Australian Functional Ingredients Pty Ltd

What’s the perfect diet and why are we getting fat?

Why are we getting fat?

It’s pretty clear that as a population, we in the developed world are losing the Battle of the Bulge. Despite promotion of whole foods, organics or healthy food choices; the marketing of food pyramids; go, grow, glow food charts; 2 fruits and 5 vegetable campaigns; swags of nutritionists clogging government halls, supermarket PR departments and even McDonald’s spin teams, nothing is slowing the expansion of our collective girths. It’s a volume of lipid of biblical proportions sweeping over the planet like a pestilence of the past.

A simple cure might not be possible without significant change to our food supply or widespread surgical intervention. Obesity may need to be part of the carbon tax debate with individuals over a set BMI (body mass index) paying tax on their disproportionate contribution to green house gas emissions. That will be popular if it’s politically correct to even mention it – I don’t think.

So are all diets ineffective or are we not getting the full story on stemming the tide of adipose production? Obviously pills, potions and powders are not going to cut the mustard and if we knew enough about nutrition to make synthetic food that kept us thin, wouldn’t it be on the supermarket shelves already? There would be some multi-national making a buck out of it for sure.

But it’s not happening. Am I being cynical from observing that companies are doing very well on anti-diabetic symptom drugs (not anti-diabetic drugs as no pharmaceuticals aim to cure the condition, only to relieve the symptoms).

I’ve looked at a lot of diet programs going from the branded meal recommendations and solutions such as Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig to pick your favorite fat celebrity diet … the list is endless. And eating like an anorexic budgie or converting to a fundamentalist vegetarian may be good for the strong willed to shed some weight but it’s hardly sustainable. If nutritionists are the New healers or if their food plans work for us all, why do we see a new diet every issue of every women’s and many men’s magazines?

But I was convinced that our prehistory held the key for an easier, more universal way to lose weight and we now have, in my opinion, the best diet for good health, weight loss and on-going lifestyle. It is based on the foods of our pre-urbanized ancestors and borrows heavily from traditional Australian Aboriginal nutrition.

My work, both practical and theoretical has been with Australian wild foods and researching the nutritional value of Aboriginal traditional foods has provided some alarming insights into our modern foods. And I don’t mean fast foods or processed ingredients but what most people believe are healthy foods – fruits, veggies, even meats. You see we are breeding our cultivated, domesticated foods to be high in sugar – sweet corn, sweet tomatoes, sweet snow peas, sweet potato, sweet beans or high in fat – lamb, marbled beef, corn fed poultry. Mangoes now have 3% more sugars than the same weight of Coke or Pepsi. And melons, bananas, apples, citrus, stone fruits, berries, grapes and dates are all sweet from bred-in elevated levels of sucrose.

Insidiously, we have also bred out micro-sugars with our selections of large, juicy, sweet produce and left bitter principles behind in only radicchio, rocket and bitter melons (which few of us eat). Micro-sugars appear to bind to the guard cell proteins on the walls of our cells and enhance the uptake of antioxidants and other nutrients. Organic acids have also left the building and yet in foods, these slow the absorption of carbohydrates in the gut and provide fuel for micro-organisms in the intestines. This microbial gut flora makes secondary metabolic products which have anti-cancer activity. However, the main difference in modern fruits is their far lower levels of antioxidants and a narrowing of the type of antioxidant e.g. more water-soluble than fat-soluble forms.

Does it matter?

1. What’s the significance of all that sucrose and 2. What’s the nutritional impact of those huge watery fruits and vegetables?

In combination with fat, sucrose is insulinogenic (increases production of insulin). You see sucrose has a GI of 65 compared to glucose at 100. Add some fat to sucrose and the GI bumps up to 110 and this requires lots of insulin to drag the glucose from the sucrose into our cells leaving fructose to circulate in the blood until the liver processes it. Unfortunately, high insulin leads to cellular insulin resistance making even copious amounts of insulin in the blood less effective.

Running on glucose for energy is how our cells work best but this doesn’t happen quite as we need it when we over-load with dietary sucrose.

As mentioned, our cells become insulin resistant from the elevated insulin levels. Then, without micro-sugars, beneficial phytonutrients also get absorbed less. Without bitter principles in foods our digestive enzymes are less stimulated and sugars, fats and proteins are all processed less efficiently. Insulin also accumulates in our fat stores and turns undeveloped beta cells into fully fledged fat cells ready to be pumped up with fat. The high insulin and ample sugars now begin to shift our preferred glucose-fueled metabolism to one which stores fat.

Some good news is that if we can increase our intake of antioxidants then these will reduce cellular insulin sensitivity. If they come in whole foods, particularly those with micro-sugars their absorption is enhanced and all sorts of modern day ills disappear. It has been estimated that 70% of visits to the family doctor are for conditions with a nutritional cure. Additionally, the Australian Cancer Council states that most diseases, including most cancers can be avoided with good nutrition. We now suffer from metaflammation or metabolic inflammation brought on by inducers such as consumed and environmental chemicals; internal and external stresses; exercise (too much or too little); poor diet; inadequate sleep; smoking or excessive drinking; living, growing ageing; and more.

Luckily, antioxidants are the cure but where do we get them from?

Cultivation of our food or domestic animal feeds is in essence, hydroponics in the ground. Little grows in intensive agriculture without applied NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), trace minerals and irrigation. Pesticides and other biocides are another story but they too are essential these days for our factory farms and cynics say that the difference between conventional and organic farming is that organic farmers spray at night. Thankfully, most of us do not believe this.

Anyway, our juicy, sweet foods and high saturated-fat meats are nutritionally depleted of antioxidants and other good nutrients that benefit us in so many ways. Work by Professor Garry Egger at Southern Cross University showed that eating kangaroo meat causes a slight, short-lived rise in inflammatory markers in the blood compared to wagyu (marbled) steak which, on consumption gives vastly elevated, dramatically prolonged levels. These markers are an indication of the induction of metaflammation.

Modern foods are 1/20th as nutritionally rich as wild foods (high in many and varied antioxidants) and most of us eat 1/10th the number of foods as did our ancestors. What modern foods do provide in abundance is energy which is sometimes called empty calories. It’s like fuel for your car but no oil to lubricate the moving parts.

Additionally, potatoes, beans and grains (PBGs) are probably the worst foods on which to build a nutritional framework and yet most of us from villagers to city-dwellers, rely on eight basic foods which nearly all fall within this group. It is postulated that the discovery of turning toxic PBGs edible through the use of cooking and careful selection (eg avoid green potatoes) was a turning point towards urbanization and our departure from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. This move occurred in various parts of the prehistoric world some 10,000 years ago and allowed the emergence of classed societies. We could now have rulers who could live the legendary 4 hour work week by outsourcing everyday tasks to others all the way down to the poor. These wretches had to work 24/7 in order to maintain the lifestyle of the ruling classes and little has changed up to modern times.

So going back to our ideal diet, we need to get up to 35% of our energy from proteins as did most hunter-gatherers and cut way back on the potatoes, beans and grains. Add back nutritionally dense foods with which we evolved which means sourcing some wild fruits, herbs and game meats. Research into wild foods is proving their extreme antioxidant richness so these need to be part of our optimum diet. The attempt to create a healthy diet exclusively using the foods we can find in supermarkets today is useless in protecting us from obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, mental disorders, chronic fatigue and more. Our nutrition must be supplemented with natural sources of antioxidants from some wild or minimally agricultured foods.

In regards to exercise, we can again borrow from our ancestors and look to short duration (10 minute) high intensity exercise 3 times a week. Some weight lifting or resistance training is also recommended to stimulate joints and maintain the calcification of bones.

If you want to know the details of my plan, please leave a comment below. I am working on a whole program to lose weight simply and permanently and this should be available shortly. I’ll also send you an ebook which explains it all at no cost to you as soon as it is finished.

So. Does it work?

Well I have lost more than 12% of my body weight in 4-5 months and Clare, my (much thinner) wife lost 10% of hers. We both like our red wine and chocolate and we still lose weight on the program. We’ll even show you what to do if you can’t avoid a lapse to your wicked ways with food.

For us, the biggest benefits are the ease of the diet, the maintenance of energy and the solid anchor to good food the diet promotes. And did I mention that there’s no calorie restriction? You can eat as much as you want as long as it’s protein but the natural source of antioxidants we recommend reduce cravings making it all the more appealing as a lifestyle, not just a diet.

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Vic Cherikoff