Friday, July 18, 2008

What Are You So Afraid of?

Over the past few decades we've managed to create this 'everything is bad' mentality. As a result people have began fearing virtually everything. In this introduction I'll be detailing the fear of fat. Is any of it warranted?

There is nothing to fear, but fear itself -FDR

Ever since the low fat campaign of the 80s, dietary fat has been at the forefront of things to cut out of our diet. The fact is that during the same time when we started cutting out fat our waistlines got larger, and incidences of obesity and diabetes skyrocketed. People began replacing animal fats with things like vegetable oils and margarine and strangely enough heart disease continued to rise. As this began to happen along with cutting out fats, people began to binge on carbohydrates, consuming even more overall calories.

Guilty of limiting fat intake?

So with such a blanket recommendation there must have been some good science to back up the whole 'fat is bad' theory, right? Well not so fast. A lot of the studies we relied on for nutritional guidance came from food questionnaires. People participating in these studies are asked about the number of servings of various foods they consumed on a regular basis. People can't even remember what they ate yesterday, let alone when asked to recall what they ate months ago. Needless to say the results from these studies aren't very accurate and this is what our dietary recommendations are based upon.

So there is no good science showing that a reduction in fat betters overall health. So what now? Even with all this information readily available people are still afraid of fat. With many foods claiming to be low in fat or fat free, it's easy to see why everyone might still think it is important. We see it virtually everyday as we are bombarded with mini anti-fat campaigns. Every time you see a low fat or fat-free label you are subconsciously being told fat is bad.

Well it's time to get over it. Fat is an essential nutrient and avoiding it is just plain silly. Your brain is made up of fat. The benefits of olive oil, avocado's, nuts and seeds simply can't be ignored, not to mention omega-3 fats which are receiving high praise in the media from reducing inflammation, heart disease and even metastasis of cancer.

I'm going to pass the buck on saturated fat as Men's Health has a great article where you can draw your own conclusions. Adam Campbell has recently written a great book called the TNT Diet. In it there is a startling diet plan that *gasp* doesn't exclude saturated fat.

So what are you afraid of when it comes to health? Post a comment below and it can be featured later on in the series.

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