THE NUTRITION DILEMMA of 2019

The dietary advice facts are ambiguous, clear as mud in fact and increasingly unhelpful! 

Simply put this is the dilemma and I don’t have an answer yet and I am not a dietitian or a doctor in case anyone was wondering. Many of the highest regarded scientists in the field of nutrition and health cannot agree with the basic principles of a healthy dietary intake. On one side of the church are the experts who advise a diet comprising 70/75% fats, 10% carbohydrates, 10-15% protein. On the other side of the church are the experts who advise a diet comprising 10% fats, 10% protein and 80% carbohydrates. In other words almost the complete opposite. So down the centre aisle are the areas which are essentially agreed, namely: less alcohol, less sugary drinks, less artificial sweeteners, less added sugar and less processed products. The high priests are the government groups such as the DGAC in USA who are there to advise on government policy and who therefore have large influence on the advice developed for populations. To a great extent the cause of our current nutritional mess led by heart attacks, strokes, obesity, cognitive dysfunction and T2DM.

But what are we mere citizens to do about our health and our waistlines as we speed towards potential oblivion and certain death. Nobody has suggested a nutritional fix for that inevitability yet! But many have tried and will continue to do so. So what are we to believe, which scientist is the best, delivering clear, proven unbiased advice to which all other scientists agree?  NONE so far. 

Although many are claiming to be that one and will tell you that their diet is clearly optimal for weight loss, good health, longevity and avoidance or recovery from disease. But can we be sure? No of course not as there are two scientifically proven diet types that categorically state their dietary advice is the optimal for healthy living. So how can they both be correct when the two are polar opposites? I talk of course about these two ways of eating: 

  • Low fat – high carb #WFPB   (Whole Food Plant Based)
  • High fat – low carb #LCHF (Low Carb High Fat)

Between these two dietary paradigms there exist of course a myriad of in-between ideas and theories, many with years of experience and success rates through the roof. We can consider Atkins, South Beach, Whole 30, Paleo, Modified Atkins and so many more. 

But does optimal depend on your personal activity level or will the same diet work for all except of course possibly in some genetic disorders or severe illnesses like epilepsy and autism which many although by far not all agree have specific dietary requirements for minimising effects of the illness or disease while promoting improved health. The scourge, even called “Black Plague” of our times in the “west” is diabetes (T2DM), altering the health and well-being of millions every year and most likely completely preventable and other forms of diabetes so called Type 3 (Alzheimers) and gestational diabetes (GDM). Being overweight has certain links proven and agreed by all to heart disease and to diabetes T2DM.

SO WHAT ARE WE TO BELIEVE?

If a high fat diet solves so many problems such as obesity and the almost inevitable diabetes, then why not adopt such a diet? Because the plant based dietary group, who also believe they are right, will tell you that it is all wrong and we need to eat no added fat, very little protein (10%) and the remaining calorie needs from whole foods; grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes. Their argument is compelling and seemingly logical as well as backed up by many studies that prove their point, for them! On the other hand the high fat (good fats),low protein and low carbohydrate theorists will tell you that their results are better and clearly show the health benefits to huge numbers of cured diabetics and massive numbers of people losing vast numbers of kilograms of fat. 

So at this point we are no closer to determining the “truth” if there is one of course! 

AN AREA OF AGREEMENT

As I said at the start there is a centre aisle of agreement, mostly. Many on both sides will argue for vegetables(most but not all types), fruits(possibly only berries), a low protein intake as a healthy whole food part of any diet. But are we designed and do we have the organs to absorb nutrients from fibrous veg and fruits, well yes it seems we are, so no disagreement there, or is there? On the LCHF side starchy vegetables are not supported whereas all vegetables in unlimited amounts – yes really – are considered beneficial to the WFPB group. Low protein intake is an area seemingly of agreement, but the sources are clearly at odds, one being any protein and one being only non-animal protein. A big difference in fact and not just from a moral perspective but from a content perspective or is there in fact any real nutritional difference? 

Vegetables contain fats, proteins and carbohydrates including fiber, plus an array of potentially beneficial phytochemicals whereas meats, fish do not contain these chemicals or carbohydrates. 

We will continue this blog next week when we discuss and present evidence from studies for and against each of the 2 hyper diets #LCHF #WFPB. For the weekend reading, check the links and also if your daily calorie intake is around 1800 KCal then calculate the amount of food and caloric drinks you should be consuming and compare to what you are taking in. For example a box containing 1lb (453gm) of caloric intake (drinks/solids) is about 1800 KCal depending on percentage of fat. 1lb is not much!! Maybe it is purely intake volume, food quality, water quality and empty calories that are the real problem. See you next week.

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2014/05/15/saturated-or-not-does-type-of-fat-matter/

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