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KEY POINTS:

1. Overweight and obesity are on the rise, increasing the risk of associated diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and mental health challenges.

2. Learning how to eat smarter not only decreases your risk of getting these diseases, but also dramatically improves your health and performance - in all areas of your life.

3. Find out what matters most to you (in regards to health and performance) and use this as motivation to Eat Smarter.  

“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” – Thomas Edison

Recently, I went on an expedition to the northwest corner of India – the Thar Desert – with my good friend Ray Zahab and his organization impossible2Possible. This expedition took us into various towns and villages along our journey through the desert. One morning I went with our medical team to explore the local communities and I saw something that blew my mind. There were two food stalls that were side by side that could not have captured the cause of the world’s health problems more clearly. In one stall was a gentleman who had all the traditional, local foods laid out which included a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit. All fresh, healthy options that prevent disease. But right next to him was a stall filled with bags of chips, chocolate bars and sugary snacks. This stall was new, and the owner was doing a brisk business selling the foods that cause the grand epidemics.

Even though we were far from North America in a rural area, I saw that the diseases of the west were showing up there as well. Unlike in North America and Europe where people who are overweight and obese comprise up to 68% of the population, there are fewer people in the rural parts of the developing world who have chronic illnesses. But the numbers are climbing. And with this comes other problems such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and mental health challenges.

Despite the global scale of the challenge and the complexity of the problem, there are solutions available to us today that are powerful if applied consistently over time. Eating healthy, great tasting food is possible - even necessary – and doing so will dramatically improve your life and the lives of those around you. Let’s set the stage for making that happen for you and for the rest of the world.

When I do presentations on nutrition, I've discovered something very interesting. When I start talking about nutrition and health people politely listen. I can tell that they're not super interested and that there's a lot of the “I’ve heard this so many times before” attitude going around the room. So at another talk I changed things up. I talked about how nutrition can help you to perform better. The talk was at a school so I made reference to foods that can improve exam performance. Suddenly everyone was taking notes and asking questions. I tried it again at a business where I was talking about how to eat to concentrate better in the afternoon. Once again people paid attention and emailed me asking for my nutrition protocols. The best part about this whole discovery was that I was talking about the same foods that I had previously discussed in the healthy eating talk. Focusing on performance made all the difference.

The message is that we have to link eating smarter to what we care about. So what do you care about most? What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and take on the world? Then eat smarter to help you do that better. Food helps us perform better at sports, academics, business, drama and music. Eating smarter is how we can experience exponential growth in our lives.

Today's POWER-UP: What Food Guide Should You Follow?

Our Food Guides that are issued by the governments are outdated and they are influenced by the food industry to such an extent that the recommendations do not enhance your health, although they do keep people employed. We know that dairy is not always healthy for humans yet it forms a major part of the Food Guide. We know that added simple sugars are addictive and can increase your risk of cancer yet they remain a key part of the nutrition guidelines we are told to follow.

A more specific example of the problems is that the Food Guides put all protein sources together as equally healthful sources. Red meat, poultry and beans are all considered the same when it comes to sources of protein despite processed meat consumption being associated with increased risk of cancer and beans having been shown to improve health, body composition and resistance to disease.

The first step to getting healthy and performing at your best is to go beyond the Canada Food Guide and the USDA MyPyramid and build a nutrition plan that enhances your health using the Keys that I'll be showing you in the upcoming posts. If you’re looking for a food guide that is actually based on research check out the Harvard Medical School’s Healthy Eating Plate, or even better Brazil’s Healthy Eating Recommendations.