Monthly Archives: September 2014
Much has been written and talked about recently with regards to the consumption of grains. Grains, often limited in conversation to wheat and gluten, are viewed differently than they have been in the past. In fact, many companies have jumped on the bandwagon and are now offering gluten-free options. However, the buyer should be leery of these marketing tactics as many of the problems that exist with wheat still exist in these gluten free options.
Wheat and Corn Everywhere
If you walk around the grocery store and pick up a packaged food, you will likely see that it contains wheat or corn in some fashion. Wheat and corn are staple crops in this country. We even nicknamed the central portion of the country the “bread basket”. This agriculture region produces high amounts of grains that have to be utilized in the market place. Otherwise, it would not make sense for the government to continue to subsidize, or support, farming. While I am by no means against the farmer, I am against the business entities that tell the farmers what to do for the goal of making a profit at the expense of the population.
Wheat sneaks its way into things you would not even suspect. For example, flavoring agents used in cooking often contain wheat among the many other spices. Corn is just as bad. Probably the most astonishing thing that has happened with corn is the introduction of high fructose corn syrup. This is one of the most damaging substances in the market place right now as it creates glucose problems and can lead to liver damage. Commercials that have appeared on television suggesting high fructose corn syrup is okay because it comes from corn and corn is a plant. These are ludicrous at best. High fructose corn syrup is one of the leading causes of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that can lead to cirrhosis if it persists for a long enough period of time. The biochemistry is simple. High fructose corn syrup is mostly fructose. Fructose needs to be processed through the liver initially, not with insulin. The more fructose you consume, the more you overwhelm its ability to process it. This leads to fructose insensitivity and then on to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Just an example of the propaganda
(You have to wonder about the doctors, dieticians and nutrition experts mentioned)
Even More Problems with Grains
The problems with grains are numerous. They increase inflammation, lead to dysfunction in the immune system, are high in carbohydrates that ultimately promote blood sugar problems, they lack adequate amounts of fiber and the micronutrient content in them is limited. These are just a few of the problems with grains. Moreover, this is not just wheat that I am speaking of, but rather most of what we consider to be grains. However, wheat and corn are especially problematic.
Are Grains Making You Fat?
If you are eating grains, they are likely making you fat. After all, what does the cattle industry do to livestock to fatten it up before sending it to market? They send the cattle to the feedlot where they quickly increase the weight by feeding them predominantly corn. So while you may not be eating at a feedlot, you are consuming the same foods in the standard American Diet which are going to have the same effects of adding fat to the body.
The answer to avoiding becoming fat, and moreover losing weight, is to avoid the standard American diet which is saturated in grains. You are far better off consuming a primal diet, also known as the Paleo Diet, that allows you to consume nutrient dense food that is not going to promote inflammation and result in blood sugar disturbances. Grains as we know them are not the grains of yesteryear. They are a different substance that has been genetically manipulated to increase yield. I will talk more about this in another article. Yet, to avoid these types of foods and move into a pattern of easily losing weight, you must avoid the standard American diet and follow through with the primal diet, aka the Paleo Diet.
Let’s think about this for a minute. If you were eating a primal diet, also known as the Paleo Diet, you would be eating what you could find. You would likely be consuming not just plants that you came across, but also the occasional wild game. The opportunity to consume an animal protein source would have been less frequent, but it would have been available. Moreover, it would have been unlikely to have consumed the same animal protein source routinely. In contrast, this looks nothing like the standard American diet. The standard American diet relies heavily on beef and chicken and lacks the variety that we benefit most from.
The Staple Foods of the Standard American Diet
Go to almost any restaurant and you will find beef and chicken options on the menu. There is nothing inherently wrong with beef and chicken. There is however something inherently wrong with consuming beef and chicken on a frequent basis. Beef and chicken have become the staples of the standard American diet. These foods are relied upon heavily to supply protein in the diet. This is problematic as it does not mimic the primal diet of our ancestors. Far removed is the diet of grass fed animals that lived off of the land. In short, we no longer live off of the land nor do we eat animals that live off of the land.
Where did all the Grass Go?
The standard American diet is now made up of meats from animals that have spent little time in their natural setting. Unless you actually seek it out, you are not going to find meat that is grass fed or cage free. I can vouch for this change first hand. Having grown up on a farm, I remember my grandmother having the chicken coop behind her house. When they needed eggs or wanted a chicken to feed the family, it was a short trip across the backyard. These chickens lived off of the things that they found in the area that they were allowed to graze in. Ironically, in later years, chicken houses were built on the adjacent farm. These chicken houses looked much different than my grandmother’s chicken coop. They were long, stuffed full of chickens, the lights were kept on for long periods to speed up growth and there were feeders full of grain about half way down each of the houses. Needless to say this was a far different setup than my grandmother had and resulted in a far different outcome.
Can I have something besides Beef and Chicken for Dinner?
The standard American diet is far removed from the primal diet, aka the Paleo Diet. There are many additional sources of protein that should be considered. While you could easily add turkey and pork to the list of frequently consumed protein sources, they are still not wild, and this mostly limits us to four protein sources that make up most of the standard American diet.
We should be as primal as possible with our diet eating as many different protein sources as possible from wild sources. This would include the consumption of wild game such as venison, many different forms of fowl or wild birds just to name a few. Then there is the category that is significantly limited in the standard American diet, seafood. Most Americans can consume far too little seafood. No wonder there is such a widespread deficiency in omega 3’s in the standard American diet. Interestingly, the primal diet supplies omega 3’s not just from seafood, but also from the more staple animal sources such as beef, so long as they are grass fed and finished and not corn fed.
As I have mentioned in a previous article, the standard American diet is a monotonous and boring diet. It lacks not only the diversity of the primal diet, but also allows for the consumption of meats from sources that do not resemble the environment these animals originated in. The ingestion of such meats comes at the price of increasing inflammation in our bodies while also leaving us lacking in key nutrients such as omega 3’s. There is more protein to enjoy than beef and chicken. For a diet that is anything but boring and monotonous, transition your diet to the primal diet and get a true feel for just what it means to be Paleo.
One of the realities of the aging process is that our hormones begin to decline. This is best noted by menopause in females and low levels of testosterone in males. Both states are the result of inadequate hormone availability which goes on to often promote physical and emotional feelings that are less than ideal. To support the restoration of a better state of health, hormone replacement is often given. However, the administration of synthetic forms of hormones raises questions as they are not naturally found in the human body. As a result, many often turn to hormones in the form our bodies produce them. These are known as bioidentical hormones, meaning they are exactly identical biologically to the hormones that our body produces. Bioidentical hormones are recognized by many as a safer option to synthetic hormones with more predictable outcomes.
The Importance of Bioidentical Nutrients
If at this point you are thinking, great, another hormone article, don’t. I started out with the example of bioidentical hormones to illustrate the significance of using substances that are intrinsic to the function of our bodies. While it is often not discussed, the use of a bioidentical nutrient is just as relevant as a bioidentical hormone. Bioidentical nutrients are easily recognized by our bodies and quickly incorporated into crucial metabolic pathways that support everything from energy production to immune health. These are the same forms of nutrients that you would find in nature if you were picking and gathering food. These forms of nutrients represent some of the most important aspects of food when it comes to promoting overall health.
Therefore, if bioidentical nutrients are beneficial, that must mean that synthetic forms of nutrients have some inherent problem. Indeed, this is the case just as with synthetic hormones. The main problem with synthetic, or non-bioidentical, substances is that they are not easily incorporated into our normal bodily systems. Our body has to work overtime to get them to function and even then there remain some limitations.
The Folate vs. Folic Acid Dilemma
Likely the best example of the need for bioidentical nutrients can be found with B9, or folate. Many will better recognize the name folic acid. Folic acid has become the more common name in our society and can easily be found in many packaged foods and the average over-the-counter multivitamin or B complex vitamin. As effortless as it is to find folic acid in our food supply, one might think this is the best form of the nutrient. However, the buyer should beware. The incorporation of folic acid throughout the food supply has served the benefit of reducing birth defects, yet this is only part of the story. The rest of the story about this synthetic form of B9 is that it is not found in nature and therefore our bodies have to modify it to work. Over time there are negative outcomes associated with this, including the dreaded condition cancer. Folic acid truly is a double edged sword.
In contrast, folate, the bioidentical form of B9 has not been shown to have these same effects. The rationale seems logical. As folates are consumed, either through food or supplementation, they are quickly and easily assimilated into our body systems and used to promote growth, generate new tissues and drive detoxification, just to name a few. There are no detrimental effects from folate use as our body knows exactly what to do with it. In fact, studies have shown that when it comes to folic acid versus folate, the human gut has a very difficult time converting folic acid into the necessary folate form (Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jun 18).
While little is talked about with regards to bioidentical nutrients, this is a crucial concept that often goes unmentioned. The need for bioidentical nutrients underscores the importance of giving the body the proper form of a nutrient to make sure we adhere to the first motto of healthcare, “First do no harm”. Moreover, the need for bioidentical nutrients also emphasizes eating foods that are in the forms that natures gives them to us, not refined and adulterated. Thus the consumption of bioidentical nutrients is a concept that is inherent to the Paleo Diet. As this reinforces, you will not go wrong eating foods in their most natural state.