Do you live to eat, or do you eat to live?
Too many calories will make you overweight…and shorten your life. Retain more calories than you burn off each day and you will gain weight. Burn off more calories than you take in each day and you will lose weight. That sounds short and sweet, doesn’t it? But what you eat and how much you exercise and sleep, have a major impact, not just on your weight, but most importantly, on your health!
As I approach what to share with you in this article, I want you to know that recently I’ve completed reading two of the best books on nutrition that I’ve ever seen. The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Eat To Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. Both reveal simple, but astonishing facts that your doctor probably has not shared with you and probably isn’t even aware of. The facts could show you how to achieve vast improvements in your health and weight. Not hard things to do, but it does take knowledge and willingness to make changes.
The China Study gives findings from the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken, about the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease. Eat To Live describes a revolutionary and safe formula for fast and sustained weight loss.
The China Study provided researchers the rare opportunity to study the dietary effect of a mostly plant-based diet. There are major nutritional differences in the Chinese and American diets. Here’s a comparison of the nutrients consumed in China and the United States.
Nutrient China United States
Calories per day 2641 1989
Total fat (% of calories) 14.5 34-38
Dietary fiber (g/day) 33 12
Total protein (g/day) 64 91
Animal protein (% of calories) 0.8 10-11
Total iron (mg/day) 34 18
As you can see, there are huge differences between the Chinese and American diets. The Chinese have a higher overall calorie intake, less fat, more fiber, less protein, much less animal foods, and much more iron.
So, what different results do we see in the health of the Chinese and American peoples? Here are a few facts that may be surprising. In China the blood cholesterol level generally ranges from 90 to 170. In the USA, 170-290. As animal protein intake goes up, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol goes up. As plant protein intake goes up, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol goes down.
Regarding cancer, here’s a quote from Dr. Campbell in The China Study, “nutrients from animal-based foods increased tumor development while nutrients from plant-based foods decreased tumor development.” Overall, cancer is less common in China than in the U.S.
I have pointed out only a couple instances in this article concerning the relationship of diet to health. Its definitely worth noting that both “bad” cholesterol and cancer rates are more common in the U.S. than in China. As the China study progressed it became quite clear that people who consumed diets high in animal protein had more heart disease, cancer, and other diseases than those who consumed diets high in plant protein.
So, you may ask, “What does all this have to do with losing weight?” I’m sure you’ve heard of the “food pyramid.” Dr. Fuhrman, in his book, Eat To Live, recommends a different food pyramid. In it at the top of the pyramid, where the foods are listed that you should “rarely” consume are beef, sweets, cheese, milk, processed food and hydrogenated oil. Poultry, eggs, and oils are allowed only once weekly or less. Fish and fat-free dairy foods can be eaten twice weekly or less. Whole grains, raw nuts and seeds should be 5-20% of calories. Fruits, 20-50% of calories. Beans/legumes should be 10-30% of calories. Vegetables, eaten half raw, half cooked should be 30-70% of calories.
The food pyramid described above is part of Dr. Fuhrman’s plan for substantial weight reduction. The reader might note that it certainly has a similarity to what Dr. Campbell discovered while doing The China study as being best for health, too!
Some of the tips that Dr. Fuhrman lists for losing weight, and keeping it off include
1. Remember, the salad is the main dish: eat it first at lunch and dinner.
2. Eat as much fruit as you want, but at least four fresh fruits daily.
3. Variety is the spice of life, particularly when it comes to greens. You can include the following: lettuce (including Romaine, bib, Boston, red leaf, green ice, celery, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, peppers, onions, radishes, carrots, beets, cabbage, all kinds of sprouts, etc.
4. Beware of the starchy vegetable. Limit cooked high-starched grains and vegetables to one cup a day. For the most part, consider vegetables that are not green to be a high-starch vegetable. Exceptions would be eggplant, peppers, onions and mushrooms.
5. Eat beans or legumes everyday.
6. Eliminate animal and dairy products.
7. Have a tablespoon of ground flaxseed everyday.
8. Consume nuts and seeds in limited amounts, not more than one ounce per day.
So far we have touched only on what you should and should not eat to be healthy and to achieve or maintain your optimum weight. It is extremely important to your health and optimum weight to get regular exercise, adequate sleep and you might want to consider including a good multi-vitamin mineral supplement, too.
Depending on your interests and physical ability there are many ways to exercise your way to better health. To list a few: walking, swimming, bicycling, jogging, running, playing sports, weight training. Choose one or more ways to get exercise that will be aerobic , build strength and burn calories. This will not only help your metabolism, but will actually help you gain energy and lose weight.
Last, but certainly not least, is the importance of getting enough rest and sleep. No matter how healthy a diet you are on, and how much exercise you get, if you are not getting adequate sleep, it will be harmful to your health.