Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Nutrition Debate #200: “Healthy Eating”


With close to 200,000 words “in the can,” and no categories, labels, tags or key words to use to search a particular subject (other than the Index of Columns in the upper right corner of the Blog), I feel the need to summarize what it is that I regard as “healthy eating.” I put the phase in quotes because it has been co-opted by the Diet Dictocrats in the Government Public Health establishment and by its cohorts in American Agribusiness and Big Pharma, and by the media in general. We (followers of The Nutrition Debate and all like-thinkers), who exist in a parallel universe – behind the mirror, as it were – need to take it back, so I going to start here.

I don’t confine this phrase to mean “healthy eating” just for type 2 diabetics like me, although it should be self evident that diabetics should not eat a wide variety of foods heretofore considered part of a normal “balanced” diet. “Healthy eating,” as in the paradigm I will portray here and advocate henceforth that EVERYONE eat, is a major departure from that construct. “Healthy eating,” as I will define it, will be what I would have been able to eat IF I had not “broken” my metabolism by eating the Standard American Diet (and not taking charge of my own diabetes healthcare when I was first diagnosed). I didn’t know then that the “fix” was within my control. The “fix” was to change my diet.

The “fix” for most people who today appear to have a healthy metabolism but have gained a little weight is simply to shift slightly away from sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, and foods made with or cooked in modern vegetable oils. This will shift the proportions of macronutrients away slightly from carbs and Omega 6s (in corn and soybean oil) and slightly toward healthy saturated fats and protein. You will lose some weight, not be hungry all the time, and feel better.

For people who are overweight or obese, making these dietary changes will have all the same effects for you, plus your pre-diabetes (diagnosed or not, you probably have Insulin Resistance), or your diagnosed type 2 diabetes will be considered “in remission.” In reality, you will regain good blood sugar control and be clinically considered “non-diabetic,” in terms of your A1c’s, SO LONG AS YOU CONTINUE TO EAT ACCORDING TO YOUR CHANGED DIET. See #195.

Of course, for long term type 2s, if you change your diet in a radical way (e.g. Very Low Carb, as in Atkins Induction or Bernstein's 6-12-12 program), you will be able to eliminate most or all of your oral diabetes medications. I did. After 16 years of seeing my diabetes progressively worsen, requiring me to take more and more medications, I made the radical transformation. As a result, to avoid hypos, I had to stop taking 2 of the 3 oral diabetes meds and today take only a minimum dose of Metformin. In addition, I lost 170 pounds, my blood pressure went from 130/90 to 110/70 on the same meds, and my HDL and triglycerides (blood lipids) and hsCRP (inflammation) markers dramatically improved.  That was 12 years ago.

I realize that there is a lot of confusing information out there. It’s a problem. Whom do you believe? Extremists like the vegans? Or extremists like me? Or the “everything in moderation” thinking? Moderation seems reasonable until you realize that the “everything” includes things that are harmful to virtually everyone! Example: Margarine that contained large amounts of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans fats!). It strikes me, though, that therein lies a clue that might guide you.

Manufactured foods of whatever stripe are likely to be “unhealthy.” I was reminded recently that vegetable oils – all vegetable oils – are a modern invention of the food manufacturing industry. It is only in the last 100 years or so that processing seeds with crushing, cooking to remove “impurities,” then chemically treated to “bleach” them (like white flour is “bleached”) is what we are now eating in large quantities every day in the processed foods we cook and buy.
Why does it not occur to us that this is both unnatural and unhealthy?  How could anyone call that “healthy eating”? So, in the spirit that we (the general population) are all prediabetic (whether diagnosed or not), I recommit myself to my definition of “healthy eating”: an animal based diet that includes healthy saturated fat and cholesterol. My diet is high fat (75% fat), moderate protein (20% protein), and very low carb (5% carbohydrate), the way it has been for these last 12 years. And, for the record, my latest lipid panel: Total cholesterol: 207; LDL 110; HDL 90 and triglycerides 34. My hs CRP was 1.2, but I am working to get that lower. My goal: <0.5mg/dL. My most recent A1c was 5.7%. My goal is 5.4%.

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