It's always difficult to understand why there are still people who believe antiquated and disproven myths. In the case of dietary fat, the increased head scratch happens when you look at scientists who still believe the farce. But a healthy search of pubmed will come up completely empty-handed with a single study that has ever shown dietary fat, even saturated dietary fat, contributes to any detrimental health effects. No study has ever shown that dietary fat is bad for you. At best, the researchers have already taken as a given that fat is bad, then reason something like this: "since fat is bad, more fat is very bad - now see how bad fat is." Wow. We're all dazzled by the brilliant logic.
It's weak thinking, but ubiquitous even among very smart researchers. One of the most recent occurrences was at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. The paper itself was entitled, "High Fat Diet Prompts Immune Cells to Start
Eating Connections Between Neurons." What an interesting title, given that high fat diets cure epilepsy, reverse certain forms of Alzheimer's, slow the progression of Parkinson's and are indicated in the amelioration of ALS. However, once you read the paper, you realize that the researchers conflated "high fat diet" with "obesity." Yes, being obese is an inflammatory condition. That inflammation surely prompts the immune system to destroy connections between neurons. Old news, guys. And...terrible terrible job at critical thinking. Absolutely no one has ever argued that increasing dietary fat will work well without restricting carbohydrates and/or protein intake.
Digging further into this study, you find that researchers padded their findings. Though the high fat group ate 60% of its calories from fat, the total amount of carbohydrates and protein was the same as the low fat group. So, both groups ate non-ideal diets, but the low fat group was enjoying the benefits of food restriction via fat, while the high fat group was enjoying the downsides of overall overeating irrespective of the fat content.
Even with a cursory once-through, you find that the research actually proved the exact opposite of the claim made by the researchers. At week 4, the high fat diet group had no detrimental effects. In fact, as long as their body composition remained unchanged, there was no damage to connections between neurons in the high fat diet group. By definition, this means that the line of causation cannot be drawn from dietary fat. Dietary fat is at worst entirely inert with respect to neurodegenration. However, at best, it's neuroprotective. Yes, weight gain via high protein and carbohydrate intake is easier when dietary fat is also high. No one has ever argued to the contrary.
SOURCE OF FAT: does it matter? Let's think for a second. Of course it does. Is it ever discussed in this or any other research determining the evil of fat? Nope. Yes, there are completely unthinking gurus who still say a calorie is a calorie and a macronutrient is a macronutrient. There's a very simple test to check if they even believe themselves: drink a bowl of snake venom. Snake venom is just protein, peptides and amino acids. I thought a calorie was a calorie, right? Well, drink up, guru.
Every once in a while, in order to perpetuate the calorie is a calorie myth, people invoke the one man "study" of Dr. Twinkie. This was an experiment a nutrition professor decided to run on himself. Allegedly, without any controls or oversight, he starved himself, breaking his fasts with exactly portioned small amounts of twinkies, exercised regularly, and lost 27lbs through the process. The findings have never been replicated or validated. Even if they were, all we're seeing is that someone can eat a small enough amount of something destructive and minimize the deleterious effects. We have all had arsenic if we've eaten apples or drunk apple juice, but we're all doing just fine because the dose was so small. In the same way, Dr. Twinkie can eat a small enough portion of poison that he can down-dose the inflammation normally associated with it. This proves nothing other than the dose makes the poison. Sound familiar? That's because Paracelsus was saying this in the 15th century.
So, unfortunately the layperson is continually bombarded with ill-constructed studies and weakly reasoned arguments, because, frankly, the smartest people in history have been wrong about something. Just because someone wears a lab coat does not make her impervious to the failings of human beings. Those same imperfect humans are the ones creating studies that argue dietary fat is harmful. Isaac Newton, perhaps the greatest mind humanity will ever know, founded modern science, physics, calculus and on and on we can go. But he also believed in alchemy. Oops. One of Newton's biggest fans, Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, even has a hard time with basic statistics. Oops.
Don't be afraid to go toe-to-toe with the seemingly most dispassionate studies. There are errors somewhere, always. To err is human. One day there will hopefully be a nutrition study wherein all tested groups have identical activity and kCals, one high fat diet group will have coconut oil, molecularly distilled fish oil and ghee from grass fed cattle and another high fat diet group will have garbage omega 6s from the standard American diet. THEN, we might learn something. Ahh, we can only hope.
Even the ancient Hebrews knew there was a difference between the meat from a humanely-killed animal and that from an inhumanely-treated animal. Lo and behold, an ill-treated animal is packed full of stress hormones, adrenaline and more susceptible to infection and subsequent rapid spoiling of its meat. Meanwhile, modern medical nutrition researchers can't even control for what type of fat, let alone the source, let alone the treatment and processing. Preposterous. This is not rigorous science. Dietary fat is not bad. Saturated dietary fat isn't bad. Red meat isn't bad. Those aren't even scientific claims. They are broad over-generalizing judgements. Please, just begin with a slightly more specific and thus scientific question: when controlling for all other variables, at what daily dosing per kilogram of body mass do we see detrimental outcome from the intake of saturated fat sourced from ill-treated bovine of X breed? So far, no one has even produced a rigorous enough study to tell us for sure that that fat is uniquely and solely causing a problem. The research is largely simple-minded and question-begging.
Why do people still believe dietary fat is bad? It's simple: they don't apply enough rigor in their thinking. There's a word for this: lazy.
To learn how to make dietary fat improve your body composition, health, fitness, wellness, cognition and relationships, click here.
Microbes control your mind. Seriously. This is not hyperbole. INSERM's Nutrition, Gut and Brain Laboratory in France just confirmed this previously discovered phenomenon: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-11/cp-gms111715.php. Other studies have shown that detrimental bacteria in our gut will cause a sense of unease (by irritating gut lining) when they have not received sugar for long periods of time. The irritation ceases when you feed them sugar, helping them proliferate in your gut, and further reinforcing for your own brain that you "feel good" when you have sugar.
In this particular research, scientists found that part of the reason we should wait 20 minutes after eating to see if we're full is because that is the length of time the now "full" bacteria have to signal your brain that they (and consequently you) are no longer hungry. They control you.
This isn't all bad. We want to feed bacteria... some of them anyway. By and large, some of the most archaic and helpful bacteria in our bodies feed off of ketones. You have been starving them and allowing your mind to be controlled by the baddies.
Maybe it'll be easier to put down that cinnamon roll, juice and cereal when you realize it's just to feed your bacterial overlords. Try periods of ketogenic nutrition, intermittent fasting, probiotics and fermented foods to retake your soul from the little brain washers.
To learn more about how to stop your mind from being controlled by bacteria, click here.
Is Your Precuneus Too Small?
Wataru Sato and others at Kyoto University have discovered why you're so unhappy: your precuneus is too small. Definitively we've found where some of the "happiness" is generated in the brain, and it's in the precuneus. People with more gray matter there are happier. People with less gray matter there are less happy and arguably less capable of happiness.
The good news is that mindfulness does increase the amount of gray matter in the precuneus:
If you are having a hard time firing up your happiness, growing more gray matter in the precuneus will help. Ensure you have some mindfulness time built into your daily practice.
What else can you do if your precuneus is undersized? Additional happiness builders are exercise, gratitude and forgiveness.
Repeatedly, exercise has been shown to be as or more effective at curing major clinical depression than drug therapies:
Hostility is known to depress serotonin and dopamine, shortening lifespan and reducing the capacity for happiness: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/. Johns Hopkins has a great page about the power of forgiveness with respect to completely healing PTSD, severe depression, and the prevention of heart disease and stroke:
Thus, a countering practice of gratefulness and forgiveness along with mindfulness and exercise can provide paths to greater overall wellbeing, even if you start with a too-tiny precuneus.
To learn more about how to improve mood, raise motivation and the like, click here.
The cultural resistance against reducing dietary intake of carbohydrates is palpable. Despite copious cogent arguments pointing out how humans improve at everything when they restrict carbohydrate intake long enough, people can't seem to help themselves or commit to the change long enough to see how profound it is. Fortunately, researchers at the Ohio State University have put to rest the last languishing excuse that people have for eating high carb diets: carbs improve endurance performance. Wrong.
Though we've known it can take a while to become great at fat-preferential metabolism (in this study, their low-bound was 6 months of keto-adapted dieting, and the average was 20 months!), this study proved that all of the physiological excuses typically offered to stick with carbs are bogus. Elite endurance athletes who eat 10% or less of their calories sources from carbohydrates had no diminishment of glycogen stores, glycogen replenishment, or glycogen metabolism in any measurable or meaningful way. Surprise, surprise, their body fat usage was twice as high (or more) than the high carb group.
Summary takeaway: carbohydrates are not needed to fuel performance, even when it is endurance activity. Thus, the layperson adult has NO NEED FOR CARBOHYDRATES. Strength and power athletes may have cause for higher intake than 10%, but, again, not shortly before performance, as it will only inhibit the use of fatty acids and ketone fuels. For recovery, after activity, it could be warranted. But this study even showed that glycogen replete rates were no different in the carb-restricted group.
Taste is Just in Your Head
Lots of clients tell us about how they have such a difficult time with new eating behaviors because of taste. These other foods "don't taste good," they protest. Nutritionists, dietitians, trainers and experts in the field have long tried to convince people that taste changes over time; thus it's a non-concern. But now scientists at Columbia University have proven that even the interpretation of "bitter" can be altered to "sweet" simply by shuffling around clusters of cells.
They argue the case that this level of taste is "hard wired" and unable to be altered through experience. That's actually an overstepping and erroneous takeaway from their findings, since we've known that we can reroute neurological pathways through learning and experience. Obviously, people change opinions, thoughts and tastes throughout their whole lives. We are firing action potentials across the brain and connecting different cells in different ways all the time.
In large part, the familiar only tastes good out of familiarity. Familiarity has untrained your intuition, so now your taste isn't even geared toward your needs. You can change this by changing the food you eat, plying through the initially difficult road of unfamiliar food, and eventually coming to love it. People who are more stubborn will take longer. As the Columbia Researchers proved, simple cell alteration can turn "bitter" into "sweet." Though that big a shift may be at long reach for us (or out of our reach, as they argue), it does provide hope that moaning about the food you should be eating is simply an issue of interpretation. That can be changed. Change your interpretation. After all, it's just in your head.
Learn more about this and how to begin your change. Start Here.
Reverse Every Negative in Your Life
There's something in sociological science called the Rosenthal Effect; and it can be used to explain and (we argue here) reverse every negative interaction and thought in your life. In particular, look to this effect when trying to understand self-sabotage in your fitness or wellness program. Also called the Pygmalion Effect, it's been repeatedly confirmed as not just a theorized phenomenon but a sociological law more or less. The idea is that your expectation of someone else's behavior changes your own behavior to alter the environment in a way which will improve the likelihood of your initial expectation coming true. For example, if a police officer expects that a certain inner city youth will be more resistant than the next, she will behave in a way that improves the chances of that youth being resistant. Now, this isn't an offloading of responsibility (we will get to that shortly), because it is a two way street. If someone expects an officer to use excessive force, he will behave in a way that changes the environment such that excessive force likelihood goes up. Both began as objectively errant expectations. However, they become true, further reinforcing the expectations, and creating additional behaviors which perpetuate the negativity. If you look closely, you can see how inverting the expectations can begin to change the environment in increasingly positive ways. This is true for your own internal dialogue as well, creating a path of change and improvement where you previously doomed yourself to "failure" by expecting the wrong things.
One of the first variables we need to address within the Rosenthal Effect is allocation of responsibility or culpability. Humans have a great proclivity toward rounding. If person A is 49% or less responsible for something which person B is 51% responsible, person A will round his own responsibility to zero. That leaves us with person B at 100% responsible. The reality, in point of fact, as the reader should have noticed in the previous paragraph, is that it takes two to tango. Be careful. This isn't victim-blaming. It's a total reevaluation of how we like to ascribe blame. In politics and in social media outrage we see the constant invocation of rounding. It takes two to even invoke outward blame or be outraged. We can begin to change the environment by changing our belief that we ourselves are zero percent responsible for the outcome. Merely accepting that you may be 8% responsible and the other person is still 92% responsible at least frees you up to do something besides perpetuate the situation exactly as is.
Imagine if a school teacher expected that nothing he did helped his students. Throwing up one's hands is the ultimate rounding. Those kids are 100% responsible for their progress, right? And our provision of the education and how we engage them is zero percent responsible, right? Of course not. It's a two way street. In your life, you are many times both teacher and student. Don't forget that.
Going into internal dialogue, we have to talk about the fallacy of induction. In the rigorous study of logic, critical thinking and in the courtroom, there is an oft-cited argument that goes something like this: the sun will rise tomorrow because it has risen every day prior. That statement, though seemingly sensible at superficial first glance, is completely off the mark and rife with multiple erroneous beliefs. The sun will most likely rise tomorrow, but thanks wholly to Newtonian physics IF there are no bodies which unduly act on any other bodies in celestial motion. We can deduce that. Arguably, we cannot induce anything with full certainty. Dr. Phil might've gotten it partially right when he said the strongest indictor of future behavior is past behavior. But strictly speaking, that IS the fallacy of induction. There is no objective deductive formula leading from past behavior to future behavior. We aren't even the same physical body from one moment to the next. We turn over cells in the body faster than the U.S. postage stamp goes up in price.
Baseless accusation is a great motivator and capitalizes on the Rosenthal Effect. As the Salem witch trials proved, most people when aggressively prodded will confess to witchcraft even when they don't practice it. This is well-known in the world of interrogation. Confession isn't far from opening up the pathway to a behavior. In fact, in criminal psychology, it's just a given that someone will become brutal if most of the influences in his life expect brutality. Shaming pushes people to hide their thoughts and plans. Hurt people hurt people. That's not to say that if you call a kid "bad" you will predestine him to becoming "bad"... with 100% likelihood. If he becomes "bad," however, you may want to observe how that unnecessary jab and paranoid expectation shares some percent of blame. Praise, gratitude, affirmation, acceptance and the expectation of kindness can change all of that. Furthermore, expecting that you will adhere to your plan no matter what pressures will improve the likelihood of program success in whatever you endeavor to do. Be careful when saying, "I know myself; and whenever I... I will then...". That is a baseless accusation. Sure, there is honest self-evaluation. But then there's self-fulfilling prophecy.
Why are there people who do all the things you dream of doing while you are always miles away? In large part, they expect it from themselves. In some cases, their surroundings expect it from them. Meanwhile, you expect that the strongest indicator of future self is past self. That errant belief is preventing you from becoming your better self. Expecting that others around you will never support you is an errant belief preventing you from allowing others to help you.
Combining what we've learned about the Rosenthal Effect, improper outsourcing of responsibility and the fallacy of induction, there are insights into personal development. As you go through your week, look for examples in your own life where you have errant expectations preventing you from outcomes you really want. Both with others and within yourself, it's fairly easy to find these. Around a spouse or paramour you behave a certain way which improves their likelihood of acting the way you expect, good or bad. Expecting laziness from a subordinate or coworker, you engage them in ways that all but obligate them to laziness. Expecting from yourself that you will eat that candy bar in specific social settings is a familiar self-fulfilling prophecy. Analyze these. Examine why the expectations aren't true. Look for how you can recapture an additional 2%, 10% or even 76% responsibility and change the environment. Thus far, you've unwittingly changed your behaviors to influence outcomes you didn't want. Begin instead to train awareness and actively participate in the outcomes you really do desire. This isn't magical thinking. It is anti-magical thinking with real evaluation and hard strategy for an end to the negative.