We’re all busy. Really busy. And so we’re all guilty of sometimes just grabbing a quick scan of the headlines to inform our opinions, rather than reading on, past the sensational headline, to find out what an article is really saying and what the basis of the research has been.
There are a couple of articles which have caught my eye recently:
“Coconut oil is pure poison” was a recent headline for Sky and the Guardian, whilst the BBC has reported that “A low carb diet could shorten life expectancy by up to four years”.
Let’s look first at coconut oil.
We need fat in our diet. Healthy fat. But the advice to use processed vegetable oil that we’ve been given for the last 40 years has now been largely refuted by scientists. Instead, focus on the quality of fat you’re eating and eat a diverse range of fat. Coconut oil is a plant based saturated fat, and like other saturated fats, has unjustifiably had a bad rap in the last few decades.
Saturation basically refers to whether or not the carbon atoms in the fat are holding onto the maximum number of hydrogen atoms i.e whether they are “fully saturated” with hydrogen. Saturated fats, such as coconut oil, are more stable (less prone to oxidisation and rancidity) and this has huge positive ramifications for your health.
Saturated fat remains stable (unless cooked at too high temperature for some) unlike unsaturated fat which tend to oxidise and form free radicals in the body. Free radicals spell bad news for our health, they are toxic and can cause significant damage to living cells and tissues within the body in a process called “oxidative stress”. The best way to fight free radicals is to eat an essentially plant based diet full of antioxidants found in vegetables, fruits and some carefully chosen animal products as we highlight in our Food for Life nutrition course.
Now, moving onto carbohydrates. Or rather the headline stating that a low carb diet could reduce your lifespan. Let’s face it – we’d all like to keep those four years, so shall we eat more carbohydrate?
When you actually take the time to read the whole article, the study really advocates that a moderate intake of carbohydrate, whilst swapping some meat for plant based protein and fat, is healthier.
We need to be more specific about the types of carbohydrate that are most healthy too. We want to avoid refined carbohydrates, and instead focus on complex carbohydrates (high in fibre, high in nutrients with a low GI). These are easier for the body to process. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of carbohydrate, full of antioxidants and minerals to help you combat illness and keep in good health. So eat more of them. A lot more.
No one diet fits all. Your job, the weather, your lifestyle and what you want to achieve will all affect what combination of foods will work for you.
If you want to know more about nutrition, the primal way, why not consider our Food for Life nutrition course, written for us by nutritionist, Sonnda Catto, which introduces you to the concepts of the Primal diet, helps you make the first steps towards adopting the Primal diet cultivate a healthy relationship with food.