We are learning that a specific set of lifestyle circumstances have contributed to the average increase of 7 inches in women’s waist sizes from the 1960s to the 21st century. We now know that excess glucose in the bloodstream is the primary contributor to this expanding waistline. All calories are not equal in bringing this condition about. Quick digesting carbohydrates in the presence of very little regular hard exertion is the primary cause. This condition rapidly raises insulin which signals the body to store the food as fat and not to allow fat cells already in the body to open their stores of energy. An excess of insulin in the bloodstream has been very rare in human history. For somewhere around 200,000 years our ancestors lived on a diet of shellfish, green plants, fish, rarely available fruits, small game, mushrooms, eggs, insects and grains like wild rice, (when they naturally ripened once a year). As can be readily seen, there was very little carbohydrate, let alone quick digesting carbohydrate on the menu for a very long time! The sensation of any type of faint sweetness usually signaled that the food was good to eat. Therefore an apple, for example, was found to be good to eat. It turns out that this sweet taste motivation system is wired into the dopamine neurotransmitter network in the brain. This is the brain system that all addictive substances affect. In the past this was not a problem because of two factors that we no longer have. First of all, the natural diet contained very few quick digesting carbohydrates. Secondly, whatever food was acquired usually required substantial physical exertion to obtain. High level exertion is a sugar burner to a large degree. Both of these factors acted naturally to keep the insulin level low. We now no longer have the work-related physical exertion and the average American adult eats approximately 150 pounds of sugar a year! The hallmark of an addiction is higher and higher volumes of the addictive substance. The fast food industry has been the perfect enabler by supplying a huge amount of food, (especially super sized carbs) at a dirt cheap price. It should be obvious where the crux of our weight control problem lies.
Women’s Special Challenges
This picture is even more complicated for women. Women naturally run 50% lower than men on another important neurotransmitter: serotonin. A low level of serotonin in the brain has been associated with anxiety, depression and a generally unpleasant mood state. It is easy to see why women try to manage this negative brain chemistry situation. There are two ways to do this. The first and by far most common way is to eat (or drink) quick digesting carbohydrates which raises dopamine, opioid, and serotonin levels. This raises serotonin by causing a surge of insulin which clears all the amino acids in the blood stream except tryptophan. Tryptophan is the nutrient that serotonin is made from. Tryptophan then has no other amino acid competitors to keep it from crossing the blood brain barrier. Without this action and in the absence of physical exertion tryptophan is blocked by branched-chain amino acids like leucine, valine etc. at the blood brain barrier and brain serotonin levels drop rapidly. It can be seen that an addictive eating pattern is tied to a fattening, insulin-spiking lifestyle. Making matters worse the spikes in the insulin pathway make women hungry more often and disrupt the normal ghrelin, (hunger hormone) leptin, (satiation hormone) pattern. The final insult in this “quick carbomania” lifestyle is the state of mind it brings on. It produces a lethargic, unmotivated mindset. The phrase “fat and happy” might apply here. American women are unintentionally getting “waisted” by their eating habits!
The other way to address this challenge is to eat a lower quick digesting carbohydrate, higher protein diet and incorporate daily physical exertion into women’s lifestyles. This muscle work, which merely imitates the pattern of the past, will make the branched-chain amino acids go where they are supposed to: the muscles. There they will be used to replenish and repair. This allows tryptophan to cross the blood brain barrier naturally and produce serotonin. This exertion also raises dopamine, noradrenaline and opioid levels. This practice along with other natural lifestyle habits we will outline can keep women out of this self-destructive lifestyle trap. Our goal is for American women to have their own “Banding Together” Program. We can teach it to you!
More Not So Sweet News
Another very important related piece of information is that artificially sweetened drinks do not help this shape-stealing situation. The super sweet taste raises dopamine levels which causes you to crave foods that will complete this chemical “high”. The foods that fit this bill include unnatural quick digesting carbohydrates which raise serotonin and opioids. It’s no wonder that french fries are the number one restaurant order for females in the U.S. Women think they are being “good” by ordering the diet drink. They don’t realize that they are addicted to the effect of the entire combo meal.
The Bottom Line
In summary, if you are a woman struggling to control your weight (or as we would say shape) don’t feel bad. It is not your fault! We will enlighten, empower and encourage you to adopt the intelligence you need to regain control of your life!