At last count, the word “diet” produced more than 157 million web pages listing diet plans, pills, drinks, and diet tips from health facilities, diet companies, nutrition professionals and others – from around the world. And yet we are nearing the height of an obesity epidemic causing untold mental misery and depression, aside from the ever-increasing debilitating illnesses associated with overweight or obese people. With such an abundance of information available – how can this be?
We have to accept the fact that the grocery industry is a host of contradictions as it sells both diet products and the ones that cause us to be overweight or obese in the first place. This is so evident in our supermarkets these days. It has become human nature that profit outweighs human health, and this is evident in many industries around the world, and is far from unique within diet circles. We also have to take nto account the diet companies, which, while showing interest and concern, are in reality completely dependent on your lack of diet for their own survival. If they were good at what they do, their businesses would surely fail. So who can we trust besides ourselves? The evidence is clear: there is no debate.
We may have one reprieve, but it will be sometime in the future, but not now.
Science and technology are getting closer to the possibility of a miracle drug with the ever-increasing understanding of the human genotype and genetic engineering. But in reality, who would ever want or want to be dependent on diet medications, possibly on an ongoing daily basis simply because of a lack of understanding of the relationship between the foods our bodies are designed for and the foods we eat. Why is it that we consciously overeat when we know that it is bad for us and that we are hurting ourselves? How come the only time we choose to ignore our food is when we eat it!
So, is it a psychological thing, something physical, or is it both?
To be able to answer this, we must first look at the changes in our diet over the past 50 years. The consumption trends of refined carbohydrates such as sugar have increased dramatically, but at the same time the consumption of fats and proteins has remained fairly stable. Indeed, saturated fats have become and still are a problem, although fortunately now the overall consumption of saturated fats has fallen slightly, it remains a problem.
Many studies, particularly those related to research into the action of the Atkins diet, have shown that the effect of refined carbohydrates and fats both involve some form of addiction. Studies have shown that refined sugars damage the fine balance of maintaining glucose levels in the bloodstream. This, in turn, adversely affects our hormonal activity, such as insulin and glucagon, both of which are responsible for maintaining normal glucose levels after a “strong” intake of refined carbohydrates in our diet. These acceptable levels of glucose in the bloodstream are maintained at surprisingly narrow margins.
Refined sugars therefore induce excessive hormonal activity to restore homeostasis. These unnatural “swings” in hormonal activity often cause various mood swings from being happy and content to sad, tense, and even feelings of fear or panic. Long-term exposure to these hormonal fluctuations can often cause the whole process to become less effective, and diabetes can be the end result.
Other studies have surprisingly shown that the effect of eating significant amounts of fats actually leads to an unexpected human response in terms of nutrition. You would think that eating foods rich in fats would soothe hunger pangs.
But amazingly, medical research has shown the opposite to be true. Clinical studies have shown that foods rich in fats encourage people to eat more, not less. At the time, the results of such experiments were groundbreaking because they completely contradicted the nutritional thinking of the time.
It is also interesting to note that further medical studies have suggested that protein foods have been linked to the response that indicates that you have consumed enough food. In other words, proteins are believed to somehow trigger the ‘I’m full’ response.
And then of course there is the enormous change in our energy consumption. We used to hunt and gather food, but now we like to go to the local supermarket to buy it, or worse, have it delivered to our front door. Food has changed from scarce to abundant (at least for us), and we have changed from “active” to relatively “dormant.” Exercise less and eat more … what should we expect?
And many believe that even not exercising can trigger the physical response to lower metabolism and build layers of fat under the skin for 2 main reasons, both of which are related to human survival. In evolutionary terms, you may not be able to “hunt” and therefore cannot find food. Reducing your body’s metabolism makes perfect sense to conserve energy. Second, if food is available during a period of inactivity, is there no point in putting layers of fat under the skin to retain body heat and secure an energy source during potentially “lean times”? Perfectly logical, perfect design and yet we don’t understand ourselves and when we do, many choose to ignore the warning signs that the body is offering.
In essence, it is therefore very clear that part of the problem within the diet world that we humans face is certainly a physical problem related to the interaction of the types of foods we eat with our bodies. And it is clear that our diet has changed beyond recognition over the past 50 years and yet our bodies are doing the same as it has for the past 100,000 years. We are in the 21st century, our body is still in the “Stone Age”. Evolution is a slow, slow process, but over millions of years, the relationship and reaction of chemicals in our food with the cells of the human body has been cemented and molded for centuries.
So it is we who need to change … because Mother Nature will not entertain us for thousands of years to come …