Sunday, November 01, 2015

A healthy obsession (Part 2)

Alice follows the rabbit down its hole.
OMG! I knew this would happen. I started reading about the dangers of added sugar in our diets, and about the benefits of not eating so much meat, and now I'm hooked. I've been reading more and more, and watching so many YouTube videos, my brain can't process it all quickly enough. People who know me will know how much I like to follow tangential threads, like in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

So far, the two big lifestyle changes that I will be making are to eat less meat and more vegetables, and also to cut out the stevia that I had been using as a sweetener.

There is a growing body of evidence that granulated table sugar is actually REALLY BAD for us. Many places are considering removing soda/pop machines from schools, or introducing a "sugar tax" to help reduce consumption. A great resource, that I will be going back to again and again, is, which is designed as an authoritative source for the scientific evidence about sugar and its impact on health. It is developed by a team of health scientists from the University of California, San Francisco.

When I started to delve into some of these things, I realized that improved health isn't just about losing weight per se. It's also about:

  • controlling fatty deposits on your liver, 
  • reducing insulin resistance, 
  • lowering your blood pressure, 
  • reducing the amount of abdominal fat we carry around our midriff. 

Visceral fat, that pendulous "belly fat", has been linked to metabolic disturbances and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, with good diet and exercise it's possible to get rid of it.

I started to read about Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET), or simply metabolic equivalent, which is a way of expressing the "energy cost" of physical activities in a way that allows comparison of the effects of exercise between people of different weights. An activity with a MET value of 2, such as walking at a slow pace would require twice the energy that an average person consumes sitting quietly at rest. Raking leaves from your lawn has a MET value of 3.8. Backpacking or hiking has a MET value of 7.8. Running at 5 mph (12 min/mile pace) has a MET value of 8.3.

The more I've read, the more certain names keep cropping up again and again: Dr Rob Lustig, Gary Taubes, Cristin Kearns, Laura Schmidt, Joel Fuhrman. More and more documentaries and videos, such as Sugar Coated or The Secrets of Sugar, are coming out.

It's not just sugar that's bad for us, processed foods too can be damaging to our health. So, once again, Michael Pollan was correct with his 7 Rules for Eating: "Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce".

There's more to come ...

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