Lose Weight & Live Longer: Stop Consuming These 3 Things
by Maarten Van Nus
As a boomer, all you have to do is look around to see that the foods we eat these days are killing us. Yes, they are hurting us and prematurely aging us, but it’s by looking at our children and grandchildren that we can really grasp the horror of what is happening.
Think about how we looked and felt when we were kids; childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes were virtually unheard of. That was because the foods we ate were real and whole, they weren’t saturated with sugars, salt, and added fat. With the exception of, perhaps, processed cheese, we never heard the term processed food.
But, slowly and steadily, food processing — a deliberate change in food that occurs before it’s available for us to eat — has become widely used and many of the main stream things we ingest each day are highly processed and contain added sugars, sweeteners, oils and other fats, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives to extend their shelf life. What we are discovering is that many of these additives and/or processes are causing all sorts of health problems along the way.
Your body is a finite system that either runs and survives or becomes unhealthy and quickly ages depending on what you put in it. Here are three things you can stop ingesting today to feel better and live a longer healthier life:
Sugar ages us both in appearance and biologically. It’s consumption causes weight gain and stress on our body as well as the increasing the appearance of wrinkles and older looking skin and features.
How Sugar Affects Our Biology
Lets face it, deep down, we all know that sugar is bad for us. Despite that, it is in almost everything you buy from shelves or refrigerators at the grocery store. It’s getting harder and harder to find food that is completely sugar-free. The reason that it’s added to many processed foods is because it is highly addictive. So, it’s not really the food product you are addicted to, as you have been led to believe, but the sugars found in the product that keeps you buying more.
We’ve all heard how sugar affects your insulin levels and is a leading cause of Type 2 diabetes. We’ve also been told overuse of sugar can lead to cancer and other diseases. But, for the sake of this blog, we will focus on why sugar promotes weight gain and accelerates aging.
There is a hormone in our body called Leptin, what Leptin does is communicate between our brain and our body to determine if we have had enough food or not; think of it as the trigger for our hunger signals. When our body’s Leptin levels are at 50 % or better, our body signals the hypothalamus to say we have enough nutrients in it and the brain shuts off the hunger signal. When the Leptin levels are under 50%, the reverse happens and our brain initiates a hunger signal. Remember that our brain and body are always in constant communication.
Sugar causes a condition called Leptin Resistance in which the sugar in our body interrupts or distorts the Leptin signal and fools the body into thinking its Leptin level is below 50%. The brain then repeatedly sends out a hunger signal.
If we have a very high sugar-intake, the Leptin signal to stop the hunger signal never kicks in and massive overeating is the result. When you become aware of all the sugar hidden in the unhealthy processed food and beverages that are staples for so many people, you will see how the vicious cycle continues: A cycle that leads to weight gain and, in extreme cases, obesity!
By cutting down on or, better yet, stopping your sugar intake all together, your body will re-regulate its Leptin levels. When your body’s Leptin signals are again working as they should, it is much easier to control your eating because you no longer feel hungry all the time. Check the nutrition label on all the products you buy to see how much sugar they include. Look at the ingredients listing to see how many sugars are added during the food’s processing. Look for ingredients like: corn syrup, words ending in ose (glucose, fructose, lactose, dextrose, maltose, etc.), syrups, molasses, honey, agave nectar, cane juice, cane sugar, raw sugars, and others. Remember, whether the sugar is “healthy” or not, it is still a sugar and will still result Leptin Resistance if too much is eaten.
How Sugars Age Us
- Sugar ages our appearance because it binds to collagen under our skin. This is most notable in the delicate area around the eyes. It is collagen that provides the elasticity of our skin, allowing our skin to move and crinkle but still bounce back to a smooth look. Once sugar binds to the collagen, our wrinkles no longer bounce back because the skin loses its elasticity, which creates premature lines and wrinkles.
- The second way in which sugars age us has to do with the Telomeres in our body.
The longer your telomeres are, the easier it is for your chromosomes to replicate during cell division — thus, passing DNA information to the offspring cell more — and leading to longer, healthier cell life.
Long-term sugar ingestion shortens your telomeres, leaving your DNA strand vulnerable to unraveling like an unprotected shoelace. If this happens, your chromosomes have a harder time replicating, which causes shortened cell life and, thus, premature aging.
First, let me say: Yes, our body needs a small amount of sodium daily to function properly. Having said that, the common table salt we use and the sodium our body needs are not one and the same. Table salt contains only 40% sodium and 60% chloride, so it’s not pure sodium.
The body needs sodium to maintain a balance between intracellular fluids — the liquids found inside our cells — and extracellular fluids — all liquids found outside our cells. As well, sodium is an electrically charged molecule that supports nerve transmissions and muscular contractions.
Our body needs less than 1500 mg of sodium — equivalent to 0.75 teaspoon of table salt — daily, which we can easily get from whole foods such as beets, leafy deep greens like spinach and kale, meat, celery, and carrots, etc. When we limit our sodium intake to only that occurring in natural sources, our body has enough sodium to perform the tasks requiring it and uses it all efficiently.
Now, if you, like me, have looked around, and I’m sure you have, you will notice common salt added to everything — as seen on food labels and people’s use of the salt shaker, as well. It’s reached the point that the average person is taking in close to 3400 mg — almost 1.5 teaspoons of salt — a day, which is way over the amount the body needs. Many people consume much more than that daily.
When we consume too much salt, our body retains too much water, which raises blood pressure. The higher our blood pressure, the greater the strain on our heart, arteries, kidneys, and brain, which — over time — can lead to heart attacks, strokes, dementia, and kidney disease. And, the added water weight, though not fat, does show up both on the scale and under the skin, usually giving the face a puffed-up, watery look.
Just a side note on diet centers that guarantee you will lose 10 pounds in the first few weeks (which we will write more about in another blog): The 10 pounds they promise you will lose is essentially water weight. Their programs cut all unnecessary salt in your diet and, as a result, they are pretty certain you will lose 10 pounds. If you simply cut out all the salt in your diet yourself, you likely will likely lose 10 pounds as well, without paying for their program or special food.
We’ve all heard that processed and fast foods are bad for us, but just how bad is it?
Let’s start with the fact it’s a product and not really food or anything the body recognizes as food!
In your digestive system, there are various enzymes that breakdown food, pull the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals out of it, and distribute them throughout the body. Real food has built-in enzymes that assist with its digestion. There are no such enzymes in processed food. So, by eating these enzyme-dead foods, you are over-taxing your pancreas, which produces digestive enzymes as well as the hormone insulin. Over time, the over-demand of digestive enzymes will exhaust the pancreas so much that it will become incapable of producing enough enzymes to properly aid in digestion.
Type 2 Diabetes
In addition to digestive problems, an over-worked pancreas makes you susceptible to developing Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes exists when either a pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to adequately maintain a safe blood sugar range or the body becomes insulin resistant to the insulin the pancreas produces and blood sugar rises as a result.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA):
After eating, blood glucose levels rise and, in response, the pancreas releases insulin, which is a hormone that signals the body’s tissues to absorb the excess glucose from the blood. For reasons that are not entirely clear, some people develop a condition called insulin resistance in which the body’s tissues begin to ignore insulin, driving up blood glucose levels, and in some cases leading to Type 2 diabetes. Research suggests that tasty chemicals in processed food called advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) may trigger inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, damaging tissues and causing insulin resistance.
As I like to tell my clients, “When you eat too much processed food, your body will — one day — give up trying to digest it and just stuff it anywhere it can.”
When you think about it, that kind of hits the nail on the head when it comes to processed food and weight gain . Then combine all the salt and sugar that is added to them and you can see how your weight gain can spiral out of control.
Along with the danger of Type 2 diabetes is the fact that processed foods contain some of the worst inflammation causing ingredients we know. In addition to the large amount of sodium in processed foods, which causes the issues discussed above, processed foods are often also very high in saturated fats, trans fats, sugar, refined carbohydrates, mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), gluten, and aspartame.
All of these ingredients cause inflammation in different parts of the body. This can cause issues with existing conditions (for example, those with rheumatoid arthritis are sensitive to joint inflammation that has been linked to aspartame) as well as create new conditions to deal with. Add to that the inflammation caused by weight gain, and you’ll find yourself on a vicious cycle that can be hard to get out of.
Once the inflammation becomes chronic, a host of diseases can follow, such as: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. In fact, chronic inflammation can persist for years, undetected, which leads to premature cell death and low cell regeneration throughout the body, and causes premature aging.
So, the next time you’re in line at that fast food counter, or rolling your shopping cart up and down the aisles of your local grocery store (instead of around the perimeter of the store, where the real food is), think about what you are buying to fuel your most precious possession, YOUR BODY. And, before you put something in your mouth, stop and ask yourself: “Is what I’m about to ingest good for my body or is it going to age me, lead to weight gain, and cause unwanted health problems.”
Remember: Once you swallow that food, that’s it. It’s in your body, good or bad!
It’s time, as health conscious individuals, to make better choices about what we eat and what we serve our families at meal time. Make the choice now to change your diet to whole, nutritious, and enzyme rich foods. It is delicious stuff, truly, and your body will love you for it as will anybody you feed.
For more information about Type 2 Diabetes, see the American Diabetes Association (ADA).