Have you ever felt confused about what you should or shouldn’t eat to protect or enhance your health? We hear things all the time about how eggs are good for us (or bad), coffee is bad for us (or good), we need 30 minutes of exercise per day (or 60)… omega-3’s protect against cancer (or cause it), and so on and so on.
How can this be true?
We’re at the mercy of the information that is fed to us by the media. Unless, that is, we make filtering health information a daily task. Even then, we need to know certain things about research and science in order to sift through and determine what information is good and what is not-so-good.
A lot of information and research, although credible and professional, misses the point about what we really need to know about life and health. A researcher will often isolate people and nutritional factors into a so-called vacuum…and then make big grandiose generalizations about correlations (or lack of them) between nutrition and disease. Remember when “they” said lycopene protects against prostate cancer? Well, do you know how much money was made on lycopene supplements after that? A LOT. Was it actually shown that isolating lycopene outside of a tomato would prevent cancer? No. But academic researchers are paid to do research that shows what the industries want to hear. It’s true. I swear—there’s proof. We can go into some of the finer details another time….
Because today I want to talk about carbs.
Carbs are our friends. Our brains run on carbs, and our body needs them to function. Unfortunately, researchers got the idea that protein was more important, and that humans needed animal protein to be healthy. It’s just not true!
Add to that the whole Atkins Debacle. Damn you, Dr. Atkins. You and your heart-disease-and-bone-loss-promoting diet played a major role in cementing the idea in Americans’ heads that they (1) NEED LOTS OF PROTEIN, and (2) CARBS ARE EVIL.
Our bodies do not need 35% protein and up to 35% fat in our diets (as recommended by the government). (It also says we can have up to 25% of our diet in the form of sugary sweets—seriously? That would be half our carb intake if we follow their recommendations!) We just don’t need that much protein, and that much simple sugar and fat makes us fat…but we do eat that, and that’s why Americans are overweight and unhealthy. The researchers’ take on that? People don’t want to hear the truth.
WAIT—-I do! I want to hear the truth. Don’t you? Even if it hurts a little by upsetting our current understandings?
Here’s the truth:
We use a little bit of protein in our bodies, a little bit of fat, and A LOT of carbs.
Here’s the catch:
We need high quality carbs. Not processed. Not boxed. Not containing High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
We need nutrients.
How do we do that? We eat veggies and fruit. Period. You get the perfect ratio of carbs:protein when you eat a diet made up of veggies. I’m not kidding. You also get enough fiber, lots of water, and all the nutrients you need.
I’m not suggesting you throw your whole dietary lifestyle out the window today and eat only veggies. But I think this is a good enough reason to (1) eat more veggies and (2) eat less meat.
If you have kids who do not like meat or milk—don’t worry! They don’t need dairy or meat to be healthy. In fact, they will be maximally healthy if you can get them to eat greens everyday (did you just laugh out loud at that suggestion?).
I’ll write a separate post on ways to do this.
Here’s the other catch to this: Many vegetarians call themselves vegetarians based on the fact that they don’t eat meat—-they are really just Non-Meat-Eaters if they’re living on things like bread and pasta. They’re probably pretty unhealthy too because a lot of nutrients are missing from their diets.
The real truth about nutrition is that instead of focusing on what to remove—we should focus on getting enough nutrients. Veggies and fruit are the biggest and best for this. Eat more of them to be healthy. If you work out a lot, add some protein in the form of Hemp, wheatgrass, chlorella, etc. My favorite health promoting products for working out are Vega. Stay away from chemically produced protein supplements (i.e. anything that has the word “isolate” in it—it’s just protein stripped and separated from it’s source. The body doesn’t know what to do with this. Hemp and natural plant-based protein is naturally made up in a composition that’s use will be maximized by the body).
If you eat meat and dairy, you don’t have to quit immediately (so please don’t accuse me of suggesting that later when we chat!). It has been shown repeatedly that a diet high in animal products is associated with higher risk for disease. Isn’t this enough reason to place your emphasis on veggies and fruit? I’m assuring you that you can get enough protein from plants, and it is higher quality than that of meat. If you like meat, keep eating it in moderation….but realize you’re eating it because you want to and not because it’s making you healthy. Then ramp up the veggies and fruit for the health factor!