Natural Foods for Good Health

Support Your Metabolism with Healthy Foods

:        Lamb Chops

The US and many other industrialized countries are coping with an epidemic of obesity and numerous other metabolic diseases.   The highly refined foods and unnatural foods of today (“modern foods)” are largely responsible for this unhealthy state.  Diet foods and diet drinks are at the forefront of the “modern foods” that contribute to obesity and the unhealthy state. The best dietary solution for this crisis is to avoid these “modern foods”.

It should be noted that there are alternative nutritional solutions to this epidemic of obesity, but these alternatives are not as good as avoiding the highly refined and diet foods.  Four alternative solutions to this problem are shown below:

  • Get rid of the “modern foods” so that people can go back to eating natural foods, the type of foods that sustained Man for thousands of years.  This approach would require the food industry to retool and change the way they process foods. 
  • Remove the chemical additives in the foods and stop the extensive refining of foods, a process that often removes the dietary fibers and some critical nutrients in foods.
  • Change human metabolism and human physiology so that humans can tolerate the “modern foods”.  It may take 50 to 1000 years to accomplish this goal.  
  • Learn how to eat these unhealthy foods. The calorie-counting experience of the past few decades is a warning that this approach will not work.  It may make the problem worse.

 Strategy Matters 

  Your strategy is the key determinant of the ease with which you can reach your dietary goal of losing weight. The strategy of avoiding diet foods and drinks is a good and proper action for getting rid of excess body fat. It should be emphasized that good strategies work better than weak and bad ones.  Some of the characteristics of good dietary strategies are:

  • The strategy works reliably
  • It does not involve too much  willpower to apply
  • The plan does not contain too many rules and procedures
  • Calorie-counting is unnecessary for the implementation
  • The diet contains nutrients and substances that facilitate body fat reduction
  • The diet does not contain substances that impair your metabolism or interfere with your body’s ability to efficiently utilize the high energy nutrients (fats and carbohydrates)
  • The diet supports good health
  •  It does not cost too much money to  apply the program
  • It enables you to engage in rigorous exercise programs for improving and optimizing your fitness level.  

Natural Foods

Your body needs natural foods to function properly. When your body is working properly it can regulate your body weight and body fat distribution quite easily. The human body has been managing nutrients for thousands of years. Man’s survival is largely dependent on the body’s ability to manage nutrients adequately.  Therefore,  the best thing you can do to help your body work properly is to give it the nutrients it needs and refrain from assaulting it with substances that hinder its ability to function properly. It is difficult to have a healthy body weight by counting calories if your metabolism and body physiology are not working properly. 

Natural Foods Come in Different Shapes

Fight Obesity with Healthy Nutrients

Credit: : Flickr

Promoters of Obesity in Processed  and Diet Foods

The most common nutrients and substances in processed and diet foods that promote obesity are trans-fats, refined carbohydrates and  artificial sweeteners. They are also largely responsible for many health problems of today,  such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and ischemic strokes.  The best way for maintaining good health and preventing obesity is to exclude these harmful nutrients and substances from your diet.

Trans Fats

Trans-fat is a nutritional hazard.  Trans-fats are practically absent in natural fats and oils.  Only trace and negligible amounts are found in animal fats.   The bulk of the trans-fats is manufactured by changing the structure of natural oils.  This  structural change makes the oil more stable and commercially desirable, but it makes the oil a threat to health.  

Some of the properties that make trans-fats attractive are:

  • Solid at room temperature
  • Does not spoil easily
  • Enhances food flavor
  • Can be reused
  • Improves the profit margin for commercial users

It should be noted that there are a few natural healthy oils that can be solid at room temperatures.  Coconut oil and palm oil are examples of healthy oils that are solid at room temperatures.  These quality tropical oils should be consumed for good health and body fat reduction.  Their high smoke points make them attractive for those who like fried foods.

Trans-fat is found in many processed and diet foods.  It is often labeled as partially hydrogenated oil.   It is found in margarine, commercial baked foods, fried foods, salad dressings, and numerous other processed foods.

One mechanism by which trans-fat adversely affects health and promotes obesity is impairment of your body’s ability to utilize high energy foods (carbohydrates and fats) in a proper manner. Trans-fat initiates this mechanism by causing a decrease in insulin sensitivity, a change that can lead to insulin resistance and numerous other health problems.   

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 Refined Carbohydrates 

Highly processed carbohydrates, such as refined sugars, are prevalent nutrients in many processed foods and diet foods (low-fat diet foods).  Refined carbohydrate is a major hazard to health; however, in the parade of unhealthy foods, it is arguably not as dangerous as trans-fat.   The mechanisms by which refined carbohydrates promote obesity and numerous  other health problems include:

  • Decrease  insulin sensitivity which  impairs your body’s ability to utilize high energy foods properly
  • Impair the appetite control mechanism which causes you to over-eat
  • Provide nutrients that are readily converted to body fat
  • Prevent the burning of body fat

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners (high intensity sweeteners) are endocrine disruptors that promote obesity.   Studies over the past 30 years have shown that these endocrine disruptors increase your appetite; raise your craving for carbohydrates, and increase your body fat.  In terms of today’s epidemic of obesity, artificial sweeteners are contentiously worse than refined sugar. 

Artificial sweeteners are a major contributor to obesity epidemic primarily because they are present in many foods and they are widely consumed by many people.  They are the key sweeteners in most diet foods and diet drinks.  You can find them in yogurt, ice cream, salad dressings and juices.   You can even purchase them  in granular or powdered forms.  Most dieters use  artificial sweeteners as a substitute for refined sugar without realizing that artificial sweeters are body fat makers.

Most people consume these high intensity sweeteners with the expectation of losing weight.  They are convinced that the zero or near zero caloric values of these sweeteners make them supportive of the goal of losing excess body fat.   The fact that these endocrine disruptors are promoters of body fat is completely ignored.  It is not surprising that many dieters end up becoming obese.  Worst of all many of them eventually become discouraged. They then see  body weight control as an impossible task.  Many determined dieters would continue to struggle for several more years before giving up.  This type of result is unfortunate because body weight control is a simple task if it is addressed with a proper strategy.    

Many dieters fall prey to the body fat-making effects of artificial sweeteners because this   effect  occurs indirectly.  The effect is not due to caloric addition to your diet from the sweetener itself but to changes that the sweeteners make to your body.  The insidious fat-making effect is comparable to the effects of compounds such as estrogen and atrazine. Atrazine is a herbicide that can contaminate drinking water in some farming communities.  Estrogen and atrazine have a caloric value of zero, but they can make you fat if you continue to consume them.

Another reason why  artificial sweeteners are dangerous body fat-makers is that many dieters have been conditioned to seeing artificial sweetener as a substance that has a single property of tasting sweet.  Most biologically active substances have more than one property, and they can also show more than one effect on the human body.  This multiple effects of a biologically active agent is well documented for drugs where the desired effect is called the main effect, and the other effects are called the side effects.  

Ancient Foods for Good Health

Reacquaint Your Body with Familiar Foods

Credit: : Pixabay

 Obesity Due to the Removal of Dietary Fibers and Trace Minerals 

Obesity can occur when dietary fibers and trace minerals that prevent obesity are removed from normal healthy foods. These items are removed largely from grains. The obesity-preventing trace minerals include chromium, selenium and zinc.  The best way to maintain good health and prevent obesity is to include dietary fibers and the missing trace minerals in your diet.  Calorie-counting, a common dietary practice, is ineffective for body fat reduction when there is a deficiency in these trace minerals.

Dietary Fibers

Dietary fiber is an important digestive aid that supports good health.  An important attribute of dietary fibers that is usually overlooked is that dietary fibers are an important ally in the battle against obesity. Dietary fibers have two basic mechanisms by which they prevent body fat gain and support body fat reduction.  Dietary fibers curb your appetite and keep you satiated for long periods of time. The second mechanism is that they help you to maintain normal insulin sensitivity or improve it.  This is important because when your insulin sensitivity is normal or improved your body can utilize high energy foods in the proper way.  When your body utilizes high energy foods properly, you maintain normal body weight and normal body fat distribution.  If insulin sensitivity were to decline, then your blood level of insulin would go up. High blood levels of insulin will promote the synthesis and storage of body fat. The absence of dietary fibers  (soluble fibers) in your diet can lead to a decline in insulin sensitivity.


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Trace Minerals 

Trace minerals play important roles in our metabolism in  various other physiological processes in our body. It is not suprising that a deficiency in some of these trace minerals can produce noticeable consequences, such as obesity. The main obesity-associated trace minerals are chromium, iodine, selenium and zinc. The trace minerals that are liable to be lost during food refinement are:

  • Chromium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Chromium is important for the efficient functioning of insulin, the primary hormone that regulates blood sugar and controls the entry of sugar into the muscle cells.  Chromium improves insulin sensitivity. This means that lower levels of insulin would be needed tor sugar to enter into the muscle cells where it is used for energy.  Since high concentrations of insulin facilitate the storage of fat, obesity can be prevented by the presence of chromium.  Another thing that would happen is that stored fat can be broken down and burned for energy. Consequently, chromium is helpful for getting rid of body fat and for preventing various metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.

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Thyroid hormone is another important hormone that can be adversely affected by trace mineral deficiency.  Thyroid hormone controls your metabolism. A high level of thyroid hormone will speed up your metabolism and cause you to lose weight. Low levels of thyroid hormone will slow down your metabolism (sluggish metabolism) and promote obesity.  The synthesis of thyroid hormone requires iodine, selenium and zinc. Consequently, a deficiency in these trace minerals can result in increased body fat and obesity.

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Bottom Line 

When your body is physiologically and metabolically sound, it can maintain a healthy body weight.  It can do this with minimal help from you.  All it needs from you are adequate nutrients to support its function and avoidance of substances that impair it. Your success in losing body fat depends on whether you give your body the type of assistance it needs or do things that impair its functional integrity.

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Qing Yang.  Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings. Yale J Biol Med. 2010 Jun; 83(2): 101–108.Published online 2010 Jun.

Swithers, S. E., and Davidson, T. L. "High Intensity Sweeteners and Energy Balance.." Physiol. Behav.. 100 (2010): 55-62.

Swithers, S. E., Bakar, C. R., Davidson, T. L. "General and Persistent Effects of High Intensity Sweeteners on Body Weight Gain and Calorie Compensation in Rats.." Behav. Neurobiosci.. 123 (2009): 772-780. 

Mercola. How Artificial Sweeteners Confuse Your Body into Storing Fat and Inducing Diabetes.  Acessed on March 21, 2016.  Web