Monday, April 2, 2012

More Common-Sense Rules for Eating

As I mentioned in my previous post, Dr. Stanger prefaced her common sense rules by first pointing out a misconception.

The third misconception: “We need a special source of protein”.

I think Dr. Stangers’ take on this is quite interesting - she pointed out several simple facts:

1. If you have fat molars you are designed to eat veggies.
2. Veggies have more protein, per 100 calories, than meat
3. Animal protein is recycled plant protein.

I think the last point bears some further study. Dr. Stanger explained that there are 20 kinds of amino acids (the building blocks that make up protein). Eight are essential (as in our body doesn’t make them) and 12 are non-essential (you guessed it - our body makes them). Our body doesn’t make the essential amino acids because the processes for making them are too energy intensive. Plants can and do make the essential amino acids - because plants draw the required energy from the ultimate energy source - the sun.

Animals eat plants, there-by consuming the essential amino acids, which they use to make protein. So, yes, when we eat meat, we get the essential amino acids. Just like if we eat plants.

Dr. Stangers’ take home message on protein - eat 2 tablespoons per day of flax seeds to get the omega-3 fatty acids you need, and eat lots of veggies.

The next misconception she discussed had to do with carbohydrates: Carbs raise insulin levels while protein lowers insulin levels.

It is unfortunate that so many “experts” today lump all carbs together, whether refined or not. It is recognized that refined carbs (white rice, white sugar, white flour) all contribute to the obesity that is so prevalent in America today. Problem is that people conclude that if refined carbs are bad, then all carbs are bad. And that carbs cause all the problems in America.

Somehow the fact that the carbs found in whole foods give us the energy our body needs, in a form that it most appropriate for our bodies, gets lost in the process. When whole foods are refined to concentrate the carbs and make them easier to digest we run into problems - diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. But, if we eat the whole foods our bodies have evolved to match we not only loose weight but we reduce our risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Her bottom line - a whole foods vegetarian diet lowers insulin levels. And helps you loose weight.

Tomorrow we will tackle a couple more misconceptions.