Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What to eat? What to eat?

It seems we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic. So many people have different solutions . One could follow the latest studies and see how it affects the biggies of diet: cancer, heart disease, and brain function. Then apply results that seem to be reached several times. Of course it seems the Omega 3 fatty acid, thought to be very useful by aggregating previous studies doesn’t seem to be doing well in the latest study.

I am fairly young, not obese (not thin either). What I need is simple diet guidelines that still leave me with a lot of satisfying choices but not increasing my risk for diseases later on. To that end I think the insulin index would be a good rule of thumb (glycemic index is roughly equivalent except for high protein food). In choosing this I am subscribing to the theory that weight is regulated by your body and that changing your weight by much and keeping it there is extremely difficult without disrupting the regulatory mechanism. Insulin and Leptin are what is known to control weight and appetite and are the feedback signals in that regulating mechanism.

The thing is, and what I suspect is behind the obesity epidemic, is that your body developes resistances to both of these. Insulin resistance is pretty well studied being associated with type 2 diabetes. Leptin resistance is less understood. It seems however that lots of fructose is bad (if fructose corn syrup is in the first three ingredients I would consider it to be a ‘bad’ food). The point is: insulin spikes lead to insulin resistance which leads to your equilibrium weight drifting up up and away as your bodies’ mechanism for shutting off hunger gets reset.

Back to the insulin index – some surprises here. Yoghurt is worse than Ice Cream? Yep, ice cream has more fat which mutes insulin response. Ditto with fries and potatoes. Pasta is listed as being really low at 40. People I know who are diabetics say that pasta is actually fairly bad. I think pasta is problematic in that it raises insulin drastically after 2-3 hours and this study measures response within 2 hours. We eat pasta with olive oil and salad to blunt that response. I put my cutoff at about 65. Higher than that and eat in moderation and preferably with something else that is much lower. Grapes and nuts and cream. Mmmmm.

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