The Garden of Eden Diet - Why Our Ancient Body Design No Longer Works with Today's Lifestyle
Balancing blood sugar is the ‘key’ to weight management and living vitally. Follow my Garden of Eden Diet and the unwanted pounds should fall off and your energy levels will stay as steady as your blood sugar! Sound too good to be true? Read on to discover the weight-loss wisdom found in the Garden of Eden...
In the mythical Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve grazed from nature’s bounty. Easy access to a low glycemic food supply resulted in even blood sugars and steady energy levels. There was no need to store fat as an emergency energy reserve to survive the lean times, because lean times didn’t exist! Life changed dramatically for our ancestors when Adam and Eve were expelled from the ‘Garden’. Their food supply became erratic and fat storage became a matter of survival. Let’s look at the ways our body has evolved to help our ancestors live outside the Garden of Eden, and how we can use this understanding to help us manage our weight, sustain our energy and live vitally.
Adam & Eve Grazed
The eating pattern of Adam and Eve involved “grazing”. Grazing refers to the practice of eating small amounts of healthy foods often throughout the day. Grazing helped to keep Adam and Eve’s weight stable and within a healthy range. How? Through one of our oldest and most important survival mechanisms: the “thrifty gene”. This enabled our ancestors to store enough fat to survive when the food supply was sporadic. A steady food supply helps to balance blood sugar and insulin levels allowing the body to burn calories for energy. However, if we skip meals, the thrifty gene is uncertain when the next meal is coming and switches the body’s metabolism from fat burning to fat building; the body's metabolism slows to conserve and store calories. Modern humans are the beneficiary of this survival mechanism and ironically the thrifty gene that once saved our ancestors is now contributing to “diabesity” and compromising our health.
Blood Sugars on a Rollercoaster
By practicing grazing in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve enjoyed consistent blood sugar levels. Blood sugar, or “blood glucose” levels are regulated by a variety of hormones, including insulin - the “master” fat storage hormone. The more insulin we secrete and the longer insulin levels stay elevated in our bodies, the longer we will continue to store fat vs. burning it. High levels of insulin in the bloodstream also inhibit our body from burning fat, as it protects this valuable energy supply for times of starvation.
Unlike appetite which has psychological drivers, hunger is a biological program controlled by our physiological survival mechanisms. As its sole source of fuel, the brain monitors blood sugar levels very closely and it triggers counter-regulatory hormones to either move sugar in or out of the blood stream. When we eat, our blood glucose rises in the bloodstream as food is digested and broken down for energy. If we eat consistently, the blood glucose levels rise and fall gently, providing us with sustained energy and controlled hunger levels. If, for example, we tend to not eat all day and then gorge ourselves at night, the “roller coaster effect” occurs: blood glucose levels rise significantly with too much glucose coming into the bloodstream and then fall precipitously, as insulin works to store the excess glucose into fat. This also triggers the release of hunting hormones, so you feel wired and ready to kill, with gnawing hunger and frustrating mood swings – you feel “hangry”.
While this hunting and killing brain set helped our ancestors survive, it doesn’t serve us or those around us well today. Combined with the availability of unhealthy foods, it can also spell disaster for someone trying to lose weight: extreme hunger typically results in overeating and often, eating those quickacting carbohydrates bring blood sugar back up. This is the viscous “spike, crash and crave” cycle, and fat storage survival mechanism, working in overdrive.
Two Sides of the Apple
The only stress Adam and Eve had in the Garden was not being allowed to eat “the Apple”. Today, we experience an onslaught of modern day stressors causing our body to release the hormone cortisol. Cortisol has a number of effects including making us less sensitive to the satiety hormone, leptin; increasing the storage of belly fat (visceral adipose tissue) which gives us the “apple shape”; and slowing our metabolism. Powerful hormones like cortisol and insulin helped ensure the survival of our ancestors by driving fat storage and blocking access to fat. Unlike in the Garden of Eden, today we are surrounded by non-nutritious and highly processed foods. Combine this availability of nutrient-devoid foods with our fat storing genes and one can see how weight gain is less a question of “will power” and more about our biology combined with our environment.
The Glycemic Index
Not all carbs are created equal. The type of carbohydrate found in the Garden of Eden would be classified as “low glycemic index” (GI), which means carbs are converted to blood glucose slowly, allowing for a gentle rise and fall of blood glucose levels. Our modern food supply however is full of refined, fast acting carbs (high GI) that are digested and assimilated into the bloodstream quickly, raising blood sugar and insulin levels and perpetuating the “roller coaster effect”. Unlike fast acting high GI carbs (the kindling) that spike blood sugar and cause cravings, slow acting low GI carbs (the logs) burn steady and longer, sustaining energy without wild blood sugar swings.
Understanding the impact food has on your blood sugar level is only one key to achieving optimal health. While it may not be “the key” that gets you into the Garden of Eden, it can open many doors leading to a longer and healthier life. But no matter what, you will find it easier to lose weight and achieve significant health benefits by replacing high-GI foods with their low-GI counterpart.