Popular Diets Are Harmful to Your Health
By Pamela McDonald
Most diet books focus on greatly increasing or removing one of
The Big Three. Some of the most popular recent trends have been
removing most fats or carbohydrates, or greatly increasing
protein intake, in the diet. However, nutritional research shows
that these approaches are not only not optimal for disease
prevention, but may actually be harmful to your health.
Let's now look at several of these popular diets and some of
the misinformation and misconceptions commonly associated with
Different Apo E genotypes need varying amounts of fat, and no
one should remove all the fat from their diet. There are good
fats and bad fats. The good ones are unprocessed polyunsaturated
and monounsaturated fats that have a positive reaction on the
cell. They include nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados.
Over-exposure to the bad ones — trans fats especially and too
many saturated fats — causes cellular inflammation, which in
turn leads to disease.
If you remove the wrong amount and kind of fat from your diet,
your longterm fuel supply becomes unbalanced. The recent
epidemic of Type 2 diabetes may have partly occurred because our
country has been encouraged to eat a low-fat diet for many
years. Based on the popularity of programs like Dr. Dean
Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease, some of our major
health organizations encourage a low-fat diet for better health.
However, now that we know more about the importance of fats, it
is clear that not everyone can benefit from a low-fat diet. But
changing misconceptions this widespread is difficult. Fat has
been given such a bad name that a study conducted by the
American Dietetics Association discovered a major
misunderstanding that people have about it. They found that many
people thought they should delete all fat from their diet to
have good health, believing that the more fat they removed, the
better health they thought they will have. This is extremely
If we don't eat healthy fats (particularly the essential fatty
acids), we cannot survive because fat is part of every cell
membrane in the body. Because the brain has a fat content of
about 60 percent, the fat content of a healthy brain cell is
important for your brain to work correctly.
However, it is extremely important to know what type of fat you
are eating. Avoid inflammatory fats such as trans fats and
excessive exposure to saturated fats, as well as highly
processed polyunsaturated oils and omega-6 fats. At the same
time, you must also have the correct amount of
inflammatory-reducing fats from a monounsaturated and
polyunsaturated omega-3 source. The correct ratio of fats for
all genotypes is very important.
Another critical misconception is not realizing that fat
generally comes "packaged" with protein. For instance, beef
protein comes with beef fat, and beef has the highest
inflammatory fatty acid percentage of any of the animal protein
foods. You can't get one without the other, unless it's in an
unhealthy, highly processed product.
You need also to be aware of the source of fats in your diet.
Most fats don't just come as a simple plain fat source like
cooking oils, so you need to know what types of fats come
packaged with what proteins:
• Animal proteins (meat and dairy) come packaged with saturated
and trans fat
• Plant proteins (nuts, seeds, beans, rice, and soy) come
packaged with mono and polyunsaturated fats
Most foods are usually a combination of fats, carbohydrates,
and/or proteins, yet people generally see foods as belonging to
just one of these main categories rather than being a
combination. This means that if you succeed in removing all fats
from your diet, you're also removing other important nutrients.
You need protein, and it's very difficult to get good protein
without getting fats. You need to eat good sources of fat with
good protein, such as fish and soybeans, two excellent sources
of protein with anti-inflammatory fats.
Not knowing these facts can, in time, cause health problems for
anyone on a low-fat, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet.
Another dangerous fad is the low-carbohydrate diet. While
certainly successful for weight loss, the problem here is that
most of the weight loss is water and lean mass. Carbohydrate is
a short-term fuel. Since the brain, intestines, and other organs
function only on glucose, which usually comes from
carbohydrates, if you are not eating carbohydrates at every meal
your body has to ask the liver to take on the extra job of
making some glucose.
This is a process with the long name of gluconeogenesis.
Essentially, it makes the blood glucose that your body is
designed to draw from carbohydrates in your diet, but it comes
at a high cost — it steals proteins from your tissues by
breaking down those tissues to gain a source of energy. This
process can put added stress on your kidneys and liver because
the nitrogen from the amino acids must be processed by the liver
and excreted by the kidneys. The result is rapid weight loss,
but in addition to burning the fat you want to lose, you also
lose some of the body's engine (muscle mass). This means that
your ability to burn fat in the future is reduced because your
muscle mass, your body's fat-burner, is also reduced. It's like
killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
The Atkins Diet is the most popular low-carbohydrate diet. One
of its primary shortcomings is a failure to distinguish between
"good" fats (olive oil and other mono-unsaturates) and "bad"
fats (corn, safflower, sesame and other processed
polyunsaturates and saturates). Another shortcoming is that
since few fruits and vegetables are included, you get very
little of the all-important fiber, vitamins, minerals, and
health-protective phytochemicals these foods contain. And, even
though a few carbohydrates are allowed, this diet makes no
distinction between the healthy low-glycemic load carbs and the
less healthy high-glycemic load carbohydrates.
While some studies have shown that short-term use of
Atkins-type diets may be safe and effective for weight loss (but
you have to ask, what is being lost?), many physicians are
concerned about its long-term health risks. And I hope you will
be, too! With any diet we need to consider results — are you
losing fat, or losing weight in the form of fluids and muscle?
You only need to stand at the checkout line of any major
grocery store and read the headlines of a tabloid to know that
there are hundreds of diets out there all claiming to help you
lose weight fast. While the proponents of these diets claim "one
size fits all" — that their diet will work for anyone and
Everyone — recent research is beginning to put a damper on these
claims. Keep in mind, research indicates that these
"one-size-fits-all" diets may actually be harmful to your
The number one principle of any diet should be "do no harm" to
the body. I never recommend short-term, quick-fix, weight-loss
diets because of their costs to your health in the form of
chronic diseases. By eating the correct diet and engaging in the
right levels of physical activity for your genotype, you can
maintain a healthy body weight and reduce your risk of
developing diet-related chronic illnesses, from heart disease to
Today we know that how our body processes fats, proteins, and
carbohydrates is genetically guided. Given this knowledge, the
Apo E Gene Diet is about recommending and implementing a
comprehensive plan based on your individual Apo E genotype. It
is specifically tailored to work in harmony with your own body
chemistry. This plan recognizes that while food is a critical
element in your health, other environmental factors — such as
exercise and relaxation practices — are also of real
significance and must also be tailored to suit your individual
This is the area that I have found to be the most confusing and
complex for people to grasp, largely because there is so much
misinformation and so many misconceptions surrounding what is a
"good" food and what is a “bad” food.
Even for those not following a faddish, one-size-fits-all diet,
danger lurks for the uneducated consumer in the thousands of
processed foods that contain artificial fats and other
substances that our body cannot easily assimilate. Everyone
should avoid highly processed and preserved foods. The farther
away from its source a food has been processed, the more likely
it is harmful to the body.
About the Author: Pamela McDonald is a leading Integrative
Medicine Nurse Practitioner, who specializes in the prevention
of heart and Alzheimer's disease, and chronic illness. To learn
more about her groundbreaking book, and program - visithttp://www.apoegenediet.com
. To subscribe to her free APO E Gene
Diet Health Notes - send a blank email to Info@ApoeGenediet.com.