IF you eat the way Americans and most Caribbean people eat, your diet is killing you. Bite by bite you are ruining your skin and scalp, eroding your bones, and probably creating a weight problem.
Unfortunately, consumption of the typical American diet has spawned a myriad of terrible statistics. Two out of three Americans are on weight loss diets or contemplating a diet. According to a team of scientists who participated in the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, obesity increases the risk for many problems, including heart disease, hypertension, gall bladder disease and many forms of cancer. It also aggravates the liver and leads to difficulty during pregnancy and childbirth. In fact, the National Centre for Health Statistics (United States) reports that nearly one of every two Americans presently has a chronic condition that may result in a serious disease sometime in the future.
If the prospect of getting sick is not enough to scare you, let’s talk about looking and feeling old. Unfortunately, most people believe serious illnesses strike only others. Growing old, however, is inevitable for everyone. That very same diet which contributes to heart disease, liver dysfunction and obesity is also causing a build-up of fat in the skin cells even in persons not otherwise overweight, producing those unattractive signs of ageing such as jowls, sagging neck tissue, bags and dark circles under the eyes, blotchiness, and yes, wrinkles.
More than 40 per cent of the modern diet is FAT — saturated fat from animal by-products such as meat, milk and cheese. These foods are very high in protein, as well, leading many people to believe they are beneficial. Protein is certainly necessary but an overconsumption of protein in the diet can deplete the body of trace minerals and make it nearly impossible to be absorbed in amounts sufficient to protect bones and teeth cells in later years.
Fortunately, the consumption of saturated fats has dropped in recent years, but the use of unsaturated vegetable fats and margarine is very much on the rise, Fats, whether saturated or unsaturated, contain twice the calories of complex carbohydrates found in whole grains.
Coupled with over-consumption of sugar, sugar substitutes, highly refined carbohydrates such as flours and more than 3,500 chemical additives now approved for the use in food processing, it is easy to see what has created this alarming rise in our severe health problems.
According to PAHO statistics, the Caribbean is the region of the Americas worst affected by chronic disease and heart disease, and stroke, cancer and diabetes are the main causes of death in the region.
I believe that most Jamaicans as well as a few other Caribbean islands do have a desire to improve their diets and have shown much willingness. I also believe that most do not have a clue as to how to achieve that goal. Astronauts and athletes promote everything from powdered soft drinks to sugary breakfast cereals, nutritional scientists refute each other’s studies, and a new weight loss diet enters the marketplace almost weekly. With so much conflicting information, most people are simply not sure what is good for them.
The basic ‘good skin’ diet I recommend is also the diet I have followed myself for many years. High in organic whole grains, vegetables, nuts, beans and peas (legumes), it is designed to drastically reduce the intake of fat and refined carbohydrates, all enemies of healthy, youthful skin.
6 simple don’ts:
1. Don’t eat meat animal protein. It is poor quality, the molecules are too large for human cells, and it will also clog pores. Remember, saturated fats will elevate blood cholesterol levels which can slow the digestive process to a crawl.
2. Don’t eat refined flours and polished grains. White flour, white rice and other highly refined grains create a build-up of mucus in facial tissue which leads to unattractive puffiness and inhibits the excretory system in eliminating waste.
3. Don’t eat refined sugars or artificial sweeteners. They are a major cause of circulatory stagnation that block the rejuvenation of cells.
4. Don’t eat dairy products. Even though your mother probably told you to drink milk as a child, you are no longer a child. The butter fat and cholesterol seriously retard circulation and cause production of mucus.
5. Don’t drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages. Caffeine and alcohol dehydrate body tissue, slow circulation, and produce stagnation in soft tissue round the eyes.
6. Don’t eat highly spiced foods. Spicy foods create artificial thirst and inhibits the digestive process.
There are so few things in the modern world of complex problems any individual can control, but what you put in your mouth is something for which you can take complete responsibility. Our health is our greatest asset, cherish it.
Ted Emmanuel is a naturopathic physician, skin, body and health-care specialist.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to advice from your own health practitioner.