Big Fat Surprise: Eat Fat To Lose Weight

Back in 2006, my mother called me. She had news for me – big news. “Fat is a good thing,” she said. “If you want to lose weight, you need to eat more fat.” Acting on advice she had originally gleaned from a number of niche health blogs, including the Weston A. Price Foundation and Dr. Mercola, and ultimately confirmed through her own experience, she advised me to begin eating more healthy natural sources of fat. At first, I ignored her.

Like any good mother, she continued to pester me. She sent me e-mails: “All of your friends who eat low-fat diets should be worried about their hearts and their brains and their muscles and their reproductive organs,” she wrote. “This information won’t be mainstream for a few more years.” She sent me studies. She sent me articles.

Eventually, I found myself curious and I began to follow her advice. Over the course of several years, I lost weight so slowly that I barely noticed. What I did notice was that my energy levels and overall health improved. When I landed at a weight that was right for my body, I found that I was able to easily maintain the weight loss. I didn’t have to play games with myself. I didn’t have to pretend I was full when I wasn’t. I rarely thought about portion control. At restaurants, I usually finished my entire meal, while my girlfriends packaged up barely-nibbled dishes to take home. In fact, my metabolism increased so much that I noticed I could eat more than the vast majority of my friends.

Food was no longer a struggle. It was a daily pleasure. What had happened? I could eat whenever I was hungry and I almost always felt full after meals. I no longer had ravenous, obsessive cravings. If I wanted dessert, I ate dessert. I weighed less and I had more energy. I tried to exercise when I had time, but I didn’t adhere to a strict schedule. Girlfriends asked me, “What’s your secret? How do you eat so much?”

My diet looked something like this: Most mornings, I scrambled a couple of eggs and topped them with a few slices of melted cheese, an avocado, a chopped tomato, and salsa. (Colleagues were shocked by my breakfast: “You eat an omelet with cheese and an entire avocado every morning before work? But you’re so tiny!”) Instead of grabbing a “health” bar when I was on the go, I ate more nuts and cheese. At lunch and dinner, I ate more red meat and fish. I stopped buying non-fat and low-fat dairy products altogether, and replaced them with whole milk products. Soon I began to crave more fruits and vegetables, and so I ate more fruits and vegetables. I ate large green salads with chicken, cheese, nuts, avocados, and apples or organic strawberries. To cook, I used olive oil or butter – never vegetable oil. When I wanted to indulge, I made myself a heaping bowl of full-fat vanilla ice cream, typically topped with a banana, chopped dark chocolate, and peanut butter spooned out of the jar. Whenever possible, I avoided soy. I bought as much non-GMO, organic food as I could afford. I never consciously ate less bread, but soon I found that I went days at a time without eating bread; my body simply didn’t crave it.

“Eat more fat. Lose more weight.” It sounds like a gimmick, but it’s not.

It’s taken years for the mainstream media to catch on, but my mother was right. Almost a decade later, a number of publications are writing about it:

The Wall Street Journal | The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat And Heart Disease

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303678404579533760760481486

The New York Times | A Call For A Low-Carb Diet That Embraces Fat

The New York Times | Study Questions Fat And Heart Disease Link

The New York Times | Butter Is Back

NPR | Rethinking Fat: The Case For Adding Some Into Your Diet

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/03/31/295719579/rethinking-fat-the-case-for-adding-some-into-your-diet

NPR | Don’t Fear The Fat: Experts Question Saturated Fat Recommendations

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/03/17/290846811/dont-fear-the-fat-experts-question-saturated-fat-guidelines

NPR | The Full-Fat Paradox: Whole Milk May Keep Us Lean

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/12/275376259/the-full-fat-paradox-whole-milk-may-keep-us-lean

TIME Magazine| Ending The War On Fat

Ending the War on Fat

Men’s Health | What If Bad Fat Is Actually Good For You?

http://www.menshealth.com/health/saturated-fat

The Greatist | Everyone Was Wrong: Saturated Fat Is Good For You

http://greatist.com/health/saturated-fat-healthy

Despite the overwhelming evidence that diets high in fat are healthy, not everyone is on board yet. Last year, The Atlantic summed up succinctly how public health reform works: “slowly, based on mounting scientific evidence, against constant and mounting headwinds of public ridicule and, much more important, industry lobbying and advertising.” As is usually the case when the medical establishment is wrong, positive change can take two to three decades–or even more–to take full root. Doctors and nutritionists often have trouble letting go of the facts they studied so hard during medical and graduate school. Today, some health advocates are still dangerously confused; these misinformed doctors and nutritionists erroneously promote low-fat dairy products. Many of these doctors believe their patients won’t be able to exercise “restraint” if they eat high-fat foods; what they don’t understand is that fat is satiating and when people eat healthy sources of fat, they tend to desire–and consume–less of everything.

Of course, the source of fat matters. A diet high in processed deli meats and sausages is not good for anyone. A diet high in McDonald’s burgers is not the same as a diet high grass-fed steak. Trans fats, which are found in donuts and processed foods, are not healthy; they are poisonous. But the evidence is in and the facts are simple: unsaturated fats–and yes, saturated fats, too–are good for you.

Make today the day you change. Stop playing games. Toss out the non-fat, the low-fat, the GMO soy. Learn about the sources of your food. Count ingredients, not calories.

Start enjoying your food–and your life.

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What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Hormonal Contraceptives

WE_BirthControl

Much of the current research about the safety of hormonal contraceptives has been funded by the very pharmaceutical companies that stand to profit from the sale of birth control. Couple this with the political debates surrounding women’s reproduction—at a time when many feminists feel the pill is the answer to women’s liberation—and we have a nation of women in the dark about birth control.

Here are the facts: The pill works by stopping ovulation. When a woman swallows the hormones in birth control, her ovaries stop releasing eggs. This may sound minor, but the monthly release of that tiny egg is responsible for a number of important processes in a woman’s body. While it’s true that hormonal birth control can prevent pregnancy, do you know what else it does?

9 Facts You Need To Know About The Pill

  1. The hormones in the pill increase your risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer, and liver cancer. If you have a family history of any of these diseases, you are especially at risk. There’s a reason why the World Health Organization classifies hormonal contraceptives—along with tobacco, asbestos, and radium—as carcinogens. According to BreastCancerFund.org, “Numerous studies have demonstrated an increased risk of breast cancer in women using oral contraceptives (Althuis, 2003; Dai, 2009; Delort, 2007; Kumle, 2002; Rosenberg, 2009). This is not surprising….” As one surgeon explained, the birth control pill is a ‘Molotov cocktail’ for breast cancer. The facts are frightening: “A 2006 Mayo Clinic meta-analysis concluded that breast cancer risk rises 50 percent for women taking oral contraceptives four or more years before a full-term pregnancy. In 2009, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that women starting the pill before 18 nearly quadruple their risk of triple negative breast cancer. Even more shocking, Swedish oncologist Hakan Olsson concluded that pill use before the age of 20 increases a young woman’s breast cancer risk by more than 1000 percent,” reported LifeSiteNews.

As one surgeon explained, the birth control pill is a ‘Molotov cocktail’ for breast cancer.

  1. The pill causes hair loss. According to the American Hair Loss Association, “The AHLA believes that it is imperative for all women, especially those who have a history of hair loss in their family, to be made aware of the potentially devastating effects of birth control pills on normal hair growth.” Of course, this is one of the side effects your doctor might mention after you experience it. If the possibility of losing your hair would be especially upsetting for you, that’s something to take into consideration before taking the pill.
  1. The pill increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. The correlation between oral contraceptives and brittle bones is so well-established that the New York Times mentions birth control as a known cause of osteoporosis in their basic overview of the disease. The New York Times goes on to recommend that “women who take birth control pills should be sure to get adequate calcium and vitamin D from diet or supplements.” But there’s just one problem with this recommendation…
  1. The pill depletes your body’s natural stores of vitamins and minerals. Studies confirm that women who take the pill have lower levels of B vitamins like folate, fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), zinc, and iron. Regardless of how much you consume, birth control pills lower the levels of these nutrients in your body. Clinically, it can be nearly impossible to bring these vitamins up to ideal levels while taking the pill. In fact, this is one of many reasons why OBGYNS recommend that women wait several months to get pregnant after going off the pill—to give your body time to replenish those depleted stores and adequately nourish new life.

Clinically, it can be nearly impossible to bring vitamins up to ideal levels while taking the pill.

  1. The pill increases your risk of blood clots, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, and stroke. While your overall risk may be small, these side effects are deadly. Yet so many doctors write prescriptions for birth control without so much as mentioning these potential side effects to their patients. If you take birth control, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of a blood clot, heart attack, stroke, or pulmonary embolism. Men, is not wearing a condom really worth subjecting your girlfriends and wives to these life-threatening risks? 
  1. The pill increases the likelihood that you will experience anxiety and depression. When you alter a woman’s hormones, you alter her emotions. Here’s just a sampling of the mood-related side effects that women report after taking the pill: mood swings, anxiety, depression, and lowered libido. When woman are fertile, they are healthier, happier, and have a higher sex drive. (It’s all part of nature’s tricky little plan!) That’s why many women who take birth control, which destroys fertility, report a loss of interest in sex. Even worse, these mood-related issues don’t always disappear immediately after a woman stops taking the pill. It can take months to regulate your hormones again after birth control. This is the type of information that good doctors should share with their patients before they begin taking birth control.
  1. The pill destroys your natural ability to choose a genetically compatible mate. Did you know that beneath the scent of soap, shampoo, or cologne, every man has a natural scent that helps women subconsciously sniff out genetic compatibility? Call it nature’s way of ensuring healthy offspring. In our logic-based, online-dating-obsessed world, many women forget that the process of mate selection is, on some levels, instinctual—and for good reason. From a scientific perspective, the more gene variability between two partners, the healthier their offspring will be. Even better, you don’t have to think about this process; nature takes care of it for you. In a study that asked women to sniff the sweat of male strangers, women expressed strong preferences for the body odor of men with major histocompatibility (MHC) genes that differed from their own. However, this was not the case for women who were taking hormonal contraceptives; women on the pill were unable to identify their genetically-compatible mates. What this means is that women on the pill are, in theory, not attracted to the odor of genetically-compatible strangers, nor are they repulsed by the odor of male family members. Other studies have shown that women on the pill choose less masculine, more feminine mates. These findings have led some scientists to question whether hormonal birth control is impacting the health of future generations. Could women who choose their mates while taking birth control—even if they ultimately stop the pill to conceive a child—have babies with more birth defects, more childhood disorders, lower rates of immunity, and higher susceptibility to illness? And if you don’t find your partners’ natural scent attractive—but you don’t find this out until years into the relationship when you’re ready to conceive a child and stop taking the pill—could that impact whether you feel attracted to your partner for the long haul?

Women on the pill were unable to identify their genetically-compatible mates… These findings have led some scientists to question whether hormonal birth control is impacting the health of future generations. Could women who choose their mates while taking birth control—even if they ultimately stop the pill to conceive a child—have babies with more birth defects, more childhood disorders, lower rates of immunity, and higher susceptibility to illness?

  1. The pill robs you of your most attractive time of the month: ovulation. As if birth control wasn’t complicating your dating life enough already! When a woman ovulates—that is, the 24-48 hours during which her body releases an egg each month—she becomes more attractive to men. Her face appears more symmetrical and more feminine, her voice sounds more appealing, her pupils dilate, her waist-to-hip ration becomes more attractive, and her vaginal secretions change in taste and scent. Because the pill stops ovulation, the pill robs you of this time. What woman doesn’t want to have a few extra days of the month where she looks and feels her very best? A well-known study of strippers found that au natural strippers made significantly more money overall than their pill-popping sisters ($53 per hour vs. $37 per hour on average) and made twice as much money while ovulating ($70 per hour).

The sad truth is that for some women, taking the pill will mask fertility issues that could have been addressed at a younger age—if only the woman was not taking the pill and knew she was having symptoms… Other women will experience “post-pill amenorrhea,” the term doctors use to describe a lack of periods for 6 months or longer after stopping the pill. Doctors theorize that post-pill amenorrhea is caused by hormonal suppression of the pituitary gland, but it’s not fully understood why some women experience post-pill amenorrhea.

  1. The pill may impact your future fertility. Did you know that birth control can impair your future fertility? Even well-intentioned organizations that genuinely want to empower women through birth control hide this fact from women. Why? Perhaps they are concerned that women will forego birth control altogether and suffer an unwanted pregnancy. Perhaps they underestimate the number of intelligent, ambitious women who will ultimately want children in the future—even if they don’t right now. Fortunately, there are safe, effective alternatives to hormonal contraceptives and it’s your right to know your options. The sad truth is that for some women, taking the pill will mask fertility issues that could have been addressed at a younger age—if only the woman was not taking the pill and knew she was having symptoms. Unfortunately, many woman stop taking the pill when they want to conceive a child, and by then, it’s sometimes too late to address these issues. While many women will go on to have healthy babies after taking the pill, other women will experience “post-pill amenorrhea,” the term doctors use to describe a lack of periods for 6 months or longer after stopping the pill. Doctors theorize that post-pill amenorrhea is caused by hormonal suppression of the pituitary gland, but it’s not fully understood why some women experience post-pill amenorrhea. The first line of treatment is simply to wait for a “spontaneous” resumption of the menstrual cycle; however, this is dangerous, impractical advice for a woman in her late twenties or early thirties who wants to conceive. For these women, treatment usually involves the fertility drug Clomid, which may or may not work. Here’s what your doctor won’t tell you about birth control: If there’s a chance you may want children in the next few years, stop taking the pill now, track and learn about your cycle, and use a non-hormonal method of birth control for the interim.

Make the choice to take charge of your health. If you have a woman in your life whom you love, please keep her safe by sharing this article with her. There are safe, convenient alternatives to hormonal birth control, from condoms to the Fertility Awareness Method. Before making a decision about birth control, research your options and know the risks.

 

 

Dasani Bottled Water Has 4 Ingredients: Tap Water, Known Teratogen, Lethal Drug, and Salt

Dasani Coca-Cola

I remember the first time I tasted Dasani bottled water. It was 2004 and I was at a gym in Orange County, California. The drinking fountain at the gym was out of order so I purchased a bottle of water from a vending machine. I cracked open that lid and—YUCK! I had never tasted water so disgusting. Who knew water could have such a strong taste? At the time, I assumed my taste buds were off and eventually I drank Dasani bottled water again… always with the same reaction. Gross! I’ve finally learned my lesson. Unless I’m extremely parched, I would rather remain thirsty than drink Dasani. While everyone’s bodies are different, I personally have a visceral reaction to Dasani. After drinking Dasani, my stomach sometimes hurts and I almost always have terrible dry mouth. Have you noticed any of these side effects after drinking Dasani?

Years later, during a trip to Costco, I noticed that Costco brand Kirkland Signature water lists several ingredients added “for taste.” Out of curiosity, I drank the water and—light bulb!—there was that familiar, metallic Dasani taste. It seemed clear to me that Costco and Dasani had shared water “recipes.” When I noticed that Costco brand water had multiple ingredients in addition to water, I wondered if Dasani had additives as well. What I learned surprised me. Not only does Dasani water have additives, but these additives are known to cause much more than dry mouth and abdominal pain. These chemicals can, at high levels, cause birth defects and death.

Dasani bottled water contains four ingredients: tap water, magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride, and salt. The Dasani label claims these ingredients are added for taste, and while that may be true, these ingredients change a lot more than taste. Do you know what’s really in your bottled water? 

Dasani Ingredient #1: Tap Water. It’s no secret that Dasani, which is owned by Coca-Cola, bottles tap water. In general, I have no problem drinking tap water. Although tap water often tastes noticeably different from spring water, I acknowledge that drinking tap water is an environmentally conscious choice…. but bottling tap water?! That seems to defeat the purpose. If you’re going to drink tap water, drink it from the tap.

Dasani Ingredient #2: Magnesium Sulfate. AKA Epsom Salts or Bath Salts. FDA Pregnancy Category D Teratogen, Drying Agent, and Laxative. On its own, anhydrous magnesium sulfate is a drying agent. (Side note: Could this explain the strange dry mouth I experience after drinking Dasani water? It’s ironic that Coca-Cola has added a “drying agent” to a beverage that is intended to quench thirst. If trace amounts of magnesium sulfate residue remain on your tongue after you drink a bottle of water, making it difficult to quench your thirst, it seems reasonable to question whether this might encourage you to purchase another bottle of water or perhaps a soft drink, either of which would benefit Coca-Cola. Could this be a dangerous ploy from the marketing masterminds at Coca-Cola?) In addition, magnesium sulfate has many powerful purposes in medicine. Off label, it has been used to delay labor by inhibiting uterine contractions in pregnant women. However, this practice is declining because recent studies show that magnesium sulfate causes birth defects at high doses. After studies suggested that just 5-7 days of in utero exposure to high doses of magnesium sulfate caused birth defects, the FDA recommended that magnesium sulfate be classified as a Category D Teratogen. Coca-Cola would probably prefer that the many pregnant women drinking Dasani water don’t know that an ingredient in their water can, at high doses, affect unborn babies. So what exactly happens to the babies of mothers who are exposed to high doses of intravenous magnesium sulfate? After just 5-7 days, exposed babies experienced bone structure changes and weaker bones. For these reasons, magnesium sulfate is now listed as a known teratogen (Pregnancy Category D) with positive evidence of human fetal risk, according to the FDA. Yes, Dasani water lists a known teratogen as an ingredient. As with any chemical, the dose makes the poison, but I personally choose to avoid water with additives. You can learn more about the FDA’s position here. One more thing: Magnesium sulfate is known to have a “bitter taste.” So why is Coca-Cola adding it to their already foul-tasting water?

Dasani Ingredient #3: Potassium Chloride. FDA Pregnancy Category C. Potassium chloride is commonly used as a fertilizer, but it’s also used in lethal injections to stop the heart and, in some cases, in late trimester abortions to stop the heart of the fetus. Interestingly, potassium chloride is known to have a “weak, bitter, unsalty flavor” with a “chemical or metallic aftertaste” which again calls into question how this ingredient could possibly improve the “taste” of poor-tasting Dasani water. If you would like to learn more about the role of potassium chloride in lethal injections, you might be interested Stephen Fox’s article, “Can Ingredients In Dasani Bottled Water Kill You?” over at The Water Filter Lady’s BlogIn addition to possible birth defects, the list of side effects from potassium chloride is endless: bowel lesions, gastrointestinal disruptions, cardiac arrhythmias, muscle weakness, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dyspepsia or heartburn, GI tract bleeding, hypersensitivity, nervous system damage, and more. While potassium and magnesium are found in natural food sources – and are, in their natural forms, vital to the body – anytime you separate a chemical compound from their natural food sources, they may behave differently than they would in their natural forms. That’s why it’s very difficult to overdose on bananas, but much easier to overdose on potassium chloride. That’s also why so few people are able to successfully use processed foods to lose weight and stay healthy. How much potassium chloride is added to Dasani water? Do you trust Coca-Cola and Dasani to make that decision for you?

Dasani Ingredient #4: Salt. As I’ve written before, I believe that table salt gets a poor reputation simply because sodium is added to almost all processed foods. While table salt itself is rarely dangerous, adding unspecified amounts of sodium during “food processing” can absolutely create unnecessary health issues for many people. While one bottle of Dasani water may not have much salt, if you drink six or seven bottles of Dasani water in one day, suddenly the amount could be much higher. That said, the real concerns are magnesium sulfate and potassium chloride.

Dasani is not the only manufacturer selling water with additives. Next time you buy bottled water, take a look at the ingredients. There should only be one: water. 

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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist, nor do I claim to have any formal medical background. I do not claim to cure any condition or disease. I am unable to provide medical aid or nutrition for the purpose of health or disease. Before making any dietary changes or beginning any new fitness program, please consult with your doctor. The information held on this blog is merely the opinion of an active, health-conscious, informed citizen. The research and information covered in this blog is open to the public domain for discussion. All information is intended only to help you cooperate with your doctor, in your efforts toward desirable weight and health.

Is all food created equally?

Mark Bittman’s recent column in the New York Times, “Which Diet Works?” asks an unpopular question:  Could the prevailing diet wisdom of the last several decades — ie. to eat low-fat food in order to lose weight — be wrong?  Bittman concludes:

The message is pretty simple: unprocessed foods give you a better chance of idealizing your weight — and your health. Because all calories are not created equal.

Some foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are naturally low in fat.  Other foods, such as nuts, avocados, and most meat and dairy products, are naturally higher in fat.  For decades, food manufacturers have capitalized on the low-fat craze by convincing Americans that they needed them to manufacture healthy, low-fat food.

It seems obvious that altering the natural chemistry of high-fat food — such as milk, cheese, ice cream, etc. — would be harmful to the body.  But that’s been the popular advice for years now.

In reality, science tells a very different story.  Bodies prefer natural foods — whether they are naturally low in fat, or naturally high in fat.  A finding by the long-running Nurses Health Study at the Harvard School of Public Health suggested that women who consumed low-fat dairy products were more likely to experience infertility as a result of lack of ovulation.  The study was published in the peer-reviewed European journal Human Reproduction in 2007.

Fertility has always been one of nature’s markers for whether the environment (one component of which is the availability and quality of food) is hospitable and nutritious enough to support new life. According to the study, women who consumed high-fat dairy products were 27% less likely to experience trouble conceiving — even when all other factors were considered.

A correlation between eating low-fat dairy products and infertility is a pretty convincing one to me!