the human body runs on food once food shortage was the major concern after the Second World War technological advances in food production led to a new era that was characterized by an overabundance of inexpensive food and relatively little physical activity in the decades that followed other socio-cultural shifts continue to contribute to the changing way we ate women who had previously controlled most of the average family’s food preparation now entered the workforce in significant numbers and the processed food industry began to capitalize on our need for fast convenient food this meant that fewer meals were being cooked at home and since convenience foods were generally higher in calories than home-cooked meals the average person’s caloric intake increased dramatically academics studying the intersection of food and health like Michael Pollan have written extensively about the implications of this cultural shift on the way we eat today to the extent we outsource our food first we less healthy food more salt fat and sugar but we also eat more food because processed food is often designed as snack food and marketed to us as a way to eat continually through the day the changes in the way we as a society ate led to the emergence of obesity as a recognized chronic disease with well-defined health consequences and medical recommendations were made to try and address this growing health crisis in the second half of the 20th century a lot of attention was focused on reducing saturated fat and total fat in our diets and the processed food industry responded by giving us what we wanted but they still had a vested interest in selling their products so they found other ways to make the reduced fat Prada it’s taste good one way they did this was by adding significantly more sugar and other forms of sugar like corn syrup to almost everything we ate this not only made the reduced fat foods more appealing but it also increased their shelf life so the food industry had a huge incentive to add corn syrup and other sweeteners to packaged foods the resulting increase in our intake of simple sugars fueled our modern epidemics of obesity and diabetes these shifts in our food consumption patterns have led us to a point in history where a physiological adaptation our ability to store energy as fat has become maladaptive the balance between food availability and energy expenditure has been disrupted and it’s left us with an exponential increase in the incidence of obesity over the past 60 years an epidemic that the World Health Organization has labeled a worldwide public health crisis over the past 60 years the amount of sugar consumed as part of the typical Western diet has increased dramatically significant increases in sugar consumption have been documented in most countries where heavily processed food has become readily available surprisingly some experts estimate that only one-sixth of our sugar comes from deserts or foods that we think of as sweets the majority of our sugar comes in the form of highly processed food and sweetened beverages many people are becoming aware of the need to reduce their sugar intake in order to maintain a healthy body weight but what many people still aren’t aware of is the fact that sugar under a variety of different pseudonyms is added to so many foods that we don’t expect to contain sugar things like packaged breads condiments chips sauces and salad dressings in 2015 the World Health Organization released new guidelines strongly recommending that all adults and children reduce their sugar intake to less than 10% of total calories consumed these recommendations go on to suggest that a further reduction of sugar intake to less than 5 percent of total calories would likely have additional health benefits these recommendations focus on free sugars those that are added to foods by the manufacturer the cook or the consumer as well as sugars that are naturally present in honey syrups and fruit juices but they don’t apply to intrinsic sugars found in whole fruits and vegetables because the World Health Organization found no reported evidence linking the consumption of intrinsic sugars to adverse health effects the sugar that naturally occurs in milk is also excluded from that 5% the average adult consuming a 2,000 calorie per day diet reducing your sugar intake to 5% would mean that ideally no more than 100 calories per day should come from free sugars since free sugars offer four calories of energy per gram this would translate into approximately 25 grams of free sugar about six teaspoons six teaspoons seems like a generous allocation when you picture spooning it out of a sugar bowl but when you begin to look at the nutrition labels of most packaged foods the numbers begin to add up incredibly quickly for example a 1/2 cup serving of organic granola can contain 16 grams or 4 teaspoons of sugar if one half of a cup of regular sweetened yogurt is added to that cereal for breakfast this can add another 4 teaspoons of sugar and you’ve already exceeded your recommended sugar intake by two full teaspoons before leaving the house there’s a growing consensus that we need to cut down on our sugar consumption and yet there may be a downside to vilifying sugar the way we did with the dietary fats if we only emphasize the need to cut down on our sugar intake without simultaneously emphasizing moderation and balance in our diet as a whole we risk a situation where fats and animal proteins are seen by the general public as free food and the processed food industry again steps in and super-sizes it’s been interesting to read the research and see the shift in attention from treating fat as the evil nutrients of treating sugar as the evil movement now we went overboard on fat it turns out fat is not as evil as we thought and saturated fat is not necessarily the thing to worry most about in your diet and in fact our obsession with saturated fat led us to promote trans fats which turned out to actually be lethal so I’m very wary of focusing all our not a single nutrient sugar has been part of the human diet for a very long time it’s prized by people all over the world we have evolved to like the flavor of sugar for very good reasons but we are eating too much of it and I think we definitely need to cut down on the Nano sugar we’re eating but I think companies need to disclose added sugar which they don’t now have to do in processed foods I’m very concerned that sugars being added to foods that never were sweetened before things like bread now have sugar in them and condiments of all kinds because if you put more sugar in a food you will sell more of it so we need to be conscious of it but does it explain everything about our diet no it really does all nutrients are not created equal especially when it comes to their effect on our health so shifting our focus from nutrients to foods can help us develop better eating habits that will support our long-term health getting our head around the idea that we should be focused on the category of foods not nutrients is I think very important and I think doctors should be talking to patients about foods even if as scientists and researchers they see through foods – nutrients it may be a helpful way to study foods it’s not a helpful way to communicate about them let’s look at an example of how focusing on nutrients rather than food can leave us confused and potentially consuming a diet that’s dangerous to our health in recent years a lot of attention has been focused on the fact that many of us are eating too many carbohydrates there are lots of popular diet trends that encourage us to drastically reduce the carbohydrates in our diet even to the point of limiting our intake of fresh fruit at the same time some of these low carb diets seem to suggest that protein and fats can be eaten freely but a diet that’s very high in animal protein and contains no whole grains or not enough fruits and vegetables could leave us with serious problems in the long run in fact the category carbohydrates includes a wide spectrum of foods some of which are really important for our health and some of which can compromise it whole grains like brown rice and rolled oats are carbohydrates that provide our bodies with a usable source of energy and bound together in that very same food is a significant amount of fiber which slows the release of glucose from that food into the bloodstream the glycemic index of a food is a measure of the speed at which glucose is released into the bloodstream after it’s digested a whole grain like brown rice or quinoa will result in a slower release of glucose and a more muted insulin response on the other hand a food that’s high in refined carbohydrates like white bread or soda will lead to a more rapid release of glucose into the blood and in response to this the body releases a large amount of insulin the hormone in our bodies that lowers blood sugar because spikes of glucose and insulin lead to less stable blood sugar levels eating foods that are refined especially highly processed carbohydrates can result in an earlier return of hunger and a tendency to overeat the glycemic index of a food is lower when the food contains fiber or when it’s eaten in combination with protein foods or foods containing some dietary fat for people who are struggling to manage their weight or their blood sugar levels eating foods that have a low glycemic index is especially important but choosing low glycemic foods is generally a good idea for all of us so when we talk about dietary carbohydrates we’re actually talking about a very broad family of some that can be harmful to our long-term health and some that can support it learning how to choose the right foods within each nutrient category is one of the keys to long-term success protein-rich foods including animal and plant based proteins can also very enormous li in their quality and their implications for our long-term health proteins are often said to act as building blocks for the lean tissues in our bodies but they serve many other important functions in body regulation supportive immune function and a variety of other roles in our physiology there are twenty types of amino acids needed to fulfill all of these functions but only nine of them are essential meaning that our bodies can’t make enough of them so we rely on getting these from our food in general animal sources of protein like fish and eggs provide all of the essential amino acids in high enough concentrations that these foods are called complete protein sources in contrast plant-based protein sources like beans lentils nuts and tofu tend to be incomplete sources of protein it might seem that since plant-based proteins are incomplete in their nutrient content that they’re nutritionally inferior compared with animal-based proteins but in fact the health benefits of substituting plant-based proteins for animal-based ones ideally a few days a week this far outweighs the risk of falling short on essential amino acids plant-based proteins can be combined with other foods to provide a complete amino acid profile in fact many traditional food combinations like corn and black beans or rice and lentils are based on the principle of combining complementary proteins meals that contain vegetarian sources of protein also contain more fiber and less fat especially saturated fat than meals that feature animal-based protein and even though saturated fats may not be as harmful as we once thought it can still contribute to elevated levels of LDL cholesterol if we eat too much of it so moderating our end of red meat for example is still a sensible idea in general the typical Western diet contains more animal-based protein than we need to sustain good health people who eat lots of plant foods why eat a plant-based diet tend to have much better health and better longevity than people who eat a heavy meat diet so if you’re thinking of trying a low carb high protein diet it’s important to pay attention to the kinds of proteins that are being consumed and in what quantities a diet high in animal protein especially if it’s poor quality animal protein like processed meat or high fat cuts of meat this kind of diet can be harmful to our health even if it needs to weight loss in the short term processed meats often contain nitrates used as a preservative which can damage blood vessels and contribute to hardening of the arteries these needs also tend to be very high in sodium which can be a contributor to high blood pressure the most sensible diets are usually those that encourage us to eat moderate amounts of high quality protein foods these should come from a variety of different sources including some fish if possible as well as plenty of vegetarian sources of protein that are combined for completeness as the number of regular supermarkets increases more and more people have access to the basic ingredients they need to make simple healthy meals another obstacle people erect to cooking is the idea that to cook you must go to the farmers market and buy all local and organic food and that’s really not the case the first and key decision if if health is a concern is moving off of processed food and onto real food I’m talking about plants and in their more or less natural state or things that are very lightly processed like pasta or flour and things like that and those things are still in your supermarket they’re mostly on the periphery of the supermarket and one way to shop is sticking to the perimeter of the store that historically is where the produce is where the meat is were the fishes and where the dairy is when people visit the supermarket to buy perishable items like milk or eggs the most direct routes to those items will often be stocked with the most heavily processed foods things like cereals chips and sodas in many countries today food marketing is a big business in the US alone billions of dollars are spent establishing brand loyalty and placing highly processed items at eye level where we can easily reach them this can make it difficult to leave the supermarket with only the milk and the eggs we intended to buy for this reason it’s a good idea to make a shopping list before you go to the store and then try and stick to that list going grocery shopping when you’re hungry can also dramatically increase the temptation to buy calorie dense highly processed foods avoid the center aisles the center aisles are where the in perishable foods the foods that are immortal live and you know food is live and it should eventually die and a food that doesn’t there’s something we should wonder about it’s been over processed it’s been hyper processed one way to tell if a food is hyper processed is to look at the number of ingredients listed on the packaging a food that contains fewer ingredients is almost certainly less processed also if we can recognize the ingredients listed this almost always means the food is less processed than foods containing ingredients that the average person has never heard of and remember foods that don’t come with ingredient lists like fruits and vegetables are usually the best choices of all many people are confused by the nutrition label if they see on packaged foods in the supermarket before we talk about some simple tips for reading those labels it’s important to remember that some of the healthiest foods in the store like fresh fruits and vegetables or a fillet of fish these foods don’t need nutrition labels to tell you they’re nutritious so one simple strategy for eating sensibly is to try as much as possible to avoid foods with nutrition labels because by definition these are packaged and more heavily processed than fresh foods having said that since the majority of us eat at least some packaged food items it’s good to know what to look for especially if you’re comparing to packaged items and trying to make an informed decision firstly it’s important to keep in mind that the nutrition label may not reflect the contents of the entire package there’s often more than a single serving in one container and this can be confusing and misleading to many people I saw a mini loaf of banana bread in a shop the other day and thought hmmm not bad the sugar fat and calories in this are pretty reasonable then I saw that there were five servings in that mini loaf multiplied by five the nutrition label didn’t look so healthy anymore underneath the serving size we see total calories this probably isn’t the best way to judge whether something is good for you or not because some foods like nuts and avocados for example are high in calories but also very healthy as long as they’re eaten in reasonable amounts but if weight loss is a goal and you’re comparing two cereals for example the calories in a packaged food item are something you want to keep an eye on the next thing to look at especially for comparing breakfast cereals is the dietary fiber dietary fiber is important for maintaining gastrointestinal health stabilizing blood glucose levels after eating and delaying the return of hunger so choosing a cereal that’s higher in fiber is usually a sensible thing to do next we want to look at the sugars in the cereal there’s convincing evidence that our modern epidemics of obesity and diabetes are at least partly related to the fact that we tend to eat far too much sugar to convert the amount of sugar in grams 2 teaspoons just divided by 4 you might be alarmed to see that some children’s cereals contain five or more teaspoons of sugar per serving next we want to look at the total amount of fat and the breakdown of the fat content in the food in general the fats and processed foods tend to be less healthy than the fats found in plant foods like avocados or nuts these are naturally occurring unsaturated fats saturated fats like those found in red meats and butter can be eaten in reasonable amounts and trans fats which are more commonly found in processed foods these kinds of fats should be avoided entirely in fact legislation in the u.s. was passed in 2015 ordering food manufacturers to stop using trans fats because of the associated increased risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease choosing foods with less sodium is also a good idea given the fact that packaged foods often contain much more added salt than the less processed versions of those foods nutrition labels will also often contain a list of vitamins and minerals found in the food and this can be misleading because added vitamins and minerals don’t necessarily mean that the food is healthy and in fact some unhealthy foods have added vitamins and minerals because the manufacturers of those foods know that nutrition claims tend to increase sales to the health conscious consumer knowing how to use nutrition labels to compare packaged food items is important but just eating fewer packaged foods and crowding those out with plant-based foods may be an even more effective way to protect our health one of the biggest problems with the typical Western diet is the fact that much of our food is refined or highly processed the refining process removes important nutrients like fiber iron and B vitamins and this is done by food manufacturers for two reasons firstly it’s to give the end product a softer texture and secondly it’s done to extend the shelf life of the resulting product the heavily processed food is going to last longer on the supermarket shelf because pests like mold for example are less attracted to foods that are low in nutrients a hamburger that’s highly processed will spoil much more slowly than a hamburger made at home with mostly natural ingredients but the question is if highly processed food is so low in nutrients that the pests don’t even want to eat it how healthy can it be for us in fact the nutrient content of any given food is directly related to the spoil rate of that food foods that are very low in nutrients spoil much more slowly than foods that are rich in nutrients one of the best predictors of a healthy diet was whether it was cooked by a human being or a large corporation and the reason is that when we outsource that our food preparation to big companies they tend to cook in a certain way that isn’t very healthy they tend to use way too much salt fat and sugar all of which are problematic nutrients for our health and they tend to use the cheapest possible raw ingredients their business model is to start with the cheap food and process it as much as possible make it attractive with salt fat and sugar thinking about the nutrient density of a food is another conceptual way of making sensible food decisions the nutrient density of a food can be thought of as the amount of nutritional value including vitamins minerals and fiber divided by the or energy content of that food for example a glass of soda is high in calories without providing much in the way of nutritional value foods that provide lots of calories with very little nutritional value are sometimes called energy dense foods but their nutrient density is low a bunch of fresh spinach on the other hand would be an example of a nutrient-dense food because its nutritional value is relatively high compared to its caloric content when people talk about fast food being cheaper than fresh food they’re often referring to the fact that the cost per calorie of highly processed food is lower than that of fresh whole food this is often true because highly processed food is so high in calories that the cost per calorie is relatively low but if we instead look at the cost of food per unit of nutrient density then buying fewer calories of higher nutrient density food is a much better use of our food budgets in the midst of a serious epidemic of obesity avoiding empty calories should be near the very top of our list of priorities one of the reasons why highly processed food is usually higher in calories is that in order to make these products sell significant amounts of fat sugar and salt are added to make the nutrient stripped foods taste good additives like colorants artificial flavors stabilizers and other preservatives are also added to enhance packaged products and maintain the illusion that we as consumers have many choices when we walk through the supermarket aisles the last thing we need to be aware of are highly processed foods that masquerade as healthy foods these are products that have synthetic nutrients added back to them after they’ve been refined and this is usually done to make the product seem healthy to the nutrition aware consumer it’s important to remember that the most nutritious foods like broccoli don’t come in packages that tell us how healthy they are because so many companies are competing for our food dollars the marketing of these different variations has become extremely sophisticated billions of dollars are spent every year marketing processed food to us and to our children and in the u.s. there are no rules about which foods can be marketed to which age groups also the more time our children spend in front of a screen the more likely they are to be exposed to this kind of food marketing so what can we do let’s launch a counter marketing campaign we the parents of the world have a special kind of consumer access because the consumers are our children as they’re growing up we get to see them on a regular basis so even though our campaign may be less flashy or less colorful than the ads they see in the world around them our campaign can be pretty powerful too for example if they see us loving our fruits and vegetables we are advertising those foods to our children if we choose less processed foods most of the time and if we go out of our way to find foods that are grown or raised closer to home these actions will likely have an effect on their future choices if you have a farmers market nearby take your children there if you have space in your garden or even on your windowsill plant something that you can later eat with your children and then talk with them explain to them in whatever language is appropriate to their age that ads can sometimes make things seem better than they really are and that often ads can make us want things that we don’t need and that aren’t even good for us show them examples keep it fun and light-hearted of course and try to limit their exposure to screen based ads for processed foods but most importantly let them know that they have a choice and that they can use that choice wisely to keep themselves healthy and happy [Music] in 1954 the tobacco industry paid to publish the frank statement to cigarette smokers and hundreds of US newspapers it stated that the public’s health was the industry’s concern above all else and promised a variety of good faith changes the Frank statement was a charade the first step in a concerted half-century long campaign to mislead Americans about the catastrophic effects of smoking and to avoid public policy that might damage sales what followed were decades of deceit and actions that cost millions of lives in the hope that the food industry history will be written differently these researchers highlighted important lessons that can be learned from tobacco experience the processed food industries used tactics similar to those by tobacco companies to undermine public health interventions they do this by distorting research findings co-opting policymakers and health professionals and lobbying politicians and public officials in his book about his fight with the tobacco industry former FDA Commissioner David Kessler recounted similar strong-arm tactics used by the meat industry to try to squash nutrition regulations the Supreme Court Citizens United decision allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts on political ads during election campaigns could make things even worse by working against candidates who support public health positions another similarity between tobacco and food companies is the introduction and heavy marketing of quote unquote safer or healthier products when cigarette sales dropped due to health concerns the industry introduced safer filtered cigarettes that gave health-conscious smokers an alternative to quitting and sales shot back up ironically the filters originally had asbestos in them less nicotine less tar and now with reduced carcinogens as an actual ad and how could anything be bad for you if it’s a hundred percent organic sound familiar today we have leaner pork or eggs with less cholesterol maybe the food industry is gonna low tar cigarettes a KFC ad campaign depicted an african-american family in which the father was told by the mother that KFC has zero grams of trans fat now the father the presence of children shouts yeah but will do and then begins eating the fried chicken by the bucketful or signa or cereal companies touting all the whole grains in their Cocoa Puffs brownie crunch Froot Loops now provides fiber a US District Judge overseeing a tobacco industry case and put it well all too often and the choice between the physical health of consumers in the financial well-being of business concealment is chosen over disclosure sales over safety and money over morality who are these persons who knowingly and secretly decide to put the buying public at risk solely for the purpose of making profits and who believe that illness and death of consumers is an apparent cost of their own prosperity above all the experience of tobacco shows how powerful profits can be as a motivator even at the cost of millions of lives and unspeakable suffering


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