It starts with food — Summary

Get some good advice about a better diet

How food influences the mind and immune system

Food producers know how to take advantage of our hardwired tastes. We evolved a taste for sweets which provide us with immediate energy, fatty foods which give us a lot of calories long-term energy, and salt, wich keeps us hydrated.

Fast food is engineered to provide a supernormal stimulus to our sense of taste. They are purposefully made sweeter, saltier and fattier than non-processed foods. Those foods then naturally make us crave them a lot more.

Food scrambles with our brain because every time we eat highly processed foods such as a chocolate bar, our brain releases dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel pleasure. The more our body craves dopamine triggered from chocolate, the more we want to eat, creating a feedback loop.

Furthermore, many chemical compounds of processed foods cannot be processed well by the body, causing confusion of the immune system which can lead to chronic inflammation, a condition where the body attacks itself.

Nutrition and the health of your gut

The gut acts as a filter, a barrier which comprises 80% of your immune system. Good nutrients are absorbed, and bad nutrients are disposed of but bad stuff makes it into the system nonetheless and then it’s much harder to deal with it.

Hormones and food

Food can scramble with your hormones. The hormone which regulates blood sugar levels is called insulin. It tells the body to store extra sugar as glycogen so that it can be used later for energy. Once the glycogen reserves are filled up, however, the body proceeds to store excess sugar as triglycerides (fat).

Once sugar gets stored as fat, however, another imbalance is triggered, leptin. Leptin tells your brain to stop eating when you are full, but your brain cannot respond to leptin effectively once to much sugar is consumed.

Once the communication between your gut and brain is messed up, (leptin resistance) your body thinks you are too skinny, further pushing your body to store fat leading to a lipid overload.

All this stuffing is bad for your cells which are why they become insulin resistant. To protect themselves, cells start ignoring insulin, which makes the body release even more insulin.

An optimal nutrition

Be careful with these foods

Too much sugar and alcohol are bad. Grains are nutritious, but not as nutritious as fruits and vegetables. They also contain phytates, which are the main storage of phosphorus needed for growth. But phytates also bind with minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc. That binding produces an insoluble binding making them much less digestible which can lead to a mineral deficiency in people who rely solely on those foods for their mineral intake.

Milk products contain growth hormones, which is unhealthy for humans. Too much omega-6s from oils such as sunflower or sesame oil can lead to inflammation if they are not balanced with enough omega-3s.

Avoid artificial trans fats, they promote insulin resistance and inflammation, something which doesn’t happen from saturated fats such as contained in natural foods like meat.

Focus on these foods

Fruits and vegetables are very important as they are full of nutrients. Fruits also offer anti-inflammatory properties. Even more, nutritious are vegetables. Vegetables don’t have fructose such as fruit, which can be bad if consumed in excess.

Eat plenty of meat, seafood, eggs, as well as other foods that contain “good” fats and a lot of protein. Eggs contain a lot of vitamins, cholesterol — which can be good in a balanced diet — and a lot of essential amino acids.

This book contains good information but I also strongly disagree with some advice given in this book. If you read it I recommend you to make up your mind only after reading The China Study and some book about Intermittent fasting.

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