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Unhealthy Healthy Eating Advice

The majority of healthy eating advice seems to be simply part of the perpetual reprocessing of a limited number of credible opinions that have been known for ages. It is exactly like fashion – whatever trend is due a turn will take main stage before it will be banished to the back of the closet to await its next turn. Sooner or later, you realise that the breaking diet stories of today are just rewritten stories from the past. Sure, there are different additions to modernise them but underneath is always the same old material.

In fact, there are three main nutrients we derive all our energy from – carbohydrate, protein and fat. That is it, just three. They were first discovered by English physician William Prout as early as 1827. And now, nearly two hundred years later, is there actually any consensus to the most basic fundamentals of diet approach regarding how much of each we should be eating? One side advocates low fat diet, which is best because it reduces heart disease and obesity. Another, in contrast, promotes high fat on exactly the same grounds. Others proclaim high protein is best for our health, it is naysayers arguing that such a diet promotes cancer and other diseases. And, so on. Stubborn in their beliefs, the arguments will rage, the media voicing whichever makes the best headlines at the time and like hamster on a treadmill a lot of energy, enthusiasm and effort is wasted but, eventually, we end up going nowhere. Sure, someone must be more right.

If we cannot agree on this most basic of issues, it will be yet more difficult when we start discussing the differences among the various macronutrient subgroups, none more so than with fat. In the 1950s we have seen the emergence of the lipid hypothesis, which proclaimed that eating saturated fat (mostly from animal products) elevates our cholesterol levels, increasing its deposition in the arterial walls and thus causing atherosclerosis. Hence, we were told to reduce our intake of saturated fat and increase consumption of plant fats (omega-6), which prevents this from happening. But opponents to this hypothesis argue that it is not high cholesterol that increases the risk of atherosclerosis but our oxidised cholesterol level. And high omega-6 fat intakes, despite reducing cholesterol level, radically increase the oxidation of cholesterol, boosting our heart disease risk. There obviously are the fanatical supporters of the low fat diet who will simply boycott all fat, instead turning to carbohydrates, which in turn have their own story on how they dramatically increase our disease risk. They are all different theories and they all will receive the limelight at one time or another.

What is the answer then? Well, it is time to use some common sense. What other species needs to be told what to eat, how much and when. What was so wrong with the human race from its beginning to 60 years ago, which required us to now take such a hardliner approach to eating. All we can see are dramatic increases in disease to accompany this new way of eating. Are we really going to go against our natural eating patterns for the advice of authorities that after two hundred years still cannot agree on the consumption of three major nutrient groups? Should we really be supposed to believe that processed food, with an infinite supply of chemicals that we can hardly pronounce, let alone recognise, are the healthy choice because they have interfered with nature to give low fat, low carb, low calorie – whatever nonsense best addresses market trends for boosting corporate profits – are a healthier option to uncontaminated fresh food. It is time to scrap all the irrational dogma, follow our natural instinct and get real and eat real food.