Monday, 30 June 2014


I apologise in advance for my rant below. Actually, no I don't because I feel this is important.

Where to start?

I first started to question 'conventional wisdom' (CW) regarding diet and exercise (that is: guidance from the government and old wives tales) when I was about halfway through my online Nutrition and Health course, which I started in April this year. I started the course as my interests in nutrition kept growing after I learned so much about digestion, food, diseases and related immune responses since having to change my diet; I wanted to learn more. I was looking forward to the course confirming what I knew about food - the functions of macro- and micro-nutrients, the implications of eating too much sugar and the benefits of keeping active - but also teaching me about the relationship between diet and disease. However, the deeper I delved into the course, the more I found myself disagreeing with many of the statements being made about what to eat and why.

The course's content is based on current guidance from the Food Standards Agency and the NHS. This guidance, including the 'Eat Well Plate' as shown above, is taught and practiced in schools, hospitals and displayed on manufactured food labels. It is what many refer to as 'conventional wisdom' as it is generally accepted to be true by most of the western world. Here are some of the 'nuggets' of guidance I disagree with in grey, and why I disagree in orange:

Fat & Dairy

  • Fat should make up less than 4% of our diet;
  • Fat is the body's preferred and most reliable form of energy, therefore it should make up at least 50% of our daily intake;
  • Saturated fats should be avoided;
  • Saturated fats are essential to the human body. They allow calcium to be absorbed and support the immune system;
  • Children can consume full fat dairy, but once they become adults they should only have low fat varieties. According to the CW food pyramid this group should make up 15% of our diets;
  • We are not supposed to drink the milk from other animals. Most people are lactose intolerant to a certain degree, and dairy is growth promoting. As human adults are no longer growing, this can cause undesirables such as acne. However, this isn't the case for grass-fed butter. 


  • Carbohydrates should make up 1/3 of our diet in the form of bread, cereals, potatoes, pasta, beans and lentils. That's 6-11 portions a day;
  • We have only been eating grains since the beginning of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Our genes were programmed 2 million years ago, therefore our digestive systems have not yet adapted to process grains. Consuming them is asking for trouble, both short term and long term;
  • Children should be fed fortified cereals (artificially added iron, calcium and vitamin D) for breakfast so they get extra vitamins and minerals;
  • If children are provided with a healthy diet full of meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruit they won't need 'extra' vitamins and minerals;
  • Wholegrains are essential for adequate fibre intake;
  • Eating adequate vegetables will provide your body with enough fibre. Basically, grains are meant for birds who have digestive systems that can cope.


  • The NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate cardio and 75 minutes of intense cardio a week;
  • You should only do moderate/intense cardiovascular exercise if you enjoy it or need to improve cardiovascular health. I personally find it boring. Body weight exercises and lifting heavy things are much better for you;
  • People should exercise to keep weight at a healthy level;
  • Managing weight levels is around 80% dietary effort, and chronic cardio will work against you making you crave sugar carbohydrates.

It is apparent to me and many others that current government guidance is outdated - most of it was enforced in the 1970s. Why are we getting fatter? Why is there so much heart disease and diabetes?

It's not fat that makes us fat, it's sugar.

Yes you read that right! When digested, refined carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and rice create an excess of glucose - more than our bodies can absorb. Insulin is therefore produced to get rid of it, and it does this by storing it as fat. If this occurs regularly, as the CW "Eat Well Plate" suggests it should, the body could develop an insulin intolerance. This known as diabetes type 2. What's more, fat cannot be burned whilst there is insulin in the system so it just stays put. This explains why so many people find that although they exercise to the point of fatigue and burnout, they still cannot burn off that stubborn fat.

I've only scratched the surface, but I'll stop here for now ;-) For further reading I suggest starting with the sources below and subscribe to my blog.

NB: I have mainly linked to articles which use science and case studies to prove their statistical statements. I am merely expressing my agreement with them. Please leave me comments - I'd love to hear your take!

Further reading

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...