Fat isn’t making you fat
Awareness of our modern obesity epidemic is gaining traction, and that’s a good thing. There’s no shortage of obesity statistics – most of us are aware that global obesity has reached epidemic proportions, affecting rich and poor men, women, and children alike. Based on carefully calculated global estimates, there are more than 500 million adults around the world who are considered obese. Nearly 10 percent of men and 14 percent of women worldwide are obese. The obesity rate has almost doubled since 1980.1
We’re not short on obesity, but we are short on answers.
WHY THE MAINSTREAM OBESITY MESSAGE IS MISLEADING
When we’re talking obesity, the public is normally given this common advice: It’s time to make a change. The global obesity epidemic is one of the major contributors to several leading causes of death, like stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Healthy eating and active living can fix this.
This is true, but it is not the full picture.
These anti-obesity slogans still do not explain what it takes to create a change that fights obesity, improves health, and lengthens life.
This is where most of us are lost. This is why we feel like we are beating our head against a wall and can’t shake that extra weight, no matter how hard we try. The reason that most of us remain stuck – and at risk for disease – is simply the result of wrong information.
THERE’S NO REASON TO FEAR FAT
We’ve long been told that fat is making us fat, when this couldn’t be further from the truth. If you think back to the 1980s low-fat craze, a time when fat in food was avoided like the plague and harmful chemicals and sugar were eaten as a substitute, health did not improve. Our health has steadily gotten worse. This is because fat, rumored to cause obesity and contribute to disease, was not the problem.
New research blows this “low-fat theory” out of the water. You may have been told to avoid fat completely to manage your weight, keep cholesterol low, and prevent clogged arteries. This fat-phobic rumour has been circulated in the medical community for more than 40 years. We have been told to avoid saturated fats in red meat (not processed) and dairy, which may cause heart disease and obesity.
Dr. Aseem Malhotra, cardiology specialist at London’s Croydon University Hospital, says the opposite is true: Saturated fat is not the enemy of our health. The real enemy is trans-fat found in processed foods, fast foods, margarine, and baked goods. After being cautioned to avoid both trans-fat and saturated fat, the latest research suggests that saturated fat may actually be beneficial and could protect the health of the heart.2
If fat isn’t the problem, then what is? What is holding us back from maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of obesity-related disease? Here’s a hint: The answer is in your diet, but it has nothing to do with fat.
There are two food groups behind the obesity epidemic:
1. Processed foods
Processed foods sabotage your body by triggering inflammation and making it almost impossible to lose weight. Sugary foods, rich in empty calories and poor in nutrients, only fuel obesity further while increasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Want more proof? While exercise is important to curb obesity and related health conditions, it can’t beat out Really Healthy Foods. A 2015 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine asserts that “you cannot outrun a bad diet.” Sugar and carbohydrates are the top contributors to obesity. Exercise alone can’t guarantee weight loss. A poor diet filled with processed, sugary foods “generates more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined.”3
Foods like bread, pastry, cookies, potatoes, breakfast cereal, white rice, and pasta are indigestible by the delicate human gut. Not only do these foods create whole-body inflammation that contributes to chronic disease, but they affect your health and quality of life. Even your child’s IQ may be vulnerable to the junk food you eat – young children who ate more fruits and vegetables after starting solid foods had a higher IQ and better memory by age 4.4 Children who regularly ate junk food and sweets during the first two years of their life exhibited decreased IQ by age 8 compared to other children who did not eat the same processed foods.5
FOUR HIDDEN OBESITY TRIGGERS AND HOW TO FIGHT THEM
When you think about the hidden factors that sneak up and contribute to weight gain, the obesity epidemic makes perfect sense:
1. Processed Food Diet: We now know that processed foods and excess sugar are the problem. Really Healthy Foods, like vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, seeds, grass-fed meats and fish, and healthy oils, are an easy fix. Single-ingredient pasta alternatives made only with legumes are also available to satisfy a carb craving. This kind of nutrient-dense meal alternative can support the fight against obesity and reduce the risk of related health conditions, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
2. No Nutritional Support: High-quality supplements work hand-in-hand with Really Healthy Foods to support weight loss and protect against disease. Type 2 diabetes, a preventable lifestyle condition often caused by obesity, makes up 90 percent of all diabetes cases; diabetes was responsible for an estimated 1.5 million deaths worldwide in 2012.6 Even type 2 diabetes can be reduced and rehabilitated with the right nutritional support. A powerful nutrient like cinnamon can regulate blood sugar and cholesterol. Cinnamon has been shown to reduce cholesterol by about 18 percent and lower blood sugar levels by about 24 per cent.7
3. Inactivity: Exercise is secondary to diet when it comes to obesity risk, but your activity level still matters. If you find yourself sitting for most of the day and can’t find time to exercise or take a daily walk, the number on the scale will creep up, and your health will suffer. This lack of exercise also weakens the immune system, and a poor immune system leaves your body in overload, vulnerable to disease. Inactivity contributes to obesity, but a sedentary lifestyle can be deadly in and of itself. Lack of exercise has caused twice as many deaths as obesity; one 20 minute walk a day could reduce the risk of premature death by up to 30 percent, according to a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.8
4. Stress: Stress is another silent partner in the obesity game and a prime contributor to chronic disease. Stress causes cortisol in the body to skyrocket in what is known as the “stress response.” High cortisol levels over the long-term have been linked to poor immunity, blood sugar imbalance, disrupted sleep, and, of course, abdominal weight gain. Sleep deprivation is another chronic stressor that can increase obesity risk.9 Calming the stress response is critical if you hope to bring your body back to a healthy weight. B vitamins, taken along with L-Tryptophan and L-Theanine before bed, can counteract stress and subsequent weight gain by giving your body the chance to repair and reset.
There is hope for the widespread obesity epidemic affecting families and shortening lives. Now we know where to look for answers. When we change our food, nutrition, and lifestyle habits – and pass these ideas on to our kids – we can affect change at a global level. This is more than obesity awareness. This is Really Healthy Living that supports a new generation who lives longer, fuller lives.
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1. Finucane MM, Stevens GA, Cowan MJ, et al. National, regional, and global trends in body- mass index since 1980: systematic analysis of health examination surveys and epidemiological studies with 960 country-years and 9.1 million. participants. Lancet. 2011;377:557-67.
2. British Medical Journal, 2013; 347: f6340.
3. Br J Sports Med. doi:10.1136/ bjsports-2015-094911.
4. Gale CR, Martyn CN, Marriott LD, et al.
Dietary patterns in infancy and cognitive and neuropsychological function in childhood. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2009;50:816-823.
5. Smithers LG, Golley RK, Mittinty MN, et al. Dietary patterns at 6, 15 and 24 months of age are associated with IQ at 8 years of age. Eur J Epidemiol 2012;27:525-535.
6. “Diabetes.” WHO.
7. Diabetes Care. 2003 Dec;26(12):3215-8.
8. Am J Clin Nutr. First published January 14, 2015, doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.100065.
9. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2009 Oct; 16(5): 340–346. doi: 10.1097/MED.0b013e32832fa137.