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As most exercise physiologists and doctors will tell us, exercise is important. And I agree… but only in the context of the awful health conditions brought on by a poor diet. These health conditions include obesity, heart disease, insulin resistance, metabolic disorders, bone loss, muscle damage, and to a certain extent, chemical and hormonal imbalances. Exercise, therefore, is the medication by which we treat degenerative conditions that shouldn’t exist in the first place.
The Standard Western Diet, which contains high amounts of grain-based carbohydrates and sugar, promotes these degenerative conditions (often referred to mistakenly as age-related diseases). The higher contentof phytates in grain-based foods can block magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron absorption, minerals essential to the defense against degenerative diseases. The lectins in grains can force glucose into fat cells and inhibit fat release. Gluten in grains can (especially in those with celiac disease) leach bone mineral, thus increasing the risk for osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporis. And sugar, according to Dr. Nancy Appleton, can change protein structure and interfere with protein absorption, thus impeding normal muscle metabolism.
Unless we seek big muscles for vanity or bodybuilding purpose, or unless we are competitive athletes using exercise for physical preparation, then we are merely using exercise for the reason for which it is generally billed: to get healthy. But the unspoken reality is that we use exercise to treat (or prevent) obesity and degenerative conditions caused by a poor diet, one which contains refined sugar and excess grain-based carbohydrates.
Consider, as a brief example, the traditional Okanawans, who eat a diet comprised of nutrient-rich vegetables and limited in grains and sugar. They are generally healthy, free of diseases, and lean. Although their total calorie intake is low, I truly believe that their intake of nutrient-rich and nourishing food and their limted consumption of grain-based carbohydrates go far in controlling insulin and thus preventing excessive hunger. This population also never sees the inside of a gym and is entirely unfamiliar with high-intensity-interval training (HIIT). Yet the Okanawans remain lean and healthy. They are casually active by normal daily activities such as gardening and walking. They certainly don’t hire personal trainers!
Formal exercise improves physical work capacity and offers functional advantages. But don’t rely on it for primordial health and permanent weight loss.