Saturday, October 4, 2008

Eat Some Olive Oil, Save Your Colon

While the silly notion that all fat is bad continues to linger in the minds of many Americans, my hope is that everyone is at least clear on one thing:

Stay away from trans fats.

There are few if any foods on the market that I consider worse for your health than those containing these nasty little buggers. Past research has confirmed their contributing role in conditions like heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and yes, even the "C" word.

In fact, new research has surfaced recently further proving the strong connection between trans fats and cancer.

In this new study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, 622 people who underwent a routine screening colonoscopy were interviewed about dietary and other factors thought to be related to colorectal cancer. Researchers used this information to estimate how much trans fat each person regularly consumed and compared these numbers to the colonoscopy results.

Compared with those who ate the least trans fats, people who ate the most had an 86% higher likelihood of having colorectal adenomas—small growths, or polyps, in the colon and rectum that, if left untreated, can develop into colorectal cancer.

Ding, ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! Trans fats take first place in the "not fit for human consumption" contest! (Followed closely by runners up corn syrup, white sugar, white flour, preservatives, food dyes, Splenda, Nutrasweet, MSG.......)

In fact, Dr. Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Medical School and one of the nation’s foremost experts on food and health recently concluded that trans fats represent “the biggest food processing disaster in US history.”

What kinds of fats and oils are OK to eat? I have a simple rule to follow that will pretty much cover it. Just ask yourself one question:

If I were placed on an Earth with no machines, chemicals, or chemistry labs available anywhere, what kinds of fats could I find and eat?

Well, trans fats which require all three in order to be produced, would definitely be out. So would corn, soy, and other liquid vegetable oils. All of these products require a machine to press the oils out of them.

On the other hand, the oils from foods like olives, coconuts, and fish can be procured by simple means. Even if you just rub one of them in your hands a bit, your hands will soon be covered with oil. Try doing that with a corn kernel or dry soybean!

Admittedly, this is a simplistic way of looking at things, but I for one prefer simplicity. Of course for those of you who need more proof, just remember that there have now been countless studies done on the tremendous benefits to be had from olive and fish oil consumption. There is also emerging research now available which proves the value of the once maligned coconut.

I actually recommend the above rule to my patients in order to help them select all of their foods, not just their oils, and it works like a charm! What could you eat in a natural environment if you had nothing but your hands, feet, some primitive tools and your brains? Meats, plants, fruits, eggs, raw honey, sea salt (in certain environments), eggs, nuts and seeds, give or take a Twinkie or two (they've been around forever!!).

What has research shown to be the ultimate diet for preventing heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases? A so-called "Primitive" or "Paleo" diet. The components of this diet? The exact foods I just mentioned.

Finally, it might interest you to know some ways to help prevent colon cancer, aside from just avoiding trans fats. Here's a brief list:
  1. Get your "25, OH Vitamin D levels" tested through a blood test with your doctor. If your levels are less than 60, start taking concentrated cod liver oil and getting as much regular sunshine as possible without getting burned. If your levels are less than 30, add an additional vitamin D supplement and get your levels retested until they range between 60-80 consistently.
  2. Exercise.
  3. Eat your veggies, especially of the cruciferous variety (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, etc).
  4. Eat and drink unpasteurized, fermented or cultured foods like kombucha, raw sauerkraut, homemade yogurt or kefir made from raw milk and miso soup on a regular basis. If these foods are unacceptable or unavailable to you, get a really good acidophilus product and take that instead.
  5. Add 2 tbsp of freshly ground organic flax seeds to a smoothie at least a few times a week.
  6. Drink green tea often.
  7. Eat turmeric or take curcumin supplements.
  8. Stay away from processed meats containing nitrites.
  9. Don't overcook or char the meats that you eat. If you are going to cook them in this way, marinate them in ginger and garlic first, which will lessen the damage that happens to them from this kind of cooking.
  10. Drink gelatin rich, homemade bone broth regularly.
  11. Eat a handful of brazil nuts (an excellent source of selenium) on a regular basis.

1 comment:

healthy-oil-guy said...

Some very thoughtful advice here. Fish oils can help reduce your risk for heart disease, lower your risk for Alzheimer's disease and increase healthy cholesterol levels.