I realized the other day that I haven't shared a whole lot about what I've learned specifically regarding health/nutrition lately. I've shared lots of yummy food pictures, but not so much the more scientific stuff. And boy have I learned a lot. So, today I'm going to share some of the highlights I learned from reading Mark Sisson's book, The Primal Blueprint.
So, this was one of those eye-opening books like I've shared before. I really enjoyed reading about Mark started as a competitive long-distance runner, but that it wasn't until he stopped doing that and eating/living more "primally" that his health was at it's best.
Some interesting facts I learned:
- A study released in 2008 by John Hopkins University suggests that by the year 2040, 86% of all US adults will be overweight or obese.
- And, of the one trillion dollars America spends annually on health care, the CDC estimates 70% is on lifestyle related chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Obviously, what "we" are doing now isn't working, wouldn't you say?
Want to know why I cut out grains?
- Grains and processed carbohydrates cause blood glucose levels to spike. Then your pancreas compensates for the excess blood glucose in the bloodstream by secreting excessive levels of insulin.
- Excess insulin means glucose is removed so quickly/effectively that the result is a "sugar crash" and mental/physical lethargy. Because the brain relies on glucose heavily for fuel, it sends a message (strong craving) for more carbs cuz it needs fuel.
- Insulin's main job is to transport nutrients out of the bloodstream and into the muscle, liver and fat cell storage deposits. When there is a lot of it in the bloodstream, there is no release of the stored body fat for use as energy.
So to put it plainly, You can't reduce your body fat on a diet produces too high levels of insulin.
But even beyond weight loss, if you over-stress your insulin response system for years, it causes general system failure like type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease and other diet related cancers. In other words, our bodies don't function optimally on a high-carb diet. It's like putting regular gas in a car that takes only unleaded.
Some other cool morsels I learned:
- Carbs are not required in the human diet for survival. You don't need to eat bread or potatoes or oatmeal or pasta for any reason. Your body needs fat and protein--those are essential for healthy bodily systems. But your body can generate it's own glucose (which is the fuel you get from carbs) from fat, protein and muscle. So, isn't it interesting that the food pyramid has grains at the base of a healthy diet and fat at the top to be eaten sparingly? We need healthy fats! We don't need bread!
- Saturated fat (the kind that is solid at room temperature) is the most beneficial to cook with. So don't shirk cooking that egg in the bacon grease.
- There is no proof that egg consumption raises blood cholesterol or affects your risks of heart disease.
- Grains also have phytates which make it hard for your body to absorb the minerals in your food; gluten which causes immune disturbances and lectins which inhibit a healthy gut.
- Here's an interesting one: The glycemic load for 1 slice of white bread is equal to that of 1 slice of whole wheat bread. Which means they eventually produce the same amount of insulin!!! All these years of eating the "healthier whole wheat bread" over the white bread--crazy!!!
- Also, did you know legumes are not vegetables. They are carbohydrates and contain lectins too.
- And corn, it's not a vegetable either! It's a grain!!!
And Milk/Calcium--Check this out!
- Casein, a protein in dairy products, has autoimmune stimulating properties and is believed to contribute to things like celiac, crohns, IBS, asthma and autism.
- We don't need nearly as much calcium as we've been led to believe. Think about this: The US and other Western nations have a very high dairy intake but still have high rates of osteoporosis. Hmmm.
- Magnesium, Vitamins D & K, and Potassium are also very important for bone health. Too much calcium in a diet makes it hard to absorb the magnesium because they use the same pathways.
- So all the milk you drink and calcium pills you take to make your bones healthy, are interfering with the other important nutrients and are actually not helping your bone health.
- Dairy foods are also acid forming which hampers calcium absorption.
- We are better off getting our calcium from things like: leafy greens, nuts, oranges, broccoli, sweet potatoes, salmon and sardines.
I couldn't believe some of this--it's so opposite from "conventional wisdom", but it turns out "conventional wisdom" isn't so wise. I highly recommend Sisson's book, The Primal Blueprint, if any of this hit home with you. He gives some great guidelines on how to eat/live to avoid the common pitfalls of the SAD (Standard American Diet) and lifestyle. He's got ideas on workouts, how to eat primally on a budget and how many carbs to eat to stay in ketosis.