Ep 55 | My PSA: Why Semaglutides Aren't A Weight Loss Miracle Drug + Why Our Healthcare System and Guidelines Are Failing Us
Hey, life boosters. This is Dr. Amelia health and life coach and veterinarian here to help you ditch the Yo-Yo dieting, people pleasing, and perfectionism by breaking the norm and living a life that energizes you from within.
All right, so the episode today is a topic that I am so passionate about. This is going to be a conversation about why we really need to be breaking the norm. It is also a public service announcement. This was motivated by a newer weight loss drug called Wegovy, and if you are overweight or obese, there's a very good chance that your doctor is going to recommend this to you. And there are some things that are very important for you to be aware of.
But even if you're not looking to lose weight, this is a very important conversation. It's about so much more. This is about why the entire narrative around health in our country is misleading and needs to change. We are living in an environment where if you do what is normal, you will be sick, overweight, and or unhappy, and that's not okay. I'm going to be sharing so much of why this topic and why the messages and narrative around health - it just, it, it hurts my heart, and this is why I'm speaking out about it, because this norm needs to change.
When you look around, it's so clear that the current norm isn't working. The norm is to be sick, overweight, and or unhappy. Right now:
- 41% of Americans are obese (at least that was the last number that they had)
- Almost three out of every four Americans are overweight
- In 2018, so that was a while ago, 51% (more than one in two Americans) was living with at least one chronic condition and over one in four was living with two or more
- The percent of Americans on anti-anxiety medication and anti-depressant medications is growing rapidly.
So when I say that the norm is to be sick, overweight, and or unhappy, I really mean it. All of this is increasing at an alarming rate, and that is not okay. And as we're going to be talking about the narrative and the people who you trust to be giving you recommendations about how to be healthy, there is so much corruption behind that, and so many of the messages are so misleading, and I really want you to be aware of that.
My biggest pet peeve is when people tell me that things are never going to change. I refuse to accept that and that belief is just confirmation bias. You know, if you have that belief that things are never going to change, then number one, you're not motivated to change, but you're also just going to look for the proof around you that it's not going to change. And I refuse to accept that because I know that change is possible. I know that we can break the norm and create a new norm where this is not our reality. I see change happen every single day:
- I see it when I look at my clients and I see in their eyes the light bulb moments and that feeling of hope and excitement when they realize that things can be so different
- When they experience that they don't have to follow all these rules.
- When they realize they don't have to feel stuck when they see the little changes in their life that they can make that are giving them so much more energy and life back.
So I refuse to accept that narrative that things are never going to change. But what I can agree with is that change is very unlikely to be starting at the top. It has to start at the bottom. It has to start one individual at a time. It can start with you.
And when you start making changes, not only is that going to help you to have so much more energy, to feel more in control and to feel more confident, but people around you will notice. People notice when you have more energy, you have this spark, this life people are going to notice and they're going to want to know what you're doing.
And my hope is that with this episode, you are going to be empowered with so much knowledge on how to start making changes that are going to have such a big impact in your life that people, they can't help but ask you what you're doing. And if you share this episode with everybody that you know, or if you start to make little changes that make people notice, you are going to start such a positive ripple effect. Because if you help to empower a few people around you and they help to empower those around them, we can create a tsunami of change that starts with a small ripple. And that's what I want you to be aware of today.
In this episode, you are going to be learning about why so much of the recommendations around health and the narrative around health is being influenced by big food and big pharma companies who benefit from you being sick, overweight, and or unhappy. They are the ones who are telling you how to treat your body and they're creating a toxic environment. It is not your fault if you're feeling stuck, but you can change. And that's what we're going to talk about.
So let's start by talking about this newer weight loss medication called Wegovy. Again, I think it's very likely that if you are overweight or obese, your doctor is going to recommend this. It’s one of, I think, four weight loss medications that work in similar ways. And this one is made by a company called Novo Nordisk. And it is extremely successful. They are growing very rapidly now.
How Wegovy works:
It is a glucagon like peptide one (GLP-1) receptor agonist, and the way that it works is it slows gastric emptying. It slows the rate that food is leaving your stomach, and that helps you to feel more full. It is given as a weekly injection. And the recommendation from this pharmaceutical company to doctors is to prescribe it based on bmi - even starting with kids over 12.
Now, even this alone, using the BMI to determine who is overweight is an oversimplification of weight. It's kind of like the calories in and calories out equation, which we'll talk a little bit more later because this is just looking at your height and weight. But what it's not looking at is your muscle, and you could have a lot of muscle and be quite lean and your BMI could be telling you that you're overweight. So that alone is just an oversimplification.
The temptation of Wegovy:
But, even assuming that you truly are overweight or obese, this is a medication that's going to be very tempting. If it's a medication that you can get weekly and it's going to just solve all your problems, which is the narrative around this medication, and your doctor is recommending it and you're not really having to focus on discipline and willpower or make any changes, I can absolutely see why it would be very tempting, but there are some things that you should really be aware of.
Now, the marketing that this company is using for this medication is around the narrative that obesity is mainly genetic or from factors that are out of your control. They're really downplaying the role that food and exercise has. Now we'll talk about why the whole approach to food and exercise just really isn't setting you up for success. But this message that obesity is just genetics and out of your control is extremely disempowering. It makes individuals feel like it's totally out of their control, and that is very convenient for a company that is profiting from you relying on a weight loss injection.
Now, here are some things that you should know about this medication that even your Dr. may not tell you, and these are some details that are left out of the conversation:
If you stop this medication, most of the weight comes back.
So this injection, this weekly injection, is intended for you to be on for life when you start it. That is so convenient for a company that is selling a weight loss medication, that they are saying that obesity is out of your control and that you need to be on this for life. Especially the fact that they're now talking about it being started in kids over 12 when over 70% of Americans are overweight and it could be starting in children. This is one hell of a blockbuster medication that's like a bigger hit than opioids.
There's a big old caution box because it causes thyroid cancer in rodents.
And all they say is that that hasn't been evaluated in humans and they just kinda leave it at that. Kind of interesting because a thyroid also controls your metabolism. But can we pause and think about that for a minute? All they say, they make it clear that there is this clear connection that it did cause thyroid tumors and cancer and rodents, and they just haven't tested it in humans likely, because that's not a very convenient finding for this company. So they're just recommending if you have a history of thyroid cancer in your family, yeah, probably don't use this medication. Yikes.I do worry that doctors are not going to mention this when talking about it as a weight loss option.
Novo Nordisk, the company that makes Wegovy, they are really influencing the narrative around obesity and the approach right now, and they are not the only one.
This is a very common theme that big food and big pharma companies have a massive impact on the narrative around nutrition and health and even the guidelines years back. This is Coca-Cola spent a massive amount of money really talking about how exercise was really the biggest thing - it was a lack of physical activity that was contributing to weight so that they could really downplay the role that their sugary beverages and products were having.
Big food and big pharma companies have so much money that they are able to fund research institutes and they are able to fund so much research that it then dilutes the unbiased research. So even when you're looking at studies from very reputable scientific journals, there can be a huge amount of bias and it can be very hard to see those conflicts of interest.
There was actually a study that showed that when looking at studies evaluating sugar sweetened beverages and weight gain and obesity, they looked at the studies that did have industry funding or potential conflicts of interest, and they found that those that were funded by industry or had personal conflicts of interest were five times more likely to have a conclusion or to find no positive association between those sugar sweet sweetened beverages and obesity than those that didn't have conflicts of interest. Isn't that scary? We'll talk a little bit more about that later in this episode, but what Novo Nordisk is doing is they are really key on this “obesity is out of your control”. Obesity is genetics.
So last month there was a 60 minutes episode where Dr. Fatima, Cody Stanford, who is a, an expert in obesity. She is an obesity medicine physician, educator and policymaker. She works for Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and she's heavily involved in public health and policies. She has an amazing resume and sounds like someone that you should really trust. So she was interviewed on 60 minutes and she said, quote:
“the number one cause of obesity is genetic. That means if you were born to parents that have obesity, you have a 50 to 85% likelihood of having the disease yourself. Even with optimal diet, exercise, sleep management, and stress management.”
Wow. That statement is so misleading.
For one thing, she doesn't reference any studies, and so what is the optimal diet exactly? Please tell me what optimal diet and exercise plan they did to determine that even when you're doing all the right things, that so much of it is out of your control. My guess is that if this is based on an actual study, they were focusing on the whole calories in calories out equation that is completely flawed anyways, then they weren't actually getting to the root of why they had gained weight in the first place.
I think it's clear that our current approach to health isn't working. If over 70% of Americans are overweight, if it was just a simple equation of calories in calories out we wouldn't be having this problem. And I completely understand that they're saying, well, it's not working because of genetics and things that are out of your control, but that is only convenient for the company who is benefiting from you feeling like it is out of your control and we're gonna talk about why it is in your control.
It is absolutely not your fault. Our environment has absolutely set everybody up to fail, but it is not out of your control. Now, she does refer to it as a brain disease, but she seems to link that with genetics and environmental factors that are out of your control, and that's so disempowering. There is a huge brain component. That's why one of the life Boost B's is brain when it comes to creating a healthy, sustainable lifestyle that feels good, you absolutely have to pay attention to the mindset around food, stress, and other factors in your environment that are influencing your brain and the way that you're approaching health but it's not out of your control.
Now one of the things that frustrates me is that she also talks about how it's not just about that calories in and calories out equation because her argument is that when you just do that the body's metabolism just slows down and so even if you are really relying on discipline and willpower, your body is just requiring fewer and fewer calories and then you plateau. And that is called metabolic adaptation. Now, that absolutely does happen, but she's not asking why she's acting just like that is. Like that's a fact that that happens so you need to rely on an injection instead to overcome that.
But what we're forgetting is that your body's one mission is to protect you, to keep you safe so that you can survive. Your body was not designed to be obese. Your body is responding to a threat. And what we need to ask is why is your metabolism slowing down? Why does your body think that there's a famine in that it needs to be holding on to all of its energy? Probably because you are overly restricting it. We need to be asking, why can you only have 1200 calories? I was recently looking at a study that was evaluating metabolic adaptation. They were feeding the participants 800 calories a day. No wonder their body was going into survival mode. Of course it was.
Why can you only have 1200 calories? Why is your metabolism slowing down?
Probably because you're either being overly restrictive, you're probably highly stressed, or your body is very inflamed from your environment, and we'll talk about that more.
Or another reason why you’re maybe overweight or obese is because you're overeating and again, we need to ask why.
Probably because you've been programmed to think that unhealthy food is more desirable, or there are factors that are contributing to you maybe wanting to numb around food, maybe you're procrastinating, maybe they're uncomfortable emotions that you're trying to avoid.
Maybe that's the only enjoyable thing that you have in your day.
Maybe that food, it has been designed so you can't stop eating it.
An injection is not going to fix any of this. It's just putting a bandaid on a bigger problem, and it's just causing Americans to be reliant on a medication.
One thing that you should be aware of is that Novo Nordisk has even been having supply chain issues. They are getting everybody reliant on an injection that is meant to be given for life and if you stop it, most of the weight comes back.
We need to be asking why this is happening in the first place. Why is the norm in our society to be sick, overweight, and unhappy, and an injection is not going to fix it.
Now, this 60 minutes episode, talking all about obesity is mainly genetics. You should know that Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford Rishi receives funding by Novo Nordisk. Also, that company makes insulin, you should know, and novo Nordisk is conveniently an advertiser on 60 minutes. So 60 minutes with this very reputable, highly respected obesity expert that basically was just a big old advertisement for Wegovy. This is not okay.
The reason why they did this is because their goal is to have insurance companies paying for this. Novo Nordisk is so successful right now, everybody is jumping on the Wegovy bandwagon because it seems like the panacea that everybody has been waiting for. We're struggling with obesity and now there's just an injection that you can get and you can just be on it for life. And conveniently, they are trying to influence the narrative because they want you to be demanding this and they want health insurance companies to see obesity as a chronic, lifelong disease. Now, this kind of message isn't just coming from 60 Minutes.
There is a nonprofit organization called the Obesity Action Coalition, and their mission is to raise awareness and improve access to the prevention and treatment of the disease of obesity. And on their website, they say that they work by providing evidence-based education on obesity and its treatments, and they're working to fight to eliminate weight bias and discrimination. That sounds really great. Right?
What you should know about this nonprofit organization is that their top contributor of Platinum status is Novo Nordisk. One of the other companies that has gold status is Eli Lily and Company. So those are two companies, two of the top companies that make insulin and Novo Nordisk is benefiting from you thinking that obesity is completely out of your control and a lifelong disease.
Now, when I go to their website, under their beliefs, they say their belief is that there are many factors that lead to obesity that are not within the control of the individual, and obesity should be a covered benefit in health insurance. Their demand is for recognition of obesity as a lifelong chronic multifactorial disease. What? It's as if they're just accepting this and that is so convenient from a company that benefits from you being on this for life.
They also want widespread insurance coverage on chronic weight management as a standard and affordable benefit for the prevention and treatment of obesity in the same manner as any other chronic disease.
This is just one small example of how corrupt the messages that you are receiving about health are. The big food and big pharma companies are influencing the entire narrative around health in this country. They do not want you to feel better. They want you to buy their products or need their insulin or rely on their injection. And we are going to talk about how this runs even deeper and deeper.
Now, one hundred percent agree that if you are overweight or obese, this is not your fault, and we absolutely need to stop any shaming around that. But the narrative that this is out of your control and a lifelong condition is bullshit, and it's disempowering.
Yes, the environment that you are living in is setting you up to fail. And if you follow the messages around health and the guidelines and do what's normal in our society, it is highly likely that you are going to be sick, overweight, and or unhappy, but it is not out of your control. And we're gonna talk about that in detail. Now, this panacea injection that, PS also causes thyroid cancer in rodents and may in you, it's missing a big piece of weight loss, and that is how do you want to feel?
Losing weight - when you see this number on the scale - it doesn't magically make everything better in your life, even though it's really easy to feel like it will. And if you're not addressing what actually caused the weight gain in the first place, which is not genetics, then you're missing out on an opportunity to make changes in your life that are going to have a huge impact on your entire life and the way that you feel.
Right now the messages around health are all focused on draining your energy. The calories in calories out equation is all about burn your energy and restrict the energy that you're taking in. Rely on discipline and willpower, rely on the scale. All of those are physically draining, literally draining your energy. It's like we forgot about what true health feels like.
What does it feel like to be healthy?
- It feels like you have energy.
- It feels like you're alive.
This injection isn't going to do that. This is why one of the most important things that you can do if you're wanting to start making healthy changes is just tuning into your energy. What things are giving you energy, and what things are draining it?
When you approach healthy changes by finding the foods and the lifestyle factors that give you energy and help you to feel more alive, with every change, you are going to feel more energized and motivated. Injections aren't fun, thinking that you have no control and that you just have to take an injection for life that does not feel good.
Now, in a moment, we're going to talk about so many more solutions to this and why obesity is not just genetic, but I do want to make it clear that this Wegovy, and if your doctor is recommending this medication, it's not their fault.
Doctors really have their hands tied. They have no time in appointments for someone that is overweight, the best that they can do is to just say “eat more healthy”, and like, what does that mean? Right? They don't know what eating healthy looks like. Doctors are not taught nutrition in medical school. Most of them are not eating very healthy, or leading healthy lives.
I have friends who are medical doctors and they give me examples of what hospital food looks like, and there's just a complete disconnect between the food that people are eating and the way that they're feeling and their health. Medical school teaches doctors how to treat disease and illnesses. It is not about preventing disease. It's not about promoting optimal health. It's about putting out fires and they are very good at that. If you have an acute illness or you have a fracture or trauma, then thank goodness for doctors, they're amazing at what they do. But when it comes to asking why there are so many chronic diseases, or why people are so inflamed and overweight, that's not really being taught in medical school. And again, doctors have no time.
In order to get into why you are overweight, you need to be able to having a conversation about what's going on in your life. They don't have time for that. All they have time to do is quickly prescribe a medication, and now Wegovy is available is something that they can do to help you. Of course they're going to recommend that. So it's important that you are empowered with knowledge so that you get to decide if that is right for you.
Now here is a huge detail that is being left of the whole argument that obesity is mainly genetic. There is this thing called epigenetics, which means that your environment and your behaviors influence which genes are expressed. They're not really talking about that. So it may be that you have genes that predispose you to being obese, but you do have control.
There are lots of things in your environment that can turn off those genes that are going to make you overweight or obese, and they can turn on the genes that are going to help you to feel great in your body. From 1999 to 2017, obesity went from 30% to 42%. And I think we can all agree that during that time, people's genes didn't change. So there's, there's clearly something else in our environment, the things that we're eating, that is influencing this increase in obesity.
I have a recommendation for something that works quite similar to Wegovy. But it doesn't come with the needing to take an injection for life and the risk of causing cancer. In fact, it's very likely to help to protect you against cancer.
Now, a reminder that Wagovy acts by delaying gastric emptying, and that helps to make it so that you're less hungry. There is something else that does that. It's real food.
What if the narrative was about eating more real food? If real food was a medication, it would be one hell of a blockbuster hit. The number of things, like how it protects your body from cancer, how it improves your gut health, how it helps you to be satisfied, how it helps you to thrive, because that's actually what your body was designed to run on. That is the fuel it was meant to have! It would be life changing, and the cool thing is that it is something that you can do and it costs much less than this injection.
Now there's a great study that helps to show just how powerful of a shift it can be if the only thing you do is switch to more real food. It was a study published in cell Metabolism in 2019. It's called Ultra Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain. It was a very well done study. It was an inpatient randomized control trial. And what they did was they had participants stay in an NIH facility for two weeks and there were two groups:
- One group ate unlimited ultra processed food
- the other group had access to unlimited, less processed real food
So for two weeks, one group ate the ultra processed food. They recorded how much they ate, and then after that they switched, and then they were in the unprocessed diet group.
Here's what they found:
- The group that had the unprocessed diet consumed 500 calories less per day than the ultra processed group. And reminder, they were able to eat as much food as they wanted, and they consumed 500 less per day!
- An important thing to note is that the participants did not report any significant difference between the pleasantness or the familiarity of the meals. So it wasn't that they didn't like the unprocessed food, they enjoyed both equally, or they both were just as familiar.
- When they were eating the unprocessed food, they felt satisfied
Now they even measured the hormones to see what was happening and the hormone changes backed this up. The group that was consuming the unprocessed diets had:
- an increase in the appetite suppressing hormone, PYY
- a decrease in the hunger hormone grelin
They just were more satisfied and they weren't hungry, which reminder that is what Wegovy is doing. The participants on the ultra processed diet gained a little bit of weight, and the ones on the unprocessed diets lost a little bit of weight, and a reminder that these guys were eating as much food as they wanted to.
With Wegovy, they're still recommending caloric restriction and lots of changes, and then they're also doing this injection on top of that. I would love to see a study that compares Wegovy's approach to an approach that's not relying on discipline and willpower, and one, like the Life Boost approach that is more centered on actually listening to the way that you feel, eating more real food, and managing stress. I would love to see a study like that - a study that evaluates all three of the Life Boost B's: belly, (meaning gut health), brain (your mindset, stress, happiness), and blood sugar.
The magical thing is that when you eat real food, all of those things start to come into balance. We'll talk a little bit more about that in a minute, but I was really interested in this study to see exactly what the meals looked like. And they do a great job. There's a supplemental resource that comes with it, that shows even photos of the meals. And one notable thing that you might find interesting is that with the unprocessed diets, some of the dinners, there was a dinner that had pasta. And for me, I would consider that quite processed. So these were not just ultra whole food meals. These were very reasonable meals. For example, one that I'm looking at, it was shrimp scampi with spaghetti olive oil, garlic cream, tomatoes, parsley, basil, fresh squeezed lemon juice. It had a side salad. They had a vinegarette that was a balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and plain Greek yogurt with blueberries, which is a lot of food.
One other important thing to note is that the food that was offered to each group was otherwise matched in terms of calories, macronutrients, fiber, sugar, and salt. The only difference was highly processed compared to unprocessed food. Isn't that amazing?
One thing to note, while it was matched for fiber in the highly processed group, they needed to be supplementing it with like a fiber drink compared to with the unprocessed diets, they're getting that fiber from plants and fiber slows gastric emptying, and it is not normal to eat real food in our society.
In fact, 95% of Americans don't get enough fiber. So what if Americans did just start eating real food? What if that was more accessible and more affordable instead of an injection that insurance companies are needing to pay for and not addressing the real root issue? What if we made it easier for people to eat real food?
The other powerful thing that happens when you're eating real food is that most of those are plants. Plants are amazing for your gut microbiome. Your gut health and your gut health influences your metabolism as well. So full circle back to that metabolic adaptation, that tendency for the body to go into survival mode and save all of its energy. Maybe that's because your body thinks that it's threatened and in one of those ways is because you're feeding it all the food that is leading to poor gut health.
Now, let's dive into all the reasons why it is not your fault if you are overweight and obese, or just in general not feeling very good in your body and what you can do about it.
So the first thing along the lines of real food, I challenge you to go into a grocery store and the next time go into any aisle and see how long it takes you to find a food where you look at the ingredients and all of the ingredients are just real food, as if you could just make it in your kitchen. It's going to be hard to find. The consumption of ultra processed food is growing so rapidly. The last figures I was able to find were comparing from 2001 to 2017, and the increase in ultra processed food went from 53% to 57% and the consumption of minimally processed food decreased. It went from 32. To 27%. We see the same thing in kids. From 1999 to 2018, kids from ages two to 19, the increase in highly processed food went from 61 to 67%. And again, that was in 2018. I am afraid to hear what the statistics are now. And the unprocessed consumption decreased. It went from 28 to 23%.
So when they say that obesity is mainly a genetics, no it's not. I do not think it's coincidental that not eating real food is increasing along with the quick increase in being overweight and obesity while eating real food, the food that helps you to feel satisfied and delays gastric emptying, is decreasing.
And let's take it one step further. Their argument is that it's mainly genetics and just environmental factors that are out of your control. Now here's the thing, like we were saying, epigenetics is a real thing. Your environment and the food that you eat influences which genes are expressed. And when we take a look, ultra processed food is really set up to turn on those genes that could lead to obesity. But eating real food is a really great way of turning those off.
And not only that, ultra processed food comes along with other things that are also probably leading to those obese genes being expressed. So what I mean by that is there are things called obesogens. Those are chemicals in your environment that are thought to be linked to obesity and lead to being overweight. Some of those include BPA and other chemicals and plastics. So just thinking about ultra processed food, it pretty much is all stored in plastic, right? As well as pesticides, like organophosphates. So that's, for example, glyphosate, which is in every single mono crop. So that would be like soy, wheat, and corn. And I really encourage you the next time you are stepping in a grocery store, you're in an aisle, you're looking for real food, challenge yourself to see how long it takes to find a product that doesn't have corn, wheat, or soy or sugar in it. All of the ultra processed food is loaded with glyphosate. It's concerning.
Now, dietary factors too. They've found that food that helps to decrease those changes and helps to promote a healthy body, healthy genetic expression include fruits and vegetables. What do you know, another thing that has been shown to help are short chain fatty acids, and those are produced by healthy gut microbes. So when they get real food, when they get fiber, which is the food that they eat, a product of that is short chain fatty acids. And those are really protective for your gut and your body. So once again, eating real food is helping you in such an amazing way.
They've also found that having a deficiency in B vitamins or selenium or zinc can lead to unfavorable genetic changes. And it happens to be really common that individuals are deficient in that. Back to cool things with real food. If you have just two Brazil nuts per day, that gives you your daily recommended amount of selenium. Real food is so cool.
So other components and nutrients in your diet that helped seem to be very protective, not only against weight, but these have been helping to protect against cancer. Reminder wegovy may be linked to cancer, who knows they're not interested in studying that. Real foods include things like polyphenols, quercertin, curcumin, that's in turmeric, resveratrol, tea catechins like EGCG,, which is in green tea, sulforaphane that is found in cruciferous veggies like broccoli and components in garlic. So conveniently, when you are eating a variety of real food, you're getting all of these super protective, amazing nutrients. It's magical and it's as your body was designed to work that way. When you give your body what it was designed to run on, it does amazing things.
Oother components that can influence which genes are being expressed include exercise. Exercise can really help and then sleep. A lack of sleep can really lead to unfavorable genetic expression. So it is amazing how those basics of eating real food, moving your body in a way that feels good, getting sleep, managing stress, all of that, it truly has such a huge impact on the way that you feel physically and mentally.
Now, can you imagine if instead of saying, “well, yeah, you're overweight or obese and that is totally out of your control and also this is just going to be a lifelong thing that you're stuck with and there's nothing you can do about it except for have this weekly injection”, imagine if instead the narrative was all around encouraging individuals to eat real food and making that easy.
So in the study that was comparing ultra processed food to unprocessed food, they talked about the cost. So the difference in cost, it was $106 for the ultra processed food compared to $151 per week in the unprocessed group. So why is it that food that requires more processing is less expensive? That is because our government is subsidizing the food that is making you sick and in ultra processed food, they are subsidizing the wheat, corn, soy, sugar that is in everything. That's why if they were subsidizing real food, an apple would be more affordable than fruit snacks. Water would be more affordable than Coke, and yet those changes are unlikely to happen because as we'll continue to talk about the people who are influencing all the recommendations and the changes and and influence what our government is subsidizing they're all connected to big food and big pharma companies who don't actually want you to be healthy at all. They don't profit when you feel good.
Dr. Fatima, Cody Stanford, she mentioned that obesity was a brain disease, and I do wanna dive into a little bit about how our environment right now is influencing your brain. For one thing, the narrative that you have been exposed to since birth really has primed the way that you think about food. You have been programmed to think that unhealthy food is more desirable than healthy food. These are just automatic thoughts that have been taught to you from childhood and marketing. Think about the environment:
- Cake means celebrating
- Alcohol means stress relief
- Ice cream is celebrating or how you cope with a breakup
- Pizza is for parties
- Broccoli is what your mom made you finish before you could have dessert, which was a reward
So it's very understandable that you see unhealthy food probably as more desirable than real food because that is exactly what you have been taught, probably by your parents because they were influenced by this environment, and from all of the companies that want you to want their food.
And that goes even one step further because with ultra processed food, it's important to know that when you're looking at the ingredient label, you are going to find so many ingredients that are chemicals. You probably won't recognize them. You sure won't be able to find them in your kitchen. That's because these are created in a lab by food engineers and their goal is to create a food that doesn't make you wanna stop eating it.
Ultra processed food is engineered to achieve the “bliss point” that just makes your brain light up and your reward center light up. It doesn't make you feel satisfied. If you think about chips, they kind of just dissolve in your mouth. It's not meant for you to feel satisfied. It's meant for you to just wanna keep eating it.
So yeah, it is influencing your brain, but you do have the power to change that, both by choosing food that is not designed to hijack your brain, and also just starting to pay attention to the thoughts that you have been programmed to have around food and starting to pay attention to, if that's actually true, is the way that you feel.
When you have something like pizza, is it actually more desirable? When you have a really nourishing bowl or a salmon with veggies, pizza may sound a lot more fun and it sounds easy, but if you pay attention to how you feel, not just in that moment when you're eating the pizza, but afterwards you're probably going to find that it actually wasn't very desirable to feel uncomfortably full, like you needed a nap,having gas for the rest of the afternoon, and waking up, kind of feeling like the Michelin man kind of puffy the next day. You may notice that actually you really loved that salmon meal and you felt amazing the rest of the afternoon. Maybe you had great energy, your brain was focused. That's even a brain food! Instead of your brain being inflamed, you felt satisfied, but you had energy and you didn't need a nap. That is pretty freaking desirable, right?
The more you pay attention to how the food you eat makes you feel in the moment and after, the more you can start creating new thoughts around food that are more accurate to the entire experience that that food gives you. That's what my programs help you do. I help you to learn about your unique body and your taste buds. I help you to be empowered with knowledge about what works best for you. Not having to follow some diet plan and some specific calorie count that's not paying attention to your own hunger cues and what your body is telling you. Just tuning in to what you like and what works for your lifestyle.
Reminder, those three Life Boost L’s are what you need to prioritize in order to create a sustainable, healthy lifestyle:
- Love - You need to love what you're doing the way that it's making you feel, and it needs to come from a loving and respectful place
- Lifestyle - It needs to be doable for your lifestyle. It needs to make your life easier, not harder, and long term.
- Long-term - You need to see yourself doing that long term. And if you're eating food that feels satisfied, that makes your taste buds happy and that makes you feel amazing, then you're going to want to keep that up long term. It's going to be very motivating.
- Now, this approach of just honoring and listening to your body and tuning into your hunger cues, it doesn't work if you're just eating ultra processed food. You can absolutely start with a food journal, which I recommend as a really powerful tool where you are paying attention to what you eat, not the calories or anything, but just what you ate, and then noting the way that you felt after:
Did you feel satisfied?
Were you still hungry?
Were you craving something?
Did you have brain fog, a headache? Were you bloated?
Just paying attention to that is going to help you to see the difference between when you're having highly processed food compared to unprocessed food and what works best for you.
But when you're having ultra processed food, you're never going to feel satisfied. Think about, have you ever had an Oreo and been like, “well, that was just delightful and now I feel totally satisfied”, or with chips? No. There's a point when you have to be like, all right, I need to stop. That's because the ultra processed food has stripped the food of any of its nutritional value.
Like for wheat, they're stripping out all of the nutrients, all of the fiber in order to make it shelf stable so that when you eat ultra processed food, your body is confused. It's getting calories, but it's like a skeleton of what it's supposed to be getting. And so it's like, “Hmm, all right. I know we're eating, we got calories, but I didn't get the nutrients that I needed or the fiber. I didn't get what I was designed to get.” So it's going to ask for more.
Your body is trying to watch out for you. It's like, oh, we're not, we're not getting the nutrients that we need. This society of being overweight and obese, it is very likely that these individuals are getting more calories and yet they're malnourished because you're not actually getting the nutrients that your body needs. They're just like empty calories that are doing nothing beneficial and they're actually creating inflammation, creating damage, turning on the genes that you don't want in your body.
So we've talked about how eating more real food is beneficial for the Life Bost B belly - eating more real food is going to be giving you fiber that is going to help. Eating at least 30 different plants per week is optimal for gut health. So if you're eating a variety of amazing food that is amazing for your gut and that can influence your metabolism. We've talked about how eating real food and paying attention to how that makes you feel, it's going to be very beneficial for your brain, and that it's important to also note that that is so good for brain health and that is going to help you with feeling more focused and more energized and learning.
And then it's also great for that third Life Boost B blood sugar. Now, as you are doing that challenge in the grocery store, going into an aisle, trying to find food that is real. Now look at how long it takes you to find a food that doesn't have any hidden sugar in it as you read the ingredient list. And it's important to know there are like at least 30 different names for sugar, and companies are good at getting creative in the way that they list sugar. But you can also look at the added sugar line.
You're going to find that so many savory foods that you would never think of as being sweet have tons of added sugar. Things like salsa, meat, crackers, everything. You should know that dried fruit. You know, if you're looking at craisins, those are going to have just as much, actually more I think, added sugar then sour patch kids. So that's frustrating if you're trying to make healthy changes, you think that you're making healthy changes, and yet hidden sugar is everywhere.
This once again, is very confusing to your brain and your body.Your body is just trying to take care of you, but it's not getting set up for success because with the ultra processed food, you're getting more sugar than you would ever be getting with normal food. And if you think about what has sugar in the real world? Fruit is your source of sugar, right? But real fruit also comes along with fiber, and it also comes along with lots of other anti-inflammatory components and antioxidants that are helping to protect your body. But with ultra processed food, it doesn't. It has zero of that.
What happens is your body is suddenly inundated with more sugar than it was ever designed to be able to deal with in that moment. So your body dumps insulin in trying to decrease that. Then your sugar crashes. you feel like crap, you feel starving, you feel anxious, and then your body is like, ah, we need more energy. And you go on a roller coaster ride throughout the day of cravings, plummeting energy, and feeling out of control.
The other important thing to know is that insulin blocks your body's ability to be burning fat. Insulin tells your body to store energy, so if throughout the day you are snacking on things that either have hidden sugar or you're snacking on ultra processed food and sweets because you're needing energy throughout the day, your body is releasing insulin and that is making it so that your body cannot go into fat burning mode.
It is so important to understand the way that your body works. It truly always wants to do what's best for you, and it's trying the best it can with what you're throwing at it. And again, it's not your fault because the food that is most readily available to you and the messages that you’ve been taught around nutrition and health are very misleading and flawed.
So let's dive in a little bit more about where you get these messages around health and nutrition.
One of the most frustrating things to me is that the resources that you probably trust to give you good information, they so often are corrupt. They're benefiting from you, being sick, overweight, and or unhappy. So as a reminder, this very reputable obesity doctor influencing the conversation around obesity and public health changes. She receives funding from Novo Nordisk who makes insulin and wegovy.
The whole focus on exercise being the answer and that focus on calories in vs calories out - so much of that was funded by Coca-Cola wanting to downplay the criticism of sugary drinks on obesity and diabetes. That with their attempt, when they were throwing so much money into that, it correlated with a time when people were trying to pass sugar taxes and to remove their drinks from schools and to stop marketing to kids.
Sugar taxes could have such an amazing impact. The concept with that is that products that have more sugar are taxed higher, and that's another way that we could make unhealthy food more expensive than healthy food. The most powerful thing about that is that it pressures companies to change. They want you to buy their products, and so maybe they would stop putting so much hidden sugar if they were getting taxed on it (which would make their products more expensive so you’re less likely to buy them), but of course, Coca-Cola doesn't want that change, and they have enough money to completely squash attempts at getting that type of thing passed.
This is an example of why it's so important for you to be empowered with knowledge, because you do vote with your dollar. And when you take that extra minute to look at the food label and to choose the salsa that doesn't have any added sugar and choose the products that are coming from companies that are actually giving you real food, then you are voting and pressuring companies to change.
Now it just gets better and better because societies like the American Society of Nutrition and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics receive a lot of funding from the companies that benefit from you being sick and overweight. It's fucked up. When I went onto the American Society for Nutrition’s website, I was able to find that some of the companies that they receive funding from include General Mills, Mars, the Sugar Association (I kid you not), Abbott (they make, for example, ensure, which is supposed to be nutritious and has 13 grams of sugar per serving), and Bayer.
Now I need to go back to this Sugar Association for a moment because the fact that the American Society for Nutrition receives funding from the Sugar Association is just insane to me. So I was curious and I went on the Sugar Association's website, and they say that their goal is to enhance consumer understanding and the role that sugar plays in a nutritious, balanced, and enjoyable diet. They go on to say sugar makes many healthful foods more palatable, which helps contribute to intake of important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They say “getting ready for breakfast? Go ahead and sprinkle a little brown sugar on that bowl of nutritious oatmeal. Sugar can make healthy foods taste better, so you are more likely to eat them”. So that's great that the American Society for Nutrition is probably creating narratives around that.
If there wasn't hidden sugar in everything that you ate, your taste buds would not need as much sugar to be satisfied. As you'll find, the more real food that you eat, the more things like just adding fruit, like putting some blueberries in your oatmeal, would make it very delicious. So, that’s just a little glimpse of how messed up everything is. It truly just gets worse and worse.
So for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there was a study that showed that between 2011 and 2017 that organization took more than 4 million dollars in donations from food companies and industry groups, including producers of soda, sugar, candy, and ultra processed foods like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, Hershey, Kellogg's.
Not only did they accept sponsorship money from big food companies like that, they invested money in stocks with these companies. For example, from 2015 to 2016, the academy held more than a million dollars worth of stock in PepsiCo, Nestle, and JM Smucker. That is so alarming that the individuals who are being educated on how to teach you about nutrition and are influencing the guidelines literally have stock invested in the companies that are making you sick.
This is reality. So you know, the US dietary guidelines. Those are nutrition recommendations, and those influence everything from just the general narrative and what you receive as recommendations for how to be healthy. It's probably the resource you trust. It also influences things like federal programs, like school lunches. The thing is, the individuals on that advisory committee, so many of them receive funding from big food and big pharma companies. They do not have your best interests at heart.
Dr. Cody Stanford, the doctor who is saying that obesity is genetic and that it's out of your control, and who receives funding from Novo Nordisk, was just appointed to the dietary guidelines advisory committee. I hope that this makes you outraged. The more that I learn about this, the more every single time I see how corrupt this system is and what a vicious cycle it is, I feel rage in my heart.
I'm doing a cool certification program right now that is all about coaching the unconscious mind and rewiring the brain and creating change, and I've learned a lot of really cool techniques for instantly decreasing your stress like it feels like magic, or if you're feeling frustrated, turning to these techniques and instantly regulating your nervous system. But this is a case where I, I don't wanna get rid of this rage because this anger that I have fuels my motivation to show up and do what I do every day because I know what's possible.
I have taken a step back and I'm not caught up in that norm and vicious cycle that is happening where the recommendations on how to be healthy and eating the food that is accessible and doing what's normal, because that's what our society has taught you. It's fun to have pizza and to drink. I have removed myself from that. It's kind of like I have a bird's eye view and I'm looking in and seeing what's happening, and I want you to step out of that cycle too. I want you to feel empowered so that you feel like you are in control.
You can feel comfortable in your body.
Healthy can be energizing. It should be energizing.
Healthy should make you feel alive.
If your approach at getting healthy is draining your energy or sucking the life out of you, then that approach is not healthy. There's a very good chance that that approach is coming from a company that is benefiting from you feeling stuck, sick, overweight, or unhappy, and you have to start breaking the norm, tuning into your body and remembering that your body is the ONLY thing where it's sole goal is to keep you protected and safe so you can survive.
Your body always has your best interest in mind. Your body is not flawed. It's the environment that you are living in.
It's amazing to think what a positive change we could have if our government just started subsidizing the food that was real. The estimated medical cost of obesity in 2019, so it's probably so much more now, was $173 billion and even more crazy are federal programs. So SNAP is a federal program like food stamps to help lower income families purchase food. Almost 10% of the food dollars spent on SNAP are for sugary drinks. That is alarming. Coca-Cola is really benefits from this. Our federal government is spending over 4 billion on soda for SNAP participants, and yet in 2011, they only spent about 650 million to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes.
How about instead of funding the food that is making us sick, what if there was a universal basic income?
What if our government just gave enough so that you could have grocery money to eat real food.
What if there was a little bit of education on how to actually listen to your body, how to prepare real food, how to throw together healthy meals really quickly.
What if we made real food accessible in areas that currently have food deserts.
These changes would be so much less expensive than what we are just pouring money on now.
The amount that is going to subsidize the monocropping food that is making us sick is also harming our environment.
What if things like sugar taxes were coming into place so that companies were pressured to stop putting sugar in everything?
And what if water became less expensive than Coke?
There are very simple solutions. It's just that the big food and big pharma companies that benefit from you being sick, overweight, and unhappy, don't want that to happen, and those individuals that are getting money from those companies are in those influential positions where they get to help to decide what policies pass.
This is why change is very unlikely to start from the top, but you have the power to start a ripple effect starting with you.
You can start just by looking at the food in your kitchen and in your pantry. Notice, look at the ingredient list. Is there hidden sugar? Are there weird chemicals? How can you replace that with something more nourishing? I am always sharing samples of my meals on Instagram and Facebook stories. Healthy meals do not need to take more time. It's just that it is probably different from what you're doing right now, but as soon as you find your new staples that you can replace in your kitchen, your pantry, new go-to spots when you're going out that's more real food.
As you find the super quick, easy, yummy, healthy meals, and as you start just paying attention to what food feels best for your body (while you're eating it and after), the more, you are going to cause an amazing, positive ripple effect in the way that you feel throughout your body. You are going to notice positive changes in your gut health, your belly, your blood sugar, and your brain. I guarantee it. You are going to feel more alive and motivated with every step.
Change starts with you. Please share this episode with everybody that you know or share this message. Share any tip. Help them to become aware of how messed up our society and the current norm is and help me start to break it. This isn't fair. You do have the power to create change and together we can create so much good so that our world makes so much more sense.
My Life Boost programs are designed to help you to actually understand how to approach health in a way that gives you more energy and gives you more motivation and helps you to feel more alive with every step. Healthy should make your life feel easier, not harder. That's what my programs help you to do.
You can learn more about my approach and some amazing stress reducing techniques by getting access to the first module, in my Game Changer course, that's free and that's gonna be an amazing introduction. (Edited: note this has changed and there are other free resources available including the Life Boost Starter Kit). And then I also do offer a complimentary one time, one hour coaching call. So if you wanna talk about where you're feeling stuck and you wanna experience how quickly things can change, you can schedule that. So I'm gonna leave in the show notes links to my programs. You can always reach out to me. You can send me an email at email@example.com. And then I'm also going to leave some links to some of the studies that I referenced.
I hope that you found this helpful, and I hope you're feeling empowered and motivated to start positive change in your life and those around you. Cheers to your inevitable health, happiness, and success.