Grains and Sugars – Are they the dietary bad guys?

Field of Wheat

Field of Wheat

By Catherine Haug, July 12, 2014 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

I recently posted an article, Butter (and other saturated fats) is a Health Food, based on an article in the New York Times (3) by researcher Dr. Fred Kummerow, who has been studying the effect of different lipids (including fats and cholesterol) on health for 80 years. He concludes that science made the wrong conclusions from early studies on saturated fats (beginning in the 1940s), when they pointed the bad finger at saturated fats. At the time, these scientists did not know what we know today, when they made their erroneous conclusions.

For example, early research involving saturated fats were actually using trans-fats made by hydrogenating unsaturated fats; this research led to the beliefs that dietary saturated fats lead to heart disease. They mistakenly assumed the hydrogenation was complete, and that’s where they went wrong. Had they used actual saturated fats like butter or coconut oil, they would have gotten very different results.

So, if saturated fats are not the problem we’ve all believed they are, than what is the problem?

What is the real dietary bad guy?

Many people are now pointing the bad finger at high-carb foods, specifically grains and sugar. Will this provide to be true? or will knowledge gained down the road prove the error in that theory?

There is a new documentary, Cereal Killers (link is to the trailer for the movie), that explores the health effects of  a high fat, low-carb diet, and turns the USDA’s food pyramid upside down.

According to Dr. Mercola,in his article “Cereal Killers, The Movie“, the real problem is insulin and leptin resistance which result from overconsumption of high-garb foods, especially refined grains and sugars.

  • “Refined carbohydrates promote chronic inflammation in your body, elevate low-density LDL cholesterol, and ultimately lead to insulin and leptin resistance
  • Insulin and leptin resistance, in turn, is at the heart of obesity and most chronic disease, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s—all the top killers in the US.”

My high-fat, low carb experiment

Over a year ago I began a dietary experiment; I started adding a lot of fat to my diet, and gave up grains and other high-carb foods. This was to see if I could reset my metabolism and reverse my insulin resistance. I increased my fat calories to  65% – 70% of my total calories, reduced carb calories to 10% – 15% of total calories, and maintained proteins at 20% of total calories. This basically meant eliminating all forms of sugar, limiting carbs to raw or lightly cooked greens and cooked, high-fiber root veggies. It meant increasing my use of lard and coconut oil for cooking, and lots of raw cream and cultured butter.

One more point; I do not eat meat, eggs or milk from grain-fed livestock. This is important because when you eat these foods from animals fed on grain, you ‘eat’ all the problems those grains cause, even though you are not directly consuming them.

Before beginning this experiment, I constantly – I mean, every waking moment – craved sugar. Exactly like a heroin addict, except my drug was sugar. 12 years ago, I started substituting stevia for sugar in my sweet treats, and that helped a lot, but the cravings did not go away.

Yet, within 2 weeks of starting my high fat, low carb eating plan – also known as a ketogenic eating plan – those cravings stopped. I mean, it was like I’d never had those cravings and didn’t know what it felt like to crave sweets. Yes, really. And within 4 weeks of starting this new eating plan, the dark puffy circles under my eyes were gone, and my skin had a new glow – lots of people commented on this change.

I have not lost weight, but that was not my goal. My ketogenic eating plan is very high in calories: 2000 – 3000 daily. Yet even at this high-calorie rate, I did not gain weight. and that is significant, considering I’m fairly sedentary.

After those first 4 weeks, I realized I was not getting enough fiber, even though I was eating high-fiber veggies like beets, turnips and carrots, so I added sweet potatoes or winter squash at least 3 days a week, and 1 serving of whole grain bread once a week.That small change did the trick, and I have continued on this path for 13 months. I do not believe I’ll ever go back to eating sweets and lots of grain – I just feel so good after giving them up.

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