Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bacon: the new health food...say what?!

There is a current T.V. commercial where the middle aged male character pines for the morning when he wakes up and discovers that bacon is "good for us!" Well, that day has arrived--with qualifications.

The lipid hypothesis as a prime dietary driver for heart disease and cancer, has been firmly in our collective consciousness for a generation. We all know the dogma---low-fat, low cholesterol and especially low saturated fat (read animal fat bad, especially red meat) high fiber, high plant based carbohydrates are what we should eat to avoid heart disease, cancer and live a long life. This thinking, which I have preached and taught for twenty five years, was and is one of the foundational ideas of the health promotion and wellness field! And IMHO is basically wrong and not helpful. Science writer Gary Taubes, 2007 book, Good Calories, Bad Calories provides the painstaking, tedious deconstruction of the original Public Health, diet, and nutrition research over the last forty years. Here he is on Larry King:

Let me say, that my overall worldview about diet and health is best characterized in the words of St. Francis, "When I am served partridge, I eat partridge and when I am served porridge, I eat porridge." But sadly, our lives our filled with too much cortisol (stress hormone) not enough muscular stress, and a high carb diet filled with substances that St. Francis would not recognize and cause systematic inflammation and compromise our leptin and insulin sensitivity, hormonal processes that regulate the use and storage of fats and carbs. So many of us should not eat whatever is put in front of us.

It is turning out that the most nasty bits to avoid are the real biochemical toxins found in wheat, industrial seed oils ( all the partially hydrogenated or plain corn, sunflower, soy, cottonseed oil, etc.) and fructose ( table sugar, excessive fruit and fruit juice) These three categories make up 70% of the standard American diet, and their consumption has increased dramatically over the last thirty years. And we see and know the results with obesity levels very high and diabetes poised to financially crush the healthcare system in the near future.

Building on the low carb fad of five years ago, and adding thinking from evolutionary anthropology and critical, objective reading of biochemical nutritional research, a new way of thinking about nutrition and health is emerging. The current popularity of gluten free eating and growth in the marketing of gluten free products is one important piece. And it really is much more about anti-inflammatory whole food eating that comes under the name paleo eating or the caveman diet. There are a number of well done sites, books and blogs, the best of which you can find under my recommendations. Here is a good starting summary. And for my Christian friends and family, here and here are good article explaining how this new thinking is congruent with scriptural references to bread and diet. So, it is about time for Sunday breakfast and ahh, bacon sounds yummy and yes --good!

Peace and All good!

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