Dr. Turner's Blog

Myths In The Science Of Nutrition

 

The truth can be surprising even upsetting.

John F Kennedy in his commencement address at Yale University in 1962 said, “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie- -deliberate, contrived and dishonest- -but the myth- -persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

Consider these common myths:

Myth: Saturated fat is bad for us.

Factually the opposite is true. Fat is an essential nutrient. Fatty meats, butter, palm oil, full-fat dairy and dark chocolate are foods high in saturated fat. Lard and coconut oil are fully saturated. There has never been a peer-reviewed study that shows a causative relationship between saturated fat ingestion and heart disease. Saturated fat raises LDL (bad cholesterol) in the blood but also raises HDL (good cholesterol) levels. AND saturated fat changes the LDL (bad) to a mostly benign particle.

Myth: Carbohydrates are necessary for the diet to sustain human life.

While it is easier to acquire all the necessary vitamins and micronutrients for human life by including carbohydrates in one’s diet, they are not essential. Eating enough fat and protein would suffice.

Myth: Ruminant animal agriculture (meat production) is bad for the environment.

Evidence of the environmental impact of meat production is most often overstated, oversimplified and misleading. We cannot feed the world without animal-sourced food. Animal protein is superior to plant protein in nutrients. 80% of an agricultural ruminant’s life is spent foraging and giving back to grasslands, which in turn creates our topsoil. Butter, meat and cheese are forage products. Destroying rainforests to farm soy can’t be a good thing.

LDL cholesterol in food causes cardiovascular disease.

There has never been a peer-reviewed causative study to prove that!

Review the maps below. In a review of European males, there was, in fact, a reverse relationship. The men with higher cholesterol lived longer.

And in a more recent Mayo Clinic study of thousands of men over more than a decade who had survived a cardiovascular event (attack), the same results were found. More of the men with low cholesterol levels later died than did men with elevated cholesterol.

The medical profession is still in the dark, over-prescribing statins and holding to the notion that LDL cholesterol is a villain.

Myth: A high fibre diet is important. There just isn’t any evidence in nutrition science to qualify this statement. There are no standards and no food type has been proven to cause or prevent colon or rectal disease. Any complete diet should include dark green carbs, avocado and berries even if only to assure that along with animal protein all the essential nutrients, vitamins and micronutrients are digested.

Discussion:

When learning more about nutrition it is important to consider folklore and vested interests. We have been led astray for decades by giant processed food companies and fast food outlets to eat junk.

In my opinion, one can’t go wrong with, “**eat food, quite a lot, meats and plants, berries, nuts and seeds.”


**eat food means fresh unprocessed food. . . free of added sugar, additives, colour, preservatives etc. Eggs, fish and dairy should be included in a healthy diet. (please eat real cheese not processed whiz and squares wrapped in plastic)

Stick to the outside perimeter of the supermarket, the good stuff… all the foods that aren’t in bags, boxes and cans. Read the labels. Avoid sugar, glycides, (the one’s like sucrose and glucose). And avoid hydrogenated vegetable oil (impossible to avoid in restaurants) like canola, Crisco and margarine. Choose lard, butter, olive, palm, avocado and coconut oils. (no trans fats)

Next month: Pet peeves and mistruths.

Cheers,
Dr. Derek MJ Turner

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