(March, 2014) Are you overweight? Do you feel tired during the day? Do you exercise enough? Do you crave fats and carbs? Are you moody, depressed or not sleeping well? Are you over 40? Does heart disease or diabetes run in your family? Does it surprise you that all these questions are related? A poorly functioning metabolism is the basis for a host of modern, chronic diseases.

Don’t let the word “modern” fool you. Modern ways are in many ways inferior to how things were done 100 years ago. Today’s processed foods make life easier, but lack essential nutrients, and are full of carbs and bad fat. Plus, we don’t engage in physical activity like our ancestors did. Our easy lifestyles and inferior food choices are at the heart of the current healthcare crisis.

One third of the people in the US are obese, and grappling with a host of medical problems. Obesity has led to an epidemic of diabetes, with more than double the number afflicted today than 25 years ago. In fact, nearly 100 million Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Heart disease – a curiosity just a century ago – is now the major cause of sickness and death. The incidence of autism, depression, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders has risen dramatically these last few decades, and will continue to rise if we stay on this path.

While chronic, degenerative disease undermines our health care system, and degrades our human potential, our collective waistlines continue to expand. Many of us are oblivious, or blissfully ignorant, but many more are in denial. Processed foods are so addictive that it may take a serious life crisis to give them up. The big food conglomerates barrage us with toxic, over-cooked food, devoid of nutrition and loaded with harmful sugars, sweeteners, dyes, and preservatives. The medical establishment’s emphasis on high-carbohydrate/low-fat foods has promoted the opposite of health: namely an overweight, tired population. Unfortunately, natural remedies are not as effective after a heart attack, or once diabetes sets in; health is an uphill battle, if you let it go too long.

The intent here is not to scare, but to provide information, which for some may be transformative. The good news is, you can improve your health, regardless of your weight. Even if you can’t lose weight, you can achieve a healthier state by giving your body what it needs. I’m not implying that obesity is healthy; we know the toll that extra baggage claims. Nevertheless, you can improve your health greatly with a few simple nutritional steps.

Nutrition should hold more regard in health and medicine, given our advanced knowledge of how the body works. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked or undervalued. With the pharmaceutical industry profiting greatly from sickness, and government restrictions on nutrition claims, it’s no wonder the public is confused about the benefits of vitamin supplementation. In this culture of ignorance, the American consumer has trouble discerning good from fad.

Big Pharma, the food industry, and the medical establishment are most happy to keep you on medication. But, if you want vitamins, they have those, too. The problem is they offer cheap, synthetic versions of vitamins and poorly-absorbed versions of minerals. Why do you think they can sell that stuff so cheaply? It is best not to skimp on price when it comes to nutrition. Go to a health food store, buy good quality, and support your local health food market.

The establishment also wants you to believe that you can get all of your nutrients from food. In a perfect world that might be true, but that world does not exist anymore. Our tired soils are drained of many minerals, and are no longer teeming with beneficial microbes. Rather, farmers dump a few chemicals on the soil to make plants grow fast, with little concern for health or welfare. A high-carb, meat-and-potato, cola-drinkin’ lifestyle does not help us achieve anywhere near our best, or live long, healthy lives. With drugs, stress and crappy food draining the very life out of this country, we need to explore ways to get nutrition in every way possible.

Food production practices are even more suspicious. Foods grown in exhausted soils are harvested before they ripen. We’re fed only the yummy parts, and not the whole food. We shun green, yellow and red foods that contain more antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Rather, we relish refined foods devoid of nutrients. In white bread, for example, over 30 nutrients are removed during the milling process, with only a few added back during “enrichment”. Sugar has none of the B vitamins, zinc, iron, magnesium and chromium that it needs to be metabolized. Table salt offers only a shell of the minerals unrefined sea salt can provide. Yet, we insist on eating factory-farm food full of drugs, toxins and inflammatory chemicals. What price, glory?

Our unwillingness to part with bad habits necessitates alternative measures. But before running to the drug store to fill your pill boxes, take some time to understand the basics of metabolism, and the building blocks needed to function optimally. Why confuse your life further with drugs, when there are simpler, healthier, smarter options? Find out what you really need to tune up your engine and get back to health.

This blog series is about insulin dysfunction as the link between these current health conditions. Insulin dysfunction is present to some degree in 100s of millions of Americans, and is the major reason why we’re obese, diabetic, sclerotic, tired and forgetful. My goal is to make the latest research on insulin health more understandable, so you can better weigh your options. Getting insulin health right is easier to achieve than you might think, no matter what your current status.

The next post will delve into the nuts and bolts of insulin function. 

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