Nutrition, Depression and Low-Fat Diets
By Ruth Waterman, B.Sc. (reprinted with kind permission of the author)
Low-fat diets weaken your immune system.1
Low-fat, low-cholesterol diets are associated with depression, psychological problems, fatigue, violence and suicide.2,3
Low-fat diets cause dry skin and wrinkles.4
Low-fat foods sometimes have more calories than the regular ones.5
Low-fat products often hide the most sugar.6
When food manufacturers take out the fat, guess what they use to replace the taste factor?7
“Low-fat” and “fat-free” foods: cutting fat means that more sugars and carbohydrates have been added.”8
Cut sugar to trim fat.9
“We see people in their 30s with their cholesterol around 100, and they look like prunes! Extremely low-fat diets suck the oils out of the skin. You need a certain amount of fat in the diet for skin to look healthy,” says Richard Ellenbogen, M.D., a plastic surgeon.10
Fat is one of the three main nutrient molecules, along with protein and carbohydrate.11
In our diet, fat is required for the metabolism of vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as for the production of hormones.12
Cholesterol plays a key role in the formation of sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone), skin oils, digestive juices, vitamin D, and the sheaths that protect our nerves.13
Says Walter Willett, M.D., “The important message is not to eliminate fat, but to replace the bad fat with the good.”14
A growing body of medical evidence suggests that trans fatty acids are just as bad as -or maybe worse than - saturated (animal) fats.15
Trans fats are created during hydrogenation, in which liquid vegetable oil is altered so that it hardens and resists spoiling.16
The anti-spoiling properties of (hydrogenated) trans fats make them ideal for a variety of packaged (processed) foods, permitting them to stay fresh for longer on store shelves.17
(Hydrogenation) is the way many margarines are made.18
Long-lasting hydrogenated oils are used by many fast-food chains to deep-fry everything from potatoes to doughnuts.19
“It’s (hydrogenation) a nutritional nightmare,” says Bruce Holub, a professor of nutrition sciences at the University of Guelph.20
This is ironic because consumers usually choose foods made with cholesterol-free vegetable oils rather than animal fats, because they think they’re more healthful. They don’t realize, Prof. Holub explains, that trans fats may clog the arteries even more.21
“It’s not appropriate - it’s even fraudulent - to have foods that are high in trans fats that are labelled low in saturates,” says Christina Zehaluk, a nutritionist with the Health Protection Branch of Health Canada.22
Look on labels for “non-hydrogenated” oils because some brands of margarine use them.23
“Younger people are progressively consuming much more trans fats than older people,” Prof. Holub notes. “If we have problems with heart disease now, where are we going to be in 20 years?”24
The way fats are processed – by adding hydrogen molecules – also gives them unhealthful properties.25
Reducing overall fat intake has little effect on the risk of coronary disease. (from a 14 year study involving some 80,000 female nurses.)26
"...athletes perform better on a higher-fat diet"
“Since we have shown that athletes perform better on a higher-fat diet than on a low-fat diet, it was important to determine if the higher-fat diet would further compromise the immune system. We found that it did not, but the very low-fat diet did,” says Jaya Venkatraman; associate professor of nutrition at the University of Buffalo.27
For years, nutritionists largely ignored sugar as they pursued its notorious companion, fat. That's finally starting to change. Scientists are taking a new look at our addiction to sweeks, and wondering exactly how giant cokes and oversize candy bars are related to our high rates of chronic disease.28
Researchers at the University of British Columbia have released a report that concludes cholesterol tests are an extremely poor predictor of heart disease in otherwise healthy people, reports The Medical Post.29
“There’s this notion out there that if you have high cholesterol, you’re automatically going to develop heart disease, when in fact most people with high cholesterol who are healthy now, won’t actually develop heart disease,” says Dr. Isabelle Savoie.30
In Yugoslavia and Poland, the development of high heart disease rates in the middle of this century was concomitant with a quadrupling of the sugar intake and occurred despite a fall in animal fat intake.31
What about cholesterol-lowering medications? The manufacturers of simvastatin, for example, warn of side effects including kidney damage and memory loss, among many others.32
"What about cholesterol-lowering medications?"
Refer to the Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties (The Physicians’ Desk Reference in the U.S.) for information on drugs and their side effects. Public libraries have copies for reference purposes. This is also available on-line.
Says Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D., “A large number of my clients have reported a significant drop in cholesterol count after they have minimized sugar intake for six months.”33
A neurologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Dr. E. Thomas Price, says, “It’s time to take a more sophisticated point of view than simply saying eat more fats or eat no fats.”34
Dr. Price and Dr. Robert Sherwin suggest that emphasizing more monounsaturated fats such as those in olive oil and nut oils would increase neither stroke nor heart attack risk and may be the most sensible approach.35
Bravo! That, Drs. Price and Sherwin, is common sense!
1 Fat can help your immune system; The Globe and Mail, May 25, 1999; p. A11.
2 The Myths of Vegetarianism, by Stephen Byrncs, M.D., C.N.C.; Health Naturally, April/May, 1999; p. 6.
3 Cholesterol and Violence; Winnipeg Sun, March 16, 1998; p. 2.
4 Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, by Robert C. Atkins, M.D.; M. Evans & Company, Inc., New York, 1992; p. 154.
5 To burn fat, turn up the heat; The Globe and Mail, January 6, 1999; p. A15.
6 Potatoes not Prozac, by Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D., Fireside Books, New York, 1999; p. 138.
8 Dr. Atkins’ Quick and Easy New Diet Cookbook, by Robert C. Atkins, M.D. and Veronica C. Atkins; Fireside Books, New York, 1997; p. 22.
9 Sugar Busters! By H. Leighton Steward, Morrison C. Bethea, M.D., Sam S. Andrews, M.D., Luis A. Balart, M.D.; Bantam Books, New York, 1995; front cover.
10 Good Fat, Bad Fat, by Michael Tennesen; Living Fit, August, 1997; p. 75.
15 Trans fatty acids are stealthy health hazard, by Paul Taylor; Globe and Mail, May 5, 1998; p. 1.
25 Healthy fat facts, Winnipeg Sun, November 22, 1997; p. 2.
27 Fat can help your immune system, op: cit.
28 In Sugar We Trust, by Laura Shapiro; Newsweek, July 13, 1998; p. 72.
29 Medical watch, Globe and Mail, March 31, 1998; p. A26.
31 Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, op. cit., p. 158.
32 Where will you be when your grandson gets his first taste of the ocean? Advertisement – Newsweek, July 12, 1999; p. 18.
33 Potatoes not Prozac, op. cit., p. 109.
34 Fat lowers stroke risk: study, by Jane E. Brody; Winnipeg Free Press, December 26, 1997; p. B1.