It may seem like a paradox, but obesity and malnutrition often go hand in hand. Processed, high-sugar, high-calorie foods contain almost no nutrients, yet require even more vitamins and minerals to metabolize them.
These processed foods, made cheaply and easily accessible by government subsidies, are consumed to excess, driving obesity rates up in nearly three out of four Americans. The more we eat, the fatter we become, and diabesity is the end result, which drives most of the occurrences of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and even depression.
A candy bar costs less than a head of broccoli. But the cost to our health is far greater, hidden at the checkout line. Direct health care costs in the U.S. over the next decade attributable to diabetes and pre-diabetes will be $3.4 trillion, or one in every 10health care dollars spent!
The sicker we become from these empty calories, the more medications will be sold by big pharma to treat high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and many other lifestyle-driven diseases. But there is good news -- strong scientific evidence proving the importance of nutrients as key players in restoring our health is mounting.
While certain medications aid in healing or symptom reduction, understanding the basics of human nutrition and metabolism is fundamental to unearthing the real cause of this epidemic. Nutrients provide the oil that greases the wheels of our metabolism. And large-scale nutritional deficiencies in our population, including omega-3 fats, vitamin D, folate, zinc, magnesium, and iron, have been well documented in extensive government-sponsored research.
Why are we so nutrient depleted? First, we evolved from eating wild foods containing dramatically higher levels of all vitamins, minerals, and essential fats. Second, because of depleted soils and industrial farming and hybridization techniques, the animals and vegetables we eat have fewer nutrients. Third, processed factory-made foods have no nutrients. And fourth, the total burden of environmental toxins, lack of sunlight, and chronic stress leads to higher nutrient needs.
That is why everyone needs a good multivitamin, fish oil, and vitamin D supplement. I also recommend probiotics, because modern life, diet, antibiotics, and other drugs damage our gut ecosystem, which is so important in keeping us healthy and thin.
How to Be a Savvy Shopper
Supplements are a multi-billion dollar unregulated industry. The wide display of choices in drug stores, food stores, online, and even in doctors' offices can make your head spin! It is more important now than ever to be aware of what you are and are not getting.
Be sure to pick quality supplements and ones that contain nutrients and compounds research has shown to be effective and safe. Think of them as part of your diet. You want the best quality food and the best quality supplements you can buy.
Because I use supplements in my practice as a cornerstone of healing and repair, I have investigated supplement makers, toured their factories, studied independent analysis of their finished products and experimented with them personally.
I have learned there are few companies I can rely on. I want my patients to heal and get their life back, so I need to be very cautious when evaluating what I recommend. This is how I judge quality supplements:
- The form of the nutrient is high-quality, well-absorbed, or used by the body.
- The dosage on the label matches the dose in the pill.
- They contain absolutely zero additives, colors, fillers, and allergens.
- The raw materials (especially herbs) have been tested for toxins like mercury or lead, and are consistently pure from batch to batch.
- The factory in which they are produced follows good manufacturing standards, so products are uniformly consistent in quality. I want to be sure I know I'm getting the same thing every time.
Supplements to Heal Diabesity
We are overfed and undernourished. It may seem paradoxical that the most obese are also the most malnourished. It has been said that diabetes is starvation in the midst of plenty. When sugar and vital nutrients to your health can't get into your cells, metabolism slows and becomes sluggish. Without this nutrition, cells don't communicate as a finely-tuned team, and you feel sick and lousy.
Nutrients are an essential part of getting back into balance and correcting the core problem: insulin resistance, when cells become numb to the effects of insulin. There are two ways in which these supplements work:
- They make your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- They increase your cells' ability to metabolize sugar and fats. Also, special fibers can slow the absorption of sugars and fats into the bloodstream, leading to faster metabolism, more balanced blood sugars, improved cholesterol, less inflammation, less cravings, more weight loss, and more energy.
While I strongly discourage you from going off any medication without your doctor's supervision, you can integrate the following in your regimen to help overcome diabesity.
- A high-quality multi-vitamin and mineral.
- 1,000 to 2,000 IU of Vitamin D3 a day with breakfast.
- 500-1,000 mg of omega-3 fats (should contain a ratio of approximately 300/200 EPA/DHA), once with breakfast and once with dinner.
- 100-200 mg of magnesium, once with breakfast and once with dinner.
- 300 to 600 mg alpha lipoic acid a day, once with breakfast and once with dinner.
- 200 to 600 mcg chromium polynicotinate a day (up to 1,200 mcg a day can be helpful).
- 0.5-1 mg biotin, once with breakfast and once with dinner.
- 125-250 mg cinnamon, once with breakfast and once with dinner.
- 25-50 mg green tea catechins, once with breakfast and once with dinner.
- 2 to 5 grams of PGX fiber in powder or capsules, 15 minutes before each meal with 8 ounces of water.
To learn more about the specific products I recommend and use with my patients, see www.bloodsugarsolution.com.
Whether you follow my product recommendations or not, please practice smart shopping and become savvy about what you put into your body. Guidance from a trained dietitian, nutritionist, or nutritionally-oriented physician or health care practitioner can be helpful in selecting products. For help selecting the highest quality supplements, consider getting support from my nutrition coaching team.
Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below -- but remember, we can't offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!
To your good health,
Mark Hyman, M.D.
Mark Hyman, M.D. is a practicing physician, founder of The UltraWellness Center, a five-time New York Times bestselling author, and an international leader in the field of Functional Medicine. You can follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, watch his videos on YouTube, become a fan on Facebook, and subscribe to his newsletter.
For more by Mark Hyman, M.D., click here.
For more on personal health, click here.