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Following a diet doesn't work and it even makes us gain weight. William Cortvriendt wrote a book on the subject. I am going to ask him how this works.
Hi William, welcome to our studio. You wrote a book: 'Living A Century Or More'. It's on most diets and you explain why it doesn't help to diet and that you even gain weight with it. How does that principle work?
Yes, well of course, when we look at being overweight or obese, we have to look at the causes: why we become fat. And a lot of people think that people who are overweight are fat slobs. And if they don't say it, then they think it. And that's not the case. Those people don't eat too much food and the reason is neither that they don't exercise a lot. And so when they start exercising or eating less, they will lose some weight but it won't solve the problem. The problem is solved by eating other types of food and especially replacing processed foods with fresh foods.
Like you said: it's not exercise, it's not dieting; it's all about eating fresh?
Yes, it's mostly about eating fresh. Since around the Second World War, our lives have changed a lot. Both partners in a marriage work now and people are always in a hurry, having to bring the children to school, to the violin lessons, to football lessons, whatever it is. And the need for rapidly preparable food has increased tremendously. We've started to eat more and more processed foods. And those processed foods are not well-recognised by our body. To give an example: soda drinks. When we drink cola or Fanta, our body does not recognise what we're drinking. In nature there is no waterfall of Coca-Cola or a river of Fanta or a lake of Seven Up. Our body thinks that we're drinking water, while we get a lot of calories. And the processed foods are a kind of stealth food that remains under the radar.
To fight obesity, there is also the problem - and it goes hand in hand - the problem of diabetics. How are those linked?
Becoming overweight, or obese, - and obese is like being seriously overweight - is usually the first sign that the body gives that something is really wrong and that we're poisoning ourselves with food. We should have an alarm bell on top of our heads that starts ringing if that happens, because in being overweight or obese the first step for several complications, - and usually the next step is diabetes type 2 - where our body really says: "I cannot handle this food anymore". And the next steps are that these high blood sugars cause a lot of other problems, like an increase risk in cardiovascular disease, more cancer, more dementia, et cetera.
You are already mentioning cancer and heart diseases, but you also wrote that sunlight has an influence.
Yes, sunlight works on that as well through a vitamin that we all know: vitamin D. And the classical issue with vitamin D is that we have a severe deficiency that our bones are not well-made. In the Netherlands and Belgium it's known as the Indies Disease, because that's where it started when during the Industrial Revolution children worked inside the factory and didn't see any sunlight anymore. We have discovered that when we have a lack of sunlight and thereby a lack of vitamin D, that our chances of cardiovascular disease and diabetes increase, and that's not necessarily through our weight. Apparently vitamin D has a large role in our body, not just as a vitamin, but basically as a type of hormone and influences a whole lot of bodily processes.
So we should take more vitamin D then?
Well, first of all we should try to come out in the open a little bit more. Our lives are mostly led inside the house now and we hardly see any sunlight anymore. And of course we don't have to think about the intense sunlight in the summer holidays. Especially, coming outside every day with sunlight. That's the first step. The second thing is: still in winter we probably all have a deficiency in vitamin D. And therefore I always advice: go to your general practitioner and ask him to measure your vitamin D. It's a very easy procedure. And based on that you can decide to take vitamin supplements or not. when you take vitamin, you have to take vitamin D3, that's a supplement.
William, thank you very much for sharing these tips. People who want to read your books: where can they find them?
My book Living A Century Or More, they can find it on the internet for example on Amazon, when you write it down, it immediately pops up and you can read all about it.
Thank you so much for your time.
And you at home: thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week!