Revision: 1.25, 24.Aug.09 15:54 -0700
This document is the result of the distillation of years of research, tons of books, and a great deal of thought. Started in 1998, it continues to be a “work-in-progress”. Although relatively short—given the voluminous if not nearly endless nature of this subject. It is to the point, and should be easily understandable by anyone with a modicum of common sense, the ability to read and reason, and the willingness to learn and adapt. If I fail to convey to the reader, in these few pages, the nature and essence of the physiology of food and how it affects the human body, then I’ve failed in my mission to inform and educate.
Herein you will find bits of information that I have found to be true. Should anyone reading here find an error or any other kind of falsehood, I would be most grateful to have it corrected. However, please note; an opinion—no matter how long, hard, voluminously repeated, or closely held—is not a substitute for fact! Only those with factual rebuttals should take the time to reply…and bring the “facts” when you do. Note also that the human body is a marvelous biological mechanism. It has many avenues it can take to resolve nutritional deviations. Do not be lulled into thinking that functional "corner-cases" are the working norm. Finally, a body that's diseased or starving works differently than one that's healthy, both when hungry or satiated--keep that in mind.
Time and time again, we are set up to fail by the ruthless marketing of fast or convenience foods and poor nutritional choices made for you by folks in an industry answering only to their shareholders. For many years I've ranted and raved against this relentless, intentional campaign to make Americans fatter and fatter. But the fault behind our fat lies not with the companies trying to entice us, it rest solely of the shoulders of each and every person who strives to live a healthy life and maintain an optimum weight. We deliberately choose to be uneducated and illiterate about even the most basic aspects of nutrition and food choices. We spend our days relying on a commercial to tell us what is healthy and what to put on the table tonight. I know many educated doctors and professionals who do not have a clue as to how one should read the nutritional ingredients on a package, much less understand the importance of that message.
Nutrition has some basic principles and they are the same for all of us. With a few very rare exceptions, the principles are universal no matter what country you hail from, or what age or sex you are. There is truly a wealth of information available on the internet with the push of a few buttons, yet we would rather pour over gossip rags and let TV do the work for us. No single dissertation can begin to address all of this critical information. But I will endeavor to do my best in the hope that at least some of you reading here are benefitted.
At the top of the list of the most foolish things ever perpetrated upon the undiscerning American public is the idiotic concept of "false fats" (margarine & shortening), "low/non-fat foods", and "sugar-free" products. Simple research will aptly show that if we trace back to the time these products were first introduced (late '60's - early '70's), that was the starting point of more and more Americans getting more and more obese! The food industry will tell you that their necessary or even dangerous additives such as aspartame are there to help people fight obesity. Unfortunately, study after study show that dieting adults who regularly use "diet" foods that are "low/non-fat" or "sugar free" consume 25% MORE calories per day than the person who consumes only the natural version. How can this be you might ask?
There's a very simple but powerful process at work here. The mind, conditioned by a constant barrage of advertising claiming one virtue or the other, views foods with these labels as being so devoid of sugar or fat that you can automatically consume more simply because of the label. When fat-free donuts were introduced, many people considered that an invitation to consume the entire box since that nasty fat was gone. The problem is that when fats were removed, the only way to make the product palatable, is to add sugar. Same from the other side, take out sugar, and you have to put in fat to make the product edible. Processed food marketers realize that you must have taste or it will be so bland the market won't bear it. Sly manufacturers even adjust the serving size down a bit so it appears you are taking in less.
Here is the major point of this example: Sweetening additives, such as HFCS, along with the nutritionally depleted version of their products, fail to inform your brain in a timely manner that you are full. A strange concept but a healthy working body tells you when you have had enough, you are full, and it is time to stop. With the diet versions and additives, that signal appears only after you have consumed way too much. Of course, the food industry loves this. You pay much more for the diet version and eat more of it than the person eating the regular item--sounds like a great deal for them. The normal fat, in say, a product like ice cream, serves the purpose of telling your body when it is full and enough is enough. At that point, you must make a conscious decision to overeat. With diet versions of foods--especially low or non-fat foods, you never get that valuable message until the damage is done. This is just one example of how we all need to get smart about nutrition and take responsibility in getting a lifetime diet strategy that gets you the optimum weight you desire.
The goal of this document is to break down and obliterate all of the known falsehoods that dominate the diet-nutrition arena. Let us begin by defining “nutrition”.
Nutrition – The organic process by which an organism assimilates and uses food and liquids for normal functioning, growth and maintenance.
Besides its liquid requirements (water), the human body is able to consume and make use of only 3-classes of foods: Fats, Proteins, and Carbohydrates.
Fats: Are converted to EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids) by the digestive process in order to be able to cross the intestinal barrier and enter the blood stream. Otherwise they would be insoluble in our water-based blood. As well as being absolutely essential for many very specialized functions such as the production of prostaglandins (localized tissue hormones), fats are absolutely necessary to build and/or repair most of the “smooth” body cells. These include the brain, nerve fibers, eyes, organs, muscle sheaths, etc. The building and repair of these cells CAN NOT be done by any other class of nutrient. To learn more about "why" dietary fats are supposed to be bad, click here. Except in miniscule amounts, dietary fats CAN NOT be stored by or in the body.
Proteins: Are necessary to build and/or repair most of the “rough” body cells. These include the muscles, connective tissues, bones, skin, and so on. The building and repair of those cells CAN NOT be done by any other class of nutrient.
Carbohydrates: A “catch-all” name for an entire but important class of nutrients coming primarily from plants (there are a nearly insignificant amount of these in just a few animal products—namely milk). In its simplest form, it’s a euphemism for all classes of sugars, starches (another form of sugar), and fiber (indigestible). The most important of which (to the human body) is glucose—which is into what the liver converts all carbohydrates that have been eaten and found their way into our bloodstreams.
Glucose is necessary as a fuel to power the ATP (Adenosine tri-phosphate) cellular energy process that results in motion, action, and general all-around motility. The only other function of glucose is to be stored, under the influence of insulin, in an adipose fat cell as a (nearly) ready-to-go source of stored energy. Carbohydrates are the easiest “fuel food” to use. However, fats, broken down by ketosis, can be used as well (the normal, natural process by which those “stored fats” are used after having been stored for that purpose).
There are only two fuels that your body can burn (more correctly: oxidize) for energy: Glucose and Fat. Glucose, the primary fuel, comes from eating carbohydrates. When your body runs out of glucose, it turns to its secondary fuel source: your own body fat (which was excess glucose that was stored there as fat in the first place). When you reduce your intake of carbohydrates, your body must convert fat into energy, and this metabolic state is called "ketosis" (which IS NOT the same as "ketoacidosis") So being in ketosis simply means living off of your fat stores. This leaves handy chemical markers in your blood (ketones) that we can test for to ensure what’s happening, but those details are for another essay.
There is a third form of energy, and that is when muscle proteins are broken down and used. This is bad! And usually only happens during extreme starvation, OR WHEN THE DIET IS BEREFT OF BOTH FATS AND ENOUGH CARBOHYDRATES. Muscle tissue is very necessary, and a part of your LBM (Lean Body Mass). If it’s being converted to energy, that’s a very bad state, and must be avoided at all costs.
Minerals and Other Things: Beside the primary dietary elements listed above, the body does require various additional micro-nutrients. Besides a whole host of minerals, salt and vitamins are primary among them. In most cases you get enough vitamins and minerals from the food you eat (the simpering wailing of the "We've depleted the soil!" nuts not withstanding), although there are certain vitamins that do have specific effects on the body. This document is not intended to convey that information (yet).
[NB: There does not exist any study to date that can find that common, ordinary table salt--in any amount (that you would be willing to ingest)--is bad for the "normal" human body. However, folks on certain medications or manifesting the symptoms of certain diseases--in particular, kidney diseases--should take care to heed their doctors advice/warnings in this matter.]
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll recall that carbohydrates (starches & sugars (glucose)) can ONLY be used for motility or be stored as body fat. Period! If you find that you have an excess of body fat, it means that you’ve been storing glucose as opposed to using it. That means you’re taking in more glucose (in the form of carbohydrates) than you are expending (via motility), so they are being stored. If you can not grasp this simple premise, then you should go to the top and read this section again! Carbohydrates, like those in nearly all processed foods, and bending your elbow towards your mouth while holding them is what makes us fat!
There are two ways to keep this from happening: 1) ingest fewer carbohydrates; 2) or use more of them via some form of exercise. Either way will reduce your FBM (Fatty Body Mass). There is no other way. There is no “magic fat bullet”, no drug, no diet, no rub, no lotion, no potion, no health club, and no other system of any kind that will work in the long term. Period!
When we say “diet”, we’re really saying; “Let’s change what or the way we’re eating…for some period of time or to some goal.” And that is flat-out the wrong approach. If you’re over-weight, you’re going to be susceptible to any number of the maladies that affect the obese: High-blood pressure, insomnia, stroke, a variety of CVD’s (CardioVascular Diseases), and T2 (Type-2) diabetes among a host of other, similar maladies. And, the saddest element of them all; your doctor is going to pay a little lip-service to you losing weight, and then he or she’s going to put you on a “high-carb”, “low-fat” “diet”! After that he’s going to put you on one form of drug therapy or another, and you’ll think that all is well…IT IS NOT!
Instead of thinking “diet”, think WOE (Way Of Eating). You’ve got to change both the way and what you eat. Start by eliminating all of the empty carbohydrates that you’re stuffing into your face each day: chips, "white" bread, pretzels, pop-corn, cereals, Jell-O, pudding, ice-cream, cakes, soft-drinks (wa-a-ay bad!); anything out of a box, carton or in a wrapper; sweets of any kind—even artificial. Sound hard? It isn’t. Certainly it’s not as hard as suffering through and then dying from diabetes and/or diabetes related symptoms—your call.
Pass on anything that comes in a box, carton, or wrapper; and eat fresh whole foods. Eat lots of vegetables, fresh fruits, meats, and nuts. Enjoy eggs fried in butter. The skin and fats of critters were what you were evolved to eat--highly processed grain products slathered with trans-fats and sweetened with HFCS's, you were not! There is absolutely no food value in eating junk like margarine, shortening, or any other kind of processed (read: heated and/or hydrogenated) oils. They CAN NOT be used by your body, and if used, are NOT the same as using the proper fats and oils. Remember, we’re talking about making vital hormones, and building/repairing the walls and structure of your body cells, and doing it with an artificial replacement item. Kinda like fixing a car fender with pancake batter. And thinking that it’s just fine when it dries and the paint hides what’s underneath. It! Won’t! Work! And neither will you!
A “calorie” is strange critter indeed. Calories are determined by burning a dehydrated sample of the food in question inside what’s known as a “bomb calorimeter”—a metal burn-chamber surrounded by a water-jacket—in a pure oxygen environment. The temperature (T) of the water jacket is measured, and a ∆T table is used to convert that temperature rise to calories. It’s probably just me, but I’m pretty sure that my body isn’t “burning” foods in an oxygen environment.
While an interesting and highly subjective metric, the calorie has nonetheless become a de-facto standard for the “food value” of various foods. Calories do count, but only so far as they embody the volume of foods eaten. Fats and sugars are high-calorie foods. Yet they have vastly different effects in the body as they’re consumed.
The short version of all of this is that total calories consumed will dictate how much weight a person gains or loses; and the ratio of these calories across the 3-major food groups will dictate what a person gains or loses. Reduce your intake of carbohydrate calories, and you’ll lose body fat. Reduce your intake of protein calories, and you’ll lose muscle mass. Reduce your intake of fat calories, and you’ll store less glucose calories as fat, but you’ll also limit the repair or building of body cells and the generation of necessary hormones.
There are many studies that have confirmed that the ratio of carbs, fats, and proteins in a given diet can effect what is actually lost: fat, muscle, bone, and/or water.
Knowing this, it becomes much easier for people to grasp the seemingly endless stream of conflicting dietary and nutritional advice emanating from the most often downright unscientific and dangerous nutrition advice so often peddled via “diet” books, TV, well intentioned friends, or the internet.
Caveat 1: Consuming excess carbohydrates and not exercising enough (to burning them up/off) WILL make you fat! Being fat and/or overweight increases the likelihood of you developing T2-diabetes to nearly 100%! While T2 is NOT genetic, genetics will play a part in your proclivity towards developing T2. This is not a game or interesting stat! You must take action to prevent T2 at all costs...or let it kill you--your call.
Let me reiterate this MOST IMPORTANT POINT: Except for the rarest of cases, if you have been diagnosed with T2 diabetes, you weren't born with it (as you are with T1), you did not get it due to genetics, and you can not "catch" it. The only way to get T2 is that you must develop it. And you develop it by consuming too many sugars--and their dietary precursors, starches--for your pancreas to handle. Period!
Caveat 2: Fats (more correctly the lack thereof) seem to be implicated in the development of children with ADD/ADHD. There does not exist today any qualified, double-blind, peer-reviewed scientific/medical study that supports fats and oils (with the exceptions as noted above) as being bad for the human organism. If you know someone that has a child that has "ADD". Ask the mother if she "did the right thing", and did her best to eat "right" (read: low-fat) during gestation. The odds are overwhelming that she will say, "Yes!"
I have more research to do...
There is no end to unsupported dietary myths floating around. Here is a short list of a few:
Assertion: Fats are bad for you!
Fact: Fats are an absolutely necessary and part of the human diet. It is not possible for the body to generate or repair new cells without fats. Fats CAN NOT enter and “float around” in the bloodstream looking for an artery to clog. Only trans-fats are fats to be avoided. To learn more about "why" dietary fats are supposed to be bad (they're not), click here.
Assertion: Cholesterol is bad for you!
Fact: Cholesterol is an absolutely necessary component of ALL mammalian blood streams. It is absolutely vital for cell growth to even be possible. There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” cholesterol, that is simply a 'handle' used by the folks trying to sell drugs to dumbed-down users to tell their doctors.
Cholesterol is not a life-threatening toxin. It is, instead, a medium-sized molecule that is the primary building block for all of the important parts of the body. In particular it is an essential component of all cell membranes. Cholesterol also stabilizes a cell against temperature changes. It is a major part of the membranes surrounding the nervous system, the brain, the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves. In particular it is incorporated into the myelin sheath that insulates the nerves from the surrounding tissue.
Cholesterol is also the forerunner of important hormones such as the female sex hormone, oestradiol, and the male sex hormone, testosterone, and for the synthesis of vitamin D which we need in order to utilize calcium to form bone. Nearly all body tissues are capable of making cholesterol, but the liver and small-intestine make the most. We require cholesterol to produce the bile we need to digest the fats in our food, and the name itself comes from the Greek words for 'bile solids'.
HDL; the supposed “good” form of cholesterol is a soluble lipid that's about half triglyceride and cholesterol with the rest being protein. It transports "used" cholesterol from the cells back to the liver for breakdown and disposal in the bile.
LDL; the supposed "bad" form of cholesterol is a soluble lipoprotein with more cholesterol than protein. It transports cholesterol from the liver, where it is constantly being manufactured, to all of the cells in the body.
The most widely promulgated lie today is that the cholesterol in your food causes cholesterol in your blood and that high cholesterol in your blood causes death from heart disease. In actual fact, very little of the serum cholesterol found in the blood is due to foods that were eaten. Nearly ALL cholesterol in your blood has been manufactured by your liver. And, it does this using its favorite “food” or feedstock—glucose (derived from carbohydrates)!
If you are on "cholesterol lowering" drugs, you are being lied to and dying while living a fraud. Taking those drugs does nothing but line the pockets of drug peddlers.
Assertion: Animal and related fats are “artery clogging” and bad for you!
Fact: Untrue! The fats you put in you mouth DO NOT end up in your blood as chunks of fat floating around. All fats must be broken down into EFA’s before they can be absorbed. None of the fats you might eat can end up as deposits in either your arteries, or under your skin as subcutaneous layers of fat. Only glucose can be stored in a fat cell, and only glucose can be converted by the liver into the various kinds of cholesterols. To learn more about "why" dietary fats are supposed to be bad for you, click here.
Assertion: "Milk does a body good!
Fact: True--if you're a child! Also eating butter, cheese, yogurt and the like derived from "natural", unprocessed milk is okay. But drinking it--ESPECIALLY modern homogenized milk--is not! If you've ever hoisted a glass of real, fresh milk, you can see that the cream floats to the top. The molecules of milk-fat have an affinity to each other and clump together. Being fats, they're lighter than the primary liquid in milk (water), and will float. In order to prevent this, milk is homogenized (mixed thoroughly) through the use of powerful ultrasonic "gates" in the milk processing facility.
The sound waves generated literally blast the fat molecules apart. The fat molecule wanting something to attach to...and being unable to find a fellow fat molecule, will attach to a protein, albeit rather reluctantly. The protein molecule, not having to go through the "fat" -> EFA conversion, is absorbed directly through the wall of the small intestine...dragging the attached fat molecule with it. NOW you have fats floating around in your bloodstream! It's probably just me, but I'd say that was a bad thing and to be avoided.
And finally, a question. Can you name any creature in the world that drinks the milk from another? Only man seems to be so disposed. If you simply must have milk, drink natural, pasteurized, un-homogenized milk. The average normal human adult has no need to drink milk on a dietary basis--there are many, many other dietary sources of calcium that contain much more of that than milk. You can eschew milk, or drink it as you will. But now that you know this, you can help your life...or not--your call.
There are many things you should not eat or consume. But, such a list would be voluminous and too long for either inclusion here, or reading on your end—and a lot of it would be opinion—as opposed to fact—based. The "best" way to look at your eating and diet is to think about what your (30,000 years or so ago) ancestors ate. We are each the result of millions of years of physiological evolution. You can not possibly believe that some food, invented and manufactured in the last 100 years or so are a "natural" part of the human diet. Sadly, so many do—your call.
The best foods for the human organism is what it's been eating the longest—in terms of our evolution. Those foods, after all, are going to be those we've become best adapted to. This way of eating is found in all of the aboriginal tribes ever discovered by "modern" man. Their teeth are usually in great shape. Their skin is smooth and hair is healthy. And they are overwhelmingly NOT fat!
This "primal" or "Paleolithic" diet is one that is devoid of grain and dairy products, as well as nutritional newcomers such as refined sugar, refined vegetable oils, trans-fats, and sweeteners. What is left is basically: fruit, leafy vegetables, root vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, and nuts.
This kind of WoE (Way Of Eating) turns out to be naturally low in carbohydrates, and seems to work wonders at generating enhanced well-being and bringing about an optimized body-weight. Unfortunately, due probably to financial pressure by the food-processing industry, this WoE has not been studied and subject to real, formal research. After all, why would they want to promote such a concept?
Another WoE that's gained in popularity in the last few decades is what's known as "the Mediterranean diet". Much like the Paleolithic diet, it adds a select few grains and some vegetable based fats primarily in the form of Olive Oil. Unfortunately, some "Mediterranean Diet" advocates also call for "low-fat" dairy products and "margarine" as well! Don't succumb to that bit of insanity! So go ahead and eat a Mediterranean diet. Just be certain to steer clear of the ignorant part and enjoy the rest.
For ourselves I've adapted what we eat to be somewhere between the Paleolithic and the Mediterranean WoE. The concept of "low" or "no-fat" is the absolute pits and an abomination of nature! As is the concept of eating trans-fat rich margarine or shortenings. Ugh! What garbage! Instead I've added _SOME_ whole grains in the form of flour used to bake sourdough bread—the SD critters dramatically reduce the carbohydrate content of the flour—and is something that has a 10,000 or more years long history in human nutrition, and eat some grains whole. The key is "some"! It's one thing to have a few slices of wholesome sourdough bread or a few ounces of wheat-berries every once-in-a-while, another to regularly empty boxes of "Twinkies", "Cheetos", "Wheat-Thins", "Corn-flakes" and so on... The bread we happily slather with real, honest-to-goodness butter; and the wheat-berries are drenched with real cream, a little brown-sugar or honey, dusted with cinnamon or other fragrant spices, and bits of fruit when available.
There is no end to many studies that clearly show that there can be real health benefits for individuals who adopt a more primal way of eating. Most of those studies are adding to a growing body of scientific evidence which supports what I already regard as common sense: The "diet" that is best for me is one based on the foods the human organism has been eating the longest, and are therefore one's we've best adapted to.
Of all of the food products eaten by "modern man", avoid HFCS, and Trans-fats like the plague; and reduce your carbohydrate intake SIGNIFICANTLY! It's pretty easy to read the labels on a package of something that's sweet, and read if it has sugar or HFCS. While you should be limiting your intake of sugar (an empty calorie and carb) it's MUCH better for you than its artificial HFCS surrogate!
Any product label that includes the words: "shortening", "hydrogenated", or "partially-hydrogenated", is screaming at you that it contains trans-fats! DO! NOT! EAT THEM!
No matter what you think, what others tell you, what "doctors" trying to sell books assert; the simple truth is that if you are fat and/or overweight, ONLY carbohydrates, that got into your system by you bending your elbows towards your mouth while holding them--while not doing enough activity to work them off--can make you fat. Period! There is no other way...ESPECIALLY not the dim-bulb idea of a "virus" going around at the moment. Anything to push the blame off to someone or something else...instead of where it belongs...on YOU!
NB: I’m a researcher, programmer of medical (and other) equipment, and a writer; I am not a doctor. The things I’ve written I wrote for myself and my family. As a guest or visitor, you are of course welcome to read them. Since I wrote it for myself and my family, this material is as accurate as I can manage with access to common information available to anyone. You are welcome to read or peruse my mutterings as you wish—or not. But if you follow any of this “advice” you do so at your own risk.
If you should find an error of any kind (spelling, punctuation, grammar, or content), please drop me a line addressed to "corrections" at this domain name (innerlodge.com) and let me know.