Optimum Nutrition for a Healthy Life
Our modern diet differs greatly from our Paleolithic ancestors who lived 500 generations ago. They were hunters and gatherers, eating whatever was available to them when they were hungry. They ate wild meats which are very low in total and saturated fat and high in healthful, cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat. The animals were themselves feeding on nutritious grasses. Our ancestors gathered fresh vegetables straight out of the earth. They had to work hard to obtain their food. Think about how this is different from our current diet. What! no chips and other snack foods! No ice cream, cookies, or sugared cereal! However did they survive without a Coke?
Grains were not available until people stayed in one place and began farming and raising cattle. This changed their lives dramatically. They added grain to their diet. Grain is low in fat and high in omega 6 fatty acids rather than omega 3 fatty acids. This high intake of omega 6’s increases the risk of heart disease and some cancers and aggravates inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Rather than being grass-fed, their cattle were fed on grains. Inside your body, the modern diet leads to high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high total cholesterol, and low HDL. Perhaps these symptoms have led the doctor to diagnose you with Syndrome X, diabetes or insulin resistance. Syndrome X is resistance to insulin – the hormone needed to burn food for energy – combined with high cholesterol or triglycerides, high blood pressure, or too much body fat. Syndrome X ages you prematurely and significantly increases your risk of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, eye disease, nervous system disorders, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer and other age related diseases. Everything you put in your mouth has an effect – either good or bad — on your body. White flour, sugar and the company they keep are the worst culprits!
When you become insulin resistant the pancreas must secrete more insulin than normal to clear sugar from the bloodstream. This creates a state in which the blood insulin level is elevated all of the time. Insulin is a major hormone that affects nearly every cell in the body. A chronically high blood-insulin level is thought to be the underlying culprit in all diseases of Syndrome X.
The best life-style is a low-carbohydrate diet. Bowden in his book compares seventeen low-carb diets and what they can do for you. You will learn that not all low-carb diets are the same! Bowden gives five stars, his highest rating, to The Atkins Diet, the Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet, The Fat Flush Plan, The Hamptons Diet, Protein Power, The Zone and the South Beach diet. The underlying message in all of these diets is low carbohydrates; high protein, low sugar, exercise and natural nutritional supplementation.
Bowden’s principles for a successful law-carb life are:
- Begin with a Two-Week “Boot Camp” period.
- Eat as much meat, poultry, and fish as you like.
- Eat unlimited vegetables.
- Eat as much of the healthy fats – butter, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, fish oil – as you like.
- Eliminate all potatoes, rice pasta, breads, cereals, and other starches.
- Eliminate grains.
- Eliminate sugar.
- Eliminate dairy.
- Eliminate alcoholGreen tea
- In the Beginning, Don’t be concerned with Calories
- Find Your Own Personal Level of Carb Restriction
- How metabolically resistant are you?
- How much weight do you have to lose?
- How you feel, physically and mentally, at various levels of carb restriction?
- Is your current strategy working for you?
- After the First Two Weeks, Begin Adding Carbs Back Little by Little
- Add Back Foods According to the “Ladder of Desirability”
- When You Add Back Foods, Add Them One at a Time and Watch for a Reaction
- The Hard Work Begins With Maintenance
- Use the 4-Pound Rule
- Don’t Ignore Calories
- Low-Carb doesn’t mean no-carb
Bowden’s ladder of desirability in adding back carbs is first berries, next other fruit, then full-fat yogurt with live cultures; nuts; cheese; red wine (optional); starches: sweet potato, oatmeal; other grains; and lastly recreational foods to be eaten very occasionally, or for special events. His 4-pound rule is: When the scale creeps up by 4 pounds – go back to Principle 1.
We’ve talked about food, now let’s talk about supplementation. Alpha lipoic acid is considered the master nutrient. It lowers glucose and insulin levels, reduces insulin resistance, and improves insulin sensitivity. Alpha lipoic acid’s role is crucial in correcting insulin resistance. Also it neutralized free radicals.
Important vitamins include vitamin C and vitamin E. It is important to purchase the very best that your purse will allow to assure accurate dosing and good absorption.
Vitamin E influences glucose and insulin levels. However, it also plays an important role as an antioxidant which can prevent coronary heart disease. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant. It also helps protect against the harmful effects of by glucose by reducing glucose levels and improving insulin sensitivity. Natural vitamin E has twice the potency of the synthetic vitamin E. The way to identify it is by reading the label carefully. Natural vitamin E will be identified as “d-alpha-tocopherol” and synthetic vitamin E will be identified by “dl-alpha-tocopherol.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which protects against Syndrome X and diabetes. It is a powerful antioxidant and quenches free radicals generated by glucose. Animals produce their own vitamin C; however, humans must use a supplement to maintain proper levels. Vitamin C also protects against infection, has beneficial effects on the heart; and reduces the risk of cancer.
There are many minerals essential to health; however, chromium, zinc and magnesium stand out in their ability to help regulate glucose and help insulin to function more efficiently. Zinc is needed to help the pancreas produce insulin, to allow insulin to work more effectively and to protect insulin receptors on cells. Zinc deficiency appears to be involved in the development and perpetuation of obesity. Magnesium is a critical mineral. Magnesium deficiency appears to be one of the factors that pave the way for the development of diabetes. Magnesium plays a central role in the normal function of insulin as well as helping to prevent high blood pressure.
We haven’t talked about exercise, which is vitally important. Turn off the television set, and leave the car keys at home. Get up and get moving for your health – hire a trainer, go to the gym, swim, attend aerobic exercise class, and last but certainly not least – WALK.
All four of the referenced books include menus you might like to try.
Good luck and keep smiling!
For a personal consultation, please call Dr. Bonnie at 281-463-1915 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bernstein, R. (2005), The Diabetes Diet, Dr. Bernstein’s Low-Carbohydrate Solution, New York, Little, Brown and Company
Bowden, J. (2005), Living the Low Carb Life, Controlled-Carbohydrate Eating for Long-Term Weight Loss, New York, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Challem, J., Berkson, B., Smith, M. (2000), The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Insulin Resistance, Syndrome X, ( New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Cordain, L. (2002), The Paleo Diet, Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat, New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.