Health & Medicine

  • Issue 116 / March - April 2017

    Dieting While You Are Healthy

    Arif Eseroglu

    The first step in preventive
    medicine is to diet while you are healthy.
    If you are already sick, the diet will prevent the sickness from getting
    worse; it will support the immune system and the medications. A proper diet when
    you are healthy will make it less likely you will get sick.


    A proper diet differs from person
    to person. It’s important to design your diet according to the genetic map of
    your family and characteristics of your body. By “dieting” I do not mean being undernourished,
    but eating a healthy balance of nutrients to supply your body’s daily energy
    needs. Balance is important, for if a person only eats protein, fat, or
    carbohydrates, after a while, the body’s organs can start to deteriorate.


    Here are some aspects that should
    be taken into consideration while designing your personal diet:


    Personalizing the diet

    Not everyone should have the same
    diet. People come in different shapes and sizes, and they have different
    genetic makeups.  A person must know how
    their body responds to certain foods.  They
    must identify whether they (or their family) is prone to gain weight, whether they
    have a depressive or a nervous personality, or whether there is a family
    history of certain diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.  Families that are genetically susceptible to heart
    attacks should eat vegetables and fruits instead of too much protein or foods
    high in fats. 


    Maintaining an ideal weight range
    is important. While certain foods should be eaten in smaller amounts, this does
    not mean eating nothing.  For instance,
    if a person has diabetes, they can’t have too much sugar – but no sugar is also
    bad for them.

    A person who works hard outdoors
    will have a different diet from a person who works in an office. Some people
    are allergic to certain foods. Other people have a low basal metabolism or
    suffer from psychological distress. Food preferences also change according to
    cultures: a preferred food in one society may not be accepted in another.


    Determining your ideal weight

    Each person’s ideal weight is
    different.  It differs depending on a
    person’s height, as well as the weight of their fatty tissues, muscles, and bones.  A rough way to figure out your ideal weight
    is to add or subtract five from the last two digits of your height in
    centimeters. For example, someone who is 180 cm (5.90 feet) tall should weigh
    between 75-85 kg (165-187 lb).  The most
    important thing is to set a healthy, ideal weight, and stick to it for life.
    Going over your ideal weight can lead to obesity and a slew of other health


    Determining body mass index

    Obesity means an extreme excess of
    fat in a person’s body.  Therefore, if your
    ideal weight is 60 kg (132 lb.) but you weigh 80 kg (176 lb.), knowing how much
    of the excess 20kg is fat or muscle is possible by determining your body mass
    index.  If this excess of 20 kg (44 lb.) is
    5 kg (11 lb.) of muscle and 15 kg (33 lb.) of fat, you can lose 15 kg of excess
    fat with a better diet and exercise.  Losing
    mass from one’s muscles is harmful to the body, as it causes protein loss.
    Protein loss shouldn’t happen while you’re also losing weight. 


    The basal metabolic rate

    This is the total energy, per 24
    hours, that one expends while at rest. 
    This changes according to a person’s physiological and biochemical
    structure.  30% of basal metabolism is
    used by the liver, 19% by the brain, and 18% by the skeletal muscles.  Those with higher muscle mass index have a higher
    basal metabolism.  If fewer calories are
    taken in than the basal metabolism needs, weight is lost; if more calories are
    taken in, weight is gained.  Those with a
    higher basal metabolic rate lose weight much easier.  One must take this rate into consideration
    when building their ideal diet.



    Climate has an effect on one’s
    organs and metabolism.  A change in
    climate conditions changes the energy demands on the body.  The colder the climate, the more calories one
    needs.  Gastrointestinal diseases are
    common in Siberian children who have diet-related malnutrition. Conversely,
    those living near the poles are less likely to have heart and vascular diseases,
    even though they eat diets high in fat and protein. 


    Age and gender

    In the elderly, losing weight can
    cause urinary tract infections.  A child
    under five on a long-term, low-calorie diet is at risk of pneumonia, low blood
    pressure, hypocalcemia, and abdominal swelling. Supplementary micronutrients
    such as thiamine, folic acid, vitamins A, C, E, and K, and iron should be given,
    along with carbohydrates, to children suffering from malnutrition.  Care should be taken not to disrupt the
    balance of the basic substances in the body. 


    Balanced diet

    Unbalanced diets cause functional
    disorders and diseases in the organs. In high protein diets, which are preferable
    for terms of fat loss, especially in diabetic patients, cardiovascular and
    nephritic problems have been observed when the metabolism of carbohydrates and
    fat have deteriorated. In menopausal patients who lose weight through high
    protein diets there can be a significant decrease in bone density due to
    imbalances in protein, sodium,  calcium,  and potassium, which can lead to

    Imbalanced diets are often accompanied
    by diseases.  Moderately high protein
    diets may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.  Low fat, high carbohydrate diets may be more
    suitable for these people.  Instead of a
    single type of food, the most favored diets are those which are more complex
    than others. 


    85gr protein 
    + 116gr fat  +   360gr carbohydrate/day   =  
    high carbohydrate diet

    protein  +  82gr fat  
    + 181gr carbohydrate/day   =  high protein diet

    137gr protein 
    +   140gr fat    + 
    42gr carbohydrate/day  =  high fat diet


    Mixed diets do not reduce the
    risk of colon cancer.  However, eating
    lots of fibrous, pulpy foods has been shown to reduce it.


    Determining meal times

    We eat more than we need
    to. True hunger is when stomach cramps begin, and this happens about 18-24
    hours after one’s last meal. We should not confuse hunger and mild hunger.  Mild hunger is not feeling full in the
    stomach. Long-term memory is facilitated in the case of mild hunger and
    molecular mechanisms are accelerated, and thus we become conditioned to eat at
    regimented times. 

    Physiological mealtimes
    should be preferred to traditional mealtimes. Foods that give energy, such as
    carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, can only be metabolized after a certain
    period of time. Since it takes the longest (8 hours) for fat to metabolize, it
    should be at least 8 hours between meals; otherwise, the body stores that
    excess fat. So someone who sleeps for 8 hours can eat two meals a day.


    Duration of meals

    The relationship between hunger,
    nutrition, eating speed, and putting on weight was studied in obese children, and
    it was found that the feeling of hunger and eating speed were four times higher
    in obese children than normal children. 
    Therefore, that’s why they eat more and the feeling of fullness takes
    longer to kick in. Meals should be chewed for a long time:  a brain’s satiety center only registers a
    feeling of fullness after around 30 minutes.


    Amount of food

    The volume of a normal
    stomach is 1000-1500 cc. It is necessary to leave space for the stomach’s contents
    to shake easily and for the stomach to add the enzymes and the slurries that
    break the food down and carry it towards the intestines. In this case, it is
    necessary to leave 2/3 of the stomach for water and food, and 1/3 empty. The
    total amount of food and water should not exceed 700-1000 cc. 


    Personalized workouts

    Exercise strengthens
    muscles. During a workout, biochemical events in the body are accelerated,
    toxins are excreted more easily from the body, and weight is lost. Before
    determining a workout program, it is important to make sure there isn’t any
    significant abnormality in the body’s biochemistry, or an injury. For the best
    results, it is important to know which muscles work more in terms of energy
    spent during a workout. For example, the energy spent by the front thigh
    muscles and the forearm muscles is not the same. A workout should proceed
    gradually, so as not to cause injury. 


    Drinking enough water

    The water lost by daily
    metabolic activities and sweating should be recovered.  The amount of water consumed per resting day
    is 1800-2000 cc. A person will need more water if they are exercising.


    Prophetic diet

    religions have guidelines for which foods to eat together at the same time. For
    instance, in Judaism, meat and dairy products should not be cooked together;
    some Orthodox Jews would not combine meat and fish. Many Muslims look at the
    Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) diet and see that he did not eat the
    following kinds of food together:
    milk and sour food, milk
    and meat, or milk and eggs. He also avoided two hot or cold foods at the same
    time, as well as two fried or dried foods. The Prophet (pbuh) did not prefer to
    eat extremely hot food and said blessings would be with cooler food. Religious
    traditions also have certain dietary prohibitions. For instance, Judaism and
    Islam prohibit eating certain animals, and permitted animals have to be
    slaughtered according to the religious law.


    Diet is an important part
    of one’s health, but it’s not the only factor. Health is determined by many
    things, including culture, genetics, education, and other lifestyle factors.


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