So what can we do about it? Can we do something??
Well, there are quite a number of things that we can do.
We could cut down on our meat consumption, bur better still, start hunting for grass fed beef. If your grocery store does not carry it, maybe your farmers market does and otherwise you'll discover there is an increasing number of beef farmers who have small operations and have been catering to these very trends. Check the classifieds and you'' also discover that not everybody is selling beef by the side or quarter.
Mind you the fat in your diet is probably more important that the meat itself. Meat is protein and protein is needed for muscle building and cell rebuilding; fat is also used as energy. Where the wisdom used to be that most of your energy should come from carbohydrates, that wisdom has recently come under heavy attack from a lot of different corners. Harvard, Yale, Erasmus (Rotterdam), U of Wageningen to name just a few, have recently released research papers pointing out the dangers associated with a diet high in carbs, especially high in refined carbs.
As we can see from a release from Harvard professor and Chair of the prestigious Nutrition Department :
The Food Guide Pyramid is an American icon. At the base are breads, cereal and pasta -- up to 11 servings a day. Veggies and fruits are next, with two-to-five servings. As the pyramid narrows, it suggests eating fewer dairy products, eggs and meat servings. At the tip are fats and sweets -- to be used "sparingly." As sensible as it may sound, Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health says the food pyramid is "a license to overeat."
"I think the pyramid is so out of sync with scientific evidence that it almost has to be totally dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up," says Willett.
Alice Lichtenstein of Tufts University agrees. She was on a federal panel that updated the official guidelines less than two years ago. Lichtenstein says the new Harvard study confirms what most nutritionists believe: The 2000 guidelines are already out-of-date.
This is of course something quite alien to mainstream thinking and certainly not helping big pharma that the nay sayers are out in full force and will probably be for a while. To give an example : Peruse this research abstract and see if you come the same conclusions.
It was a 6-week study in the journal Hypertension where they measured a number of surrogate measures of cardiovascular disease risk, in patients eating either an Atkins-style low-carbohydrate (LC) diet or an ADA-style low-fat (LF) diet.
Of course, this was only a 6 week study, not long enough to really say anything about cardiovascular disease risk. But nevertheless, let's look at the actual data:
The Low Fat group lost an average of 4.3 lbs over the course of the 6 weeks. The Low Calorie group lost 5.7 lbs.
The LF group's blood pressure decreased 8/5 mm Hg (systolic/diastolic). The LC group's decreased 12/6 mm Hg.
The LF group's flow-mediated dilation increased +1.9, but was reduced in the LC group by -1.4.
There was no difference between groups in nitroglycerin-mediated vasodilation.
Here's the best part (full text only): the triglyceride/HDL ratio went from 1.2 to 1.6 in the LF group, and from 1.4 to 1.1 in the LC group. Trig/HDL ratio is the best blood lipid predictor of heart disease we have, and the lower the better.
So let's get this straight. What we're looking at is data showing that LC beat or tied LF on every relevant parameter they reported except one, and somehow that means LF diets are healthier than LC? Even though overweight and hypertension are important risk factors for cardiovascular disease? Even though trig/HDL is probably the best predictor of heart disease of any of these measures?
Bread grains are almost exclusively wheat based and wheat has become more and more suspect as involved in some metabolic processes scientists are not to happy about.
You see carbohydrate is particularly effective at elevating insulin, acutely and chronically. As carbohydrate digests, it's broken down into glucose, which enters the bloodstream. The pancreas releases insulin in an attempt to keep blood glucose within a healthy range, and the storage begins.If insulin is kept low, fat synthesis and storage are inhibited, and fat release from fat cells is increased.
Refined carbohydrate is the worst offender, because it causes a large and rapid rise in blood glucose.
Regular overconsumption of carbohydrate causes insulin to be chronically elevated in many people. This comes along with "insulin resistance", whereby most or all tissues become desensitized to insulin. This is the tissues' way of saying "Stop! My energy stores are already full! I can't handle any more glucose or fat!".
And note this from a 2007 research paper from a.o. Duke University Med Centre :"......The persistence of an epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes suggests that new nutritional strategies are needed if the epidemic is to be overcome. A promising nutritional approach suggested by this thematic review is carbohydrate restriction. Recent studies show that, under conditions of carbohydrate restriction, fuel sources shift from glucose and fatty acids to fatty acids and ketones, and that ad libitum–fed carbohydrate-restricted diets lead to appetite reduction, weight loss, and improvement in surrogate markers of cardiovascular disease. " You can read it here
Fat tissue is typically the last to become insulin resistant because it acts as a valuable buffer to remove excess (and potentially toxic) glucose from the bloodstream. Unfortunately, simply being thin is not a reliable indicator that your body tolerates carbohydrate well. It can indicate either that all tissues are insulin-sensitive and insulin levels are low, or all tissues (including fat) are insulin resistant and insulin levels are high. The latter scenario leads to type II diabetes in a hurry.
Since fat accumulation revolves around carbohydrate intake and insulin production, it makes sense that reducing carbohydrate causes weight loss. No more carbohydrate = a lot less glucose, and a lot less insulin to deal with it. This completely sidesteps the problem of insulin resistance, although that seems to respond favorably to carbohydrate restriction as well. Every time true low-carbohydrate diets are matched head-to-head with reduced-calorie, carbohydrate-rich diets, subjects lose more weight and have fewer problems with hunger on the low-carbohydrate diet.