High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity are increasingly prevalent in the developed world with rates of death from these issues becoming more and more common.
Preventable diseases like type II diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver, and certain cancers are all caused directly by our environment and nutritional choices.
Studies show that 40% of healthy weight people and 80% of overweight people have metabolic dysfunction, but what does that mean?
When we refer to metabolic dysfunction, we are talking about issues related to the proper digestion and absorption of foods, particularly insulin resistance and inflammation.
Insulin resistance is something that occurs when we consume too much sugar and simple carbohydrate and too little fiber. The cells, which need energy from this food to function, find that they become too full and no longer want to accept anymore. When this happens, the body produces more and more insulin to force the cells to open up and take more sugar, but the cell requires more and more insulin to get the job done.
Over time, the pancreas, which makes insulin, becomes exhausted and the cells that make insulin begin to die off. Levels of sugar in the blood become higher and higher since there isn’t enough insulin to move the sugar into the cells. Eventually, this will lead to type II diabetes.
Sugar doesn’t just mean the white stuff you put in your cookies and coffee. Many foods break down essentially into sugar. White pasta, white bread, and starches like potatoes and corn, all break down into quite a bit of sugar.
But sugar isn’t the only problem. Our intake of Omega 6 oils, like vegetable oil, has risen dramatically in recent decades and research is showing that this is not a good thing. Vegetable oils like soybean oil, safflower oil, canola oil, shortening, and others are heated to very high heats to be processed. This heat oxidizes the oil, creating a rancid product that is dangerous to our system. These oils increase systemic inflammation which puts the body under major stress, making healing difficult.
Over time, a diet high in these sugars and oils causes metabolic dysfunction and insulin resistance. When this happens, we tend to put weight on in the middle and even in the liver causing fatty liver disease. Weight loss becomes more difficult, and inflammation in the body increases. Hormones become unbalanced.
Too much insulin and sugar in the diet and too little nutrition causes blood vessels and veins to become damaged and hardened. Cholesterol in the body is meant to act like a bandage, patching up places where blood vessels are damaged. Instead, too much of a good thing causes heart attacks.
High blood pressure is one of the many signs of this metabolic dysfunction and typically is one of the first numbers to improve with a change in diet.
So why not take statins to reduce cholesterol and medications to improve blood pressure? Besides being stuck on medication for the rest of your life, these drugs all come with their own side effects. Not only that, they don’t actually address the root cause of the problem. Instead they put a bandaid on the situation without healing anything at all.
It is not simply enough, however, to reduce sugar in the diet. While this is a HUGE step in the right direction, a healthy diet is not so much about LESS of the unhealthy stuff as it is about MORE of the healthy stuff.
When we eat a lot of grains, breads, pastas, sugars, starches, and vegetable oils we fill our stomachs with foods that are less nutrient dense. These foods may taste good, but they don’t have near as many important antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber and flavanols as vegetables- the real nutrition powerhouses.
Instead, if we cut out the white foods and rancid oils, we have more space on our plates and in our appetites for green foods and healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, and even butter! This increase in fresh vegetables and decrease in inflammatory foods leads to numerous health benefits and healing. Not only that, but healthy fats help our bodies absorb the vitamins from vegetables, many of which can only be absorbed with fat present in the food.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity are all related. They are all symptoms of a greater problem. That problem is an unhealthy diet and lifestyle which has cause system-wide inflammation.
If we truly believe that our bodies are temples, we should use the knowledge we have to eat the foods that make our bodies healthy and happy. These foods are tools to help us lead lives that are fulfilling, clear-minded, energetic, pain-free, and full of life!
If you need help finding the right food choices for YOU, please don’t hesitate to contact me!