There is an old saying that “you are what you eat.” The thing is that this isn’t just a saying or grandmother’s wisdom. There is a ton of scientific evidence to support the fact that the food you ingest has a very real impact on you. It can alter both your emotional and your physical health. This is true from the inside out and the impacts can be dramatic in a short period of time. TSLMS is committed to the health of both our members and our members’ clients, as well as that of the general public. And while we are focused largely on beauty, that beauty is inextricably linked to health. Nutrition is the basis of good health, along with exercise, hydration and sleep. So, let’s talk diet.
What We Learned From “Super-Size Me”
Morgan Spurlock went out on a very big limb a few years ago, partially as an experiment, and partially to prove a point about the very real impact that food choices can have on your body (health and looks). He produced and starred in a documentary film in which he ate literally nothing except McDonalds for an entire month. Released in 2004, the movie and Spurlock’s diet, had an immediate and very real impact.
The film documents this lifestyle’s drastic effect on Spurlock’s physical and psychological well-being, and explores the fast food industry’s corporate influence, including how it encourages poor nutrition for its own profit.
Spurlock ate at McDonald’s restaurants three times per day, eating every item on the chain’s menu at least once. Spurlock consumed an average of 20.9 megajoules or 5,000 kcal (the equivalent of 9.26 Big Macs) per day during the experiment. An intake of around 2,500 kcal within a healthy balanced diet is generally recommended for a man to maintain his weight. As a result, the then-32-year-old Spurlock gained 11.1 kilograms (24 lb), a 13% body mass increase, increased his cholesterol to 230 mg/dL (6.0 mmol/L), and experienced mood swings, sexual dysfunction, and fat accumulation in his liver. It took Spurlock fourteen months to lose all the weight gained from his experiment using a vegan diet supervised by his then-girlfriend, a chef who specializes in gourmet vegan dishes.
The reason for Spurlock’s investigation was the increasing spread of obesity throughout U.S. society, which the Surgeon General has declared “epidemic”, and the corresponding lawsuit brought against McDonald’s on behalf of two overweight girls, who, it was alleged, became obese as a result of eating McDonald’s food (Pelman v. McDonald’s Corp., 237 F. Supp. 2d 512). Spurlock argued that although the lawsuit against McDonald’s failed (and subsequently many state legislatures have legislated against product liability actions against producers and distributors of “fast food”) as well as the McLibel case, much of the same criticism leveled against the tobacco companies applies to fast food franchises whose product is both physiologically addictive and physically harmful.
The documentary was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and won Best Documentary Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America.
Morgan fell apart both physically and mentally very quickly. Now, granted he took his diet to the extreme and most people do not eat the way he did. However, we all took note and most of us in the medical field were not at all surprised by the results – however we may have been at the magnitude and the speed. The point, however, was well taken. A diet like that will break a person down. A diet, on the other hand, full of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains can build a body up.
The Gut’s Reaction to Food
The movie Morgan Spurlock became famous for was not science. It followed one man, eating poorly, over a month. A more reliable study looked at the impact of such eating habits on the microbiology of our guts (Nature Reviews – Gastroenterology & Hepatology). The summary of those findings were reported as follows:
Common multifactorial diseases in both industrialized and developing countries are often related to diet, yet current nutritional approaches aimed at their treatment and prevention are of limited efficacy.
- Diet contents and quantity have a major role in shaping the human microbiota composition and function.
- Complex interactions between nutrients and microorganisms dictate beneficial or detrimental outcomes to host health.
As pointed out in an article on WebMD, gut health is heavily intertwined with overall health. “The bacteria live throughout your body, but the ones in your gut may have the biggest impact on your well-being. They line your entire digestive system. Most live in your intestines and colon. They affect everything from your metabolism to your mood to your immune system.”
It is no wonder the market for pre- and probiotics is so big.
The Food We Eat Impacts Our Gut Bacteria
While there is some variation as to how different foods will impact different people, there are some overall commonalities. Live Science wrote a piece that explains the differences. In it they point out that, “New research finds that the types of foods people eat really do impact the makeup of their gut microbiomes. However, the same food can have opposite effects in two different individuals. That means that the specifics of how diet will influence any given person’s gut are still a mystery. A lot of the response of the microbiome to foods is going to be personalized, because each person has that unique mixture [of microbes] that’s special only to them…” In many cases lack of gut health is related to inflammation caused by a reaction to the food eaten. (Source).
In spite of this we know that there are some rules of thumb that we can go by which the average person can rely on to have good health, which translates into looking and feeling their absolute best. These diets will largely avoid overly processed and fast foods and will focus instead on the consumption of what we all consider a healthy and balanced diet.
Many sugars seem to promote inflammation and many spices seem to have anti-inflammatory effects.