There’s no doubt about, as a nation, our diet is aweful. Not only is sugar, including natural sugars, overwhelming, but the vast majority of foods are so processed, they’re almost nutrient free—while being high in calories. The balance of Omega-3 fatty acids to Omega-6 fatty acids is completely out of whack, too. Even worse, people are indiscriminately cutting out fats, when often sugar is the blame for the health problem. The good news is that no matter how horrible your diet is now, you can change it to one that will keep you healthier, add years to your life and even improve your mood.
Sugar is one of the culprits that assault your system.
The amount of sugar we eat is outrageous and worse yet, climbing. Today, the average American consumes 152 POUNDS of sugar each year, that’s almost 30 pounds more than they did in 1970. Not all that sugar comes from food. A lot comes from soft drinks. In fact, if you drank two and a half Cokes a day, you’d get the daily average of sugar consumption. Sugar plays havoc on the body, with some forms of sugar worse than others. It’s highly addictive and instantly gives you the “feel good” hormone dopamine, but that sugar high won’t last and you’ll come crashing down hours later. It has a negative effect on your teeth, joints, skin, heart, liver, pancreas and kidneys, while increasing weight and aiding to the development of diabetes.
There’s no hidden devil in Omega-6, as long as it’s balanced with Omega-3.
You need omega-6 fatty acids to survive and they’re not produced by the body. It helps manage inflammation, improve arthritis, reduce nerve pain, support bone health, lower the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. However, you can get too much of a good thing. It needs to be balanced with Omega-3 fatty acid in a ratio of 4 Omega-6 to 1 Omega-3. According to anthropologists, the diet of our hunter gatherer ancestors was 1 to 1. Unfortunately, in the average American Diet, the ratio is as high as 25 to 1, which can cause an increase in inflammation. It also may have an effect on mood. One study changed the diet of prisoners in a facility that was known for violence. The diet was higher in Omega-3 fatty acids. It lowered the levels of violence by almost a third.
Consider healthy fat as part of your diet.
Fat isn’t really bad, at least not all fats are bad. Sure, transfats are—except CLA that comes from grass fed beef and dairy product, but too often healthy fats are villified right along with transfats. Where did that start? It started back in the 1960s when the sugar industry paid Harvard professors to find research that took the blame for heart disease away from sugar (and in this case placed it on fat in the diet.) Healthy fat actually helps you lose weight. Coconut, avocado, nuts, whole eggs, salmon and flax seed all contain healthy fats that actually can help you lose weight.
- Grass-fed beef and dairy is higher in the healthy fat conjugated linoleic acid—CLA—than those fed grain. It’s also higher in Omega-3 fatty acid and stearic acid–a fatty acid that reduces bad cholesterol levels.
- Using coconut oil to cook may actually help reduce abdominal fat, according to one study. Use mashed avocado for a spread or to put on potatoes. It can make you feel fuller so you’ll eat less.
- If you want to boost your Omega-3s, consider adding flaxseed, Chia seed, walnuts, oysters, sardines and salmon to your diet. Great-grandma knew what she was doing when she gave a spoon of cod liver oil for whatever ails you. It not only is high in Omega-3, it has vitamin A & D.
- Boost your Omega-3 intake by including avocado in your diet daily, sprinkling ground flaxseed on your cereal—they must be ground and the fresher the better—use a coffee grinder, or adding kale, spinach or purslane to your salad.