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7 Healthy Sins, The “Bad” Things That Are Actually Good for You

Everything popular is wrong. Or so said Oscar Wilde.

You’ve been told by your friends and the media that certain things are bad for us, and the bashing is so common that many people are afraid to do the very things that would bring them one step closer to health. Yet, overwhelming evidence goes against this “common sense” knowledge.

Here is a list of 7 common things people think are bad for you, but are actually good for you, in no particular order.

1- Skipping Breakfast

We are told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. “Eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch, and have dinner like a pauper” is an old saying.

The truth is, for most of human history, people of all cultures have typically only eaten two meals a day: lunch and dinner, or sometimes breakfast and lunch, with a light dinner. The ancient Romans ate an early breakfast, a very light lunch, and a large dinner.

In all examples you can find in history, people only had two large meals a day, and sometimes skipped the third one entirely.

The word “breakfast” in French (déjeuner) also means “breaking the fast,” but actually means the lunch meal, because that’s when people had their first meal of the day (breaking the fast). Eventually, as French people got wealthier, they started having something in the morning, and came up with the term “little breakfast” (petit déjeuner) to describe that morning meal.

Having regular meals is important, but skipping breakfast or any other meal occasionally does not have the terrible consequences that are expected.

A healthy person, with a healthy blood sugar, can easily skip breakfast without the terrible “blood sugar crash” that people expect when they don’t eat anything in the morning. In fact, if you can’t skip breakfast without feeling bad, it typically reflects the poor state of your health and your reliance on stimulants like coffee and sugar.

A recent study published in the Journal of Physiology showed that working out on an empty stomach has tremendous health benefits

(http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/15/phys-ed-the-benefits-of-exercising-before-breakfast/)

Having a big breakfast before a workout, or in general, is especially bad for you. If you have a big breakfast, you should only do so after working out. Researchers found:

 “The men who ate breakfast before exercising gained weight, too, although only about half as much as the control group. Like those sedentary big eaters, however, they had become more insulin-resistant and were storing a greater amount of fat in their muscles.

Only the group that exercised before breakfast gained almost no weight and showed no signs of insulin resistance. They also burned the fat they were taking in more efficiently. “Our current data,” the study’s authors wrote, “indicate that exercise training in the fasted state is more effective than exercise in the carbohydrate-fed state to stimulate glucose tolerance despite a hypercaloric high-fat diet.”

Another reason people may not eat breakfast, or have only a coffee in the morning, is because they eat late at night or snack after dinner. Skip this. It’s much better to eat during the day and burn off the energy, than to eat at night when you’re sedentary and then go to bed.

2- White Potatoes

White potatoes have been accused of being one of the worst “junk foods” you can eat. Some people swear by the “don’t eat anything white philosophy,” and avoid white flour, white rice, white sugar, and of course… white potatoes.  It’s common knowledge that white potatoes turn into sugar, create a spike in blood sugar, and sugar makes you fat. Or is it?

Potatoes are one of the staples of civilization. Eating white potatoes is actually one of the healthiest choices you can make for your health. They cannot be classified along with white flour and white flour because white potatoes are a whole  foods. They contain:

– Fiber (lots of it!)

– Vitamins and minerals

– Water

Did you know that white potatoes contain as much potassium as bananas?

Recently the executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission got mad because of all the bad rap that potatoes get. So he decided to live for 60 days on potatoes only! His diet consistent of almost 20 potatoes a day, and about 2 Tbs. of oil. (http://20potatoesaday.com/)

In this diet that almost everybody would think is bad for you, he:

– Lost 22 pounds

– Lowered his blood sugar

– Dropped his cholesterol from 214 to 147

– Dropped his triglycerides from 135 to 75

Potatoes are far from being bad for health. Entire cultures have lived on potatoes — white potatoes — and stayed in perfect health. It’s not potatoes that are bad, it’s all the stuff people add on them, like butter, cheese, bacon, and sour cream.

3- Carbs in General

Not only are white potatoes getting bad rap, but also all carbs in general, including fruit. Don’t eat carbs, we are told, they make you fat because sugar is converted into fat!

It should be noted that the healthiest and fittest cultures in the world live on very high-carb diets. I noticed it myself when traveling around the world, that the people eating the most fruit and the most rice (like the Thai and Filipinos), where the also the healthiest. Even in those cultures, the people that got fat were the people that ate OTHER foods like animal products and refined sugars typical of a Western Diet.

Physiologically, it is much easier for the body to store fat than to take sugar, convert it into fat, and then store that. Fat is useable immediately and can be stored by the body, without any effort.

People think that eating carbs and fruit raises blood sugar too much and this in turns lead to health problems. In reality, high carb, low-fat diets are a proven way to LOWER blood sugar to stable levels. See the work of Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. McDougall, Dr. Barnard, Dr. Ornish, and many others.

Excess fat in the blood stream lowers insulin sensitivity and this in turns contribute to high blood sugar levels, and eventually diabetes. Carbohydrates that contain fiber (like fruit) have a positive effect on blood sugar.

I have yet to see someone eating at least 75% carbohydrates and less than 10% of calories coming from fat not lose weight, improve their blood sugar and get healthier. Think about your friends and family that are telling you that carbs are bad for you. Are they healthy and fit? I didn’t think so.

Follow the diet that works and notice that healthy cultures, athletes and people living today all follow a high-carb lifestyle. I’m talking about the people that STAY fit and healthy for life, not those that follow a diet temporarily to lose weight, but then gain it back in a few months or years.

ALL the longest lived cultures with the most centenarians living today follow a high-carb, plant based diet (http://www.bluezones.com/)  These include:

– The Okinawan

– The Island of Sardinia

– The 7th Day Adventists in the USA

– The Costa Ricans living in the Nicoya Peninsula

 4- Overeating

Overeating is bad, but only if you eat high-caloric density foods. In other words, if you eat foods that have a lot of calories per WEIGHT, then yes, overeating is bad for you. Those foods include:

– Butter

– ALL oils

– Bread and pastries

– Nuts and Seeds

– Animal Products

However, if you eat foods with a low-caloric density and high water content, you can eat as much as you want, and NOT gained weight. The lowest calorie density foods are in order:

– Green vegetables (100 calories/lb)

– Fruit (250 calories/lb)

– Whole Grains and Root Vegetables (450 calories/lb)

– Beans (550 calories/lb)

On the other hand, the caloric density of white bread is 1500 calories/lb, and oil is 4000 calories/lb!

Overeating on low calorie foods is just not possible, because they take so much bulk and volume, with their high water and fiber content. Therefore, if you eat those foods alone, you will not gain weight, no matter what! And you will probably lose weight.

 5- Pacing and Fidgeting

I’ve been told all my life that I pace and fidget too much. When I talk on the phone, I have trouble siting down and tend to pace frantically in the house! I also tend to move my feet and fingers constantly. I move a lot during my sleep. I’ve also never been overweight.

It may sound silly, but some studies have shown that fidgeting individuals have a higher metabolism and burn more calories per hours than “non-fidgeters” because of this “spontaneous activity.”

The point is not to develop new ticks you didn’t have, but instead to get your body moving as much as possible. Standing will burn more calories than sitting down. Just don’t sit still… you can do that when you’re dead.

6- Sunshine

Too much sunshine can cause DNA damage and age your skin. People are so frightened of skin cancer that they avoid sunshine entirely. That’s not a good idea.

Getting sunshine not only improves your mood and helps you make essential vitamin D, and has a surprisingly beneficial effect on overall health. A new study even came to the conclusion that exposure to sunshine has so many benefits that it outweighs the risks for skin cancer (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3320822/Sunshine-vitamin-D-and-heart-disease-protection-included.html)

Of course, many health seekers and raw foodists take this to the extreme and spend too much time in the sun, aging their skin and damaging it considerably.

I personally try to protect my face and am extremely careful in tropical environments, where sunshine can be brutal and unforgiving. No one enjoys having the lobster look!

7- Running

A lot of people seem to think that running is bad for you. When I tell people I like to run, they tell me, “Oh but you know it’s bad for your knees!” And then they remind me that all those marathon runners are not truly healthy.

Running, of course, is not a magical exercise. Running will not improve your strength training, and in itself, it’s not a truly complete fitness program. Running will also not cancel the benefits of a bad diet.

Yet, the remarkable thing about human beings is that we are truly designed for running. Human beings are natural-born runners. It’s the physical activity that takes us apart from other apes. (see: http://www.physorg.com/news95954919.html)

Some animals, like cheetahs, are built for speed, not endurance. Even your dog can easily outrun you with much less efforts. But don’t ask your dog or your cheetah pet to come join you on your next marathon!

Humans are built for endurance. Our waist is thinner and more flexible than other primates, and we cool off much faster (lack of fur). We can run in the heat, in the rain,  and over very long distances. The experience of ultra-marathon runners has certainly proved that!

Most animals develop heat stroke after running just 10 kilometers, but not humans. This probably enabled early humans to chase down some animals, like some tribes in Africa do, in order to survive. The practice is even called “persistence hunting.”

As for running being bad for joints, newer research proves that it’s not the case at all (http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1948208,00.html)

A study tracked over 1000 runners (quoted in the Time article)  for 21 years.

When the Stanford team tabulated the data, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2008, it found that the runners’ knees were no more or less healthy than the nonrunners’ knees. And It didn’t seem to matter how much the runners ran. “We have runners who average 200 miles a year and others who average 2,000 miles a year. Their joints are the same,” says James Fries, a professor emeritus of medicine at Stanford and the leader of the research group. The study also found that runners experienced less physical disability and had a 39% lower mortality rate than the nonrunners.

Of course, there are some risks to running. Running with bad form, or while eating a Standard American Diet (which may increase your risk of developing arthritis) will take its toll on the body.

If you enjoy running, there’s no reason to avoid it because some lazy, inactive people tell you that it will “ruin your joints.” Research clearly debunks that myth, and the fact that the human being is a natural runner explains why running is so popular.  I highly recommend getting some coaching from a trainer who can advise you on how to have proper running posture for better agility and to prevent injury. (Check out www.joyinmovement.com) Almost every person I see running on the trails have terrible posture and are actually straining themselves by running incorrectly.

 

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Do you find it hard to eat raw during the day, but difficult at night?

Do you find that when dinner arrives, you crave something more savory than a simple fruit meal or a smoothie?

Do you find that literally all of your cravings for cooked and/or unhealthy junk food occur after 5 p.m.?

Our “Savory Raw Dinner Recipes” DVD set is available for pre-orders:

http://www.fredericpatenaude.com/savory

 

Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.


Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.