On the Road with Health: Why Understanding Nutrition is SO Confusing--Coast to Coast🌍
Updated: Jan 21, 2021
As I begin my travel adventure in Texas, it should be no surprise what the majority of Texans
prefer to eat: beef, pork, potatoes, cheese, bread, rice, pasta and fast, fried food. This really isn't any different than most areas in the United States where the Sad American Diet prevails. But what remains constant is the trajectory that launched my travel journey in the first place-- the simple fact: People do not know what to eat to be healthy, and believe too much of what they are told by media, food manufacturers, labels, grocers, and even their physicians and government. And this coupled with a lack of physical exercise, low Vitamin D levels, and constant dehydration, is killing Americans.
We are taught to believe everything sold in a grocery store is good for us, and that all menu items listed under "Lite or Healthy Items", in a restaurant are truly healthy. We have been lead down a very long road of misinformation with no solutions to the epidemic health crisis that has taken place right under our noses, and in our homes, right here in the USA. And very few will tell you, it is primarily caused by the food we are eating, and what we are drinking.
The Most Dangerous Fat of All
What you will probably not hear in school, in a grocery store, restaurant, or even at the doctor's office, is the fact, our primary disease-maker in the Western diet, is namely omega-6 linoleic acid (LA/linoleic acid), which is provided in vegetable and seed oils, and included is most processed and fast foods. And, since diet-related comorbidities are responsible for 94% of all COVID-19-related deaths, taking control of your diet is a simple, common-sense strategy to lower the risks associated with this infection.
When consumed in excessive amounts, LA (linoleic acid) acts as a metabolic poison. The reason for this is because polyunsaturated fats such as LA are highly susceptible to oxidation. As the fat oxidizes, it breaks down into harmful sub-components such as advanced lipid oxidation end products (ALES) and OXLAMS (oxidized LA metabolites). These ALES and OXLAMS are actually what cause the damage, with a definite correlation to heart failure.
LA breaks down into 4HNE (a fatty oxidation in cells), even faster when the oil is heated, which is why cardiologists recommend avoiding fried foods. LA intake and the subsequent ALES and OXLAMS produced also play a significant role in cancer. While excess sugar is certainly bad for your health and should typically be limited to 40 grams per day or less (for an average adult), it doesn’t cause a fraction of the oxidative damage that LA does.
Processed vegetable oils are a primary source of LA, but even food sources hailed for their health benefits contain it, and can be a problem if consumed in excess. Cases in point: olive oil and conventionally raised chicken, which are fed LA-rich grains, can be harmful. See “Why Chicken Is Killing You and Saturated Fat Is Your Friend.” I advise more and more of my clients not to make a steady daily diet of chicken, because more often than not, chicken can be more toxic than beef or fish, especially if you aren't buying organic poultry from farms not focused on a vegetarian seed/grain diet.
Many now understand that your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is very important, and should be about 1-to-1 or possibly up to 4-to-1, but simply increasing your omega-3 intake won’t counteract the damage done by excessive LA. You really need to minimize the omega-6 to prevent damage from taking place. And yes, many of the common household staples like white bread, crackers, chips, etc., all have omega-6 fats, most hydrogenated, which is worse.
So as I travel around the great state of Texas, the flow of omega-6/LA is everywhere: in the fried chicken wings and quesadillas, lots of Ranch dressing (yes Ranch is made with omega-6 oils); to the homemade tamales, refried beans, rice, and vast selection of beef and pulled pork, fed a steady diet of grain and seed, and cooked over extreme high heat or again, in vegetable oils.
Then you mix that protein with potatoes, vegetables, and bread all cooked in vegetable oils, or added to the ingredients, top it with a heaping portion of cheese, and you have an inflammatory storm just waiting to emerge, or build on an existing storm raging in the body. This is what builds bad health, chronic illness and disease.
LA Damages Your Mitochondria
In order to understand how excess LA consumption damages your metabolism and impedes your body’s ability to generate energy in your mitochondria (cellular health), we need to explore some molecular biology. There’s a particular fat only located in your mitochondria — most of it is found in the inner mitochondrial membrane — called cardiolipin. When the good fat mixes with the bad fats, it creates an oxidation process that damages cells. Oxidation is one of the signals your body uses when there's something wrong with a cell, so it triggers the destruction of that cell, a process called apoptosis.
Your cells know that they’re broken when they have too many damaged mitochondria, and the process that controls this is largely the oxidation of omega-6 fats contained within cardiolipin. We are only as healthy as the cells in our body.
Fat Intake Linked to COVID-19 Outcomes
Getting back to the issue of how your fat intake can affect your COVID-19 outcome, the Gastroenterology paper3 points out that unsaturated fats “cause injury [and] organ failure resembling COVID-19.” More specifically, unsaturated fats are known to trigger lipotoxic acute pancreatitis, and the sepsis and multisystem organ failure seen in severe cases of COVID-19 greatly resembles this condition.
“Unsaturated fatty acids (UFAs) generated by adipose lipolysis cause multisystem organ failure, including acute lung injury. Severe acute pancreatitis and severe COVID-19 share obesity as a risk factor, along with lipase elevation, hypoalbuminemia, and hypocalcemia.”
It has been vastly proven in 2020 and the beginning of 2021 that obesity plays a major role in the recovery of Covid-19. And what we eat and drink daily plays a major role in obesity. So knowing this, why wouldn't people want to change their diet, if they knew it would improve their overall health and lessen their chances of dieing from Covid or any chronic illness or disease? Great question, which continues to perplex me, and keeps me working on the human psyche of daily habits and addiction.
High-LA Sources to Avoid
If you want to protect your health, you’d be wise to avoid all concentrated sources of LA. Top sources include chips fried in vegetable oil, commercial salad dressings, virtually all processed foods and any fried fast food, such as french fries.
What amazes me is people who go to all sorts of measures to build great health, such as vegans, still cook their food in vegetable and seed oil. There are millions of people who think like this, who are genuinely trying to do their best to have a healthy diet and then they're chugging down LA that turns into a metabolic toxin in their bodies, and they wonder why they can't lose weight. Avoid seed oils, avoid refined carbohydrates, eat animal food and animal fats, lots of real plants/leafy greens, and watch your autoimmune disease, and fibromyalgia go into remission, and excess weight disappear.
So how do I help Texans?
First, I do not expect to roll into town, any town, and change people overnight simply by vowing to improve health. Changing deep seated habits takes time, and trust, and with so much misinformation available at a finger's touch, this is what is working for those introduced to Healthy U:
I don't expect anyone who has very little knowledge about nutrition, processed food, biology or human anatomy to willingly conduct a 180 degree change overnight. Here, we are starting with a one (1) day a week detox, instead of five or twenty one. My theory is, if I can visibly show people how food affects their body, even in one day, or get them to commit to one day, we can build on that. Once they see inflammation dropping, weight reducing, joints feeling better, and truly an increased overall feeling of well being, we add another day, with increased water, and some exercise. Not huge commitments too soon, that ends in defeat, but slow and steady accomplishments.
When people see clearly how food affects their health and bodies, at their level of commitment, they repeat with consistency--slow and steady always wins the race.
What Do We Need to be Eating?
I eat a variety of both clean animal and plant protein, lots of leafy greens and cooked and raw veggies, some fruit, and one or two servings of healthy fats with each meal. I cook mostly with coconut and olive oil, using grass-fed butter for added fat and taste. I eat an occasional grain, and a little bit of rice, corn and or potatoes.
My system has learned to burn fat efficiently--not by eating a keto, vegan or even paleo diet, but eating what I need, for me. That ratio of macro nutrition is different for everyone.
My personal success comes from always working out in a fasted state,
meaning I do not fuel my workouts unless it is an endurance competition. I have effectively used Intermittent Fasting, and have taught my body to burn/use fat efficiently. I try to always allow 14 to 16 hours between my dinner and breakfast the next morning, always working out before breakfast. What many misunderstand, Intermittent Fasting doesn't mean we can eat late as possible, but stand pretty disciplined with a 6pm dinner hour.
Whether we live in Texas or California, North Dakota or Michigan, the basics of health are the same: We need to know what we are eating and how it affects our bodies and health. We have to learn about our individual needs, and what that means to be healthy, knowing it might be differently from everyone else. Finally, time to stop trusting the media, grocer, food manufacturers, restaurants, and even some medical professionals in determining your path to great health. Your health is your responsibility, and whether you get a chronic illness or disease, or virus, can be decided on your daily choice and habits. Choose wisely🌻
3,Gastroenterology 2020 Sep; 159(3): 1015–1018.e4
CDC.gov August 26, 2020
Chempro Fatty Acid Composition of Oils and Fats
Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 72 (9): 1079–1081