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Carbohydrates, Fats and Conflicting Information

By Jodie Parus, RD, LDCarbs, Fat, Protein 

Eat a low fat/high carb diet, no eat a high fat/low carb diet, watch your cholesterol intake, fat makes you fat, don't eat saturated fat! Are you overwhelmed by contradictory nutrition information all over the place? It's on the Internet, in books, magazines and television. One day you hear this the next day you hear that. What is the right thing to do?

Doctors, dietitians, nutritionist are supposed to be experts right? Well, why does one promote one thing while another promotes the complete opposite? How are you to know who to believe? There are a lot of questions and here, I will attempt to break it down and simplify it somewhat. Although the human body, its chemistry, biology, and genetics are very complex. Scientist, researchers and doctors have been investigating the intricacies for hundreds of years and are still learning something new every day.

First, there is not a one-size-fits-all plan for everyone; this is called bio-individuality. However, we can look back into our ancestry and determine what types of food would be most advantageous. Consider this; your ancestors' diet was comprised of 5% carbohydrates, 20% protein and 75% fat. Whereas the often recommended diet in the U.S. today is 60% carbohydrates, 20% protein and 20% fat. We have reversed the carbohydrate to fat ratio and it may be time to consider making a change.

 As a species, we are genetically and physiologically identical to these humans that lived before the dawn of agriculture. We have consumed a high-fat diet for the past two million years, and it is only since the dawn of agriculture about ten thousand years ago that carbohydrates have become abundant in our food supply.  Unfortunately, it takes forty to seventy thousand years for any significant changes to take place in the genome that might allow for adaptation to such a drastic change in our diet.

The research keeps coming from various labs around the world, flipping conventional wisdom on its head.  A report in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease published research from a Mayo Clinic study revealing that older people who fill their plates with carbohydrates are nearly four times more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (a precursor for Alzheimer's disease).

A high intake of carbohydrates also causes surges in blood sugar, which has a direct effect on the brain. If you were to look at a chart of the number of diabetics in the U.S. between 1980 and 2011, you would see a sharp incline begin in 1994. Why the drastic change? In 1992, the U.S. government endorsed a high carb, low fat diet. The American Diabetes and American Heart Associations followed their example.  In 1994, the American Diabetes Association recommended that Americans should consume 60-70% carbohydrates. The number of cases of diabetes doubled between 1997 and 2007 and tripled between 1980 and 2011. Also worth taking note is that diabetes doubles your risk for Alzheimer's.

We will delve further in a later post.

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