by McClane Duncan, ND
I’ve had several patients and friends approach me about a new documentary proclaiming the evils of fats and proteins and singing the praises of sugar. Of course being that I’m a naturopathic physician who treats cardiovascular disease and diabetes with diet and lifestyle modification, I had to investigate.
What I found was a little shocking and, quite frankly, a little irritating. The film featured physicians proclaiming sugar was not to blame for diabetes and heart disease. Despite the film’s agenda-driven half-truths to lambasting fats and proteins, it did talk about the importance of eating clean environmentally friendly food.
In an effort to clear up some confusion here are some of the facts that I believe the film misrepresented:
MYTH: Fats cause diabetes and raise cholesterol leading to heart disease.
TRUTH: Fats alone do not cause diabetes and heart disease. Diabetes is a result of too much sugar remaining in the blood stream due to either insulin resistance or lack of insulin. It is true that fatty acids do reduce insulin sensitivity. However, fat and sugar should not be consumed together in equal parts. Eating sugar causes an increase in insulin levels in the blood. Insulin is an energy storage molecule promoting fat storage and fatty acids are an energy burning molecule. They oppose one another.
TRUTH: Cholesterol does not cause heart disease and is not ultimately responsible for clogging the arteries (atherosclerosis). In the cardiovascular system, cholesterol’s function is to heal damaged arteries and veins. Cholesterol can be compared to a Band-Aid covering a skin wound where they both form a protective barrier to facilitate healing. Cholesterol becomes dangerous in the arteries when it is in the presence of inflammation and oxidation where it hardens, blocking arteries. Blaming cholesterol for heart disease is like blaming gas pumps for empty fuel tanks or firemen for fires.
MYTH: Sugar can be consumed without causing diabetes and heart disease.
TRUTH: Again, sugar causes the release of insulin which stores energy in the form of adipose tissue (fat tissue). The more adipose tissue you carry on your body, the more insulin resistant you become. Sugar is also inflammatory and responsible for the degeneration of the kidneys, small nerves in the hands and feet, eyes and brain. If you don’t believe me, look up the signs and symptoms of diabetes or Type III Diabetes of the brain. Furthermore, the production of energy from sugar produces more free radicals (inflammatory) than does the production of energy from fat.
Not one diet is good for everyone as we are all individuals having our own biochemical idiosyncrasies. I suggest that before you drastically change the way you eat or give up on eating entirely, speak with a functional nutrition expert. The practitioners at Siskiyou Vital Medicine can help you discover what diet is right for you and give you the tools to become your very own nutrition expert.