Inactivity and energy imbalance are scientifically established fundamental CAUSES of metabolic dysfunction (see: Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, NIH and NDIC). Any diet program that doesn’t address inactivity and energy imbalance is merely addressing the SYMPTOMS of metabolic dysfunction.
That doesn’t mean one shouldn’t address the symptoms. If I had a brain tumor that was causing headaches, you can bet I’d be taking painkillers for the pain. But I wouldn’t stop there, I’d treat the tumor as well.
Treating the symptoms of metabolic dysfunction is all well and good, but for true health to manifest, the CAUSES must also be addressed. It seems to me that a lot of dietary dogma is little more than a desperate attempt to circumvent the negative consequences of poor lifestyle choices: too much or too little food, inadequate physical activity, or in some more rare circumstances, overtraining (although I think most cases of overtraining could be resolved by simply eating enough calories to fuel the increased activity), inadequate sleep.
This is not to say dietary optimization is useless. Quite the contrary, maximizing the nutrient density of one’s diet can be very helpful, as can optimizing the macronutrient ratio to meet one’s unique goals and needs, just as painkillers can be helpful to the victim of a brain tumor. But far too often, dietary optimization is taken to an extreme, by dieter and guru, while simultaneously ignoring energy balance and physical activity, or worse, claiming that energy balance and physical activity don’t matter as long as a person is eating the ‘right’ foods. This is irresponsible in the extreme. It’s akin to prescribing painkillers alone as a treatment for a brain tumor. Helpful in the short term, but ineffective in establishing long-term health
My primary criticism of dietary dogma (aside from the divisiveness it breeds) is it’s general tendency to shift focus onto the symptoms of metabolic dysfunction, rather than the cause. Both are important. Without addressing and changing the behaviors and lifestyle factors that foster metabolic dysfunction, there will be no true healing.
Amber, what exactly, is metabolic dysfunction?
When I say metabolic dysfunction I usually mean insulin resistance and accompanying symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome: dyslipidemia, high blood pressure, etc. But really, any of a whole host of endocrine disorders can fall under the ‘metabolic dysfunction’ umbrella.
And stress reduction, too, right? I always love reading what you have to say, but I’m convinced that learning to control stress is going to be another integral part of my journey to wellness. I being treated right now for leaky gut and elevated cortisol levels. Adequate sleep and exercise will be extremely helpful in my quest to reduce stress in my daily routine but I also need to learn relaxation techniques as well. In our fast past, insult hurling, say whatever’s on my mind in the name of free speech world, I think many people could benefit from learning more about stress reducing techniques to cope with internal and external stress factors. Thanks for listening.
Absolutely, Paulette. I will say, however, that one of the biggest physical stressors I’ve experienced is energy imbalance: eating too little or too much. When my body is getting the amount of fuel it needs to function optimally, I feel exponentially better and experience more stable moods. Exercise is also a tremendous stress reliever. So while maintaining proper energy balance and exercising regularly won’t eliminate stress from your life, it WILL go a long way toward relieving your body’s hormonal response to that stress.
Thank you! You are ALWAYS so helpful. I am so appreciative of you and your blogs. You give me encouragement and confidence that I can and WILL feel better if I stick with it and continue to educate myself. Figuring out proper energy balance isn’t extremely difficult, but also isn’t totally simple either. I’m working at it though and getting better at it every day.
Have you ever written your opinion on Dr. Fuhrman’s diet?