Review of Diet Recommendations

This article from Medicine.net has a fairly comprehensive list of diet advice.  A few points worthy of critical examination are the declaration that we should eat breakfast, many small meals during the day, and drink a glass of wine or two per day.

Breakfast is the meal when we break the overnight fast.  This concept is widely considered a healthy habit, but is it?  Will we gain weight, or have no energy, or be less healthy if we wait to eat until we are hungry in the morning?

In his books, "The Calorie Code" and "The Diabetes Code", Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist in Canada, proposes that this may be a widely accepted fallacy.

As a nephrologist, Dr. Fung saw many people with failing kidneys, due to diabetes, and was thus drawn into understanding diabetes to help his kidney patients.  In short, he determined that fasting was the body's natural method of cleansing the liver of excess fatty deposits.

When we eat too many carbohydrates (compared to the storage capacity of our liver), the extra sugar is first stored as glycogen (a long chain carbohydrate), muscles, organs, and in the liver.  That fat will not be released from the liver until the body needs energy that requires the liver to mobilize that fat.

This is a natural cycle, to fill the liver with glycogen, and then to store excess carbohydrates as fat in the liver, organs, and muscles.  When fasting, the body first burns off glycogen, and then it burns mobilizes the fat.  Waiting till you are actually hungry in the morning gives your body the opportunity to metabolize some of the stored fat.

Dr. Fung recommends a healthy fat, low carbohydrate, moderate protein diet.  In other words, the goal is not low fat, the goal is healthy fat.  Liquid oils in a bottle are probably not healthy unless they are processed at a low temperature and in an inert gas environment.

A few fats that are not healthy are: 1) deep fried foods.  The fat is hot and in the presence of oxygen.  It can form trans-fats.  2) hydrogenated fats.  This includes margarine, which is not heart healthy (read the story of margarine and how and why it was marketed).  And, hydrogenated fats added to foods such as peanut butter.

Trans-fats are formed when a hydrogen atom is added to an unsaturated (i.e. a long chain lipid molecule with a carbon-carbon double bond) fatty acid molecule.  Adding this extra hydrogen atom bends the lipid molecule in the shape of a chair (trans) instead of a bowl (cis).  This molecule does not fit in the enzymes that metabolize fat, and as a result, is metabolized abnormally.

The recommended healthy carbohydrates are large portions of the non-starchy vegetables (e.g. 5 cups per day).  A limited number of starchy vegetables (e.g., root vegetables, grains, and beans, 1-2 cups per day).

Remember that excess protein is converted into sugar in the liver by gluconeogenesis.  So, protein bars, shakes, high meat diets, is an expensive way to get carbohydrates.  The extra protein is converted into sugar, and the amino portion of the amino acid is converted to urea, and excreted in the urine, putting a burden on your kidneys.

The bottom line, fasting once a week, and until you are hungry in the morning, along with a LCHF diet helps keep your liver free of fatty buildup, called NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease).

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