in mind the diet companies, whilst they portray an air of interest and concern, in reality they are totally dependent on your failure to diet for their very own business survival. If they were good at what they do – their businesses would surely fail. So who can we trust aside from ourselves. The evidence is clear -there is no debate.
We may have one reprieve but it will be sometime in the future, but not now. Science and technology is getting nearer and nearer to the possibility of a wonder drug with the ever-increasing understanding of the human genotype and genetic engineering. But in reality, who would ever wish or want to be dependent on diet drugs, potentially an ongoing daily basis, simply because of a lack of understanding about the relationship between the food our body has been designed for, and the food we eat. Why is it, we knowingly overeat when we know it is bad for us and that we are doing harm to ourselves? Why is it, that the only time we choose to ignore our food is the time when we are eating it!
So, is it a psychological thing, a physical thing or is it both?
In order to answer this we must first look at the change in our diet over the last 50 years. Consumption trends of refined carbohydrates such as sugar has risen dramatically, but at the same time the consumption of fats and proteins has remained reasonably stable. Saturated fats has indeed become and still is a problem although thankfully now overall consumption of saturated fats has dropped slightly, but still remains an issue.
Many studies particularly those associated with research in how the Atkins diet worked revealed that the effect of refined carbohydrates and fats both have a form of addiction associated with them. Studies have shown that refined sugars have the effect of playing havoc with the fine balance of maintaining the level of glucose in the bloodstream. This in turn has a detrimental effect on our hormonal activity, such as insulin and glucagon which are both responsible for maintaining the level of glucose to its normal level following a ‘surge’ intake of refined carbohydrates in our diet. These acceptable levels of glucose in the bloodstream are maintained at surprisingly narrow margins.
Refined sugars therefore induces excessive hormonal activity in its attempt to restore homeostasis. These unnatural ‘swings’ in hormonal activity often cause differing mood swings from that of being happy and content to being sad, on edge, and even feelings of anxiety or panic. Prolonged exposure to these hormonal swings can often lead to the whole process becoming less effective and subsequently diabetes can be the end result.
Other studies have shown surprisingly that the effect of eating significant quantities of fats actually leads to an unexpected human reaction in terms of nutrition. You would think that eating food rich in fats would have the effect of satisfying feeling of hunger. But amazingly medical research has shown the opposite to be true. Clinical trials have shown that foods rich in fats actually induces people to eat more not less. At the time the results from such experiments were groundbreaking as they completely contradicted the nutritional thinking of the time.
It is also interesting to learn that further medical studies have suggested that foods rich in protein have been linked to the response that indicates that you have consumed sufficient food. In other words, it is believed that proteins in some way, triggers the ‘I am full’ response.
And then of course there is the massive change in our energy expenditure. We used to hunt and gather food but now we happily pop to the local supermarket to buy it, or at worse, have it delivered to our front door. Food has changed from being scarce to being in abundance (at least for us), and we have changed from being ‘active’ to relatively ‘dormant’. Move less and eat more…what should we expect?
And many believe that even the act of not exercising can trigger the bodily response to lower the metabolism and build fat layers under the skin for 2 key reasons, both being linked to human survival. In evolutionary terms, it may be that you are unable to ‘hunt’ and therefore unable to secure food. Reducing the metabolic rate of your body makes total sense to preserve energy. Secondly, if food is available during a spell of non activity, does it not make a whole load of sense to lay down fat layers under the skin to retain bodily heat and secure an energy source during potential ‘lean times’. Perfect sense, perfect design and yet we don’t understand ourselves and if we do, many choose to ignore the warning signs out body is offering.
In essence therefore, it is very clear that part of the problem within the dieting world that we humans face is certainly a physical one that is linked to the interaction of the food types we eat with that of our body. And clearly, over the last 50 odd years our diet has changed out of all recognition and yet our body is doing the same as it has been doing for well over the last 100,000 years. We are in the 21st century, our body is still in the ‘Stone Age’. Evolution is a slow slow process but over millions of years the relationship and reaction of chemicals in our food with the cells of the human body has been cemented and cast, for eons of time.
Run with it, eat what your body has been designed for and successful weight loss will follow for sure…
Part 2 to follow…
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