Of course much is said about diet and what’s right and what’s not. I’m going to suggest there isn’t a perfect diet and I’ll tell you why............would you think that the same diet would be suggested for a baby, an octogenarian, a distance runner, a weight lifter, a jockey, a pre-diabetic, someone overweight, someone who sits at an office desk, or even someone with heart disease? So, the question is “what is the right diet for this individual based on their needs” not “what is the best diet”.
For many of my patients with risk of cardiovascular disease, they are pre-diabetic or diabetic and below is little background to how I deal with that group of individuals. 3.5 million years ago, our ancestors were hunters and gatherers. They ate animals, insects, and they consumed a few greens. 10,000 years ago, agriculture, gave us complex carbohydrates, which are basically just a series of simple carbohydrates or building blocks put together.
For some people who have a heritable sensitivity to carbohydrates, these simple and complex carbohydrates can lead to an accumulation of bodily fat, and also, to a build-up of hazardous fat around the stomach and in the arteries.
If you’re eating a house, you’re eating bricks
A complex carbohydrate is to a simple carbohydrate as a house is to a brick.
So, if you’re eating houses, you’re eating bricks, and in much the same way, if you’re eating complex carbohydrates, you are eating simple carbohydrates.
The other name for simple carbohydrates is sugar. If you think about our ancestors 3.5 million years ago, there wasn’t much sugar in their diet.
Complex carbohydrates, fat and insulin
Our ancestors had a hormonal response to make the best use of sugar on the rare occasion that it made an appearance in their diet, and what that did was turn on a hormone called insulin, which is a
storage hormone. Insulin changes the blood’s chemistry, and it leads to storage of fat for a rainy day, particularly around the stomach, but also in the arteries.
So, for some people who have a heritable sensitivity to carbohydrates and insulin, restricting carbohydrates is sometimes recommended by their treating doctors to reduce the rate of fat storage in the stomach, and to reduce fat storage in the arteries in particular.
If your treating doctor has identified that you have a sensitivity to insulin, they might recommend that you reduce simple carbohydrates by reducing complex carbohydrates from food sources that are produced by crops.
Under the advice and supervision of a physician, things like bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, cereal and fruit are sometimes kept to a minimum to maintain a diet that’s better for that individual’s heart health.
If Your Doctor Has Already Suggested You Make Dietary Changes...
Find your burn: You need to find the burn for you that makes the change a priority. It might be that
you’ve got a wedding to go to in six months’ time, and you want to be five to ten kilos lighter. Or, it might be that in two years’ time you want to have a holiday at a beach resort and wear a one-piece. It could be that you want to lose five kilos so that you can play with your grandkids.
Whatever it is, your priority needs to be rock-solid for you. The more rock solid that priority is, the easier it will be for you to follow through with your doctor’s dietary guidelines. You should document it for a while, but once you follow this guide for an extended period, you will not need to keep documenting it, because you will form the habit and you will keep going from there.
One of the biggest problems with making any lifestyle change is that the positive consequences of that change are not immediate. So, for those of you who are tech-savvy, there is a free app available for iPad, iPhone and Android, called MyFitnessPal, which gives you an easy and effective way to keep track of your daily dietary intake.
If your doctor has not recommended that you make any changes to your diet, or you haven’t yet had this conversation, it’s a good idea to raise this question with your doctor so that they can help you to identify a diet that works best for you.
Your doctor may also be able to put you in touch with a dietician who may provide more details and support for you to reach your own objectives.
So, what are you waiting for?
BW - Dr. Warrick Bishop