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Low – Fat? Low – Carb? Untangle the Mess

Over the past several years you may have become aware of the different camps of people and organizations who publicly proclaim the benefits of low-fat diets, pointing to outdated and now refuted medical studies to back-up their claims. However, years of rising cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease rates, after these changes were instituted in the early 1960s, tends to make you question if low-fat and high-carb diets are really the way to eat.

In fact, over the past 3 decades, the number of individuals who are overweight or obese has also risen dramatically. And for good reason. . . .

Think back to your last pasta dinner or meal high in carbohydrates . . . although you left the table full, it probably wasn’t too much time before you felt hungry again. Some people call it the 2pm slump, when many people reach for a candy bar to fuel their afternoon until they get to dinner.

This feeling of being hungry is triggered by a surge of blood glucose after a meal high in carbohydrates. That glucose triggers a release of insulin in your body. The insulin helps the glucose to move into your cells and results in your blood sugar dropping dramatically – and this leads to you feeling hungry again.

A cycle of eating, getting hungry and then snacking, results in difficulty maintaining your weight or gaining weight when you can’t understand why you have.

It’s frustrating and a cycle I know well.

The original research that supported this insane movement in the U.S. was from The Seven Countries Study led by Ancel Keyes, an economist who believed he had found the reason for lower rates of cardiac disease by evaluating seven countries who ate a diet low in fat and high in carbs. The problem is that the study originally contained many more countries than seven, and Keyes choose to eliminate the country’s data that did not support his premise.

Once published, the American Heart Association jumped on the information. It was published in mainstream media and it wasn’t long before it became a governmental recommendation and made an impact on the food pyramid.

However, at the same time there were multiple other studies that were published that refuted the information from the Seven Countries Study. These were all ignored.

Finally, in 2014, mainstream media giant, Time Magazine, published a cover story proclaiming “Ending the War on Fat.”  For decades fat had been vilified as the cause and trigger for cardiac disease, heart attack and stroke. It appeared that mainstream journalists were now reading and reporting on scientific research.

Then in 2015, Time Magazine again reported that the low-fat recommendations that Americans had been following for decades, should never have been made in the first place. Researchers made the comment that there wasn’t the research to back-up the recommendations and has led to some significant problems in the health of those following them.

Today, there are many who advocate a low-carbohydrate diet to help stabilize your blood sugar and improve your body’s ability to burn fat. When your body burns fat it produces ketones, leading to the term ketogenic diet.

Nutritional ketosis may be one of the most useful interventions you can use to help prevent chronic diseases, and even reverse type-2 diabetes. But the trick is to eat the RIGHT KINDS of fat.

Eating poor quality saturated fats or trans fats will only contribute to poor health and not improve your health. Vegetable oils, traditionally raised meats and dairy, baked goods and fried foods all contribute to poor health.

During nutritional ketosis your body burns fat for fuel. Eating a low-carbohydrate diet allows your body to store the necessary amount of glucose needed in your muscles, without stuffing your liver with excess glycogen (the second place the carbs are stored) or converting them to triglycerides when you muscles and liver are fully stocked.

In fact, endurance athletes are adopting a high-fat diet as it boosts their physical stamina and endurance. The nutritional plan reduces the potential for insulin resistance and has been used as a treatment in seizure activity in children, and adults with Alzheimer’s disease.

Other benefits to nutritional ketosis are a reduction in hunger pangs, eating less food and a reduction in muscle mass loss. High quality fats also burn more efficiently in your body, reducing your oxygen requirement. This is an indication that your metabolism is working more efficiently.

Interestingly, your brain also functions more effectively on a ketogenic diet as your brain prefers ketones for fuel. What glucose your brain does require your body can actually make. No need to add it to your diet.

In one study, after one month of following a ketogenic diet, patients with Parkinson’s disease experienced a 43 percent improvement in their symptoms. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease appeared to experience the greatest benefit with MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil.

The ultimate choice in what you eat and what you experience is up to you. Making the right choices for your lifestyle, family and health can be challenging and difficult. Deciding what is right for you may also be challenging.

But, before you make those choices, get all the information you need from reliable sources.

Because, realistically, the only one who will pay for the choices you make is you.

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