THE 9 RULES OF HEALTHY EATING
Okay, now the details...
Read Part 4 of this series: FOOD: Protein, Fat, Carbs and Fiber; What are They? PROTEIN
What exactly are CDF's?
A stroll through a modern American supermarket reveals a cornucopia of products which, from an evolutionary standpoint, constitute brand new forms of food. These products have been manufactured very carefully to provide high levels of eating pleasure but are packed with sugar calories. Many of these foods do not taste sweet, which can be confusing to people whose work and education do not include an in-depth knowledge of food biochemistry. These foods are quite literally being tested on us, the consumers, and while an underfunded Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is doing its best to protect us, the food industry has been extremely successful in bringing to market hundreds of common items which have not been properly vetted for the long-term health and safety of consumers. In the context of two thousand millennia of human evolution, instant oatmeal, multigrain cereals, muffins, trail mix, and fruit juices are all brand new additions to our food supply. Marketed as healthy food options, these CDFs are in fact the occult drivers of illness. A Big Gulp did not exist one hundred years ago. Nor did cheese puffs, protein bars, or fast food restaurants selling bread made from genetically modified (GMO) wheat, meats from unhealthy animals treated with hormones and antibiotics, and drinks loaded with more sugar than humans for two million years might typically have consumed in a week.
Such products are exceedingly easy to mass produce and they yield high profits for BIg Food manufacturers. What makes it worse is that they are literally designed by food scientists to push pleasure buttons in our brains making them particularly enjoyable and even addicting to consumers. Big Food has heavily marketed CDFs, linking their consumption psychologically with celebration, fun, happiness, and family. What would a summer barbecue be without hot dogs, hamburgers, and soft drinks? What would a birthday party be without cake? For that matter, what would breakfast be without toast? At Thanksgiving we eat stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweetened cranberry sauce, and pies. We celebrate Easter with chocolates, Christmas with candy canes and gingerbread cookies, and passover with matzah. CDFs have been marketed as integral components of our national identity and our daily lives. One can chart the expansion of CDFs into the TAD alongside the incidence of obesity and chronic diseases and see a nearly perfect parallel. For two million years we lived on the Human Diet. Over the last 50-60 years that diet has been turned upside down, with minimal fiber and two-thirds or more of our calories coming from carbs. Since the introduction of CDFs as dietary staples, the United States has become the poster nation for obesity and chronic illness.
If we want to be healthy, we must learn to eat healthily, which means a return to the nutritional blueprint of the Human Diet. It means learning how to make smart choices amidst an ever-widening field of cheap, unhealthy options scientifically manufactured to hook us. It means learning how to think, budget, and shop a certain way. We must learn and adopt a strategy for how to eat mostly natural, whole foods that are high in fiber and nutrients and lower in carbs. These are the foods to which we are evolutionarily well-adapted. In broad nutritional terms, it means eating in a way that keeps our blood sugar relatively stable. This paper is about how to create good dietary habits that can be sustained for the long-term.
If you do not care to delve too deeply into the details of this publication, you may refer to the following nine rules and use them as a guide for creating your own healthy diet. As of the writing of this essay (October, 2015), the following represent the rules that I follow based upon my best assessment of the highest quality and most compelling and current research in the medical, nutrition, and basic science literature.
READ ON: The 9 Rules of Healthy Eating
Start from the beginning of this series of posts on Food and Nutrition
Humans have been evolving for about two million years (two thousand millennia). Our brains have grown in size and function, enabling us to survive ever more by our ability to plan and less by physical prowess. Our communities have been ravaged repeatedly by infectious diseases and our immune systems have evolved to defend us against millions of strains of potentially harmful microorganisms. And throughout these two thousand millennia of evolution humans have survived on a relatively consistent diet of leaves, stalks, and bark, berries from bushes, wild grasses (all sources of fiber), whatever animals we could kill (protein and fat), nuts and seeds (fat, protein, plus some fiber and carbohydrates), flowers, roots, and the occasional fruits and vegetables available during warm seasons (fiber and carbohydrates). During this protracted period, the human digestive tract evolved to accommodate to this diet, which was rich in antioxidants, high in fiber, moderate in protein, and relatively low in fat and sugar (carbs). I call this diet the Human Diet. Very carbohydrate-dense foods like tropical fruits and sugarcane were not part of the Human Diet (with the exception of tiny populations of peoples living near the equator) and did not make their way into wider consumption until very recently in the history of our species. Even grains such as wheat and rice, which, like tropical fruits, contain very high levels of carbohydrates, were not incorporated into the Human Diet until about 10,000 years ago–a short time from an evolutionary standpoint, and, as will be discussed below, those grains bore little resemblance to the ultra carb-dense, genetically modified versions which have come to dominate the commercial food market over the last 50-60 years. Perhaps the most important point I hope to make here is that for about two million years humans evolved alongside a diet that kept blood sugar relatively stable because our food did not contain carbohydrate dense substances like bran muffins, apple juice, and candy bars.
Evolution is an extremely slow and incremental process. It takes hundreds of generations for a species to adapt biologically to an environmental shift as radical as the recent changes in the typical American diet. The Human Diet to which we are evolutionarily adapted is the nutritional blueprint from which our bodies have learned to extract maximal nutrition and digest food with the least amount of stress. It is the diet that best enables us to develop properly, grow strong well-balanced immune systems, and live long healthy lives. The Human Diet offers us the best chance to avoid becoming obese and developing chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and atherosclerosis which are now epidemic and quite literally ruining the health of our bodies and our economy.
In the last 50-60 years breakthroughs in the fields of biochemistry, engineering, and genetics have been applied to the manufacturing of fertilizers, insecticides, and crop breeding; this has utterly changed farming and has led to the introduction of new food substances into today’s typical American diet (TAD). Many of these new foods are fundamentally nutritionally different from those to which we are evolutionarily well-adapted. They contain proteins to which we have never been exposed, synthetic hormones, germicidal chemicals, and substances not found in anywhere in nature. Perhaps most pernicious of all, today’s food supply is dominated by carb-dense foods which cause blood sugar levels to soar. Research over the last 25-30 years has shown conclusively that consumption of carbohydrate dense foods (CDFs) provokes unprecedented escalations in blood sugar, and that these blood sugar spikes are responsible for the inflammatory changes that lead to obesity, illness, and drive the aging process. We now know that regular consumption of CDFs is the controllable behavior chiefly responsible for obesity and chronic diseases. The prevalence of CDFs in the TAD (typical American diet), more than any other single factor, is the cause of our current health and healthcare crises.
Read Part 3 of this series: Carbohydrate Dense Foods (CDF's)
Food consists of four categories of substance: protein, fat, carbohydrate, and fiber. All of our nutrients come from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Fiber supplies no nutrients, but is important to our health because it enables proper digestive and excretory functioning and enables healthy bacteria which live in our intestines to flourish.
Much disagreement has existed over the last few decades regarding what constitutes a healthy diet. The rules have changed dramatically in response to scientific research over the last few decades and my patients have a lot of questions. How many times a day should I eat? How much of my diet should come from carbohydrates? Which fats are healthy? How important is it to eat organic food? How many calories are safe to consume each day? What are GMO foods and are they safe to eat? Should I be avoiding gluten? How about red meat?
I will attempt to answer these and other questions in some detail below, but first let’s take a moment to lay out in very general terms what I have come to see as the basic idea behind a healthy diet.
Read Next Article in this series on Nutrition:Background Information Informing My Approach to Healthy Eating