Are You What You Eat?

Obesity is widespread now. Wind back to the 1980’s, when rates of obesity started to climb. I’m a guest on the TV show and point out two things: the first, that obesity is a major health issue and that sugar is driving it. The host literally gets the audience to boo and hiss me for the ridiculousness of such a thing and being ‘fattist’.

Yet, here we are in 2023 with half of Americans fulfilling the definition of obese, with the UK in close pursuit, and absolutely nothing in place to address it. When Henry Dimbleby came up with the government commissioned solution – going right back to making good food more attractive, bad food less affordable and available, and education to wake up the next generation to the horror we are marching into to – the rather overweight Johnson rejected it all.

A new paper entitled ‘obesogens’ nicely ties together the different strands that are leading to this health meltdown. There are four:

  1. Eating too much (calories) and exercising too little.
  2. Insulin resistance, generated by too many carbohydrates (hence my low GL diet approach), with insulin being the fat-storing hormone.
  3. Oxidative stress from too much sugar and fat causing messed up metabolism and fat storage. Think of this as too much ‘exhaust’ with glutathione playing a key role.
  4. Obesogens – products of ultra-processed foods, plastic packaging, preservatives, colourings, high fructose corn syrups, fake sugars other hormone disrupting chemicals that are messing up hormonal signalling, driving up hunger and inhibiting satiety.

For those who want the details read the paper, published in then International Journal of Obesity by Drs Jerrold Heindell, Rob Lustig, Sarah Howard and Barbara Corkey.

The net result of these four forces of the fake food of today’s modern day diet are inevitably weight gain, inflammation and, ultimately, premature death. As we enter the fifth year of decreasing human lifespan in affluent societies, we should perhaps step back and realise that we are part of a food culture that is killing us.

I explained two of them during my January webinar, ‘Get Healthy 2024′ – controlling glucose and reducing oxidation.

The other two relate to methylation and the role of essential fats.

The key steps are:

  1. Avoid sugar and sweeteners and cut right back on all refined and ultra processed carbs, reducing carbs in general.
  2. Increase organic, whole plant foods, herbs and spices. I also recommend eating foods rich in all the key antioxidants (glutathione or its precursor NAC; vitamin C, E, alpha lipoic acid, Co Q and anthocyanins including resveratrol) and also supplementing these antioxidants.
  3. Upping essential omega-3 fats from marine food and supplements and eating organic eggs rich in phospholipids, both of which are also food sources of vitamin D, as well as supplementing this vital ‘winter’ vitamin (I take 3,000iu of Vitamin D a day).

You Are What You Eat

For those who watched the Netflix series You Are What You Eat, it compared, over 6 weeks, the effect of putting identical twins on either an ‘omnivore diet’ with meat and dairy products and a vegan/plant-based diet. (I find this particular dialectic and rather short-sighted. Nowhere in the programme was there any mention of the own food group that must have been central in the origin of Homo  Sapiens, namely marine food.

In all comparative surveys of diets I’ve seen it is the fish/plant eaters who come out on top. A great example of this, highlighted as part of a background story, are the 7th Day Adventists who eat in this way (plus living in a culture of exercise, socialisation and religion) who live ten years longer than those literally across the freeway, less than a mile away, eating the standard American diet (SAD diet).

During the twin trial, there was little difference in weight loss. The meat eaters gained a bit more muscle. The vegans lost more visceral fat. The vegans had slightly longer telomeres, an indicator of biological age, and higher bifidobacteria, usually a product of a more variable diet and plant fibres. They said they measured inflammation but reported on one rather biased choice of measure, TMAO, which goes up when eating meat (or fish) thus giving the vegans one more brownie point. It’s not a robust indicator of inflammation.

I didn’t learn too much nutritionally, but the programme did highlight the horrors of mass dairy and meat production, extolling mass vegan food production with a hint towards the need for us to eat more natural foods.

It didn’t emphasize the simple truth – that good food goes off and the need to eat whole, fresh, organic food as much as possible. It felt a bit like an advert for a vegan diet, sidestepping the fact that there are plenty of ultra-processed plant-based foods and the essentiality of seafood nutrients including omega-3, phospholipids, B12, selenium, iodine and other minerals rich in marine foods.