Column #37

Lemmings racing over the cliff

Many nutritional myths are so entrenched they’re “official policy.” One of the worst is the recommendation for low fat and fat-free foods. Supporting the anti-fat theories are the bonafide detriments of some fats, fears associated with meats, and the tradition of eating grain along with not understanding the critical roles performed by Omega-6 (O-6) and Omega-3 (O-3) essential fatty acids (EFAs) in human health.

The discussion of fat is understandably confusing. How can one shed fat by eating fat? Isn’t fat, like sugar, just empty calories? The science behind pro-fat is ignored by the media, the medical establishment, and some marketers of healthy diets. But even after the science of fat is explained, most consumers rejoin “the lemmings marching to the sea” and continue to select low-fat foods.

There are two sources of fuel for the body: sugars and fat. Sugars and carbohydrates provide rapid bursts of energy the body can’t utilize except through extreme physical exertion. Fat provides a slow release of energy.

Excess energy from sugars is quickly stored as fat. Then the body needs another burst of energy because it is not geared to use its fat for its energy needs. The war on fat encourages the consumption of sugary foods and carbohydrates which leads to insulin resistance, obesity, elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mental disorders.

So, what about switching to a Ketogenic state?  That’s a normal metabolic process which burns fat because one eliminates sugar and carbohydrates and eats more fat. Is this the simple solution for addressing obesity and other chronic diseases?

Not exactly and this is the source of confusion. Yes, bodies synthesize (make and manage) most of their fats. But that doesn’t mean one can load up on saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, and vegetable oils without negative consequences. Also, there are the aforementioned EFAs which are not synthesized but can only be acquired from food.

EFAs are critical to the proper functioning of the immune system, brain, and nerves. But that function depends strictly on the balance of EFAs not just “some” EFAs. The O-6 and O-3 fatty acids come mostly from green leaves in a natural balance of 1:1 by weight.

Studies show that when a person’s EFA balance exceeds 4:1, bodies begin to fail over time with the full gamut of chronic diseases. So a high-fat diet with out-of-balance EFAs is just as bad as sugar and carbohydrate diets!

The healthiest foods for a strong immune system, optimal brain function, steady nerves, and maintaining one’s proper weight are green leafy vegetables, grass-fed and Omega-3 meats, and wild-caught seafood. These foods are nutrient diverse and dense (another important aspect of food), zero or low glycemic, with perfectly balanced essential fats. These foods provide the best fuel and the best building blocks for health.

The foods to avoid are grains, processed foods with hydrogenated oils, sugars, artificial sweeteners, and many fruits and tubers. Foods with out-of-balance EFAs include nuts, grains, grain-fed meats, most seeds, vegetable oils, processed foods, and many fruits.

To your health.

Ted Slanker

Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.

For additional reading:

A Western-Like Fat Diet Is Sufficient to Induce a Gradual Enhancement in Fat Mass over Generations

The Importance of the Ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids