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In the past few years, the science of nutrigenomics has turned what we thought we knew about nutrition completely on its head.

Nutrigenomics is the study of how nutrients interact with our genes. Because science now knows that food is not just energy – it’s information. Different foods turn our genes on and off. This discovery is the basis for amazing breakthroughs in the treatment of chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome and many others. It’s even helping with cancer.

Myths from the Past

Here are some nutrition and diet myths that predate the discoveries of nutrigenomics, in no particular order.

  • Your weight is controlled by calories in minus energy expended
  • Fat is bad for you, and saturated fat is really, really bad for you
  • If you’re fat it’s because you eat too much
  • Will power is all you need to lose weight
  • You don’t need to take vitamin supplements if you eat a balanced dietLet’s looks at these, in light of what scientists now know.

    Your weight is controlled by calories in minus energy expended

    I remember reading in college that it was possible to lose weight on a diet of ice cream sodas, as long as you counted calories properly. That is so not true!

    Yes, you need to eat moderate amounts of food. But, more importantly, you need to eat the foods that are right for keeping your body healthy. And what works for you might not work for your husband, wife, kids, parents or friends. We are not machines, we’re humans with unique sets of DNA.

    The foods that will keep you healthy and slim are foods that humans evolved to eat. Modern food-like substances – also known as processed foods – make us sick. It’s that simple.

    There are several popular diets that focus on meat consumption and call themselves things like the “caveman diet.”

    Yes, our caveman ancestors ate meat. But in most hunter-gatherer societies, the gathering part provided about 80% of the diet, and hunting accounted for only 20%. Our remote ancestors ate a diet that was very high in fiber, about 100 grams per day. Mostly they ate raw plants – nuts, berries, roots and leaves. Cultivated grains are a relatively modern innovation in our diet.

    And what about the meat they ate? It sure wasn’t corn fed! It was lean, and when it was alive, it subsisted on a diet that was natural for its DNA.

    When we eat foods that are outside the realm of what’s natural for us, we get sick. We develop allergies, our intestinal flora become unbalanced and our immune systems are compromised, and over time we develop chronic diseases.

    When we eat the foods we were made to consume, we stay healthy and lean, our metabolism and immune systems work properly and our hormones function well.

    Want to lose weight? Eat real, unprocessed foods in reasonable portion sizes, and get up out of your chair.

    Fat is bad for you, and saturated fat is really, really bad for you

    Since the country went on its low-fat craze during the 1990′s, we’ve become more obese than ever, and the incidence of diabetes is through the roof.

    The truth is, we need dietary fat to thrive – super low-fat diets make us sick.

    Fat is vital to the healthy functioning of our brains and internal organs and many of us need more fat in our diets — but it has to be healty, undamaged fat. No trans fats, no fats damaged in processing. It’s not saturated fat that makes us sick, it’s damaged fats.

    And it’s not saturated fat that causes heart attacks and other health problems, it’s trans fat. Years ago, when all the saturated fat studies were done, scientists didn’t recognize the difference between healthy, undamaged saturated fats and trans fats so they were grouped together.

    However, in recent years it’s been proved pretty conclusively that saturated fats are not the culprit, unless they’ve been damaged by overheating or some other method.
    Now, I’m not suggesting your run out and eat a pound of butter. But given a choice between butter and margarine or some other trans fat, choose the butter.

    You find trans fats – also known as hydrogenated fats – in most baked goods — pies, cakes, cookies, breads and the like. Most brands of peanut butter and all margarines or other fake butters rely on hydrogenated fats for their texture and consistency.

    Did you know fat is the only nutrient source that has no impact on blood sugar? Eating protein and carbohydrate raises blood glucose, but fat has no impact.

    How cool is that?

    To be continued. . .