Yet More Confusion About Fats In the Media
Yet again there is more confusion about what the nation should and shouldn’t be eating. And if the scientists themselves can’t agree what are the general public supposed to believe is the right thing to do?
This week saw the publication of a study by The National Obesity Forum detailing that we should be eating more fat, forgetting about calorie counting and reducing carbohydrates. There has been scientific opposition to the findings and, indeed, the organisation is said to be in turmoil as several board members were not consulted prior to its release. It has also received condemnation from the chief nutritionist at Public Health England, Dr Alison Tedstone who said that “In the face of all the evidence, calling for people to eat more fat, cut out carbs and ignore calories is irresponsible.”
However, with obesity levels at an all time high and set to continue to increase over the coming years why do clinicians still believe that we are giving the public the correct advice. We are doing something wrong otherwise the situation would be improving. What is perhaps irresponsible is the lack of clarification and confusion that follows when such news is reported. The public are left not knowing what to eat for the best.
Firstly, eating fat is absolutely essential for normal body function and demonising all fat scares the public into eating either low or no fat in their diet which causes all sorts of health issues in itself. We need fat in our diet to absorb vitamins, to produce hormones and to form the cell membranes of every cell in our bodies. What we do need to do is to eat more of the ‘right’ fats such as avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts (not roasted or salted), seeds, lean meat, eggs and fish whilst eating less of the wrong fats including crisps, biscuits, cakes and pastries.
Eating low fat products when trying to lose weight is actually counterproductive and perhaps this is better understood when the reason for this is properly explained. There is only one way that manufacturers can produce a pleasant tasting low fat / lite food and this is to raise it’s sugar or artificial sweetener content. The effect of this is to cause a spike in blood sugar levels causing the body to release large amounts of the hormone insulin to counteract this. If this sugar is not needed directly as energy insulin will store the excess sugar as fat. Therefore, when a low fat product is consumed to help with weight loss the effect is actually weight gain. It is sugar here that is the enemy and not fat. Cutting out carbohydrates can be similarly explained, white refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta cause large spikes in blood sugar resulting in the laying down of fat stores.
The problem with calorie counting is that it excludes high fat naturally heathy foods such as coconut oil / milk, avocados, nuts and seeds. Instead of obsessing about calorific values we should be focussing on eating a wholefood clean diet. This means wholegrains which contain fibre, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, lean meats (grass fed to reduce chemical load on our bodies), eggs and fish. We need to see processed food for what it is…chemical filled false food of little nutritional value at best and damaging to the body at its worst. If a diet higher in good fats and protein is eaten fewer calories are naturally consumed as fat and protein is more filling so surely it is this that should be the focus.
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