Unrefined Carbohydrates Encourage Weight Loss

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Our bodies need carbohydrates more than any other substance. Our muscle cells and brains are designed to run on carbohydrates. Carbohydrate-rich foods, when consumed in their natural state, are low in calories and high in fiber compared with fatty foods, processed foods, or animal products.

Fat contains about nine calories per gram, but protein and carbohydrates contain approximately four calories per gram. So when you eat high-carbohydrate foods, such as fresh fruits and beans, you eat more food and still keep your caloric intake relatively low. The high fiber content of (unrefined) carbohydrate-rich food is another crucial reason you will feel more satisfied and not crave more food when you make unrefined carbohydrates the main source of calories in your diet.

It is usually the small amount of added refined fat or oils that makes natural carbohydrates so fattening. For example, one cup of mashed potatoes is only 130 calories. Put just one tablespoon of butter on top and you have added another 100 calories.

Protein, fat, and carbohydrates are called macronutrients. Vitamins and minerals are referred to as micronutrients. All plant foods are a mixture of protein, fat, and carbohydrate (the macronutrients). Even a banana contains about 3.5 percent protein, almost the same as mother's milk. Fruit and starchy vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, corn, carrots, and butternut squash, are predominantly carbohydrate but also contain some fat and protein. Green vegetables are about half protein, a quarter carbohydrate, and a quarter fat. Legumes and beans are about half carbohydrate, a quarter protein, and a quarter fat.

One of the principles behind the health and weight-loss formula in this book is not to be overly concerned about the macronutrient balance; if you eat healthful foods, you will automatically get enough of all three macronutrients as long as you do not consume too many calories from white flour, sugar, and oil. So don't fear eating foods rich in carbohydrates and don't be afraid of eating fruit because it contains sugar. Even the plant foods that are high in carbohydrate contain sufficient fiber and nutrients and are low enough in calories to be considered nutritious. As long as they are unrefined, they should not be excluded from your diet. In fact, it is impossible to glean all the nutrients needed for optimal health if your diet does no contain lots of carbohydrate-rich food.

Fresh fruits, beans and legumes, whole grains, and root vegetables are all examples of foods whose calories come mainly from carbohydrate. It is the nutrient-per-calorie ratio of these foods that determines their food value. There is nothing wrong with carbohydrates; it is the empty-calorie, or refined, carbohydrates that are responsible for the bad reputation of carbs.

Report: Should Restaurants Manage Caloric Intake?

According to Andrew Bridges of the Associated Press a new report suggests restaurants should monkey with menu offerings and portions sizes to help fight fat:

Today, 64 percent of Americans are overweight, including the 30 percent who are obese, according to the report. It pegs the annual medical cost of the problem at nearly $93 billion.

Consumer advocates increasingly have heaped some of the blame on restaurant chains like McDonald's, which bristles at the criticism while offering more salads and fruit. The report does not explicitly link dining out with the rising tide of obesity, but does cite numerous studies that suggest there is a connection.

The report encourages restaurants to shift the emphasis of their marketing to lower-calorie choices, and include more such options on menus. In addition, restaurants could jigger portion sizes and the variety of foods available in mixed dishes to reduce the overall number of calories taken in by diners.

Bundling meals with more fruits and vegetables also could improve nutrition. And letting consumers know how many calories are contained in a meal also could guide the choices they make, according to the report. Just over half of the nation's 287 largest restaurant chains now make at least some nutrition information available, said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Research: Overweight and Acid Reflux

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine contends that even slight weight gain can cause gastrointestinal problems. The research most directly points to the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Amanda Gardner of Healthday News reports:

"This sheds some light that any excess weight over ideal body weight may have a detrimental effect," said study author Dr. Brian Jacobson, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

"Even if you were of normal weight and experienced a gain, you are more prone to reflux," added Dr. Anthony A. Starpoli, a gastroenterologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

GERD occurs when the valve between the stomach and the esophagus fails to close properly. As a result, the contents in the stomach, including stomach acid, can spill up into the esophagus, leading to erosion of the esophagus and, in some cases, esophageal cancer.

Researchers have already established that overweight and obese people are at an increased risk for GERD, but there have been questions about the link between body-mass index (BMI) and GERD.