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You are doing everything right, or so you think – waking up early, grabbing a bagel with that low cholesterol "butter spread" and a glass of orange juice before your five mile run; all before you have to start your eight hour work day. Feeling alert from the endorphins of your exercise regimen, it isn't until about 10:30 a.m. you start to feel that crash and need to reach for a cup of coffee with low-fat creamer. Sound familiar? We all strive each and every day to be our best selves – fit, motivated, happy, energized, and most of all HEALTHY.  And yet, with being in the most technologically advanced era to date, we are seeing record high numbers of individuals suffering from fatigue, depression, diabetes, heart disease, joint pain, obesity, colitis, high blood pressure, and the list goes on.

Did you know that before 1920, coronary heart disease was so rare that when "a young internist named Paul Dudley White introduced the German electrocardiograph to his colleagues at Harvard University, they advised him to concentrate on a more profitable branch of medicine"? 1 Today, more than 2,500 people die from heart disease in the United States each day; 3 million people in the UK are currently living with the disease, and in Australia over 50,000 lives are lost per year2.  So what has changed so drastically?  Let's examine the diet. In 1953, the diet-heart hypothesis was proposed stating dietary fats, including cholesterol, caused heart disease2. Traditional animal fats, including cholesterol, became the villain and people started replacing their diets full of red meat, animal fats, butter, eggs, whole milk, bacon, and sausage, with highly refined vegetable oils1, grains and processed carbohydrates to stay "heart healthy" and low fat. If this diet-heart hypothesis is correct, and we continue to substitute every fat-filled food with its non-fat counterpart, then why does the health of society continue to degrade? Have we missed something? 

Every single cell wall of the human body is made up of saturated fats and cholesterol.  Without them, the cells would be flabby and fluid2.  The human brain is extremely rich in cholesterol, using around 25% off all body cholesterol to function2. A mother's milk contains over 50% of its calories as fat1 and the infant digestive system is created to absorb 100% of the cholesterol within the breast milk for brain and eye development2. So, if fat and cholesterol is the very essence of life to a thriving infant, and every cell structure in the human body is dependent upon it to function, how did it become the villain?  Depriving the body of nourishing animal fats puts every major organ, especially the brain, under threat.

Now let's take a look at exactly what happens inside the body when the typical "healthy" individual consumes their low-fat, high carbohydrate and sugary breakfast of bagels and juice – The butter replacement you used was already rancid in the bottle before entering your body. The chemical structure of vegetables oils is very fragile, and through the manufacturing process, these oils are exposed to extremely high temperatures in which they become denatured and rancid. Your bagel and juice are digested and absorbed immediately as glucose (blood sugar) and is used for energy. However, the body was designed to absorb unprocessed carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, natural grains) slowly in order to handle the gradual increase of blood glucose and get rid of what it does not need2. With processed carbohydrates, glucose levels spike drastically and the body needs to pump out the hormone insulin to stabilize blood sugar levels. Did you know in order to metabolize just one molecule of glucose the body needs at least twenty-eight molecules of magnesium? Sweating during a workout further depletes magnesium levels, which can lead to heart muscle spasms and even sudden death in athletes2. This constant cycle leads to perpetual inflammation in the body and chronic vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Cholesterol is used as an antioxidant by the body to send to sites of inflammation to deal with tissue damage from free radicals, but under a low-fat diet, the body is depleted of its defenses. Without the army, the body will begin to break down and chronic health conditions begin to emerge. On a positive note, the body is very resilient.  Replacing processed vegetable oils with animal fats such as butter, lard, cod liver oil, meats, and egg yolks, as well as unprocessed and cold-pressed oils such as flax seed, sunflower, safflower, borage oil, and evening primrose oil has shown to support every function of the human body – cardiovascular health, brain support, digestive health, bone density, etc. 

Tomorrow when you wake up for breakfast before your morning run, "put your heart in your mouth."

1. "Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition."  Sally Fallon. Mary G Enig, Ph. D. New Trends Publishing. Pgs 1-17
2. "Put Your Heart in Your Mouth." Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD. Med Inform Publishing 2007.