Thursday, July 03, 2014

Book Review: “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” by Nina Teicholz

We thought we knew about eating right

By Sue Ontiveros
June 23, 2014
Everything we think we know about how to eat right is wrong.
The advice that one must eat a low-fat diet — one that avoids meat, butter, eggs, cheese — to be healthy has been drilled into us for decades by doctors, dietitians, government, the media and TV weight-loss shows. This conclusion must be the result of thorough scientific research.
But after reading Nina Teicholz’s “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” (Simon & Schuster, $28), one realizes that’s not true at all. Rather, Teicholz shows that in their haste to stem the tide in the 1950s of heart attacks plaguing middle-aged men — and our president at the time, Dwight Eisenhower — the medical and nutrition communities embraced very shoddy evidence supported by some very persuasive researchers and ran with it. The government jumped on the bandwagon and food manufacturers were only too happy to get on board, because they were making the products we were being persuaded to eat.
Oh, there were researchers saying, wait a minute, that’s not right, according to Teicholz’s meticulously researched book. (She spent nine years reading thousands of nutrition studies, learning about nutrition, talking with nutrition experts and food company executives.)
Instead of hearing them out, those researchers were shut out, silenced. Over and over in “The Big Fat Surprise” they tell Teicholz how after they spoke up, they were no longer given research grants. Their articles were not published in medical journals. They weren’t included on committees for powerful medical groups such as the American Heart Association (boy, does the AHA come off looking bad in this book).
This isn’t what’s supposed to happen in science. It’s not like the judicial system where you are innocent until proven guilty. It’s the other way around; doubt your own conclusion, try to knock it down in the quest to prove it is indeed correct. That was not done here, “The Big Fat Surprise” reveals. Instead, personal gain, politics, big business and money repeatedly have been put ahead of the health of the American people.
Sometimes, key information on studies that were released — supporting the low-fat theory was left out, Teicholz discovered. The Seventh-day Adventist study is often ballyhooed as an example of how good a low-fat diet is. No one mentioned the part where it also determined the women were at a higher risk for endometrial cancer. Teicholz does.
Americans often are told that our chronic health ailments — obesity, diabetes, heart disease — are our fault. Actually, Teicholz shows we have done just what was recommended. We cut our saturated fat intake. We followed the low-fat/high-carbohydrate guidelines of that stupid food pyramid. All that’s happened is we’ve become fatter and sicker.
Teicholz’s book shows that not only are foods rich in saturated fat not harmful to our hearts, but they actually are good for us. However, the message of their danger has been drilled into us for so long it’s going to be hard to convince people otherwise.
During the last decade — starting with Gary Taubes’ groundbreaking work and followed by countless others, now including Teicholz — the evidence has been brought forth showing it’s not the fat, but rather carbohydrates, particularly sugar and refined carbs, that makes us fat and sick. Yet the nutrition establishment continues to push for everyone what’s almost a vegan diet now, according to Teicholz. That just boggles the mind.
Those who have battled weight issues with no success or have other chronic diseases should seriously consider ditching the carbs and bringing meat, fat, butter back into their diets. Read Teicholz’s excellent book and tell me you aren’t convinced she’s right.
Twitter: @SueOntiveros

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