Kanye West, Pomegranates & the Latest Diet Trend

You wouldn’t end a friendship if they liked Kanye West.  Arguably you should could, but you know better.  You know that ending that friendship would mean you’d also lose their (usual) insight-fullness, kindness and the love and laughter that comes with being around that person. Yes you hate Kanye, but focusing on that single aspect would distract you from everything else, good and bad, that makes up your friend’s character.  After all, we’re complex beings.

And so is your body…

People’s personalities are complex and their physiology is arguably more so.  To illustrate this, it was only until the end of last year that a team of scientists humbly published an attempt to estimate the number of cells in the human body… a whopping 37.2 trillion.

A possible 37.2 trillion cells, reacting, communicating and fulfilling sophisticated jobs simultaneously throughout the day, that we’re just beginning to understand. Take adipose (fat) cells for example, that vary in type and behavior.  Some make up healthy brown fat and others collect under your abdominal muscles, coating and suffocating organs like a ticking time-bomb.  Fat isn’t only responsible for sabotaging bathing suit season but also takes part in the regulation of hormones such as insulin and those that tell the brain whether or not you’re full.

 With our busy schedules and limited memory space, it’s no surprise that the loudest, simplest messages are enthusiastically accepted, published and repeated over and over again.  Moving, crowd-pleasing speeches follow that same formula; simplify the problem, single out a villain to carry the blame, give a simple solution and promise immediate results.  Does this sound like the latest diet trend to you?  Nobody ever followed the person who started with, “There is a problem indeed!! But unfortunately it’s complicated! So now let’s get riled up and analyze those tedious details and we’ll take it from there!  WHO’S WITH ME?!”  The only thing following that speech is uncomfortable silence.  In this case, it might mean you’ve already stopped reading  :(  For those of you who are still here with impressive stamina:

Food is also complicated.
Macronutrients (fiber, protein, fat, and carbohydrates) dominate health and nutrition media because they are extremely important.  They are crucial to providing us with energy in a system called the metabolic system. However, an increasing amount of research is pointing to the promise of better health through micronutrients including phytonutrients.

While macronutrients are critical for our metabolic system (obtaining, processing, using and storing energy), micronutrients are critical for a lot of other functions.  Your metabolic systems is one of many systems and overall health is accomplished by ensuring that all of your body’s systems are balanced and working properly.

For example, antioxidants are important since free radicals are constantly being produced in our cells.  Another important example is the immune system.  Macronutrients might play a marginal role in your body’s immune system while micronutrients are critical and central to an efficient, functioning immune system.  If you’re reading this, you probably already know that these imbalances are thought to be the root cause to most modern diseases such as cancer.

Ignoring the details and the Whole Truth.

If you’re still reading this, your patience by now is probably wearing thin.  ‘BUT What IS the connection between pomegranates and Kanye West??!’, you might be asking.  We evaluate people around us and hopefully take all of their qualities into consideration.  Why not apply the same principle to something as comprehensive as nutrition?

Sugar, a subcategory of macronutrients under carbohydrates, is a specific chemical found in food.  It’s today’s new villain.  We thought we had identified fat as the monster but after our waistlines continued to grow, we needed a new suspect. Like the boogieman, it hides in unsuspecting places, tempts us with ice cream, and casts a powerful spell over us.  There is a lot of truth in this message but sugar is only one characteristic within a food.  Remember that good friend who liked Kanye?  Judging a food based on a single component is a one dimensional way of thinking that could be detrimental to your health, specifically to all of those complicated systems that depend on diverse nutrients in large, frequent quantities to work properly.

A healthy compromise: Whole Analysis

Pomegranates, for example, have A LOT of sugar!  Seeds from 1 whole pomegranate have almost 40 grams of sugar.  Equivalent to about 1.25 cups of ice cream.  However, pomegranates are also full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that boost not just one system but many systems.  Pomegranates is one of a handful of foods that have an extremely important phytochemical. The high fiber content also slows down the rate of sugar absorption, making it difficult to compare to refined sugar.  Cutting out sugar from your diet will certainly make you lose weight and even cutting back on fruits can give you a boost in the beginning.  If your looking to reduce the sugar in you and your family’s diet, having half of a pomegranate will give you the benefits and take the sugar amount to less than 20 grams.

Table sugar, on the other hand, has no nutritional value whatsoever.  Absolutely no redeeming qualities.  None. This is a complete/whole analysis of table sugar.  Pomegranate is considered to be The most antioxidant dense fruit.  Judging it then based solely on it’s sugar content might rob you of all the other qualities pomegranates have.

Applying this evaluation method to the latest diet trend will empower you and not leave you and your family vulnerable to incomplete, misleading information.  The key is whole, critical analysis.

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