I have written several articles in the past on the phobias we have in Canada concerning health that are not based on science but rather on misconceptions.
Here are a few:
- 1) Cholesterol phobia: This started years ago by the pharmaceutical industry to sell more drugs and unfortunately medicine and the general public fell for it. Cholesterol lowering medications are amongst the biggest sellers for big pharma and yet heart disease kills more people today than ever before.
- 2) Sun phobia: From physicians to even the weatherman the sun has become public enemy number one. Yet for every person that dies from melanoma (skin cancer ) 250 people die from a lack of vitamin D.
The new craze for the last 20 or 30 years is the fat-free diet. This came from the food industry, which was trying to sell their so-called healthy snacks that were fat-free.
Fat has got a bad rap!
Over 50 years ago a researcher named Ancel Keys published a paper on dietary fat and linked it to heart disease. He did a small study that did not take into account smoking, which we now know is positively a major factor in heart disease. Since that time numerous studies have tried to link saturated fat to heart disease and try as they may they just cannot do it. Yet most physicians, nutritionists and fitness professionals believe that saturated fat makes you fat and sick and they preach it like it was the gospel truth.
The reverse is true!
There are numerous tribes in Africa, Indonesian , the Polynesian Islands and Eskimos from the great North who consume five times more saturated fat than North Americans and yet here's what the result is on their health:
- 1) They have very little body fat.
- 2) Heart disease and diabetes are virtually non-existent.
- 3) It seems that shortly after they move out of their natural environment and start eating our carb-loaded and fat-free diet they get heart disease and cancer at the same rate as North Americans.
The fat free brain
The human brain is made up of 60 per cent fat. If someone calls you fathead take it as a compliment. Do you know that the brain needs fat in order to function properly? According to a flurry of new research, scientists are beginning to notice that more people are developing dementia and Alzheimer's and other brain-related diseases more than ever before. Even more disturbing is the fact that neurological diseases and brain deterioration is developing in younger and younger victims. In my mind there is no coincidence between the lack of fat in our diet and all these cognitive issues. Fatty lipids make up the membrane of all of our cells. Brain cells are damaged by a lack of fat. Remember fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E,K and CoQ10 cannot be absorbed without fat.
Best sources of fat
- 1) Meat and eggs are great sources of fat; the best of course are grass-fed beef, which gives you healthy omega-3 and free-range chickens give you the healthiest eggs. As much as possible stay away from ordinary store-bought meat because it is full of hormones and antibiotics and are usually grain-fed, producing inflammatory omega 6.
- 2) Fish contains very healthy omega-3, but especially salmon and cold water fish from northern Ontario. Be careful with tuna it contains too much mercury.
- 3) Seeds and nuts like flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and sunflower seeds are very high in healthy fats. Almonds and cashews are also good sources of fat.
- 4) Butter, especially organic butter, is a great source of healthy saturated fat and is abundant in vitamin A.
- 5) Coconut oil this is the new kid on the block. Coconut oil provides a tremendous amount of medium-chain fatty acids and is now characterized as a brain food. A lot of my patients are scared to consume coconut oil because they believe the old lie about fat.
- 6) Avocados have an amino acid score nearly as high as eggs. They are packed with vitamins, choline and magnesium. They have very few carbs and are loaded with heart and brain healthy fats.
Industry took away our good fats and substituted them with bad fats called trans fats. Trans fats are man-made and are found in margarine, potato chips, salad dressings, peanut butter (100 per cent natural and organic is good), cake and pancake mixes, ice cream, microwave popcorn, cookies, etc. Foods found in the middle aisles of the grocery store are usually the ones containing bad fats. Stay away from man-made fats; your body doesn't even recognize them as food.
Dr A.W Martin DC, PhD, DNM, RNCP, Clinical Nutrition practices in Sudbury, is the host of "The Doctor is In "on KFM all through Northern Ontario. He is the author of several books including his new book "Are You Built for Cancer. www.martinclinic.com