Today I heard on the news that Dunkin' Donuts is underway with a massive U.S. expansion. This is a tragic development for both the individuals who eat them and the health care system that will have to pay for their gluttony. Take a look at this graph:
If health care costs continue to rise at the same rate as they did in the last ten years, within another 10 -15 years, almost every dollar you earn will go to health care. Forget new running shoes or gym memberships.
Many Americans, rich and poor alike, feel they're hungry when, in fact, they are stuffed. One of the main reasons we eat too much is that we don't know when we're full because the hormones that regulate hunger and satiety are out of whack because of what we eat the most -- very high carb foods like donuts.
You've probably heard of insulin resistance -- when your muscle and fat cells no longer respond to insulin that signals cells to allow blood sugars to enter, so your pancreas produces even more insulin, a problem in itself. Then, when the sugars cannot be delivered to cells, they are returned to the liver where they will be converted to fatty acids that will morph into belly fat and very low density lipoproteins, which will eventually clog your arteries.
You may not of heard of leptin resistance, though leptin is directly connected to insulin levels. Under normal circumstances, leptin is a hormone that lets your brain know that you can stop eating because you have enough fat strored in your body to get you to the next meal in case of an emergency. (If you want to learn more about it, read "Mastering Leptin" by Byron Richards.) Leptin tells your brain, "I'm full now."
Ron Rosedale, M.D., describes the nightmarish cycle in his book, The Rosedale Diet:
"...it takes more and more leptin to tell the brain that it's satisfied. The brain, not hearing leptin, frantically signals for more and more fat to be stored. Since leptin is made by fat cells, you have to make more and more fat to produce enough leptin to finally get its message across to the brain to stop being hungry and stop storing fat. This creates a vicious cycle: you eat more because your brain doesn't know how to tell you to stop, and the only way you can stop is by producing more fat to make more leptin, which means that you keep getting fatter, and more insulin and leptin resistant, which just makes you want to keep eating more."
The best way to avoid this trap and restore hormonal balance is cheap and simple: eat mostly unprocessed foods (especially the deadly high sugar carbs) and exercise. Teach your family and friends do the same.
Once people are able to feel full again, the number of fast food joints like Dunkin' Donuts will go down. So will health care costs.