Reprogram Your Genes For Health, Happiness And Vitality
Part 6: Fuel your ecosystem
Around 12 years ago, when I completed my Masters degree in Nutrition I was taught that a healthy diet for adults pretty much along the lines of the current public health messages – a lowfat, high carbohydrate diet with lots of whole grains and moderate protein. Sugar intake was to be watched but we were strongly advised to cut saturated fat and cholesterol intake as they caused heart disease, and diets higher in fat caused obesity. Butter was out and margarine was in. Traditional cooking fats like lard and tallow were to be replaced with polyunsaturated oils, as they reduced cholesterol and heart disease risk.
Science, however, is about evidence and the same goes for nutritional science. I have to say that the weight of evidence now shows that these recommendations are highly flawed, and have probably been part of the cause of the current levels of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
There is simply no clinical evidence that either cholesterol or saturated fats cause heart disease and there is also no clinical evidence that substituting omega 6 fats (from vegetable oils) reduces risk factors – in fact, a recent study called the Sydney Heart Study involving 458 men with a recent coronary event showed that substituting omega 6 oils for saturated fat increased the risk of death from both heart-related events and other causes.
In addition, many clinical trials have shown that a low carbohydrate, high fat diet is better for weight loss and metabolic health than a supposedly healthy high carbohydrate, low fat diet.
Research is revealing that the main driver behind many common diseases such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes is metabolic dysregulation. Insulin resistance, high triglycerides and oxidized LDL and small dense LDL seem to be the main culprits (the big fluffy LDL don’t cause any harm). Currently, in this country, you have to send off to a private lab to measure oxidised and small dense LDL.
In terms of nutrition, my (and many other researchers’) belief is that the drivers behind metabolic dysregulation are excessive carbohydrates (especially processed and simple carbs), trans fats from deep fried and processed foods, too much omega 6 fats from processed foods, margarines and vegetable oils (which are often oxidised), and too little omega 3 and high-quality saturated fats.
Click the links below to read the previously published articles in this series: