Are you finding it more difficult to control your weight these days? Most people are.
Which explains why 25% of the population has a BMI (body mass index) classified as obese, almost half are overweight and 2 million people are currently diagnosed with diabetes, with an estimated 2 million more who also have diabetes, but have not yet been diagnosed.
Even more worrying, childhood obesity is at an alarming level and rising – with the Royal College of Physicians predicting that as many as 50% of British children will be obese by 2020.
All despite the fact that we, on average, eat less than we did 60 years ago! How can that be? And is there an answer?
There is an answer and it offers sustainable weight loss. But first let’s list the five main reasons for our increasingly tough battle of the bulge. Then I’ll offer the solution.
The wrong food ....
We evolved bodies that normally ran on lots of fruits, nuts and vegetables (gathered), plus occasional lean meat and fish (hunted) ie low calorie, high nutrition, high fibre foods.
Today the situation is totally reversed.
The foods that surround us are too often high calorie, low nutrition, low fibre.
In particular we have moved away from fresh foods to processed foods that incorporate far too much fat, salt and sugar – and other refined carbohydrates: foods like bread, biscuits and cakes baked with refined flour and sugar.
These – together with foods like pasta, potatoes, and many breakfast cereals – cause the blood sugar level in our bodies to rise sharply after eating. Each ‘sugar rush’ triggers a surge in insulin, released from the pancreas, which clears glucose from the blood.
A small amount of this glucose is driven into the liver, and some is absorbed by the muscles for energy requirements. However, since we normally engage in little activity, this leaves a lot of surplus glucose – which then goes straight into our fat stores, as well as causing damage to our arteries and other tissues.
The effect of food on blood sugar levels is known as the GI (Glycaemic Index) effect. A high GI food like pure glucose (GI of 100), causes the fastest rise in blood sugar. Low GI foods (GI under 55) trigger a slower and lower rise in blood sugar.
But high GI foods cause more than a direct deposit of glucose into fat stores – they also satisfy you for a shorter time than low GI foods – soon leaving you hungry and prone to snacking and over-eating.
Over time an excess of high GI foods, combined with a low exercise lifestyle, can cause people to be resistant to insulin and eventually diabetic.
It is the switch to high GI foods that is a root cause of the epidemic of adult and childhood weight problems.
There’s another problem. Over the last fifty years the amount of fibre in our diet has dropped dramatically. Fibre is the slimmer’s friend because it has half the calories of protein or carbohydrate – some forms of fibre have no calories at all – and it makes you feel full and satisfied.
The result of these changes in food quality is that many people suffer from what has been termed ‘Type B’ malnutrition.
Type A malnutrition is represented by the emaciated figures from a famine. People with Type B malnutrition are overweight from an excess of calories, yet simultaneously
suffer from nutritional depletion, which in turn can increase the risk of developing degenerative illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.