Friday, 15 November 2013

Fats, Sugar, Diet and Cholesterol

A little while ago I did a full check up with the GP. This included the full bloods workup. Some things came back good .... others, not so much. Cholesterol was one of the readings that could have been better - both my HDL (known as good cholesterol) and LDL (known as bad cholesterol).

This happened at the time when our family had been under the full influence of the "low fat" is best attitude, so everything in our cupboards and fridge were low fat, fat-free, etc.
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It was right at the start of the "sugar is toxic" era, and I had my ears open and had been listening.
Not only did I feel that I was not on the right path, but it really did bug me that obesity statistics in Australia, and so many other countries had gone through the roof! How could this be when there were so many "better choices"available on the shelf?

So, I knew I had to make some changes to improve my Cholesterol readings.

Change 1: I increased the amount and type of physical activity, which wasn't hard, with the help of our Company Personal Trainer.

I also started reading labels and researching more of the theories behind the fat vs sugar debate.

I already knew that not all fats were equal, as some behaved differently in the body.  So I increased the foods in our diet which were said to contain helpful fats, like olive oil, tuna, and avocado to name a few.

Once I started label reading though, I was horrified by the high amounts of sugar, and sugar products that were in our everyday foods. Equally as horrifying, was the discovery of sugar added to foods right across the board, which seemed hard to justify. These foods were being processed excessively! I won't even go into the chemicals listed on the labels .... that is a whole other essay length blog post!

Surely, if you put so much sugar into the body, which is a processed food in itself, the body had to then break it down ... and in my mind, if you did not use the energy that the sugar provided .... wouldn't it too turn into fat???
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So, in summary, we had been eating many "low fat" products, which certainly did have a lower fat component than their counterparts, but every one of them had sugar added to them, some in significant numbers.

It also made sense to me to eliminate foods that were heavily processed and go back to basics. After all, if the scientific world could claim certain foods were bad for you one minute, like they have with eggs, wine, and chocolate, and then turn around to later claim that in fact they are good for you because of X, Y, and Z, then surely I could examine my choices and make a few educated guesses.

Change 2: We stocked up on eggs, lean meats, fish, butter, fruit and vegetables. We sourced as much as we could from the local producers, so it was as close to it's original, non-processed, chemical-free form. We also dramatically reduced the sugar in our diets to be closer to a "no-sugar or low sugar" level.
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So .... what about my cholesterol???
With another test, 6 months later, having changed from "low fat"choices back to full fat products, how did my scores fair????

The doctor assessed my results and said simply,
 "Whatever you are doing now, keep doing it!" 

My good cholesterol (HDL) had improved, and my bad cholesterol (LDL) had also improved ... and quite significantly!

This made me reassess everything I had been taught and heard about a healthy diet ....