Monday, October 17, 2016

Nothing Sweet About It!

American health expert Dr. Phil Maffetone talks about the need to have a sugar-free, as well as an unprocessed food diet, to avoid chronic diseases
By Shevlin Sebastian  
When American health expert Dr. Phil Maffetone mentions that it is all right to eat eggs, the immediate response, among the audience, at Kochi, is, ‘Sir, you mean just the white.”
Says Maffetone: “It's like a script. But the yolk is just as healthy, and there are many essential fats in it. The statement that yolk is bad began in the US in the 1960s. Last year, the federal government admitted that all parts of the egg are okay. How long will it take for the rest of the world to understand it? As for me, I often eat six eggs a day when I am at home [in Tucson, Arizona].”
Apart from propagating eating eggs, Maffetone has been running a campaign, for the past four decades, about the dangerous side-effects of sugar. “People are consuming a diet that has too much of sugar,” he says. “Besides the sugar that we see on the table and put in our tea or coffee, there are large quantities in packaged foods, sports drinks, refined wheat and flour that are used to make bread and cereals.”
The danger is that half of that sugar turns into fat and goes into storage. “The over-fat epidemic worldwide is due to sugar consumption,” says Maffetone.
He has no doubts that eating sugar is an addiction. “Scientists have shown through MRI scans of the brain that sugar addiction is very similar to cocaine addiction,” he says. “Unfortunately, hundreds of millions of people worldwide have a sugar dependence. I can see it when I talk to groups and tell them that they have to avoid sugar. Many people look shocked, anxious, nervous and uncomfortable.”

Asked why governments have failed to move against the sugar industry, Maffetone says, “Governments are influenced by powerful lobbyists from the sugar industry. It will take another 15 years before they will get up the will to do what they did to tobacco.”
In his own way, Maffetone is taking the fight against sugar by highlighting an ideal diet. “There are only two cuisines in the world,” he says. “There is a diet made of natural foods, which is healthy, and a menu of junk food.”
The problem with junk food is that it prevents the body from using fat for its energy needs. “That’s because sugar overproduces insulin,” he says. “And insulin reduces fat burn. However, the more fat we use, the healthier and fit we are. It prevents chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.”
Unfortunately, there is a tradition in India of avoiding fats. “A healthy diet includes some natural carbohydrates, an adequate amount of proteins and a good amount of natural fats like coconut oil and ghee,” says Maffetone.
Good food should also be balanced by regular exercise. “In fact, running is an ideal way to keep fit,” he says. “It is good for the body. But I would recommend running barefoot. The muscles will respond, by being more balanced, which will make the joints move better and running becomes economical.”
Not surprisingly, with all these new suggestions, the runners of the ‘Soles of Cochin’ enjoyed their interaction with the expert. Says President Ramesh Kanjilimadhom: “The words that Phil spoke both rattled and inspired the distance runners in our club.” 

(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)

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