By: Dr. Michael J. Kaye

I frequently hear this question from my baby boomer patients. The males complain that it takes them longer to heal when they exercise too much. They say they just can’t get rid of their love handles. My female patients complain of weight gain and whole body fatigue.

I want to share some information that can help everyone heal faster, lose weight, and improve energy levels. Since March is Nutrition Awareness Month, it is appropriate that this information has to do with our diets.

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill to make everything better. As much as we would like it to, becoming healthy does not happen overnight. But it’s easier to improve your health than you might think.

When you eliminate two ingredients from your diet, your health will immediately improve, you’ll experience increased energy, and you’ll most likely lose weight.

The first ingredient you want to eliminate is partially hydrogenated oil. Let me share the definition of partially hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenation is the process of heating oil and passing hydrogen bubbles through it. When something is fully hydrogenated, it becomes a solid. When it is partially hydrogenated, it has the consistency of soft butter. Partially hydrogenated oil gives food products richer flavor and texture. It is used in lieu of butter since it is cheaper to produce.

Partially hydrogenated oils are extremely high in calories, so obviously they are a factor in weight gain.

Partially hydrogenated oils also contribute to clogged arteries, according to the American Heart Association. Clogged arteries increase the risk of heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Chips, cookies, and crackers often contain partially hydrogenated oils. They are even found in so-called health foods such as protein bars, meal replacement bars, and protein drinks.

Take a survey of the foods you have in your house and determine which ones contain partially hydrogenated oils. Once you find those foods, throw them out or, better yet, donate them to a local food bank.

Now, don’t leave the house just yet as I want to share with you the other most important ingredient to avoid — sugar.

According to a USDA study, the average American consumes 134 pounds of sugar every year or approximately 20 teaspoons of sugar a day. I can believe it. As a matter of fact, I believe that people actually consume more than 20 teaspoons per day. This does not seem unreasonable since there may be 10 teaspoons of sugar in a 12-ounce can of soda or 13 teaspoons in a 12-ounce lemonade.

When you look at an ingredient list, sugar will usually be measured in grams. A teaspoon of granulated white sugar weighs 4.2 grams. To determine the number of teaspoons in a bottle of soda with 44 grams of sugar, you would divide 44 by 4.2 to determine that there are over 10 teaspoons of sugar in just that one bottle.

It’s important to pay close attention to the serving size and serving amounts on the ingredients panel. Quite often people are misled unless they read this information carefully.

For example, a popular sports drink boasts 13 grams of sugar per serving. However, quite often the bottle contains 2 to 2.5 servings. That means that if you drink the whole bottle, you have consumed at least 26 grams or nearly 7 teaspoons of sugar.

Excessive sugar intake leads to diabetes, obesity, cavities, and tiredness. It is important to note that if you find that you are very sleepy after eating, you should have your blood sugar checked. Just share this information with your doctor and he or she will order the appropriate tests.

Now, since we are talking about blood sugar, we have to discuss high fructose corn syrup, which in actuality is another form of sugar. High fructose corn syrup is prevalent in many of our foods just like partially hydrogenated oils.

The Mayo Clinic says that high fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener and preservative. High fructose corn syrup is made by changing the sugar (glucose) in cornstarch to fructose, which is another form of sugar. The end product is a combination of fructose and glucose. Because it extends the shelf life of processed foods and is cheaper than sugar, it is used in many products.

Keep in mind that sugar lurks in many unsuspected places. For example, many sauces and condiments contain higher sugar content than you would probably expect. Cereal is another food that you should evaluate carefully for sugar content.

There are rules and regulations when it comes to listing food ingredients. You may see sugar as a listed ingredient. But you also have to look for different forms of sugar or other ingredients that convert to sugar when you consider sugar content. You have to add all forms of sugar to properly determine the level of sugar in any food item.

Now it’s time to go back into the kitchen and look for food products that are high in sugar. Donate these items as well.

You’ll be surprised when you see how many foods in your home contain these two ingredients. You’ll be even more surprised by how much better you will feel when you rid your diet of these ingredients. The first couple of weeks may be tough. It will take some discipline and willpower. But if you hang in there, you will see great results.

To Your Health!

Dr. Michael J. Kaye

You may respond below to Dr. Kaye or email him at mkaye@boomer-living.com or visit him on line at http://drmichaelkaye.com

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