Tyler Lesher believes that there is a growing health epidemic affecting the entire world. No, not that one — although we suspect that all that bread baking during the pandemic hasn’t helped matters.
Lesher, doctoral candidate and one of our expert contributors, sees obesity as one of the world’s great health threats — and he’s not alone in that judgment. Like many, he places the blame for this epidemic at the feet of the so-called western diet. But unlike what you’ve probably read elsewhere, he believes that the true root of the problems lies less in the calories, per se, and rather in its inflammatory nature.
And like many of us, he sees himself as a victim of this particular scourge. “This ever-growing health epidemic has affected many people in various ways, myself included,” he explained to us. “Over the last year and a half, I have lost 40 pounds. Before I did, I ate a westernized diet that I believed was healthy for me.”
He went on to explain that he ate fruits, vegetables, grains, and meat, and even exercised six days a week. On the surface, it seemed to be a healthy lifestyle, yet he was gaining weight and feeling miserable. “I reached a point where I was mentally and physically unhealthy, exhausted, and knew something had to change,” he said.
He came to discover that the real problem was something called the inflammatory cycle — and that eating a western diet and exercising in the wrong manner was exacerbating it.
As he began to look into this cycle further, he learned about the relationship between gut health and inflammation, and the effect it has on the body. And it was only once he began putting it all together that he was able to finally begin to break the cycle.
More importantly, at least for us, it led him to undertake formal research on the topic. “I started to research the latest evidence-based journals on inflammation, how it occurs, and how to prevent it,” he told us. “Through this process, I became aware of the dangers of metabolic syndrome and how to reverse it.”
The result of this research is something we published today: Reducing Systemic Inflammation Using Nutritional and Exercise Interventions. This academic literature review analyzes the research available on the relationship between westernized diets, inflammation, and metabolic health — and how we can use nutrition and exercise as interventions to improve it.
Its publication also marks a new endeavor for The MAPS Institute — something we’re calling MAPS Scholarship.
While our expert contributors generally scour scholarly journals to find new and relevant research and then make the insights from that research accessible and practical for us mere mortals, we realized that sometimes our expert contributors were the ones creating that scholarship.
So, we decided that we wanted to give them a place to publish it — and you the opportunity to engage with it firsthand.
While we are not an academic journal and have no intention of becoming one, we believe that periodically publishing this type of direct scholarship will better help us fulfill our mission of providing you the fact-based data and insights you need to chart your own journey to wellness and a life in balance.
We hope you enjoy it.