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Why Diets Fail

Jun 27, 2008
This article is from Kevin Gianni's Fountain of Youth Summit. In this article Phoenix Gilman shares on the neurochemistry of why diets fail. Phoenix Gilman is the author of "Diet Failure - The Naked Truth About Weight Loss."

KEVIN: So, let's start talking a little about what you do. I said weight loss in the introduction. You also are an ADD and ADHD expert as well. So, let's talk a little bit about what you do, how you got into this, and then we'll move forward from there.

PHOENIX: OK. Well, as you said, my area of expertise kind of goes across the board because primarily, the area that I wanted to research was neurochemistry.

KEVIN: A-ha.

PHOENIX: And neurochemistry is the study of brain chemicals. My initial goal was to really find out why so many diets fail, pretty much the rate is ... pretty alarming and about ninety-eight percent of all diet fails.

KEVIN: It's incredible, isn't it?

PHOENIX: Yeah. And the only thing I have to look around to see that, a rate of obesity and of course, the type 2 and ... But that being said, the brain chemical that I discovered that controls the two key reasons that diet fails, also as the master communicator of all the brain chemicals then, when that brain chemical becomes depleted, this is why we have so many side effects or health conditions because of it. So not only is it tied into why diets fail but it also is a direct link to the so-called ADD, ADHD.

KEVIN: Got you. So, you're saying that one of the main causes of ADHD is because of the body chemistry?

PHOENIX: Absolutely. The brain chemical that I put my focus on is serotonin. As most people know, serotonin, Kevin, has a relation to depression, but not, again it's the key brain chemical, the key master communicator of all the brain chemicals. When that brain chemical becomes depleted, which is why we have all these side effects and they can be anything from carbohydrate cravings, binging or simply eating more than our body needs, from rage, depression, insomnia, PMS, so-called ADD, the inability to stay focused and many, many other health conditions. So, to understand that the brain chemical, when it's depleted, and unfortunately it's depleted by everything in life, that that ADD, ADHD or adult ADD, whatever title you want to give it to is simply due to low serotonin.

KEVIN: A-ha. And let's talk a little bit about how that works, how does serotonin form, I mean, how does it get in your body, you know?

PHOENIX: Excellent question. Excellent. Serotonin, first of all, again, is a brain chemical. It's not something you can take. It is something that is within the body and found in the brain and in the different areas in the body, primarily in the brain and the stomach.

KEVIN: A-ha.

PHOENIX: There of course are pharmaceutical drugs out there who, you know, Prozac, Zoloft, things like that, that will help elevate it. However, it's a pharmaceutical drug which will always come with side effects. And the problem is, which is an interesting and unfortunate side effect, is when people take those pharmaceutical drugs to elevate the serotonin. The problem is that with every pharmaceutical drug that you put in your body will deplete this brain chemical. So, which is why you see on the antidepressant, the drug, can in fact, increase depression and suicide and that's the reason.

KEVIN: Really? OK.

PHOENIX: Yeah, absolutely. It's depleting the same brain chemical it's designed to elevate. And so, to understand that all of the things that might deplete this brain chemical, stress, who doesn't have stress, the lack of quality sleep, pharmaceutical drugs, over-the-counter meds, high sugar, high GI diet, high glycemic index carbohydrates, lack of exercise, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, you name it, it depletes it.

KEVIN: Right.

PHOENIX: So, we basically live in a society, Kevin, that we are surrounded by everything that will deplete this brain chemical. The most wonderful thing, though, to understand is that to really empower yourself with the knowledge, to know why you have these health conditions and to know that you can really safely and affordably be able to maintain that brain chemical with dietary supplements that you can find in almost any health food store.

KEVIN: A-ha. And you talked about how pharmaceuticals like Zoloft and all those drugs can elevate serotonin levels. Is, I think I've heard this, I don't know if this is a rumor or not, maybe you can dispel some myths here. I think I've heard that sometimes they don't know what the activating agent is, is that true or no?

PHOENIX: I haven't heard that...


PHOENIX: ...in the Zoloft and the Prozac and stuff like that?


PHOENIX: I wouldn't doubt it.

KEVIN: OK. Yeah.

PHOENIX: But really, the big concern there which is exactly, they, take quite a few years for that black box warning to be put on those antidepressants but, I mean, how insane is that that you were marketing a drug that is designed to supposedly alleviate depression and suicidal thinking and yet it exacerbates the exact same condition that it is designed to alleviate. No, and I'm like, "How can that even..." I mean, that's like a joke. We know that in our industry that if we have a supplement that we were trying to sell that would have to have that type of a warning, I mean, you would be pulled so fast you would make your head spin.

KEVIN: That's an interesting point. Interesting point. You mentioned GI diets, and I think that a lot of people still don't know what that is. You know, high GI, low GI.


KEVIN: Do you want to explain that a little bit?

PHOENIX: Absolutely.

KEVIN: Great.

PHOENIX: The whole thing, Kevin, is really for me to empower people with the knowledge about understanding why their diets have failed, why they're depressed, why they can't sleep, all of these things that come with low serotonin. It's also to understand that it's no by eating good, healthy fat that makes us fat. Why? Because fat does not trigger the body's insulin response, and insulin is a hormone that commands the body to store fat, among other things.

KEVIN: A-ha.

PHOENIX: So, it is, however, about the type of carbs that we eat. It's not about not eating carbs. I like the phrase that it's saying it's about being carb-conscious. Now, to be carb-conscious is to understand what are the good carbs. There are people who really, and I don't blame them because there's so much misinformation out there. What is a good healthy fat, what is a good carb, what is a good quality protein and all that.

KEVIN: A-ha.

PHOENIX: But the GI, which stands for glycemic index, and that was best to describe to say how quickly when you eat a carbohydrate, because all carbs are recognized by the body as sugar, but they do affect the blood sugar level differently. So, the glycemic index is the rating of how quickly those carbohydrates will affect your blood sugar. So, the lower on the GI, the better. If I may continue to just say this, so you can take a low GI carb such as spinach or some sort of a green... And you can, or even berries. Berries are a wonderful low GI carb, but you can take a low GI carb. If you were just to eat it by itself and turn it into a high GI carb, just for the mere fact that you haven't eaten a healthy protein or fat with it to help lower it.


PHOENIX: Now on the other hand, you can also take a high GI carb and help lower it by combining healthy fat and protein.

KEVIN: OK. That's an interesting point. And is fiber included in that as well, if you...

PHOENIX: Yeah. Fiber is included in those carbs and the other thing though, Kevin, is to really understand, for those people who get it, who know that it is really eating good healthy carbs, minimizing, because again, carbs, if you eat more carbs than your body can utilize, they are stored as fat, period. But to adhere to eating a good healthy diet, and to adhering to those low GI carbs is entirely dependent on being able to maintain the serotonin because if you can't, your brain will force you on a subconscious level to consume the things that will elevate it and it is only those high GI carbs that will do it. And those high GI carbs not only trigger the insulin to ....our rate of obesity but all the other issues, depression, insomnia, PMS, migraines, schizophrenia, suicide, all the way down the line. OK. When I tell people that, look, which is why the book is titled, "Diet Failure - The Naked Truth" is to empower people with this knowledge, if you have dieted and failed. Even though I don't believe in dieting. If you have dieted and failed, it is not your fault. It is about to understand that it is about a brain chemical, and the master communicator of all the brain chemicals that when it is depleted, for the brain and the body to function at its best, Kevin, this brain chemical will do, has to be maintained. And so, therefore, the brain will be anything and everything to elevate it. And the quickest and by far not the healthiest way to do so is to consume high GI carbs. It's not about flavor, it's not about food addiction or carb addiction even though there's plenty of people out there who would claim that it is.

KEVIN: A-ha.

PHOENIX: It is not about emotional attachment and it is most certainly not about being weak-willed. It is though, because that brain chemical once again has to be maintained for the body and brain to function properly. And on that subconscious level, it pushes us towards the things that each of us on an individual basis have conditioned, have trained, our bodies and our brain to a lifetime of habit. Your trigger food may be, you know, a cold beer. Mine used to be sourdough toast. Somebody else's is a chocolate bar and, you know, all these different high GI items, we have again conditioned our brains to a lifetime of habits to know what will work for us and that's when that pattern starts, that's when that noise, it's usually around three or four o'clock in the afternoon, it starts to say, "Hey, Phoenix" or, "Hey, Kevin. That beer smells good or a bag of chips sounds really good." And that is nothing more than the brain pushing us toward those items that it knows will elevate that brain chemical.
About the Author
To access The Fountain of Youth World Summit experts just like Phoenix Gilman please click here! Kevin Gianni is an internationally recognized health advocate, author & film consultant. He has helped thousands of people take control of their own health naturally. For more information visit raw food diets and holistic nutrition.
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