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    What we eat has a direct impact on energy levels, mood, disease risk and our quality of life.

    Australia is now the fattest nation in the world, with more than 9 million adults classified as obese or overweight. 26 per cent of the adult population are considered obese, compared to 25 per cent of Americans. An additional 5 million Australians are considered overweight.

    Chronic Disease = Lifestyle Disease

    In most Western countries, diet-related chronic diseases represent the single largest cause of morbidity and mortality. These diseases are epidemic in contemporary Westernised populations and typically afflict 50-65% of the adult population, yet they are rare or nonexistent in hunter-gatherers and other less Westernised people. Examples of chronic lifestyle diseases include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

    Mismatch between genes and lifestyle

    There is growing awareness that the profound changes in our environment (eg in diet and other lifestyle conditions) that began with the introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry 10,000 years ago occurred too recently on an evolutionary time scale for the human genome to adjust. Our food and what we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than ever before.

    Dietary changes since introduction of agriculture

    Some of the most significant dietary changes since the introduction of agriculture include: an increased glycaemic load; increased consumption of saturated fats and omega 6 fats, decreased consumption of omega 3 fats; reduced protein intake and increased carbohydrate intake; reduced micronutrient density; move from alkaline diet to acidic diet; increased sodium to potassium ratio; reduced fibre content; introduction of cereals, dairy, legumes, refined carbohydrates and heavily processed foods.

    Even seemingly ‘natural’ and ‘un-tampered’ foods we consume have changed in the last 50 years. For example, cows are now fed a diet of grains and corn which are naturally high in omega 6 fatty acids. This means that the meat we eat is also very high in omega 6 fatty acids. Before this change came about, meat used to have the same omega 3 fatty acid content as fish.

    The Diabetes Epidemic

    Diabetes is Australia’s fastest growing chronic disease. 275 Australians develop diabetes everyday. The total number of Australians with diabetes and pre-diabetes is estimated at 3.2 million. For every person diagnosed with diabetes it is estimated that there is another who is not yet diagnosed. Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in Australia. The total financial cost of type 2 diabetes is estimated at $10.3 billion.

    Insulin resistance: high insulin and normal glucose

    Underpinning these changes in our society is insulin resistance. When we eat sugars or starchy carbohydrates our body releases the hormone insulin to keep our blood sugar stable. Over time this system can “wear out”. Eventually blood sugar levels start to rise. In a bid to overcome high blood sugar levels, more insulin is secreted from pancreatic cells, resulting in high blood levels of insulin. In the majority of pre or early-phase diabetics, this elevated secretion of insulin is sufficient to overcome the tissue insensitivity and people can exist in a state of high blood insulin levels and normal blood glucose levels. Once the system has “worn out” however, we then see a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

    Diseases of Civilisation

    Diseases of insulin resistance are frequently referred to as “diseases of civilisation”, including: obesity, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidaemia (high cholesterol).

    Prevention is better than cure

    It is much better to prevent yourself from becoming sick, than to get sick and spend time trying to get better. Having a balanced diet and lifestyle and exercising regularly ensures you will already be on track to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases.

    ;You are what you “most consistently” eat

    We have all heard the saying “you are what you eat”, but the truth is, “you are what you most consistently eat”. The best way to achieve optimal health is to consume a diet you can sustain for the long term.

    On average we eat 21 meals a week. Not every one of those meals must be “perfect”. Allowing yourself one meal a week to eat whatever you want (within reason!) and then going straight back to healthy eating for the next meal, helps you stay on track and avoids any feelings of deprivation.

    Seven steps to healthy eating

    Seven steps to ensure you eat well and maintain long term health are:

    1. Include protein rich foods in each meal or snack. Protein foods include fish, seafood, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy and tofu.
    2. Enjoy a minimum of 3-4 cups of fresh vegetables daily. Increased vegetable consumption aids long-term health and vitality.
    3. Enjoy a minimum of 2 pieces or one cup of fresh fruit daily. Vary your choices of fruit to ensure a range of nutrients are consumed.
    4. Include nuts, seeds and healthy oils in your diet. This ensures your intake of healthy fats remains optimal.
    5. Drink a minimum of eight glasses of pure water daily. Use natural flavourings such as fresh lemon, lime or mint in water instead of soft drinks and cordials.  6. Reduce excessive consumption of caffeinated beverages to 1-2 per day.
    6. Limit starchy carbohydrates to one to two small serves daily. Limiting high glycaemic load foods such as bread, rice, pasta and cereals aids healthy blood glucose  control.
    7. Eat food as close to its natural state as possible. This ensures processed food is rarely consumed. Foods in their natural state contain much higher levels of  nutrients than foods that have been highly processed. When choosing foods ask yourself – “Would my grandmother recognise this?” If the answer is no, then put  it back on the shelf!

    Kind thanks to Dianne from “The Naturopathic Way Health & Wellness Clinic”


    252 Jasper Rd McKinnon VIC 3204 
    Phone: 03 9004 2154