Part of America’s concerns surrounding diet emerged during the 1950s and 1960s, when the medical consensus on what constitutes a healthy fat emerged. Gone was the idea that butter and lard were good for you – in fact, they were quickly branded as the cause of heart disease and weight gain. The truth about that sudden switch only recently came to light, when JAMA researchers uncovered documents proving that the sugar lobby in fact paid to tweak studies indicting fat as the biggest threat to our health.
At the time, the food industry scrambled to find an alternative and discovered vegetable oils, a product that Deep Nutrition author Catherine Shanahan calls “your brain’s worst enemy.” Shanahan is a family physician whose research into biochemistry and genetics led to a series of major nutritional discoveries that go against conventional dietary advice. Her ethos? Remove vegetable oils and sugars, and stock up on animal fats, nuts and vegetables.
“In the 1950s, we were told we couldn’t have saturated fats,” she tells the NY Post. “We stopped eating butter and natural fats, but still craved fatty foods, so we turned to vegetable oil[s]. And then restaurants started using them because they’re dirt cheap.”
While initially, the consensus on unsaturated vegetable oils weighed strongly in their favor. With the image of health – they’re made from vegetables! – an indicator that they’re better than fatty animal products and research indicating that they lower risk of heart disease, they flooded shelves. Recent research has however refuted those earlier claims: it’s the heating of vegetable oils that transforms them into harmful products. They become carcinogenic – and actually increase the chances of heart disease.
“The way the oils have been treated strips away the antioxidants,” says Shanahan. This causes the balance between disease-fighting antioxidants and free radicals to be tipped in favor of free radicals, which have been shown to cause disease growth. Shanahan also strongly believes that the area most likely affected is the brain: “Oxidative stress disrupts the function of the brain, so the cells cannot do their normal housekeeping.” This dysfunction is what can lead to, in Shanahan’s view, Alzheimer’s, dementia and fatigue due to a build up of plaque caused by those oils.
“The no.?1 symptom someone would feel is migraines,” she believes, “they don’t realize how poorly they were thinking until they’re off this stuff.”
Simply put, the more processing that occurs before you consume a product, the higher the risk of contracting diseases due to those unnatural procedures. Saturated animal fats have had a resurgence in recent years. They are more likely to satiate feelings of hunger due to their more natural fat content, and also lower your risk of contracting diabetes and even reversing diabetes completely if you already have it.
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