Someone at work told me about this documentary she saw recently called "Hungry For Change" by Food Matters available on Netflix. It sounded interesting so I downloaded it and watched it. There wasn't a lot of new information for me as I already knew that anything labelled as 'fat free' or 'low fat' or 'light' is ultimately bad for you. In the process of taking out the fat the manufacturers add chemicals to make the food feel good in your mouth and taste good. I remember reading about that in the book "The End of Overeating..." by David A. Kessler. Bottom line on chemicals is that your body doesn't know what to do with them so many of them are simply stored wherever the body finds room (or makes room). It's not real food and your body will not run very well on chemicals for very long.
What caught my attention from the documentary was the idea that to make lab rats/mice fat the scientists feed them MSG (monosodium glutamate). Rats and mice are not naturally fat so in order for scientists to study obesity they first need to create some obese mice and rats. Apparently this procedure is common knowledge in the scientific community but hasn't been studied as the cause of obesity in people. I did some digging (I am not posting all the links here, just Google it) and found:
MSG is a flavour enhancer making food very tasty. It's naturally occurring in many foods but in small enough quantities so that it doesn't interfere with your stomach's signals to the brain. When something tastes good your stomach asks for more, if too much food is given the body starts storing it for later use (yes, in fat cells) - to a point. As an example, an apple tastes really good. The second apple doesn't taste quite as good. The third apple is even less tasty and by now the stomach is saying it'll bounce it right back out if you try to eat another one. I believe it was Japan or China (yep, too lazy to find that link also) that figured out how to refine MSG so it can be added to food to make it taste better. Awesome, right? Example time: one cookie tastes really good. The second cookie tastes the same as the first cookie. The third cookie still tastes equally yummy. The last cookie in the bag you just scarfed down tastes the same as the first cookie. The MSG apparently blocks the signal to stop eating all the tasty cookies. The body doesn't know what to do with the extra nutrition so it creates fat cells and stores the energy. So is the added MSG making us fat? And did you know that MSG is hiding in processed foods under more than 40 different names?
Ah, and here is something else I learned from the documentary: all these chemical add-ons to food are fat soluble, not water soluble. So after eating said bag of cookies you go to the gym and sweat during your workout. Except the sweat doesn't contain all the chemicals you put in your body that are making you fat. And you are not peeing out the toxins either. According to the documentary you need to detoxify yourself by juicing every veggie you can. Someone on the show said that the liver cleans the toxins out but when they are going down the poop chute the toxins are reabsorbed by the body, thereby creating a constant circulation of toxins in your body. I don't know if I believe that completely as I learned from Dr Oz on Oprah years ago that the liver detoxifies your body every day. That is the purpose of your liver. Detox diets are completely worthless, instead just add veggies to your diet and less processed food. The liver will take care of the rest. Anyway, the documentary was also promoting the use of a juicer to help detoxify and apparently there is a book you can buy to help you out. Bit of a marketing scheme I'll bet.
My other concern about the juicing idea is that the body doesn't recognize liquid calories as calories. All these years we've been told a calorie is a calorie and it turns out that's not completely true. Liquid calories don't have the same sense of satiety that solid food calories have. In other words, you can drink 800 calories and feel less full than if you ate 800 calories, this encourages you to eat/drink more to feel fuller. So juicing veggies isn't a bad idea, but you won't feel full after and may end up eating more to compensate. The woman who told me about the documentary tried juicing and said "carrot juice is everything I like about carrots without chewing the skin". She said the same of apples. There is also something I learned from somewhere that the act of chewing the food helps break down the nutrients, drinking your food will not have the same nutritional effect on your body. Something about the enzymes in the saliva help break down the food before getting to the stomach. We were meant to chew food not drink food.
So, what did I learn? Eat more vegetables. As many as possible in the biggest variety possible. And most importantly, replace processed food with actual, real food.