After smoking, a high-fat diet is the second most lethal habit.
Posted on December 31st, 2013

Dr Hector Perera        London

All foods are comprised of essential components of or macronutrients, fat, proteins and carbohydrates. These diets are based on research that indicates high carbohydrate consumption increases level of insulin in the blood. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body to convert food into energy in the form of glucose or sugar. High insulin levels have been linked to medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus type 2, cardiovascular diseases and obesity. These diseases are all part a syndrome called Insulin Resistance Syndrome or Syndrome X.  According to researchers and medical evidences, high-fat, high-sugar foods not only cause obesity and promote heart disease, but they can also contribute to conditions like osteoporosis by weakening bones. If this trend continues, this overlooked ‘silent robber’ will begin to cripple large numbers of at-risk baby boomers, said researchers at the University of Michigan and the Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute. While this high-fat, high-sugar diet trend and the subsequent risk of osteoporosis are climbing frighteningly fast, there’s hope, said Ron Zernicke, dean of U-M’s School of Kinesiology and a professor of orthopaedic surgery and biomedical engineering. The medical community and the public can reverse this trend by confronting the problem head-on and immediately, through diet, exercise and, in some cases, medication. Today, about a quarter of America’s two-to-five-year-olds and a third of its school-age children, including adolescents, are obese or overweight. “Boomers themselves the oldest now 66 have reached the stage in life when they’re most susceptible to bone and joint disorders,” Zernicke said. Consider these sobering statistics: the U.S. surgeon general forecasts that by 2020, half of Americans over 50 will develop or be at risk for osteoporosis of the hip. This is particularly bad news for women, who develop osteoporosis at two-to-three times the rate of men. Right now, roughly 12 million Americans over 50 have osteoporosis,” said Cy Frank, executive director of the Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute and an orthopaedic surgeon practicing in Calgary.

Let’s remind again what causes osteoporosis, it is a diet related problem. Dietary fat contributes to the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, because excess weight subjects the major joints to extra wear and tear. The fatty cuts of meat products, including sausages and pies, butter, ghee, lard and cheese, especially hard cheese, savoury snacks, chocolates, confectionery, biscuits, cakes and pastries have these so called high fats and sugars. Strictly speaking if these are consumed in moderation and occasionally sure it cannot do much harm.

When there are high sugar and fat in the diet it weakens the bones in two ways. First, diets high in saturated fats and sugar block calcium absorption. The problem arises due to regular consumption of these foods in large proportions. Some people eat nothing but fatty foods such as fried chips, sausages, bacon and other oily foods on regular basis for years then the problems arises. Let me reiterate that an occasional treat in moderation certainly acceptable. What happens to the calcium in the diet? Instead, calcium needed for healthy bones development washes through the body in the urine. Second, saturated fats tend to form insoluble ‘soaps,’ which coat the intestines and can block necessary calcium from bones. Again, calcium passes through the body unused. However much you eat calcium rich food if the diet has high saturated fats and sugars then it will be not used, just flush through the body then goes down the toilet. The result, excessive junk food layers fat onto a weakened skeleton that struggles to support the extra weight, Zernicke said. Osteoporosis, the so-called ‘silent thief’ because it shows no symptoms, robs bones of tissue and leaves thousands of tiny pores in the bones. It is worth remembering again this high sugar and saturated fat mixture in diets are responsible for causing osteoporosis. Porous bones can break with little stress. When cakes and biscuits are baked this high sugar and saturated fat mixture is added, is that correct? So by eating too much of too many varieties of cakes and biscuits, we treat our greedy eagerness without giving any consideration to the health of the body.

Treating osteoporosis: fractures costs approximately 18 billion 
dollars a year, a cost expert predicts it will double by 2025. Diet and exercise are primary preventions against osteoporosis, Frank said. A growing child near puberty rapidly lays down new bones. Healthy foods and physical activity optimize bone growth and accumulation, which lowers the likelihood of osteoporosis fractures later in life. Again, healthy diet, exercise and medication to slow bone loss, if necessary, can reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis fractures.

What about the breakfast, usually it is high sugar and fat breakfast cereals. I know for fact certain breakfast cereals taste better than the others due to too much sugar or even honey added to them. Correct me if I am wrong, back in Sri Lanka you cannot find locally made this kind of tasty breakfast cereals, why? Oh yes imported ones are plenty in supermarkets, so even if local products are available most people go for the imported products.  For breakfast, some people also eat a few slices of bacon, not just one but a few sausages and may be two fried eggs. There is nothing wrong if they eat in moderation but they tempt to eat too much that again due to greedy eagerness.

 Currently in England this problem is discussed within Parliamentarians as well, that is obesity within school children. So this sugar and fat diets are a serious problem. We must try and understand what the doctors found by research, it is too much is not healthy but within reason, sure it will do no harm. If you look at a chocolate slab or a bar, did you notice it is divided into small sections or squares so that it can be broken into smaller parts? May be it is designed and expected to eat only what you want but most children and even adults finish them in no time. As mentioned earlier hard margarine is nothing but trans fats and that is one of the ingredients in cakes. Things are made out of trans fats to give the products a longer time to keep. Cakes made out of butter are tastier but health wise not good to eat too much. One cannot just put the blame on just on cakes but what about certain Asian foods such as “chicken buriyani” and fried rice because sometimes they are prepared with lard which is nothing but pig fat. Some say they don’t eat pork on religious grounds but eat things prepared out of pig fat, how is that?

If we look back, just a few days ago we had Christmas and then New Year celebrations, during that time, how much cakes, Christmas puddings. I believe that many Sri Lankans had the chance to taste, “Watalappans”, “Dodol,” “bundi” [yummy], “Muscat” and many more local sweets, yes I mean in excess. Then some of those sweet meats are packed into their luggage bags and fly back or soon returning to other countries because some of them mainly arrived in Sri Lanka to celebrate these holiday festive seasons with relative and friends. Some countries do not allow certain foods because of health reasons. When questioned, “Have you anything to declare”, their answer was, “No sir” or sometimes they go through the nothing to declare gates. I am sure if they are for personal use only, not for commercial purposes then allowed, hurrah, you can start eating them again but try not to exceed the limits of what you eat.

A healthy, balanced diet includes vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and limits saturated fats, salt and sugar. But prevention goes beyond diet and exercise. It’s critical to manage the environment that influences food choices. Eliminating junk food from places charged with promoting healthy lifestyles schools, recreational centres, hospitals would also help. As a precautionary measure, the one of the education authorities in England has prohibited any fast food takeaway places within a certain distance from the school limits. Suppose the children are allowed to go out during the lunch hours they might get tempted to get junk food. One thing, I have noticed is after school, there are queues outside fast food and takeaway places for cheap food such as chips and fizzy drinks. The students must be properly educated about the dangers of eating these kinds of junk food. Unless they make it a point to keep off from these kinds of junk food places no parents and school authorities are able to do anything, again it comes to the same point of self discipline.

We actually need sugar

Every few years, there’s a few food bad guy in town and right now, it’s sugar. Some experts have even declared it a “poison” that’s “killing us.” Yet could the sweet stuff people have been eating forever really be so terrible?
“We actually need sugar; it’s our body’s preferred fuel,” says Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Centre. “But we eat too damn much of it.”
Naturally occurring sugar which gives fruit, some veggies, milk and their sweet taste is perfectly healthy. It’s added sugar (sweeteners put in during processing and prep) that we need to not exceed the limits. No need to cut out dessert, the key is to eat strategically. How about curd and coconut or “Kitul trickle”, yes it tastes better if left over night in the fridge.
The American Heart Association (AHA) links added sugar to obesity, type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
In a nutshell, eating too much sugar can cause
fat build up in the liver,
which can lead to these problems.

It’s not all bad. “There’s no need to avoid the naturally-occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables and non-fat dairy,” says Rachel K. Johnson, professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont in Burlington.
How much is OK?
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends most women get no more than 24 grams of added sugar per day. That’s about six teaspoons or 100 calories a little less than the amount in one can of soda. Some people need 4 teaspoons full of sugar at a time in a cup of tea or more in coffee. Thing is, the average American woman eats about 18 daily teaspoons, how about Sri Lankans ladies? Any comments pleas
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