Understanding how ingredients affect your diet

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (May 27, 2024) — There are many ways of getting your diet under control, but the public is confused when some theories seem to contradict elements of other theories.

I like to simplify the message: Your diet should protect the liver, feed the gut and support the brain.

One scourge of our time is the widespread consumption of sugar and processed food. The result has been a rise in obesity and the related increase in diabetes. Glucose monitors are an important tool in the fight against diabetes, helping people understand what foods cause spikes in their levels.

Insulin monitors

Expected in the next five years is the development of continuous insulin monitors that people will find more effective in seeing what foods are good or bad for them, reports my friend and co-author Dr. Robert H. Lustig. It’s important to comprehend what causes insulin to spike and inhibits efforts to lose weight.

Lustig, a professor emeritus of pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at UC San Francisco, recently discussed the biochemistry of food on a podcast, “The Doctor’s Farmacy,” hosted by Dr. Mark Hyman.

Some people are frustrated by their inability to lose weight because of a lack of fiber in their diet. On the podcast, Lustig talked about how many food companies, aiming for convenience, eliminate fiber in processed food. Fiber can’t be frozen, inhibiting the consumer’s ability to toss a box of “food” in the freezer.

For those who can’t resist processed food, there are companies now researching ways to insert water-soluble fiber into packages of food. The soluble fiber mimics the effects of natural fiber to signal your system that you’re full and can stop eating, helping prevent glucose and insulin spikes.

Natural sources of fiber, like kale and broccoli, are food for the microbiome in your digestive system. You need to feed the gut.
In my next column, I will discuss food obsession. Plenty of people have come to me and said, “I just can’t stop eating.”

Here’s a healthy recipe to try at home.

Red Lentil Curry Stew

6 servings

2 T avocado oil
½ c. onion or 1 small onion, diced
1 c. sweet potato or 1 small sweet potato, diced (or butternut squash)
2 small stalks or 1 large stalk celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
¼ c. curry powder
1 T salt
1 T turmeric
½ T cumin
1 T coriander

1 tsp. fresh grated ginger or ½ tsp. dry ginger
¼ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cayenne pepper or red chili (optional)

1 c. red lentils
15.5-oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
13.5-oz. can coconut cream
14-oz. can crushed tomatoes
½ can tomato paste (3 ounces)
1-2 c. water or vegetable stock (less water makes stew thicker)

½ c. nutritional yeast (optional)
8 oz. frozen chopped spinach
½ T dry dill or 1 T fresh
½ c. halved cherry tomatoes
Dollop of yogurt (optional)

Heat avocado oil in a large pot until hot and add all the ingredients through the cayenne pepper in the order listed. Sauté until tender.
Add the next six ingredients and cook 30 minutes with lid on pot. Note: Using cooked lentils rather than raw will reduce cooking time. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Add the rest of the ingredients and serve topped with yogurt if desired.

The nutritional yeast will increase the Vitamin B12, which supports the function of your nerve cells and is needed for red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis.

Send your questions and comments to Cindy Gershen at cindymgershen@gmail.com.

Read more stories by Cindy Gershen.

Cindy Gershen
Cindy Gershen

Cindy Gershen is an educator, nutritionist, chef, and co-author of “Fat Chance Cookbook.”