by Life Enthusiast Staff
The Trouble with the American Diet
If you are reading these pages you are undoubtedly aware that is has not been working well. The rate of obesity is over 60% now, caused for the most part by excessive consumption of empty calories.
When you eat nutrient poor foods your body will keep asking you for more food in its attempt to supply necessary nutrients. If you eat what the powerful industrial interests have advertised to you and have created unconscious desires in you that you follow without thinking, you will be consuming mostly this, according to government statistics:
1. Whole cow's milk
2. 2% milk
3. Processed American cheese
4. White bread
5. White flour
6. White rolls
7. Refined sugars
9. Ground beef
The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) assessment of the top nine "foods" consumed by Americans clearly illustrates our pattern of over-consumptive under-nutrition. Apparently we live on dairy, white flour, white sugar and ground beef! Did you know that Cola was a food group? Who lobbied for that? We might think that dairy foods are a good thing; however they are full of saturated fat and, for many people, the cause of allergies, sinus problems, ear infections, bone loss, autism, Type 1 diabetes, and chronic constipation. Milk is also the number-one cause of anemia in children from intestinal blood loss.
The Federal Trade Commission recently asked the USDA to look into the scientific basis of the claims made in the milk mustache ads. Their panel of scientists stated the truth clearly: Milk does not enhance sports performance, there is no evidence that it is good for your bones or even prevents osteoporosis (and in fact, the animal protein in milk may cause bone loss), and it is linked to prostate cancer and heart disease, not to mention the digestive problems experienced by 75% of the population who are lactose intolerant.
After dairy foods, the most common foods are high glycemic index white death poisons - either sugar or something that will quickly turn into sugar when they hit your stomach - white bread, white flour, white rolls, refined sugars and colas fueling the epidemic of insulin resistance.
Lastly, there is ground beef, very high in saturated fat, hormones, antibiotics and xenobiotics as well as the occasional toxigenic E. coli! No wonder over 85% of Americans have one or more degenerative diseases by the time they turn 65. These foods have a very low Nutrient to Calorie Ratio (NCR). Essentially they are nutritionally empty calories. Believe it or not, the more sugar you eat, the more vitamins you need to process that sugar.
The statistics show that we are consuming excess calories. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 1999,282(16): 1579 - Caloric Imbalance Public Health) revealed that 50% of US adults are overweight, and 22% are obese (>30lb overweight). A recent update of that study found that in just a few years, the obesity rates increased from 22% to 30% and the overweight population increased from 50% to 65%. This exponential growth is frightening. Our caloric intake from 1976 to 1996 increased explosively. Men increased their caloric intake by 2,239 calories a day and women increased by 1,646 calories a day. This is over and above what they were already eating, nearly doubling their daily caloric intake. In 2000, Americans spent $110 billion on fast food. This exceeds the amount spent on higher education, computers or new cars. On any given day, about 25% of Americans visit a fast food outlet and the typical American eats three burgers a week from one of 30,000 fast food outlets. [Guinness Book of World Records]
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What do we do?
While we recognize genetic differences among people, different body types and genetic predispositions, we believe there are guidelines that will work for everyone. The fundamental problem with modern medicine is its complete ignorance of how nutrition affects health or disease. They give lip service to eating a low-fat diet if you have heart disease, or drinking more milk if you have osteoporosis (which in fact may contribute to it), or avoiding spicy foods if you have reflux, but the pivotal idea about creating a vital and well functioning body by eating vital food - food with life - is absent from orthodox medical practice.
Food with purpose
We separate foods into categories - carbohydrates, fats and protein, and fiber - without considering their quality. Not all carbohydrates are equal, nor are all proteins or all fats as the USDA food pyramid would have us believe. To illustrate, the carbohydrates in popcorn could not be more different in their effect on your body than the carbohydrates in beans. Those in popcorn raise your blood sugar dramatically, thereby increasing your risk of cancer; those in beans slow down sugar absorption and thus reducing your risk of cancer. With proteins, there is a difference between animal and vegetable proteins. Excess animal protein can increase your homocysteine, cause bone loss and acidify your blood, while vegetable proteins from nuts, legumes, and seeds can lower homocysteine (in part because of the folic acid they contain) and help increase bone density. Fats are also different. Saturated fat from animal sources can increase your risk of heart disease, while polyunsaturated omega-3 fats from fish or flax seeds can cut the risk of sudden death in half.
You need to start thinking of food differently: there are either high quality, high-nutrient density, high NCR foods or poor quality, low-nutrient density, low NCR foods. You must focus primarily on high-quality foods in each category. Using this simple concept, you are not on a diet, but on a lifestyle that supports and enriches your metabolism, immune system, detoxification, and reduces inflammation and oxidative stress while eliminating malnutrition. Some people need more fat, others less fat, some may have higher protein needs, or not tolerate starchy carbohydrates. The best indicator of what you need is how you feel. When you eat properly for your genetic constitution and metabolism you should feel great. When you feel lousy, you are probably not well nourished. Pay attention to how the food you eat makes you feel and experiment with different amounts of different categories of nutrients to see how they make you feel. You are the best judge of what works for you.
When you nourish your body with nutrient dense Superfoods, your weight normalizes, your energy improves and many seemingly unrelated physical complaints disappear. Think about it: your body can only operate with resources you provide. If you eat junk, expect junk performance. Eat vital food to increase your vitality.