Science always catches up with our simple human theories when comes to health and nutrition. Many of our grandparents spent much of their adult life chain smoking through their day, at work, socially and even at the dinner table. In the early 20th century, there was very little scientific evidence that smoking tobacco caused cancer. Studies followed as cancer diagnosis’ and deaths increased. By the mid-20th century, it was conclusive that smoking tobacco could, in fact, kill you.
Even with overwhelming evidence, the power of big corporations’ influence on the economy and government caused a delay in communication and popular acceptance of these generational life-altering facts. Despite all the evidence, the government (and its citizens) is slow to change.
What is killing us today?
Unfortunately, smoking can still kill you. It is listed in the top causes of cardiovascular disease, which, ultimately, is the number one killer of humans. Stroke is a close second. High LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure are also major risk factors both of which can be directly affected by what we chose to eat.
Government pamphlets on how to eat.
In 2015, The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion published its latest recommendations on nutrition entitled, The Food Pyramid Guide. According to these government mandated recommendations, Americans should, “Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol to reduce your risk of heart attack and certain types of cancer and help you maintain a healthy weight.” In addition, the guide went on to say, “Choose a diet with plenty of grain products vegetables and fruit, which provide needed vitamins, minerals and fiber, and complex carbohydrates and can help you lower your fat intake.”
This seems straightforward enough and nothing we haven’t heard before, right?
Not according to a very prestigious group of scientists in an August 2017 Lancet study. These scientists investigated dietary effects on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke. They studied 135,000 people in 18 countries across several continents. They found that their data with current recommendations to reduce total fats and saturated fats and replacing with carbohydrates was associated with the most adverse effects on blood lipids, one of the most important risk factors for heart disease.
This is not the first study of its kind over the past decade to find that no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Though it is the most comprehensive.
A carb is a carb is a carb…not really. Harvard School of public health posted an article suggesting that, in the Lancet study, total carbohydrates is “over-simplified.” A breakdown of the type of carbohydrates used to replace fats and saturated fats would be the next great step in the research.Vegetables and fruit as carbohydrates are lumped in with whole grains, high sugar, and processed foods. In fact, a concurrently published review of the same data indicated that 3 servings of fruits/vegetables/legumes, decreased all-cause mortality.
How can these two findings not contradict one another? Unlike smoking which is bad at any level, a relatively small percentage of high-quality carbs are still a good part of a healthy diet. Different carbs have different effects on health. We cannot discount the evidence that it has been disproven in several recent studies that fats and saturated fats are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
How long will it take for the government to change the recommendations that, according to this study and several others, are misleading?
The ideal nutrition debate continues as does the influence of multi-billion dollar corporations who produce crappy food. Have you heard of Monsanto? Their deep pockets for marketing, lobby expenses, and regular sizable donations to both political parties’ initiatives make them a great example of this influence. They also just happen to be the largest producer of genetically modified carbs, I mean crops, i.e. crappy food, but I will save that post for another day.
I am going to take a lesson from our grandmothers’ smoking addictions and air on the side of the latest science. For me, that means sticking to the outermost aisles of the grocery store and shopping from my backyard garden.
A shout out to SoYummy.Co for first publishing this post I wrote on January 11th.