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Why We Are Obese – Part 1: The Government Knows Best We are in the middle of an “obesity epidemic,” something that wasn’t a problem half a century ago. The strange thing about this epidemic is that we are much more health conscience as a nation than we were all those years ago. The government wants to lay the blame on the individual. Although there is some social responsibility, it is not primarily the individual’s fault.
I lay the most blame on our government’s involvement in our diet, plus their subsidizing of corn, and the industrialization of agriculture. All of these are related. None of them are easy to fix on a national scale, but can be repaired with a few lifestyle changes on a personal, family, and community scale. In the 1970s, the Government of the United States of America decided that our diet would be national policy.
Ours is the only government in the world that would feel comfortable telling its citizens what to eat. I don’t necessarily want to talk politics in this article, but I feel the government is focusing on the wrong things. They should be making sure our food is safe. They shouldn’t be telling us what food will make us healthy.
When our health becomes their policy, it also becomes the policy of lobbyists. Most governments would be overthrown if they insulted their people by telling them what to eat. The people of France are proud of their food heritage. They have lower obesity rates then we do and they eat what they love.
Our government tells us we shouldn’t eat fat, sugar, and salt and we have an extremely high ratio of overweight and obese people to healthy people. Our national diet was developed mostly by a man named Ancel Keys. He was on a mission to conquer the heart disease “epidemic” in the middle of the 20th century (I inserted the quotes because whether there was an actually increase of in heart disease, or coroners started calling deaths by natural causes heart disease deaths is up for debate). Keys decided that the “Mediterranean diet” was the best one to prevent heart disease.
It’s the “heart healthy” diet consisting of fish, pasta, and olive oil. It is naturally high in carbohydrates and low in fat. He decided that since the Mediterranean people had such low levels of cholesterol that the United States should copy this diet. 1 The only problem is that cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease, and by association neither does saturated fat.
Cholesterol isn’t even a good indicator of whether you will have a heart attack or not. Blood tests on people who have died of heart disease have wildly different cholesterol levels, ranging from extremely low to excessively high. Cholesterol was blamed early on because the test for cholesterol was the only tool available. Cholesterol continues to be blamed for heart disease because the powers that be don’t want to admit they’re wrong.
They have changed their tune a little bit by adding triglycerides as a risk factor. Triglycerides are indeed a risk factor for heart disease. Eating fat doesn’t increase your triglycerides, eating carbohydrates does. High blood triglycerides are the result of carbohydrates being converted into triglycerides by your liver.
If you don’t use carbohydrates immediately upon entering your body, your body stores them. The only times when carbohydrates are not stored (as triglycerides) are during and immediately following intense exercise. The US government, heavily influenced by industry, says that you can eat things that are bad for your health and still lose weight, as long as you exercise all those calories off. Exercise, however, is not a weight-loss solution.
Your body has a built-in system of homeostasis. It likes where it’s at whether it’s at a healthy weight or not. Starvation, induced by eating less or by burning more calories, will cause your body keep storing energy, while supplying less energy to other bodily functions. This homeostasis is supposed to work the other direction, keeping you at a healthy weight by increasing energy output when the stores are full.
In the obese, and diabetic, there is a flaw in metabolism. It causes your body to put fat storage before every other bodily function. That flaw is most likely caused by an abnormal diet filled with refined carbohydrates and sugar. The blame here lies on the government subsidies of corn.
In Part 2, I’ll talk about the consequences of our government’s love affair with the commodity of corn. 1. To Keys’ credit, on his Mediterranean diet, he lived to be 100 years old. Of course there is no way of telling whether this was due to his diet or one of many other factors e.
g. genes or vitamin D sufficiency (he lived in Italy for the last 28 years of his life) This article can also be found on Health Now, Wealth Forever The Antidote to the Food Industry Complex: A Passion for Food Eating is important. I’d say it’s the third or fourth most critical activity for life. We don’t treat it like it’s important.
We eat fake, mass-produced, chemically preserved, genetically “enhanced” “food. ” This is stuff that we were never meant to consume, stuff that we will never evolve to digest. It is stuff that was created solely to make a profit for the corporations that organized a hostile take over of agriculture in the 20th century. When agriculture went from a small business to an industrial complex we started taking shortcuts.
We’ve always modified nature to fit our needs. We selectively bred the aggression out of our livestock. We crossbred crops to make them more resilient. We created irrigation where the land was too dry.
We fertilized the land so we could plant crops every year without losing nutrients from the soil. When food became big business this all became too much work and too time consuming. We allowed the industry to modify the crops genetically to make them inedible to pests and resistant to weed killer (see the movie The Future of Food free on Hulu). We even allowed businesses to patent these new forms of life, a scary precedent.
Where do we draw the line? I think we should have drawn the line a long time ago. When agriculture became less about our nutrition and more about making a profit, we should have stood up against the insult. Why didn’t we stand up?
Michael Pollan explains it well: America doesn’t have a strong food tradition. Culture has huge influence over ones passion for food. France, Italy, and Germany all have strong food traditions that don’t necessarily fit our view of a healthy diet. Yet, those countries don’t have the obesity problems that we do.
We allow diet books and companies to tell us what to eat instead of our ancestors collective knowledge. We have been silent for a long time. Now is the time to make ourselves heard. Here are a few steps that you can take to lessen the grip the food industry has on your stomach.
Support your farmers markets. The people that sell at markets are practically your neighbors. They don’t consume as much oil to get their products to you. They can actually tell you when, where, and how their products were produced.
Support local business. Buy from local bakeries, butchers, dairies, and farmers. Support people that you can actually get to know. Also, support eateries that support local business.
When you can’t buy local, buy fresh. The less processing your food goes through the better. Shop defensively. Think about what you’re buying.
Can you make a superior product at home? Mayonnaise is a good example of this. The steps that are taken to preserve store bought mayonnaise make it almost unrecognizable compared to homemade. Finally, eat what makes you happy.
Fast food may feel good when you are eating it, but it rarely satisfies your soul. Slow down and enjoy what you’re eating. 3 Things You Can Do Now To Be Healthier Next Year I always like to make a goal of being more healthy and more happy in one year. Those two usually go hand in hand.
Here are three things that I will be doing to accomplish my goal. I would recommend these to anyone who wants to accomplish the same. Cut Out Refined Carbohydrates or at least severely restrict them. I have come to realize that all my weight gain and loss is related to the amount of carbohydrates I eat.
This is especially true of refined carbs like white flour, sugar, and rice. I really enjoy these things but overall they harm me more than just adding to my girth. Studies show that there is a link between carbohydrate consumption and heart disease, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s Disease. If you would like to know more about this check out my article series on Health Now, Wealth Forever: In Defense of Fat and Cholesterol, The Toxicity of Sugar, and How to Cure the Obesity Epidemic.
Use High Quality Multi-Vitamins and Supplements, not One-A-Day or Centrum. High-protein diets like the one you’ll have to adopt if you restrict carbs are actually very good at providing all the vitamins you need, but to be sure you are fully nourishing your cells I would recommend a high-quality nutritional supplement. I personally use USANA and I would recommend it to anybody. It is expensive and the way to combat that is to sell it yourself.
Buy a bike or at least move around more. The main goal in exercise isn’t losing weight, that’s what cutting carbs will accomplish. The idea of exercising to lose weight is a recent invention and does not actually work. The goal of exercise should be increasing muscle.
The most important muscles to work are the cardiovascular ones. The easiest way to work them would be to find an aerobic exercise that won’t intrude too much on your regular schedule. Biking to work once or twice a week or on errands is an excellent way to get good cardiovascular exercise without changing your schedule a whole bunch. So, these are three of the things I am going to do to become healthier in the next year, what are you going to do?
Please share your ideas in the comments. Recommended Movie — Killer at Large: Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat I just watched Killer at Large: Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat and would recommend it to anyone who liked the TV special series Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. It covers everything he had to say about our eating habits and then goes on into what our diet is costing us. A warning I have is that it opens very graphically with a 12 year-old, named Brooke Bates, getting liposuction.
It is slightly sickening, yet it puts a real face on the problem. We as a nation are getting fatter and our children are getting the worst of it. The movie goes on to investigate every cause of the current obesity epidemic, from food becoming big business to the USDA being run by the very people it is supposed to regulate. The movie calls out the USDA for using Shrek as a spokesperson for a children’s exercise program at the same time he is plastered all over the boxes of Pop Tarts and Twinkies.
If you are interested in the how and why we became the nation with an obesity epidemic you should definitely check this one out. Here’s the Barnes and Noble Link (I’d send you to Amazon, but I can’t be affiliated with them since I live in Colorado) Here’s the link to the Netflix page (it’s available for instant streaming) According to my Body Mass Index (BMI) I was obese. I weighed 210 lbs, and at my height of 5′ 10” that put me in just barely in the obese range. I cut 15 lbs.
over a year by exercising more and quitting Mountain Dew. I did push-ups, crunches, and even jogged a bit. Then, I hit a plateau. I could not get rid of any more weight.
And according to my BMI, I was still way overweight. I figured I needed to go on a diet. I love pasta, french fries, potato chips, breaded or battered foods, and all kinds of other starchy deliciousness. The deep fat fryer in my house was, for a while, the most used appliance.
I also love good beer. Those foods were the cause of my obesity. The strange thing is my roommate eats those foods in large quantities and hardly puts on a pound. I am the sort of guy who researches something thoroughly before he makes a decision.
What I decided I needed to do was increase lean muscle and change my diet to help me do that. I had tried the South Beach Diet. It was horrible. It did get my weight down, but I didn’t exactly feel good.
When I went off the diet I ballooned to 220 before settling back to my weight for the next few years of 210. So, I was a little leery of Low Carb diets, but my research told me that was the way to go. Then I stumbled on to Tim Ferriss’s blog post How to Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days… Without Doing Any Exercise, which contained exactly the diet I was looking for.
It isn’t a low carb diet, it’s a slow carb diet. It is basic and simple, no steps or stages. Just 4 easy to follow rules: Repeat Meals, which should contain a protein, a green vegetable, and a legume Most diets like this want you to eat 6-8 times per day, which Tim and I think is incredibly inconvenient. I eat 4 or 5 times a day.
I did this diet last February. I lost another 15 lbs. I feel good, too. After the first week you start to be completely satisfied by what you are eating.
It is like the human body was actually built for this diet. I just started it again. I want to get down to 165 lbs. A weight I haven’t been for at least 10 years.
I’ll let you all know what the results of April’s diet are. If you try this or have any questions post a comment. I don’t really want to bring politics onto this blog but I need to write about this. I generally approve of the health care reform bill.
There is, however, an add-on I can’t wrap my head around. Why in this day of vitamin D deficiency does a health bill go out of its way to harm the best way to get vitamin D in the winter months? A “rider” on the recent Health care Reform Act adds a 10% tax on all commercial tanning bed use. This hurts tanning salons, gyms, and any other place that offers tanning with UV light.
I suppose you could say they are trying to stamp out melanoma from skin damage caused by UV rays. On the other hand recent studies have shown that Vitamin D is one of the most important cancer preventers. And the most efficient way to get vitamin D is through exposure to UV rays. Since your body natural produces Vitamin D isn’t exactly a vitamin.
It’s actually a secosteroid hormone called calcitrol, similar to a steroid which activates genes in cells by connecting to receptors. Vitamin D is like a super steroid that targets over 2000 genes in the human body. Research is now showing that Vitamin D deficiency, which is very prevalent, may be a major factor in many types of cancer, heart problems, psychological issues, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and bone density problems like osteoporosis. According to the Vitamin D Council, adults should get about 5000 IU of Vitamin D daily to prevent any problems.
Consider that in comparison to the US Government’s recommendation of just 200 IU. In the summer months the skin produces about 10,000 IU of Vitamin D with just 30 minutes of exposure. But, in the winter if you live in a temperate climate you won’t absorb enough vitamin D even if you spend all day outside. So you can either take a vitamin D supplement or you can use a tanning bed.
Since regular blood testing is recommended with the supplementation option, many people choose to use a tanning bed once a week. Say they spend $30 per tanning session and they tan for 26 weeks out of the year. That is an additional $78 a year coming out of their pocket. It seems like that might be enough to make some people stop.
In turn, increasing vitamin D deficiency and increasing the instance of all the above stated maladies. The whole concept of putting this in a health care bill seems counter-intuitive. Why would I launch a health related website in a universe where there seems to be millions? I think they all fall short in one thing: Explaining the why’s and how’s of all these things we need to be healthy.
The latest vitamin news is that Vitamin D may be the most important vitamin and that something like 70% of Americans are deficient in it. Why are we deficient and how can we fix it? These are the sort of questions I will answer on this site, so stay tuned. This site is also different in that I am going to shamelessly promote the nutritional supplements that I believe are the best in the world USANA Nutritionals.
I would recommend them to anyone who wants never to worry about getting all there nutrition from what they eat. I also recommend them because of the huge potential as a home based business they provide. So bookmark, subscribe etc. and be successfully healthy.