Every now and then we find ourselves watching overweight fashion models on the small screen declaring how unfair it is that only thin models are admired while a thick profile is considered unattractive. In activist fashion, they go on to declare that it’s time for society to adjust to a new reality, considering that obesity is becoming a common human condition. Hellooooo – the issue is not strictly appearance.
The problem with obesity is that as body size increases, longevity decreases. Not a pleasant prospect and when considering the accompanying health risks like diabetes, cardiac disease, stroke, sleep apnea, hypertension, inflamed joints, and even some cancers, clearly weight control is a critical issue.
We must eat, but how do we control our weight?
Since the discovery of the sugar/insulin action that led to the critical role of the GI (glycemic index), we’re able to rely on science to provide the answer. To recap, we now know that insulin carries the glucose from our blood to our cells which gives us the energy we need to function. With that premise, we can now tackle all the questions that had no answers until now. They have been simplified here in order to make them easily understood.
1. Why do we get hungry? In order to provide the energy to breathe, think, stand, etc., we need approximately 4 grams of sugar in our blood. When insulin removes too much glucose, we get hungry because we must replace the sugar that is needed for our body to function.
2. Why is sugar addictive? Sugar addiction is the result of eating a prolonged diet of foods that are high on the GI The high amount of sugar that this adds to our system causes the pancreas to release high amounts of insulin that moves the sugar into our cells, which then creates the need for more sugar in order to keep us functioning which we experience as hunger. We then satisfy this hunger by again eating food too high on the GI that is again met by increased insulin to remove the glucose that brings on hunger. And the result of this chain of activity is sugar addiction.
2. Why do we gain weight? Eating too many carbs that are high on the GI adds too much sugar to the blood. When the insulin cannot move so much sugar to our cells, what does it do? It stores the sugar as fat! And that’s how we gain weight.
3. Why do we gain weight when we’re older, even if we eat mainly the same food? Insulin moves the sugar from our blood into our cells that have receptors. After years of eating too much sugar, the receptors eventually become desensitized and they don’t allow the sugar to be absorbed. When the sugar can no longer penetrate the cells, it is stored as fat.
4. What is the cause of diabetes? When we eat foods that are high on the GI this increases the sugar in the blood. The pancreas then must generate enough insulin to remove the sugar to our cells. When it can no longer generate enough insulin, we develop insulin resistance. This is called Type 2 diabetes.
5. What is the difference between Type1 and Type 2 diabetes? Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not function, which means it cannot generate any insulin. This is often an inherited condition. Type 2 occurs when the pancreas is overworked due to a diet of too much high GI (lots of sugar in the food) and can no longer produce enough insulin.
6. Is Type 2 diabetes reversible? When a diagnosis of Type 2 is given, the physician will prescribe insulin. However, a drastic change in diet to low GI food along with lots of proteins will lower your blood sugar and in time, your test will show – you are no longer diabetic.
7. Why is it that people who claim after dieting and weight loss that they regained their weight – and weigh even more? Weight loss causes cell receptors to become sensitive again, allowing the cells to accept the glucose. People who after dieting slowly return to the high-GI foods that caused them to gain weight will find themselves hungrier because their cells are sensitive. However, in time, the receptors will become insensitive again and they will start helplessly gaining weight again.
8. Why is it that in a family of thin children, only one is overweight? A most inexcusable, serious injustice is done to this child when blamed for a condition that is inherent. Everyone is born with a constitution. When only one child is overweight it is highly likely that he/she was born with slow metabolism which means that they metabolize the sugar too slowly and it is stored as fat. To address this common problem, if the entire family followed a low GI regime with lots of proteins, everyone in the family will become healthier, and one member will not have been signaled out as the guilty party responsible for being different. When all family members are overweight, it is likely due to their high GI diet.
In summary, it’s the GI that provides us with the ability to conquer our hunger, avoid gaining weight, remain healthy and live longer.
Remember: Obesity has become a common disorder. Now that you know how to avoid it – eat well, feel well, look well and be well.
There are many glycemic index lists online. Contact the writer to receive a copy of the list she uses: email@example.com.
The writer is the author of three “how to” science-backed books on health and weight. She has an M.Phil degree from Cambridge University and a social work degree from the Hebrew University.