Trans Fats vs Common Sense Diet
There’s been a lot in the news in the past regarding the dangers of trans fats – something alternative docs have been preaching about for years. For anyone who’s not yet familiar with trans fats and how they contribute to everyone’s early demise, here’s a quick, incomplete overview (hopefully it scares you, it should!):
Trans fats, also called partially hydrogenated oils are primarily made by chemical and heat conversion of vegetable oils. This is done (1) on purpose, to make shortening and margarine (pretty much the same thing) and (2) as a side effect of cheap extraction methods used to get the oil from the vegetable products.
Don’t assume that all fats will harm you. Cis fats are made by living organisms, are healthy in the right amounts and, to simplify, are what trans fats should be shaped like. In biochemistry, shape is everything! In fact, trans fats are exactly like cis except for one (usually) little kink in the long chain of the fat molecule. Problems occur because trans can mimic cis often in fit, but not in function, messing up a bunch of vital processes in our bodies.
OK, so? Well, fats (oils) and cholesterol are important parts of every cell in our bodies. They not only provide a structural function (help make up the cell wall that holds everything in) but also are involved in the chemical reactions keeping each cell alive and healthy.
Trans fats in our diets are mistakenly taken up and used in place of the proper Cis form – kind of like building a big wooden dam and having to use rotten logs mixed in with the good ones.
The more trans fats we accumulate, the less we are able to heal, grow, maintain. Every cell is affected, every organ is affected, every bodily process or disease you can name is affected. Your health suffers, diseases worsen and become chronic, all organ systems begin breaking down. Recently, trans fats are even blamed for increased aggression.
The dangers of trans fat is not new! It’s been known since the 40s or 50s. But go into any store and read the label on any prepackaged food. There it is, right near the top: ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil’ or trans fat.
So why is it even still on the market? Because it’s cheap, easy to make, can be made from lower quality sources than bottled oils, survives harsher storage, shipping and manufacturing, and can be adulterated to resemble lots of nutritious foods. In other words, big time profits.
A good rule of thumb: assume anything and everything regarding health and nutrition you see advertised on TV is a lie – a reliable health tip!
1/4 of what you eat keeps you alive. The other 3/4 keeps your doctor alive – Egyptian hieroglyph
OK, now we’re starting a section on the types of food to eat, and the foods to avoid. The diet described will be an ‘ideal’ one – what we’d eat in a perfect world, with access to safe, high quality foods. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world. Fortunately, the human body is pretty hard to kill – Lord knows, enough drug companies, hospitals and well-meaning interns have tried…
We can keep going for years while eating nothing but crap, constantly stressing out emotionally and only exercising when we can’t find a parking place close enough. But sooner or later it catches up with all of us, some a lot sooner than later.
It’s entirely up to you how closely to follow these recommendations; the sicker you are or the more you care about your future wellbeing, then, of course, the closer you should stick to them. These are not the recommendations you’ve become familiar with if you’ve been listening to a mainstream MD or getting info via the corporate controlled media.
You’re about to get hit with a lot of contradictions about what you have been led to believe is good for you. We are trying here to condense and simplify the tons of good, hard, science that’s been out there for years – but has been ignored.
You’ve probably heard mention of the caveman, primitive or pioneer diet – pretty much different names for the same diet – we’ll use ‘pioneer’ when referring to it, if for no other reason than it sounds a lot sexier than the other two. And that’s the basic diet we’re advocating, because it works.
It will help keep you healthy if you still are, and it will enable you to return to a healthy state if not. It is composed only of the foods that our bodies were designed to eat. There’s a great variety of chemicals (foods) we can safely use, but they all must be exactly a certain critical size or shape – plants and animals are good at making these, man and machines aren’t.
Here are the basics of the pioneer diet, quick and dirty:
- No pre-made or processed foods – they’re most all full of trans fats. Even lard, which has a terrible reputation (mostly undeserved) is not as bad for you as trans fats.
- Be suspicious of pretty much any ‘food’ that’s white. Sugar, flour, rice, etc. have all been processed till there’s nothing much left but empty calories. Vitamins, essential fatty acids, minerals, essential trace elements – all gone. Know why these products are always ‘enriched’ and ‘fortified’? Because they’d make you sick otherwise! Unfortunately, only a small fraction of what’s removed is replaced, so you’ll still get sick, just with different diseases than the obvious B deficiency syndromes.
- Have your water tested, twice a year or more. Use purifiers if needed, and keep testing. Water supplies, even municipal, change in composition constantly and seasonally. Caution -some bottled water’s actually just expensive tap water.
- Don’t be afraid of saturated fats or cholesterol in your foods. This is contrary to what we’ve been led to believe, but scientific evidence, new and old, says the real damage comes from trans fat.
- Don’t run from cholesterol. It is essential to life. If we didn’t have cholesterol in our cells, we’d be vegetables. Literally (Well, some of us would be fruits and/or nuts, but anyway…). Actually, our bodies need so much cholesterol that our livers make about 3 times as much as we get in our diets!
- Enjoy your eggs. One of our more perfect foods. Think about it – an egg has all the materials and nutrients needed to build a whole chicken!
- Don’t just blindly avoid all fats – many kinds of fats are essential to life and health.
- Do avoid fat substitutes and low-fat foods. For that matter, avoid all artificial anything! Your favorite artificial sweetener is broken down in part to methanol (wood alcohol – the poison in bad moonshine that causes blindness and death). Yummy! Even white sugar’s not quite that bad!
- Never use margarine or vegetable shortening! (Trans fats out the wazoo.) Beware of the new products (e.g. margarines) that advertise “now low in trans fats”.
- Use extra virgin olive oil rather than the other commonly available vegetable oils. Except for quality cold pressed and many expeller expressed oils (often found only in health food stores) those vegetable oils being hyped as healthy actually contain significant amounts of trans fats!
- Protect your oil. Buy in small bottles, keep away from heat, light and air.
- Avoid frying, but if you must, do so at low temperatures. Even olive oil will start getting damaged above 250 F. A little water in the pan helps keep it below 250.
- An alternative is to use palm or coconut oils (also with undeserved reputations) or, the pioneer’s staple, good ol’ lard. Hey, don’t pretend to cringe when you hear that word, you know you love it – just use a little common sense and moderation when you use it or any fat/oil product.
Where to Find More Information: Shining the Spotlight on Trans Fats from Harvard University