modern food habits problem

In my book The Power of 5, I address FIVE major areas of health we must intentionally focus on to live long and healthy lives. I chose these areas by design since they all start with the letter “S” to make it easy for everyone to remember. I chose S for Sweets as my way of addressing the choices we make in our eating lifestyle. I chose Sweets because when I think of sweets, I think of sugar, candy and high carbohydrate items to satisfy cravings and for sustenance.

Research has been abundantly clear about the dangers of a lifestyle of eating food with high concentrations of carbohydrates, especially those with high sugar content, stimulating the release of insulin and other chemicals that lead to inflammation and suppression of the immune system. This can lead to a higher risk of vascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

The Power of 5 is ALL about taking back power and responsibility for the quality of your life.

The Problem with Modern Food Habits

It is also important to recognize that worldwide, and particularly in the United States, in the past thirty years meal portion sizes have increased dramatically. One very important feature of the lifestyle changes I recommend is the reduction or resizing of meals and some awareness of the total number of calories certain foods contain. The truth is that with the changes I advise, calorie counting becomes much less of an issue. Nonetheless, it is worth being aware of caloric intake. Most of the vegetables I recommend eating have fewer calories than the unhealthy foods many people eat today. It is also well documented how much portion sizes have increased in restaurants.

Considerable data in various studies support this view. This does not mean that changing your lifestyle prevents you from eating out; it just means you need to become selective and avoid falling into the traps that restaurateurs have set for you.

My own research, based on a review of medical literature and many patient encounters, shows that an eating style similar to those who live in countries bordering the Mediterranean is the healthiest, easiest, most affordable, portable, and flexible. This eating style is packed with fresh fruits and vegetables, which are plentiful and readily available in most developed countries. Looking at other kinds of diets for comparison, all have high concentrations of the proper mix of fruits and vegetables, so there is nothing objectionable there (except to my sister Nancy). I will point out that there are certain vegetables that I consider taboo—the ones that are high in starchy carbohydrates—such as potatoes and root vegetables. Fruits with high concentrations of sugar are also to be avoided or eliminated.

Power of 5 Pointers – Sweets

  1. We have long known about the dangers of high fats and trans fats in our diets. Recent evidence has found sweets, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and other carbohydrates to be hazards to our health and threaten our life expectancy.
  2. Obesity and diabetes associated with high sugar intake lead to inflammatory conditions such as coronary artery disease, cancer and, neurodegenerative diseases.
  3. Worldwide obesity rules. The rates have doubled since 1980, including in women and children in high-income countries.
  4. A healthy lifestyle of a Mediterranean diet and increased physical activity can offset impending risks.

To a long and healthy life,
Dr. Bernstein

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