I met with a group of friends for brunch recently. Several of them are in their sixties and worried about their weight. One friend announced he’d given up sugar to lose pounds, so I directed him to a good book called The Yeast Connection by William G. Crook. Crook talks about sugar as a toxin in the body and explains why it’s so hard to tame the sweet tooth. Happily, I took Crook’s advice years ago but admit my sugar cravings were the most difficult of my poor food habits to conquer. I was in my 40’s at the time and in a long, loving relationship with cheese cakes and hot fudge sundaes.
I gave up meat earlier, at the age of 11. Becoming a vegetarian was easier than giving up dessert, though my decision shocked my mother. She worried so much about my diet, she dragged me to a doctor, hoping he’d tell me I’d die if I gave up pork chops. To my joy, he supported my decision and lectured my mother about the health hazards of meat. The year was 1947, so Dr. Shaw was pretty advanced in his thinking. Thanks to him, I haven’t eaten one of my fellow creatures in 65 years. My mother wasn’t converted, however. She demands meat to this day. As she’s 97 and still going strong, I can’t feel smug about my diet.
New evidence is coming in, however, that not only links red meat to risks of heart disease and high cholesterol but shows that it produces physiological changes in the body:
Researchers have discovered that a chemical in red meat called carnitine promotes a type of gut bacteria that in turn, produces a compound called TMAO that literally hardens the arteries. (“The Real Danger of Red Meat,” The Week, April 26, 2013 pg. 18)
Vegan vegetarians, by comparison have fewer of this gut bacteria which leads researchers to conclude that the bacteria living in our digestive tracts are “dictated by our long-term dietary patterns.” (Ibid, pg. 18)
In sum, sugar and red meats produce enzymes in our digestive tracts that induce cravings for foods these gut bacteria need to survive. We may think we’re in the mood for a New York steak, but our parasites are calling the shots. What’s more, when we satisfy those cravings, more bacteria grow to create stronger and stronger cravings. As the saying goes, ‘We are what we eat.”
(Courtesy of www.revolutiongreens.com)