Question 1: What makes The Blood Sugar Solution dietary regimen special? How does it contrast or stand out from other “healthy diets”?
Dr. Hyman: The myth about modern nutrition, as it relates to medicine, makes it seem that all we need to know to maintain health can be found on a nutrition facts label. Some people may lose weight and think they are reversing disease by eating “diet” foods, but this is simply not the case. There is much more to nutritional science than the “calories in, calories out” idea.
Foods may appear healthy because the sugar content is zero or it is “low carb.” Most people who try these diets and fail learn firsthand that authentic health cannot be found in synthetic foods which falsely promise health by focusing merely on numbers.
We need real food to thrive. Depriving our bodies of basic nutrition is more an attempt to fool our systems, not heal them! My goal is to have people prioritize the ingredients that comprise their meals.
Whole foods – without artificial sweeteners, additives, fillers, binders, preservatives, excess fats, and salts, have an innate purpose for our bodies. The nutrients in them literally talk to our genes to turn on healthy messages.
By following the nutrition concepts outlined in The Blood Sugar Solution, people learn how much they actually love and trust their bodies. For many people it is the first time in their life they know what it is like to feel really healthy.
When people see the connection between basic nutrition and health, a light bulb goes off about how they won’t ever need to diet again. The comfort brought on by this paradigm shift in how we eat to get the most out of our days is what really makes this program stand alone. It is not a diet, but a sustainable solution to taking back your health and living your best life!
Question 2: One of the themes of The Blood Sugar Solution is that “food is medicine.” Can you explain what this means on a biological level?
Dr. Hyman: Food as medicine is a common-sense approach to healthcare. Right now, we currently are working within a sick-care model which does not view the patient’s individual needs and risk factors. Medicine treats the disease without an appreciation for the biochemical uniqueness which underlies each person’s root cause of illness.
Using whole foods to restore health allows the body to recognize and understand how to metabolize nutrients for optimum functioning. Chronic diseases of our time (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, etc.) do not require interventions applied in acute care such as intensive procedures or strong medications. They respond best to what triggered their onset in the first place – lifestyle!
Nutrients in real, fresh, unadulterated foods contain potent constituents which give cells the exact replenishment they need to function the way nature intended. Chronic diseases can basically be seen as gaps in our nutrition.
Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals are responsible for everything from mental health issues to rising inflammation in delicate heart tissue. Our immune, endocrine, detoxification, and nervous systems are all interconnected within the same web that depends on the nutrients in food to serve as our chief medicine.
Doctors today have all the tools necessary to revitalize a patient’s health right in our local gardens and markets!
Question 3: In discussing the diabesity epidemic, you mention the “Skinny Fat Syndrome.” Can you explain what this means, and how it works on a biological level? Why aren’t skinny people always healthy?
Dr. Hyman: One in four skinny people believe that they can eat all the bread, cookies, pizza, soda, and junk food they want without gaining weight. While it would be great if this were true, their life is at just as much risk (if not more) than the rest of ours from eating foods that spike blood sugar and decrease insulin sensitivity.
We all abide by the same metabolic rules and regardless of how we look on the exterior our endocrine systems all need the same thing – real, whole foods! What unites us is that every individual requires sound nutrition without exposure to excessive sugars and artificial ingredients.
Objective tests measuring insulin, cholesterol particle size, blood pressure, liver and kidney function, among several other labs, illustrate the limit to the amount of abuse our cells, pancreas, and blood vessels can take from eating a poor diet.
When cells cannot respond to demands for effectively receiving insulin we become resistant. This insulin resistance promotes elevated blood sugars and hyperinsulinemia, causing serious inflammation.
Essentially some people might look skinny but what lies beneath the surface is a train wreck in health waiting to happen!
Question 4: One thing I’ve found interesting is that you are a strong advocate of limiting fruit consumption. Fruit consumption is a point of emphasis for healthy eating, especially when we are growing up. Is there something wrong with fruit? Which fruits are okay to eat?
Dr. Hyman: Fruit offers a healthy source of sugar with valuable minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients, water, and fiber. While all fruits have the aforementioned to some extent, not all fruits are appropriate for people healing from diabesity.
Some fruits are known to spike blood sugar faster than others. Fruits like berries, apples, and pears are excellent sources of fiber and phytonutrients, allowing for a slower rise in glucose levels than mangoes, pineapples, and dried fruits which have a higher glycemic index. Depending on how resistant a person is I might suggest limiting fruit intake or completely eliminating all fruit except for a small amount of berries daily.
Eating fruit with some protein is another smart way to enjoy fruit for someone looking to prevent metabolic imbalances or reverse them.
Question 5: You encourage people to be adventurous and invent their own meals. What are some fundamentals tips to guide them? What are best practices for styles of cooking?
Dr. Hyman: Healthy food need not be a burden. There are a few basics to know and after some practice in the kitchen it is more about how to have fun and be creative than wonder what am I supposed to eat that’s healthy.
Make your plate count (learn more about ‘creating the perfect plate’)… Fill it with nutrient-dense foods that make both your palate and body happy. The first thing I do when I create a meal is identify my protein source, and then I choose my vegetables, starting with dark leafy greens. Depending on the meal and my hunger, I’ll choose a moderate portion of a whole grain or smart starch like black rice or sweet potato.
I’m really busy, so I especially enjoy quick and easy preparation. I know most of my patients are busy too and want to create quick meals without a laundry list of complex ingredients and steps.
One of my favorite meals is WITF- whatever’s in the fridge! This gets at the heart of how anyone can create a whole foods meal made from nothing but real, fresh, tasty, and healthy ingredients.
By using the food I have in the pantry and fridge, I can easily throw a quick meal together in minutes. For example, I always have canned sardines in my pantry. I love them because they are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids and require no cooking.
I also always have some greens in the fridge; one of my favorites is bagged, pre-washed arugula. I add a handful or two to my plate and then add other non-starchy vegetables, such as tomato or bell pepper and top with fresh onion.
The veggies, sardines, a little extra virgin olive oil, and lemon juice are a complete meal – made in seconds but providing hours of energy.
Fast preparation doesn’t always have to just be a salad. Baking, broiling, lightly sautéing, steaming, roasting, and even moderate grilling in the warmer months are all wonderful ways to prepare quick and healthy meals.
Eating well is not just about putting good food into your body but also about enjoying the experience! I really want to encourage people to have fun and play with many different spices and herbs to add flavor and personality to their meals. To make eating well something we do for life, it has to taste good.
The recipes in my book, The Blood Sugar Solution and its companion book The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook, invite even the most novice chef to play with new foods, spices, herbs, and cooking styles in a way that is not intimidating but fun.
Look for Part 2 of this interview next week! Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!
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