Last week I began a four-part series on obesity, or as Dr. Mark Hyman calls it, “Diabesity.” I covered the fact that the primary cause of obesity in our society today is insulin resistance and began a list of things you can do to cut down on your risk for diabesity. The first item on that list was to optimize nutrition and the #1 item under nutrition was to cut back sugar in all of its forms. Remember that carbohydrates are sugars and the body uses them first for energy. However, if your cells have become insulin resistant, the carbs that enter your body cannot be processed properly and get stored as fat immediately. So now, instead of becoming energized by eating pasta, grains, starchy veggies and fruits, you become fat and sluggish instead.
As our sugar consumption has increased, our fiber consumption has decreased. We now eat less than 8 grams per day. Yet our Paleolithic ancestors ate 100 grams of fiber per day. Fiber is important because it slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream from our gut and reduces cholesterol. It mostly comes from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans.
Those who eat a refined, processed, diet that comes from boxes, packages, or cans get less fiber than those who eat whole, real foods. The lack of fiber in our diet has enormous implications for our health. It causes heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancers and many other chronic diseases. In fact, studies show that adding high levels of fiber to the diet is as effective as diabetes medication without any of the side effects.
And the #3 dietary shift that prevents and treats diabesity is to understand your nutritional deficiencies.
A number of nutrients are particularly important to prevent and treat diabesity. These include vitamin D, chromium, magnesium, zinc, biotin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants such alpha lipoic acid. Doing a hair mineral analysis will help you see what your body is actually deficient in.
What’s critical to understand is that the solution to the whole diabesity epidemic can be found at the end of your fork! What you put on your fork is the most powerful medicine you have to correct the fundamental underlying causes of chronic disease and diabesity. That is true for one simple reason: Food is more than calories; it is information.
We generally think of food as a way to get energy; a means to feed our bodies the fuel they need to function. However, new science has shown that food literally speaks to your genes. The information your body receives from the foods you eat turn your genes on and off.
Dr. Dean Ornish proved you can reverse blockages in clogged arteries and increase blood flow in the heart by simply changing the quality of the food you put in your body and engaging in some simple lifestyle changes. He also showed that you could beneficially affect over 500 genes turning off the disease-causing genes and turning on the health promoting genes by changing diet and lifestyle in just three months. This is more powerful than ANY medication ever invented.
So what should you eat? The optimal diet to prevent and treat diabesity includes:
• Whole grains
• Healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, avocados, and omega-3 fats
• Modest amounts of lean animal protein including small wild fish such as salmon or sardines.
These are the components of the Mediterranean diet and are whole foods that need to be prepared in small amounts. Another problem we have in the U.S. is the tendency to “Super Size Me.” Try eating from a rice bowl with chopsticks to get your portion sizes right and slow your eating time down.