"Having a blog is like wandering around your house naked with the windows open; it's all very liberating until someone looks in the window. However, while being caught unawares is one thing, it is quite another to stroll up to the window and press your naked, flabby body against the coolness of the glass in a hideous form of vertical prostration for all the world to see..." These posts are the smudges that are left behind on the window.

Thought for Food

This page has nothing to do with spirituality. It's really just a place to collect my thoughts on some research I've been doing concerning an optimal diet; not diet in the sense of losing weight, but the healthiest way to eat.

For the past 2 months or so, we have been eating a Paleo/Primal diet. What this basically means is no grains or legumes. Some assume that this means consuming massive amounts of meat and/or fat, such as in the Atkins diet, but it doesn't. We consume the same amount of meat as we always did, but now replace whatever carbs were being provided by grain products with the carbs provided by fruit and veggies. While this type of eating has been fairly successful for us (I have gone from eating 2 or 3 servings of fruit and veggies to about 10 to 12 per day, and I've lost 10lbs), I have had concerns about some of it's basic tenets. This resulted in my entering the very confusing world of nutritional fact and opinion to try and make some sense of all the conflicting and contradictory data. What is very clear is that human nutrition, especially weight loss, is very complex with all the factors interdependent. There is no one, straight forward answer.

So, in no particular order;

There are several Blue zones around the globe where there is a significant percentage of the people who live to be 100. But there are lots of other areas were people live very healthy lives, virtually disease free. Most people that are supporters of diets in the blue zones will tell you that it is basically because these people are vegetarian. However, when you look at disease free areas in other parts you will see that their diets vary wildly. Take the Inuit for example who live almost exclusively on fish and meat. If you've ever been in the arctic (and I have) you will realize that there is very little plant material for them to eat prior to the white man bringing in grocery stores. (and it is prior to the white man that they were the healthiest). But, there are 3 things that ALL healthy areas of the world have in common.

1. A calorie restricted diet.
2. No intake of processed or refined food, such as sugar or white flour
3. Plenty of exercise

Once these people started to be influenced by a western diet, either by moving to the west or the west coming to them, they started getting the same diseases and ailments as people in the west.  A lot of vegetarian diet proponents put this down to meat consumption, but the research if far from clear - it could be due to an increased caloric intake. It is a scientific given that caloric restriction is the single biggest factor in longevity. They have been able to extend the life of lab rats by 30% by restricting their calories.

It has now been proven through the most recent scientific studies that saturated fat has nothing to do with heart disease. It probably still isn't a good idea to consume too much, but there's no need to be afraid of it.

The concept of anti-nutients, particularly in grains, is not wacko science. It is very real. However, unless you eat a nutrient deficient diet which consists of mainly grains, such as some third world countries, or you are a cow who only eats grains, the affect on human vitamin and mineral uptake is minimal. As long as you are eating a decently nutritious diet which consists of a wide variety of foods, there is no need to be concerned about anti-nutrients in grains and legumes. If you are still concerned, the affect can be even further mitigated by soaking, sprouting, or fermenting. i.e.. sourdough bread.

The problem with refined and processed foods are their affect on blood sugar and the resultant insulin response.

The biggest single consideration for health seems to be blood sugar levels. The best tool for considering foods in this regard is the Glycemic Index(GI) and/or Glycemic Load (GL) of a particular food. However, for weight loss, total calories and total carbohydrate intake must be taken into consideration as well.

The effects of a high GI food can be mitigated by combining it with foods that are high in protein, fat, or fibre. You can also drop the GI of an item by up to 15% by consuming alcohol just previous to consuming the food.

Grains typically have some of the highest GI's of any food. This is primarily because they are pulverized into a flour which increases their surface area thereby speeding up their absorption into the blood stream. By eating whole grains this process is slowed down thus reducing the GI of the food. Whole grains refers to intact grains, or partially intact grains, not whole wheat. Whole wheat flour has the same GI as white flour because it has been pulverized therefore it is of no greater benefit than white.

If you are going to eat bread, probably the best type of bread you could eat would be a whole grain, sourdough bread.

If you want to maintain your weight keep your carbs below 150 per day. If you want to lose weight keep them below 100 per day. As far as calories are concerned, it is extremely difficult to intake an excess of calories if you are keeping your carbs below 100. One way you could possibly do it is with massive amounts of protein and/or fat, but as long as you are half-ways reasonable this shouldn't be a problem.

The best way to reach target carb and/or GL goals is through complex carbs such as veggies (although the term complex carbs is something of a misnomer these days. Perhaps it would be best to say Low GI foods). You can still eat things like bread in moderation, but preferably with protein, fat, or fibre. The occasional cupcake won't kill you. It's more of a systemic diet type of thing.

Although I have not tried this yet myself (I will let you know) I suspect that once you reach a weight that you are happy with, looking out for blood sugar levels through the GI and/or GL will enable you to  maintain your weight with optimal health and minimal fuss.

According to most experts the target is to keep your GL to below 100 for the day. However, even with this it is theoretically possible to take in an excess of calories while still meeting the target GL if you are stupid.

All this is based on a person without any major health issues. If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes you need to consider other factors. However, much of this info is still applicable.

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