6/17/2014 – What to eat. A quick reference guide on what nutrition science research has to say about fad diets and the latest news that Fat is Good!
With the latest Time Magazine issue telling us to Eat Butter, it is easy to feel as if we’ve all been deceived this whole time about choosing low-fat for health. The truth is that we HAVE been deceived about many things regarding nutrition, whether maliciously or out of ignorance.
It’s all a matter of studies not being conducted properly. In the late 70′s and throughout the next couple of decades, studies showed that higher fat/cholesterol diets caused heart disease, obesity, atherosclerosis, and many more diseases. Once the American Heart Association came out with it’s guidelines, every food manufacturer began offering low-fat versions of everything. What we didn’t pay attention to is that to make these new low-fat items taste good, they had to add more sugar.
Fast forward to now, when heart disease, obesity, and diabetes rates are soaring, and it is clear that something was missing from these studies. The effect of carbohydrates (refined sugars, high fructose fruits, starchy vegetables, and grains) was never connected to how our bodies convert glucose and store it as fat. So the people that they studied who gained weight and showed arterial plaque formation ate diets higher in fat WITHOUT RESTRICTING CARBS. This is the missing link. You can eat a high fat – low carb diet and lose weight, maintain heart health, and reverse blood sugar issues in many diabetes cases. Alternatively, you can eat a low fat – high carb diet and still lose weight, but you will be at risk for fatty liver disease, heart disease, hormone imbalance, and the wide range of inflammation based diseases.
Even tri-athletes who do something known as “carb-loading” can be diagnosed with fatty liver disease, which often progresses to diabetes. Approximately 30% of the United States is estimated to have some degree of this condition, according to research done by Dr. Mona Morstein. Morstein, M. (2012). The Fatty Inflamed Liver. Townsend Letter, (352), 55-58. ) Click HERE to read the full PDF in all of it’s scientific glory!
Switching to a truly healthy diet that will keep you feeling and looking your best while preventing disease and prolonging quality years of life doesn’t just mean picking this or that diet. Although, starting with one of them may help get your journey started.
When I began my nutrition science research, my first step was removing all white flour products. I couldn’t believe that pasta was unhealthy. I was shocked to learn just how downright harmful many of the foods I grew up on were. I felt, and still feel, deceived. Marketing campaigns putting my favorite cartoon character on junk food and lobbyists infiltrating the creation of the Food Pyramids are real and their first priority is profit, not your health.
Example. Dr. Luise Light, author of “What To Eat” and former director of dietary guidance and nutrition education research at USDA, recounts her experience going through tax-payer funded studies aimed at figuring out exactly what we should be eating, and in what quantities. The verdict was clear, vegetables should be the biggest part of the pyramid, at least 5-7 servings a day in multiple colors and varieties. Grains were to be specified as WHOLE grains and in much smaller quantities. Red meat was implicated in colon cancer and inflammatory diseases, so it was also put in the “in moderation” category. This was back in the 1980′s, believe it or not. She was shocked when the classic food pyramid came back to her office, set in stone and enforceable by law in government run institutions. Grains were now the biggest category, and the word WHOLE grain was nowhere to be found. Fats, oils, and sweets were bunched in the same category at the very top. Our skyrocketing obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic syndrome rates began right here and then.
According to light, “After years of lobbying by the Frozen Potato Institute, in June 2004, the USDA reclassified french fried potatoes as ‘fresh vegetables’, arguing that a fry is no less fresh than a waxed lemon. The new regulation allows fries to be substituted for salads and vegetables in school lunch, day care, and other government institutions”.
It’s the same story with the Cattlemen’s association, the conglomerate of wheat growers, and on and on.
The best and most simple way to know what to eat is to ignore EVERYTHING that isn’t backed up by science. But… science got it wrong on the fat issue, didn’t they? Yes. That’s why listening to your body and monitoring the way you feel and look is equally as important. People try different diets, and still fail at reaching their goals many times. Why?
Let’s look at some popular diets, their benefits, and their downsides.
Organic Diet: Pros Removes the dangers associated with preservatives, additives, pesticides, fertilizers, PCB’s, BTA’s, and about a thousand other substances added to food to increase shelf life and increase profits. Followers of this diet tend, by sheer necessity, to eat more fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and clean meats. Cons Pays no attention to what kind of food you are eating or what quantities, only that the food is organic. There are hundreds of websites with organic sweets and other unhealthy yet organic recipes for you to try and still think you’re eating healthy. The term Organic does not necessarily equate to health
Gluten-Free Diet: Pros Avoiding wheat, barley, rye and non-certified oats challenges you to not only avoid most of the garbage available in restaurants and supermarkets, but it also introduces you to ways of making things taste good without so many grains. Gluten is bad for EVERYBODY in high amounts (more on that later) and especially for those genetically predisposed to intolerance. Cons It seems like every single gluten-free cooking site you go to, they are trying to make things that taste like gluten. Cookies, breads, other snacks are always the highest rated and most raved about. THIS ISN’T HEALTHY. It also allows for chemicals, bad fats, sugar of all kinds, etc, etc. The term Gluten Free does not necessarily equate to health.
Vegan Diet: Pros You WILL eat lots of plant based foods on this diet, if you do it right. This keeps you looking good and delaying onset of certain diseases due to the high amount of anti-oxidants. You will also be boycotting factory farming, which is the very disturbing and morally sub-par method of raising and slaughtering animals for our consumption. Organic, free-range, grass-fed operations typically do NOT use these practices. Cons Keep in mind though, that plenty of sweets, french fries, junk foods, and balls of gluten made into fake meat, called Seitan, are also vegan and can still be eaten. Also, many following this diet require vitamin B12 shots to maintain their nervous system health, as it is found predominately in animal proteins. Another common deficiency is Omega 3 fatty acids in the pre-formed and most easily utilized versions EPA and DHA. You can get Omega 3′s from chia, flax seed, nuts, and some leafy greens, but this is the ALA form, and our bodies are pretty inefficient at converting it to the EPA and DHA that we actually use. Fatty fish, grass-fed organic meats and eggs are the best source for pre-formed omega 3. Those on the vegan diet tend to eat too many grains to make up for the protein deficiency of avoiding meat. The term Vegan does not necessarily equate to health.
Raw Diet: Pros This is one of the healthiest diets out there, if you do it right, and unless you have any kind of gastrointestinal issues. Loads of fiber, antioxidants, healthy fats will all work together to keep you free of disease and seemingly ageless for many years. Cons You need to do a lot of homework to ensure you are not deficient in any nutrients, which in itself could lead to a deficiency disease. Omega 3′s are a concern, but you CAN still eat sushi, raw eggs, raw milk, etc. at your own risk. The biggest con to this diet is logistics. Raw food doesn’t last very long, it is a major undertaking to learn how to make a diverse range of cuisines using food dehydrators, processors, overnight soaking, overnight setting, and lots of chopping, etc. It also places no restriction on sugars, and raw, conventionally grown produce can still pack doses of chemicals. Raw does not necessarily equate to health
Paleo Diet: Pros Finally, a diet that addresses sugar…kind of. The whole premise to this diet refers to the Paleolithic age when we couldn’t process food the way we can now. Whatever you can pick up off the ground, snag from a tree or bush, or hunt is fair game. This eliminates ALL processed foods, grains, and refined sugars. It can kickstart weight loss like no other diet, and also alleviate symptoms of diabetes, inflammation, and more. Cons Bananas come from trees, and so do pineapples, nuts, and seeds. So what? Well, these are concentrated sources of sugar, and the nuts can be very high in omega 6. One of the biggest contributors to inflammation (the precursor to a wide range of conditions from sleep apnea to leaky gut and atherosclerosis) is an unbalanced Omega 3 to 6 ratio. The Paleo diet allows too many sugars, believe it or not, and does not address the Omega profile. It also doesn’t specify organic, although it should, as pesticides, etc. were not around during those times. Paleo Diet does not necessarily equate to health.
I could go on, but you get the drift. Any of these diets could potentially be truly healthy, but it would require going and getting a nutrition degree, or regular visits to a nutritionist who agrees with your particular viewpoint on what to eat (and then, what’s the point of seeking one if you only want to hear echoes of your own opinions).
I have determined after years of experimentation and customer feedback, as well as my own experience and countless hours in medical journals, that a diet consisting MOSTLY of vegetables, lightly cooked or raw, in addition to healthy fats from olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, and clean, consciously raised sources of chicken, turkey, fish, grass-fed bison, and grass finished eggs is the most beneficial to the average human being based on our evolution on this particular planet.
I respect all of the diets and seek to offer options that make everyone happy. Vegans have no fear, I was once one of you and I know how hard it is to find convenient and healthy vegan food in the tri-state. In fact, HealthSavor initially launched in 2010 as a 100% vegan operation. Unfortunately, there just weren’t enough vegans to keep business flowing, and we shut down momentarily to re-think our approach. It was around this time that I took advanced anatomy and physiology in college. The rest is history.
Have you heard of a diet recently that you want the low-down on? Use our contact form here on our website. I am always happy to get down to the molecules on any nutrition related topic.
About Chef Brandon
Chef Brandon Schlunt is co-owner of HealthSavor, a Cincinnati Ohio based healthy, organic, gluten-free meal delivery service, created to help busy families, individuals and children eat nutritious meals easily and affordably. Chef Brandon focuses on helping his customers lose weight, lower their blood sugar and feels very honored to have earned the trust of many doctors, students, parents, athletes, and on-the-go businessmen and women all over the city. In his non-existent spare time, Chef B enjoys music, spending time with his daughter, fiance, family, furry friends Floyd, Chewy, and Lizzy, and continuing his education in nutrition.Join The HealthSavor Newsletter Here ORDER TODAY!