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Can You or Can’t You?

  Photo by Jennifer Pallian
Photo by Jennifer Pallian

Have you ever noticed how confusing it can be to figure out what is healthy and what is not? Pick almost any food you can think of, run a google search on it and you will find reasons why its the next miracle cure, or how it is sure to be the root of a plethora of maladies.  Don’t believe me?  Take white rice for example. Your first reaction to that might be “Yum, but I’d better eat brown rice.”  I googled “benefits of white rice,” to see what might surface.  The first hit says your initial reaction is correct: refined carbohydrates such as white rice have long been shown to create blood sugar instability due to it’s lack of fiber.  It can also be seen as a source of “empty calories,” since key vitamins and nutrients such as protein, thiamine and calcium are stripped away with the bran. Check out Ten Reasons Brown Rice is the Healthy Choice.

The second hit says that we have been wrong all along: white rice has recently been shown to contain resistant starches that improve mood and hormone balance.  Wellness Mama writes a post, Is White Rice Healthy? and points out that brown rice has high levels of phytic acid, problematic for people with dental caries. Dig just a little deeper and you will find opinions that people aren’t fit to consume any grain whatsoever. 

Try this game with all sorts of foods: bananas are the worst food for your gut and the best, eggs cause high cholesterol and heart disease and no they don’t. Chocolate: bad, no, good.   Even cabbage, full of cancer-preventing nutrients also causes hypothyroidism if eaten raw. 

And then there is fat.  Those of you who tuned in to my recent free webinar, Eat Fat and Stay Smart, know that I am a big proponent of eating a diet rich in essential fatty acids and healthy fats. In fact, for more than two decades I have been telling people that fat is not nearly the problem sugar is. Kelly Brogan, MD, Cornell-trained psychiatrist, writes about this in her book, A Mind of Your Own. She stresses the importance of cholesterol in the maintenance of healthy cell membranes, balanced hormones and Vitamin D levels. Not only that, but cholesterol is “an essential fuel for neurons.” The brain is rich in cholesterol.  In spite of an opinion to the contrary on WebMD, a recent study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found a stunning correlation between higher cholesterol levels and improved memory scores.

And yet, for decades we have been told that cholesterol-rich foods create heart disease and dementia and that no-fat, low-fat, skim and otherwise altered whole foods, are the superior alternative. This line of thinking is so engrained in many of my patients that I have a hard time convincing them that eggs from healthy, free-range chickens are good for them, or that beef can be a top-notch food choice when sourced from grass-fed animals. Even more concerning is the rising number of patients prescribed statin (cholesterol lowering) drugs on a long-term basis, even when their cholesterol levels are below fasting 160.  It is not my place as a chiropractor to prescribe or unprescribe drugs, but Dr. Brogan takes a sharp look at the validity and safety of this class of drugs.  She calls them “some of the most toxic chemicals willfully ingested, with at least three hundred adverse health effects….”  A 2009 study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research followed 4500 veterans for over fifteen years.  Veterans with low cholesterol and depression were seven times more likely to die from suicide and un-natural causes.  James Greenblatt, MD, psychiatrist, highlights the role that over-prescription of statin drugs have played in chronic deficient levels of cholesterol levels and consequent depression, suicide and even violent behaviors seen in patients. 

Ghandi said, “The truth always rises to the surface.”  Wait long enough and enough evidence will provide the answers to a lot of these questions that we now struggle with. In the meantime, keep reading and learning.  Keep your mind open to the unexpected. Eat whole food, made with care and a little love even. Enjoy your meals with friends and family.  And seek balance between fear and freedom.

Find this interesting? Join me online for Keeping Your Brain Brilliant, a 6 week natural brain care program, starting January 16.

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