We all want to be fit and healthy but actually getting there takes a shift in our awareness. The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar business because we’re all looking for a low effort, quick-fix to our physical woes. Unfortunately, this quick-fix-give-me-a-pill-lose-weight-fast attitude keeps us on a yo-yo of diets, cleanses and hopelessness. The truth is, being lean, strong and healthy comes from a consistent lifestyle choice and as my trainer once said, six-pack abs are made in the kitchen. The three main causes of bloating, fat deposits and overall roundness can be credited to our good ol’ friends, sugar, flour, and dairy.
ENEMY #1: SUGAR
Sugar might as well be a drug that comes with warning labels. It’s addictive, full of empty calories and it has deteriorated our taste buds so much that we need more and more of it just to feel satisfied. The problem lies not in sugar alone, because most people know sugar is bad for them. It’s the fact that sugar is hidden in most processed foods. Sugar is found in everything from ketchup to bacon. Cereals, flavored yogurts, milk, packaged foods, bread, “natural juices”, gum, protein powder, salad dressings and pasta sauces all have sugar in them – and not the good kind of sugar like the one found in raw fruits.
Why is sugar bad for me?
According to Dr. N.W. Walker, “When we eat sugar in any shape or form, in food, in candy or in liquids, it ferments in the system causing the formation of acetic acid, carbonic acid and alcohol. The acid is detrimental to the membranes in the intestinal tract and the alcohol gradually destroys the texture of the kidneys. When we eat or drink anything with sugar in it, the pancreas is both overworked and subject to disturbing reactions. This is particularly the case because sugar is a “dead”, processed product, and the resulting disturbance is the cause of many ailments and afflictions. It can be accurately said that sugar is a drug in the system, and people who use much of it go through the same degeneration, sooner or later, that a drug addict goes through.” Refined sugar is pro-inflammatory, promoting AGEs (toxic compounds) and speeding up the aging process. It also promotes a dangerous growth of fat cells around the vital organs, causing diabetes and heart disease.
What does sugar do to the body?
All sugar including honey, agave and maple syrup are processed by the body in similar ways. Upon consumption these little white devils elevate our blood sugar levels. As a response, our body produces a hormone called insulin to try to balance out the excess sugar. This results in a blood sugar crash. Our body then goes into emergency mode and releases cortisol, a stress hormone. And this is just from one consumption of sugar! During the sugar “crash”, most people respond by consuming yet more sugar to elevate their energy and the result is a hormonal roller coaster that keeps on repeating day after day. Sugar puts a tremendous stress on the liver, nervous system, digestive system and more. The immune system is said to be compromised by 50 percent every single time you eat sugar, which makes you more susceptible to colds, depression, weight gain, and many other conditions. When the liver is full of sugar it expands and expels the sugar back into the bloodstream in the form of fatty acids that get stored as fat in the most inactive parts of the body, such as your bum, belly, hips, thighs and chest.
How can I eat less sugar?
Nutritional chef Fabrice Poigin says that “The Western world today consumes more sugar than ever before, with fructose being the NUMBER ONE source of calories in the US.” Let’s face it, sugar tastes great, but the drug addict also thinks heroin feels amazing. Just because something tastes good doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Precisely because it tastes so good, it gives us pleasure by triggering an innate process in the brain via dopamine and opioid signals – similar to the process in other types of addiction. It all goes back to the awareness thing. If we are conscious of what sugar does to the body, we might be more inclined to avoid it. We have no more excuses. All drinks and food items are labeled today. We only have to read and decide for ourselves if the calories and sugar intake are really what we want. If you simply can’t live without sugar, at least opt for the better types of sugar like honey and the natural sugar in raw fruits. Make your own juice and smoothies with sweet fruits and coconut water instead of drinking sugary sports drinks, sodas and “smart waters”. Dehydrate your own fruit instead of buying candy and processed snacks. Start with small changes that will surely make a big difference in how you look and feel.
All sugar is not created equal.
Anything that ends in “ose” is sugar. Remember that and you’ll be good to go when you start reading all your labels.
>Sucrose (table sugar) is 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose.
>Glucose is the form of energy your body is designed to run on. It is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate. Every cell in your body uses glucose for energy and it is metabolized in every organ of your body; only about 20 percent of glucose is metabolized in your liver.
>Fructose, on the other hand, can only be metabolized by your liver, because your liver is the only organ that has the transporter for it (much like alcohol!).
>High Fructose Corn Syrup (used mostly in processed food, juices and sodas) is anywhere from 42 to 55 percent fructose depending on which type is used.
>Artificial sweeteners deserve their own article. Do not use them! Aspartame and Saccharin are both 300 times sweeter than sugar and even though these sweeteners have been around for many decades, scientists still don’t know all the negative effects of consuming it. This is found in sodas, candies, gum, etc.
For a great explanation of what sugar is doing to our bodies, please see this great clip.
ENEMY #2: FLOUR
Why is flour bad?
Flour seems harmless enough. After all, it’s virtually fat-free! However, most man-made foods are not so good for you. If you reach for the flour products you might as well reach for a bag of sugar because your body treats flour the same exact way. Flour is converted to sugar very quickly in digestion, thus causing stress on the pancreas, which needs to release large quantities of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that signals the storage of fat! According to womensfitness.com, “Highly processed white flour (alias “enriched wheat flour” or “wheat flour”) is missing the two most nutritious and fiber-rich parts of the seed: the outside bran layer and the germ (embryo). A diet of refined foods leaves many malnourished, constipated, enervated and vulnerable to chronic illness.” It’s not that grains are bad, the problem lies in the refining process. We are simply not eating food in its natural form. Our bodies have not changed much in thousands of years, but our food choices have.
How can I eat less flour?
Going without flour is tough but if we are vigilant we can make better choices about what we put into our bodies. Try eating at least 50 percent raw, whole foods every day. For every meal all you have to do is make sure that you have a healthy salad, freshly made juice or raw fruits. Educate yourself on ancient whole grains like millet, teff, quinoa, kamut, spelt, and more. These are great alternatives to the glutenous, refined, and enriched products that cause inflammation in the body. Cutting back on sugar and flour is the easiest way to watch the excess pounds melt off without having to overdo the exercise. Check out the Whole Grains Council website for more info on how to cook with better grains.
ENEMY #3 : DAIRY
Is dairy bad for me?
It turns out that 75 percent of the world is negatively affected by lactose. The purpose of milk as intended by the law of nature is to nurse babies for a short period of time. It is a lactating secretion that a mother provides for her young in order to pass on important antibodies and nutrients. Why would we need to ingest a substance that helps a baby cow to go from 90 to 2,000 pounds in less than two years? The milk of every species of mammal is unique and specifically tailored to the requirements of that animal. For example, cows’ milk is much richer in protein than human milk – three to four times as much. However, it is significantly deficient in essential fatty acids when compared to human mothers’ milk. It simply is not designed for humans. Of all the mammals, only humans continue to drink milk beyond babyhood. All that aside, milk is a processed food. Most milk on the market is treated with heat, hormones, chemicals, preservatives and antibiotics. Dairy produces an inflammatory response in the body, which is why it is considered one of the main allergens in the food we consume today. Most people who are allergic to milk and don’t realize it, experience a wide range of symptoms that can lead to serious disease. Read your labels – you might be surprised how many products are made with milk.
Where will I get my calcium?
The National Dairy Council spent 190 million dollars on their Got Milk campaign to convince you that you need 3 glasses of milk a day to stay healthy. According to foodintol.com, “While we all need calcium for good bones and teeth, the amount of absorbable calcium available to us in dairy foods is poor compared to other foods. Consuming 21 servings of dairy every week may provide you with calcium but it delivers huge amounts of lactose and milk protein (casein) into your body whereby causing all kinds of chronic symptoms.” The dairy farmers’ lobby groups, marketers and advertising agencies want you to believe that the best way to get calcium is by drinking milk, but there are better ways. Based on absorption and calorie-for-calorie, kale, bok choy and broccoli are all better sources of calcium than milk. Other vegetables that contain high levels of calcium include kidney beans, black beans, arugula and spinach. Consuming these natural foods will not only give you all the calcium you need, but you will also be cutting out the unnecessary molecules that come from a heated, processed animal milk.
How can I consume less dairy?
There are many great alternatives to dairy these days. Try almond, rice, hemp, and coconut milks. They’re delicious and much better for our systems. Can’t give up cheese and all that yummy tasting dairy stuff? Reach for sheep or goat products. At least they are less allergenic, naturally homogenized and easier to digest. They also don’t cause lactose intolerance and they match up to the human body anatomy better than cow’s milk.
If it’s white, avoid it. Opt for vibrant, natural and colorful foods that nourish the cells and help the body eliminate toxins instead of reaching for foods that clog up and stress the system.
Here is a list of Top Ten Inflammatory Foods to Avoid Like the Plague, by theconsciouslife.com.