It took me a while to understand that, but after having published dozens of books about diet and nutrition, and having read much more, I have reached the conclusion that our knowledge is still very limited.
The story of cholesterol is a perfect illustration. In the 50’s with Ancel Keys’ Seven Countries Study, America started to think that fat was a bad thing and a low-fat high carb diet began to be officially recommended.
War on fat
Gradually, the idea became mainstream and people started to remove fats from their diet, replaced saturated fat by unsaturated fat which means eating margarine instead of butter.
Of course, the industry followed the trend and started to produce light or fat-free options. There is a problem when you remove the fat, you need to put something else instead. And it is carbs or sugar. It leads to a paradox: « light » often means « with more calories than the plain option ».
My doubts began when I discovered Dr Lustig’a conference Sugar The Bitter Truth. It’s a must see to understand the situation.
In the same time we were reducing the fat intake and changing our diet, the proportion of obese people in the population grown exponentially, as for auto-immune diseases, and for diabetes, we hear about an epidemic. There is something wrong.
What’s wrong is that we don’t really know what is a balanced diet. And the reason is extremely simple: what we eat reflects more our beliefs than our knowledge.
The options and trends
Here is a quick list of some of the nutritional systems I often meet. Of course, we always believe the other’s system is based on beliefs. Please comment if I have forgotten yours:
– calories based and low fat. These are the official recommendations.
– proteins diet, typically Dr Dukan’s. Very efficient on the short run.
– low-carbs High-fat also called Ketogenic or Atkins
– vegetarian or vegan
– Kosher or Halal
– fasting and intermittent fasting, Warrior diet.
– gluten free
What should we do?
This abundance of systems is quite disturbing and behind every kind of food, you will find experts, authors, studies that will explain either they are bad or good.
My position is a balance between low carb and what my grandma used to say:
Un peu, de tout.
(Some, of everything).