Dietary Heresy – or New Wisdom? #functionalmedicine #sugar #fat #carbs #cholesterol

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A quickie post today: I thought I’d share a few of the websites and influences that I’ve found helpful in shaping my attitude to food and health in recent months.  One or two of the understandings I’ve arrived at, having read some of the material available on the internet and in books, are beginning to catch a wave – it seems they’re not such crazy notions after all.

Sugar – what people generally call either free sugar or simply added sugar (ie, not the sugar found naturally in whole fruits, for example) – is an unhealthy and unnecessary dietary additive and the root cause of the so-called Obesity Epidemic. It may be tasty, but it’s addictive, it brings long-term harm and lifelong weight challenges, and we don’t need it.

Simple Carbohydrates – I’m thinking pasta, white rice, bread – should not be the foundation stones of the average meal. They convert to sugars far too quickly and mess with the body’s insulin regulating mechanisms. Particularly if you’re overweight and want to lose excess pounds, or you have type two diabetes, or are pre-diabetic, ditch those simple carbohydrates.

Fat – is not the enemy. In many, many forms, fat is more friend than foe, and should be an essential component within a healthy diet. The food industry has got rich persuading us that low fat products, processed and stuffed with additives and sugar, are healthy. This is more than misleading.  Dairy fats have much to commend them, and so-called healthy fats in nuts, oily fish, olive oil and avocados, for example, are an absolute must.

Cholesterol – which Big Pharma has gone into overdrive to persuade us is killing us – is natural and normal and for the vast majority of us, does not need to be controlled by drugs.  Statins are a con being perpetrated against vast populations of healthy people, for profit.

Great reference sources and health heroes

Action on Sugar http://www.actiononsugar.org  is a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health. It is working to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high sugar diet, and bring about a reduction in the amount of sugar in processed foods.  Spearheading Action on Sugar is one of my dietary heroes, Cardiologist, Dr Aseem Malhotra http://doctoraseem.com.

Diet Doctor https://www.dietdoctor.com seeks to promote natural health. Focused on LCHF (Low Carb High/Healthy Fat) approach, the website is an enormous practical and inspirational resource, particularly for those battling weight issues and diabetes. It promotes what began as a revolutionary approach a few years ago (carbohydrate reduction, the happy consumption of fats), but which is gaining considerable credibility in the medical community and beyond.

Dr Mark Hyman http://drhyman.com is a practicing physician, prolific author and advocate of the power of Functional Medicine. It seeks to identify and address the root causes of disease, and views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties. It treats the whole system, not just the symptoms. Dr Hyman has written extensively on issues around fat and sugar.

Dr Malcom Kendrick https://drmalcolmkendrick.org Practicing GP and author of ‘The Great Cholesterol Con’, Dr Malcolm Kendrick throws light on the lies, damned lies and statistics that surround the demonization of cholesterol, the pushing of statins to almost anyone over the age of 50, and the ways we are made to fear eating just about any foodstuff you can contemplate. Great blog and real insights into how statistics can misdirect, and the difference between correlation and causation.

Insightful videos, podcasts and films

The Big Fat Fix

http://www.thebigfatfix.com

Addresses the issue of how recommended but misguided dietary advice over the last 50 years has spawned the obesity and diabetes epidemics.  It looks at the role of healthy eating – based around what’s become known as the Mediterranean Diet – in treating and preventing these and other diseases.

That Sugar Film

http://thatsugarfilm.com

In this revealing film, Damon Gameau embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as ‘healthy’. The results are shocking.

The Truth about Sugar (BBC Documentary)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4LzSH9qU_Q

Even-handed documentary on how much sugar there is coursing through our everyday foods.

Dr Mark Hyman on Eating Fat to Get Healthy – with Lewis Howes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgWBKJsJtk0

An interview podcast, Dr Mark Hyman talks passionately about why eating fat is the key to weight loss.

That’s by no means an exhaustive list, and remember, I’m hardly the expert. But I personally have found each one of these websites (and their wealth of resources and links), health heroes and videos an excellent source of information and insight.  They have shaped my new eating and lifestyle habits, helped me towards a weight-loss of over 70 pounds in the last 13 months, and helped me to become healthier, happier and more energetic than I’ve been in almost two decades.

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The BLECH Factor #fat #fryup

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Or… when fatty food doesn’t feel like it used to

I don’t eat out these days as often as I used to, which was at least once a week in the good old days of indulgence. I haven’t ordered a takeaway (also at least a weekly occurrence) or been to a fast food outlet (ditto) for over a year either.

When I do go, my strategy for restaurants nowadays is to take a look at their menu online beforehand and decide ahead of time, what is the best (ie, healthiest) choice to make. That way, when I sit down to eat, I don’t taunt my taste-buds. I know what I want, so I don’t tempt myself the way I used to do, into picking the dish, or dishes, which most excited my imagination. I’m not saying that wholefood salad and grilled salmon doesn’t excite my taste-buds, but… but… when hungry, and faced with acres of scrummy-yumscious descriptions designed to make you drool, it’s highly likely I would choose something altogether more… decadent.

However… on Friday evening, I had failed to prepare.  And by the time my friend and I got to the restaurant, I was also more than peckish.  And very susceptible to those drooliscious descriptives.

It was a seafood restaurant, so the potential for disaster wasn’t enormous.  It wasn’t a total tumbling off-the-wagon either, and certainly not a culinary crisis of the kind I’ve been so familiar with in the past. It was a short-lived, giddy overbalancing; but one from which I’ve learned an interesting lesson.

I began my meal with one single oyster. How about that for self-control, even when it wasn’t needed?  I just wanted the aroma of the sea, and a solitary slippy little creature dressed with a squish of lemon did the job. Happy days.

But then the proper starter.  And… oh… when you haven’t had a Chinese meal in over a year, and your seafood restaurant menu tantalises you with their version of Salt and Pepper Squid… Just the once, I thought.  Just the once, wouldn’t it be lovely?

Well, it was ok – not lovely – but ok.

Actually, it was greasy. It was properly yukky yuk-yuk greasy. 

If I’m honest it was just like Salt and Pepper Squid always is. But to me, whose palette rarely experiences deep fried anything these days, it was swimming in the stuff.  Ikky and claggy, it clung to my mouth.  It wouldn’t wash away – a glass of cold water served to set the grease, rather like when you leave a frying pan full of fat to go eat your breakfast and when you come back, it’s all congealed. It wasn’t pleasant.

But I pressed on.

Next came the main course. I know… I should have chosen a nice piece of poached white fish, grilled salmon maybe. But I was choosing with my taste-buds. I picked mussels, poached in cream, white wine and garlic. You see what I mean? This wasn’t a total crisis.  Mussels is not a bad choice, as such.  But I’ll admit, the creamy poaching liquor was less than prudent.  Oh, and I mustn’t forget the tiny tin bucket of French fries.  I probably ate about half of these microscopic and not in any way delicious little sticks of fry-up.  I eat almost no potato these days, so I was going carefully – at least I thought I was. But I can’t remember the last time I ate chips in any form – and their greasy coating settled all too quickly, like a second skin on the layer of greasy batter residue already lining my mouth.

To be fair, the mussels were delicious and I slurped about half the creamy, white winey jus.  I slurped until I began to feel it might be wise to stop.  My stomach, you see, had already begun to protest the slippery onslaught of batter, chip fat and lastly, that admittedly tasty slew of unctuous yummyliscious cream.

You can see I’m torn by this experience, can’t you? Good in parts, bad in parts. But with a claggy, fatty yuk yuk payload.

I had a great night out – I enjoyed it, I really did. The ambience, the company, the laugh we had, all perfect. But as I lay awake for almost the whole night, taking too many trips to the bathroom, feeling the silt swill around my stomach and occasionally wash high up my oesophagus (I haven’t had acid reflux in ages), I did indeed wonder, was it worth it?

I’m glad I had this experience though, as it’s shown me how far I’ve come since the days when I could happily put down platters of deep fried squid, fried pancake rolls, fried crispy seaweed, sweet and sour chicken fried in batter, fried rice and any amount of sweet, sticky sauces. It’s reminded me why I no longer buy and eat crisps (USA: potato chips) in epic volumes. It’s shown me how my sense of taste has adjusted, how I no longer crave the mouthfeel of those fattier, richer foods.

I do eat fat, just not deep-fry fat. I celebrate healthy fats like olive oil, oily fish, avocado and brazil nuts. I enjoy full fat yogurt, too much cheese, a little butter here and there. I love chicken skin and salmon skin (weird, I know). I leave the fat on meats likes steak or chops when I grill them and I relish the taste of it. I’m not against fat.

But I have left behind the deep-fry fatty mouthfeel sensations.

And yes, that would be yet another payoff of my new healthier lifestyle.