A struggle with weight is such a common experience now that we forget that it was not always like this. When you look at photographs from 50 years ago, or even 30 years ago, something stands out: ordinary people were a healthy body weight. Our grandmothers were not working out at the gym and counting grams of fat. Why was it so much easier for them?
Dr. Mary Enig, a nutritional biochemist, argues that we are now obese because we stopped eating saturated fat. She makes these points:
We’ve always eaten saturated fat.
- People from every culture traditionally consumed lard, cultured butter, cream, fish roe, eggs, organ meats, insects or coconut. There is no evidence that ancient people were obese, or that they suffered from high rates of heart disease.
- Fat has concentrated nutrition, which has always been considered important for child-bearing women and children. Even in western culture, pregnant women were advised to eat calf liver three time per week.
- Fat soluble vitamins A and D are necessary for the absorption of minerals, growth, brain, sexual development and reproduction.
The theory that saturated fat causes heart disease is a theory called the “lipid hypothesis”.
- When the lipid hypothesis was introduced in 1956, cardiologist Dr. Dudley White objected to the introduction of vegetable oils into the American diet. He said that he had never seen a heart attack (MI) before people ate refined vegetable oils. He said: “Back in the MI-free days, the fats were butter and lard and I think that we would all benefit from the kind of diet that we had at a time when no one had ever heard the words ‘corn oil”.
- The “lipid hypothesis” was actively promoted by the American edible-oil industry (soy and corn oil).
There are problems with refined vegetable oil.
- When vegetable oil is processed, it forms trans-fat, which causes heart disease and hormone-imbalance.
- If eaten exclusively, omega 6 fatty acids (in vegetable oil) disrupt metabolism because they replace saturated fat and omega 3 fatty acids.
Saturated fat is a natural part of our metabolism.
- Cells are composed of 50% saturated fat. This is necessary for proper cell membrane function, including insulin response. (Omega 3 is also important.)
- Medium-chain fatty acids (a type of saturated fat) increase metabolic rate.
- Fat is necessary for hormone production.
- Omega 3 fatty acids are also very important: Omega 3 fatty acids are founds in leafy greens, egg yolk, fish, and grass fed meat and dairy products.
Dr. Enig is at the leading edge of an important trend in nutrition, which is actually a return to the way people used to eat.
It will take a while to change the views of the medical establishment, but cracks are starting to appear. In 2005, the Australian Heart Association admitted that eggs are healthy. At a recent symposium on dietary fat, Dr. Kritchevsky (an original supporter of the lipid hypothesis) observed that low-fat diets “do not affect overall cardiovascular disease mortality,” and that “…as new findings appear, it may be necessary to reevaluate our conclusions and policies.”
The strongest supporters of the lipid hypothesis are actually the pharmaceutical companies eager to sell their cholesterol-lowering drugs. Eat Fat, Lose Fat cites mainstream research that questions the use of these popular drugs.
The book is exciting because it is common-sense.
The main problem with the book is that the references are omitted (although they are available from her website).
It is definitely worth a read.
Sally and Mary’s book is highly recommended by the Nourished Community and is available from their site: EatFatLoseFat.com.
About the Author...
Lara Grinevitch is a Canadian-trained Naturopath specialising in weight loss and hormone issues. She runs a busy clinic in Sydney. Visit her website for more informative health articles. www.sensible-alternative.com.au