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Laurie Gardner     Laurie Gardner
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The Gold Coast Cure:
How to Break 7 Deadly Dietary Habits

The Gold Coast Cure:How to Break 7 Deadly Dietary Habits

Medical care has never been better. We're living longer, doctors have access to the latest medical techniques, and scientists are better able to research and detect disease. But we're still not a healthy society. Eighty-four million Americans are obese, and ninety-five million Americans are overweight. Over one hundred million Americans suffer from degenerative conditions such as heart disease, asthma, arthritis, and diabetes. The "cure" for many of these chronic ailments is not always derived from cutting-edge medicine, but rather cutting-edge nutrition. In other words, diet can – in some cases – be a more effective treatment than medicine.

Dr. Andrew Larson, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and a general surgeon, and his wife, Ivy, an American College of Sports Medicine health fitness instructor, began to research the connection between diet and disease when Ivy was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of twenty-two.

The couple published their first book, The Gold Coast Cure (HCI Books, 2005), on the premise that the common denominators linking up to ten chronic conditions were inflammation and malnutrition, both of which can be combated with an all-natural and nutrient-rich "whole foods" diet.

The Gold Coast Cure identifies seven deadly dietary habits that contribute to inflammation and malnutrition and then outlines a lifestyle strategy to eliminate them, starting with a complete pantry makeover. The seven deadly dietary habits include:

1. Eating Trans Fats: Trans fats increase your "bad" LDL cholesterol, decrease your "good" HDL cholesterol, increase triglycerides, and impair artery dilation, all of which dramatically increases your risk of heart disease. They also increase inflammation in your body and worsen symptoms of conditions characterized by inflammation, such as arthritis and asthma. As if this weren't bad enough, trans fats decrease your cells' sensitivity to insulin and increase your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

2. Eating Too Much Saturated Fat: It's a well-known fact – diets rich in saturated fats increase the risk of heart disease. A less-publicized fact is that diets rich in saturated fats may also contribute to gallbladder disease and certain types of cancer, and exacerbate inflammatory conditions such as multiple sclerosis, asthma, fibromyalgia, and allergies. And, because saturated fat increases inflammation, it also slows metabolism and puts you at greater risk of obesity. Saturated fat also makes your body less sensitive to the effects of the satiety hormone leptin, and therefore further increases your risk of gaining unwanted pounds.

3. Eating Nutrient-Poor, Highly Refined Carbohydrates: Refined carbohydrates, the ones that make up the largest percentage of carbohydrate intake in the American diet (including all forms of sugar as well as white rice and foods made with refined flour such as pizza crust, bagels, boxed cereal, crackers, etc) increase your body's release of the "fat storing" hormone insulin and contribute to obesity and type 2 diabetes. And, if you don't burn those carbohydrates for energy, they are converted by your body into pro-inflammatory saturated fat, which increases your risk of heart disease and worsens symptoms of inflammatory conditions.

4. Eating Too Little Fiber: Fiber is found in unrefined "whole food" sources of carbohydrates and is a very important ally in weight management. Fiber-rich and bulky foods stimulate your digestive system's distention nerves which are responsible for sending nerve impulses to your brain via the vagus nerve to calm appetite. Researchers at Tufts University have shown that people who add an additional 14 grams of fiber to their daily diet end up eating 10% fewer calories at the end of the day. On a 2000 calorie a day diet, eating 10% fewer calories could add up to a 20-pound weight loss in one year. In addition, fiber-rich diets help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

5. Eating Too Little Essential Fat: Essential fats are necessary for the health of your immune system, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, and central nervous system. An essential fat deficiency can even interfere with your body's ability to burn fat for energy. Modern diets are especially deficient in omega-3 fats, the fats most useful for fighting inflammation and supporting a healthy metabolism.

6. Eating Too Many Processed Vegetable Oils: Processed vegetable oils (think corn oil, "pure" vegetable oil, cottonseed oil, etc.) are nutrient poor and calorie rich. Not only do these oils contribute to an expanded waistline, they are also pro-inflammatory and therefore worsen symptoms of numerous degenerative conditions. Furthermore, vegetable oils don't protect against heart disease because, in addition to lowering your "bad" LDL cholesterol, they also lower your "good" HDL cholesterol, which is the stuff that sweeps your arteries clean.

7. Eating Too Few Micronutrients: Modern diets are deficient in micronutrients, especially the antioxidants and phytochemicals found in unrefined plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, soy, beans, legumes, corn, whole grains, etc. These naturally-occurring substances reduce inflammation and also provide protection from numerous degenerative conditions including heart disease, stroke, cancer, and hypertension. Micronutrients work synergistically, so it's important to eat by the rainbow and consume a wide variety of different colored plant-based foods.

In addition to outlining a "whole foods" diet, The Gold Coast Cure also includes detailed information about nutritional supplementation and exercise. More information on The Gold Coast Cure is available at

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