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  • If you could do just one thing.

    If you could do just one thing.
    By Noah Providence

     

     

     

     

     

    Root causes

    CrossFit training philosophy places nutrition at the base of the fitness pyramid. That means it’s the foundation, the base upon which health and performance capacities are built. But what’s the best practice when it comes to eating. There’s so much profit driven conflicting information out there. But if you dig deep, look at all the available research, and study those who have been most successful, you can come away with a few clear directives. ONE directive stands out above the rest. If you do this one thing, you’ll get pretty far.

     

    First, let’s look back at how all the nutrition nonsense began. More than 60 years ago, in 1958,  a charismatic doctor by the name or Ancel Keys launched a project called the Seven Countries Study. It was research on the relationship between dietary pattern and the prevalence of coronary heart disease in Greece, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Japan, and Finland. It led to what’s become known as the “lipid hypothesis”. What he documented and presented to the world was that dietary fat consumption appeared to be directly linked to heart disease. It wasn’t long before recommendations from US government to eat less fat and more grains were made.

     

    But… in the years that followed, a closer review of the data revealed that Keys’ conclusion was based on data that he had cherry-picked to support his existing hypothesis that dietary fat causes heart disease.  His study had actually collected data from 20 countries, not just 7, and when the numbers were looked at in total, the correlation between dietary fat consumption and heart disease disappeared.

     

    Unfortunately, by this time his “lipid hypothesis” had become medical dogma. Although there were scientific dissenters from the very start that knew fat wasn’t the culprit, his theory and the new dietary recommendations became entrenched government dietary policy and medical conventional wisdom.

     

    It seems logical. Arteries get clogged with fatty deposits, so reducing how much fat you eat should help, right? Wrong. The metabolic processes that lead to clogged arteries are much more complicated than that.  

     

    So now, after more than 50 years of Americans following the government recommendations of eating less fat and more carbohydrate, we have the growing type 2 diabetes and obesity epidemics, and heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in America. So if the culprit isn’t fat, what is the root cause of heart disease and many other conditions?

     

    It’s sugar!

     

    If you could only one thing to improve your long term health, the most important change you can make is to eliminate simple sugar completely and greatly reduce or eliminate other non-nutritive sugars like those in grains.

     

    We’ve known for a long time that a low carb diet was effective for weight loss, but this practical application of carbohydrate reduction wasn’t fully appreciated for its health benefits until more recently. In fact, Dr Atkins, who’s low carb Atkins diet became instantly popular when released in 1972, as people lost weight easily and quickly with no calorie restriction, was broadly criticized for being dangerous because of its high fat intake. And while the Atkins diet had its shortcomings, it was a step up from the US govt  food guidelines, which, if followed will lead to 60-70% of your calories coming from carbohydrate.

     

    Ok, so low carb (read sugar) can help you lose weight, but what ARE the other health benefits. A vast body of research shows that insulin resistance, and the inflammation that follows are the root cause of MOST common chronic diseases, and can be avoided by limiting carbohydrate intake.

    Insulin resistance begins when our blood sugar levels frequently spike from a diet high in carbohydrate. Our body responds to this high level of blood glucose (sugar) by releasing insulin to metabolize the sugar. This is the normal and healthy response to ingesting carbohydrate. But over time, persistently high levels of blood glucose and subsequent insulin levels cause the our cells to become “resistant” to the insulin signaling. This is a slow, long developing problem. By the time someone is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in their 40s or 50s, the problem has often been developing for 20 years or more, and by then the problem is much harder to fix. Typically, weight has become very difficult to manage, blood pressure has elevated, and most dangerously the arteries have become inelastic and irritated from the chronically high insulin levels and inflammatory processes it causes.

    Despite the evidence that this is the pathway of most chronic disease, the US govt continues to recommend a diet that will lead to weight gain, insulin resistance and ultimately, chronic disease.

     

    So if you could do just one thing to improve your health, say goodbye to sugar.

     

    (Future posts: Saturated Fats: the current research/What is the Ketogenic diet?/Why low carbohydrate diets cause weight loss, the mechanisms/What is intermittent fasting and how to start/Are carbohydrates needed for high performance?/Fats and brain health)

     

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