As one of America’s most informed and passionate health care advocates, Suzanne Somers has a history of sharing her secrets to keeping the weight off and looking beautiful. In her latest book, “Sexy Forever: How to Fight Fat After Forty,” Somers encourages a new approach to staying slim and looking great later in life. Here’s an excerpt.
Hello TV dinners, goodbye health
We need to retrain ourselves to eat as we were meant to eat. I believe one of the ways we got started on this path was with TV dinners. When I was a kid, I used to beg my mother to buy TV dinners. I thought they were a treat, but when you actually think about it, TV dinners are a form of poison.
Let’s just start with the aluminum trays, which we heated on high. (If you recall, you used to be able to taste the aluminum.) So right there you have a big dose of heavy metals, which have been linked to brain tumors, among many other things. The food itself was of poor quality and non-nutritious. The oils used were bad. And the most exciting part of the meal was the gooey, sugary, apple-y, chemical-y thing they called dessert.
TV dinners began our transition from real nutrition to toxic, chemical-filled food, and the obesity rate rose commensurately, as did rates of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
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Don’t be afraid of real food. If you want to stay Sexy Forever, first and most important, you must eat real food — in other words, foods that come from nature, not man-made foods, not fake foods, not any foods with chemicals.
Become are of food additives
You must also become informed about food additives. Harmful glutamates such as MSG may be hidden in food ingredients such as caseinate, autolyzed yeast enzymes, beef or chicken broth, natural flavorings, soy protein, hydrolyzed protein, soy isolates, and soy protein concentrates.
This is how large manufacturers get around listing MSG. (That being said, these ingredients do not always contain MSG.) If you are truly serious about losing weight and getting healthy, you must be vigilant about avoiding these substances.
What we should be eating: Butter and other good fats
It is important to become knowledgeable about good and bad fats. The wrong choice of fats will have a serious effect on your health and your ability to lose weight.
Omega-3 fats are heart-healthy fats.
The right choices of fats are crucial to the membranes of every one of the trillions of cells in your body. Omega-3 fats create a soft, pliable membrane around each cell, allowing for water and air (hydration and oxygenation) to flow through. Life is water and air, and the good omega-3 oils that promote life are perilla oil, flaxseed oil, and fish oil. Animal fats from healthy animals like grass-fed cattle are also acceptable in moderation; it is a shame these healthy, naturally occurring fats have been demonized by the food processing industry.
When your cells have the proper amounts of water and oxygen, the mitochondria (the energy source of your cells) work optimally, and a side benefit is rapid weight loss. Well-functioning hydrated cells also reverse the aging process and create a smoothly functioning, healthy body. When water and air are not penetrating the cells, your energy slows or stops, resulting in potentially serious effects on your health, all while setting you up to get fatter and fatter.
Trans fats and too many omega-6 fats are harmful.
Trans fats found in partially hydrogenated oils, margarine, and shortening are the worst type of fats because they are completely unnatural. Less known are the dangers of omega-6 fats, which are found in safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, among others. Too many omega-6 fats and not enough omega-3 fats creates a hard membrane around each cell, like an eggshell. Free radicals entering your body can cause the membrane to crack, and now you have a malfunctioning cell. When you reach a point where you have more malfunctioning cells than healthy cells, you will most likely become very ill, possibly with diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Along the way your weight will soar. A simple step such as changing the oils you consume can positively impact the health of your cells; there is no drug that can do that.
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I think Sally Fallon in her book "Nourishing Traditions" says it best: “During the sixty-year period from 1910 to 1970, the proportion of traditional animal fat in the American diet declined from 83 percent to 62 percent, and butter consumption plummeted from 18 pounds per person per year to four. During the past eighty years, dietary cholesterol intake has increased only 1 percent. During the same period the percentage of dietary vegetable oils in the form of margarine, shortening and refined oils increased about 400 percent while the consumption of sugar and processed foods increased about 60 percent.” Americans are dying of heart disease from sugar, processed foods, bad oils, margarine, shortening, and refined foods. We are getting fatter and fatter eating all this poor quality food.
What we should be eating: More protein
Overall, we need high-quality protein at most every meal. By high-quality, I mean protein that has not been contaminated by chemicals, pesticides, growth hormones, or antibiotics. Protein is extremely important and is involved in every life function from your bone marrow to your skin. Proteins are found in both animal and vegetable sources. Animal-source protein is complete protein because almost all animal proteins contain all eight essential amino acids in optimal proportions. This ratio of amino acids is very valuable to your body.
Studies prove that too little protein in your body results in health problems that range in severity from a suppressed immune system and physical weakness to stunted growth and mental retardation. It takes a diet of at least 30 percent protein to maximize the biochemicals (eicosanoids) in your system that enhance your immune system, decrease inflammation and pain, increase oxygen flow, improve endurance, and more. Fish is a great source of protein. Chicken and beef are a great source of protein but chicken should be organic and beef grass-fed whenever possible; conventionally raised poultry may suffer from the same problems of poor-quality feed and overcrowding that conventionally raised cattle and pigs do. Russia doesn’t want our chicken, and they have a food shortage. That should tell you something!
Russia, along with several other countries, has banned poultry from the United States because of the chlorine (a known carcinogen) used in the processing. Besides, organic chickens taste so much better. If you cannot afford organic, look for natural poultry and meats raised without antibiotics or hormones. These are always better choices and will contribute to your daily health and nutritional requirements.
Detox first, lost weight after
Losing weight without getting rid of the toxins ensures that you will gain back all the fat and more. Think about it — just getting rid of the fat doesn’t get rid of the toxins, which are reabsorbed into your body. This creates a vicious cycle. Losing weight without learning to eliminate chemicals is like a merry-go-round. And it’s why dieting doesn’t work. Plus the toxic load makes it more and more difficult for people from age forty on to lose weight.
Now do you understand why losing weight has been a frustrating battle for you? Are you ready to get off that not-so-merry-go-round?
Here we go!
From the book "Sexy Forever: How to Fight Fat After Forty" by Suzanne Somers. Copyright © 2010 by Suzanne Somers. Reprinted by arrangement with Crown Archetype, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive