In order to be healthy, in good shape and feeling great, we all need to eat the right food. By providing diet reviews, pros and cons and some useful tips, I hope to help my readers to get the most from their dieting and lifestyle choices.
The most important part of the equation of leading a healthy life is to eat the right foods that our bodies need.
When we get that part right, the rest will follow on naturally, such as regularly exercising, reducing stress, getting the right amount of quality sleep and enjoying life by being happy and contented.
With that in mind, I want to get started by talking about what is important in any diet, whether it is has been formulated to help you lose weight, gain weight or improve your overall health.
The best diet for a person is one that satisfies that person's needs comprehensively. As you may be thinking, that answer can have a lot of connotations!
Think about it. If a person is relatively healthy but needs to lose several pounds of stored visceral fat, the best diet would be one that restricts the intake of fat producing substances to allow the person to burn the fat and return to their ideal weight and shape.
What substances are these?
Actually, this is a simple one to answer. All you need to know is that the body burns glucose for fuel and it only burns as much glucose as it needs, storing the excess as fat for later use.
The body gets most of its intake of glucose from foods high in sugars that it can break down into glucose. The main category of potentially glucose-rich foods are simple carbohydrates.
Refined grains tend to make up the basis for most of the glucose-rich foods that we consume that have the highest tendency to cause us to store fat.
Therefore, a diet low in refined grains and simple sugars has the best chance of causing a person to stop storing fat and to actually start burning some of the excess.
However, there is a caveat:
The person embarking on the diet must be insulin sensitive.
Insulin is the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. It is also responsible for transporting excess sugar out of the blood stream and into fat storage. Essentially, insulin can be considered as a fat storage hormone!
When we eat high sugar foods frequently throughout the day, day after day, week after week, our bodies become so saturated with insulin so often that the body's cells start to become resistant to insulin, causing the body to release ever more insulin to deal with high blood sugar levels.
This is called insulin resistance.
When we are resistant to insulin, it becomes ever more difficult to regularize blood sugar, while we just keep storing more and more fat. This is the path to type 2 diabetes and huge numbers of people are affected.
To stand any chance of losing weight on any diet, the person must first reduce their resistance to insulin. The only way to do that naturally is to stop eating for longer periods of time, better known as fasting.
There are no drugs created as yet that will do this.
So until insulin can be brought under control, no diet will make you burn fat. Fasting is the way to deal with this situation. Fasting, if you have never done it before, should be done under your doctor's supervision to ensure you do not deplete important electrolytes and nutrients while not eating.
I'll stop writing for a minute or two to let what I just wrote sink in.
When done correctly, fasting is not only safe, but a natural process expected by the human body.
Our ancestors didn't have access to refrigerators or 24/7 grocery stores. They had to hunt for their food and eat when food was available.
When food was not available, they simply didn't eat until they could catch something they could eat. They didn't starve to death for not eating for a day or two or even longer.
The human body is a marvellous creation, designed to survive a great many trials. One of them is intermittently not eating, sometimes for days on end.
The way we deal with lack of food is this: when food is plentiful, we eat way more than we need and store the excess as fat. Fat is our stored fuel source for times when there is no food. The body will switch from burning glucose to burning ketone bodies, obtained from fat cells, for fuel when there is no food to eat.
It can do this for several days without any ill-effects as long as there is water to drink and a source of essential electrolytes in the form of salts (sodium and potassium mainly), which are naturally present in many water sources such as rivers, lakes and springs.
Once you understand what I explained above about how our ancestors lived, it won't take much figuring out to see how our modern way of life is derailing our bodies natural makeup.
We have access to food 24/7 whenever we want it and as much as we want. Naturally, we overeat and so our bodies do what they're designed to do – they store the excess as fat!
The problem is we don't give our poor bodies any time to use that stored fat. We just keep piling on more and more until we overload our systems and then we can't even burn it when we want to (because insulin is being resisted).
For a diet to work, therefore, we must first get our body's cells to become sensitive to insulin again.
Right at the top of any list of reasons for dieting should be to eat good, natural, healthy food.
This is food that comes directly from nature without having been altered or processed in any way by humans!
It's fairly simple to separate good foods from bad ones. What is best for our bodies can be described as "living foods" which come in the form nature made them.
That includes all fresh fruit and vegetables that have been recently harvested, preferably from your own garden or from a certified organic grower, so you can be sure there were no harmful chemicals sprayed onto the plants as they were growing and maturing.
Most intensively farmed crops do not fall into this category, as they are sprayed with a cocktail of poisons that are of varying degrees of toxicity to our bodies. The are also grown in soil that has been ruined by successive years of mono-cropping (growing single plant species) that depletes the soil of its natural nutrients and replaces them with artificial fertilizers.
The first rule of agriculture should be to look after the soil. Healthy, nutrient-rich soil produces healthy, nutritious crops that don't need to be sprayed with anything because most insect pests do not harm healthy plants!
Diversity is also important to reduce the incidence of soil-borne pathogens naturally.
When the soil is healthy, we get healthy food the way nature intended. Big business and profits have unfortunately come before the health of the growing medium and we all suffer as a result.
Simple. If it comes in a packet, jar or can, you can bet it has been altered in some way. There are few exceptions to this simple rule of thumb.
One of them is fresh honey that is stored in jars. As long as it has come direct from the hive without being subjected to heat (pasteurization), it's about as natural as you're going to get.
The same is true of sauerkraut. As long as it has not been pasteurized or had anything (and I do mean ANYTHING) added to it, then it can be regarded as a pure food.
Subjecting any food to high temperature to kill off unwanted bacteria is called pasteurization. It sounds like a good thing and in some cases, it certainly is.
However, there are some foods that contain "good" bacteria that our microbiome (gut flora) needs for optimum health along with a number of heat sensitive enzymes. I used the examples of honey and sauerkraut because these healthy foods do contain heat sensitive compounds that represent their health benefits.
By destroying the enzymes in honey with heat, we destroy much of its health potency and end up with a product that is little more use to us than pure cane sugar!
Sauerkraut contains many helpful bacteria and acts as one of the best probiotics there is. Subjecting it to heat destroys those friendly bacteria and renders the product "lifeless" and all but useless as a health food.
The bottom line is that for a diet to be effective at what it's meant to do, it has to be composed of healthy, living foods that the body can gain full nutrition from without the extra baggage of man-made processing and additives.
As part of this site's purpose, I will also be looking at commercial diets designed primarily for weight loss.
There are many different kinds of diet program with traits peculiar to each genre. I will be looking at meal replacement diet delivery brands, such as Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Medifast, Diet to Go and Bistro MD initially as these are surprisingly popular.
Then there are the calorie restriction based programs such as Weight Watchers that target a daily calorific limitation.
Each type has its merits but sadly, none of them target the root cause of weight gain, namely the consumption of a high carb, high sugar diet coupled with frequent eating. In fact most of the above branded diet programs promote eating frequent, small meals throughout the day.
While my main focus is to get to the root cause of why a person becomes overweight and carrying too much excess fat on their body, I appear to be at odds with the commonly held belief that it is all about calories in and calories out.
It does little good trying to explain the actual physical, science-based evidence that is at work, because few people want to hear it. Most people want an easy fix to their problem.
After all, who in their right mind would deliberately not eat for a whole day, let alone two or more days?
Wouldn't it be so much easier if the pharmaceutical industry could come up with an easy-to-swallow pill to make the problem go away while you sleep?
Well, dream on, because pharma companies have been hard at work for decades to come up with the magic pill that will make them all rich and make you all slim and beautiful. They have not succeeded yet.
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For a real doctor's view on what's good to eat, take a look at the video below: