Growing up, my mom kept a lock on the fridge in the garage because that’s where the soda was. Soda was only allowed on the weekend.
She never bought us sugary cereal. She only bought us Cheerios and oatmeal. The only way I got Lucky Charms was if I had a sleepover at a friend’s house.
Clearly, my mom was aware of dangerous sugars, and our dinners were reflective of the typical American diet. We always had a token vegetable on the side; however, the main dish was usually meat and carbs.
In her defense, both my parents worked full time and were taught to believe that meat and carbs are the best way to feed a family on a budget. However, most American diets are laced with one ingredient: ignorance. Admittedly, ignorance tastes pretty good. While knowledge tastes like, well, spinach. Catch my drift?
But just what is the aftertaste of ignorance?
The aftertaste of ignorance is: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, depression, leaky gut, osteoporosis, liver inflammation and acid reflux. Shall I go on?
Ignorance of nutrition is not necessarily our fault. The food industry has manipulated our perception of diet for ages. We are programmed to buy foods that fill us up with little monetary impact. Despite our constant exposure to industries telling us what’s good for us, I honestly believe that in our gut we know what’s right for our bodies. And believe it or not, your gut knows too.
What is the gut?
The gut is your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small/ large intestines, pancreas, liver, and gall bladder. Each of these organs serves a purpose. Is the food you eat helping their purpose?
The gut contains more nerve cells than anywhere else in the nervous system. That means neurotransmitters affecting hormone releases is also found in the gut. The gut is also 80% of your immune system because of the good bacteria within. However, when that bacteria is jeopardized, your immunity is too.
Where do you start?
Knowledge is ignorance’s kryptonite.
Here’s what you need to know:
There are two different types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbs are typically acidic (added sugars, pasta, fruit juice, etc.). Complex carbs are typically alkaline (sweet potatoes, broccoli, beans, etc.).
Your bodies have two fuel sources: glucose and fat. The glucose is obtained through what you eat (simple carbs) while the fat can come from either what you eat or just preexisting body fat. In healthy dieting, it’s important to have both.
However, the typical American diet overindulges in simple carbs forcing our bodies to burn those as energy and reserving preexisting fat while simultaneously adding to it. This delicate balance, between burning glucose versus burning fat is called your body’s metabolic flexibility.
Too much acidity upsets metabolic flexibility, your gut, and your whole body.
What can you eat to ensure a healthy gut?
The good news? Healing starts with what you eat. Here are some alkaline foods you might want to add to your grocery list this week:
Green tea contains a naturally occurring compound called EGCG. EGCG prompts your body to literally burn stored fat through thermogenesis. It also promotes fat oxidation, which has the same effect on your fat cells as regular diet and exercise (not that it can replace diet and exercise). It break them into smaller pieces so we can use them for energy.
When you have too many stored fats, or lipids, resulting from overeating and lack of exercise (aka lack of fat oxidation) your body can’t break down these fats for energy. So, they remained stored as body fat. Green tea is a proponent of Women’s Health Care as it has been linked to protecting against bone loss onset by menopause.
Spinach is loaded with iron, which plays a crucial role in the overall function of your body. When there is an iron deficiency, your body cannot produce an adequate red blood cell count and overall circulation. A deficiency in red blood cells typically means there’s an energy deficiency; you feel more lethargic. When you’re constantly tired, you’re not as willing to get up from the couch and go for that run.
Kombucha detoxifies build up from acidity being processed through the liver, aids your body with antioxidants, reduces LDL (bad cholesterol levels), eliminates toxins from cells, builds up immune health, and of course supports regular and healthy digestion. Any fermented food like Kombucha, or no-sodium added sauerkraut, arms your gut with good bacteria.
Bee pollen is one of nature’s strongest super foods because it is just that- nature’s. Not only is pee pollen potent in protein and amino acids; its preventative nutrients are remarkable. Bee pollen serves your gut and body as a prohibitive for the expansion of various bad bacteria like salmonella. It also regulates cholesterol levels while lowering your LDL levels. If that isn’t enough, a study found that cancer patients were given bee pollen on a regular basis to support their immune system in targeting cancer cells and infections.
This power-packed green algae contains iron (comparable to that of red meat), calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, folic acid, beta-carotene (more than carrots), and vitamins like C and B12. If that isn’t enough, consider the fact that chlorella has major impact on blood pressure, cholesterol, and even fat stored in the liver. Chlorella’s antioxidants support immune and cardiovascular health which is great support for Geriatric Medicine.
The betaine, pectin, and betalains in beets helps your body detoxify internal stressors in the liver. Your liver health is vital as it is part of your body’s filtration system. It decides which substances that you ingest as waste and which substances and nutrients are better for your body.
Since your liver deals with toxins firsthand, it can get a little dirty over time. When your liver is “cleaned” or detoxified, it eliminates fat, stones in the gall bladder, and even helps lower your cholesterol and blood glucose.
Turmeric is a plant from the same family as ginger which is another ancient healing spice. Inflammation is a part of arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. When left untreated, it can lead to pain, complications and chronic disease. The good news? Turmeric is powerful enough to reach the nucleus of cells and block inflammatory molecules invading the cell much like prescriptions with this purpose.
As consumers, we have an incredibly ability to motivate change. Through our purchasing power, we can transform the food industry by making our decisions affect their products. Their job is to accommodate us so that we keep them in business. We know your gut is telling you the same thing.
Faisal Tawwab, MD, is a Family Practice Specialist and a lead physician at Multicare Physicians in Lake Mary and Deltona. He graduated with honors in 2009. Having more than 7 years of diverse experiences, especially in FAMILY PRACTICE, Dr. Faisal Tawwab affiliates with many hospitals including Baptist Health Madisonville, Orlando Health, and Florida Hospital and cooperates with other doctors and specialists in many medical groups including Orlando Health Physician Group Inc.