Saturday, March 24, 2012

Good Nutrition: Fat is Good, Sugar is Bad

It's been a little while since my last post and I must admit I have been swamped in reading and keep thinking of points to raise on the blog, but then reimmerse myself in a book long before I get near my computer. Poor excuse I know, but true nonetheless.

I know on the home page of the website I said I would discuss more about Lesego Motsepe's decision to stop treatment and announce it on television, but, I changed my mind (it will have to come later). Simply put, the reading has so intrigued and fascinated and confused me that I thought I would share some of it with you. And that probably includes the confusion.

So, what do I recommend you eat? 

Well, if you had asked me six months ago I would have passed you my carefully crafted (after 16 years of learning and lectures and working with patients) recommendations that would go something like this:
 1) Eat Low Fat  
2) Eat Low Glycaemic Index 
3) Reduce Red Meat intake
4) Eat whole grains and high fibre 
5)Eat lots of Fruit and Vegetables
something like this picture on the left. Looks familiar right?

And now?

Well, I don't know anymore. Not for sure. Because, it all started with a book my sister gave me called "Why we get Fat and what to do about it?". This, I must admit, has turned my nutritional world upside down. Because, in my daily work, I routinely talk about diet and healthy eating and weight loss and weight maintenance, oh say, 7 to 10 times a day. And this book suggested to me that perhaps all my biology teachers, university professors, and teachers were wrong. That it is all a big fat lie. In fact, Gary Taubes doesn't "suggest that perhaps", he downright insists that we have all been misguided and misled about what is a healthy diet. And, so it got me thinking and seriously questioning. And reading further. Because, if we are wrong about healthy diet, and carbohydrates and meat, then what else are we wrong about? It led me to looking at the Atkin's eating plan, the Paleo diet, the South Beach Diet, Vegetarian diets and really revising all the viewpoints I previously held.

In a nutshell:
1) Eat High Fat, and saturated fat is good. The only bad fat is trans fat.
2) The Glycaemic Index Schmindex. Cut out your carbohydrates, or at least make a serious reduction in your carbohydrates and banish sugar forever (I hear the sighs and shocked silence: "but what will we eat if there is no pasta/ pap/ rice/ bread on the plate?)
3)Eat Meat, Red meat, and lots of it. It is good. We are genetically engineered to eat meat. (Ah ha, I see a small smile, and a light in your eyes. Yes, you can eat chops, boerewors, steak, roasts with all the fat and the gravy, and bacon. Yum)
4)Don't eat grains (another carbohydrate). No more cereal, no more seed loaf. give them to the birds
5) Eat Vegetables, that is your main source of carbohydrates, and will still provide your vitamins and minerals. Stick to the fibrous and green leafy veggies. Only those grown above ground. Dont go overboard on fruit.

So, the food pyramid kind of looks like this:
Paleo Diet pyramid courtesy of Arthur Devany 
Or, something a little like this:

It's complex, confusing and I will not even begin to profess that I have the answer to it all. But, like Professor Tim Noakes, the sport scientist and Discovery Health advisor who is our local medical expert who is standing up to say that he got it wrong, I think it means that all healthcare professionals need to be questioning their learning/teachings. Maya Angelou said  something to the effect of  "I did the best with what I knew; and when I knew better, I did better. That's all we can ask. And I am still reading. And for now, I can only say that the most consistently sound piece of advice I can give you is to reduce your carbohydrate intake, especially sweet and sugary foods. The fatty issue is still a bit of a question mark, but it is clear that diabetes, obesity and lifestyle diseases are linked to refined and processed foods in particular, but all carbohydrates in general.

If you are confused and looking for some reading here are some good websites to try out, as well as the links above:
diets in review

gluten free diet
nutritionist website

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