Modified 8/10/2013 – here is a printable (pdf) version of this.
Why are 90% of Americans overweight?
You just might wonder what I mean by overweight: overweight is the absence of CLEAR lines of muscular definition due to the presence of fat under the skin obscuring where well developed muscles meet well developed muscles. Such a level of body fat (11-22% for men and 15-27% for women) correlates with the appropriate absence of fat from the body as a whole. And this is not pie in the sky philosophy, this is both Real Preventive Medicine and the appearance/condition of virtually every pre-technological culture that has ever existed: skin/well developed muscles/bone, but not anorexia. These are the perfect physiques that people go to the gym to try to acquire. The problem is our calm acceptance of our current degree of lack of adequate muscle development/overeating/eating high calorie foods that are too dense for us to be able to maintain that lean and muscular look–men and women. And age is not much of an excuse.
Where would I be as a physician if I could not recognize the “pattern” (code for statistics) of what prevents, generates, or treats diseases?
Yes, we do not exercise enough, but the real deal is what we eat. What are we supposed to eat? Well, if you take a look in our mouth, you will find the enzyme ptyalin in saliva which is for digesting vegetables carbohydrates, not digesting animal protein of meat. We lack the fangs and claws of carnivores. We have only four (out of a total of 32) rudimentary canine teeth for tearing meat. Our teeth are flat for grinding like other vegetarian species. Put your hand (carefully) inside the mouth of a friendly and familiar dog: its teeth are narrow, sharp, and pointed for tearing meat all the way to the back, unlike our flat and wide molars. We have a long small bowel about twelve times our nose-derriere distance like other herbivore/vegetarian species whereas carnivores such as cats, dogs, and bears have a short small bowel only 3-5 times that distance. It is possible to raise the blood cholesterol only of vegetarian herbivores and not carnivores by feeding them cholesterol. We have been called omnivores because we can, but more truthfully do, eat anything. But putting the above together, and simply using that number of the four of 32 teeth, it would appear that we are designed to be about 90% unprocessed whole food vegetarian and optionally consume up to one palm-sized animal protein meal every three days, which translates as 6 ounces of wild-caught fish, cage free eggs, free range chicken 2-3 times a week in the trim and athletic.
What is it that the overweight want to eat? The best meal I every had was in a French restaurant in Montreal, Canada. It was a lobster, cheese and creamed potatoes, creamed sauces on vegetables, and desserts, etc., all flavored with lots of salt/fat/sugar. Those are the things that turn on/stimulate our endocannabinoid & mu receptora in our brain causing overweight. Whenever the overweight say “I like” they are talking about what generates those repeat reward seeking chemicals: the meats (chicken and turkey, many fish, lunch meats, veal, lam, pork, sausage, bacon, hamburger, bologna), eggs, the refined and prcessed high glycemic carbs (all forms of potatoes, white rice, wheat bread, most fruit and especially bananas, pastas, gnocchi, cereals including oat meal and oat bran, Raisin Bran, pastries, bagels, donuts, sweets, cakes, cookies-this carb discussion in the overweight is where Atkins, the high protein, low carb diet advocate, was correct). And the foods that are good for the overweight that don’t turn those repeat reward seeking chemicals on: berries, beans including lentils and chick peas, red etc. beans, vegetables and vegetable soups without meat or potatoes, and small amounts of unprocessed whole grains like brown rice or millet or quinoa. If I tell my overweight patients that I am going to take away five foods, I’d have no problem if it were broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, snow peas, lentils…But when I say to them no chicken or meat, rice, bread, oat or bran cereal, pasta, milk of any kind such as cheese or yogurt, or eggs this turns out to be an unpleasant surprise for most because these are the very foods that turn these patients on, have made them heavy, and develop their high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, back pain, increased risk of depression, sleep disorders, etc., etc., etc. other health issues. Those who are trim and well should enjoy a wide variety of unprocessed whole grains as just above like barley, millet, brown rice, quinoa and amaranth, plenty of vegetables except potatoes, all types of beans, fruits, 6-12 nuts a day such as almonds, walnuts, pecans or 1-2 of the high selenium Brazil nuts, unpasteurized miso and sea vegetables, and poppy and sunflower seeds with the OPTIONAL palm sized serving of wild fish/wild game/pasture fed meats of 2-3 times a week.
So then, how do I finish? It is clear that there is a Natural Human Design and a universal order that we submit to in order to have the maximal freedoms permitted by good health. So doing permits us to live as unfettered a life as possible, to avoid addiction and self destruction and have as much health and joy as good luck permits.
Here is a printable (pdf) version of Why We Do What We Should Not.
H. Robert Silverstein, M.D., FACC
Medical Director, Preventive Medicine Center
1000 Asylum Avenue # 2109
Hartford, CT 06105