What should I be eating to live healthier and longer?
In this ever changing world of fad diets, pharmaceuticals, vitamins/supplements and the next new thing to keep me healthy and disease free it's hard to chose the best course of action to do just that? I am here to help!
What Should I Eat?
In one of my newsletters, I spoke about eliminating sugars and white carbohydrates, processed foods, and eating real foods, extensive vegetables, and limited meat and fish. What we know now is the body, and thus the mitochondria run best on ketone metabolism which comes from high-quality mono and saturated fats (grass-fed beef, butter, olive oil, grass-fed animals, wild caught fish, avocado oil, etc. ).
The whole movement toward low-fat products was a giant boondoggle brought together by the agricultural industry, who created human-made trans fats to replace what we used to eat.
There was also a flawed study by epidemiologist Keys in the 60s, a simple approach with the medical industry selling drugs to lower cholesterol, and the story goes on (see book Big Fat Surprise By Nina Teicholz ). So the good news is eating just got easier, Forget about all those manufactured foods with low-fat descriptors, and try to find food or animal products that are produced authentically without growth enhancers, insecticide's, non- natural foods, from a reliable source.
Although many nutritionists don't talk about it, 22 of 23 studies have shown that low carbohydrate diets beat low-fat diets by every measure and metrics of health.
It all comes down to insulin levels; carbohydrates raise insulin levels which is a master trigger for a cascade of reactions that foster growth and inflammation. This insulin trigger, unfortunately, happens 4-6 times a day with the Standard American Diet (SAD) and excessive and frequent carbohydrates we put into our system causing metabolic chaos. Everything you eat after your insulin pops up gets immediately placed into storage (fat and liver-muscle glycogen), and is less available for energy production. When it does produce ATP (Adenosine triphosphate, the currency for energy generation) from glucose precursors from carbohydrate metabolism, it creates more reactive oxygen species or what I call metabolic smoke that needs to be managed and detoxified at a cost to the body.
... So back to the original question
We now know it is important to have windows of non-eating that creates a deficient insulin environment to best release stored energy from fat or glycogen. This fasting state may also foster steady, reliable energy utilization and hopefully autophagy; which is the breakdown and consumption of old failing cells that need eradication because they're at risk of becoming mutagenic. Additionally, by keeping your insulin levels low, through eating minimal carbohydrates except sometimes in the evening, these low insulin will sedate levels of hunger hormones (ghrelin, leptin) and you will find yourself rarely thinking of food. Elite athletes are turning to clean-burning high-fat diet to maximize their performance. Yes, we were sabotaging ourselves with the carbohydrate loading strategy before the running and sporting events.
Again, back to the original question:
Don't be afraid to get 50 to 70% of your calories from high-quality fats, get high-quality proteins but don't overdo proteins because remember protein breaks down into sugar when your body no longer needs it. Most people need 1 to 1.5 gm per kilogram of body weight, of protein and typical chicken breasts are about 30 grams. Overdoing protein is also dangerous when one is in a healthy state as excess protein can go down the pathway to generate glucose if your protein needs are met, and it also activates proliferation (mTOR- mammalian target of rapamycin) or a condition that might lead to mutations or excess inflammation.
Don't be afraid to eat two meals a day, and consider having a 12 to 14-hour window between your last meal and your next meal.
Fresh vegetables are critical to bring polyphenols into your diet and maintain the health of your gut microbiome.
Fruits are not always your friend as most of them are fructose and water; so focus on mainly the berries that have a lot of polyphenols, good fiber and lower amount of sugar.
Make water your primary drink with your meals, Coffee and tea are health drinks and show longevity extension and disease reduction in virtually all meta-analysis. Just don't drink it out of Styrofoam cups, with sugar or artificial sweeteners, and not late in the day where the caffeine might disrupt your sleep.
Excellent books on the above topic are Eat Fat Get Slim by Mark Hyman, Fat For Fuel by Joe Mercola, or Headstrong by Dave Asprey.
By the way, the calories in /calories out concept of weight management is dead. First of all, nobody can keep an accurate count of calories, food is information and messaging to the body and what you eat and at what time of the day is far more important than ultimately how many calories you are taking in. The book Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes clarified this foolish concept about the balance sheet of calories and energy and ultimate weight gain.
In general, as long as you avoid the SAD Diet or better known as the Standard American Diet created by dollar driven agricultural and nutrition companies, and eat what grandma and grandpa ate in the 50s, you should be in good shape.
Remember Grandma didn't like to snack and the kitchen closed at 6 PM and did not open again till the next morning after 8 AM.
If you found this post helpful, be sure to check out "What I Should Drink?"
Disclaimer: This information is not meant as direct medical advice. Readers should always review options with their local medical team. This is the sole opinion of Dr. Meakin based on a literature review at the time of the blog and may change as new evidence evolves.