Thursday, February 26, 2009
The conclusion? As long as you restrict calories, all the diets help you lose weight! In other words, the amount of carbs, relative to protein or fat, was irrelevant.
The results shouldn't come as a surprise. If you cut calories enough, weight loss is inevitable. But remember that we need to view food from not only a nutrient perspective, but also an immune perspective as well as an endocrine perspective. What does that mean?
Food has the ability to initiate a hormone response. The most obvious is the release of insulin. But we need to remember that insulin and cortisol are also related and have effects in regulating the activity of the other. If insulin and cortisol response are not well regulated, we can easily disrupt sex hormone production (estrogen, testosterone, progesterone) due to the biochemical bias toward producing cortisol.
What about the immune model? Food can initiate IgG food allergies in some individuals. This anitbody response can promote inflammatory responses in skin, gut, joints, sinuses and more. I'll admit, the science to understanding the role of IgG food allergies is still in its infancy. But although we may not have the specifics on how IgG food responses work, it is fair to say that these responses are not good for us. Even in the absolute best (albeit improbable) situation, they are not excessively harmful.
Is it fair to think of calorie restricted diets as useful in losing weight no matter the ratio of carbs, proteins and lipids? It would seem to be the case. But let's not make the assumption yet that these diets are all equally healthy for you. They may still have different effects on your body if you look more deeply. Weight loss is only what we see at the surface. There is likely to be more happening underneath with dramatic health implications.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
This is a reprint of an article I wrote for the Northwest Asian Weekly last year. I thought it would be a good reminder for us during these lean times.
Rising Food Prices: the Silver Lining
Before we get swept away by fears that the sky is falling, let’s put our food prices in perspective. The Department of Agriculture states that U.S. families spent 9.9% of their disposable income on food in 2006. Twenty years ago, U.S. families spent 11% of their disposable income while thirty years ago, we spent 13.4%. In 1929, Americans spent a whopping 23.4% of their disposable income on food. While statistics haven’t been calculated for 2007-2008, it is clear that we’ve become accustomed to spending a smaller percentage of our income on our food than ever before.
Add to the mix this data; since 1970, the average American,
- Eats 16 percent more food
- Consumes an extra 79 pounds of high fructose corn syrup per year
- Eats 22 more pounds of meat per year
- Eats 19% more sugar per year.
James W. Frick quoted, “Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.”
Have we become a nation that doesn’t prioritize healthy foods? Have we become a nation that prioritizes junk foods over healthy foods? A recent Gallup poll showed that Americans believe that healthcare should be one of the top concerns for government to address. It’s no secret that we value health but when you see where we put our money (and therefore our priorities), it is difficult to make the argument that we genuinely prioritize good health. There is a massive disconnect between what we say we value and the foods we consume.
Admittedly, none of us are happy about paying more for essential food items. But the silver lining in this situation is the opportunity to rethink our approach toward food. Food is more than just fuel to get you through the day. Food builds health. Food is medicine. Food has the power like nothing else to drive you toward abundance, vitality and energy.
As food prices soar, we can minimize the shock to our wallets by putting our dollars where they really pay off. Put your money into fresh fruits & vegetables, whole grains and healthy protein choices. Imagine cutting 30% off your grocery bill by eliminating processed and junk foods! This leaves plenty of change to buy the foods you need to keep you well.
Many of us were not duly motivated to make appropriate dietary choices when there was an abundance of cheap food. Now that the economy is forcing us to decide which foods deserve our dollar, let’s make good decisions.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that insulin may actually help treat Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Klein, one of the authors of the study, is quoted as saying, "Sensitivity to insulin can decline with aging, which presents a novel risk factor for Alzheimer's disease."
In other words, insulin resistance can set you up for Alzheimer's disease. When you have insulin resistance, you need even more insulin to get the message across to your body. It appears that in this case, insulin may have some protective effect on the brain... (brains that are having trouble processing insulin).
This does not mean you should eat more sugar to produce more insulin to protect the brain! It means you should carefully regulate blood sugar so you don't develop insulin resistance so you can save your brain.