Monday, September 6, 2010

The 'White' Cause of Diabetes and Obesity

How can anything white be wrong?

Our arduous eating journey and future health blueprint begins early in life deeply rooted in cultural dietary traditions. Americans are unknowingly eating an unbalanced diet high in snarky saturated fats and low in fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains, but plum full of icky processed high-carb white foods.

Growing up a preacher’s grandkid, life revolved around after-church dinners on filigree-topped dining room tables moaning under the mass of chicken fried in shimmering pork fat, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, au gratin potatoes, potato salad, mashed taters, warm cloverleaf rolls, iced cakes, cookies; a carbohydrate blitzkrieg. Salt, flour, sugar, gravy, lard, shortening, white bread, white rice, marshmallows, Alfredo sauce, full-fat ice cream, half and half, and high butterfat cheese like Brie, mayonnaise, and mayo-based salad dressings chip away at the crispy edges of your family health equity. You know why they call it shortening? It shortens your life. 911! 911! Thud!

If you have a death wish to see the ‘white light’, white foods exacerbate diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease. My admonition doesn’t suggest avoiding these white foods, but a gargantuan family of foods derived from the nefarious white stuff. The Price is Right host Drew Carry recently lost 80 pounds and got his diabetes under control by eating nothing but lean protein and fresh vegetables; no carbs at all.

It’s more coo-coo than Coco-Puffs to believe we can totally dodge harmful ingredients lurking virtually everywhere in the food system. Big Food made sure of that. However, one excellent way to hedge these dead foods to remain healthy and energetic is to embrace edibles from nature, not a factory assembly line.

For decades, red meat’s been worshiped as a deity for its white marbling. Each year the average American gulps down more than 50 unctuous pounds of gushy fat. Less in this case, is more. Iconic Uncle Ben had good intentions when he ‘perverted’ his instant rice. Paradoxically, the bran and germ he removed are outstanding sources of minerals, fiber, and vitamins. Instant white rice lacks even the essential nutrients after “enrichment.” This doesn’t mean to completely avoid white rice. Try taking 15 minutes of your time and learn to cook Basmati rice.

Fizzy soft drink lovers may or may not be conscious that the fructose portion of refined sugar is a building-block for cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Also, just 10 teaspoons, the amount of sugar in one soft drink, incapacitates your immune system by an astounding 33 percent. Thirty teaspoons shut down the immune system for a day. Abundant sugar in your temple sends out chemical signals that attract bacteria like moths to an open flame. It’s been recently discovered that high fructose corn syrup is cancer cells favorite food. Charming, eh?

Salt overkill increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, diabetes, cataracts, brittle bones, asthma, dementia, and early death. The American Heart Association says one teaspoon a day is the maximum.

Studies explain Alloxan, the chemical that makes all purpose white flour look clean and beautiful destroys beta cells of the pancreas encouraging diabetes. White bread, an uber-refined wheat product, has been plundered of 11 known vitamins, half a dozen nutritionally significant minerals, as well as essential fatty acids. It’s a ‘wonder’ anyone buys it. Way back in 1943, the erudite editors of Nutrition Reviews were distressed at the government’s decision to proceed with enriching flour; a startlingly bad decision.

Even too many good complex-carbohydrates like brown rice, millet, grits, oats, quinoa, and barley can be a factor. Reduced-fat dairy products, probiotic yogurt, and fortified rice milk are cool in moderation. When you add beans, white-fleshed fish, skinless chicken, ‘real’ turkey breast, and fresh fruits and vegetables to the menu, you’re hitting stride.

Be unyielding and don’t give up. You can do it one step at a time. With the heartening progress I see Hoosiers making, I’m truly excited about the future.

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