Cheat Days OK?

Pasta is a great choice for a cheat meal.

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay – Pasta is a great choice for a cheat meal.

An Irish toast goes, “Here’s to cheating, stealing, fighting and drinking. If you cheat, may you cheat death. If you steal, may you steal the heart of a beautiful woman. If you fight, may you fight for a brother. And, if you drink, may you drink with me.”

I saw this recently in W.E.B. Griffin’s book, Broken Trust. The same day I saw a post on Facebook about how good ‘cheat days’ are for losing weight. The research I’ve done since supports both sides of the equation – cheat days are good and bad for your health.

If you are trying to lose weight, several articles support cheat days – or cheat meals. The thinking is cheating allows you to trick your body some how. In theory, it will stimulate your fat burning processes. Cheat meals are only supposed to satisfy your taste buds. They are not meant to be a full meal. The premise is that you are still following your diet almost religiously.

Celebrities get to voice their opinions also. One recent article by Dr. Oz states that you can have a cheat day and it will ease those dietary restrictions you’ve been adhering to all week. His theory (and others) is that deprivation leads to more cravings. However, stimulate your taste buds occasionally and it will wake up your metabolism and shut down the deprivations.

I view things a bit differently. I advocate balanced nutrition to ensure that you are not deficient in any key nutrient the body needs daily. I follow the Wahl’s Protocol dietary practice. It does exclude all grains and dairy. Yes, abstinence from grains can be extremely hard to do.

I went on the Atkin’s Diet back in the 1990s. I read five books on that diet before starting. I lost a lot of weight and kept it off for years. I was living in Germany at the time and would periodically take weekend trips to Italy. My diet was blown on every trip with lots of pasta and bread.

I returned to Germany weighing 12-14 pounds more than I had left. Two weeks later I was back to my normal weight. After I returned to the States I had an opportunity to have my first bone density test. I discovered that I was osteopenic. I could not believe it. I had been lifting weights and running for decades. I figured I had great bone density.

It turns out that I was eating incorrectly on the Atkin’s Diet. I chose more foods that were acidic (proteins and fats) compared to alkaline foods (vegetables and fruits). My body’s pH was chronically below 7.0. As a result, I lost bone density.

Today, to maintain a healthy life we should eat more alkaline foods than acidic. In fact, the very word, ‘diet’, implies that it is temporary. We achieve a goal (weight loss, for example) and then go off our diet so that we can eat the foods we like and may times we regain all the weight we lost.

We should adopt a lifestyle that includes foods choices, not a diet that temporarily changes our eating habits. A lifestyle that incorporates balanced nutrition, caloric restriction, and a high body pH tends towards superior health and longer life.

A cheat meal or cheat day might sound good. But, who are your cheating? You are ‘temporarily’ reverting to what put you in a high-weight/bad health situation to begin with. Is that what you want? Take a quick bite of pizza and ice cream and all that deprivation is forgotten, until the next time?

If you adapt to a healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise, stress relief and toxin removal), you may have to ‘cheat’ periodically at some official function that you can’t avoid. But, even today, many places will adapt to your specific needs.

No, I don’t recommend cheat meals or cheat days. They might make you feel better for a moment, but it was those feel-good foods that did the damage to your health previously. Adopt a better lifestyle and don’t concentrate on weight loss only. Concentrate on your future health.

Wine & Health – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

wine and health

Wine and your health depends on a few things – Photo by Red O’Laughlin

Is drinking wine bad for your health? Let’s look at the GOOD aspects first compared to nondrinkers. Moderate wine drinkers (one glass of red wine for women and two glasses of red wine for men) are 30% less likely to suffer from high blood pressure according to a 16-year study by the Harvard School of Public Health. Moderate wine drinkers are also 30% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes according to a 12-year study at Amsterdam’s VU University Medical Center.

A Columbia University study showed that fifty percent of moderate wine drinkers are less likely to have blood clot-related strokes. A four-year Stony Brook University study showed that colon cancer rates are 45% less for moderate wine drinkers. Moderate wine drinkers have a 23% less likelihood of getting cataracts. When compared to beer drinkers, wine drinkers were 43% less likely to get cataracts.

The BAD aspects of drinking wine are also worth noting. Ten percent of alcohol is absorbed in the stomach. The rest is absorbed in the small intestines and enters the bloodstream. The liver metabolizes alcohol at the rate of one ounce per hour.

Alcohol dehydrogenase converts alcohol to acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a poison in the body and is then converted to acetic acid (vinegar) by aldehyde dehydrogenase. The acetic acid is processed normally in the body.

Increased blood alcohol levels increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a neurotransmitter. It facilitates communications between the brain and the nervous system. Increased GABA slows down brain function. Another neural inhibition is found in the glutamate receptors. Brain function is slowed, primarily in the prefrontal cortex which addresses your personal behavior.

Alcohol makes you feel good because it increases dopamine levels. When you feel good, you want more of what caused it (alcohol, ice cream, potato chips, cookies, pie, etc.).

The UGLY aspects of wine drinking apply to increased alcohol consumption. One drink an hour can be processed by the liver. When the alcohol metabolism process starts in the liver, all other digestive processes cease. Alcohol is considered a poison and it is critical for your body to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Your body’s full attention is given to eliminating this poison.

Excessive wine drinkers tend to eat more and ignore nutritional balance. The cerebellum controls the peripheral nerves. Long-term abuse of alcohol can cause chronic nerve damage and impair balance and other bodily functions. Chronic, long-term excessive alcohol consumption can cause cirrhosis of the liver.

Many people drink alcohol to facilitate falling to sleep. Alcohol does help you to get to sleep faster. The minute your liver finishes metabolizing the alcohol, your body goes back into catch-up mode to complete the digestion of food. Have you ever had a couple of drinks before going to bed, fall asleep quickly and then a few hours later wake up for no reason? It is that time when your body shifts from metabolizing alcohol to digestion. Sometimes it is difficult to get back to sleep.

Moderation in many things in life will generally keep you safe and healthy.

 

Coffee – Any Real Health Value?

Coffee improves health.

kaboompics / Pixabay – Coffee improves health.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine explored coffee and its relationship to mortality. Coffee drinkers compared to non-coffee drinkers had a lower risk of death from all sources. One cup/day to six or more cups/day yielded a range of 6% to 12% of men and 5% to 15% for women. The ages of the test subjects ran from 50 to 71 years of age and their lives were followed for 13 years.

Coffee has had good and bad press over the years. It contains over a thousand different chemical compounds. Other studies have shown that coffee increases lifespans, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and certain neurodegenerative disease and cancers.

It’s hard to identify exactly which chemical compound treats each disease or health risk. Chlorogenic acid is one that has been studied at length. It is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. As such, when studied on its interaction with the cardiovascular system, it has been shown to protect/improve heart muscle cells.

Heart attacks can be devastating. Coffee has demonstrated a positive benefit to reduce the risks of congestive heart failure and heart attack. It acts to prevent the clumping of platelets in the heart’s blood vessels. Coffee reduces many of the risks of cardiovascular disease.

Caffeine is another well-known component of coffee. Caffeine studies on brain health show that coffee can reduce the risk of various neurodegenerative disease, especially Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It is most interesting to find that people with early onset Alzheimer’s disease can expect a much slower progression of that disease compared to non-coffee drinkers.

Much of the research on brain cells and caffeine have been done on animals. The beta-amyloid protein responsible (one of many) for Alzheimer’s disease is kept in check by caffeine. The anti-inflammatory effect of caffeine is believed to be responsible for this protection.

There are other sources of caffeine if you are not a coffee drinker. Tea and chocolate are favorites of many. Coffee is not the panacea for everyone. Some coffee drinkers suffer insomnia, nervousness, upset stomach, nausea and even vomiting. Most people experience an increase in the heart and breathing rates. I know more than a few people who gave up coffee because it caused them headaches.

We are not all alike. We react to differently to the same foods. My wife was never a coffee drinker until after she had chemotherapy for breast cancer. Now she regularly enjoys a couple (or more) cups a day. Personally, I’ve never like the taste or smell. But, to each his or her own. If you drink coffee and enjoy it, you will probably have better health than those friends of yours who do not drink coffee.

The source of most of this information is from the July 2014 edition of Life Extension magazine (lef.org).

 

 

Good Health Is Too Hard To Achieve

Health requires constant attention

StockSnap / Pixabay – Good health requires constant attention

I write and speak on health and wellness for a living. I consider myself to be in better health than just about everyone I know. I get an annual physical every year. It is rare when I have more than one or two blood or medical tests outside the normal range. I am on no prescription medicines. I just had my first eye exam in several years and found that my eyesight is still great – I don’t need glasses to read near or far away.

Most of the time I eat according to the Wahl’s Protocol diet. It is balanced nutrition across 30+ nutrients the body needs daily. I also try to maintain strict avoidance of all grains and most dairy. I change my protein every couple of days so that I don’t have the same protein source within a four-meal window. I eat in a six-hour window daily which leaves 18 hours daily devoted to intermittent fasting. I had been on a five-day on and two-day off fasting regimen weekly for the past several months.

I exercise regularly – sprints, long distance walks, some endurance running, strength training, and stretching. I sleep well for 8+ hours nightly. I use several techniques to reduce/eliminate stress. I avoid toxins like the plague in personal care products and foods. I check my pH regularly and it stays above 7.4.

So, what’s wrong? My lifestyle changed It started with Harvey – Hurricane Harvey. The anxiety of rising water than didn’t get into my home seemed to stay in my psyche. I ended up with a fever blister a week later. I haven’t had one of those in years. I did have a little water in one of my cars, but that was taken care of the same day it was found. My diet changed to comfort foods and stayed that way well past the end of Harvey.

My wife and I attended a couple of reunions in September in October. Both out of town lasting several days. Again, my diet was uncontrolled before, during and after the reunions. We have an extended house guest who demands extra attention. I caught my daughter’s cold about three weeks ago and can’t seem to shake it. I haven’t had a cold in at least ten years.

My life was relatively easy to maintain, and I had excellent results in all measurements and aspects of my health. A temporary disruption in my time-life continuum has impacted my overall health and wellness for the past two-plus months. I gain control for a day or two, and then I’m back to the comfort food options, no exercise and little to no stress reduction. I know it must happen daily, but it does not.

Yogi Berra said that baseball is 90% physical and the other half is mental. Good health requires more than mental and physical attention daily. Stress is insidious. It’s all around us and most of the time we don’t know its effects on us. It changes our eating habits first and gradually changes our lifestyles.

Good health requires many actions to maintain. Drop your guard on one or two and you might see an increased risk of disease and other related maladies. Good health is worth it, but it requires your constant vigilance.

Atherosclerosis Reversal Possible?

Pomegranates may prevent heart attacks.

Fruchthandel_Magazin / Pixabay – Pomegranates might prevent heart attacks.

Atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis are used interchangeably. Arteriosclerosis is a hardening of the artery walls. Atherosclerosis is narrowing of the arteries due to the build-up of plaque. Atherosclerosis is a subset of arteriosclerosis.

Blood flow is reduced when your arteries are narrowed. This can result in some serious cardiovascular problems. LDL (low-density lipoproteins) adhere to the artery wall. Serious problems that can occur with atherosclerosis are stroke and heart attack.

High levels of cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels and genetics are common causes of atherosclerosis. Diabetics are at higher risk of developing atherosclerosis. Headaches, difficulty breathing, overall weakness and facial numbness are symptoms associated with atherosclerosis. However, as atherosclerosis develops one might expect more serious symptoms such as vomiting, extreme anxiety, chest pains, coughing, and fainting.

Other symptoms that people don’t associate with atherosclerosis are a loss of appetite, swelling of the extremities, difficulty concentrating, hair loss on arms and legs, erectile dysfunction, and numbness in the legs. Chronic kidney disease and peripheral artery disease are also common.

Typical treatments for atherosclerosis are lifestyle changes (weight management, exercise, and diet), medications and surgery. Doctors suggest that you avoid saturated fats because they increase LDL levels.  A diet that includes unsaturated fats (olive oil, avocados, walnuts, oily fish, nuts, and seeds) is highly recommended.

However, LDL cholesterol is not the real problem. Cholesterol is required in nearly every cell in our bodies. The liver makes LDL and our bloodstream transports it to our cells. Oxidized LDL is the problem. Our immune system is usually strong enough to counter the continual attack of free radicals on cholesterol. But, sometimes, our immune system is overwhelmed by a myriad of problems (toxins, stress, vitamin/mineral deficiencies, disease, and lack of sleep are a few).

The other side of cholesterol is HDL (high-density lipoprotein). HDL removes the plaque of oxidized LDL cholesterol from the artery walls. HDL also inhibits the chronic inflammation that allows plaques to form. HDL needs the enzyme, PON-1) to work properly. PON-1 (paraoxonase-1) attaches itself to the surface of the HDL molecule and it is this enzyme that facilitates the plaque removal.

Dietary imbalance and aging are two causes of lower levels of PON-1. Combine low levels of PON-1 with increased plaque formation and you become a perfect target for a heart attack. Statin drugs used to treat cholesterol are less effective with low levels of PON-1. Pomegranate and resveratrol boost levels of PON-1.

Diets rich in pomegranates were studied in patients with severe plaque formation. Within one year, PON-1 levels increased 83%. Oxidized LDL plaques were reduced by 90%. Resveratrol and quercetin have been shown to increase the production of PON-1. Further information regarding PON-1 can be found in the May 2014 edition of Life Extension magazine.

 

Creatine – The New Anti-aging Brain Food?

Brain - the next frontier.

geralt / Pixabay – Brain, the next frontier?

Creatine is a naturally occurring acid in our bodies. Most of us think people take creatine to help build muscles and improve athletic performance. Creatine does help our cells make ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP provides the intercellular energy required for us to function.

Creatine is found in protein-rich foods. Without it, you would have to work much harder to gain muscle mass and strength. With more muscle mass, it is easier to lose weight. But, most of us don’t know the other benefits of creatine.

Longevity scientists have found that creatine extends the lives of laboratory animals by almost ten percent. Lipofuscin is a good indicator of aging. It accumulates in our brains as we age. Further studies found that creatine is very useful countering the accumulation of lipofuscin and reduce the risk of contracting age-related diseases. When the brain’s energy supply is disrupted for extended periods of time, lipofuscin increases. Creatine keeps the energy supply flowing normally.

Alzheimer’s disease has several causes. One cause is the dysfunction of the mitochondria providing energy to the brain. Creatine has been shown to lower lipofuscin levels and protect against the beta-amyloid protein which is well known in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Lipofuscin is found in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease affects movement control. Cellular energy supply and waste management are underlying causes of the progression of this disease. Creatine improves both the energy supply and the waste management functions of the cells. It also enhances neuron protection which is essential if combatting this disease.

Huntington’s disease is another neurogenerative disease of the brain. Like other brain disorders, lipofuscin accumulates as this disease progresses. Again, if we can maintain control of the energy sources in our cells (mitochondria), we can maintain better control of our health.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is a neurodegenerative disease that affects muscle control. Many patients die because of respiratory muscle failure. Mitochondrial dysfunction is prominent in ALS patients. Human studies using creatine have shown to be very beneficial in the treatment of ALS.

When the blood supply to the brain is restricted, it is possible to experience a stroke. In the areas where blood supply is restricted scientists have found large accumulations of lipofuscin. Human studies are currently underway to support the success of creatine in animal studies to reduce the risk of strokes.

Creatine has been used as a supplement for many years to build and strengthen muscles. The information shared in this article is from the July 2014 publication of Life Extension magazine. If you or a loved one is suffering from a neurodegenerative disease, please consult your physician before arbitrarily incorporating creatine as a medical treatment.

If you are healthy and want to remain that way at the end of your life, talk to your physician about it before venturing out on your own.

 

Ready for Your Own Funeral?

How much advance notice do you have?

hhach / Pixabay – How much advance notice do you have?

I’ve attended or been involved with four funerals in the past month. The one today was expected. A 70-year-old man battling cancer for several years. The previous was a 95-year-old man who died in his sleep. Prior to that was a 49-50-year-old woman with serious health problems for a number of years. And, the last of the four was a 29-year-old who we still don’t know what happened.

The truth is that most of the time we don’t know when to plan our funerals. Unless you have a long history of a serious, life-threatening disease, you are at the whims of random chance – from our perspective. Fifty percent of the people who die from heart attacks don’t know they had a heart disease/problem. The first symptom was death.

There are many things we can to do predict our future. The first is to see a doctor on a regular basis. The normal annual tests done by my doctor does not meet my minimum requirements to know my current health. There is a highly sensitive c-reactive protein test that tells me if there is inflammation in my body. It doesn’t tell me where, but it gives me a good basis of knowing if something is imminent.

Almost every disease starts at the cellular level with chronic low-level inflammation. The highly sensitive c-reactive protein test is a good indicator of this inflammation. Another test I order for my annual physical is the homocysteine-level test. It tells me about my heart health. Like the c-reactive protein, it is not one that the doctor normally has scheduled for his or her patients.

Homocysteine builds up as the risk of cardiovascular disease increases. High levels of homocysteine and you likely have a heart attack waiting to occur. It’s no longer the ‘gold standard’ for heart health, but it is quick, easy and cheap.

I also add a few other tests to my annual assessment. I may have to pay for them, but I haven’t yet. The last one worth mentioning is the 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. It tells you the level of vitamin D3 in your blood. Above certain values and you can be relatively assured of good health. Below certain levels (and most of the United States population is in the lower levels) and you are at risk of many diseases.

I am fortunate to rarely have any problems with any aspect of my annual physicals. I work hard at it with my diet and exercise, stress reduction and constant learning what makes things tick in our bodies. This past month, I had my first eye exam in ten-plus years. In the Navy, I had an eye exam every year for 30+ years. I hadn’t had one in a while and scheduled one to get a new baseline of how things are with my eyes.

Passed with flying colors. Could read the 20:15 line and had no problems. The optometrist said I didn’t need glasses. My eye health is still on the better side of great.

There are many aspects of our health. Death is inevitable. On the television show, Voyager, the Borg have a saying, “Resistance is futile!”. Death is futile regardless of what we do. But, we can die in our sleep as we approach 100 years of age, or we can die of unknown causes before we reach 30 years of age.

We have control over many aspects of our health. Lifestyle choices are where we begin.

Good Health is Easy – Myth?

Good health is not promised.

karsten_madsen / Pixabay – Good health is not promised.

Many years ago, I was exposed to the ‘no scoring’ rule for some sports. Everyone got a trophy. There were winners and no losers. Today, I read that some schools don’t want to announce valedictorians. Some schools give that title to multiple students (one school awarded it to 48 students).

Why the necessity for not winning and measuring? Maybe health should be the same way. Don’t weigh yourself. Don’t go to the doctor’s office for an annual checkup. Don’t get blood tests. When you die, you are dead. Everyone is equal. We don’t need insurance. Pre-existing conditions don’t matter.

However, as we get older, we find out that some things do matter. Some people do get more money than others for similar work. Some people are healthier than others. Some people save more money than others. Some people find themselves out of work and out of money with many more years of retirement ahead of them.

I won’t comment any further whether it is good (or not) to not have scores for sports when youngsters play; or, to have the best students identified when they complete in high school. Better minds than mine have already made those decisions. But, keep that same attitude about your lifestyle and you will live to regret it.

Good health is difficult to achieve and maintain. It is not easy. The U. S. Navy Seals have a slogan, “The only easy day was yesterday!”. Our health is the same way. The easy days are always behind us. Our bodies continue to change as we age. We find ourselves not able to do the same things as we did before; and, we look older and become frailer. It gets worse when we continue to do nothing about it every day.

We must work for what we want. What a concept! You want something, you plan for it and you go and get it. How do you plan effectively for good retirement health? It’s more difficult since there are so many experts telling you to do this and that and they all seem to digress. This diet promises this and this lifestyle implies another thing. Should you be a vegan or adopt a keto-lifestyle? Is Adkins really that bad? If I don’t exercise, can I still expect to be better than the rest?

Health, in general, reminds me of a 1967 song, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden written by Joe South and known to many as sung by Lynn Anderson. Our health has a little sunshine and a little rain. You must give and take, live and let live. There is no promise of a rose garden in your healthy future. You must work for it; and, you must know how to achieve it and maintain it.

 

Do You Know Your Health Trend?

Knowing your trend is important in every aspect of your life.

geralt / Pixabay – Knowing your trend is important in every aspect of your life.

I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s. I ate a balanced meal each night at home when my mother fixed the meals. When I was in seventh grade, I started making the evening meals because my mother rejoined the workforce.

Balanced dinners were a protein, starch, and vegetable along with a sugar-sweetened drink. Breakfast initially consisted of cereal and milk with an occasional fruit added. Lunch varied but mainly consisted of a sandwich and chips that my mother fixed.

Upon leaving home and going to college I changed my eating habits. I gave up on breakfasts – I would rather sleep the extra few minutes. Lunch was usually fast-food – a burger or something. I drank a lot of Coca-Cola back then – and, continued to do so into the 90’s.

This morning, I read about the mother of a medical doctor who had many, many heart problems/surgeries and was told that there was nothing else the medical system could do for her. She was 67 years old at that time. She changed her lifestyle to eating primarily plant-based foods and lived another 31 years without any further heart issues.

Diet is important. A plant-based diet is more important if you want to live a long and healthy life. It is difficult to convert from old habits to mainly plants (fruits and vegetables) for each meal. But, once a new habit is established, it is relatively easy to maintain.

I had 31 flight physicals during my career in the Navy. I had an occasional problem with blood pressure, but that was easily corrected with exercise and/or weight loss. I usually kept pretty close to the maximum allowed weight standard for flying for the last twenty years in the Navy.

I never monitored all the blood/medical test results. The flight surgeon would tell me if there was a problem. However, as my interest in health and wellness started to grow in the past several years, I have been much more in touch with where I stand against the health/medical standards.

I had my annual physical earlier this month. There were 44 blood test results along with the typical blood pressure and other physical checks. Two years ago, I had zero results out of the norm. Last year, I had one value out of the norm. This year, I had three. Obviously, my health is trending in the wrong direction.

I can understand a single value being out at any point in time. It happens. However, I had to reflect on why I had so many more values out this year. We had Hurricane Harvey ten days before I donated blood for my annual physical. I was definitely stressed during that ordeal. We were fortunate in having no damage from the storm. But, the anxiety and stress were present. I developed a fever blister a couple of days before the blood-draw.

Further analysis of my lifestyle showed a consistency for the past month. My diet has changed to reflect an earlier version of my life. It was more comfort food and fast food compared to the time before Hurricane Harvey. Today, I started back on my typical Wahls Protocol derived diet (mostly plant-based foods with a little protein and healthy fats).

We enjoy our comfort zones. We don’t pay attention to how long we stay there. Incremental changes can get us out of a healthy lifestyle and it takes a major shift to return to the healthy norm. Are you eating healthy foods; or, do you think you are? Past history/knowledge does not always equate to reality.

Avoiding Fats for Better Health?

Are there any healthy fats?

WikimediaImages / Pixabay – Are there any healthy fats?

True or False – Fats are bad for your health. Avoid them at all costs. That’s why you see so many ‘fat-free’, ‘reduced-fat’, ‘very low fat’ products. In fact, a recent check using the search term ‘fat-free’ gave me an archive of 4,667 fat-free and very low-fat recipes.

The FDA allows manufacturers to claim ‘fat-free’ on their food product labels if the levels of fats are less than 0.5 grams of trans fat or less per serving. If you don’t know how to read food labels, a product might have multiple servings per package. Eating the entire product might yield several grams of fat.

We don’t gain belly fat by eating fat. Fat does not cause fat to accumulate in our bodies. Excess carbohydrates cause excess fats to be stored. Our bodies convert carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). This glucose is converted to glycogen and stored in our muscles. When we need energy, the glycogen acts like gasoline in a car’s engine. However, if we eat more carbohydrates than we use, then the excess carbohydrates are stored as fat.

Our bodies need dietary fat for good health. It is interesting how certain beliefs are introduced into our society without any real testing to verify the claims of those nutrients. One example is coconut and palm oil. In the 1980s, there was a claim (unsubstantiated – no testing done, just a plain statement) that coconut and palm oil were saturated plant oils; and, therefore, acted like saturated animal oils and were bad for our health. There was absolutely no testing done. It was a position taken by certain companies. It was later supported by the government. Follow the money to find the real story.

In the 1940s, scientists believed that high-fat diets caused heart disease. They found a correlation between high-fat diets and high cholesterol. Correlation does not mean causation. Just because something is like something else, it doesn’t mean that it caused it. It just means that there is some similarity. For high-risk cardiac patients, it was believed that a low-fat diet might reduce their risk heart disease.

Therefore, some companies convinced the medical community that a low-fat diet would reduce the risk of heart disease. Was there any testing? No! By the 1960s, the low-fat diet regime expanded into our whole society. If it was good for high-risk heart patients, it would be good for everyone. These companies (along with several new ones) claimed that low-fat diets would cause patients to lose weight because fat was fat. Reduce fat and we reduce weight. We know today that fat doesn’t cause us to be fat – carbohydrates do.

In the 1980s, this low-fat doctrine permeated every aspect of our health and medical communities (physicians, the federal government, food industry, health professionals, media, etc.). In the subsequent decades, we have seen Americans get fatter and develop more heart problems while adhering to the low-fat diet. We have actually created an obesity epidemic. This epidemic is not totally caused by low-fat eating, but it has contributed.

Just when I thought there was lots of data refuting the saturated plant fats are dangerous I find that doctors are still telling their patients to avoid coconut oil because it is a saturated fat. My daughter mentioned this to me. A good friend of hers related a conversation she had with her physician during her last annual physical. She asked her doctor about the health benefits of coconut oil. Her doctor told her to avoid coconut oil completely. It was dangerous for her health.