It's a compelling theory, and I certainly like how it exonerates natural fats. After all, traditional cultures have been consuming saturated fats for millennia without a hint of the obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease that plague the modern world.
But they were also consuming carbs.
In fact, certain traditional groups like the Kitavans consumed a whopping 70% carbohydrate diet (and were surprisingly not obese or diseased, even with pretty normal caloric intakes). Don't get me wrong: I'm not trying to convince anyone that all traditional cultures ate a high-carb diet. We know that's not true. Common examples are the Inuit who ate a lot of meat and very few carbs; the Masai who chugged milk (and animal blood) and got plenty of fat and protein from those; and the Loetschental Valley residents who ate loads of dairy and grains and probably got a good bit of fat, protein and carbs.
So let's be clear: traditional people did not espouse one set of macronutrient ratios. And Weston A. Price didn't come back from his ventures peddling the idea that a diet should consist of a certain percentage of carbohydrates, fat or protein. In fact, if anything, his work proved that robust health could be achieved on a variety of diets.
The question is, what has invaded our diet in the last several decades to fuel the obesity and disease crisis?
Fans of Ancel Keys and the China Study would have you believe it was saturated fat and animal protein. But we know that wasn't true because traditional cultures placed high value on these foods and often ate them in abundance. But carbs--and even grains--also had their place in traditional diets, and even in more recent diets, long before the obesity epidemic reared its ugly head.
When it comes to the burger and the bun scenario, I would just stop looking at the hamburger altogether. It's got flaws, to be sure (refined white flour, feed-lot meat, MSG, etc.). But when it comes to finding a food to blame for the deterioration of modern health--point to the side items!
It's not the burger or the bun--its the fries and the soft drink. These two items contain the ingredients that should be held responsible for the obesity and disease epidemic. What ingredients am I talking about?
2) Polyunsaturated Fats
These are two foods that have been industrially refined and are currently consumed in amounts far greater than ever before in history. And while obesity and disease certainly existed before these foods became mainstream, the real epidemic didn't begin until refined fructose and polyunsaturated fat became a significant part of our diets. In the coming weeks I plan to spend at least a couple posts getting into the nitty gritty of the dangers of these two substances (and when they aren't so dangerous, as well).
Remember, the point is not that fast food burgers should be considered a health food (duh!). It's that blaming individual macronutrients for the gamut of modern health issues is a mistake. The USDA made this mistake when it shunned fat in the food pyramid several decades ago. And it's just as much of a misdeed to lay all the blame on carbohydrates instead. Instead of making blanket statements about carbs, fat and protein, we should take a closer look at modern industrial foods that violate our natural body chemistry in such a way that it causes widespread damage to our health.
This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.