The 100-year-old scientist who pushed the FDA to ban artificial trans fat – The Washington Post

The 100-year-old scientist who pushed the FDA to ban artificial trans fat – The Washington Post.

Though this link is on the older side, it does get me thinking. I feel like different foods or food groups are either vilified (get rid of fat!!) or put on pedestal (This superfood belongs in everyone’s pantry!! Go out and buy it now or the world will end!).  I know I’m being a bit hyperbolic when I put it like that. However I think that when talking about foods and supplements, it’s better to take a data driven view that is more even keeled. Not all fats are bad.  Trans fats definitely fit into the bad category. Fats are essential in our diet, without them there are key nutrients that we couldn’t absorb such as vitamins E, A, K, and D (though this last one we can make ourselves).

Aside from needing some fats in our diet, some fats are necessary for our diet since we can’t make them ourselves. N-3 and N-6 fatty acids are in this category.  Also known as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, they’re used by the body to make prostaglandins and leukotrienes, which our body uses to help regulate many processes. The help regulate the immune system: in fact omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and omega-6 promote inflammationFatty acids make up the walls of our cells as well as the organelles inside cells.  How much of our diet fats should make up is something people can debate –  some (like Dr. Dean Ornish) advocate a low fat  – 5% of calories – diet. Others are at the other end of the spectrum. I won’t get into arguing who’s correct, though Dr. Ornish does has  data to show what he suggests helps reverse heart disease. Though to be fair, his program/views also advocates exercise, meditation, and other lifestyle changes, all of which affect heart disease and longevity so one can’t totally point to the low fat aspect and say that is the sole determinant of his success and data.  I think most would suggest 20-30% of calories come from fat. It’s important to get enough of what are called N-3 (or omega-3) fatty acids as well as N-6 (omega-6) fatty acids.

People trash carbohydrates a lot as well. My view of this is that refined sugar should be used sparingly. If one puts sugar in his/her coffee and only occasionally has something else that is sugary (donuts anyone? Ice Cream?), the world won’t end. If having something that is sweet helps keep someone eating healthy but not feel like they’re denying  themselves, then it’s ok.

The big danger is to lump all carbohydrates together. Yes, having some refined sugar is ok, and simpler sugars are ok in moderation: if you’re getting them by eating an apple or an orange, that’s ok. But when we talk about fiber, we’re actually talking about complex sugars which our bodies can’t digest or breakdown. These are actually healthy sugars! If I haven’t done so already, I’ll probably talk more about the specifics in a future blog.

My whole point of this particular blog is to use the above link to have people think about what they hear or read about nutrition, especially if what they hear is lumping all of a particular food/food group together for good or bad!

10 Biggest Nutrition Myths—Ever

>10 Biggest Nutrition Myths—Ever

I am a big fan of having people eat a healthy diet. The best of all possible worlds, doctors would know more about diet and have the time to talk with/educate their patients about this. Additionally everyone would have access to a nutritionist/Registered dietitian and access to healthy foods.  Lastly, people would not buy into fad diets or believe all of the mis information out there. Here is a list of some things to keep in mind.

Older Athletes Have a Strikingly Young Fitness Age – The New York Times

Older Athletes Have a Strikingly Young Fitness Age – The New York Times.

For me this is an exiting and interesting story.  As I have said in earlier posts, exercise is important.  This just reinforces the notion that exercise, even if started later in life, does help health.  I won’t wax poetic about how exercise is a “veritable fountain of youth” as I try to avoid being overly dramatic with health care claims.

Lost Posture: Why Indigenous Cultures Don’t Have Back Pain.

Lost Posture: Why Indigenous Cultures Don’t Have Back Pain : Goats and Soda : NPR.

I see a lot of people with back pain in my office. There are times I think it’s the common cold of pain. Though I don’t consider things like the radio, newspapers, TV  my main source of medical information (I prefer journals like “The Annals of Internal medicine” and “The New England Journal of Medicine” and things like grand rounds [a form of continuing medical education for doctors]), sometimes I come across things like this are interesting.

Often times if something is common one might forget to ask why it’s so common.   With a lot of people developing  back pain finding ways to prevent it or treat it before it becomes chronic is important. If this theory holds up, It’s worth pursuing.