I know processed foods are bad for us, but can you explain why?

originUse your imagination and picture our ancestors lives thousands of years ago. Day in and day out, generation after generation for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years every single one of our ancestors was a hunter /gatherer. Even if you only go back as far as our own species of Homo sapiens, which appeared on the scene 40,000 years ago, every single one of our ancient grandparents for 30,000 years was a hunter/gatherer. All of our ancient ancestors ate only fruits, roots, legumes, nuts, and other plants with a little lean wild game, honey, and eggs. There was no refined grains, no refined sugar, no processed food, no food additives. Yet the bones of these ancestors reflect a level of fitness similar to today’s well-trained athlete. There is also evidence that those who weren’t killed by saber tooth tigers or who didn’t die of an infection, lived robustly into old age.

Then came farming. About 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, our ancestors discovered agriculture and settled into larger communities. They became less physically active and ate more, but from less-varied diets. The Industrial Revolution hit 200 years ago and further reduced daily activity, while escalating food processing. For 100,000 generations people had been hunters and gatherers. Compare that to the 500 generations people have been farmers, the 10 generations since the Industrial Age, and the one generation since computers and you see that there have been major changes in how we live and eat in a very short period of time.

Therein lies the problem. It takes tens of thousands of years for the body to adapt to even small changes in the environment. Our biochemistry and physiology remain fine-tuned to diets and activity levels that existed before 10,000 years ago. That means diets rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, legumes, extra-lean meats (typically wild game, not domesticated meat), seafood, and other real, unproccessed foods that we now call “healthy.”

What is your opinion of coconut sugar. Is it a better sugar than regular table sugar?

? January Cupcakes ? - Coconut and Pineapple  First there was honey. It was supposed to be nutritious, loaded with nutrients. But it takes almost 19 cups of honey for 19,200 calories, to get the calcium you’d get in one cup of nonfat milk (90 calories). Then there was agave syrup, last year’s trendy sugar. We all know that high fructose corn syrup is bad for us. High fructose corn syrup is about 55% fructose, while agave is 80% or more fructose! Obviously, that was another scam. Now it’s coconut sugar, touted as natural and containing minerals like zinc and calcium. Coconut sugar is no different than all the other sugars before it. It is just sugar. In fact, it is 80% sucrose, which is the same as table sugar. Bottom line: Don’t be fooled into thinking there is a healthy sugar out there. Sugar is sugar, and we are eating far too much of it. This trend will benefit the pockets of the coconut sugar industry at the expense of your health. Deborah Cardinal via Compfight

I’m thinking about buying your book. Can you give me a quick intro into how what we eat affects our minds?

eat-sexy-coverThere is a very good reason why your diet becomes your mind and mood. The more than 100 billion cells in your brain are surrounded by a coating, called a membrane, that is made up of fats from the diet. Eat the right fats and those membranes are fluid and flexible, able to relay with ease messages from one brain cell to another. The brain cell receptors also run in tip top condition. You think fast, remember well, and have high levels of the feel-good chemicals, such as serotonin, in the brain. On the other hand, eat the wrong fats and those brain cell membranes are rigid, inflexible, and less able to send messages. The receptors crumble, and as a result, you are moody, depressed, and don’t think clearly. Down the road, you are at high risk for dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease. Those fatty brain cell membranes are protected from damaged by the almost one million phytonutrients in foods, too. What you eat also influences the ebb and flow of brain chemicals. Neurotransmitters – from serotonin, neuropeptide Y (NPY), and galanin to acetylcholine, the endorphins, and more – regulate everything from emotions, moods, and memories to your likes and dislikes, opinions, and sense of humor. All of those mood-regulating chemicals are made from components in your diet, and many also are turned on or off by what you chose to eat.

Is memory loss inevitable as we age?

eat-sexy-coverYour brain is not destined to get fuzzy. Even if there is a history of dementia in your family, that has very little to do with you. Genetics is only part of the equation; 66% of how smart you are and will be in the future has to do with how you choose to take care of yourself yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The belief that brain cells can’t regenerate, that there is a finite number, which over time wither, dwindle, and die – leading to memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s – is outdated and just plain wrong.
Of course, the brain is only as good as what you feed it. Make stupid lifestyle choices, such as eating a high-saturated fat diet, sitting like a lump on the couch, smoking, and refusing to learn new things as you age, and you are asking for a dramatic decline in brain cell numbers and their connections, which means fewer cells to store memory and fewer connections between cells to retrieve them. That increases your chances for dementia and Alzheimer’s 16-fold.
Or, get smart and eat really well, exercise daily, and adopt a few memory-boosting habits, and you literally increase the size of your brain, the number of neurons, and the amount of connections between nerve cells. That equates to a serious improvement in mind, memory, and mood both today and down the road, which gives you more years of feeling great! In short, the problem is not so much that the mind fails, but that we fail to keep our minds engaged and nourished.

My chiropracter has a test that will tell me if I get enough antioxidants. Are these tests for real?

veggiesMany tests promise to evaluate your antioxidant status. They might take urine, skin, or blood samples to measure by-products of free radical metabolism. However, assessing antioxidant status is not that simple and never gives you the whole picture of what’s going on in your body. For example, one test uses a scanner that shines a laser through your finger. It only measures a handful of carotenoids, not the entire gamut of the tens of thousands of antioxidants in the colorful fruits, vegetables, and other real food you eat. There’s also a catch – the company that markets the scanner also sells supplements specifically designed to raise blood levels of the few carotenoids they are testing (surprise!). In reality, the only way to be guaranteed your antioxidant arsenal is stocked is to eat a real foods diet