The Science of Fat

It's happened! Everything I've learned and committed myself to over the last year has been overturned. I know because the New York Times is once again telling me so in an article titled A Call for a Low-Carb Diet. This little piece of wisdom was published this past weekend while the rest of us were off doing fun stuff instead of paying attention. So now, the 90 to 95 pounds I've lost, the prescription medicines I've stopped taking, the acid reflux I used to have being gone, the lower back pains I used to have being gone --- all that means nothing now. I need to take another look at my diet and fix it to add in more fat.

Of course, I'm being facetious. I most certainly cannot ignore the results that I've seen and suddenly change my diet based on this article or the study behind it.

But I do have a science background, and because of that, I can't ignore new scientific evidence when it becomes available either. And there's been a lot of science lately that has been telling us that eating a higher fat, low carb-diet may be healthy. Mark Bittman wrote a column titled Butter is Back a little while ago. Time Magazine did a cover story titled Ending the War on Fat.

So, what gives?

Here's the bottom line as I see it. The science  being reported on is being done against the standard American diet, not against the low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet that we follow. And in that regard, the science is showing that switching people who are on the standard American diet from trans fats to more monounsaturated fats or even to whole saturated fats is in fact improving their health. And switching people from eating high-carbohydrate simple sugars and processed foods to more wholesome fruits and veggies, even if cooked in olive oil, is also showing an improvement in their health.

But that doesn't prove anything to those of us on the low-fat WFPB diet because we weren't part of either the control group or the study group. So, we cannot draw conclusions from studies like that reported in this past weekend's New York Times. There are scientists who have done studies using people who follow a low-fat WFPB diet, and we of course know who those scientists are (Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Campbell, Dr. Barnard, etc.). And those studies are more relevant to us than are the studies currently being reported in the media that call for more of certain fats and fewer carbs.

And that's what we need to remember as we read more and more of these articles. For the average American, those articles might be helpful if it gets them to move more away from processed foods, excess sugars and trans fats. So, we can't knock the media or the scientists for what they're finding. We just need to remember that those kind of studies don't apply to us.