Pic of the day: Milk - the drink of goddesses! And Swedish women who don't grow fat. But it is pointless, isn't it? Since this year you are allowed to be overweight after all. At least a little.
Time to write about fat again! This is after all the "final frontier" of the current generation, so it is always interesting, isn't it? And it is something we all have a personal relationship with, so to speak.
So what new have I read about fat this winter? Two interesting things. First, it seems that fat milk is not unhealthy this year. A large study of Swedish women shows that those who drank whole milk regularly were not as fat as those who didn't, on average. One particular fatty acid is suspected, CLA. (It evidently also kills breast cancer cells in mice and humans.) Of course you can now buy this separately, but this has not been tested over time. Whole milk has, and so has cheese. This is a study that lasts for decades, and there are 20 years of fat milk and cheese consumption in there. So there probably is a connection.
But is the connection direct or indirect? It could be that people who drink much whole milk and eat much cheese have a lifestyle that is different in other ways. Most notably, perhaps they are farmers, and as such work more with their bodies than other people? More knowledge is recommended before we start eating butter for dinner.
You see, the other thing I have learned is that overweight is not linked directly to various illnesses, as we have been told before, most notably diabetes II, hypertension and coronary infarct. Rather the link is indirect: The direct correlation is between these illnesses and inactivity. Overweight people tend to also be less physically active. This is no big surprise: The fatter you are, the more uncomfortable it is to run around. It is like you have a big backpack on you at all times which makes walking up a flight of stairs feel twice as hard. After carrying this heavy burden from the car into the house, it feels good to sit down in a good chair, and not get up until you have to carry your burden to bed. Conversely, the less active you are, the less fat do you burn. So it is a process that reinforces itself.
But the good news are that if you move around despite the extra weight, you may not be more at risk for diabetes and hypertension than anyone else. As a side effect, you burn more calories per mile than other people just by walking. As another side effect, you may work up an appetite. But that doesn't matter if being overweight is no longer unhealthy in itself, right? (You should probably still try to keep it down because knees won't last forever if they have to carry twice the weight they were made for. But a few pounds shouldn't hurt.)
You better use this opportunity until science finds out that fat is evil after all. ^^
Of course, all popular science is lies. There is a concept known as "lies-to-children", in which a complex matter is simplified so much that it is technically a lie, in order to make it understandable at all. But it often makes sense to do this to adults as well. For instance, there is a lot of knowledge about our metabolism. We all burn a mix of fat, carbohydrates and excess protein (and alcohol, if available). The body does not switch between these but rather gradually burn more of one and then more of another, depending on circumstances. But for everyday use, it may be enough to say that "it doesn't really matter what you burn, as long as you burn calories".
This is because we all eat both fat and sugar every day, practically every meal. The human body is actually designed in such a way that we have a really hard time converting sugar into fat, but it doesn't really matter because we eat fat anyway. If however we stop eating fat, or eat very little of it, it suddenly matters. There are some people who recommend such an extreme approach, most famously Dr Dean Ornish and the inventor and futurologist Ray Kurzweil. (For some obscure reason I tend to spell these "Ornitchs" and "Kurtzweil" respectively...) It seems to have correspondingly radical effects too, including the de-plaquing of arteries. But for the ordinary person, it won't happen. Even I, who get violently ill from more than small amounts of fat, am skirting as close to the maximum as I dare. Because fat is just that good.
But only if you drink your milk and work hard, I guess.
Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.