What a strange world we live in. Is it just me or did everything make more sense a few years ago? Now many things seem to be upside down and the wrong way round, as if we’d fallen through the looking glass with Alice. Do you hear stories and do a double take? Have your alarm bells been ringing? Does your common sense tell you that it’s not quite right?
The media love to hype everything because they’re in the business of selling news; normal, happy times are no good to them. They’ve over-done the ‘crisis-of-the-day’ thing to the point of desensitising us. The day before yesterday is already old news, so the natural way we’ve lived for millennia won’t be promoted – there’s no money in it.
The headlines and narratives spewed out often misrepresent any underlying facts or even present the opposite. I think most people would be shocked by the lack of science behind the sound-bites and things ‘everyone knows….’
Technology has taken over and everything has an algorithm or worse, some (almost always wrong) predictive modelling. Fear is being used by governments to alter behaviour – we all know about the psychological nudge unit now. What percentage of the news we get is fake news? Who knows? Fact checkers do not check facts but are paid by those who benefit from promulgating their own position. People who stand up for the truth are erased from social media and whistle blowers are silenced. Scientists are not allowed to debate. Freedom of speech and of thought are things of the past.
It’s sad that we have to doubt all we hear from the media and government. But once you know some things are lies it makes you doubt everything else. It’s sad when conspiracy theories seem more sensible than the official narrative and sadder still when they come true.
So what can we be reasonably confident that we have been lied to about?
Saturated fat causes heart disease. No. A single, very poor (but highly promoted) American study decades ago ended up with the world believing that saturated fat causes heart disease and should be avoided. Actually, even the original study data really show that sugar is a problem, rather than fat, as an English Professor contested at the time and others have demonstrated since. Many, better studies over the years have shown that saturated fat is not a problem.
In fact dairy fats which are high in butyric acid (C4:0) and pentadecanoic acid (C15:0) have been shown to be protective against heart disease. What does eating cheese do to you? Lowers incidence of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Plus lower body weight, waist circumference and blood sugar (which of course are associated with these health problems). Plus higher HDL. And it’s delicious!!! Read a paper on cheese here.
Coconut oil is another healthy saturated fat and there’s nothing wrong with animal fats like lard and dripping either. (Actually, lard is mainly mono-unsaturated, like olive oil.)
The consequence of this misinformation has been the huge increase in consumption of vegetable oils like sunflower oil and this has driven today’s global obesity and diabetes crises plus many other diseases including cancer. We are harmed by too much omega 6.
Our Dietary Guidelines are still based on the old, flawed message because the panel that reviews them is made up of people linked to the food industry. It’s a bit like Europe’s nutriscore system that rates Nesquik (made mostly of sugar) as healthier than ham. Complete tripe!
Going out in the sun without protection is dangerous. Not usually. A little sun exposure is good for us. During the recent heat-wave, temperatures were so high that staying out of the sun was very sensible. But over the last decade or so, we’ve been scared off getting any sunshine at all on our skin. This has been hugely detrimental.
Sunshine enables us to make vitamin D in our skin (providing you’ve got enough cholesterol in your body to make it from of course). One of the biggest risk factors for a bad covid outcome (other than age) is low vitamin D. Most people in Britain are vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D is protective against cancer and rates of all cancers have gone up since we shunned the sun – ironically including skin cancer. You need to be mindful of your own skin of course and it’s important not to overdo it and burn. Fair skin can make plenty in about 20 minutes daily (arms and legs exposed). Darker skins need more. Those who can’t or don’t go in the sun need vitamin D supplements. Suncreams mostly contain toxins (even those marketed for children) so, if you need to use one, read up about them and choose one that won’t poison you.
We also make nitric oxide in sunshine which relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.
Sunlight stimulates our brain helping set our internal clocks to sleep well when it’s dark at night by making melatonin – and that is also a powerful antioxidant.
And of course, sunshine makes us happy!
There is one healthy diet and everyone should eat the same way. No. We are not all the same. We have biochemical individuality. Ever go on a diet with a friend? Worked for one but not the other? It’s genetic and as a generalisation, the further north you go, the more meat and fat you need. Our populations have all been mixed up so you can experiment with different mixtures yourself or I can do a Metabolic Type Test for you. Only about 20% of the people in Britain suit the Eat Well Guide low-fat, moderate protein, heavy carb mixture.
Calories, Fat and Weight
A calorie is a calorie. Not in terms of biological effect. The type of food you eat determines whether you gain or lose weight, not the number of calories.
Fat makes you fat. Generally no. Most types of fat do not cause weight gain. High omega 6 vegetable oils and sugar make you fat by triggering your storage mechanisms.
Eat less and move more for weight loss. No. By all means move more because it’s fantastic for your health but you cannot outrun a bad diet. Read this excellent piece in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
If you want to lose weight you don’t need to eat less, you need to eat better. That’s why I help people Learn to Eat Well!
Meat is dangerous / gives you cancer. No. It’s dense in bio-available nutrients and is good for us. Processed food is dangerous and probably does cause cancer. Humans have eaten meat through the whole of history. Our non-communicable health problems are very new. But fake meat suddenly became the great way to make lots of money. It promises (erroneously) to save your health, save the animals and save the planet. It’s ultra-processed and made of ingredients that will damage your health like soya, omega 6 fats and chemicals, so steer well clear however much you’re bombarded with messages urging you to give up healthy, natural food and switch to factory-made artificial stuff.
See this 1min video on a Tweet from Frederik Leroy.
There is also a 3h interview with Frederik. I haven’t listened to all of that yet but it looks at the links between the campaigns to demonize meat-eating, the corporatization of the food system, the proliferation of chronic disease, biased nutritional science, global deficiencies and malnutrition, and animal-rights groups.
You mustn’t have any salt. Well, we need some of that too. Processed food has too much. It would taste like the rubbish it is unless it was masked with lots of salt and sugar and chemicals. A little salt on home cooked food is a good thing – use natural sea salt or rock salt for diverse minerals to help keep your electrolytes balanced, rather than just sodium chloride from table salt. In a heatwave, you can make a solay (concentrated salt solution), keep it in a jar and add a teaspoon to your glass of water, plus a few crushed berries. Better than an isotonic sports drink full of sugar and chemicals.
There’s more in this month’s Eat Well News, but for a blog post I’ve been on my soap box long enough (and don’t even get me started on anti-bacterial hand wash!) My hubby says I’m cynical. He’s right. And I think it’s a reasonable, self-protective stance all things considered.
So when your common sense alerts you to fake news – take all of it with a big pinch of salt!
Top tip – Whatever tripe they try to feed you, trust your common sense!