“no association between the amount of saturated fat consumed and the risk of heart disease”

My husband has been telling me this for years. This is contrary to everything that has been shoved down our throats as Americans.

In March the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a meta-analysis—which combines data from several studies—that compared the reported daily food intake of nearly 350,000 people against their risk of developing cardiovascular disease over a period of five to 23 years. The analysis, overseen by Ronald M. Krauss, director of atherosclerosis research at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, found no association between the amount of saturated fat consumed and the risk of heart disease.

This has come up time and time again over the past few years. Dietary intake of fat does not equal fat/cholesterol in the blood and body. Instead, our consumption of carbohydrates seems to be the problem.

I’ve been trying to lose weight through one system or another for at least 20 years. This means that this goes back to middle school, if not grade school. I remember once my mother took me to a dietition. I had to be in middle school, and I remember it well. I sat in the office while this woman gave me an incomprehensible plan. She tried to tell me it was really easy, and what I remembered from her during that time (and what I remember now) was that she told me that it was the amount of FAT in the foods I was to watch out for.

I was ecstatic to realize that Entenmenns made a FAT FREE coffee cake. After all, zero plus zero plus zero equals zero, right? Never mind the fact that it might have 12 servings per cake, and each serving was probably about 200 calories. I could sit and eat the whole cake for ZERO fat.

A month later (I think) was my first weigh in, and I gained a pound or two. She was flustered, if I remember correctly, and rather perturbed. I told her that I did just as she said, watched my fat intake. Apparently, I had missed something in her magical equation.

I’m not the only one. If you look around, there’s fat free and reduced fat products everywhere, and they’re also loaded with carbs. Another problem is that portion control is out the window. No one really knows what a portion looks like, or what satiation feels like – well, except for a few, perhaps. I would never advocate for a carb-free lifestyle, or even extreme carb restriction.

However, I did lose a majority of my weight thanks to making decisions to pass on the bread basket or tortilla chips at restaurants, and make a choice of what carbs I really want vs. other foods I really want. I ended up eating a lower carb diet by accident.

We don’t entirely understand how the body works. We have many researchers looking at this question, but there are many unanswered ones. What we eat doesn’t get instantly transferred into energy, fat, muscle. There’s a process. Some people’s bodies metabolize differently. Some medications throw this process for a loop. It’s not just scientists that have a problem with understanding how we metabolize things, it’s also people in the holistic healing industry (which I’m honestly a fan of, though with that industry the science is sometimes questionable.

I come back to the basics. Eat real food. If you eat meat and dairy, you’re eating the suffering of the animal. (I say this not to convince you to be a vegetarian, because I’m not – but that the stress hormones that build up in stressed animals make for untasty animal products, not to mention, unhealthy and requiring more antibiotics and that doesn’t sound like something I want to eat.) You eat the nutrition that the plants are grown in. Good soil makes a difference. Eat mostly plants and foods with very little processing. Try not to eat a single food that has more than 5 ingredients. (This is more a fun challenge.)

There is no magic pill, but that’s my next post.

The Story of Your Body

Diets.

I remember once when I was a kid I saw a poster featuring Garfield. I remember it saying something about “Diet is just Die with a T.” There’s diets emphasizing this, that and eliminating everything else. And it’s all promoted as if one thing fit all. Where exactly does evolution fit into all this? Where it is obvious that American culture (super-size me and all) encourages obesity (well, that and that people live in suburbs, drive cars miles and miles to the “corner store” and rarely do any physical exercise), what about us as individuals with tons of evolutionary genetic heritage?

As for me, I know that my family heritage is rural. Craftspeople, tradespeople, farmers and shopkeepers. Also, there’s the poverty and walking up-hill both ways in the snow. A body that burns calories slowly, knows how to store for long times w/o food and has endurance would be helpful in lean, hard-working times. Some of the women at work call my body-type “thick.” And it’s true, I’m not scrawny woman. While I am overweight, I’ve got big bones. I’ve got my mother’s family’s hips, broad and solid. I was well nourished as a kid — perhaps over-nourished compared to my ancestors. Maybe I’m genetically built to be optimized for hard labor and lean times? I find that I’m not as jazzed by proteins, but I ADORE complex and simple carbs, stuff that is cheap and easy to get. Protien actually makes me more hungry, and I tend to eat more when proteins are involved. Funny, huh?

Jon is different, though. He NEEDS protein. A veggie diet leaves him starved. We’ve found a happy medium, for the most part.

Maybe weight loss, health maintenance and optimization for our lifestyles has nothing to do with what our current culture and science is telling us — maybe we need to ask ourselves, how did our parents grow up and eat and work? How did their parents live? Maybe that can serve as a guidance?

Of course — I have no scientific back up, but it’s an interesting thought.