It sounds like utopia – eat what you want and when you want with no consequences.
But that is the problem – there are consequences to eating anything and everything you fancy. The impact may not be immediate, but at some point your body will begin to groan under the pressure of excess weight, as well as not receiving the right levels of essential vitamins and minerals.
With the UK and other developed countries looking at an obesity epidemic, the time has never been better to look at what you eat and how it may be impacting on your health.
The Problems of a Sugar-Laden Diet
There are many ingredients and foods that can potentially impact on our health but one key ingredient is sugar.
As well as causing dental cavities, sugar impacts on the body in other ways;
- Overloading and damaging the liver – too much sugar can have a similar effect on the liver as alcohol. A very sugar-heavy diet overtaxes the liver, leading to potential liver problems.
- Tricks your body – sugar fools your metabolism into switching off the body’s appetite control system. Insulin is not stimulated as a result and the ‘hunger hormone’ kicks in and yes, you’ve guessed it, you reach for food.
- Metabolic dysfunction – too much sugar causes a barrage of metabolic issues from sugar spikes and dips, elevated blood sugars and more.
- Thirsty/increased urination cycle – sugar can lead to you feeling thirsty, as well as urinating more and this then becomes a vicious cycle.
A hidden danger
Sugar is added to the vast majority of processed foods, so even if you cut out sugar in tea, coffee, and other hot drinks and ditch if from your morning cereal, the likelihood is that this is just a drop in the ocean.
Check your favourite foods – are they high or low in sugar? What other changes could you make to decrease sugar in your diet?
The Problems with a High Fat Diet
There is a lot of information and misinformation regarding fats, and which are the right type of fats to have in your diet. Cutting out fat completely can lead to issues with joints as the body does need some fat to function normally.
It is widely understood that the best types of fat come from fish and lean meats. But again, any person can eat a diet high in fat but may not realise it.
A high fat diet creates problems that may take some time to manifest, so cutting down on fats now can help your health in the longer term;
- Obesity – there is a direct link between high fat diets and obesity. An elevated BMI level poses many risks, which is why people are advised to watch the intake of fat in their diet, especially from high fat red meats and processed foods.
- Heart disease – fats from animal sources are known as saturated fats. They are essential to health but is far smaller quantities than we currently consume. This can lead to an increase in bad cholesterol which can clog arteries. The narrowing of these essential arteries leads to a heart attack.
- Stroke – some people suffer a stroke due to a blood clot in the brain but others can suffer from a stroke as a result of being overweight, coupled with little exercise. Strokes can be fatal and if you have a family history of strokes, it makes sense to follow a healthier diet and exercise to reduce the risk.
- Cancer – fats don’t cause cancer but excessive fats that lead to being obese, and when coupled with little or no exercise can be a cause of some kinds of cancers.
- High blood pressure – also known as hypertension, this is common but for many people, an undiagnosed condition. Being overweight or obese, with a sedentary lifestyle places you at risk of high blood pressure.
- Diabetes – type 2 diabetes is linked to poor diets, being overweight and obese, and a lifestyle that includes no or little exercise. Obesity can prevent the body using insulin efficiently and is a medical condition that is of growing concern.
Education is Key
There is no doubt that over the years, we have become confused by the various health and diet messages we receive.
For many years, we have been told that to keep bowel cancer and other conditions at bay, we need to be eating five portions of fruit and veg a day. But as nutrition and health courses point out, quite often people are unaware of how big or small these portions are, as well as the fact that they should be different colours.
People are also confused as to what is included under the banner ‘fruit and veg’ because some of the fruit and vegetables people commonly eat are not included in the five-a-day list, such as potatoes.
Understanding food is just one aspect of nutrition and health courses, getting the message across clearly is another.