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My Confusion with Health Studies and Healthy Eating.

I love to read. I love news and social networking. I love to watch documentaries on TV and Netflix. I’m online most of the day and at least once or twice a week I find myself staring at another healthy eating study. I know I shouldn’t read it… but instinctively I click on the link and read the latest bout of confusing information.

My doctor has constantly pushed the low-fat and low calorie diet on me for years. Every year I get a physical and it has provided the same results. I’m healthy as a horse….but they’d like me to lose a few pounds. I was told to cut down on the amount of food I was eating. For a late night snack eat a piece of apple with 1/2 teaspoon of peanut butter on it. Don’t eat any fat. Fat is bad for you. Wow I was so unexcited. Anyway I followed through on the diet as told. I felt weak, hungry and tired and the weight dropped off so slow I could barely notice. So slow that I wasn’t excited about the results. I avoided fatty foods and anything that would push my calorie count up.

I sure didn’t feel any healthier. According to new the scientific studies out there….I probably wasn’t improving my health at all.

The latest studies I’ve read recently have just added more to the confusion. Here’s the rundown.

Last week I watched a special on PBS, In Defence of Food by Berkeley author Michael Pollan.

What I Got Out of it.

It was interesting to note that in this documentary that there was a direct correlation between low-fat and low calorie diets and an increase of obesity. The population switched from eating real foods likes veggies and meats that contained natural saturated fats towards frankenfoods that were high in carbs and chemicals and low in nutritional value. All the simple carb eating raised diabetes in the population. Pollen also draws a link between health issues and margarine. The man-made butter substitute is full of transfat which just so happens to be very bad for you. Seems pretty straight forward. Eat real food and natural fats. Eat lots of plants.

So it seems that one of the best things you can do for your health is eat less simple carbs and less sugar. I’m less confused now….but wait…not so fast! I read this article from Science Daily online. Blood Sugar Levels in response to foods are highly individual .

What I Got Out of it

Turns out we all process sugar out of foods differently. In this study some people may have a huge spike in blood sugar from tomatoes..but not with ice-cream. The blood sugar spike could differ in the same person depending on how much sleep or exercise they had. The flora and bacteria in the gut maybe to blame. Blood sugar levels differed widely from person to person. The study stressed that diets need to be personalized. Generalized diets might be ineffective. Well…..greeeeat.

Now that we are on the topic of gut bacteria. I read this Study in Scientific American. How Gut Bacteria Help Make us Fat and Thin.

What I Got Out of it

Certain mixtures of gut bacteria help regulate hormones, how much fat we store and blood sugar levels. We are either born with the right microbes or we are not. Foods that we eat can alter the good bacteria in our gut….if we actually have it to begin with. Processed food cuts down on the good bacteria. Do they really know how to fix the problem? Not yet. Probiotics might help. Might not.

Finally to add to the last little bit of confusion is an article posted in the New York Times

What I Got Out of It.

It turns out that being obese might not be bad for your health after all. “The study, by Katherine M. Flegal and her associates at the C.D.C. and the National Institutes of Health, found that all adults categorized as overweight and most of those categorized as obese have a lower mortality risk than so-called normal-weight individuals.”

Anyone else confused? How did we get into this mess!!!


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