Nutrition Health

For those readers in a hurry, it is suggested that they just watch two videos. The first is entitled Intermittent Fasting Guide by Dr. Mike Hanson and the second entitled Nature Wants Us to Be Fat by Prof. Richard Johnson, both to be discussed further. Based on the Pareto 80/20 principle, a 20% effort might return 80% of the results and provide the incentive to learn more.

Note: Despite reference to the 80/20 principle, the scope of nutritional health is a complex issue and subject to individual variance, such that the reader is urged to research and decide what factors best apply to them. Our metabolism can depend on many factors, genetics and dietary, such that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. In this context, this essay will primarily focus on providing a general outline with links to external references, often in the form of short overview videos, where various nutritional factors might be helped by modifying our eating habits.

Anybody reading this essay is doing so from the perspective of their own consciousness, which we will simply assumed to be an emergent property of the brain. Despite the obvious importance of the brain in creating our perception of the world, it only represents about 2% of our body weight. The only reason for starting this discussion with this somewhat tangential issue is that our physical existence, including the brain, depends on some level of conscious decision-making relating to a multitude of metabolic processes that take place throughout our body, including the brain, simply in terms of what we choose to eat.

Note: So, as suggested, there is a somewhat circular dependency in that our physical health often involves decisions, both conscious and unconscious, about what we choose to eat, even if buried in basic survival instincts. However, even if we are able to make more conscious decisions, if we are misinformed of the essential importance of nutritional health in terms of food types, vitamins and minerals, our decisions may cause more harm than good.

The full complexity of these metabolic processes is way beyond the general scope of this discussion, for even medical science is still only beginning to understand the full details of this complexity. For this complexity encompasses the biochemical and molecular processes taking place within and between an estimated 30 trillion cells in a human body.

So, how can nutritional health resolve this complexity?

While we may only have a limited conceptual understanding of the nutritional requirements of the 30 trillion cells needed to sustain life, any conscious participation in this process is often reduced to what we decide to eat and drink. While it would appear that evolution has been quite kind to us in this division of responsibility, it is not clear that evolution and modernity has always helped us best understand what we should eat, as opposed to what we would like to eat.

Note: While most of us have lost the ability to survive in the natural world, on the timescale of physical evolution, humanity has not necessarily changed appreciably in its dietary needs from our hunter-gatherer roots. However, the development of technology over just the last 100 years has caused a profound change in what we eat, and how often, which has not always helped us in terms of nutritional health.

Building on this introduction, reference might be made to an earlier discussion entitled Prevention versus Cure, which considered some of the negative impacts associated with the food and pharmaceutical industries. While the pharmaceutical industry is not the primary focus of this discussion, it might be realised that it may be a beneficiary of poor health in terms of the number of drugs it can sells as summarised in the following quote by Dr Matthias Rath.

The purpose and driving force of the pharmaceutical industry is to increase sales of pharmaceutical drugs for ongoing diseases and to find new diseases to market existing drugs. By its very nature, the pharmaceutical industry has no interest in curing diseases. The eradication of any disease inevitably destroys a multi-billion dollar market of prescription drugs. Therefore, pharmaceutical drugs are primarily developed to relieve symptoms, but not to cure.

Should you be willing to accept that there may be some truth in the statement above, we might then question how the food industry might be a beneficiary of the pharmaceutical industry. As indicated, the pharmaceutical industry may be the primary beneficiary of poor health, which this discussion will argue is invariably aggravated by poor nutrition. Therefore, we might understand why the pharmaceutical industry might finance erroneous medical research that misinforms the general public about what foods they should eat. For those interested in a more detailed overview of this type of misinformation - see video The Story of Fat: Why we were Wrong about Health and the role of Ancel Keys . The following quote by the Prevention Institute might be cited as criticism of the food industry:

The food industry is targeting children with junk food marketing. The food and beverage industry spends approximately $2 billion per year marketing to children. The fast-food industry spends more than $5 million every day marketing unhealthy foods to children. Kids watch about 10 food-related ads every day. Nearly all food advertisements viewed by children are for products that are high in bad-fats, sugar or sodium. Most (79%) are low in fiber. Nearly 40% of children’s diets come from added sugars and unhealthy fats. Only 21% of 6-19 year-olds eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. In 2010, the food and beverage industry spent over $40 billion lobbying congress against several regulations including those that would decrease the marketing of unhealthy foods to kids, and potential soda taxes.

However, a note of caution is necessary at this point, for while many of the external references are assumed to be reasonably authoritative sources of information, ongoing research into the complexity outlined is continuously revising nutritional advice. Even so, it is unclear how the Standard American Diet, as shown top below, was not the product of deliberate misinformation. In this respect, the information appears to have served the self-interests of the food industry and supported by what might be described as erroneous research that best suited the financial goals of the pharmaceutical industry.


As highlighted in the previous video reference, one of the unproved assumptions of the original American diet was that many deaths from heart disease could be linked to animal fats, which were assumed to cause an elevation of cholesterol in the blood. Therefore, if not regulated by a low-fat diet, cholesterol could narrow and block arteries preventing blood from reaching your heart, brain, or other organs. Ultimately, it was assumed that this condition could lead to strokes, heart attacks, or even heart failure – see video ‘The Cholesterol Conundrum’ for more details of the metabolic processes surrounding cholesterol. So, while the debate concerning what exactly constitutes a healthy niutritional diet continues, there appears to be growing evidence in general support a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet, as illustrated bottom above. However, while there appears to be general support for a LCHF diet, there is still considerable debate about the details within each food category, i.e. fats, protein and carbohydrates. Again, while this discussion cannot detail the full complexity of the debates, it might provide reference to more authoritative references.

Note: In the previous chart of the LCHF diet, we only see the food types that we might eat, although there is also a need for vitamins and minerals that also play a vital role in the many metabolic systems within the human body. Therefore, the reader might wish to review a 50-page summary paper entitled Nutrition for a better overview, as following discussion will only summarise this detail.

So, as broadly outlined, nutritional health can be linked to the foods we eat, i.e. fats, protein and carbohydrates, although additional references need to be made to essential vitamins and minerals. However, once these nutrients are absorbed within the gastrointestinal tract, much of the internal activity has to be explained in terms of various ‘hormones’ - see list of human hormones for an overview of the complexity. For the purposes of this summary, a hormone might be described as a molecular string produced by one organ, or gland, that acts as a signalling mechanism that then invokes an action in other cells and organs of the body. While many of these signalling hormones can be produced by certain mental states, e.g. stress, many others are triggered by the types of food we eat, e.g. sugar causes the pancreas to secrete insulin. From a preventative perspective, research is now beginning to understand how an unhealthy diet might disrupt the functioning of some of these critical hormone mechanisms and become the cause of an early death linked to heart attacks, strokes, type-2 diabetes, dementia and even cancer. However, as suggested in the chart below, the actual root cause of all these deaths might be linked to various forms of inflammation taking place throughout the body.

While we normally perceive inflammation as an external redness or swelling, it might also be linked to the body’s internal defence system, which can be aggravated by poor nutrition that then triggers various metabolic reactions involving both the immune system and various secondary hormone actions and responses.

Note: We now know that certain types of food can trigger inflammation, e.g. trans-fats, hydrogenated fats, sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed foods, as well as toxins, pollutants and stress. However, another cause of inflammation can often be traced to an imbalance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and food allergies – see The Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease for more details. Likewise, some individuals may have an adverse allergic reaction to certain foods – see Gluten Sensitivity and Lactose Intolerance for more details.

So, having simply made reference to some of the additional complexity surrounding nutritional health, we might return to the more mainstream issues associated with the low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet, i.e. fats, proteins and various forms of carbohydrates. Let us first consider the idea that there are Good Fats and Bad Fats, where the linked reference and chart right possibly provides enough general detail for us to now consider the more confusing categorisations of carbohydrates.

 

Note: Carbohydrates are often described as a non-essential food source. However, this classication is possibly best understood in terms of sugar, cerels, pastas and breads that might be avoided. As a generalisation, carbohydrates might be limited to glucose or fructose, which the body can use as fuel, especially in the muscles, heart and brain. However, high levels of glucose in the blood can lead to insulin resistance causing type-2 diabetes.

Again, for the general purpose of this discussion, vegetables and fruits might be considered essential to good nutritional health - see paper by Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition for more details. However, the idea of a healthy ‘balanced’ diet might be simplified to towards a moderation in everything we eat, although the LCHF diet supports a higher percentage intake of ‘good fats’. So, finally, we come to the issue of what is the best form of protein, which is a topic often debated in terms of vegetarian and carnivore diets, where the note below simply provides some initial references that help outline the various, and often contradictory, arguments.

Note: An obvious form of protein might be considered in terms of a Carnivore Diet, but then contradicted by the advocates of a Vegan or Omnivore Diets and further questioned by Protein is not Protein. Then there is the issue of Fasting & Low Carb Ketosis, which is also compounded by the issue of Fasting vs. Eating Less. The author of these videos has been selected, not necessarily as an authoritative source, but rather because the information is presented in a way that might be initially understood by the public at large.

While this discussion will return to the issue of intermittent fasting, there is possibly a need to first highlight the importance of some key vitamins and minerals. Again, while the full scope of the research into the functions of all the different vitamins and minerals in respect to nutritional health is beyond the scope of this discussion, the interested reader might wish to review the details in a paper entitled Vitamins and Minerals, where the following passage is taken from its introduction.

Vitamins are organic nutrients that are essential for life. Our bodies need vitamins to function properly. We cannot produce most vitamins ourselves, at least not in sufficient quantities to meet our needs. Therefore, they have to be obtained through the food we eat. A mineral is an element that originates in the Earth and always retains its chemical identity. Once minerals enter the body, they remain there until excreted. Compared to other nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates and fat, vitamins and minerals are present in food in tiny quantities. This is why vitamins and minerals are called micronutrients, because we consume them only in small amounts. Each of the vitamins and minerals known today has specific functions in the body, which makes them unique and irreplaceable. No single food contains the full range of vitamins and minerals, and inadequate nutrient intake results in deficiencies. A variety of foods is therefore vital to meet the body’s vitamin and mineral requirements.

However, while the quote above finishes with the suggestion that all vitamin and mineral requirements might be met if a suitable variety of foods are eaten, it is unclear whether this is possible in most practical diets due to depletion of these nutrients in the soil in which even healthy foods are being grown – see Soil Nutrients and Soil Degradation for more details. In addition, the requirements of vitamin-D cannot be met by food intake, but rather requires exposure to UVB sunlight, which most in the modern world are not getting – see Vitamin D Status and Viral Interactions for details.

Note: Analysis by Johns Hopkins researchers involving 450,000 people found that multivitamins did not reduce risk for heart disease or cancer. A study also tracked the mental functioning and multivitamin use of 5,947 men for 12 years found that multivitamins did not reduce risk for mental declines such as memory loss or slowed-down thinking. A study of 1,708 heart attack survivors who took a high-dose multivitamin or placebo for up to 55 months suggested that heart attacks, heart surgeries and deaths were similar in the two groups. Despite this evidence, 50% of all adults in the US, and 70% in the +65 age groups take a multivitamin regularly at a cost of $12 billion per year.

However, the findings above are related to the quality of multivitamin supplements does not necessarily negate the need for specific high-quality vitamins and minerals. As the previous paper Vitamins and Minerals has covered the basic details of most vitamins and minerals of primary interest to nutritional health, this discussion will only highlight the potential value of just two vitamins and two minerals, i.e. Vitamins D3 and K2 plus minerals zinc and magnesium.

Note: The following videos should only be considered as an introduction to the potential benefits of the two vitamins and two minerals highlighted, where the actual effectiveness may depend on the type and quantity of the supplement being used along with the age of the person – see How Vitamin D Affects Every Organ and Tissue, What is Vitamin K2, Its Benefits & Sources, The Amazing Zinc (Part 1): Its Main Function and The Important Unknown Purpose of Magnesium.

So, at this point, the discussion has tried to provide a broad outline of the issues surrounding nutritional health primarily using references that might be perceived to be more authoritative sources. Of course, in practical terms, even the scope of these general outlines may provide too much detail for most people to assimilate and incorporate into their everyday lives.

So, how might we rationalise this overload of information?

In part, the most important aspect of nutritional health to us personally is how we might best change our health for the better, both in terms of its quality and longevity. However, we might attempt to focus the discussion to just three issues, which might have most profound effects on human health. These issues will be simplified as follows:

  1. Levels of obesity,
  2. The immune system
  3. Alcohol consumption

Today, possibly the greatest threat to health in the modern world is not heart disease, cancer or even a pandemic virus, if being overweight or obese is a primary cause of inflammation. In 2020, it was estimated that over 60% of the UK adult population was overweight or obese with some variance within ethnicity, but where similar statistics are being repeated in most western populations, where obesity has nearly tripled worldwide since 1975.

Note: While there might be many causal factors associated with obesity, genetic, socioeconomic and environmental, statistics over just the last 50 years suggests that the food many now eat appears to be a primary factor, not only for obesity but poor health. This assertion might first be supported by two overview videos Dietary Guidelines & Junk Science and Dietary approach for Health.

However, if some growing percentage of the population is already overweight or obese, then these people possibly need to understand the issue of insulin resistance that will prevent many from losing weight long-term – see A New Paradigm of Insulin Resistance and Treating Metabolic Syndrome for more details. Therefore, it might be useful to have some understanding of the correlation between blood sugar level and insulin as shown in the following charts. In the chart left. The blood sugar level of obese people, who are invariably prediabetic or diabetic, spike higher due to insulin resistance disrupting the hormone mechanism in comparison to non-diabetic people, who generally will not be overweight. However, in the lower chart, we see impact of different types of nutrients, i.e. carbohydrates, protein and fat, also affect the blood sugar levels differently.


Note: At this point, some reference will be made to the science of fasting. However, while this video might be generally informative, it should not necessarily be considered authoritative, such that this discussion would urge caution about extended fasting beyond a few days, especially without suitable vitamin and mineral supplements. Therefore, a video by Dr. Mike Hanson entitled Intermittent Fasting Guide for 2022 might be a more helpful source of information for most people, especially those already overweight or obese.

If you are overweight or obese, you will probably have some level of insulin resistance, such that weight loss will require you to first address this issue. As highlighted in the Mike Hanson video above, going ‘cold-turkey’ into a strict diet plus additional fasting days may be counter-productive for long-term sustainability. However, once the worst effects of insulin resistance have been mitigated, the body may then start to adapt to a more healthy diet, such that a person might then consider the next step. From the perspective of this discussion of nutritional health, the overall goal might be best achieved by transitioning towards 2-meals per day, aligning to a 16:8 time-restricted eating plan, supported by a healthy LCHF diet inclusive of suitable vitamins and minerals. Somewhere within this process, a person is no longer eating to lose weight, but rather maintaining a long-term healthy lifestyle, which may also help maintain a healthy immune system.

How does a healthy immune system fit into the overall picture?

Generally, a healthy immune system can provide protection against infections, both from bacteria and viruses, which might be outlined in terms of two components. First, the innate immune system acts as a first line of defense against all manner of pathogens entering the body. However, by its general nature, the innate immune system only has a limited ability to stop all infections from spreading. In this respect, the adaptive immune system takes over if the innate immune system is not able to destroy the infection as it can adapt to destroy specific pathogens.

Note: As this discussion cannot detail the actual complexity of either the innate or adaptive systems, it might simply make reference to the links and chart above along with two general videos entitled Your Immune System and How to Repair Your Immune System. In addition, the reader might wish to consider the importance of certain vitamins and minerals – see video Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin D & Vitamin C- Immune System Health.

At this point, we might return to the issue of metabolic health, which was first raise in a video reference entitled Treating Metabolic Syndrome, but not directly discussed . So, by way of a general outline, metabolic syndrome is often described in terms of a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, which can put you at greater risk of coronary heart disease, strokes and other conditions that can damage blood vessels. In this respect, metabolic syndrome is estimated to affect 1 in 3 of adults over 50 in the UK, but where the root cause may be linked to poor nutritional health over earlier decades of their lives. While there is not necessarily an official definition of metabolic health, it is often diagnosed on the basis of 3 or more of the following conditions.

For many seeking medical advice from their doctor on any of these conditions might be prescribed a drug of some description, this advice is often influenced by the pharmaceutical industry that might be more focused on increasing their sale of drugs. However, there are also many authoritative sources suggesting that metabolic syndrome can be mitigated by adopting a healthier nutritional lifestyle. In essence, this lifestyle invariably means losing weight in the initial phase and exercising more regularly. However, over time, eating a healthy nutritional diet can help maintain blood pressure and blood sugar levels; especially if the individual stops smoking and cuts down on their alcohol consumption. This leads us to the third item in the previous simplified list of issues that can have serious effects on our nutritional health - Alcohol Consumption. At one level, drinking alcohol is built into the fabric of many societies as a means of celebration and relaxing with friends and family, which if kept within moderation will not necessarily lead to the negative side-effects that are always present to some degree.

Note: However, while the previous link is a dire warning of all the potential negative effects of alcohol, the video Alcohol Doctor Review might be more generally informative. Like many of the issues associated with metabolic syndrome, the negative effects of alcohol consumption can start decades before the scope of damage is even realized by the individual. As indicated, alcohol consumption often starts as a means of social interaction, especially when young, but can then lead to more regular and excessive drinking as a means to mitigate stress and possibly disappointments in later life. See brief outline report entitled Economic and Social Cost of Alcohol for wider details.

So far, the scope of the overall discussion has attempted to provide an outline of the many nutritional and metabolic processes that may affect health. However, there is one other factor that has to be taken into consideration, which is our genetic makeup, both as an individual and collectively as a species. In this wider context, the human species is the result of a long process of evolutionary adaptations to survive in a changing environment, but where our individual genetics may reflect some variance that may make us more, or less, susceptible to the modern world. In this respect, the discussion now wants to return to the video entitled Nature Wants Us to Be Fat by Prof. Richard Johnson, which was simply reference in the opening sentence without comment. For convenience, Prof. Johnson’s work will be described as the ‘fructose model’ and while there are still many details being researched and debated, it does appear to be supported by evolutionary adaptations.

Note: The video referenced above is part 1 of 3, where parts 2 and 3 do not seem to be available at the time of writing. However, Prof. Johnson has also written a book with the same title, which is available from Amazon, such that the interested reader can read further into details. On the basis of these references to the original source material, it is hoped the author will not object to some of the paraphrased quotes below taken from the book.

As to be highlighted in the following quotes, evolutionary adaptations are embedded into the DNA of all species, however, in the case of humanity, these evolutionary adaptations have possibly been outpaced by developments in human society; especially over the last 100 years. Let us try to set the scene with the first paraphrased quote.

Natural selection is the process whereby the environment in which a particular organism lives develops specific variations in its genetic makeup that are advantageous for survival, which can then pass to future generations. As such, whether the genetic change is advantageous is very much context dependent in terms of the environment in which it is trying to survive.

As previously inferred, significant evolutionary adaptations to the genetic makeup of a species are relatively slow, which then has to be put into context with the accelerating timeline of human progress. However, the mechanism of epigenetics may be another factor that may need to be taken into consideration, although it does not necessarily impact the following quote.

For the most part, environmental changes affecting life on our planet have been relatively slow. The incremental nature of these shifts in variables, like temperature and food availability, have therefore played well with the selection of random genetic variations that coded for survival in the face of these new environmental challenges.

Initially, these climate challenges were cause by all manner of natural disasters, such as major volcanic eruptions and meteor impacts, as well as natural cycles in the Earth’s temperature.

Our distant primate ancestors faced such an environmental challenge many millions of years ago. A cooling planet, over millions of years, with its consequent decline in food availability, presented an environmental pressure favoring genes that could maximize survival. This new genetic constitution was one that provided a survival advantage by allowing our distant forebears the ability to more aggressively make and store fat, a powerfully effective physiological advantage during times of food scarcity.

While these initial quotes are general statements about evolutionary adaptations, this discussion is focus on the issue of human health and how it might be affected by what we eat. Therefore, the idea of a ‘cooling planet’ might be considered in terms of the Last Glacial Period. One of the implications of this fructose model is that the last glacial period, which started some 12,000 years ago, profoundly affected the availability of fruits; especially in the more northern latitudes of Europe, which was the primary source of fructose, as opposed to glucose. For the purpose of the discussion, the main difference between glucose and fructose is how they are processed within your body and how a genetic change in humans may now make modern humans more susceptible to fructose, which is outlined in the next quote.

Fructose sugar uniquely serves as a critical signaling molecule, alerting the body to prepare for food scarcity by augmenting the creation and storage of fat as a caloric reserve and enhancing insulin resistance, the harbinger of type-2 diabetes. This fructose model highlights the central role of uric acid, the ultimate downstream product of fructose metabolism in the ever-increasing global issues related to all manner of metabolic diseases.

Having evolved a dietary dependency on fruits containing fructose, humanity developed a new genetic pathway in which fructose also produces more uric acid. As a generalization, uric acid is often considered to be a waste product, but where high levels can often be an indicator associated with metabolic syndrome. Likewise, when uric acid levels rise, it signals to your body to store fat. While this discussion will not pursue the details, reference might be made to the next quote and the diagram below.

 

The development of agriculture some 12,000+ thousand years ago led to change that was both sudden, in evolutionary terms, and dramatic. This event, called the Agricultural Revolution, confronted human physiology with intense environmental stress of a different sort. Within a few short millennia, calories derived mostly from carbohydrate-rich crops became abundant and ultimately dominated the human diet. The change was so rapid that adaptive genetics could not respond. As such, a threatening environment versus evolution mismatch continues to threaten our health to this very day. Our genetic makeup continues to prepare our bodies for food scarcity, making and storing fat whenever we are exposed to an abundance of carbohydrates, particularly fructose. In essence, we are constantly preparing for a winter that never comes.

As already outlined, obesity is defined as a condition of having excess fat, which is now generally considered as being unhealthy. The reason for this conclusion is that obesity is often associated with elevated blood pressure, high concentrations of triglycerides and high blood sugar levels, which ultimately can lead to diabetes over time.  Again, all of these conditions are collectively described as metabolic syndrome. However, the fructose model being outlined possibly provides a wider perspective.

In nature, obesity is not undesirable and is often necessary for survival, which helps many species survive winters, droughts and other disasters that may affect food sources. In this context, fat is not a bad thing, if you live in the wild.

 Of course, as outlined, most of humanity no longer has to survive in the wild, where access to carbohydrate containing glucose and fructose was seasonal or limited in supply. Unfortunately, the modern diet that includes concentrated fruit juice, soft drinks of all descriptions and many processed foods contain both fructose and glucose, which are often consumed in excessive quantities all year round.

Note: While various types of soft, energy and sports drinks collectively make up the largest contributors of added sugars in the modern diet, they are not the sole source. Another major source of sugar-laden products are grain-based desserts in the form of biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies and donuts along with a variety of fruit drinks.

 

To put the pie-chart above into some overall perspective, one study of over 85,000 packaged foods showed that 68% contained fructose, glucose or combined fructose-glucose caloric sweeteners. In addition, over 77% of all the foods we eat contain caloric sweeteners. As such, the average person would be consuming the equivalent of 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, which would account for 15-20% of their overall caloric intake. Disadvantaged and minority populations tend to ingest even more, possibly due to the lower cost of packaged foods that come with higher added sugars, as do adolescents and young adults. However, at this point, we might return to the role of the human brain in our dietary decision-making, which itself is dependent on the nutritional value of the foods needed to fuel a myriad of metabolic processes. In humans, as in all species, the survival of the brain depends on the food we eat, but where the human brain requires 20% of the calories consumed, even though it only represents about 2% of our body weight. This bias towards the brain is controlled by the hormone insulin as highlighted in the next quote.

The brain has a preferred fuel, glucose, which is carried in the blood from which it is also taken up in muscles, the liver and the brain as a fuel. For glucose to enter muscle and the liver, the hormone insulin is required, whereas it can enter most regions of the brain even when insulin is absent. The clever way animals respond to food shortage is by making insulin less effective at moving glucose into muscle and the liver. With less glucose going into these tissues, levels in the blood rise, thereby ensuring sufficient glucose for the brain. This phenomenon is called insulin resistance.

Let us consider one final aspect of the fructose model and how it might lead to an increase in obesity across the world.

The main reason people are eating more today is that many of us, and especially those of us who are overweight or obese, tend to be hungrier than usual because we do not get a sensation of being full after we have eaten. Normally, we get a sensation of satiety after a meal because a hormone called leptin tells a region in the brain called the hypothalamus to signal us to stop eating. Leptin is secreted by fat cells, and levels vary in relation to insulin levels and Body Mass Index (BMI). However, people who are overweight respond poorly to the leptin signal, something called leptin resistance, and so remain hungry longer.

While there are many more details associated with the fructose model, it may be sufficient to simply highlight another aspect of nutritional health, where the various links allow the interested reader to research further details. However, the 80/20 principle first cited at the start of this discussion does not require a person to understand all the details, but to only consider what might be the best things for themselves, personally, to eat and drink. As indicated, there is not a single solution that will suit everybody due to variance in genetics, existing health conditions and age, although the basic idea of nutritional health may still apply to all. So, while this discussion was never intended to be extensive or authoritative, it has attempted to provide external references to sources of information that might be useful in better understanding some of the wider issues underpinning nutritional health. However, while most people might not necessarily know the details, as outlined, most will probably know whether they are overweight, if not obese. However, if many of these people already understand that their unhealthy lifestyle invariably leads to illness and unhappiness, it raises one final question that extends beyond nutrition.

Why are so many people leading an unhealthy lifestyle?

While the question is straightforward enough, the answer is not. In many instances, many of the causes of an unhealthy diet, both in terms of eating and drinking, may be traced back to our childhood and the social and financial status of our parents. For our upbringing provides an initial benchmark of social norms that most of us tried to conform in order to best fit in with our peers. While education and opportunity might change our circumstances in later life, it is often difficult to forget the eating habits and preferences established in our formative years. Of course, by the time we reach our adult years and have a degree of independent thought, our priorities are often being driven by another set of hormones, such that the focus is not necessarily on living a healthy lifestyle. However, what we eat and drink can, and invariably does, have adverse consequences over the coming decades.

So, by the time most people reach 50+, their body will start to store more fat and loses muscle due to hormone shifts, which can be compounded by slowing metabolism. In the context of age, the issue of what constitutes nutritional health becomes increasingly important in order to help mitigate some of the worst effects of aging. In this respect, you will need to maintain a healthy brain in order to help you make conscious decisions about what is best to eat and drink, even though the conscious decisions may not always determine what we actually do.

Final Footnote: If you have many of the conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, which may stem from insulin resistance plus high-sugar consumption then cutting out high-sugar foods and drinks is an obvious starting point. In this respect, the LCHF diet and the fructose model previously outlined may provide ‘useful food for thought’. While calorie restrictions may be necessary for a person to initially lose weight; especially if they are already overweight or obese, the focus should be on determining a nutritional health diet that works for you as an individual, but also one that adapts to our changing requirements as we age.