Like the movies, medicine has its roster of heroes and villains – fat for instance is a hard-core offender while insulin is a valued member of the community. But they could be swapping places. The campaign to rehabilitate fat has been gathering support for some years but putting insulin in the dock is a startling new development.
I’ve written about the emerging dark side of insulin in a guest blogthis week for that excellent campaigning site Alliance for Natural Health, which has been doing a brilliant job of challenging EU attempts to neuter complementary treatments.
The blog is a summary of a talk I’m giving at CamExpo at Earls Court this Saturday which pulls together new genetic and brain research to suggest that something as simple as keeping your carbohydrate intake low may not only make diabetes far less likely but bring down your risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s as well.
Hope for fat rehabilitation
It’s all far from cut and dried yet but it’s certainly a fascinating story and could have a big impact on ideas about the best ways to age well. New studies are emerging fast. One published only yesterday highlighted not only the risks of lots of carbs but found high fat could be protecting brain cells
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in the States looked at the diets of 1200 people aged 70 and over, for four years and found those getting the most carbs had nearly twice the risk of early memory failure – known as “mild cognitive impairment” (MCI) – which can lead to Alzheimer’s .
Even more intriguing for those who believe fat deserves a pardon, was the finding that those eating the most fat cut their MCI risk by 40%. High protein lowered risk by 21%. And if you were low on both fat and protein as well as high on carbs, your risk shot up to three and half times higher.
Fat prosecutor doesn’t give up
Research like this, and there’s much more – see the references in a recent article by Guardian columnist George Monbiot on Alzheimer’s and diet – highlights just how damaging years of low fat advice has been. The October 2012 edition of Which? magazine contains a good example of how the low fat dogma refuses to die. An investigation finds that “low fat” or “lite” foods can often have extra sugar.Hmm now there’s a surprise! Not only that but some have reduced protein as well.
So what does the mag recommend? “Of course eating a low-fat diet has many benefits and choosing low-fat, reduced-fat and light foods can contribute to a healthy diet,” says the resident dietician. You just have to read the labels more carefully and calculate calories more accurately.
All of which takes no account of decades of research that has found little evidence for low fat either contributing to long-term weight loss or being effective in protecting the heart. Increasingly it looks positively harmful. Bear this example of the magazine’s grip on new research in mind when they run another of their “vitamins can be dangerous and may cause cancer” articles.
Anyway take a look at my blog on the ANH site and you’d be very welcome at the talk.