By Coach Bryan Rosen, CF-L3
The 2019 CrossFit Health Conference was held on July 31 in Madison, WI. Crossfit.com releases a workout each day, and for each workout, I write a comment detailing a warm-up that fits the purpose of the workout. Because I do this, CrossFit HQ invited me to attend the third iteration of the Health Conference. I heard talks from Dominic D’Agostino, David Diamond, Gary Taubes, and Zoe Harcombe. Their talks focused on three major topics: (1) cholesterol and fat in the diet, (2) low-carbohydrate diets (e.g., keto), and (3) the influence of the pharmaceutical industry. While I took issue with many of these researchers’ specific arguments, I would like to give you my three biggest takeaways from this year’s conference. In other words, three things I think we can all agree on.
1. We need to eat whole foods. That is, foods that are close to their natural state as possible. First, whole foods have a higher nutrient density: there are more nutrients per calorie of food. Any time a food is processed, nutrients are removed. These nutrients could be vitamins, or proteins, you name it. Second, whole foods also have a higher nutrient synergy. What this means is that when you eat a vegetable like a carrot, which is high in vitamin A, you’re also getting a ray of other vitamins, too.
2. We need to cut out sugary and processed carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates, create a spike in insulin levels. For those that don’t know insulin is a hormone that helps you either use sugars in carbohydrates now or store them for later. Insulin also helps regulate your blood sugar levels. Too high or too low of blood sugar levels can contribute to a host of metabolic diseases. We want to avoid eating refined carbohydrates is because fiber is removed. Fiber helps slow the metabolism process of carbohydrate-dense foods, and thus can help prevent unnecessary spikes in insulin.
3. The drug industry is powerful. Pharmaceutical companies have a lot of money, and they make their money on selling their drugs. Lipitor, which is a cholesterol lowering drug, claimed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, the drug company manipulated the numbers by conflating relative and absolute risk. (Relative risk is used to compare risks between two groups, whereas absolute risk measures across multiple groups.) This made it seem like the drug was much more effective than it is, and the drug company then paid for advertisements to hide this distinction. I hold the belief that most drugs do what they say they’re supposed to do, but it’s important for us to be cautious of how drug companies market their drugs. Moreover, the best medicine is probably the one that’s on your plate.
To wrap it all up…
There is one last point I would like to address that I don’t think was stressed enough at the conference but is worthy of discussion. Nutritional science is complicated. And it’s complicated for many reasons. First of all, modern nutritional science is a pretty young field. For example, the first vitamin was isolated in 1926 — that’s less than 100 years ago! Second, there are a number of lifestyle factors (e.g., smoking, stress, exercise, etc.) that make it difficult to determine whether it’s someone’s overall lifestyle or the diet they eat that makes someone healthy or sick. And lastly, it’s generally the case that observations of living things are often more imprecise than observations in other sciences like physics or chemistry.
While the science of nutrition is complicated, our approach to improving your nutrition habits is simple. We tackle one habit at a time! We’ve found that consistent small efforts over time makes a big difference in your health.
If you’re looking to upgrade your nutrition habits, Ripple Effect is launching our nutrition coaching programs this fall. Coach Chris has his training from Precision Nutrition, which provides a very balanced view of nutrition. He will:
• help you develop a healthy relationship with food and eating;
• provide accountability and guidance to help you stay on track;
• work together to identify, prioritize, and take action on the habits that will be the most impactful, and the most doable for the long term.
Have questions or want to sign up? Shoot Chris an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited!