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Excerpt from "The PlantPlus Diet Solution"

What's Up Doc?

by Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.

The following excerpt is taken from the book The PlantPlus Diet Solution by Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.. It is published by Hay House (Available September 30, 2014) and available at all bookstores or online at: www.hayhouse.com

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

-Virginia Wolf, A Room of One's Own

Tired, cranky, got headaches, belly aches or belly fat? How about diabetes, high blood pressure, or coronary artery disease? Got an autoimmune condition, an allergy, an immune deficiency, or an inflammatory condition like arthritis? Depressed, anxious, addicted, or having trouble sleeping? Overweight, obese, or just plain bloated? How about dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or cancer?

These chronic illnesses and mood disorders, all of which have some association with metabolic problems due to poor diet, are endemic to our society.

It’s estimated that 25-30% of the population is now insulin resistant (prediabetic) because of the carb-rich foods that form the backbone of the Standard American Diet (SAD). Add in the toxins we ingest- a result of pesticides, herbicides, GMOs, food additives and the consumption of oxidized vegetable oils rich in Omega-6 fatty acids- and you get the perfect storm. When even health conscious folks like my husband Gordon and I fall prey to the epidemic of chronic disease, it’s clear that we need to become better educated as a society before we become extinct.

The Girth of the Nation

Almost 70% of American adults are overweight. It’s no wonder that Europeans are often shocked when they come to the U.S. and see how much fatter we are compared to the citizens of European Union nations, many of which- like Italy and France- are known for their rich, delicious cuisine.

Over a third of Americans are now more than just a tad overweight. Forget about losing those stubborn five or ten pounds. How about those 20, 30, 40, 50 or 100 pounds? Think I’m exaggerating? One in 20 American adults is indeed extremely obese- 100 pounds or more over their optimal weight. Our kids aren’t faring much better. A third of them are overweight. Of those, nearly 1 in 5 are officially obese with a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or more. Take a moment to imagine that….

Or perhaps you see the problem up close and personal in your own children, grandchildren, or their classmates. When I went to grade school and high school in the 1950’s and early 1960’s an overweight kid was a rarity. Most everyone was thin. Most of what we ate were whole foods, since the processed food industry was just gearing up for a hostile take over of the American palate and pocketbook.

My mom, who once made everything we ate from scratch, became smitten with Pop Tarts when I was an adolescent. Those processed breakfast pastries were a harbinger of things to come. The unholy alliance between Bad Science that blamed fat for heart disease and Big Food, launched half a century of low fat, high carb cardio-mania that made our country the fattest country in the world until Mexico nosed (or butted) us out of top place in 2013.

Fit but still Fat?

I used to think that overweight people just ate too much and exercised too little. But that’s not always true. Many overweight or obese people do exercise, and they may also eat what most of us would consider a healthy diet, and not too much of it.

So, what gives?

Books on diet and nutrition sometimes ponder just this question, citing cases of people who are fit but still fat. The wife of cardiologist William Davis, M.D., author of the bestselling book Wheat Belly, is a triathlete and trainer of triathletes. Dr. Davis observed that about a third of these elite athletes are overweight. While exercise is one of the best things you can do for health and mood overall, the truth is that it has very little to do with weight.

C’mon now. Do you really plan on running for half an hour to burn off the calories in a single cookie?

Groundbreaking health journalist Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories, and Why We Get Fat, may have at least part of the answer for how it’s possible to be fit (at least in terms of exercise tolerance) but fat…or simply fat even though you don’t necessarily overeat. On the basis of a meticulous (and once controversial) 5-year project researching and vetting studies on which the high carb, low fat dietary dogma is based, Taubes concluded that obesity is a fat accumulation disorder rather than an eating disorder.

That’s a very interesting hypothesis, so let me repeat it. If Taubes is correct- and progressively more scientists and physicians are adopting his point of view- the obesity problem isn’t just about eating too many calories. It’s about the physiological effect of the foods we’ve been encouraged to eat- namely carbs-on our hormones.

The hormone insulin in particular.

When we eat and blood sugar increases, insulin shuttles glucose out of the bloodstream into cells where it’s either burned for energy or stored as glycogen- a starchy polymer of glucose- or fat. Taubes explains the effects of insulin this way,

“First, when insulin levels are elevated, we accumulate fat in our fat tissue; when these levels fall, we liberate fat from the fat tissue and burn it for fuel. This has been known since the early 1960’s and is not controversial. Second, our insulin levels are effectively determined by the carbohydrates we eat…’Carbohydrate is driving insulin is driving fat,’ is how George Cahill, a former professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, recently described this to me.”[i]

Eating carbs high in glycemic index (GI) results in the liberation of glucose into the bloodstream. The higher the GI of a food, the faster it’s metabolized into sugar. The more sugar you eat, the more fat you store. That’s why eating low GI carbs helps you stay trim.

But sugar aside, there’s another reason why eating too many “crap carbs”- the high GI kind found in processed foods- make us fat. The lack of fiber and nutrients in these foods lays the groundwork for what microbiologists call dysbiosis – a disturbance in the community of our all important gut microbes. Our probiotics- the friendly gut microbes that you’ll learn about in Chapter 14- need to eat prebiotics- fiber-rich whole foods- in order to flourish and fight off bad bacteria, protect our gut lining, synthesize vitamins and neurotransmitters, and help us absorb nutrients from the foods we eat.

Carbs and Diabetes

All the elements that combined to create the perfect storm of chronic disease culminated in a tsunami that pediatric endocrinologist Francine Kaufman, M.D. dubbed diabesity- obesity accompanied by type 2 diabetes.

Diabesity has already reached epidemic proportions in both children and adults and continues to increase at an alarming rate.

As of 2012, diabetes was already a $245 billion business, up from $174 billion in 2007. $176 billion went for direct medical costs. Another $69 billion went for indirect costs (disability and work loss). All told, the average medical expenditures for people with diagnosed diabetes (it’s estimated that another 7 million people have undiagnosed diabetes) were 2.3 times higher than for people without the illness.[ii]

8.3% of the U.S. population- 25.8 million children and adults- have diabetes. Another 79 million people have prediabetes- the insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome that leads to diabetes. The good news is that metabolic syndrome and prediabetes can often be reversed- and quickly- by a low glycemic, nutritionally personalized PlantPlus diet.

And what about the epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease? One in three seniors have evidence of dementia at the time of death. Furthermore, the incidence of Alzheimer’s has increased 70% between 2000 and 2010. There’s evidence that nutrition is a powerful risk factor for this dreaded disease. Just as I was putting the finishing touches on the manuscript for this book, Grain Brain by neurologist David Perlmutter, M.D., who kindly wrote the Foreword for this book, hit the bestseller list. We cover much the same scientific database, but if you have a specific interest in neurogenerative diseases and Alzheimer’s, Perlmutter’s book is a bonanza of information.

But even if you’re not interested in overt neurological conditions, all of us want to be mentally sharp. We also want to avoid the Scylla and Charybdis of anxiety and depression. The bottom line is that eating a diet high in carbs decreases BDNF- brain derived neurotrophic factor- a hormone that maintains neurons, encourages their growth, and enables the brain to repair and remodel itself.

Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., is an internationally known speaker in integrative medicine and the mind/body connection. She has a doctorate in cell biology from Harvard Medical School and is a licensed clinical psychologist. The New York Times best-selling author of numerous books, she is also a journalist and radio personality.

Website: www.joanborysenko.com

US/CAN $25.95

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