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sábado, 10 de junio de 2017

Why Doctors Finally Called A Truce On Cholesterol in Food


Cholesterol is in every cell in your body. It’s an integral part of your cell membranes, helping good molecules pass into cells while keeping others out. It’s not well known, but most of your cells — and your liver in particular — make a lot of the cholesterol you use to function (about 1,000-1,500 mg per day). The rest you get from food.

After waging a 30-year war against cholesterol, the government and the American Heart Association are reversing their stance on this vital compound. A recent report from the US Department of Health’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reversed its previous ruling on cholesterol, announcing that “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”[1]’s new 2015 Dietary Guidelines have moved slightly closer to the recommendations in the Bulletproof Diet Roadmap.

Contrary to what we have read in the media for years, dietary cholesterol itself is not the bad guy. This post explains what cholesterol is, what the different types of cholesterol do, and how they help your body and brain.

Cholesterol keeps your brain running smoothly

Cholesterol is particularly important for cognitive function. Your brain makes up only 2% of body weight but contains 25% of the body’s cholesterol![2]

Why so much in such a small space? Cholesterol helps your neurons communicate with one another.

Many neurons are encased in fatty covers called myelin sheathes. Neurons are like electrical wires, and myelin sheathes are like the insulation around the wire – they keep electricity contained in your nerve pathways, allowing messages and signals to move much more quickly. Myelin is one-fifth cholesterol by weight, so eating plenty of cholesterol is crucial to maintaining your myelin and keeping your brain’s signaling both fast and efficient.

Cholesterol deficiency is linked to a decline in cognitive function and memory, especially for anyone following a Western Diet (i.e., eating lots of carbohydrates and dutifully limiting fat and cholesterol). According to a 2011 study in the European Journal of Internal Medicine: “an excess of dietary carbohydrates, particularly fructose, alongside a relative deficiency in dietary fats and cholesterol, may lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease”.[3]

Cholesterol is the building block for sex hormones

Cholesterol is the building block for every single known sex hormone. That includes estrogen, testosterone, progesterone — the whole lot. Vitamin D is also essential for sex hormone production, and people who don’t eat enough fat or cholesterol are often vitamin D deficient.

Cholesterol is also a key player in bile acid production. Bile acid helps your body regulate fat, cholesterol, and glucose metabolism.[4] It’s also required for you to absorb fat soluble vitamins.
What exactly IS cholesterol? Why is it so controversial?

A common misconception is that cholesterol is a fat. Cholesterol is not a fat, although it travels through the bloodstream along with fats and it’s found in the fatty parts of foods.

Actually, cholesterol is a type of alcohol called a “sterol.” Sterols have two distinct parts: one that dissolves in water and one that dissolves in fat. The split allows sterols to travel in water-based compounds (like blood) while carrying fat-based products.

Cholesterol travels through the blood with packages called “lipoproteins”, which are like little containers full of fats, proteins, and other nutrients (like fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin D). These nutrients won’t dissolve fully in water, so they rely on lipoproteins to carry them through your system.

Cholesterol is controversial because it’s one of the first things we could separate out of blood, so we’ve been studying it for a long time. It’s been associated with all kinds of disorders, but the causal factors are still not determined. In other words, cholesterol can be a symptom, not a cause.

There is even an argument that cholesterol makes you stronger (you’ll survive poisoning better and put on muscle more easily when you have more cholesterol!). High cholesterol in conjunction with inflammation is bad news for sure – inflammation is a problem, but it’s harder to measure than cholesterol, and harder to control.

When we figured out cholesterol in food wasn’t a problem, the debate shifted to whether one type of cholesterol or another was the main problem, leading to the HDL vs. LDL debate.
What’s really going on in the HDL versus LDL debate?

Lipoproteins initially form in the intestines, where they gather and bind fat, cholesterol, and other nutrients. After they load up they move into the bloodstream to deliver those nutrients to various tissues.

During their journey, lipoproteins change form. There are a few different types, but the two most famous ones are: 
“high-density lipoprotein”, or HDL 
“low-density lipoprotein”, or LDL 

The media and the mainstream medical community like to talk about LDL as the “bad type of cholesterol”, and HDL as the “good type.” The common argument: LDL delivers cholesterol to tissues (supposedly a bad thing) while HDL takes cholesterol from tissues (supposedly a good thing).

Labeling lipoproteins as “good” and “bad” is both imprecise and misleading. This carelessness with language wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t have the consequence of causing people to avoid consuming cholesterol altogether— driving them away from healthful, fat-rich animal products and toward an inflammatory, carbohydrate-rich diet based mostly on flour, sugar, and toxic industrial (but cholesterol-free!) vegetable oils.

So if the cholesterol in food isn’t the cause of the cardiovascular problems far too common in the Western world, then what is?
Cholesterol itself does not cause heart disease: oxidized PUFAs do!

It’s not true that a lot of cholesterol in the blood causes heart disease. It’s actually the result of LDL particles depositing cholesterol inside artery walls, and that happens because of inflammation.

It matters if the LDL particles are carrying a lot damaged, oxidized fats, and that is more likely to happen if you eat a lot of polyunsaturated fats, or PUFAs, that are poorly processed and found in vegetable oils like soybean, corn, canola, cottonseed, and the like.

PUFAs are very fragile. They’re susceptible to oxidation by free radicals, and having too many of them (in cell membranes, LDL particles, and elsewhere) can trigger out-of-control inflammation and disease.

So now the question becomes not, “How much LDL cholesterol do you have?” but, “How oxidized is the LDL cholesterol you have?”

If you’re eating a Bulletproof Diet and staying away from kryptonite foods, you shouldn’t have much of a problem with excess PUFA intake. If you’re eating a typical American diet with processed foods high in vegetable oils, consider changing your routine and eating higher-quality fare.
The myth about cholesterol and plaque buildup

Also important is how long the damaged particles stay stuck where they don’t belong. Once inside the artery wall, these oxidized LDL particles attract macrophages and other well-intentioned white blood cells hoping to clear the obstruction; unfortunately, though, the white blood cell response leads to runaway inflammation and the production of a hard “plaque” that blocks blood flow.[5] Because cholesterol is stuck in these plaques, it’s often implicated as the “cause” of heart disease. But if you assay them, you find PUFAs.

Damage to the artery, which comes from inflammation and oxidized LDL, is the root cause of arterial plaque LDL buildup. HDL particles, which contain a good deal of the antioxidant vitamin E, can reduce the oxidation of particles in their place, thus lessening the inflammation and protecting the artery from plaque formation—which is why higher HDL levels predict a lower risk of heart disease.

HDL’s good deed is not so much that it removes cholesterol from these plaques. More accurate is that HDL protects and repairs LDL and fats from oxidative damage.
Boost Your Cholesterol Radar

One way to combat plaque formation and cholesterol-based inflammation is to eat a diet that’s rich in undamaged saturated and monounsaturated fats. Just as important is to avoid the poor quality PUFAs found in processed and packaged foods and low-quality restaurant meals!

Following a diet rich in high-quality, oxidation-resistant fat will raise HDL and reduce oxidized LDL (shameless plug: get the Bulletproof Diet Roadmap). It will also lessen oxidative damage and system-wide inflammation. Consume lots of coconut oil, grass-fed butter and animal fats from healthy animals (where you’ll also find cholesterol), fish, and avocado, and stay away from corn, soybean, vegetable, canola, and cottonseed oil and the like.

It is time to repair cholesterol’s good name once and for all. Consider too that the federal government—an entity harshly critical of cholesterol-containing foods for most of the last century—recently changed its mind. The government of Sweden went even further (perhaps because Sweden’s government is on the hook for the cost of healthcare) and is recommending a diet high in saturated fat. 

Now you can enjoy those yummy, pastured eggs even more!

viernes, 10 de marzo de 2017

Eat only these 9 types of food and you will melt off pounds of fat

Eat only these 9 types of food and you will melt off pounds of fat

I’ve decided to write this article for my clients, LCHF online co-warriors and anyone who has decided to embark on the low carb high fat or LCHF diet but have been encountering criticisms from well-meaning close friends, family members and even netizens who are totally ignorant about the health benefits that the LCHF diet brings to the individual.
I’ve had my fair share of criticisms mostly from friends and health forum members who actually warned me that adopting such an unorthodox diet, helping and coaching others on it may actually be harmful to both myself and my clients in the long run.

The Low Carb Diet is a Fad Diet

LCHF is Not a Fad Diet

This criticism is just about the most common one I encounter both online and offline in real life. My counter is very simple. I only ask,
“Now if someone who has had Type 2 diabetes for a decade, has listened to his doctor’s advice and is still having trouble controlling his blood sugar, comes to me for advice, I give him a personalized LCHF diet plan and for the first time in 10 years, his blood sugar drops 5 mmol/l within 4 weeks, how is this harmful?”
This usually does the trick.
Now if you have type 2 diabetes and is giving the LCHF diet a shot, you may encounter this criticism, maybe not from your spouse but probably from your siblings, close friends or even your parents.
You can’t blame them – the mainstream media, governmental health authorities and the medical community in most countries are STILL advocating a low fat, high carb “healthy” diet and this brainwashing, has instilled this deeply ingrained fear that any fat is unhealthy.
What you can do is just present the facts of YOUR personal experience that the diet is working because your blood sugar readings are gradually going down. There’s nothing stronger than your personal testimony!
If you’ve also started a detailed food journal like what I advised in my earlier article on How To Start a Low Carb Diet Correctly, jot down your blood sugar readings as well – then show them your food journal with the declining blood sugar readings.
Now, if you’ve embarked on the LCHF diet because you have weight to lose, then don’t say anything yet! Just smile and walk off. 3 to 6 months or even a year down the road, when you’ve lost all the fat – and they see you trim and healthy, THEN you can tell them, “See, I told you this diet would work!”
All that being said, you may STILL get some criticisms: this high fat diet will give you heart disease, which brings me to the next criticism.

The Low Carb Diet is Not Healthy in the Long Term

You Get Heart Disease from Sugars, Processed Foods & Refined Carbs, not LCHF

Some folks will not believe you even if you tell them the personal health benefits that you’ve experienced from LCHF. That’s perfectly okay.
They need to be convinced themselves so just show them this video by Dr. Mark Hyman, who is a family physician, a ten-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator and advocate in the field of natural medicine. He is the Director the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine.
If they are open to discussion, let them know that low carb diets are perfectly safe and healthy, even in the long term. Show them this 2-year study that confirms this fact.
I personally found that the more I read up and researched on LCHF, the more convinced I was that I’m doing the right thing for my health and those of the folks I coach. So if you’re a newcomer in LCHF, read as much as you can so that you’ll have all the knowledge in the world to counter criticisms you encounter.
What I’ve also found out that worked for me is that when I listen to my detractors and their criticisms before I counter them, my critics are usually more open and receptive to what I have to say.
This gives me a great opportunity to get them on my side slowly, not so much to win an argument but for them to be enlightened about LCHF and what it can do to improve their health. This is much easier to do when talking in person.
Online criticisms are a different ball game altogether, especially when you’re in health forums and their nicknames know everyone. What I do online is this – say my piece, then back it up with evidence such as these studies:
If an opportunity arises, I will post my personal experiences: how I benefitted from going LCHF, the inches I lost from my waist and my health markers.

LCHF is an Extreme Diet: Eating Everything in Moderation is Healthier!

Everything in Moderation Diet Advice is Nonsense!

A friend of mine that I was coaching on LCHF has Type 2 diabetes, and he told me his doctor gave him exactly this piece of advice: just cut down on sugar and eat everything in moderation!
No wonder his diabetes wasn’t getting better; in fact, it got progressively worse despite all the diabetic medications that he was on because he was taking his doctor’s advice on “eating moderately” literally. 
This criticism very often is disguised as well-meaning advice by friends, relatives, family members and even physicians and dieticians who are totally clueless about the benefits of nutritional ketosis and natural fats.
It’s just pure garbage! Taken literally it can mean eating that tiny piece of Oreo cheesecake is okay even if you’ve got Type 2 diabetes with blood sugar level of 10 mmol/l because you’re eating in moderation!
He was extremely skeptical when I told him that this was the worst diet advice anyone can give and the only way for him to control his diabetes was to eliminate all grains, roots, sugars, fruits and processed foods, in other words, go on LCHF.
I told him if his blood sugar didn’t show any reduction within 4 weeks, he could ignore my advice. Within 3 weeks his blood sugar dropped 7 mmol/l, and he continued with LCHF.
The point I’m making is that if you don’t get specific what or how much exactly moderation is folks will have their definitions and interpretations of what it is and eat as they deem fit.
Decades back, when I was still in the corporate world, I trained front line staff on customer service skills. One cardinal rule that I gave my trainees back then was: never give “as soon as possible” as a timeframe because everyone’s interpretation of it is different. It may be within the same day for some, while for others it may mean within the next 3 hours!
Same with moderation in eating – people have taken this ambiguous advice literally and because of this chronic disease rates have skyrocketed because folks believed that eating everything moderately was healthy, whatever that meant!
In fact, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University did a study on the Everything in Moderation diet advice. Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., senior author and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston concluded that the study showed,
“Americans with the healthiest diets actually eat a relatively small range of healthy foods,” “These results suggest that in modern diets, eating ‘everything in moderation’ is actually worse than eating a smaller number of healthy foods.”
My advice is: disregard this eat everything in moderation garbage! Eat as much natural whole, unprocessed foods as you possibly can for your meals. Avoid all sugars, refined carbs, and processed foods at all costs.
Get your carbs down to between 20 grams and 50 grams a day if you’re prediabetic, a Type 2 diabetic and/or have weight to lose. If you’re healthy and don’t have any chronic conditions, you can slightly increase the number of carbs by eating more natural and nutrient dense whole foods like roots, tubers, lentils, and fruits.

The Low Fat High Carb Diet is Much Healthier than the Low Carb High Fat Diet

A Low Fat Diet can Harm Your Health

This criticism and misdirected advice is again usually by well-meaning but clueless friends, close relatives and family members who know nothing about the studies that have long proven that it’s the reverse.
In many quarters this is also the usual advice given by health authorities, doctors and dietitians who are not up to date with their knowledge on the rigorous research done on low carb diets that have proven this advice and criticism to be entirely untrue.
On the other hand, there are now studies that actually prove that the much lauded low-fat diets did nothing to curb obesity and Type 2 diabetes rates and heart disease risk factors. In fact, these studies show that low-fat, high carb diets increase the risk of chronic illness like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes.
Despite low-fat diets being promoted by health authorities worldwide as healthy diets, they increase the risk of heart disease rather than the other way around.
I’m sure you’ve heard that the bad cholesterol or LDL is the one that increases cardiovascular disease risk. Well, that’s only half the story because the size of the LDL particle matters. The small dense particle LDL are the malignant ones that increase atherosclerosis i.e. the build-up of plaque in the arteries which causes heart disease. The more of this small particle LDL you have, the greater your risk of heart disease.
What is so troubling is that low-fat, high carb diets change the size of the LDL particles from the benign large fluffy ones to the harmful small dense ones.
Studies also show that low-fat, high carb diets decrease HDL, the good cholesterol that prevents heart disease and increases triglycerides – all these increases the risk of heart disease.
In addition to all these negative effects of the low-fat, high-carb diet, it actually makes you hungry all the time.
Watch this video by Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, a husband and wife doctor team who have been in private practice devoting their clinical time exclusively to bariatric and nutritional medicine, gaining firsthand experience treating over 6,000 people suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, and obesity with their nutritional regimen. Listen to these 2 experts have to say about why low-fat diets make you hungry all the time.
What’s more, the low-fat diet discourages the consumption of healthy whole foods like eggs, animal fats, coconuts, red meat and full-fat dairy. Let’s see these myths being debunked one by one.

Vegetarian or Vegan Diets are Much Healthier!

An LCHF Vegan Diet is Entirely Possible

Most vegetarians and vegans are on this diet because of 2 main reasons:
  • Religious – Many Buddhists and Hindus are vegetarians and vegans because their religious philosophies forbid the consumption of meat.
  • Personal – An increasing number of folks become vegetarians and vegans because they see the atrocities committed against animals in the meat, dairy and poultry industries and are convinced that all animal life should be respected.
Now it might seem that with traditional LCHF/keto being high in animal products and vegetarianism and veganism abstaining from such products, these 2 diets would be at the opposite ends of the pole for each other. Initially, that was what I thought too as well.
But when I explored further I discovered that it is possible to marry the 2 in more ways than one – folks on traditional LCHF/keto could adopt some vegan ideas and vegans could eat a plant based LCHF/keto diet.
So how do you counter this criticism? You don’t – you can introduce vegan LCHF/keto to the other party/ies, and everybody wins!

Is Vegan LCHF/Keto Actually Possible?

Sure, why not? Let’s take fats and oils, for example, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and macadamia oil – these are all natural plant based oils that vegans can use as much as they need or want.

Coconuts, Avocados, and Olives

These are fruits with high-fat contents.

Nuts and Seeds

These are naturally high in fat and protein: macadamias, pecans, Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts and pumpkin seeds are great examples. Chia and flax seeds are great sources of fiber and chilled coconut milk/cream with chia seeds make an excellent LCHF desert.

Low Carb Vegetables

These include cauliflower, broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, bak choy, eggplant, capsicum or ball peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, collard greens, tomatoes, and onions.

Low Carb Fruits

These include blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Depending on your daily carb count, you can include other low carb/sugar fruits as well.


These include some chickpeas, green beans, and others depending on daily carb count.


Soy contains both protein and fat and is low in carbs. If you decide to take soy, be sure to get non-GMO unprocessed soy for your tofu, soy milk, and tempeh. But is soy as harmful it’s made out to be by most natural healing experts?
Read Dr. Mark Hyman’s post on soy and decide for yourself:
“As some of you may be aware, I often recommend soy as part of a whole foods diet. Many people question why I include these foods in light of such startling media coverage on the dangers of soy. The reason is relatively simple.”
“I have reviewed reams of research and many claims for and against soy foods. From the studies available, I can tell you that soy is neither as good as the proponents say, nor as evil as the critics claim. I wish we had more convincing science to report, but we don’t. The key is to take all the available evidence together and see what shakes out.”
There you have it, 4 common criticisms against the low carb diet that I’ve personally come across and how to handle them. If you’re an LCHF newbie and need some hand holding, please send me an email:

jueves, 23 de febrero de 2017

Health Authorities Continue to Fail Us

We’re told to listen to doctors and qualified professionals—but they’ve been preaching the same advice for 50 years now

There is no evidence to suggest that the cholesterol in eggs relates to blood cholesterol levels, but we are still advised to only eat up to two a day.
For example, there is no evidence to suggest that the cholesterol in eggs relates to blood cholesterol levels, but we are still advised to only eat up to two a day. PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Gary Taubes’ seminal The New York Times article, exposing the fraudulent research and advice from Ancel Keys, that saturated fats clog arteries and cause heart attacks. Titled “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie,” Taubes documented the history of the health advice we’ve been dished since the 1950s, the fact that the low fat dogma was decided by the government, the low fat diet’s increasingly negative impact on the health of the population, and the backdoor deals that provided certain industries with huge profits at the expense of everyone else.
We have since discovered that much of the research demonizing saturated fat—and fat in general—was in fact funded by sugar and cereal companies looking to keep the conversation away from their commodity’s place in everyday diets. Research conducted over the last 30 or so years reveals there is no evidence the consumption of saturated fats causes heart attacks or strokes; cholesterol’s role in developing heart disease is actually much more complex than we’ve been led to believe. In fact, despite constant protests from nutritionists and government authorities, the research actually shows that low carb diets are significantly more effective than low fat diets. And yet, the government’s dietary recommendations have changed very little.
Now, health authorities have attempted to cover up the fact that they are ignoring current research in favor of dated advice. In 2015, science and nutrition journalist Nina Teicholtz penned an editorial in the British Medical Journal criticizing the USDA’s dietary guidelines for failing to reflect the current scientific literature. After a year of scathing criticism from academics and authorities demanding the article be retracted, independent reviewers stood in favor of Teicholtz and her editorial. One of the most damning paragraphs is as follows:
In conclusion, the recommended diets are supported by a minuscule quantity of rigorous evidence that only marginally supports claims that these diets can promote better health than alternatives. Furthermore, the NEL (Nutrition Evidence Library) reviews of the recommended diets discount or omit important data. There have been at a minimum, three National Institutes of Health funded trials on some 50 ,000 people showing that a diet low in fat and saturated fat is ineffective for fighting heart disease, obesity, diabetes, or cancer. Two of these trials are omitted from the NEL review. The third trial is included, but its results are ignored. This oversight is particularly striking because this trial, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), was the largest nutrition trial in history. Nearly 49, 000 women followed a diet low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and grains for an average of seven years, at the end of which investigators found no significant advantage of this diet for weight loss, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer of any kind. Critics dismiss this trial for various reasons, including the fact that fat consumption did not differ enough significantly between the intervention and control groups, but the percentage of calories from both fat and saturated fat were more than 25% lower in the intervention group than in the control group (26.7% v 36.2% for total fat and 8.8% v 12.1% for saturated fats). The WHI findings have been confirmed by other sizable studies and are therefore hard to dismiss. When the omitted findings from these three clinical trials are factored into the review, the overwhelming preponderance of rigorous evidence does not support any of the dietary committee’s health claims for its recommended diets.
Much of the nutrition research occurring even now is still muddying the waters. For example, we hear so often that red meat is bad, but it is almost always studied alongside processed meats and the results extrapolated for both. Look at any study and the actual line is “red and processed meats.” On what planet is it reasonable to consider a piece of salami, cured with nitrates and other preservatives, in the same category as unadulterated, grass-fed steak? Two entirely different meats, considered the same in most studies. That’s not to mention the number of studies relying on self-reporting diets, which is so far from accurate as to be pointless. Trusting someone to track their eating over a period of months, without fudging to make it look more healthy—for the purpose of scientific research no less—is ludicrously inadequate and a waste of funding.
It’s little wonder then that the general population, and anyone who has done a bit of reading, has trust issues when it comes to health advice.
We’re told to listen to the recommendations of doctors and qualified health professionals, but they’ve been preaching the same advice for 50 years with only minor changes over the last decade. Even Dr. Oz, the mainstream TV darling, has been touting that saturated fat “clogs arteries” because he says that sees it during his operations. All of the research contradicts this, and it isn’t surprising considering he is a heart surgeon—not an expert on nutrition or biochemistry. Yet that doesn’t stop Oz from using his platform to overstep his expertise and give advice that doesn’t align with evidence, which his viewers will take seriously because he’s one of the foremost cardiologists in the U.S.
The media certainly has their place in our current predicament as well. When it comes to nutrition, they don’t care what data and research is reliable—they care about what’s going to give them a great headline and arouse emotion in readers.
Who could forget in late 2015, when the WHO announced bacon and other processed meats as a level-one carcinogen in the same category as cigarettes? The news immediately broke everywhere that bacon was as bad for you as cigarettes, when the reality is that 50g of bacon a day is going to increase the absolute risk of cancer by a 0.01 percent—hardly something to get worked up over. Unfortunately, the headline, “Bacon isn’t too great for you as we all suspected, so don’t eat it too often, isn’t as good as, “Bacon is in the same category of carcinogen as cigarettes, so eating it gives you cancer!”
But let’s get back to the boogeyman of the last four decades: saturated fats. We are still recommended to steer clear of them in favor of poly and monounsaturated fats. Yet some of of the foremost cancer researchers in the world, such as Dom D’Agostino, recommend ketogenic diets—20 percent protein, 70 percent fat and 10 percent carbs. Take a look at the below picture of multiple elite powerlifter Mark Bell, who has been on a ketogenic diet while continuing to train at a high level in his sport for a number of years. Are we to believe that the fat he eats is somehow eating away at his insides, clogging his arteries, and increasing his cancer risk, when his physique is better than 99 percent of the population? Health authorities keep telling us to keep the amount of fat in our diet low (RDI for saturated fat is 20g) despite the research showing that isn’t a good idea, yet we have living proof that it works just fine.
Multiple elite powerlifter Mark Bell
Multiple elite powerlifter Mark Bell Youtube/Omar Isuf
This raises the biggest question of all: what evidence is there for any of the current recommended daily intakes of food by health authorities? For instance, we now know there is no evidence to suggest that the cholesterol in eggs relates to blood cholesterol levels, but we are still advised to only eat up to two a day. Why? And why are these recommendations always so absolute? It makes no sense that regardless of whether one is a 50kg, slender female, or a 120kg male athlete that the recommended intake is the same. Whether it’s macronutrients, micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals, how is it that we have a single RDI (recommended daily intake) for the entire population? Is this really the state of nutritional science in 2017, that we can’t even distinguish between male and female, manual labour/white collar, and at least a couple of weight ranges as well? We deserve better.
The worst part is the fact that no one seems to want to admit their advice was wrong. Instead, dietitians and nutritionists now speak in a sort of code that voids any culpability for their mistake. I’ve heard nutritionists and dietitians on numerous TV shows saying things like “research is now showing us” when giving dietary advice, while disregarding the full extent of what the research actually shows. Fats are apparently okay now, but only monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Saturated fat should still be limited—for what reason is unclear. The National Heart Foundation of Australia, on their own website no less, states that they “maintain there is a clear link between saturated fat, cholesterol and heart disease, despite ABC media reports questioning the vast evidence base.” So despite all credible research and meta analysis—which they admit is “vast”—showing that there is no evidence to suggest that saturated fat is linked with heart disease, the National Heart Foundation has done the equivalent of stick its head in the sand and act as though nothing has changed.
At the same time they have given their tick of approval to McDonalds.
Of course, no one in the USDA, the AHA, the AMA, or other such authority can admit they got it all wrong, can they? The backlash would be enormous—we’d have class action lawsuits and an entire body of professionals would lose their credibility instantly and completely. If that controversy over fat wasn’t bad enough, we’ve also got the continued push by authorities to have us consume less salt, despite the evidence being at best ambiguous as to its effects. The war on salt would appear to be yet another case of the health authorities giving us one size fits all recommendations without hard evidence, but based on a logical progression that if high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, and salt increases blood pressure, then reducing salt intake would reduce the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, the Cochrane review found actually found an increase in risk when following a low sodium diet such as that recommended by the American Heart Association.
There is, yet again, far more to the story. Fructose consumption increases the uptake of sodium by the kidneys, and by reducing consumption of fructose by 350ml (an average small bottle of soda or juice) blood pressure lowers. Potassium intake is also a factor, with research indicating that the ratio of potassium to sodium a more important marker than absolute level of sodium. So if you eat a diet that mostly consists of fresh, whole foods (not packaged or processed) and don’t eat fruit or drink fruit juice, the insistence that one must reduce salt intake is ludicrous. The take home message once again is that one size certainly does not fit all, and we need specialized recommendations based on our individual makeup, lifestyle, diet, and genetics instead of messages like “you must cut saturated fat to 20g and reduce sodium intake at all costs.”
Considering the above, no one in their right mind would take any kind of dietary advice provided by the authorities at face value. It’s little wonder then that so many are taking matters into their own hands. Thirty years ago, if the USDA, AHA, or AMA told you something was bad for you, you stopped eating it. You didn’t question, because they were the ones with credibility and years of study. It was simply too much trouble for the average person to find the information they needed. Thankfully with the internet, all of the information needed is now available to anyone who wants it. We no longer have to put blind trust in authority figures because we can sift through the information ourselves and ask the right questions. If anything, the glut of information shows that the public’s trust in nutrition advice given by the authorities and media was sorely misplaced.
So who are we to trust then? The list would appear to be getting smaller every day.
Now more than ever the message is clear: if you want to truly be healthy, it’s up to the individual to do their own research and come to their own conclusions. There is a mountain of information out there to go through, and you’ll need to sift through the bias of people selling you diets, fringe groups promoting their social agenda, and the media misinterpreting real research findings.
While it may sound like too much trouble, is your health really of that little importance that you’d trust it to anyone else but yourself?
Pete Ross deconstructs the psychology and philosophy of the business world, careers and everyday life. You can follow him on Twitter @prometheandrive.