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Any food that has ever been a powder is a processed food. It's not just things that come in boxes. Bread, the staff of life, is a processed food, and depending on the artificiality of the ingredients, it can be more or less toxic. But it is processed, which means a great deal of the digesting has already been done, and all those calories are ready to flood into your bloodstream all at once, rather than trickle in, as chewing the grains would allow for. You see the point -- there can be a big hypoglycemic effect, sugar high and low, for anyone who has any sort of a weight issue.

Now hear this: PROCESSED FOODS ARE PRE-DIGESTED, AND AMOUNT TO INSTANT BLOOD SUGAR, WHICH TURNS INTO FAT. They're more than refined. We call them industrial carbs.

There is a way to unprocess the food. It is a cheat. It does not add nutrients, which should be the major reason for eating -- so the theory goes.  But reality is what it is, and sometimes we need to undo some of the folly we've indulged in.

Glucomannan is a vegetable fiber derived from konjac root, native to Asia. It does not dissolve in water, but rather forms a thick gooey gel. Konjac is sold as capsules under various product names, and expands to perhaps 100 times its original mass -- a gram (about the size of a vitamin pill) grows to the size of, um, a hamburger paddy.  Pretty amazing. This creates a sensation of fullness, but much more important in terms of health is that it regulates insulin.

There are two sorts of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble. The insoluble kind adds bulk and roughage, which is necessary for healthy elimination. And there actually is a nutritional element, in providing energy to the cells of the colon -- but that's pretty obscure. Soluble fiber absorbs water inside the digestive tract, and becomes, as it were, sticky. The benefit of this is that the gel mixes with processed foods and slows down the absorption of sugar. See?

Adding soluble fiber somewhat undoes the hypoglycemic effect. Birthday boy still ate all that cake with no meaningful nutrients and all those calories, but if he supplements some soluble fiber the industrial carbs  won't go racing into his bloodsteam causing a hysterical insulin response. It's as if he ate little pieces of cake, over five hours, rather than a big piece all at once. He won't be burning the fat he already has, but he won't be adding new fat either, the way he would have without the fiber.

It's a cheat.  He should have eaten nutritious food. Why didn't he? Shame! For shame! But he already knew that. Once the blame is out of the way, and the guilt, and the self-loathing and defensiveness, we can get practical. Take a soluble fiber pill -- there's one marketed under the name PGX. It doesn't make a bad diet good, but it makes it less damaging. That's a sort of good.  Because it makes a very real difference.  Real fat loss of about a pound a week occurs, making no lifestyle changes at all, save a pill before each meal.

It's not a good thing to eat poorly and then try to undo the damage. Eat properly. Nutrient-dense, calorie-poor foods. But we do live in the real world. So if you cheat on your diet, cheat again. Two wrongs don't make it right, but the second makes the first less wrong.

Another soluble fiber is psyllium, the active ingredient of Metamucil. Yes, it makes you go to the toilet. You can pick it up as Psyllium at Trader Joe's, cheap, and scoop it over your Lucky Charms. It's not as thick and gooey as konjac, and doesn't come in capsules, and it's less expansive.  But it has the same healthful benefit as konjac.

The solid research is pretty interesting. Supplementing with these soluble fibers can have positive effects on constipation, intestinal gas, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, ahem, anal fissures, Crohn's disease (inflamed bowel), IBS and colon cancer. It's all so very excretory, true. It has a beneficial effect on hyperglycemia (pre-diabetes), obesity, cholesterol levels, and it inhibits dietary fat from being absorbed. Digestion is more complicated than thinking. Entertain your bowels, the way you do your mind.

The other cheat we'll mention is Omega-3. We've already looked at it in depth. Here, enough to note that it undoes some of the poisonous effects of a diet high in inflammatory fats -- which is the standard American diet.  SAD.  Point is, when wrong foods have been indulged in, do what you can to undo the damage.

Adolescents are idealistic. They still believe in perfection, as small children believe in Santa Claus. When we become mature, we put away childish things and try to see the world as it is. Not dark, not cynical. Realistic. Pragmatic. Within which worldview, there is ample room for optimism.

Consider the myth of Pandora's Box. A superficial understanding would see the tale as teaching the folly of curiosity, or the foolishness and primal guilt of women, or the inevitable doom that justifies our darkest forebodings. Misses the point. The point is thisafter every evil thing had spilled like shards of glass from that Box -- pestilence and catastrophe and atrocity -- the last thing to emerge was something wonderful.


Perfection? Please. Perfection is static, and we are always changing. We don't trouble ourselves with perfection, but we strive for excellence. Such a great difference, in such a small shift in outlook. It makes us smile.

We strive then to be beautiful, in our character and our actions and in our health. If you have remained too long, sitting -- if you've remained too long, sitting at the dinner table ... well? Have hope. Take heart. Take heart by taking action.

Be excellent.


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