The United States is facing a health crisis unlike anything seen in human history. Today, fully 65 percent of American adults are overweight, and nearly half of them can be classified as obese. Among children between the ages of 6 and 19 years old, 15 percent - or one in six - are overweight. Another 15 percent are on their way to obesity.
Obesity is second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of preventable death. Furthermore, the number of people suffering from diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, and heart disease - all diet related illnesses - is staggering.
Obesity and most of today's common health problems were rare 100 years ago when people's diets consisted of stone-ground whole grains and high fiber foods. And contrary to the thoughts surrounding the low-carb craze, all carbohydrates are not the problem. The problem is the type of carbohydrate
Our bodies absolutely need carbohydrates, as they provide most of the energy we require to work, exercise, and play. The brain's preferred fuel comes from the glucose provided by the breakdown of carbohydrates in our bodies. There are two natural forms of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Then there is the refined carbohydrate.
Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest, the resulting glucose being more slowly absorbed into the body and providing energy over a longer period of time. Examples of complex carbohydrates are fresh vegetables, beans and peas, and whole grains such as oats, barley, brown rice, rye, and whole wheat. Complex carbohydrates contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals that are vital to health. They are also very high in fiber. Whole grains contain bran and germ, two important fibers. Fiber is important because it helps the body to process waste efficiently and helps us to feel fuller for longer.
A refined carbohydrate is a carbohydrate that has been altered by machinery to increase its shelf-life. The refinement process transforms a complex carbohydrate into a simple carbohydrate by removing the original natural elements such as fiber, healthy oils, vitamins, and minerals.
Relying heavily on commercial food products, the American diet is rife with the refined carbohydrates found in white sugar, white rice and white flour.
Examples include breads, crackers, pastries, baked goods, pastas, most commercial cereals, ice cream, chocolates, pizza, sandwiches, fast foods and snack foods of all types. These products are so highly refined that the body doesn't even recognize them as food.
Although most people don't understand their bodies nutritional requirements, their bodies themselves do. All foods found in nature, when eaten in their natural whole state, contain the corresponding nutrients and enzymes the body requires to properly digest that particular food. It's a mystery science has not been able to explain, but it's true. Fruits, legumes, whole grains, vegetables, and even raw milk contain the exact nutrients, fibers, and enzymes that are required to digest and metabolize their natural sugars.
For instance, the minerals required to digest sugar are calcium, phosphorous, chromium, magnesium, cobalt, copper, zinc and manganese. Sugar cane in its natural form is rich in these vitamins and minerals. It also contains vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, niacin, iron, and pantothenic acid, which work synergistically with natural sugar cane's fiber and enzymes to nourish the body. The natural fibers specific to the sugar cane help slow down the absorption of the sugars and prevent the sharp rise in blood sugar levels associated with refined sugar.
By contrast, refined sugar is devoid of the nutrients and built-in enzyme systems that exist in naturally sweet foods. When we eat refined sugar, the body knows that in order to properly digest the sugar, it needs these minerals and the corresponding enzymes. When these are not eaten along with the sugar, the body tries to adapt by pulling stored nutrients from its own bones and tissues.
For example, when refined sugar is ingested in the absence of the calcium necessary to digest it, calcium is drawn out of the bones and tissues where it is stored. The depletion of calcium from the bones and tissues on a regular, even daily, basis weakens bones, potentially leading to osteoporosis and other degenerative diseases. Doctors often recommend calcium supplements to prevent this depletion; however, if body chemistry is not properly balanced, extra calcium in the body can be toxic.
White flour has an even worse effect on the body. It is, literally, nutritionally deadly and slowly kills you. If you tried to live on white bread alone for 60 days, you would die of malnutrition. The reason is that it lacks the healthy elements found in the whole wheat kernel. In addition to certain B-vitamins (niacin, riboflavin and thiamine), a whole wheat kernel contains two important fibers - bran and germ - necessary for its digestion. These health-giving fibers and nutrients are stripped away from the whole wheat kernel during the refinement and bleaching process that make white flour, leading to a product that is so nutritionally depleted that manufacturers are required by federal law to add certain vitamins back in. That's why we see the word "enriched" on our food labels.
The refining process removes nearly 100 vitamins from the whole wheat kernel, replacing them with synthetic, minute quantities of iron, calcium, B vitamins and vitamin D. Enriched flour is enriched just enough to make sure it doesn't kill you too quickly with the obvious nutritional deficiencies that promote chronic disease and illness.
Because those 100 vitamins, along with the fiber, are missing from white flour products, the body turns to its own bones and tissues in an effort to access the stored nutrients required for digestion of wheat. White flour earns one of the top positions on my list of foods that cause nutrient deficiencies leading to upset body chemistry and resulting in degenerative diseases and obesity.
Refined flour and sugar are substances that were never meant to be in the body.