Debunking the Fat Myth


Debunking the Fat Myth

Well, here we’re right in the middle of the festive season. Following on will be the worries of shedding those extra pounds we’ve put on churning the unending flow of mice pies, turkey sandwiches and all that goes with it. Some will quickly enrol on the very many weight loss programs such as the NHS 12-week weight loss campaign while other programs like weight watchers, or the women health mag recommendations will surely become well attended.

But Do we have to worry that much?

For many yes, certainly but for others, may be not that much after all. Simple tweaks to our lifestyle may be the answer to most of our ‘fat’ worries it appears. The word ‘fat’ is feared by many wanting to watch their weight all over the world. Demonised by the media, health experts and dietitians, the word ‘fat’ has been used as a derogatory and negative term for many years. However ‘low fat’ foods have come under quite a lot of scrutiny over the last couple of years due to their high sugar content and additives designed to make them taste ‘just like the full fat versions’. Therefore, many experts have actually been looking into whether fat is indeed the enemy, or whether it is something else entirely. There is for example general agreement among the Expert world that the problem isn’t the unsaturated fats in our diets rather the saturated fats that are rich in cholesterol. Even with the saturated fat, there is are emerging arguments as to whether it is indeed the problem or something else entirely. Amidst the confusion and technicalities of what is and what’s not right, the Mediterranean diet has come under the spotlight.

The Mediterranean diet is one of the most loved in the world. Hummus, olives, nuts and cheese all adorn Mediterranean menus, and follow the unspoken Mediterranean ethos of eating plenty of fat. So why is the Mediterranean diet admired (aside from being filled with delicious foods)? Well essentially it’s those who follow the diet’s health.

The diet doesn’t restrict total fats because it is rich in plant-based foods and fish – which contain ‘healthy fats’ that don’t tend to build up in blood vessels, while contributing to health conditions such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Likewise, nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables also feature heavily. These contain unsaturated fats that have been linked to lower risks of chronic diseases, such as cancer. Studies have shown that people on Mediterranean diets had a 29% lower risk of developing heart disease, a 57% lower risk of developing breast cancer and a 30% reduced risk of getting diabetes, compared with those who weren’t following the diet. Yet despite all of this, in this country all of the above foods are still generally seen as the enemy as they have a high fat content.

We all know that the Western world is facing an obesity crisis. The UK and America is struggling to cope with the effects of the increasing obese population. Costs arising directly and indirectly from the conditions continue to stretch annual health care budgets across much of the western world – up to 10% of the NHS budget in the U.K and projected to rise even further. The World Health Organisation has in fact labelled the obesity crisis an epidemic or ‘Globesity’ affecting about 800 million children and adults. And most of that is due to diet. Yes, exercise plays a part, but in the end, you are what you eat.

Beyond the big numbers however are personal experiences and stories that are in fact important to families and communities. One of those important stories is one about the choice of food we have at our disposal today especially the range on offer in our supermarkets. Does it really do much to help us? A lot of the food pushed towards us today is branded as ‘diet’, ‘low fat’ and the ‘healthier choice’ and most times comes with the premium attached to the extra wording. However most of the time, that is not true. It’s clear that alongside the complexity surrounding these sometimes very technical labels, there is always a trade off as what one food loses in one, it gains in another i.e. if it’s low in fat, possibly the sugar content has been bumped up as a result. In general, some of these foods are exceptionally high in sugar, artificial sweeteners and salt – which when consumed in large quantities, are harmful to our bodies and can actually cause us to put on weight.

There is actually a growing moral issue here. For example, whose responsibility is it that these foods are fit us the consumers; the manufacturers, the NHS, the authorities or us indeed the consumer? What’s clear the net beneficiary seems to be the food manufacturers as they shore up their profits, consumers and authorities and the NHS are left to pick up the pieces, fixing the damage left by these bad foods. May be it is that the food manufacturers have perfected their art of deception unsuspecting consumers need a new skill to figure out which food is best for their diets by reading through every single label and detail on the packaging. This surely will heighten an already burdensome shopping experience topped off by the vast choice of even a simple product like a spice.

The heightened levels of diabetes, heart problems and cancer that we see every day for the savvy may mean the Mediterranean diet is looking even more attractive. This diet offers us a less restrictive or guarded diet as we’re able to dip in and out as we wish without the unnecessary task of troubleshooting and estimating how much of one food we will have to have or not. Some benefits of the Mediterranean diet highlighted in literature include:

·         Lengthen Your Life

·         Prevent Asthma

·         Fight Certain Cancers

·         Protect From Diabetes

·         Keep Depression Away

·         Prevent Chronic Diseases

·         Nurture Healthier Babies

·         Ward off Parkinson’s Disease

·         Safeguard from Alzheimer’s Disease

·         Aid Your Weight Loss and Management Efforts

·         Lower Risk of Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure

Have you considered making a switch from ‘diet’ foods to a more Mediterranean diet? Give us your view.

TAGS: Mediterranean diets, high fat diets, low fat diets, healthy diet

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