Lifestyle medicine is not a fad. It is not an episode. It is a series of adapted modification of the lifestyle to reach a certain health goal or cure many medical disorders. It may come down to proper diet, focused exercises, supplements and stress management. It is based on personal trial and error practice into the patient’s life. It may take 3 months or longer than 1 year per each segment of practice depending on the underlying medical conditions. The more advanced level of health disorders the longer and more effort the adaptation process takes. For instance, the patient with type 2 diabetes and consequent diabetic complications should take more comprehensive and enduring lifestyle modification than the one without diabetes complications.
Today’s standard American diet (SAD) does not provide enough nutrition and vitamins for life. The foods in SAD are raised and collected with a barrage of antibiotics, artificial colors, drugs, hormones, food additives, preservatives and radiation. Personally, I will be surprised to see any body with this diet without any medical concerns at age 40. Basically, it puts our liver system -our main detox organ – overburdened for a long time. The so-called new improved foods mean unbalanced, man-made mixture packed with processed, fragmented nutrients lacking in vital amino acids, healthy fats, and trace minerals. They are patent protected creations far from real food designed and made by nature. Humans are believed to get evolved to enjoy nature-made food millions of years on this earth. Studies confirm our body systems are congruently adapted to nature feeding system not man-made. Then you may start to get confused how to make a right choice to make a better meal for your family. Simple suggestion is to choose high in native form of foods with minimum process such as brown rice, fresh vegetables, nuts, legumes, meats, poultry, unprocessed oils and so on. Don’t worry too much all those fat percentage, simple and complex carbohydrate, vitamins, etc.
Humans are omnivores. We eat animal and vegetable food sources easily observed generation by generation all over the world. Animal foods contain many critical nutrients and vegetable foods also contain dietary fiber. Fiber is hard to break down in human digestive system. It acts as a natural laxative, increases stool size and softened. It also helps to strengthen the liver system, especially detoxification. Toxins removed from the liver in the form of bile salts can be hauled away out of the body in the soluble fiber found only in fruits and vegetables. It can be found in beans, fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and whole grains. Another thing to note is the good bacteria in the gut feed on fiber(prebiotics). These beneficial microbiome offers an array of functions, including toxins eliminations, production of vital vitamins, hormones, acids, and enzymes, regulating immune system.
Many studies linked low-fiber diet to many diseases such as atherosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels), cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, infection, kidney stone, auto-immune diseases, obesity and many more. It is much harder to find any human medical disorders not linked to low fiber diet. The better choice of fibers come from the vegetables above ground, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, zucchini, etc. Conversely, refined carbohydrate items such as breads, pasta have very little or no fiber portion and high in sugar content.
Now let’s talk about fat. People are constantly told that fat is the enemy like plague. Instead, food industry marched on replacing low-fat substitutes. But studies after studies and my own clinical observations ask us a paradigm shift. We did not evolve on a low-fat diet. Actually, we thrive on high-fat diet. People can’t have heart diseases or obesity simply eating too much fat. You can’t eat too much fat even if you want to and try. Fats and proteins sit a long time in the stomach and you feel full. They release a satisfaction hormone, cholecystokinin, in the brain.
Fats are excellent energy source better than their carbohydrate counterpart with less metabolic byproduct. Our nervous system and our brain are almost made up of fats. All our cell membranes are also made from fats. The cell membranes serve as a gateway for most of our body’s vital functions. They regulate flow of vitamins, minerals, fats, glucose, and proteins. Also, fats are building blocks for steroid hormones, immune compounds such as prostaglandins. Now it is clear to see why nature give us fats to eat. Without fats, we can hardly maintain proper mental and physical health.
One thing to be cautious about is the artificial fats such as hydrogenation or partial hydrogenation. They are made to prevent rancidity and prolong shelf life with a big price tag. They don’t perform all the beneficial functions that fats can deliver. They disrupt cellular membrane integrity causing hormonal imbalances. They increase the body’s inflammation. They increase the risk of developing blood clots, damaging the inner walls of the arteries, causing heart attack. More concerning, they damage mitochondria and decrease energy production (metabolism), causing ageing faster and developing every kind of chronic disease.