Progressively over the past 10 years it seems that the dogma around the low-fat diet has taken a beating, with mainstream medical publications joining the fray. The shift seems to have not only caused quite a stir, but, in what seems to be a case of science catching up with alternative viewpoints, there has also been a rise in extremism. These differences present an excellent opportunity to excercize critical thinking, examine one’s values, and determine how one evaluates information.
I like talking with patients about Goldilocks, because she epitomizes the body. Ideal health isn’t either-or; it’s got to be “just right.” That will vary from person to person. If I were cornered into making an emphatic call about anything dietary, it would be that fresh vegetables should constitute at the very least 50% of one’s diet. . . and potatoes do not count. Most of the technicalities around food are meaningless theories. Bacon isn’t nutritious. Period. The fat is already cooked into a proinflammatory state. The same pretty much applies to tempura. Cooking methods matter. Talk of “protein” and other nutritionist terminology is quackery, a very deft magic trick that makes one focus on the parts as opposed to the whole. The body definitely needs good quality fat, but how one responds to each fat will vary. Experiment. I personally like coconut, olive, and ghee. That may change.
Let’s get a few things straight linguistically. That “ol” in cholesterol indicates that it is a steroid. The body tends to make good use of them, but the conditions that lead to their production are perhaps not always ideal. Biomedicine makes extensive use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, before reaching for the steroids. Cholesterol is an endogenous steroid, i.e., fat, that may be trying to put out a fire, though it may not be the most efficient. Again, Goldilocks is our standard and the trends in biomedicine however catchy or innovative often center about correlation not causation, which should cause us pause.
The conclusion around the saturated fat question may be a bit anti-climactic. The fact is that everyone’s metabolic ecosystem varies. Beyond that, eat more vegetables. Beans are not vegetables. Also, understand how you have your fat is as important as having the fat at all. That variable is temperature dependent. Whether your fat comes from yak or coconut or sesame will be up to you. Perhaps it will be a combo. Fear around cholesterol seems to me to be the product of confusing correlation with causation.
There is no way that you’re going to eat yourself health at the expense of exercize. As far as the matter of fat, saturated or otherwise, concerns health, it seems that the evidence is much more equivocal. From a Chinese medicine position the question of fat is one that fits into an over all picture that involves dietary habits and one’s energy, sleep, and emotions. It’s a Goldilocks thing that’s I’m endeavoring to get you to understand.