There is no more doubting long-standing myths that mainstream nutrition adopted as truths due to poorly designed and corrupt scientific studies. On behalf of public health regulators -- doctors, nutritionists and many other health experts have relied on this misinformation to guide millions with false dietary advice which we now know to be harmful.
1. Saturated Fat Is Harmful
When health professionals started blaming saturated fat for heart disease, people abandoned traditional fats like butter, lard and coconut oil in favor of processed vegetable oils.
These oils are very high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which can contribute to inflammation and various problems when consumed in excess. These oils are often hydrogenated, which makes them high in trans fats. Many studies have shown that these fats and oils actually increase the risk of heart disease, even if they aren't hydrogenated.
Saturated fatty acids shouldn't be avoided as they don't cause cardiovascular disease. "The accumulation of data finally shows that there is no demonstrated link between saturated fatty acids and cardiovascular disease," said professor Philippe Legrand of AgroCampus Ouest.
"When there is a dogma it can only be broken if the level of proof that it was a wrong dogma reaches certain level and then everything appears clear," Legrand stated.
Legrand added that this should be wisely communicated to the general public.
"The danger for the public is to hear 'you can eat whatever you want and even saturated fatty acids are good for you'. The point is the excess of saturated fatty acids, especially palmitic acid [present in palm oil] remains a risk. 'Excess' is the important word."
More physicians and medical specialists are speaking out on what really causes disease. Just a few years ago, world renown heart surgeon Dr. Dwight Lundell, made headlines when he stated the facts on the actual causes of heart disease. "As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact," he was quoted in a statement.
Experts such as Dr. Ron Rosedale have been exposing the facts on cholesterol myths for years. Perhaps one of the biggest health myths propagated in western culture and certainly in the United States, is the correlation between elevated cholesterol and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Unfortunately, despite dozens of studies, cholesterol has not been shown to actually cause CVD. To the contrary, cholesterol is vital to our survival, and trying to artificially lower it can have detrimental effects, particularly as we age. What we have found after years of being told the opposite, is that there is no such thing as bad cholesterol.
Cardiologist Aseem Malhotra says almost four decades of advice to cut back on saturated fats found in cream, butter and less lean meat has 'paradoxically increased our cardiovascular risks'.
2. Everybody Should Consume Grains
Grains are and always have been relatively low in nutrients, especially when compared to other real whole foods like vegetables. They are also rich in a substance called phytic acid which binds essential minerals in the intestine and prevents them from being absorbed.
The world's most popular grain wheat, is also the deadliest for the human metabolism. Modern wheat isn't really wheat at all and is a "perfect, chronic poison," according to Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist, author and leading expert on wheat.
Modern dwarf wheat was introduced around the year 1960, which contains 19-28% less of important minerals like Magnesium, Iron, Zinc and Copper. There is also evidence that modern wheat is much more harmful to celiac patients and people with gluten sensitivity, compared to older breeds like Einkorn wheat.
Modern wheat contains a large amount of a protein called gluten, but there is evidence that a significant portion of the population may be sensitive to it. A decade ago celiac disease was considered extremely rare outside Europe and, therefore, was almost completely ignored by health care professionals. In only 10 years, key milestones have moved celiac disease and gluten reactions from obscurity into the popular spotlight worldwide.
Non-celiac wheat sensitivity is now a serious problem and new clinical entity.
People who developed type 1 diabetes have even been found to have a genetic predisposition to the disease that is triggered by wheat gluten.
Patients with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity have been found to have higher mortality rates and this association persists more than one year after diagnosis in patients testing positive for the disease.
Australian researchers have revealed serious issues over a new kind of genetically engineered wheat that could induce major health threats for people that consume it.
3. Low Salt Diets Are Key To Healthy Cardiovascular Systems
One 2008 study a committee examined, for example, randomly assigned 232 Italian patients with aggressively treated moderate to severe congestive heart failure to consume either 2,760 or 1,840 milligrams of sodium a day, but otherwise to consume the same diet. Those consuming the lower level of sodium had more than three times the number of hospital readmissions -- 30 as compared with 9 in the higher-salt group -- and more than twice as many deaths -- 15 as compared with 6 in the higher-salt group.
Another study, published in 2011, followed 28,800 subjects with high blood pressure ages 55 and older for 4.7 years and analyzed their sodium consumption by urinalysis. The researchers reported that the risks of heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure and death from heart disease increased significantly for those consuming more than 7,000 milligrams of sodium a day and for those consuming fewer than 3,000 milligrams of sodium a day.
A study by lead researcher Dr. Niels Graudal, of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, adds to a growing body of research questioning the long-term benefits of a low-salt diet. A review of seven previous studies published in the journal the Cochrane Library found that a moderate reduction in salt intake did not reduce a person's risk of dying or having heart disease.
In a systematic review published by The Cochrane Library, British scientists found that cutting salt consumption did not translate into lower death or heart disease risk. "With governments setting ever lower targets for salt intake and food manufacturers working to remove it from their products, it's really important that we do some large research trials to get a full understanding of the benefits and risks of reducing salt intake," said Rod Taylor of Exeter University, who led the review.
The problem is not salt, it's the type of salt we use. It takes just half an hour for one meal high in table salt to significantly impair the arteries' ability to pump blood around the body, alarming research has shown. Blood flow becomes temporarily more restricted between 30 minutes and an hour after the food has been consumed. "Most scientific studies use processed table salt as a source of sodium which the body has a hard time physiologically to process unlike its natural counterpart sea salt," said Dr. Jamil Najma who only recommends sea salt to his patients.
The kind of salt we consume is essential to our health. "Mineral salts are identical to the elements of which our bodies have been built and were originally found in the primal ocean from where life originated," argues Dr Barbara Hendel, researcher and co-author of Water & Salt, The Essence of Life. "We have salty tears and salty perspiration. The chemical and mineral composition of our blood and body fluids are similar to sea water. From the beginning of life, as unborn babies, we are encased in a sack of salty fluid." Unlike the sodium chloride you find on most kitchen tables, unrefined rock salt contains more than 84 different minerals.
4. Low Fat Diets Will Help You Lose Weight - All Calories Are Equal
This low-fat mantra has been questioned for years by clinicians and nutritional scientists - not least because it has failed to halt the obesity epidemic. The fact is, contrary to official advice by our diet dictocrats, high-fat diets lower blood sugar, improve blood lipids, and reduce obesity.
One of the problems is that there is consistent inverse association in the percentage of energy coming from fats and sugars. Research published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition shows why people find it hard to follow government guidelines to cut their fat and sugar intake at the same time -- a phenomenon known as the sugar-fat seesaw.
That's no surprise as previous studies such as a two-year dietary study published in the journal Diabetologia showed that food with a lot of fat and few carbohydrates has a better effect on blood sugar levels and blood lipids. Despite the increased fat intake with a larger portion of saturated fatty acids, their lipoproteins did not get worse. Quite the contrary -- the HDL, or 'good' cholesterol, content increased on the high fat diet.
Research from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem shows that a carefully scheduled high-fat diet can lead to a reduction in body weight and a unique metabolism in which ingested fats are not stored, but rather used for energy at times when no food is available. The results were published in The FASEB Journal under the title "Timed high-fat diet resets circadian metabolism and prevents obesity".
Professor David Lawrence, an expert in nutrition and obesity data analysis, said recently in the journal BMC Medicine that the idea of all calories being equal is flawed and based 'on an outdated understanding of the science'.
Studies have showed time and time again that a reduced-fat diet, similarly to a reduced-calorie diet, does not result in long-term weight loss and health, but instead leads only to "transient" weight loss -- that would be weight that comes piling right back on after it's temporarily shed. This is because healthy fats actually curb your appetite and trigger the production of hormones which tell the brain when you're full. If you're not eating fat, you stay constantly hungry, and wind up binging on unhealthy food.
Calories from different sources have different effects on the body, with calories from carbohydrates more likely to encourage weight gain. Not only is the calorie theory under attack, but evidence is also emerging to show that lowering fat might not cut heart-disease risk after all. A major study published in the authoritative New England Journal of Medicine compared the clinical benefits of a conventional low-fat diet with two types of Mediterranean diet, which are naturally considerably higher in fat. The study had to be stopped early because the heart attack and stroke rate in the Mediterranean options was so much lower it was deemed irresponsible to keep patients on the conventional diet.
Unfortunately, low-fat food products also use dangerous artificial sweeteners, simple sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
Low-fat diet foods have been found to increase type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
About the author
Natasha Longo has a master's degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.