By Dr. Mercola
The foods eaten by most Westerners today bear little resemblance to the foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. And our lifestyles are equally non-reflective of our roots. Our bodies evolved to weather the cycles of feast and famine; to accumulate body fat easily in order to make it through times when food was scarce. But the famine never comes now, so all we have is the feast. And feast upon feast upon feast adds up to a LOT of extra body fat.
The documentary points out that 68 percent of U.S. adults are now overweight or obese.
Hunter-gatherers consumed foods with high nutrition and low calories. Today, most Americans are getting the converse—high calories and low nutrition. Many are overfed, yet starving to death. Their bodies are accumulating fat and pollutants from intentional AND unintentional contaminants in our food supply, causing their biological systems to shut down and be vulnerable to a variety of chronic diseases.
Adding to the caloric excess is an exercise deficit.
As a culture, we’ve gotten away from farms and moved to cities, adopting an indoor lifestyle that expends far fewer calories. Instead of walking, we ride in cars. Instead of running from tigers, we chase cursors around a screen. We have completely lost touch with where our food comes from and what goes into creating it. Our very relationship with food has changed, and not for the better.
Are You Addicted to Additives?
Processed food has become a multi-billion dollar industry that dangles the carrot of “convenience.” However, the price you pay for convenience is your very health and vitality. Hungry For Change exposes the dark side of the food industry’s marketing plan—namely, the addition of certain chemicals that secretly can get you addicted and make you a perpetual customer (they hope). You can probably already see the parallels with the tobacco industry that, in the 1960s, began increasing the nicotine level in cigarettes, which kept smokers coming back for more.
One example of an addictive food additive is MSG (monosodium glutamate), which is added to 80 percent of all flavored foods. MSG excites the part of your brain that’s in charge of your fat programs. MSG is what’s known as an excitotoxin, but it’s also used to fatten up mice for scientific study. Yes, MSG is the perfect obesity drug. If you want to achieve your ideal body weight and health, avoid MSG at all costs.
Artificial Sweeteners: The Worst of the Worst
Sweeteners, both artificial and sugar-derived, top the list of addictive additives. But artificial sweeteners are the absolute WORST things you can put in your body. Consider aspartame, sold under the brand names NutraSweet and Equal. Diet cola, which often combines aspartame and caffeine, is the perfectly addictive beverage. These two agents create a very unique but deadly combination of excitotoxins that kill off your brain cells. However, before they do so, they go out with a bang by giving you something akin to a buzz. It’s the perfect plan to get you to go back to the store to buy another soda. And maybe a supersized soda—after all, it has ZERO calories, no matter how much you consume!
But not so fast. You are sipping your way into a trap.
Studies now show that, in spite of their zero-calorie status, many artificial sweeteners actually cause weight GAIN because they stimulate your body to crave carbohydrates. But weight gain may be the least of your worries. Aspartame causes formaldehyde to build up in your brain, which results in all sorts of potentially serious medical problems, including:
Frontal lobe inflammation Visual disturbances Migraines A syndrome similar to multiple sclerosis Seizures Cognitive problems Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia Symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease Symptoms similar to attention deficit disorder
In fact, pilots’ associations are aware of the visual disturbances and caution pilots to avoid using aspartame due to its potential to compromise their ability to pilot a plane.
The food industry claims that aspartame is safe. However, if you look at the studies that claim to support aspartame’s safety, you will see that 90 percent of them were funded by the food and beverage industry. When you examine independent aspartame studies, it’s a totally different story. Ninety percent of those have found serious health problems related to aspartame. The FDA merely evaluates the studies that the industry submits—it doesn’t have a team of researchers conducting those studies itself, contrary to what you might think.
Feeding Your Child Sugar Can Be a Highly Addictive Habit
American children are consuming about ten times as much sugar as they were a century ago, especially in the form of fructose (primarily in the form of high fructose corn syrup). Fructose is the average American’s largest source of calories. This comes as no surprise, as it’s highly addictive. The prevalence of fructose in the Western diet is a very significant factor driving today’s obesity epidemic.
Much of the fructose in processed foods and beverages is in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
You’ll find high fructose corn syrup in an alarming number of everyday products—bread, salad dressing, pasta sauce, infant formula, and nearly all processed foods. In these highly concentrated, highly refined forms, fructose can have some very serious metabolic effects that wreak havoc on your body and make it difficult to escape the addictive cycle. Because it’s so energy-dense, putting HFCS in your body is like putting jet fuel into an automobile engine—you’ll burn it out.
When you consume something so high in sugar, your pancreas must secrete large amounts of insulin to bring down your bloodsugar level. And all of that sugar is turned into fat so it can be stored. Insulin is in fact a fat-producing hormone. But the problems from sugar don’t stop there.
Sugar is a drug. It causes a beta-endorphin rush in your brain, stimulating the production of morphine-like chemicals. When you’re feeling down or under stress, it’s natural to want to eat foods that lift your mood. Sugar fits the bill as a “comfort food,” given its morphine-like physiological effects. And like any drug, your body can become habituated, meaning you will require more sugar over time to get the same sugar high.
Sugar is actually is similar to cocaine in many respects.
Both are highly refined, chemically manipulated agents that are derived from natural, harmless plants—it’s the extremely concentrated forms that are dangerous and addictive to your body. Cocaine is made from coca leaves, which are not in and of themselves harmful and have been used nutritionally for hundreds of years in South Americai. If you want to be healthy, you MUST take control of your sugar intake so that it doesn’t take control over you.
Diets Don’t Work
Diets really don’t work. Although most people have heard this admonition before, many are still unable to resist the temptation. “Dieting” is a multi-million dollar industry itself and does some powerful marketing to lure you in. However, studies are clear that 90 to 95 percent of dieters gain back the weight they lose, and THEN some. Dieting is a temporary fix… do you want to be temporarily healthy? Of course not! You want to be permanently healthy. So, you have to make some permanent lifestyle changes.
Every time you lose weight by dieting, your body will be triggered into trying to protect you from the effects of another “famine” in the future, so it will add some extra body fat as insurance. You may lose 10 pounds on a diet, but you’ll gain back 15 or 20. Dieting is a physiologically flawed concept and sets you up for failure.
Fake-Foods of the Western World
People of vastly different cultures and environments thrive on all sorts of diets, from high fat and high protein to high carbohydrate; some mostly animal products and others largely vegetarian. Yet, as varied as native diets are, most native populations have very low rates of chronic disease when compared with Americans and other Western cultures. Eskimos thrive on diets rich in animal fat and muscle and organ meats, but tropical natives thrive on abundant fresh plants, fish and fruit. Yet both cultures are healthy!
So what’s the common denominator?
Native diets consist mostly of natural, whole foods (whether plant- or animal-based) rather than processed foods that come in a box or a can. Americans are eating overcooked, overprocessed and chemically manipulated fake foods, instead of REAL foods.
Native diets, in general, are largely made up of whole vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and meats. Not cooked down, refined, dehydrated and reconstituted, boxed-up pretend foods that aren’t really foods at all. Eating wisely requires a gradual transition toward the consumption of natural, whole foods that are unaltered by a lab. The closer to nature a food is, the more nutritious it will be. A change away from the cultural “norm” won’t be accomplished over night. Start gradually. As good foods are added into your diet, bad foods will eventually be crowded out.