Feeling Confused about fat/oils - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 01-30-2012, 10:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have read a fair amount about Traditional Foods and strive to follow that kind of diet.  I have a friend on fb who is vegan and constantly posts things about that kind of diet.  I get that there can be different perspective/points of view on what foods to eat but why is there so much opposing science.  At the end of the day, how do you really know what to believe?  I am starting to feel confused by it all.

 

Here are some of the recent things she posted:

http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/hurtful-food-its-about-time-the-olive-oil-myth-was-laid-to-rest.html

https://www.facebook.com/Dr.Esselstyn/posts/177379485683594 (post about how you should not consume ANY oil, of any sort)

http://www.examiner.com/healthy-living-in-san-francisco/coconut-oil-clever-marketing-of-junk-food

 

My friend, along with the health scientists/doctors/whatever that she is following, claim that oil of any kind is very bad and you should not consume it.  I could say, well they just don't understand the role fat/healthy oils play in our bodies.  But what gets confusing is when they back up their claims/recommendations with 'science' and tell you what exactly is going on in your body when you consume oil, and why it is damaging (ie. saturated fats immediately injures the endothelial lining of the arteries when eaten).

 

The one link above is from a book written by Dr. Esselstyn called Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and apparently he has been incredibly successful reversing heart disease through exceptional nutrition.  He thinks that you should not consume any oil and that most people should also avoid nuts/avocados, and those that can include them should only eat small amounts.

 

Could there be some truth to any of this or are these recommendations of no oil based on poorly done science/research behind these theories?  How could some be well educated and yet not realize the bad science?  Or are adherents to traditional foods the ones missing something/following poor science/research?

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#2 of 15 Old 01-30-2012, 11:26 PM
 
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Our brains MUST have fat in order to function.

 

I strongly recommend reading "Know Your Fats"

 

Here is the "About the Author": Dr. Mary G. Enig, a nutritionist/biochemist of international renown for her research on the nutritional aspects of fats and oils, is a consultant, clinician, and the Director of the Nutritional Sciences Division of Enig Associates, Inc., Silver Spring, Maryland. Dr. Enig, a consultant on nutrition to individuals, industry, and state and federal governments, is a licensed practitioner in Maryland and the District of Columbia. She has served as a Contributing Editor of the scientific journal Clinical Nutrition and a Consulting Editor of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Dr. Enig has authored numerous journal publications, mainly on fats and oils research and nutrient/drug interactions, and is a well-known invited lecturer at scientific meetings and a popular interviewee on TV and radio shows about nutrition. She was an early and articulate critic of the use of trans fatty acids and advocated their inclusion in nutritional labeling; the scientific mainstream is now challenging the food product industry's use of trans-containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. She received her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Maryland, College Park, and is a Fellow of The American College of Nutrition, a member of The American Society for Nutritional Sciences, and President of the Maryland Nutritionists Association.

 

Here is a great list of articles related to fat and oils from the Weston A. Price Foundation ("Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" and "Nourishing Traditions" are both HIGHLY recommended reads). 


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#3 of 15 Old 01-31-2012, 07:37 AM
 
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It's always a good idea to check ideas about nutrition against what we know about various populations. There are at least two cultures I know of (Inuit and Kitavans) that consumed high amounts of saturated fat and had little to no heart disease or cancer--so I think the claims that fat of any kind is bad for you are incorrect. Also, the French, Italians, and Greeks eat plenty of fat and are healthier than Americans tend to be. So the idea that we should eat as little fat as possible just does not make sense.


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#4 of 15 Old 01-31-2012, 02:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bright_eyes View Post

But what gets confusing is when they back up their claims/recommendations with 'science' and tell you what exactly is going on in your body when you consume oil, and why it is damaging (ie. saturated fats immediately injures the endothelial lining of the arteries when eaten).

 


I can't address the other issues, since I won't click on the links, but for this particular issue, what you need to remember is that not all saturated fats are equal.  And until recently, most medical science did not discriminate between them.  When testing "saturated fats", they did not discriminate between artificially created and naturally occurring fats.  Comparing shortening or margarine (trans-fats) to olive oil (or another liquid oil) is going to indicate a problem.  To my knowledge though there has never been a study that compared naturally saturated fats (CO, non-hydrogenated lard, etc.) to naturally occurring liquid fats.  It's the same when you start comparing eating from a mainstream grocery store to going responsible veg - yeah, there are going to be deficiencies.  But when you really get down to the nitty-gritty, eating from a mainstream grocery store (SAD) is going to be deficient in many ways regardless.  And veg can have it's own set of deficiencies if you don't do it responsibly.  Nobody has ever done a study comparing eating organic, local, pastured, sustainable, etc. foods to eating responsibly veg, as far as I know.  That would be an interesting study, although I'm not sure it could ever be controlled for all variables.  The best we can do is go by what has worked historically, which is what WAPF is all about.  We know what hasn't worked - we know the SAD is crap, we know the food pyramid is biased, we know that the way this country has been eating for the last 30 or 40 years has done a lot of damage.  We also know (some of) what native cultures were eating, what kept them healthy, how they survived for eons, and what happened to them when "western" food culture started moving in.  Ultimately, the best we can do is extrapolate from there.  A lot of this stuff is anecdotal because there have been no peer reviewed double blind studies done on any of it, and probably never will be.

 

As for the rest of your question, ultimately you have to determine what works for your body, and you have to remember that no two people are ever completely alike.  I was vegetarian for years, and vegan for at least a year.  I did extreme low fat eating for years (both before and after veg).  And then I found out what kind of damage I had done to my body.  I have spent the last 10 years trying to rectify some of that damage.  Some of it is going to require lifelong attention, and some of it will just require me avoiding certain things.  I am not full-blown TF, but I definitely try my best, and I feel better than I have for years.  I know that there are foods that are poisoning my body, and I've learned to identify them as best I can.  And then I move on from there. 

 

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#5 of 15 Old 01-31-2012, 03:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bodhitree View Post

It's always a good idea to check ideas about nutrition against what we know about various populations. There are at least two cultures I know of (Inuit and Kitavans) that consumed high amounts of saturated fat and had little to no heart disease or cancer--so I think the claims that fat of any kind is bad for you are incorrect. Also, the French, Italians, and Greeks eat plenty of fat and are healthier than Americans tend to be. So the idea that we should eat as little fat as possible just does not make sense.



"Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" goes over this very well. He preformed a study, that just can't be redone today. During the 1930's Dr. Weston A Price traveled the world visiting cultures that hadn't been touched by modern society. 

 

Here is a and introduction to a DVD that discusses his findings: Nourishing Our Children (Introduction and First Section)


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#6 of 15 Old 02-01-2012, 01:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So why do you think that this Dr. Esselstyn was able to acheive such success with reversing heart disease through nutrition?  He's the one that recommends NO oils/nuts/avocados.  Could it just be that the new diet was so much healthier than the old that is was able to reverse damage but the diet isn't sustainable and people on his diets will face new health issues if they continue on it?

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#7 of 15 Old 02-01-2012, 10:18 AM
 
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Yeah, that's pretty much it. If you cut out all fats and oils, think about all the things that you wouldn't be able to eat. The list would include fast food (and in fact almost all restaurant food), chips, Cheetos, cookies, donuts, cakes...basically almost all conventional desserts, all restaurant foods, and the vast majority of processed foods. Simply removing all that crap from your diet is going to produce some good results, even if you are also cutting out healthful fats. There's also the fact that you can't ever change just one thing about people's diets, that is, if you cut something out you have to replace it with something. If you cut out all the processed crap, what are you going to eat more of? Probably vegetables, fruits, and whole grains (not that I think whole grains are good for everyone, but they're better than the kind of processed crap that a lot of people shovel into their pie-holes lol.gif). So you will get good results in the short and medium term, but as time goes on you may experience some negative effects of a low-fat diet, especially if said diet also excludes healthful animal products. Lots of people feel great right after they start a vegetarian or vegan diet and then crash and burn years later.


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#8 of 15 Old 02-05-2012, 10:21 AM
 
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Vegan for 4 years here, now I do the best of both worlds and just abstain from cruelly raised animal products devoid of nutrition. 

 

Gotta say, this is a CRAZY vegan and there are none that I know of that think that crap!

 

Just like Traditional Foods research flies in the face of some research, we have to think that there is some opposing research on the opposite end that also does the same.

 

It blows my mind some of the things I've heard.

 

I've been at a major University for 5 years - I started in Nutrition, switched to Dietetics, and now I'm in Exercise & Wellness.  I've taken statistics courses, food sciences courses, animal nutrition courses, and incredible amount of human health courses, and only God knows how many books I've read at Barnes & Noble to keep myself sane on a Friday night with a nice coffee...and I have to say, ALL research is like this.  It's pretty much who funded what with whatever agenda.  There are *gasp* most definitely tidbits of research in NT that are crazy!  (Such as vegan diets are low in methionene, therefore you can't live properly.  Guess what I did?  Looked up  studies done about methionene restriction - guess what, that's what contributes to long life in those with a restricted methionene consumption!  Not just observational studies, but also controlled experiments!).  Anywho.  Nutrition is way more complicated, and people need to look at both sides (yes, there is some history discrepancy with WAP - take the best stuff, it's not a religion).

 

I guess my point is don't worry about research, do what feels good for you, and maybe politely point out to the person to stop forcing the "one true diet path" down everyone else's throats.  When a diet becomes a religion, you have a problem (unless you personally were cured by something and you genuinely want to share the good news).

 

Vegan was great for me.  Raw vegan fasts/cleanses were great.  I personally do amazing when I restrict animal foods.  Can I still do a whole-plant based TF approach?  Sure!  But that's what works for me.  

 

Yes, you need fat in your diet.  Even low-fat has been shown to cause problems according to research coming out in mainstream scientific literature - much to the chagrine of low-fat funding sources.  No-fat?  Holy cow, I can't even imagine.  That's one instance where I *might* say I'd rather die 10 years earlier and eat avocados, butter, raw milk, grass-fed beef, omnomnom.  

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#9 of 15 Old 02-08-2012, 02:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the great replies!  What still gets me is how they start saying things like "saturated fats immediately injures the endothelial lining of the arteries when eaten", so they act like they know exactly what is happening in your body when you eat and that seems to be what convinces people that they know what they are talking about. 

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#10 of 15 Old 02-08-2012, 07:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bright_eyes View Post

Thanks for the great replies!  What still gets me is how they start saying things like "saturated fats immediately injures the endothelial lining of the arteries when eaten", so they act like they know exactly what is happening in your body when you eat and that seems to be what convinces people that they know what they are talking about. 



I'm kinda snarky, but I'd just ask the people you hear spouting this what they think an endothelial lining is, or better yet, how about the effect of the molecular structure of saturated fats vs. trans fats and what happens during metabolism when said fats are exposed to the endothelial lining.  Trump their big words!  That's all it is!  My words are bigger, therefore my nutrition is better and TRUE! </sarcasm>

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#11 of 15 Old 02-09-2012, 04:52 PM
 
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Here's a link to a literature review posted on the Archives of Internal Medicine. http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/169/7/659 They did a review of the literature and found no support for any connection between saturated fats and heart disease. It seems saturated fats are not the problem we've been told they are. 


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#12 of 15 Old 02-10-2012, 10:09 AM
 
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Here's a link to a literature review posted on the Archives of Internal Medicine. http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/169/7/659 They did a review of the literature and found no support for any connection between saturated fats and heart disease. It seems saturated fats are not the problem we've been told they are. 



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#13 of 15 Old 02-12-2012, 09:23 AM
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I read the links as well as googling Dr. Esselstyn's website advertising his book.  Here are some of my thoughts:

 

-A large part of preventing heart disease is insulin-related.  Any diet that reduces the glycemic index enough will do the trick pretty well.  It can be done by replacing refined carbohydrates with whole-food carbohydrates, or adding protein and fat work very well too.  There are many, many diets that have been shown to reduce heart disease over the SAD.  All of them have focused on whole and unprocessed foods.

 

-Heart disease is not all there is to health.  While there may be many diets that can prevent heart disease, there are fewer that adequately support mental health, and all of the ones that do contain adequate amounts of healthy fats.  Mental health issues are often cited by veg*ns who start eating meat again.

 

-Vitamins A, D, E, and K2: These are fat-soluble.  You can't get them if you don't eat fat.  OK, most people can make a pretty good amount of Vitamin A if they're eating enough fresh vegetables, and you can make some Vitamin D from the sun if you live in an area that makes that possible (though your ability to make it from the sun is diminished if you don't have enough dietary fat), but you are likely to be deficient in at least some of the fat-soluble vitamins if you aren't consuming any fats.

 

-Where are the citations?  I don't really expect somebody to add proper citations in their facebook posts, but if you're going to say something as ridiculous as "saturated fats immediately injures the endothelial lining of the arteries when eaten," I'm going to want to look at what research you have before I believe you.  The same goes for the olive oil article when talking about "studies."  What studies?

 

-Children: I haven't seen any diet that has found it safe to eliminate fat in pregnant women and children.  Their brains are made of fat, and they need it.  It's one thing to take fat out of the diet of a 50-year-old heart patient.  It's another thing to deprive a baby of fat.

 

... gotta go... more thoughts later.

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#14 of 15 Old 02-12-2012, 01:57 PM
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-The coconut oil and olive oil articles use logic, not scientific evidence, and the logic has some flaws.  First, they assume that all calories are treated the same by the body when in fact, the body responds very differently to different kinds of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, far too much for me to go into on here.  Suffice it to say, coconut oil contains fatty acids that are good for raising metabolism (which would make it so that you could eat more calories and have more energy without getting fatter) and promoting gut health.  (Read the Mary Enig book recommended above for more information.)  The argument against these fats is that the authors can't find any nutritive value in them, not because there is none.  The "essential" vitamins and minerals list is by no means exhaustive.  We don't really know all the compounds found in foods and why they're important.

 

-Also, they may not contain terribly high levels of vitamins and minerals, but put them on vegetables, and not only will they taste better and make you want to eat more of them, but they will assist in the absorption of the vitamins and minerals contained in the vegetables.  The belief that every person's body will be able to do the same thing with the same amount of micronutrients is a fallacy as well.  There are many, many things that affect a body's ability to absorb nutrients (way beyond crohns disease), and food combining is one.  I'm all for eating nutrient-dense foods, and combining them with healthy fats is a great way to nourish yourself.  The article does make a good point, though, that you wouldn't want to just be eating coconut oil and not getting your other micronutrients.  Coconut oil in junk food doesn't make it healthy (though it may be a better alternative to some other oils).

 

-To its credit, the olive oil article wasn't arguing against eating any fats.  It was arguing in favor of getting fats from whole foods such as avocados, nuts, etc.  I'm all for that, especially when most of the olive oil on the shelves in our grocery stores are not even pure.

 

-Dr. Esselstyn's study: First, there were only 17 people who made it all the way through the 20 year study, and he makes it clear even on his website that he only included data from those 17 people.  17 people is not enough for a rigorous scientific study.  That sample size is so small, that we're really talking about 17 case studies, a few rungs down the scientific ladder from a scientific experiment.  His website implies that there were other participants who were not "compliant" whose data was not included.  This leads to asking what were those people's stories?  Why did they drop out?  Was a fat-free diet too difficult for them to follow?  Did they experience too many undesirable side effects from the diet?  How many non-compliant people were in the study?  This makes a big difference for people who are attempting to follow this guy's recommendations.  If 99% of the participants do it and get good results, that's one thing.  If 99% of the participants feel terrible on that diet and drop out, it really doesn't mean much that 1% of the participants liked it well enough to keep going and got good results.

 

-Secondly, he is basing his claims only on the lowering of cholesterol and a reduction in cardiac events.  There's a lot more to health than those two factors, and I'm not convinced that the lowering of cholesterol is even a good thing.  Read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" to get an idea of exactly what went into the theory that high cholesterol is itself the problem.  Even mainstream medicine these days admits that HDL/LDL ratio (and there's evidence that even that is far too simplistic - again, read Good Calories, Bad Calories) matters a lot more.  Yes, a fat-free diet would lower total cholesterol, but it's not going to improve your HDL/LDL ratio.  It's going to reduce HDL as well as LDL.

 

-A case study in my family: My dad has had cholesterol "problems" for years.  Eating a very low-fat diet (high carb, high sugar/artificial sweeteners) and taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, he lowered his cholesterol drastically, but his triglycerides were through the roof.  A year ago, he had a 5 bypass heart surgery and started listening to me a little on diet.  Afraid of fat, he cut sugar and ate soaked whole whole grains (as opposed to flour), fruits, vegetables, and grass-fed meats, etc.  Within a month or two, he had another lipids test and had normal triglycerides for the first time ever.  Still, he had a terribly low HDL cholesterol.  That slow-carb diet did great things for his triglycerides, but it still leaves something to be desired.  My mom calls me and asks me what he would need to do to raise his HDL, and the only answer I could give her is that he needs to eat more healthy fats!

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#15 of 15 Old 02-12-2012, 04:14 PM
 
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Myelination.

 

This was my obsession during pregnancy: The myelination of nerves in the developing fetus and neo-nate.

 

Myelination is the fat that wraps around the nerves. It works as a charge-free area, which forces the electrical impulses going through the nerves to play a giant game of leapfrog, jumping through the nerves rather than streaming. This is what makes our nerves work so fast. Myelination occurs during fetal development and through the first 6 months to a year, post-natal. DE-myelination happens in certain conditions, none of which people consider GOOD: Multiple sclerosis, Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, transverse myelitis...

 

I was totally obsessed during both my pregnancies about making sure I was taking in enough fats to allow adequate myelination for them. Seeing as I'm not a skinny girl, it was actually kinda funny. My first pregnancy, I ate fried chicken at least once a week. My second pregnancy, I started eating only real butter, not margarine. (BTW, both my kids are freaky-smart, so it must have worked! thumb.gif)


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