How the Modern Diet Isn’t Feeding Our Bodies (and What We Can Do About It)
To read Part 1 and understand how carbohydrates can influence your health, click here
The Difference between “Good Carbs” and Refined Carbs
Non-refined carbs include oat, millet, brown and red rice, spelt, buckwheat and any other whole grains that have not been refined, as well as fruits and vegetables and “old breads” (made of whole grains such as whole rye). These carbs bring in micronutrients and fiber, so the body is getting much more than simply carbohydrates. They contain higher levels of fiber so they also don’t spike glucose levels, putting the body into an emergency situation, which causes damage when chronic.
The same meal has a different blood glucose effect in different people. The degree to which blood sugar rises and falls after meals has a significant influence over long-term cardio metabolic health and aging. It is affected by the body’s overall energy economy--how it uses food energy. Each individual’s metabolism is based upon factors like physical activity, genetic makeup, genetic changes that occur from exposure to life events and stressors, caloric intake, the presence or absence of particular gut microbes, and nutrient quality and balance in the diet.
Refined carbs were created for convenience and to please the palate. Slowly, white carbohydrates have been substituted for the darker ones traditionally used in baking and cooking. Also, a cultural shift slowly took place that brought the phenomenon of people liking white foods more compared to traditional whole grains. Besides, over time, the industry has developed more and more sophisticated and efficient refining processes, which brought highly refined products in very high quantities. The cereals producers and refiners heavily marketed their products, influencing food culture by presenting and associating white foods as most tasteful and desirable. This era further saw science attributing dietary fats as the main culprit of the increasing weight epidemic and related cardiovascular diseases (later clarified as a misunderstanding).These factors shifted traditional eating habits and culture to choosing “low-fat” dietary products and highly refined carbs.
When we’re eating a diet that’s heavily white and sweet we’re eating little that’s recognizable as food to the body. However, we don’t need to cut out all carbs. Non-refined carbs should be part of a balanced diet that offers the body the complex mix of fuel it needs.
Damage from Poor Nutrition: Food is Information and Fiber Helps Hack Cancer Codes
All kinds of unusual signaling happen at the cellular level when the body is getting mixed up information from highly processed foods. And, as previously discussed, the organs suffer strain over and over.
Eating large amounts of refined carbs and not getting the nutrients needed can lead to chronic inflammation in the body. Because the body has complex, interrelated mechanisms, the combination of these impacts and your genes means you’ll be affected in different ways.
As an example of how food contributes to the burden of chronic diseases: it is known that approximately 30% of cancer is food-related. Recent studies confirm that greater consumption of fiber can put the “metabolic brakes” on some cancers (especially of the digestive system and breasts). Digestive tract locations showing significant protection with higher fiber intake included the colon and rectum, pancreas, oesophagus, and stomach. In earlier historical times, humans consumed well over 100 grams of fiber daily, but now, the majority of people fall far short of the mere 28 recommended grams. Though it is not well known how fiber “talks” to the intestinal system cells, it is clear that this “conversation” takes place and that, gram by gram and day by day, fiber contributes to helping tissues to remain normal.
Symptoms don’t typically appear until chronic damage has been done to the body (at the cellular and system level). This may show up as a chronic disease diagnosis or symptoms that are challenging to pinpoint with a diagnosis, such as weight gain, bloating, digestive problems, irritability, sleep problems, fatigue and many more. In these cases, functional medicine can contribute to a deep investigation at a metabolic level through the use of sophisticated diagnostic testing protocols. This process helps us understand the underlying functioning (or malfunctioning) of the body’s systems. This allows treatment to not only focus on symptoms, which may not present the full picture of the problem, but on tackling their causative factors. Without this understanding, treatment of chronic conditions’ symptoms could represent a partial and limited solution.
Because the damage has been going on a long time prior to symptoms, patients often need nutrient-dense compounds along with dietary and lifestyle adjustments and sometimes medications to rebalance and restore their health. When they get back into balance, patients can continue healing and lifelong wellness with diet and a healthy lifestyle. Coaching and education can support patients to maintain the gains of treatment.
Dr. Sara Laudani is specialized in treating chronic illnesses, women’s issues, fatigue and mood disorders as well as sleep difficulties. She tackles health problems with a combination of western medicine and functional and nutritional medicine. Click here to schedule an appointment with her in our Hongmei Road Clinic – Hongqiao and find out about how her holistic approach and protocols can help you resolve your health issues.