THE FAT & CHOLESTEROL MYTH
Have you ever wondered why even though many Americans eat a low-fat diet, drink diet soda, eat light yogurt, have sugar-free snacks and so on, that we have skyrocketing numbers of obesity and diabetes? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of adults twenty years of age and older, who are overweight and/or obese is 69.2% and growing. The percentage of children, between six and eleven years of age who are obese, is 18%; for children 2-5 years of age who are obese is 12%. These are some very sobering and scary statistics. We now have the first generation in human history which is expected to have a shorter life expectancy than that of their parents. This is where we are headed. With all the diets and ‘health foods’ out there, we are just getting more unhealthy. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is loaded with processed foods (pizza, cookies, chips, cereals, etc.) and sugars (soda, energy drinks, artificial sweeteners, etc.) which are the real culprits. We are going to cover some of the incredibly flawed dietary and exercise “wisdom” that is making us sick. This will not be ‘sugar-coated’.
For years we have been told that saturated fat and cholesterol are evil and we need to replace them with low-fat diet foods in order to have better health. Well according to the statistics, that was the wrong advice we were given for years. Our children are fatter than ever, adults are fatter than ever and growing, diabetes numbers are climbing steadily (even among children) and we are one of the most unhealthy westernized nations in the world, we rank 37th out of 40 in industrialized nations according to the World Health Organization (even though we spend the most money on healthcare by far). I am going to tell you that you can change. You do not need to follow the “cultural norm” of eating fast food, low-fat and sugar-free junk or anything that is not real food and feel guilty about it. Another thing is: IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT! You have been told by your doctors, by the media and by friends and family that eating a low fat diet is healthier. We like to tell ourselves that “everything in moderation” is a good way of living. I think Mark Twain said it best, “everything in moderation, including moderation.” Moderation has made us fat and sick and we need to re-think the way we approach our diet and our health for that matter.
So I am here to tell you that fat and cholesterol are not bad for you. Fat does not make you fat. Let me repeat that. FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT! SUGAR MAKES YOU FAT! I realize that this statement flies in the face of most dietary advice you have ever heard and that you may think I am just crazy. But think about it. We did not evolve eating light yogurt and sugar-free cookies. Our ancestors ate plenty of veggies, meat when available, insects (not that you have to eat these critters), seasonal berries, nuts and seeds. There were no grains or processed foods spiking our insulin and causing chronic inflammation. The meat that was caught was high in omega 3 fats and ate a grass based diet. This type of diet is generally referred to nowadays as a “paleo” diet. Although there is a lot of debate over what exactly is included in the paleo diet, we all agree that these five foods make up the core. Some will say a little full fat dairy is ok but others will argue that we weren’t milking cows 50,000 years ago and they are of course correct. When it comes to these variables, I take it on a case by case basis. I do find that cutting out dairy from the diet, at least initially, does speed up the recovery process for the patient. We focus on whole foods that nourish the body. I want you to enjoy your food. Mealtime is when we connect with friends and family. Food does not need to be solely for fuel without any enjoyment. Relaxing over a nice dinner with family and friends, laughing, storytelling and joking lowers stress levels and releases endorphins that make us happy. We could all use a little more of this in our lives.
Ok, so that’s what we include in the diet (as in a way of eating, not a fad ‘diet’). All processed foods and sugars are out. We mentioned fat earlier and how it is not bad for you. But it does depend on the type of fat. I will give you a list of some ‘good’ fats and some ‘bad’ fats. Generally good fats are found in nature and bad fats are one’s that we make in factories and can sit on the shelf forever. These lists are not all inclusive.
• Coconut oil
• Extra Virgin Olive oil
• Butter – organic
• Chia seeds & Flax seeds
• Nuts and nut butters – walnuts, macadamia, almonds
• Trans fats
• Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils
• Vegetable shortening
Stick to the good fats and you will improve your health. Remember, good fats do not make you fat, sugar does. Stay away from the candy bars, energy drinks, soft drinks and processed foods (pastas, breads, pizza, French fries, donuts, cookies, boxed foods, etc.). These are good starting points and will improve your overall health alone.
If you would like more guidance on your journey towards better health and vitality give our office a call to schedule your functional medicine consultation.
Yours in health,
Village Center Chiropractic healthcare team