With the advent of agriculture, mankind’s diet shifted to a grain-based diet. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors probably ate some grain, having discovered that wheat and rye plants which grew wild, could yield a grain, which, when cooked, could be eaten. The agricultural revolution made it possible for grains to be the staple of the diet.
People began getting most of their calories and nutrients from grain about 10,000 years ago. Some 500 generations have lived since then. Geneticists say that it takes between 1,000 and 10,000 generations for any significant evolutionary change.
People whose diets consisted mainly of grains, had problems with their teeth, and likely had other health problems as well. The ancient Egyptians are a classic example of this. They subsisted mostly on grains. Mummies show tooth decay that is not found among hunter-gatherer tribes.
Grains are not unhealthy. In fact some, such as wheat or oats, are highly nutritious, providing high quality protein, along with many vitamins, minerals, and fiber. But they are a problem when they become the dominant food, at the expense of leafy vegetables and fruit. The real problem, however, comes when they are refined.
In the 1890s machines were invented that strip all the fiber and nutrition from grain, and extract sugar from cane, beets, or grain. The empty calorie was invented.
Empty calories deplete the body of nutrition. For every carbohydrate calorie the body burns, it needs a certain amount of nutrients. Chromium is needed to allow insulin to do its job, and certain B vitamins are needed to carry Building Companies Near Me out the chemical reactions of metabolizing every gram of carbohydrate. Calcium is needed for certain metabolic reactions. These nutrients and many others are stripped from wheat to make white flour, sometimes simply called wheat flour, as opposed to whole wheat flour. Sugar is extracted from corn, beets, or cane and is added to most of our food and drinks, sometimes in large quantities. Consumption of refined sugar causes our bodies to rob nutrients from organs and bones in order to obtain the nutrients necessary for the assimilation and metabolizing of sugar.
Two hundred years ago the average American ate 10 or 12 pounds of sugar a year. The only sugar that most people consumed was what was naturally present in food. By 1928 sugar consumption was about 10 times what it was in 1828. In 1996 the average American consumed 152 pounds of sugar!
When scientists began studying the plaques in the arteries of people who died of heart diseases, they found fat and cholesterol deposits in these plaques and reasoned that it’s the fat and cholesterol in the diet that causes the problem. This simplistic reasoning was wrong and has been proven wrong by many clinical studies and statistical analyses. Heart attack rates do not correlate with the amount of fat and cholesterol consumed in a given population. But they do correlate strongly with the amount of refined carbohydrate and hydrogenated oil consumed. Type 2 diabetes also correlates strongly with refined carbohydrate consumption in a population. From the mid 60s to the mid 90s, the incidence of type 2 diabetes increased six-fold. A slight apparent increase may be due to better reporting of the disease or people being more aware of it, but this is a real epidemic and it is staggering! It is incredible for the incidence of a non-infectious disease to increase by a factor of six in forty years! This much change in only one or two generations can’t possibly be hereditary in nature.
In previous centuries people ate large amounts of butter and lard, beef, pork and lots of eggs. Despite the fact that large numbers of people lived into their sixties and beyond, heart attacks were very rare. The first heart attack in medical literature was described in a medical journal in 1912. Prior to the twentieth century heart attacks were so rare most doctors could practice a whole lifetime without seeing a heart attack victim.
The French eat a diet that is high in fat yet they suffer a heart disease rate 60% lower than Americans. Eskimos, the Masai in Africa, and the Icelanders, all ate a diet very high in fat but heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes were unknown to them until typical American diet was introduced to them. Then they began to suffer from these diseases at the same rate that we do. Yugoslavia and the Netherlands provide similar examples.
The two master hormones of metabolism are insulin and glucagon. These two hormones work in opposition to each other. Most people think only of blood sugar when they think of insulin, but it has many functions.
Functions of insulin:
1. Carries glucose into all cells (except red blood cells and cells that make up the lens of the eye)
2. Is essential in the conversion of protein and sugar into fat
3. Causes dietary fat to be stored in the fat cells
4. Puts metabolism into fat storage mode
5. Increases production of cholesterol
6. Causes the kidneys to retain water, potassium, and sodium
7. Stimulates the growth of the cells that line the inside of arteries, thus decreasing the inside diameter of the arteries.
8. Decreases the elasticity of the arteries
9. Converts glucose into glycogen (a form of carbohydrate that is stored in the liver and muscle tissues)
10. Carries amino acids into the cells
Functions of glucagon:
1. Stimulates the conversion of glycogen into glucose and releases it into the bloodstream
2. Converts protein and fat into glucose
3. Releases fat from fat cells to be burned for energy
4. Puts metabolism into the fat burning mode
5. Reduces production of cholesterol
6. Causes the kidneys to release water, potassium, and sodium
7. Reduces growth of the cells that line the inside of the arteries
8. Increases the elasticity of the arteriesv
9. Breaks down glycogen into glucose to be used for energy
10. Carries amino acids out of the cells
Without insulin the body could not survive long, because glucose wouldn’t be able to get into the cells. Without it, the body could not store fat for use when food is scarce. In its absence, a person could eat to their heart’s content and never gain weight. Our physiology has evolved into a complex system designed to store fat in times when food is plentiful and burn it when times are lean and food is hard to find.
When you eat a meal, the pancreas secretes insulin, which then shuttles the glucose (also amino acids, sodium, and potassium) into your cells. If there is an excess of glucose in the blood, some of it is stored as glycogen, and some is converted to fat and stored in the fat cells. If you don’t eat for several hours your blood sugar begins to fall. Your brain recognizes this and stimulates the pancreas to release glucagon, which stimulates the breakdown of glycogen that is stored in the liver and muscles. Glucagon enables us to burn our stores of fat and glycogen when we fast. Glycogen breaks down into glucose, thus keeping blood sugar from dropping any further. If you continue to fast, your reserves of glycogen will run out in a day or two. When it runs out, glucagon stimulates the release of fat from the fat cells and breaks down the fat into chemicals known as ketones. Your body can burn ketones for energy until you run out of fat.
We are in the midst of an epidemic of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, not to mention cancer and immune related diseases. What can we do about this tragedy? Let’s cover some general information.