The Missing Ingredients
for Optimal Health
The Missing Ingredients
for Optimal Health
In recent years, medical research has shattered many of our simplistic notions about diet. For example, the popular ideas that "fat makes you fat" and that animal fat is "bad" and vegetable oil is "good" have been overturned by exciting new discoveries about fat that are helping to fight disease and promote optimal health. Similarly, the naïve notion that vitamin supplements can replace fruits and vegetables has given way to a new appreciation for the treasure trove of nutrients these wholesome foods contain, including antioxidants that are not vitamins, folate, and cancer-fighting nutrients called "phytochemicals." This book translates these new findings into a simple, delicious dietary plan that will greatly increase your chances of living a long, lean, and healthy life.
One of the main conclusions to come from the medical labs is that you don't have to give up fat to lose weight or enjoy better health. Most weight-loss diets and so-called healthy diets throw out the good fat with the bad fat, leaving you with dry, lackluster food. Very few people are able to stay on such a diet, resulting in a sense of frustration and failure. The Omega Diet, the breakthrough dietary plan featured in this book, replaces harmful fats with beneficial ones, allowing you to eat from 30 to 35 percent of your calories as fat -- absolutely free of guilt! In fact, I will be urging you to eat more of certain kinds of fat. Yet studies show that you will be healthier on this new, moderate-fat program than if you were to submit yourself to a dreary succession of watery salad dressings, fat-free cheese, rice cakes, steamed vegetables, and skinless chicken breasts poached in broth.
And, no, you won't gain weight. In fact, as you will learn in later chapters, when you combine The Omega Diet with a program of regular exercise, you will increase your chances of being fit and lean. If you have a substantial amount of weight to lose (ten pounds or more), this book can help you do that as well. Chapter 13 features two weight-loss versions of The Omega Diet -- a "fast bum" program, and a more moderate weight-loss program. Both contain the same generous percentage of fat as the regular diet. Today, you can start losing up to two pounds a week as you reap all the health benefits of the regular program.
New Discoveries About Fatty Acids
Our new appraisal of fat comes from studying its molecular building blocks -- "fatty acids." When you pour vegetable oil into a measuring cup, it looks like one uniform substance, but on a submicroscopic level, it is composed of six or more different types of fatty acids. New studies show that the individual fatty acids can have remarkably different effects on your health. Some promote cancer growth; some block it. Some increase your risk of heart attack and stroke; some reduce it. Some are more likely to be stored as body fat; others are quickly burned as fuel. Some are linked with depression and other mental problems; some foster emotional well-being. The way a given fat influences your health depends on its unique blend of fatty acids.
Unfortunately, the typical Western diet is loaded with the types of fatty acids that are linked with some of our most serious health problems, while it is markedly deficient in some that are essential for optimal health. Even if you are well informed about nutrition and very careful about what you eat, you may still be fueling your body with the wrong ratio of fatty acids. Many of the physicians, medical researchers, and even dietitians who attend my lectures discover that they are eating the same unbalanced blend of fats as the general public.
The Bad Fats and the Good Fats
One type of fat -- saturated fat -- has lived up to its reputation of being a "bad" fat. Found in meat, dairy products, and some tropical oils, saturated fat increases your risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes, and obesity. Recently, another culprit has been identified -- trans-fatty acids, manmade molecules that are produced during the hydrogenation of vegetable oil. New studies show that trans-fatty acids can be even worse for your cardiovascular system than saturated fat and may also increase the risk of breast cancer. Switching from butter to margarine was not such a good idea after all.
Some fatty acids, however, are actually good for your health. Monounsaturated fatty acids, the type found in olive oil and canola oil, help protect your cardiovascular system. They also reduce the risk of certain metabolic disorders such as "insulin resistance" and diabetes, and are linked with a lower rate of cancer. This good news is beginning to reach the general public, resulting in a newfound popularity for canola oil and olive oil, a healthy trend that is consistent with The Omega Diet.
But some of the most significant research about fatty acids has remained locked in the medical journals. In particular, few people know about the health benefits that come from eating the right balance of "essential fatty acids," or EFAs. EFAs are fatty acids that are necessary for normal growth and development and cannot be manufactured in your body; you must get them from your diet. There are two families of EFAs, "omega-6" fatty acids and "omega-3" fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are most abundant in common vegetable oils such as corn, safflower, cottonseed, and sunflower oils. Omega-3 fatty acids are found primarily in seafood, green leafy vegetables, fish, canola oil, and walnuts. A critical finding is that your body functions best when your diet contains a balanced ratio of EFAs, yet the typical Western diet contains approximately fourteen to twenty times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s. This imbalance is now being linked with a long list of serious conditions and diseases including:
- Heart attack
- Insulin resistance
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Postpartum depression
- Alzheimer's disease