In an era that increasingly focuses on gene research and gene therapy, we tend to forget the importance of nutrition. While it is true that genes influence the development of many diseases such as cardiovascular conditions, they depend on the nutrients we eat to function properly. Genes that don’t receive proper nutrition will lead us to disease; genes well fed will lead us to health.
Where can you start to get your genes well fed?
Most cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides as well as diabetes type 2, are nutritional diseases. Granted that genes play a part, but feed those genes well and you will not suffer these health conditions.
If you think eating healthy is a daunting task, I have good news for you: it is not. You just need to be an informed consumer and implement some nutrition principles in your meals. I know we are surrounded by processed foods and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the good from the bad ones, but you can do it.
A good place to start is by avoiding refined carbohydrates -mainly white sugar and white flour -because the intake of refined carbohydrates is directly linked to diabetes and cardiac diseases.
Avoid refined carbohydrates: white bread and white sugar
The most important principle you can implement in your diet is to avoid refined carbohydrates. Although many people understand that sugar raises blood glucose, fewer people are aware that products made with white flour do the same. Here are some of the problems white flour and white sugar cause:
White bread has a glycemic index rating – a measurement of how high glucose levels rise after certain foods are eaten – higher than sugar. In other words: white bread raises your blood sugar levels higher than that of sugar.
Products made with white flour, enriched flour, bleached and unbleached flour, or white sugar lack many of the nutrients and fiber needed to help the body absorb carbohydrates properly. The body must obtain the lacking nutrients from the body reserves, a process that depletes our organs, including the heart and arteries, of basic nutrients for good functioning.
White bread lacks magnesium, an essential mineral for a healthy heart rhythm.
Another main nutrient lacking in white flour is chromium. A lack of chromium contributes to insulin resistance.
Products that contain these flours include many popular foods in our diet such as:
- Most breads
- Baked goods
Avoid refined carbohydrates: white rice
White rice is stripped of the nutrients and fiber found in brown rice. Although it is fortified with iron and a few B vitamins, it is still missing many nutrients needed to process carbohydrates.
A lack of B vitamins leads to high levels of homocysteine, a health risk for heart attacks
You may not notice the difference right away, but with time, this deficiency of chromium and other nutrients leads to insulin resistance.
White rice, like white flour, raises blood glucose fast which given enough time will cause insulin resistance.
Avoid products that contain enriched rice, polished rice, rice flour
Avoid refined carbohydrates: hidden sugars
There are many hidden sugars in processed foods. Keep in mind that even sweeteners that seem natural such as honey will still raise your blood sugar levels. Although fructose is an exception in that it does not raise glucose as high as other sugars, the fructose found in processed foods promotes insulin resistance and raises cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
This is because fructose in processed food is in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, a product that does not come from fruit, but from corn, and it is highly processed.
How to identify hidden sugars
When buying processed foods in a box, a can, a bottle, or whatever other form of packaging, look for the following names in the list of ingredients:
- Brown sugar, beet sugar, date sugar, golden sugar, grape sugar, invert sugar, raw sugar,
- yellow sugar, turbinado sugar, cane sugar, cane crystals Barley malt, malt syrup,
- golden syrup, maltodextrin
- Corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high-fructose corn syrup
- Dextrose, maltose, sucrose, fructose, lactose
- Glucose, glucose solids
- Mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol
- Molasses, maple syrup, sorghum syrup
The bottom line
The human body is not prepared to handle so much concentrated sugar, whether it is in the form of sugar or refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates damage the arteries, increase cholesterol and triglyceride levels, raise blood glucose and overwork the pancreas, finally leading to diabetes.
The good news here is that, as you can see, all this mess is caused by some of the foods we eat. So, if we replace those foods with whole foods, foods that have retained the majority of their nutrients and the fiber, we can reverse the cardiovascular problems that have originated from a lack of nutrients. And our genes will be quite happy receiving proper nutrition.