Health, Healing & Hummingbirds

Scientific information on improving serious disease through nutrition and treating the causes of disease
 – summarised from 100 of the world’s most cutting-edge health books

Macronutrient ratios

Macronutrient ratios refer to the amount of fat, carbohydrate and protein we eat.


The easiest way to work out your own healthiest macronutrient ratios is to eat good quality fat and protein until satiety, eat non-starchy vegetables abundantly and then to add the amount of fruit and starchy vegetables that doesn’t upset your blood sugar levels, doesn’t decrease your satiety level after meals or cause weight gain.


This will probably be somewhere between 50 and 150 grams of carbohydrate daily.


Your body will let you know how much protein and fat it needs and most of us will not overeat these foods, in the absence of a too-high carbohydrate intake.

 

Fat should generally make up 30 – 60% of calories daily. We need at least 30% of our calories to come from fat to be healthy.


At least 2-3% of this 30% should be in the form of omega 6 fatty acids, and at least 1-1.5% should be in the form of omega 3s – from food or from a combination of food and supplements. In the case of a 2000 calorie diet this would mean 2.2-3.3 grams of omega 3 fatty acids daily, and 4.4 – 6.7 grams of omega 6 fatty acids. These percentages should be doubled during pregnancy, explains lipid expert Mary Enig Phd.


Too much protein is harmful to the kidneys and high fat diets are far healthier than very high protein diets, which can stress the kidneys. Eating too little protein is also undesirable. Protein should generally make up 15 – 30% of daily calories.


Very low carobohydate diets stress the kidneys over the long term and can also adversely affect nutrient intake. Carbohydrates should generally make up roughly 15 – 40% of daily calories, depending on individual carbohydrate tolerance and whether or not there is a need or desire to lose weight.

Macronutrient ratios for weight loss

If you’re trying to lose weight, be aware that the percentage of your diet’s calories that come from carbohydrate, fat and protein is far more important than merely how many calories you are eating. High carbohydrate diets can cause weight gain, even when calories are low in people that don’t deal with carbohydrates well and/or have insulin resistance.


The idea is not to eat as few carbohydrates as possible, but to find the amount of daily carbohydrate intake that you feel best on and which allows you to maintain a healthy weight. It is a ‘controlled carb’ diet.


Slow weight loss is best and is best achieved (as the books listed below explain) by eating good quality proteins and fats to satiety and limiting carbohydrate intake to 50 to 100 grams daily. Trial and error is the only way to work out what amount is best for you.


This should be made up of mostly non-starchy vegetables and a small amount of fruit. There is no need to restrict non-starchy vegetable intake and these vegetables are best eaten in large quantities. Fat will make up 30 – 60% of daily calories. There is no need to restrict calories to a low level or to exercise to lose weight. Dropping caloric intake too low can actually impede weight loss in the longer term. There is no need to count calories even if you are trying to lose weight and 2000 – 2500 calories a day is probably ideal, according to Sally Fallon’s excellent book Eat Fat, Lose Fat.


For maintenance of weight loss, carbohydrate intake is then raised to 75 – 150 grams daily, Trial and error is the only way to work out what amount of carbohydrate is best for you to make you feel well and to maintain your weight loss.


All dietary changes are best made gradually.

Some extra notes

Is a low GI diet important? The glycaemic load of a food – how much carbohydrate it contains – is far more important than its listed glycaemic index. The index only tells you how fast the carbohydrate is released.

For example, carrots have a much higher glycaemic index rating than brown rice, so according to the GI brown rice is a healthier choice for those with insulin resistance. Carrots are rated as almost as bad as eating pure sugar according to the GI, it’s ridiculous! Yet when you look at the GL of carrots and brown rice, the story is very different.

Half a cup of raw chopped carrots has 5.8 g of carbohydrate in it, plus 1.7 g of fibre. (When calculating ‘net carbs’ or ‘digestible carbs’ the amount of fibre is subtracted from the total carbohydrate score, as the fibre lessens the effect of the carbohydrate on insulin levels). Half a cup of cooked brown rice contains around 23 g of carbohydrate, 3 g of which is fibre.

The most important thing is to choose the most nutrient dense and unprocessed foods. Processed foods which have a low GI are not good choices. Many low GI foods are very high in carbohydrate.

Advice to 'eat more whole grains' and to 'cut down on sugar' is counter-productive.
So-called 'complex' carbohydrates such as pasta and rice affect the body just the same way as do simple sugars.



Very low carb diets:
These diets may be fine for some individuals but some doctors comment that those patients with certain metabolic or adrenal problems and that have problems converting protein to carbohydrate easily do best when they take in a moderate amount of carbohydrate through their diet.

M.E. patients and other seriously ill patients may feel better long-term on diets which contain at least 50 - 70 grams of carbohydrate daily and are best advised to avoid very low carbohydrate diets altogether. These diets place too much stress on an already stressed system.

Eating 20 grams of carbohydrate or less daily may be problematic long term and cause stress on the kidneys and detoxification systems as well as unnecessarily restricting nutrient-dense vegetable intake.


Hypoglycaemia: The best diet to control hypoglycaemia is the diet outlined above in the section on weight loss. Eating 6 or more small meals daily may also help, along with making sure to have some fat or protein with every carbohydrate food you eat and spreading your carbohydrate intake out throughout the day.

Eating ample protein and fat is important in controlling hypoglycaemia as is working out the amount of carbohydrate your body copes best with each day.

If you prefer a more mathematical approach you could go to a website like www.nutritiondata.com or www.whfoods.com and try to put together a diet where your calories are made up of 20% protein, 50% good fats, and 30% (low glycaemic load) carbohydrates. See how you feel after a few weeks on such a diet and then make any changes that you think may suit you better.


Insulin resistance: Weight loss and weight gain independent of dietary changes are both common in M.E. but if you seem to be suddenly gaining more weight (particularly around the stomach area), you may have developed a problem with insulin resistance (in women this may also be diagnosed as polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS).

25 – 40% of the population may suffer with insulin resistance and the percentage of those that have a milder problem with carbohydrates may be as high as 75%. Some people deal with carbohydrates in food very well, but many of us do not!

The symptoms of insulin resistance include: tiredness, intestinal bloating, hypoglycaemia, feeling sleepy or passing out after eating high carbohydrate foods such as pasta or desserts, feeling hungry or craving something sweet after you’ve just eaten, weight gain particularly around the stomach or buttocks, skin tags, feeling agitated and moody with almost immediate relief once food is eaten and/or dark patches of skin (especially around the neck).

Excessive intake of carbohydrates is usually what causes insulin resistance but insulin problems are also a part of M.E. (abnormal glucose tolerance tests are very common in M.E.) Whatever the cause, insulin resistance is a pre-diabetic condition which can and should be tested for and which if not treated (with diet) can lead to type 2 Diabetes.

Treatment involves lowering your insulin levels with a controlled carbohydrate diet. This is essential! Traditional low fat/high carbohydrate diets will exacerbate the problem.

More information on macronutrient ratios

Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Sally Fallon.

The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson.

Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas

The Perfect Health Diet by Paul Jaminet.

The Schwarzbein Principle by Dr Schwarzbein.

Trick and Treat by Barry Groves.

Why We Get Fat and Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes.

‘All of us, regardless of our ideologies, ethnic backgrounds or anything else are genetically “hunter gatherers” and 99.99% identical to humans living 40,000 to 100,000 years ago. We are, in effect, creatures of the Ice Age and designed to consume a diet rich in animal source foods and natural fats, together with a variety of fibrous plant matter. Vegetarianism and veganism are modern day ideas founded more in ideological principles than principles of human physiology and anthropological evidence.

Animal source foods are only as healthy as their sources, and no one should be eating hormone- and antibiotic-laden, feedlot-fattened, or unethically-treated meat sources. The alternative is not vegetarianism/veganism…the alternative is finding healthy, ethically- or naturally raised sources of these animal source foods that we have consumed and have been physiologically adapted to eating as hominids for the last 2.6 million years.

Ethical livestock farmers are out there…and we should all be giving them and NOT the commercial livestock industry our business. Plant foods are wonderful, too, and a source of many antioxidants and phytonutrients needed by us more today than ever before. They are far from the entire picture for health, however.’ Nora Gedgaudas

‘One factor that doesn't affect a food's index is the configuration of its sugars, that is, if they're joined together in long chains, like in pasta, or if they're separate, like in sweet foods. This comes as a great surprise to most people because we've always been told that complex carbohydrates are healthy and simple sugars aren't, but the fact is that our tummies can't tell the difference between the two. Before any carbohydrate is taken up into the blood it must be broken down into simple sugars, and the rate that this occurs, that is, the glycaemic index, doesn't depend on the initial configuration. Complex carbohydrates are not healthier than simple sugars.

     The glycaemic load of a meal has a much greater effect on its insulin index than its glycaemic index, so the total amounts of carbohydrates that we're consuming should be the focus of our efforts if we're trying to control blood sugar levels. Even if we chose high indexed carbohydrates, if we don't eat too many of them our blood sugar won't be too out of control. Eating a small amount of "bad" carbohydrates is not unhealthy. But as we've just learnt, too many "good" carbohydrates are still bad for us.

     Having said all of this, if we choose the really good carbohydrates, the vegetables that are high in fibre and therefore not very carbohydrate dense, we'll find it quite difficult to eat too many of them at once anyway. There are plenty of exceptions to watch out for though. Some breads and some pastas have low indices but are still very dense. Even some breakfast cereals are now claiming to be "healthy" because of their lowish index. Remember though that one bowl-full still delivers a high glycaemic load and therefore still has a dreadfully high insulin index.’ Get Zoned Australia