Have you tried various diets and haven’t gone anywhere? This is because there are 5 metabolic mistakes that you could be making, that is keeping you far from achieving good metabolic health. Let’s understand these in detail.
#1. Focusing on calories and not hormones
One of the old pervasive myths about diet is that weight is solely tied to the number of calories consumed. It is an outdated way to look at food and metabolism. In reality, the type of food you eat is what more dramatically affects your metabolism. For e.g., nobody would say that 500 calories of french fries are the same as 500 calories of broccoli, so why do we treat it like that? Although calories do play a role, the most important factor in metabolic health is the hormonal balance which you are creating through your lifestyle.
#2. Inadequate consumption of micronutrients and phytonutrients
In the nutritional world, there is so much emphasis placed on macronutrients- like proteins, carbohydrates and fats, but a very little overall emphasis on micronutrients.
Macronutrients make for most of the calories we consume and are very important when eaten in balance. But we cannot forget the importance of micronutrients which are the vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, & antioxidants, they are compounds we need to thrive in life. Micronutrients play a central part in metabolism and in the maintenance of tissue function. They act as cofactors or helpers for many biochemical reactions that happen. An adequate intake, therefore, is necessary.
Eat a wide variety of colourful fruits and vegetables, and try to get in at least 10-12 different veggies and fruits in a week. Eat all the rainbow-coloured foods. This helps ensure that you get a good mix of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that the body needs. Phytonutrients are plant compounds found in colourful plant foods, which help in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, maintaining metabolic health and reducing inflammation. Adding herbs and spices to meals increases nutrient density and also enhances flavour.
Some antioxidant-rich foods to include are berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), pomegranate, green tea, citrus fruits (lemon, limes, gooseberry, oranges, kiwi, guava), and nuts and seeds.
#3. Overconsumption of anti-nutrients and toxins
Anti-nutrient is a substance that either prevents the absorption or depletes beneficial nutrients in the body. The toxin is a category of anti-nutrient, that includes pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, artificial sweeteners, heavy metals, and chemical agents found in our food.
- Sugar- Sugar and things that convert into sugar (like processed carbohydrates- chips, bread, pasta, biscuits etc), is a toxin that depletes vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, chromium, B vitamins and C vitamins. Sugar can also increase oxidative stress which causes inflammation when consumed in excess. This process accelerates the ageing process of our cells, and tissues and contributes to the development of chronic diseases. From a hormonal perspective, consuming sugar promotes higher levels of insulin (fat-storage hormone), which leads to fat storage, and higher levels of inflammation.
- Processed vegetable oils- such as those derived from corn, soy, canola, safflower, and peanuts. These oils are highly inflammatory and serve as inferior fuel sources. They create a significant amount of oxidative stress and trigger inflammation, which shuts down metabolism and contributes to the development of diseases.
- Plant-baseded defence systems- Plants have anti-nutrients called lectins, phytic acids and oxalates. Lectins trigger gut- inflammation. Phytic acid binds to major minerals like zinc and iron, and our body can’t absorb them. Oxalates are crystal compounds found in (beets, almonds, kale, spinach, quinoa, and chocolate) that can trigger problems with the kidneys, and urinary system, cause joint pain and increase brain inflammation. Not being able to tolerate foods high in oxalates is a sign of gut dysbiosis, fat malabsorption, yeast overgrowth, or issues with mold toxicity.
#4. Confusing thirst for hunger
When you don’t drink an adequate amount of water, the body can misinterpret thirst for hunger. This signalling is done by the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that controls the sensation of thirst and hunger. A dehydrated body can send a signal to the brain which it interprets as low blood sugar. This signal makes the body believe that it’s time to eat when it was just time to drink and hydrate.
Drink 2-3 litres of water every day, as a good starting point. Adding electrolytes or trace minerals to your water can hydrate you at the cellular level and promote metabolic health. Always drink water in small sips and don’t chug, to ensure that the minerals are not being washed out by the body. Water can also be incorporated by eating foods rich in water like melons, celery, cucumbers or drinking water flavoured with your favourite fruit or tea.
#5. Eating too often
In mid 90s, eating 6 small meals became all the rage, that was supposed to be the recipe for a fired metabolism. Unfortunately, that advice is the opposite of what we know is best for human physiology. The goal is not to stoke your metabolism, instead you want to improve your metabolic flexibility.
Metabolic flexibility is the ease with which your body switches between using fat and glucose as its primary energy source. When you are metabolically flexible, your body becomes extremely efficient with its energy. If it burns body-fat for fuel, it can go long periods without food with no drop in energy, strength and mental clarity. This means no more constant snacking to avoid a blood sugar crash or lows. Now, you can fast for long periods because you have built metabolic flexibility. What this means is you are going to find yourself consuming far fewer carbs, other quick glucose and insulin spiking foods, to get your energy fix. Lower insulin levels mean more fat burning and less inflammation.
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