There is no mystery why so many people are confused about how and what to eat. The information available is conflicting in spite of being generated by so-called authorities in the field of nutrition. There are only three (3) macronutrients; protein, fat and carbohydrates (carbs). It is the ratio of these macronutrients that is so vitally important in regard to your health.
Studies of ancient mummified remains, by paleopathologists, have shown little evidence of cancer, heart disease or stroke. The diet of ancient man was determined by what they hunted or gathered. That scenario resulted in eating a relatively healthy balanced diet. Balanced refers to the ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fats (the macronutrients). It was Egyptian society that developed farming and along with it, grains that were made into bread. As the result of consuming higher quantities of bread (high glycemic carbohydrates), Egyptians were the first society in history to develop what is now described as metabolic syndrome, also known as insulin resistance syndrome. When carbohydrates are consumed, insulin is secreted from the pancreas in order to metabolize glucose derived from the carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are categorized by how quickly they enter the blood stream. The term used is glycemic index. When insulin is raised quickly and on a sustained basis, insulin resistance can develop leading to metabolic syndrome. It was the increased insulin response to carbohydrates that was the basis for starting this downward health trend. Predictably, the first account of a heart attack was noted in Egyptian literature and studies of their mummified remains revealed evidence of vascular disease that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Modern society has attempted to outdo the Egyptians by increasing their intake of a very dangerous and unhealthy sugar, fructose. It is very difficult to metabolize and much of it is stored as fat, but is found in many foods and beverages. Read labels and when the term “high fructose corn syrup” or “sugar” is noted, one should avoid consuming that product. High fructose corn syrup contains 55% fructose and 45% glucose. Table sugar, has 50% of both. Fruit juice also has high levels of fructose which is one reason to avoid fruit juice. Instead, simply consume the whole fruit.
We now know and understand that it is the ratio of the macronutrients that has a great deal to do with determining future health. As with the Egyptian society, we realize that high carbohydrate diets predispose people to metabolic syndrome with its increased risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. One would think that modern day man would learn lessons from history, but because of ignorance, arrogance and profit, it seems as though we must learn the same lessons again. Over the last two to three decades, our society has seen an increasing incidence of obesity with more and more people getting fatter and the incidence of type II diabetes exploding. There is no magic pill to counteract this imbalance, it is corrected only through adjusting the diet to include and an equal balance of all macronutrients. Any diet that is either high or low in any macronutrient, is simply wrong and not consistent with optimum health. Dr. Barry Sears has written a series of “Zone” books on this very interesting subject. Drs. Mike and Mary Dan Eades have also authored books (Protein Power) on the subject of macronutrient balance that are based upon real science instead of myths and speculation.
Because of misleading studies, rumors and myths, our society has been led to believe that one must reduce fat intake in order to be healthy. In fact, one should consume an adequate amount of fat in order to achieve optimum health, but one should also understand that all fats are not the same. The fats that are touted to be the most healthy, in fact, may be the least healthy. Margarine is a poor substitute for butter, but because of marketing, many people have accepted it as fact. Processed cooking oils are also not a good choice as they constitute a portion of what is referred to as trans-fatty acids or trans-fats. Partially hydrogenated oils constitute another portion of the trans-fats and should be avoided when possible. In other words, the concentration on reducing fats has been unwarranted and misleading in most cases since it has led to reducing good fats and increasing bad fats. Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are necessary to stimulate the production of short acting hormones that are powerful determinants for optimal health.
If you choose to live a longer and healthier life, you must begin with proper eating and that begins by understanding the necessary balance and choice of macronutrients in your daily life.
Macronutrient Balance Quick Facts
- Only three (3) macronutrients: Protein, carbohydrate and fat
- Adequate protein essential for optimum health
- Protein present primarily in meat, nuts and beans
- Protein powder is an acceptable meal substitute
- Protein must be accompanied by an equal caloric count of carbohydrates and fats
- Balanced diet recommendations mentioned by The Zone and Protein Power books
- Diets with low or high macronutrient designations not healthy
- Not all carbohydrates the same-difference determined by the speed of entering the system thereby resulting in an insulin response (glycemic index)
- Fructose difficult to metabolize and not healthy in higher amounts-found in high fructose corn syrup, table sugar and fruit juice
- Fructose stored primarily as fat
- Not all fats the same-manmade fats not as healthy as naturally occurring fats
- Manmade fats-processed vegetable oils, margarine and partially hydrogenated oils
- Good fats necessary for formation of body cells and the formation of short acting hormones (eicosanoids)
- Omega 3 fatty acids abundant in fish and stimulate production of healthy eicosanoids