Let's chew the fat — Part 2

Ask Your Chiropractor

With Dr Chris Davis

Sunday, May 17, 2015

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This is the second in a four-part piece exploring the problem with "low-fat" and "non-fat" products.

DON'T automatically assume that a food with "low fat" on its label is better for you or will assist you to lose weight. Many low-fat, reduced-fat, and fat-free foods give you more than you bargained for.

A recent UK study found that 10 per cent of diet foods contain the same or more calories than the regular stuff, and that 40 per cent had more sugar. Research shows that a "low-fat" nutrition label leads all consumers, especially those who are overweight, to overeat.

Rather than take the label's word for it, digging a little deeper can help you make a healthier choice. If your goal is to keep cholesterol levels down or lose weight, "fat-free" isn't a magic bullet. In the world of marketing, "fat-free", "low-fat", "light", and "reduced-fat" products are readily available. Let's examine those terms and what they really mean:

"Fat-free" foods must have less than 0.5 gram of fat per serving.

"Low-fat" foods must have three grams of fat or less per serving.

"Reduced-fat" foods must have at least 25 per cent less fat than regular versions of those foods.

"Light" foods must have either 1/3 fewer calories or 50 per cent less fat.

Sometimes "fat-free" is also, well, taste-free. And to make up for that, food makers tend to pour other ingredients - especially sugar, flour, thickeners and salt into the products, which adds calories. If the foods aren't that appealing, then they will be less satisfying, so you may eat too much of them. Good for the one selling the foods, not so good for the consumer.


Think good fat, not fat-free.

When it comes to health, the type of fat you eat can be more important than the amount of fat you eat. The American Heart Association recommends keeping the amount of fat in your diet down to about 30 per cent. But what is also important is that you're eating the healthier fats, sometimes called "good" fats, which include both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats (like canola and pure olive oils) are those that have been found to lower the LDL "bad cholesterol" in the bloodstream and raise the amount of HDL "good cholesterol", which appears to actually clear the "bad" types of cholesterol from the blood. Polyunsaturated fats found in fatty fish such as tuna and salmon (both are best if deep sea caught to avoid mercury contamination) help lower LDL cholesterol. Those do not include saturated fats, which are found in animal products (beef, pork, butter, and other full-fat dairy products), or artificial trans-fats, found in partially hydrogenated oils.

Choose lean cuts of meat and fish, healthy dairy products and eliminate trans-fats from your diet as much as possible. All this isn't to say that fat-free products have no role in a heart-healthy diet. But to use them wisely, experts suggest that you read the food labels. Before eating a fat-free food, make sure the product isn't loaded with sugar or additives, and that it's actually lower in calories than the regular version. Also check the serving size.

Fortunately, the low-fat dogma of the late 20th century and early 21st century is slowly being accepted as the awful nutrition advice it really has been. As a matter of fact, Sweden recently became the first Western nation to adopt a low-carb, high-fat approach to nutrition. Way to go, Sweden!

Regarding the importance of dietary fat, a simple explanation from a biological standpoint is preferred. I find this is more effective than a thick stack of controlled studies showing that saturated fat consumption doesn't cause heart disease. Nonetheless, the studies do show that saturated fat intake has no correlation with heart disease should the reader care to research it on their own.

If you are currently paranoid about eating fat, this will give you the knowledge and due sense of urgency to correct your diet. If you already consume a balanced-fat diet, this will provide you with information to share with those who are curious or suspicious of your unconventional eating habits.


Low fat is a bad idea. The gallbladder stores bile, which digests fats. The presence of fats in a meal signals the gallbladder to release bile into the digestive tract, and the bile emulsifies the fat so we can absorb it. But what happens when we only have a few measly grams of fats in our meal? Bile release isn't signalled, so bile sits in the gallbladder, turning thick and viscous.

In a vicious cycle, it becomes more difficult for the gallbladder to release bile when bile is thick, so it just gets thicker in the gallbladder. Then, if we do eat a meal heavy in fat, the gallbladder can't squeeze out the thick bile and the fat passes through our digestive tract undigested and unused for critical tasks in the body. To make matters worse, the body becomes increasingly toxic because the bile stores toxins and hormones that need to leave the body. If we don't get rid of that bile, those toxins and old hormones just sit there and can be recirculated.


When it comes to the gallbladder, the rule is "use it or lose it". This makes sense, as we see soaring numbers of gallbladder removals from people who have consumed a low-fat or poor fat diet in the past.

What happens to the gallbladder after months or years on a low-fat diet? After a short stint on a low-fat diet, we can create serious gallbladder congestion due to that thick, sticky bile sitting in the gallbladder. Eventually, gallbladder attacks and gallstones occur. If you currently experience gallbladder problems or have had your gallbladder removed, you should gradually increase your fat intake and take targeted supplements, including ox bile. I recommend working with a nutritional therapist or naturopath to address the problem.


Vitamins A, D, E, and K are found in fatty foods, because they require lots of fat for absorption. As recorded by nutrition pioneer Weston Price, traditional diets of cultures from around the globe contained 10 times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins than the modern diet. The nourishing animal foods considered sacred by traditional cultures, such as dairy products, fish roe, and organ meats, deliver these vitamins along with the fat needed to absorb the vitamins. As one example, we can only obtain vitamin A from naturally fat-rich sources like cod liver oil, grass-fed dairy, liver, and egg yolks. That's right, carrots and other vegetables will not provide you with vitamin A.

Don't forget to "Ask Your Chiropractor" every week, where your questions may be published and answered in subsequent articles. Address questions to: Dr Chris Davis, the Spinal Mechanic at movethebone@gmail.com; or, Dr Michael Harvey, director, at dr.michael_harvey@yahoo.com or visit www.drharveychiropractic.com

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