The Meal Matters Most

What Makes Healthy Food Healthy: From a Stress Perspective

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Is sugar a toxin or a stressor?

Peter Attia, MD  in his article on his blog asks the question “Is sugar toxic?”.  Within the article Dr. Attia discusses his belief that while sugar may not be an acute toxin, sugar is a long-term chronic toxin that will slowly kill us. He suggests that what determines how quickly it kills us are the variations in our tolerance levels.  I’m going to suggest that in addition to our (movable internal and external) tolerance levels is our ability to recover and buffer these responses. That these responses vary (not just when but how) and response levels can be altered early in life or regularly during our lives. I’m going to discuss toxicity in the context of synergy, chaos dynamics, hormesis and stress balancing.

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Are pre-packaged foods healthier than Celebrity recipes?

Photo credit Scandic hotels

Health experts from Britian’s Coventry University have concluded that celebrity recipes from the likes of Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson were less healthy than the pre-made, pre-packaged, calorie-counted single servings of the stuff you throw in the microwave.

Researchers examined 904 recipes from 26 chefs and found that 87 percent are not in accordance with the British government’s healthy eating guidelines, Reuters reports, using large amounts of saturated fatty acids, salt and sugar. Only 13 percent of the celebrity chef-approved recipes used nutritional ingredients that fall under the nation’s Food Standards Agency recommendations. Some experts estimate that by 2020, about 70% of adults in the U.K. and U.S. will be overweight, while England’s obesity rate has risen to 24.8% of adults, ages 16 and over, and 16.3% of children, ages 2 to 15, according to data from 2011. 

However, this is the danger in assuming we can reduce our problems of obesity to a single cause like calories or fat. When in reality these issues are a complex interaction of genes, foods and the environment creating an impairment in our ability to regulate stress (see article “The Cause of Obestiy Re-conceptualized“).  It’s a mistake to qualify “healthy” foods as those low in calories, fat and sugar. Rather unhealthy foods are those that have sugar and fat in concentrated quantities in isolation of their natural form found in real foods with “buffers” (to fat and sugar) from like polyphenols, flavinoids and fiber.  Sugar-fat-salt combinations are our densest calorie sources and it is this combination we seek most strongly for resources (energy to do work). So attempting to eliminate this combination completely is like eliminating love. And when you can’t find love you don’t tend to live without it all alone and miserable, but rather you end up sneaking out to back alleys looking for it, which is intense for a moment, but never quite satisfies (sound like the addictive appeal of  junk food to anyone?).