It’s no secret that lifestyle changes are often needed to help people reclaim their health, and diet is a key focus of these changes. When patients ask my opinion of the Feingold diet, I invariably encourage them to explore it. The diet eliminates synthetic flavors and dyes, and the antioxidant preservatives BHA, BHT and TBHQ, and that’s a good idea for all of us.
But at the same time, I point out that they shouldn’t assume the Feingold diet itself is going to promote good health. Some of the items on the “allowed” list are loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and saturated fats. Examples: Coca-cola with high fructose corn syrup; and Cold Stone Creamery Peanut Butter Ice Cream.(A medium serving has 590 calories, 20 grams of saturated fat and 44 grams of sugar.)
When Dr. Feingold developed his diet concept some 40 years ago, junk food was not as prevalent and easily obtained as it is now, so perhaps he did not need to be concerned about kids having occasional treats. Yet food choices and times have changed, while obesity and chronic illnesses have sky-rocketed.
The Feingold organization provides an important service by researching foods for families and providing comprehensive lists of foods that do not contain synthetic additives and preservatives. Parents do need to know which additive-safe foods are available for parties, eating out, or special occasions at home.
Unfortunately, many families consider the list a green light and allow their children anything on the list. Using the list along with a good dose of common sense is helpful!
Why Is It Important to Reduce Sugars?
The obesity epidemic is killing us. Literally. It would be logical to think that fat intake is the biggest culprit in obesity and related health issues. But the fact is, most dietary fat tends to raise a type of LDL cholesterol that is actually harmless for heart disease while dietary sugar raises the level of “dense” small LDL fat particles that correlate positively with heart disease.
The typical American diet is filled with processed foods full of sweeteners and devoid of most nutrients and fiber. High fructose corn syrup is added to many processed foods, especially soda pop. Fructose corn syrup is an exceptionally harmful sugar that can elevate the “bad” fats.
An Appetite Regulation Center Gone Awry!
There’s an appetite regulation center in the brain that tells us when we have consumed enough food and drink. This center is controlled by the effects of the hormone leptin. This hormone is turned off when we have been consuming too many sweets and are not exercising enough. As a result, those following a typical American diet and lifestyle tend to overeat because the appetite regulation center is not operating as it should. The fast food, sedentary American lifestyle is setting us up for chronic disease, early aging, and early death.
Increased consumption of sugary foods, and sweetened sodas and fruit drinks, are associated with increased obesity and chronic degenerative diseases according to multiple scientific studies.
It’s estimated that on average Americans consume 63 pounds of high fructose corn syrup each year and 140 pounds of sugar.
More Problems with Sugar-loaded Items
- A high carbohydrate diet that is low in fiber is a high risk diet for the heart and gastrointestinal tract. It may also promote chronic fatigue, according to some studies. Also, a high carbohydrate diet may be the forerunner of chronic candidiasis, a more common cause of many complex allergic syndromes.
- Hypertension, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and hyperlipidemia and is metabolized in almost the same way as sugar.
- Elevated insulin levels set the stage for many modern chronic diseases including hypoglycemia, diabetes, heart and vascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, inflammatory and arthritic diseases, and possibly many other chronic degenerative diseases including cancers that afflict modern 21st century men and women.
Our lifestyle of increased stress, increased drug use, and inactivity along with fast foods with poor nutritional value are a recent phenomena of modern times. This lifestyle is much different from that of our ancestors. Processed and packaged foods were unheard of in the 19th century. Cars and TV’s weren’t invented until the 20th century.
The American Heart Association recommends a Mediterranean diet for heart health. This way of eating is prevalent in the Mediterranean area where heart disease and chronic diseases are less prevalent.
Get Serious: Exercise Can Really Help You
- Exercise is an important lifestyle habit that improves disease resistance by improving your insulin sensitivity in your muscles. This helps stabilize swings in blood sugar levels (and prevents hypoglycemia and related symptoms) that are felt throughout the body
- Exercise reduces stress and lowers cortisol, which decreases appetite levels.
- Exercise improves blood circulation to the brain and nervous system, elevates serotonin and endorphin levels, and improves mood while also protecting against Alzheimer’s.
- Exercise reduces arthritis, strengthens bones and slows down the aging process.
- Exercise strengthens the immune system (the body’s defense system) and improves the body’s natural healing response.
- Exercise helps the body to detoxify itself by helping it to remove waste products. Movement is life!
I recommend substituting all energy and sugary drinks and fruit juices with pure water. Use more pure water to detoxify the body.