Friday, March 30, 2012
I've done a ton of studying over the last 60 days. Nope, that doesn't make me an expert at all, but I've found some really interesting stuff and I have learned quite a bit. I've overcome a major illness and I'm losing a third to a half of a pound per day, so I feel confident that what I'm learning really does work.
We have an obesity epidemic, and many of us are here because of obesity or at least being overweight. I'm convinced that the root cause of obesity is starvation. That sounds counter-intuitive, but consider this scenario:
Imagine that you are on a plan where you are told to eat 1500 calories a day. That means that you could eat over 93 teaspoons of sugar and stay within your plan.
Do you imagine that you would feel full and satisfied with 93 teaspoons of sugar?
If you could actually eat over 93 teaspoons of sugar per a day and live, you would still find yourself hungry. It doesn't matter what we eat, if we aren't getting nutrients, our appetite will remain. Our appetite is not just based on whether or not there is food in our stomachs. It is based on a long and complex process that involves hormones, nutrients, and other processes. We can eat a ton of processed foods with a ton of calories, and still be starving on a cellular level if we are not getting the proper nutrients. If we aren't getting the proper nutrients, our body cranks up the appetite in a desperate attempt to get the missing nutrients.
We can weigh 800 pounds and be starving on a cellular level. Cells can't get nutrients if we don't take in AND absorb the nutrients. Conversely, the stomach can be empty and we can be "underweight," and we may still not feel hungry if our cells are getting the proper nutrients and everything is working properly.
We go on diets, further undernourishing an undernourished body. Then we exercise like mad, increasing our demand for nutrients. We keep it up as long as we can, but finally our survival mechanisms kick in and force us to stuff our faces in an attempt to get nutrients, or we just "fall off the wagon" for a while. Then we blame poor self control for the lapse or binge. It's crazy making.
I'm convinced that the problem is processed foods.
We have anthropological evidence that there are healthy people who eat diets based on fat (those people around the arctic). We have anthropological evidence that there are healthy people who eat diets based on carbs (those in some tropical environments). We have no evidence that any people have ever been healthy eating a diet based on processed foods. In fact, we have evidence to the contrary; processed foods are not healthy and do not result in healthy people.
Usually when a food is processed, nutrients are removed. We can't expect to nurture our cells with food that has nutrients removed.
Commercially produced foods are fertilized with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium - N, P, and K - just three nutrients. It takes more than 50 nutrients to raise a healthful, well nourished vegetable. Just because a carrot looks good doesn't mean it contains all of it's nutrients. So our factory farmed vegetables are already deficient in nutrients. Then they are processed, taking out more nutrients. Then we eat them and our bodies are never going to absorb all the nutrients that are present. We actually absorb only some of the nutrients that we take in.
How are we going to be healthy by absorbing a fraction of the nutrients from a deficient vegetable?
The result is that we get plenty of calories, but little nutrition, and our appetites increase. We get fat and starve at the same time.
Body fat does store some vitamins, but it isn't complete nutrition. Being overweight is not caused by taking in excessive nutrients, it isn't even from taking in excessive calories. It's more complex than that. Therefore being fat is not the opposite of starving. They are not opposites but two different problems, just as having a cold is not the opposite of having diabetes. We can have diabetes and a cold at the same time and in that same way we can be overweight and undernourished at the same time.
The undernourishment is responsible for a lot of deficiency, disease, and malfunction in the body, and at the same time it increases the appetite. Now we have a hungry person eating more processed foods that caused the problem in the first place. It's part of the downward spiral that is behind obesity.
One big part of the answer is to stop eating processed foods and start eating organic foods. Organic vegetables are given a full host of nutrients during their growth. We will still only absorb some of the nutrients present, but it's far better to get a percentage of over 50 nutrients than to get a percentage of 3 nutrients.
Organic tomatoes cost me 45 cents more a pound, but I can pay now or pay later with illness, pain, missed work, doctor's visits, an inability to parent my son, and continued obesity. Organic vegetables don't look expensive in that light.
We need to put away the processed foods and stop starving.