By: Dr. Celisha Gerber, DOM, AP
How about this cornucopia of "Diet-Friendly" products like those made for diabetics or those looking to lose weight? Weren't they made specifically to protect those with delicate conditions?
Foods that are labeled as being light, fat-free, or sugar-free are usually made with synthetic substitutes for fat and sugar. While these products may not be absorbed as fat, nor increase blood sugar, they have effects that are in conflict with our reasons for consuming them in the first place. Instead of improving our health, they are weakening it on several levels.
For instance, fat substitutes reduce the availability of not only fat, but also fat-soluble vitamins. The fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins depend on fat in the diet in order to be absorbed into the blood. When there is low vitamin A in our body, it leads to vision problems, a compromised immune system, changes in bone formation, dysfunction of cells along the digestive tract, lungs, etc., and many other effects. Vitamin D is responsible for laying down bone, cell formation, and immune system regulation, so low levels of this vitamin can make one vulnerable to infection, autoimmune reactions, weak bones, and slow wound healing. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects our cells from damage during daily chemical reactions and against heavy metals and environmental toxins. Vitamin K is important for controlling bleeding, so low levels will likely lead to easy bruising, blood in the urine and stool, or heavy menstrual bleeding. Even if the food products include these vitamins, without the presence of fat, the vitamins have a difficult time being absorbed anyhow.
Dr. Donald Rudin, MD states that obesity is "caused by a deficiency of essential fatty acids and other vital nutrients, combined with a surplus of antinutrients."1 The problem of obesity can result in an attack of the appetite-controlling mechanism in the brain, as well as the body's heat-controlling, calorie-burning system, leading to a problem of obesity in which willpower is not the cause. Essential fatty acids include Omega 3,6, and 9. For proper function, the body needs each of these to be at certain levels. At Whole Family Healthcare, we offer a test to determine your body's levels of essential fatty acids.
Sugar substitutes are also widely available for the weight-control-minded population, but their safety remains to be in question. Sugar substitutes tend to be excitotoxins, leading to disruption in one's behavior, moods and brain function. Studies show that aspartame, a common sweetener in gum and diet food/drinks, disrupts brain chemistry, increases the risk of seizures, depression and headaches.2,3,4,5 Another effect that aspartame has is stimulation of hunger, leading to an increase of food or calorie intake.6,7 Isn't that what we are hoping to curb?
When sugar and fat regulation are a goal, the safest and most effective diet is through unprocessed whole organic foods. Organic meat, as opposed to inorganic meat, does not have the wide variety of hormones and antibiotics that tend to create imbalances in our own body's hormones and immune function. The fiber inherently in grains, fruits and vegetables help clean out harmful fats, cholesterol and toxins. The vitamins and minerals, which are in higher content in organic food than inorganic, help the body correct imbalances, help neutralize toxins, and improve energy levels. Whole, organic foods also produce the chemical response that signals one to feel satisfied so one does not over-eat. Eating well-balanced meals (complete proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats), even in small portions, help to regulate blood sugar levels, keep energy levels even throughout the day, decrease inflammation and pain signals, and support even moods, behavior and brain function. Exercise goes hand in hand during a weight loss program because of the benefits it has on blood sugar control, hormone regulation, and metabolism improvement.
Remember, the "easy way" usually only leads to the harder way in the long run. The only shortcut to health is through healthy living habits. People suffering from weight issues many times have mechanisms that are not functioning optimally and those must be addressed in addition to lifestyle habits. If you have a goal to lose weight or to control blood sugar and fat/cholesterol levels, come in to be evaluated and to discuss program options tailored to your specific needs. Our reputation precedes us in helping improve one's quality of life. You don't have to struggle on your own. Let us help.