To Carb or Not to Carb

By: Arthur Anderson

According to the news and social media, carbohydrates are going to kill us and we should remove them from our diet, and there are numerous studies proving this true.

I would like to take a moment to step back in time, not too long ago, to 1980. The U.S. government issued its first Dietary Guidelines.  In these guidelines they discussed avoiding too much fat, especially saturated fat, and cholesterol.  It is believed that these new guidelines for fat intake came from a study called the Seven Countries Study by Ancel Keys, and other studies Ancel Keys put together.

When these guidelines were released two influential groups grabbed onto the reduction of fat guideline and began to pressure manufacturers to remove fat from their products.  One group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, was strongly recognized among the media circles and used their clout to pressure manufacturers.  The other influence was from a millionaire, Phil Sokolof, who ran full page advertisements in the USA Today and the Wall Street journal, two of the largest circulars of the time, calling out fast-food companies and other food manufacturers to reduce/remove saturated fat in their products.

The result was that companies introduced low fat products or substituted saturated fats with trans fats (a polyunsaturated fat masquerading as a saturated fat).  News stories showed families removing all fat from their diets.  I know this is a weird bit of history but it’s strong in my memory because my family business was selling fats and oils during this time period, so bear with me for a bit.

Today we have come to the end of a 40 year experiment.  We have discovered that a low fat, high carbohydrate diet did not make us healthier like expected, it has had a profound opposite effect.  We have found that trans fats were worse than the saturated fats they replaced.  So with this information it’s natural to now assume that carbohydrates must be bad and removed from our diet.

Social media and the news outlets have grabbed onto the no carbohydrate mantra.  Numerous studies are coming out showing how a low or no carbohydrate diet is the best answer for your health.  Manufacturers are being pressured to remove sugar/carbohydrates from their products, replacing them with sugar-alcohols (Stevia, Erythritol) . Are you seeing a parallel?

Fast forward 40 years from now, what will we find with our no carbohydrate diet experiment?  Will we find that sugar-alcohol substitutes are as bad as trans fats?  Perhaps. But really, do we have to move from one extreme to the next without seeing the obvious.  We were put on this earth with a plethora of natural food choices that offer us a great balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat and they don’t come in a box.  Don’t embrace these extreme, agenda driven trends, just eat good natural food and I’m willing to bet that you will have great results.  Plus it will be a lot less stressful for your mind and your body.