Conflicting Advice - 15 July 2016

Conflicting Advice

Today I read two conflicting pieces of health information in the newspapers and it made me wonder how the average person can possibly know what constitutes a healthy diet. The first was an article on a new cookery book which was advocating a no carbohydrate eating plan which contained substantial quantities of protein and saturated fat.

The second was about a doctor who had reversed his multiple sclerosis and remained healthy for the next 18 years by avoiding meat and saturated fat and eating lots of fish and omega 3 essential fats from vegetable sources.

So which way should we turn? I think that first of all it depends if you are healthy. A low carbohydrate (not NO carbohydrate) diet works well if you need to lose lots of weight or have blood sugar problems leading to diabetes. But this isn’t necessarily the diet you should stay on for the rest of your life. Similarly the doctor could probably now eat some meat and saturated fat but may be reluctant to change the diet that has improved his health.

A healthy diet for reasonably healthy individuals lies somewhere in the middle. No or low carbohydrate diets mean we miss out on food groups such as grains as well as vegetables higher in natural sugars such as carrots or potatoes and of course most fruits.

I’m very anti carbohydrates in the form of sugar, over processed breakfast cereals and white bread and rice. However it all depends on how you eat carbohydrates. Eating wholegrain ones and combining them with protein, fat and fibre slows their absorption rate making them a healthy option.

Low carbohydrate diets also tend to emphasise protein at every meal so generally meat plays an important part. I’m not anti meat or saturated fat but I don’t think it is a good idea to eat them in excess. It seems like only a few weeks ago that the World Health Association was linking high meat consumption to cancer.

How meat is produced is also important as grass fed meat has higher levels of essential fats and lower levels of saturated fat than grain fed animals. In my next blog I will tell you about Fordhall Farm where the animals live outside all year and don’t receive additional grain to fatten them up.

If you concentrate on vegetables and salads, add some essential fats in the form of fish, nuts and seeds then use meat and carbohydrates in sensible portions you won’t go far wrong.