Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Debunking 4 Health Food Myths

One of the reasons that health food so often gets a bad wrap is that healthy eating is associated with yucky food. A common narrative that I have often encountered (though rarely stated so explicitly) runs like this:

1)    God wants his people to enjoy their food.
2)    Health food doesn’t taste nice.
3)    If we eat food that doesn’t taste nice, we will not enjoy our food.
4)    Therefore, we shouldn’t try to eat healthy.

The problem with this argument is premise 2. Usually if a person thinks healthy food doesn’t taste nice it is because they have been brainwashed by the media to accept certain myths. This is not the place to explain the political and economic reasons that the media has for perpetuating these myths, although I have touched on that elsewhere. Suffice to say that these myths have arisen because of the unholy alliance between Big Government, Big Pharmaceutical, the junk food lobby and the media.

Among the various health food myths, there are four that have been particularly damaging in cementing the idea that to be healthy means eating food that doesn't taste nice.

Myth #1: low-fat = healthy

A low-fat diet does not equal a healthy diet, despite what commercials and advertisers try to make us think. In fact, given the ingredients that typically go into low-fat products, the reverse is most often the case.

There is a reason that God designed human beings to crave fatty foods. The reason is simple: fat is good for us.

Well, let me qualify that: the right sort of fats are good for us. The bad sort of fats are trans-fats and those fats which have been processed like all vegetable oil.

So what are the right sorts of fats? There are five: butter, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, animal fats (that's right, you heard me correctly), and cod liver oil. We need these fats to function properly, to regulate our hormones and to feed our brain (did you know our brain is made up of approximately 60% fat?).

One can hardly overstress the importance of this. Getting the right fat is even more important than eating organic.

To read more about this, see the article Five Fats You MUST Have in Your Kitchen.

Myth #2: eating fatty foods causes weight gain

Everything you have been told about weight gain is wrong. Eating the essential fats does not make you fat; eating refined foods does. Refined flour and refined sugars are the main culprits in weight gain. Ironically, these refined foods are often packaged as low-fat and targeted to those who are trying to lose weight. This locks many obese people into a cycle of frustration: they are doing everything the 'experts' are telling them yet they continue to gain weight. What they really need to do is to cut out white flour and sugar.
To read more about this, see Patrick Holford’s excellent article ‘Fat doesn’t make you fat’ or Donald W. Miller, Jr's article 'Enjoy Saturated Fats, They're Good For You!'

Myth #3: high-cholesterol = bad

I know you’ve heard it time and again that foods high in cholesterol cause, or at least increase the risk of heart disease. This is actually a myth propagated by the pharmisitical companies. The reality is that human beings need plenty of cholesterol (at least, the right sort) for our bodies to produce the right hormones. Cholesterol is used in thousands of bodily functions from helping our bodies to produce cell membranes to covering our nerve sheets.

The real culprit in heart disease is refined sugurs.

To learn more about this, watch Dr. Mark Hyman’s fascinating video ‘Why Having High Cholesterol isn’t Always Bad.’

Myth #4: calories are bad

Foods that are high in calories are not bad for you, nor do they necessarily help you to lose weight. In fact, low-calorie products are often the most unhealthy things a person can eat.

What the low-calorie industry hasn’t told you is that the real distinction isn’t between low-calorie products vs. high calorie products, but between good calories and bad calories.

To learn more about this, get Gary Taubes's book Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease or watch the video Fathead (available through Netflicks and incredibly entertaining).

Further Reading

Chewing at God's Blessings

The Benefits of Drinking Raw Milk

God Cares What's in the Pot (Part 1)

Freedom of Health: Does Uncle Sam Own Your Body?

Does God Care? Christian Liberty and Food

Health for Godly Generations

Government Hates Good Health

Read my columns at the Charles Colson Center

Read my writings at Alfred the Great Society

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