What is the Perfect Eating Plan?
My first blog!!!! I asked for some topics that you would be interested in and this was #1. Please feel free to give me some feedback as to topics you would like to see. I'm a scientist, not an English major, so please forgive any grammatical errors.
It's that time of year and everyone is feeling guilty about their Holiday eating and drinking. It's time to change your eating habits and start to exercise. What eating plan ("diet" is a four letter word) should you use? Let's look at some popular plans.
Paleo- Based on the Paleolithic period of time when men and women ate what they could hunt and gather. This included meats, fish, nuts and seeds, seasonal vegetables, and leafy greens. Grains were not a part of the diet in that period of time.
So what's wrong with grains? Most contain gluten and lectins. Gluten is a protein found in rye, wheat, and barley. It's being used in everything from breads and pasta products to condiments, medications and beauty products. I find that the majority of my patient population is gluten intolerant and I believe that is not limited to my practice. Gluten can cause a myriad of symptoms in multiple organs of the body. Lectins are natural toxins that are present in grains to prevent their consumption. Yes, to PREVENT their consumption! They're also present in dairy and certain vegetables. They are a defense against microorganisms,pests, and insects. They are resistant to human digestion and they enter the blood unchanged. These lectins are irritating to our gastrointestinal system and can lead to leaky gut. Leaky gut is where the cellular lining of your GI tract develops "holes" allowing toxins, parasites, bacteria, and food particles to leak into your blood stream, setting off an immune system reaction. Leaky gut drives autoimmune disease.
The Paleo diet limits sugar to fruit only. Any other forms of sugar will rise dramatically in your bloodstream, spiking insulin, and if not burned off quickly, will convert to a toxic fat that causes inflammation in the body. This is called insulin resistance and it is the cause for the majority of diabetes, obesity and heart disease in the U.S. today, not to mention other diseases.
Removal of grains, sugars and processed food has been shown in multiple studies to correct several disease processes.
Dairy is a NO NO as no other mammal other than humans drink milk past infancy.
Vegan- Many have watched the recent documentary, "What the Health", in which multiple cases are made against animal meat and a vegan lifestyle is lauded. Unfortunately, the science is wrong and there are several incorrect statements made. There is no doubt that the massive consumption of animal meat is propagating inhuman treatment of animals as well as climate change related to the methane gas put out by said animals. However, a completely vegan diet can be as unhealthy as eating a greasy burger and fries.
Let's talk about "What the Health" before we dive into veganism. The documentary claims that eating an egg a day is as bad for your life expectancy as smoking five cigarettes a day, due to the buildup of plaque in the arteries from high cholesterol content in eggs. That is based on outdated information.Recently, national nutrition experts declared that cholesterol, found in foods such as eggs, is not considered a nutrient of concern for over consumption. Research has shown that the kind of cholesterol you eat isn’t solidly linked to cholesterol levels in the blood.
Processed meat was declared a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a World Health Organization group, in 2015. However, it is not considered as dangerous as cigarette smoking, even though they are in the same category of carcinogens.
The movie downplayed the role of sugar, despite the fact that plenty of research has linked sugar to diabetes and heart disease. Reports have also suggested that the sugar industry funded research that diverted attention away from sugar's link to heart disease, as well as research that has influenced national health recommendations related to sugar consumption and cavity prevention.
It also points to a link between dairy and cancer. While consumption of dairy can be an issue regarding sugar content and dairy is rated one of the top allergens, there have been multiple studies that have not found a link between dairy and cancer. Contrary to popular belief, raw milk is likely the best source. If consumed, dairy should be organic, if not raw, and used in moderation. I prefer that my patients consume very little dairy in the form of grass fed butter/yogurt in small amounts unless a food sensitivity is present.
The Vegan diet recommends eating grains and legumes. You've already learned about grains, so let's talk about legumes. Legumes contain lectins as well. Beans,soy and peanuts contain the most, followed by grains. Dairy, certain types of seafood and plants in the Nightshade family also contain lectins.
Clever marketing has led us to believe that soy is a super-food and is good for you. That means the majority of vegan food packed into the aisles of the grocery store is full of soy, grains and beans. Given what you have learned thus far, does this sound like the perfect diet? While massive consumption of animal products is not recommended, avoiding them completely is not either. Most definitely, consuming a diet high in soy, grains and beans is not as healthy as people think.
Let me point out the most important fact of all - lectins will mess with your leptin sensitivity (hunger and energy expenditure signals), making your brain think it’s hungry even when your body has more than enough calories, causing weight gain. Leptin resistance could lead to insulin resistance, which could lead to a host of problems also known as metabolic syndrome. Sound familiar, folks? Those of you whom I have reviewed labs with and pointed out that your leptin levels were high.....think about what I've said thus far. Think about what you're eating.
Soy also has phytates. Phytates bind to minerals like zinc, calcium, iron and magnesium so your body cannot utilize them.
Soy also contains goitrogens. Goitrogens inhibit the thyroid gland's ability to use iodine, causing hypothyroidism and growths on the thyroid. I used to see very few goiters, but now days everyone has goiters and\or hypothyroidism.
Soy also has trypsin inhibitors. These toxins block digestive enzymes and can lead to many other problems. This may be part of the reason that so many are in need of acid blockers.
Last, but not least, soy has isoflavones, which mimic estrogen. They raise your estrogen levels and lower your testosterone levels. Many baby formulas contain soy, which can disrupt endocrine function.
Have I made my case? A vegan diet may very well be one of the worst you can be on IF you eat these foods.
Mediterranean- Rated the best diet of 2018 by U.S. News and World Report, it has been linked to multiple health benefits including decreased risk of aggressive prostate cancer and healthier aging.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, olive oil and lean sources of animal protein. Minimal red meat and saturated fat is stressed as well as avoidance of refined sugars and processed foods. It also includes alcohol in moderation, which unfortunately has led Americans to believe that excessive consumption of wine is good for them. Traditionally, wine consumption is with meals only and is part of a long, conversational dinner rather than eating on the go. Partaking in multiple glasses of wine in the evening with little or no food was not part of the plan.
Nine servings of produce-fruits and vegetables-are recommended daily. Avoidance of white and refined grains is stressed.
The eating plan focuses on foods that are high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory in nature.
Intermittent Fasting-Studies have shown that decreasing calorie consumption by 30-40% can increase your life span by a third or more. It has also been shown to decrease insulin resistance and has a positive effect on many diseases. Now having said that, anyone with pre-diabetes or diabetes should consult a professional before starting IF.
There are several ways to practice IF. I don't like the fact that some of these advocate the use of artificial sweeteners and Diet drinks during the fast. Some allow all foods, some focus on healthy eating.
IF requires self control, which many do not have. I recommend that patients start with fasting overnight as that may be the easiest for them to do. Eat nothing after dinner until the next day around noon. So if you eat dinner around 6:30 PM and eat around noon, that's a good 17.5 hour fast. You may not be able to go that long initially, but even if you eat at 7:30 AM, you're getting a 13 hour fast. Make sure that the foods you eat during your "feeding time" are healthy. Vegetables and lean pastured or grass fed protein with a bit of fruit and nuts/seeds.
So what eating plan do I recommend? It depends on what is going on with you. For instance, if you have autoimmune disease, the Auto Immune Paleo eating plan would be indicated. That's the subject for another blog.
I think that the Intermittent Fasting eating plan is very beneficial for multiple reasons. Studies show that it is beneficial in patients with altered circadian rhythm (adrenal fatigue). A recent study From University of Alabama focused on the eTRF, early time restricted feeding. This plan was found to reduce swings of hunger and altered fat and carbohydrate burning patterns, which helps with weight loss. Researcher Courtney Peterson, Ph. D. and her colleagues found that eating between 8 AM and 2 PM followed by an 18 hour fast kept appetite levels more even throughout the day. It also improved metabolic flexibility, which is the body's ability to switch between burning carbs and burning fats.
I believe if you couple a program like this with 7 hours (8AM-2PM) of healthy eating-lean pastured or grass-fed meats, vegetables, minimal fruit (dependent on your insulin sensitivity status) with small amounts of nuts, seeds and healthy fats.
I prefer a Paleo/Keto Hybrid with intermittent fasting. I think that eating the foods I just discussed, along with healthy fats such as avocado, olives, olive oil, grass fed butter, coconut butter and MCT oil. You can add Fat Bombs, which are easy ways to get your daily amount of fat in.
I think that the combo of these methods is a great way to reverse insulin resistance and facilitate weight loss, but time will tell.
The bottom line is that processed and fast food, grains, soy, legumes, sugar and alcohol need to be avoided if you want to reset your metabolism and lose weight.
Keep in mind that you have to reduce your leptin level before you will really start to lose weight and that will take time.
References: Good Vegan, Bad Vegan-The New York Times 10/2/17
What You Should Know About the Pro-Vegan Netflix Film "What the Health"- TIme
What You Can Eat on the Mediterranean Diet.- Time
is the Mediterranean
Dietary Lectins: Everything You Need to Know--Joe Leech, MS 4/1/15
Time Restricted Feeding Study Shoes Promise in Helping People Shed Body Fat-UAB News 1/8/17