Are you as confused as everyone else about what is the correct type of diet to follow?
Conventional dietetic information to be honest is so contradictory. What is one minute the doctrine of what to eat, the next it is being touted as wrong. How can this be? This occurs because what feels good for one person does not for the other. Thats because we all have different health states and metabolic needs.
Underlying all the hype there are several 4 facts to consider.
- Our food chain has become over processed and adulterated so minimise anything that comes in a packet
- Our bodies do not like too much of any food group. Even vegetables. Our bodies react to a food group or particular food if you have too much of it.
- Our digestive system have become weakened and this is at the heart of most food intolerances and why people feel better avoiding certain food groups.
- Genetically we are predisposed to a certain diet type. But underlying this essentially is an unprocessed diet is healthy for most people.
So first I will attempt here to clear the confusion using age old naturopathic advice that was given to me over 20 years ago when I was studying to become a Naturopathic physician. Even before the cholesterol debate was raging old school naturopaths understood the fat and oil story. It was popularized by Udo Erasmus in his defining opinions on good fats in the form of omega 6 oils particularly. Conventional dietetics never quite got the difference between good and bad fats and the different forms of fats. And to this day there are erroneous thoughts regarding fat intake in the form of high fat, low carbohydrate diets.
The most important aspect to remember in all nutritional information that ‘processing’ is critical. What we do to a food before we consume it is the major determining factor in its effect upon the body. General rule is; the more processed, the further it becomes removed from how nature intended the food to be consumed, the harder for our bodies to assimilate. Most fats in their raw state are fine. Any heat of processing destroys and denatures this fat, with the exemption of Ghee which has been used for centuries by Ayurvedic doctors.
Fats are an important part of our diets and very important especially for hormonal women. But the fats must be of a certain quality, otherwise they do in fact contribute to heart disease and a range of other disorders. Any fat that has been treated with high to super high heat oxidises and becomes dangerous to consume. Many chemicals are produced such as trans fats and acrylamide when fats are heated.
So it is very important to consume fats which are in their natural form. These include acocados, raw nuts and seeds, cold pressed oils, organic free range meats and eggs, fermented cheeses, butter, fermented dairy products and seafood. The current trend with high fat diets is that all fats are beneficial. This is not true. Having bacon that is cooked to a crisp unfortunately is not healthy. Likewise consuming meat and seafood products that have been farmed commercially. These animals have been subjected to a range of growth promoting compounds and the fats are not healthy fats. Just take a look at a piece of game meat of farmed salmon versus wild salmon. The quality of the fats is very different and have a very different effect on your body.
Actually the effect is the complete opposite to each other. Bad fats create inflammation, hormonal imbalance, heart disease and cancer. Good fats protect against each of these conditions. The point to take away here is that good unprocessed fats are healthy. This was not common knowledge for many years and thankfully now is being advocated. However don’t get lured into the trap that all fats are good.
Now to the carbohydrate myths. It’s very simple actually. Whole carbohydrates, i.e unprocessed, when consumed in moderation are good. Refined carbohydrates and simple sugars, surprise, surprise, are bad for you. Actually they are deadly and are the major cause of most degenerative diseases today.
They also are at the root cause of the obesity epidemic. In the 80’s the general public began avoiding fats under the advice from the AMA and dietitians based on the misunderstanding of fats and cholesterol. Actually refined sugar is one of the main causes of heart disease and cholesterol. So the food industry moved towards a carbohydrate based diet due to popular demand and started to over process every kind of carbohydrate.
The result has been an obesity epidemic and diabetes plague. We need unrefined carbohydrates in our diet in combination with good fats and lean proteins. This is what our bodies require for optimal health.
Grains and legumes
Grains and legumes are the most common forms of carbohydrate in the diet and Paleo fanatics are creating a new trend of grain and legume avoidance. Any refining of grains and legumes destroys their natural state. Whole grains and soaked legumes cooked are an essential part of a healthy diet and anyone that says different does not understand the bigger picture. This issues with grains and legumes mainly comes from poor digestion. This can make the body reactive to grains after some time and is actually caused by too many refined grains in the terms of breads and processed foods.
If you focus on restoring digestive health then grains for most people are fine and a healthy food source. To simply remove them from the diet is a bandaid approach and other health consequences will develop from avoiding these food groups. Whole grains and legumes provide many natural chemicals and food sources for your microbiome and healthy GUT bacteria which heal and protect the GUT.
Our bodies need protein just as much as fats and carbohydrates. Our bodies have developed needed a balance of all these food groups. To restrict any one food group unless you have a very specific intolerance is not intelligent and will lead to deficiency states eventually. A diet high in protein is not advised at all as it stresses your kidneys and in fact will lead to autoimmune issues.
Most protein from animal sources comes with a fat element. Now in a raw state this is great. Even healthy if you can stomach it. But when you cook it then this is a different story. So if you are having a lot of cooked meats then this fat causes an elevation in inflammation and contributes to many chronic degenerative disease.
Meats in particular need to be consumed in moderation. Red meat in particular is very closely linked to bowel cancer and should only ever had in smaller amounts. All commercial meats also come with issues regarding antibiotics and growth enhancers. Organic is always best and this goes for plants as well as meats. My advice in terms of balance in the diet of carbs, protein and fat, is that is should be a 40:40:20 mix of each from unprocessed natural sources.
Dairy is difficult to digest. It always has been and when we are finished over processing it, then it becomes even harder. IF you can ferment dairy then most people can tolerate smaller amounts. Fermented cheeses such as most white cheese most people can manage small amounts. Small being the key here. But commercial milk and sugary yoghurts are reactive and lead to specifically PCOS and endometriosis as part of some of the causes.
Fruits and vegetables
True sugar is a massive issue that needs to be dealt with but fruits and sweet vegetable in particular have copped a bad rap by being linked to sugar intake. Fruits are great and can be consumed in larger amounts as long as you have them in their whole form. Same goes for vegetable. Green leafy vegetables are the best to juice but again you can’t have too many of these or they in themselves can be hard to digest.
Whats the answer?
So should you have a high fat, low carb diet, high protein, low carb, high carb, low fat??? NO.
You need a balance of each food group with predominantly unprocessed foods. This will allow for optimal function of the endocrine system, immune system and maintain a balanced internal biochemistry. Sure low carb will help you to lose weight however be careful long term because you miss the nutrients needed for a whole range of biochemical processes. The current fad of paleo and high fat will result in other health conditions because then it is too one sided. Balance and unprocessed is the key.
I prefer to concentrate less on food groups and more on food states. The key for hormonal health is alkaline and high in antioxidants. These foods which are alkaline and high in antioxidants spread across all food groups and by flooding your system with these food states is the best way to consider your diet and is best for your hormonal health and overall health because these food groups create the ideal biochemistry the body needs to function optimally and heal itself.
Our 8 week program is set up to do this and is not just a healthy eating program, but a therapeutic approach to creating the right environment to so the body can heal itself. We have loads of recipes on the site which are tasty and hormonally healthy. Happy Hormones then acts as the catalyst to balancing the endocrine system and you will feel amazing.