Apples are asking what I think about bread. The short answer: not very much. But this is an ongoing issue worthy of some debate, so let’s get it started:
In general, the best source of carbohydrates is a vegetable, not a grain (unless you are an athlete, in which case, you’re probably just trying to consume as many calories as possible).
Among other things, grains contain lectins, a mild toxin (is there such a thing as a mild toxin?). Technically, grains don’t “want” to be your next meal. They didn’t really evolve to be our food source – we humans exploited them when we figured out how easy they were to grow. Consequently, they’re in everything – especially processed foods – because they’re cheap and can be made into just about anything, from sauces to syrups to candies to side dishes.
It’s not for nothing that our ancestors ate only flesh (meat and fish), nuts, roots, fruits and berries, and grabbed at wild greens for fiber. In fact, there’s a whole dietary movement – sometimes called the Caveman diet, sometimes the Paleo diet – we cautiously subscribe to (I’m uncomfortable with extreme diets, though I also am uncomfortable with how we define “extreme”!) Why? Grains are a relatively new thing for humans, and the evidence increasingly points to the notion that this isn’t a good development. If you’re into learning more, check out our Carbs category.
I recommend that you stick to zero grains a day. On the whole, I stick to vegetables for my carbs – I just don’t really “do” carbs. Vegetables have far more vitamins, fiber and minerals than grain-sourced carbohydrates, and they are much lower in calories, giving you room for protein and vital fat. Vegetables also keep your blood sugar levels at a healthy, low level, so you don’t start pumping your pancreas to death.
Scientists point out that the human body was designed to subsist on a mixture of fresh vegetables, good fats (from nuts, fish, oils, and meats), and protein (from fresh meats, beans, a little dairy, and fish). Add in plenty of water, occasional fruit, and you’re set. On the whole, avoid the processed, unnatural, refined, sugary stuff. Try it for just one week and you’ll notice a big difference – really.
The Fuming Fuji is outraged by the marketing of toxic food, especially when it’s aimed at the small fry. This week, the Fuming Fuji has decided to have a serious problem with yogurt.
But, Fuming Fuji, you ask, isn’t yogurt healthy in its wonderful bland creaminess?
The Fuming Fuji says no!
The claim: Yogurt is a great way to get a serving of dairy, which we all know is full of lovely calcium, protein, and vitamins.
The catch: Yogurt is a great way to get a serving of gelatinous goop, which is actually full of sugar, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals, dyes, artificial flavors, and probably pus.
The comeback: But Fuming Fuji, yogurt contains healthful cultures like acidophilus bifidus.
The conclusion: Yogurt still has as much sugar as a Coca-Cola. Yogurt makers do not have to prove how much of so-called beneficial bacteria is in actual product. You need a lot more than they include. You can get more culture from a Steven Seagal movie. Yogurt is glorified dessert.
The catchphrase: Yogurt? Nogurt!
Disclaimer: Mark Sisson and the Worker Bees do not necessarily endorse the views of the Fuming Fuji.
Evolution is all about adaptation – to the environment, to circumstances, to stress and even (or especially) to food. In this context of adaptation, it’s truly amazing how “inventive” the human body has become in finding novel (and perhaps heretofore uncontemplated) ways to repair damage we do to ourselves through our diets and other lifestyle indiscretions. And most of these changes are less than a few hundred years old, which makes the adaptations even more remarkable.
Let’s use cholesterol as an example. Cholesterol is actually very beneficial. Among other duties, it’s a necessary component of every cell membrane and it’s involved in hormone production. The body makes about 1400 mg a day just to keep up!
Now let’s take a stressful lifestyle (show of hands, please), add in a bad diet and lack of exercise and we get an inflammatory process in the arteries that causes lesions. This inflammation problem is completely unrelated to amounts or types of cholesterol.
Nevertheless, the ever-inventive human body adapts to this inflammation sequence by using cholesterol as a band-aid to cover up the lesions until healing can take place – which, of course, almost never happens since the silly human continues to live the same pro-inflammatory lifestyle. Eventually, the cholesterol band-aids harden (sclerosis), narrow the arteries and sometimes break off causing a heart attack.
Of course, we blame the cholesterol for all this and embark on a national campaign to rid the body of this important substance instead of focusing on the foods (and other stresses) that promote inflammation in the first place!
Now let’s consider fat. For years we believed fat was nothing more than nature’s way of storing extra calories for some future famine. That would be a handy little adaptation in and of itself if that’s all it were. But when you do the math, you see that it doesn’t require a lot of fat to survive or even migrate for long periods. A 165-pound person with only 13% body fat has 21.45 pounds of fat. Being generous and assuming that you need a minimum 3% just to carry on basic survival functions, that leaves 10% or 16.5 pounds of fat to live off. At 3500 calories per pound of fat and 100 calories per mile walking, you’d theoretically have enough fat to survive weeks and migrate several hundred miles.
So maybe fat has another purpose, and this is where my friend Art De Vany’s description of fat as a toxic waste site (my words) comes in. Modern humans have so thoroughly altered foods to focus on simple carbohydrates (sugars) that we now consume hundreds of excess grams of it every day.
As Art has explained, the body recognizes excess sugar (glucose) as a toxic load – and remember, it doesn’t take a whole lot of it to be excessive – and the body starts the adaptive process of secreting insulin to take sugar out of the bloodstream and deposit it into the muscles.
Two problems arise immediately:
First, there’s not a lot of room in those muscles. Ask any athlete who’s ever tried to carbo-load for an event. Secondly, most people aren’t athletes and have lost significant utility of their muscle through atrophy, further diminishing storage. Furthermore, they don’t burn off the already-stored glycogen because they don’t exercise.
But here’s where the body has become so elegantly adaptive once again. It creates little storage facilities in the form of additional fat cells. Not because it’s trying to store calories for some future famine, as modern medicine might have you believe, but because it’s trying to find novel and effective ways to rid the body of this very toxic glucose excess.
And it’s a pretty good solution. Insulin allows glucose access to these fat cells which grow larger and more numerous over time. Problem is, it’s always one step behind, so the fat cells fill up just as the muscle filled up, leaving excess glucose in the bloodstream after the next high carb or high calorie meal until more fat cells can be made.
And so the spiral continues as 40 million Americans are headed towards type 2 diabetes.
Don’t let the spinach scare stop you from getting copious greens in your diet. I recommend trying out chard in replacement of spinach, regardless of the current health scare.
Chard is actually a member of the spinach family, but it is more substantial and greater in nutritional value than regular spinach. I’m always amazed at how inexpensive chard is, too – even the organic variety. For recipes, you’ll find chard’s texture is better than spinach, too – it doesn’t get stringy or mushy.
Chard packs a lot of nutritional density for bone health, so it’s appropriate given our osteoporosis discussion. Chop it up, throw it in any sauces, risottos or stir fries, and enjoy high levels of vitamin K, A, C, iron, calcium, potassium, manganese and magnesium. Chard is also the most fibrous leaf you can eat. Try it out this weekend.
People like to use eggs in words like eggscellent, eggxactly and eggstatic.
Poor eggs. I recommend using them in your meals instead – and think beyond breakfast on occasion. Eggs are slowly regaining favor after their Humpty-Dumpty fall during the whole cholesterol paranoia of the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
We know that they contain valuable protein, vitamins and minerals: stress-busting selenium, antioxidant E, and eye-healthy lutein among them.
Because I am an egghead (sorry), I’m proud to bring you the latest findings from a study Mark pointed out to the Bees in the Journal of Nutrition. In a study that was randomized (good), controlled (great), and cross-sectional (nice), scientists found that a daily egg gave people’s eyes a boost with lutein and zeaxanthin (an antioxidant from the carotenoid family) and didn’t raise their serum cholesterol. Not that we worry too much about cholesterol anyway. That’s right – we don’t lose sleep over cholesterol! Just one of the many MDA ongoing health debates you might want to check out in the forum.
So scramble, Apples!
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