On It Starts With Food

I recently finished reading It Starts with Food – Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life In Unexpected Way by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig. This book was recommended to me by my fitness instructor.

Below are key excerpts from this book, that I found particularly insightful:

The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your options.

The food that we eat should: 1) Promote a healthy psychological response. 2) Promote a healthy hormonal response. 3) Support a healthy gut. 4) Support immune function and minimize inflammation.

In nature, pleasure and reward signals led us to vital nutrition.

*The food choices you make should promote a healthy psychological response. *Sweet, fatty, and salty tastes send pleasure and reward signals to the brain. In nature, these signals were designed to lead us to valuable nutrition and survival. *Today, these flavor sensations are unnaturally concentrated in food, which is simultaneously stripped of valuable nutrition. *This creates food-with-no-brakes- supernormally stimulating, carbohydrates-dense, nutrient-poor foods with all the pleasure and reward signals to keep us overeating, but none of the satiety signals to tell us to stop. *These foods rewire pleasure, reward, and emotion pathways in the brain, promoting hard-to-resist cravings and automatic consumption. Stress and inadequate sleep only reinforce these patterns. *Reconnecting delicious, rewarding food with the nutrition and satiety that nature intended is the key to changing these habits.

*The food choices you make should promote a healthy hormonal response in the body. *Chronic “overcarbsumption” of food-with-no-brakes leads to reliance on sugar for fuel, an accumulation of body fat, triglyceride buildup in the liver, and an excess of glucose and triglycerides in the bloodstream. *Excess glucose and triglycerides in the blood stream promote leptin resistance in the brain. *Leptin resistance means your brain doesn’t hear the leptin message and thinks you’re still too lean. This promotes further overconsumption and the down-regulation of your metabolism (in part via your thyroid). *Leptin resistance promotes insulin resistance, in which cells are no longer sensitive to insulin’s message to store. Forcing nutrients into cells creates damage and inflammation and leads to chronically elevated blood sugar and insulin levels. *Chronically elevated blood sugar and insulin levels are contributing factors to type 2 diabetes and a number of other lifestyle-related diseases and conditions. *Glucagon can help you stabilize blood sugar and use fat for fuel, but only when insulin levels aren’t elevated. *Cortisol is a stress hormone. Periods of fasting or excessive caloric restriction, along with lack of adequate sleep or too much stress, may contribute to chronically elevated cortisol levels. *Chronically elevated cortisol levels increase blood sugar, which may contribute to insulin resistance and promotes weight gain in the abdominal region, a component of metabolic syndrome.

Chronically high levels of insulin are harmful, so managing insulin levels is critical for long-term health.

*The food you eat should foster a healthy gut and digestive system. *Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is critically important to your health. *Certain foods can unbalance your healthy gut bacteria and/or promote intestinal permeability, compromising gut integrity. *Compromised gut integrity and bacterial imbalance lead to digestive distress and can promote chronic disease, hypersensitivities, and autoimmune conditions in the body. *Most of your immune system is located in your gut, which means our third and fourth Good Food standards are very closely linked.

*The food you eat should promote a balanced immune system and minimize chronic systemic inflammation. *Chronic systemic inflammation is full-body (systemic), long-term (chronic) up-regulation of your immune system activity. *Your immune system has two major functions – defense against threats and low-level repair and maintenance. *Certain foods sneak past your gut’s defense system and create immune chaos. *If certain factors, like your food choices, are overloading your immune system, it’s going to be less effective at doing its main jobs, and something is going to be left undone or done poorly. *Chronic systemic inflammation is a central risk factor for a number of lifestyle-related diseases and conditions and is at the heart of metabolic syndrome. *Silent inflammation isn’t so silent if you know what to listen for. *Managing the inflammatory status of your body profoundly impacts your quality of life.

Eating whole, unprocessed foods with a rich complement of fat and other nutrients is not unhealthy. Overeating refined carbohydrates is.

A highly recommended read in the areas of health and nutrition.


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