I think my head is going to explode today.  I just sat through a monster 8 hour session with no less than 7 so called nutrition experts and, you know what???  They all had different opinions about what makes up good nutrition!  There were the adamant Paleotards (and I forgot where I heard that but it is absolutely brilliant!), the raw foodies, the raw food vegans, the “blend absolutely everythings” ….I mean I won’t bore you with all the “isms” going on in that room today.  {See When Food Becomes a Religion for more on why I despise partisan nutritics} What I did notice was there were a lot of really brilliant experts, with their own reasons behind what they believed in, missing a lot of points.

The fact is, there are many “fads” floating about and new ones (or recycled ones) that come out every day.  There is an awful lot of “in vitro” methodology regarding diet; a lot of isolationism regarding nutrition.  Today we debunk some of the most common myths.

1. Eggs are the enemy.  The next time someone orders an egg white omelette in a buffet line at breakfast I swear I am going to turn around and tell him to just open a vein.  It will make dying faster!  The reason for the egg white only omelette?  Cholesterol!!  The evil of evils!  Are you not thinking it too?  Guess what my beauties.  Cholesterol is your friend!  Your body needs cholesterol.   It needs good cholesterol from monounsaturated fat sources like olives and olive oil, macadamia, and avocado, and saturated fat sources from medium chain fatty acids like coconut oil, grass-fed ghee, and real butter from grass-fed cows (butter is yellow, people!).  These sources are the foundation of your HDL or High Density Lipoproteins. GOOD Cholesterol.

Side note:: Saturated fats have become the nutrition villains of the media when, in reality, they are necessary to the body as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and required for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological, hormonal, and enymatic processes.  Caprilyic acid is a useful antiviral agent.  Lauric acid is useful as  anticaries, antiplaque and anti-fungal agents. They are all the building blocks of cell membranes and a host of other vital functions in the human body.  It is polyunsaturated fat (PUFAs) which can also be transfats (hydrogenated, chemically derived) such as ground nut, safflower, canola, and “vegetable oils” with their long chain fatty acids, being very hard for the body to break down, use pancreatic enzymes and bile to break down and what doesn’t break down circulates the body and builds up in arterial and vessel walls. (Causing plaque.)  These raise overall cholesterol numbers, specifically LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein)  or BAD cholesterol numbers.

Triglycerides store fat and are used by the body to create energy and serve as building blocks for cells. While they come from the fats in foods, they are also made in the liver from carbohydrates and proteins. Although the body needs some triglycerides , high levels in the blood can be a serious health problem and a risk factor for heart disease. High triglycerides can most often be seen in obese people but also in thin people who have “fat” around their organs.  Estrogen dominance is a HUGE factor in the raising of triglyceride levels as excess estrogen is often stored in fat cells. This is a simplistic explanation that we will delve into in subsequent posts.

So let me break down why cholesterol is your friend.  Cholesterol is the precursor to pregnenolone which is the precursor to many “sex” hormones, notably progesterone.  T3 which is converted from T4  (So this tells you that having a healthy thyroid is a really important function to have considering progesterone is considered to be the youth and fertility hormone.)  Without enough cholesterol, libido drops in both men and women, premature aging occurs, walls of arteries become weakened (causing increased risk of stroke), and even increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or severe depression due to impaired brain function.

Bottom line.  Banish anything made from Crisco or Wesson, pass on the organic sunflower or canola oil because you think it is somehow healthier because it isn’t GMO.  Eat pastured eggs INCLUDING the dark yellow yolk (and if it doesn’t have a dark yellow yolk, toss it away), coconut oil, yellow butter, grass-fed ghee, and macadamia nuts.  Eat avocados.  Eat within reason.  An avocado, a handful of macadamia nuts, a tablespoon of ghee, maybe a tablespoon of coconut oil or, better yet, some whole coconut.  The good thing about cholesterol and healthy fats is they increase your satiety level and keep you full longer.

2.  Green Juices are the cure all. Are you waiting for the “not” in that sentence?   I love my green smoothies but where most people go horribly wrong is in two areas.  One, they overload on fruit.  With an apple, a pear, maybe some mango, kiwi, and throw in a few bananas while adding a handful of spinach or two, day in and day out, this is just overloading on a good thing.  You will soon see why a little fruit with the right combination of protein and fat can tame the effects of cortisol (thus easing adrenal fatigue symptoms),  kick your metabolism into high gear, increase insulin sensitivity, and rev up your thyroid.  A lot of fruit is still too much of a good thing that the body cannot utilize.

The second mistake people make with green smooothies is using too many or not rotating their greens!!  Dark green leafy vegetables are full of essential macro and micronutrients along with trace minerals. Some are also full of oxalic acid which can bind to calcium and either rid the body of necessary calcium or even cause calcium oxalate kidney stones.  (It should be noted that animal proteins along with many other plant sources contain oxalates, some, in certain people with certain genetic or other physical dispositions to certain conditions will exacerbate those conditions.  These oxalates do not affect every single person across the board or even the same way in those that are predisposed to conditions exacerbated by oxalic acid.)  Spinach, chard, and mature beet greens have the highest oxalic acid content out of all the edible greens.  (Rhubarb leaves have such a high concentration they are inedible and poisonous.)  Because oxalic acid is not neutralized in these raw greens, calcium is not as bio-available as calcium in, let’s say, dairy.  (You would have to eat 16 cups of raw spinach to get the same amount of calcium absorption as in 1 cup of yogurt.)  Cooking seems to neutralize these oxalic acids and makes the absorption of calcium much easier.  A delicious way to get your calcium would be to saute a little spinach in ghee and garlic and then sprinkle it with a little parmesan cheese.

Some green leafy vegetables have compounds that are “goitrogentric” or suppress thyroid hormone production.  Understand, unless you have a preexisting thyroid condition and do not have an iodine deficiency (which is what amplifies the effect of the goitrogenic compounds), a reasonable amount, for instance a bunch of bok choy or a cup or two of broccoli should not hurt but broccoli, having some of the highest amounts of these compounds, should never be juiced if you have any kind of thyroid condition, and, in my opinion, should not be juiced at all.   Cooking seems to neutralize the compounds (called isothiocyanates) and broccoli should always be cooked.

Plant family greens chart

Greens should be rotated, and not just within families of greens (see above chart).  For instance, if you are using kale in your smoothie one day, use chard the next, and skip the greens the next day and add a bunch of parsley instead.  Romaine lettuce is a great alternative to more anti-nutrient heavy greens and should be added to your rotation or even added more often to “dumb down” the effects of anti-nutrients while boosting mineral content, and then sip them slowly “chewing” them to aid in digestion.

3.  Soy as a sinner or a savior.  We have discussed the problems and perks with regards to ingesting soy in Soy:: The Good, the Bad, and The Truth but truly, though soy, when improperly prepared (read…RAW) is a goitrogenic nightmare on par with some dark green leafy vegetables, it is, in my opinion, fine IN SMALL AMOUNTS in a healthy person with balanced metabolism and estrogen when fermented or otherwise properly prepared in its whole state.  Some people have a problem with soy.  If you look carefully, they probably have an underlying thyroid and/or estrogen dominance issue as well.  (And it may not help that these problems may have been brought on by the overabundance of soy isolates in every processed food on the market that we have been exposed to as a general population all our lives.)

Soy is, indeed, a source of phytoestrogens and, as more and more women (and men) are coming up estrogen dominant, minimizing exposure to ALL xenoestrogens (including phytoestrogens) until a balance has been achieved is preferable.  But hear me when I say this.  Grapefruit, flax, chia, sesame, (anything with lignans or lectins) all nuts, all grains, most legumes (if not all) and many vegetables have some, if not high phytoestrogen activity.  It is oversimplistic to say soy is the great evil when you realize that flax contains 379,380 mcg per 100 mg and soy has a mere 103,920 mcg. per 100 mg.  When you factor in that most soy is GMO, yes, it becomes a lot more sinister, but to vilify it for it’s phytoestrogenic qualities alone is a problem.

It is also not the great savior.  Estrogen, in improper amounts, (especially when it is supposed to be minimized during a woman’s cycle in favor of progesterone) wastes nutrients, and suppresses thyroid production (and low thyroid increases estrogen dominance as estrogen, not “pushed through” proper detox channels in the liver can produce pro-inflammatory prostaglandins that create more estrogen.)

4.  Sugar is the enemy/ All sugars are created equal.  First let’s talk about the difference in ALL carbohydrates.   There are monosaccharides like glucose (blood sugar), fructose(fruit sugar not to be confused with High Fructose Corn Syrup) and galactose; disaccharides like sucrose, which is a bond between two sugars (glucose+fructose) (glucose+galactose); finally, polysaccharides  which are many sugars bonded together (starch is a bunch of glucose molecules bonded together and cellulose which is a lot more glucose molecules bonded together.) Any carbohydrate bigger than a simple singular monosaccharide cannot be directly utilized by the body and must therefore be broken down into monosaccharides.  Our bodies secrete enzymes for this: lactase to breakdown (digest) lactose, sucrase to breakdown sucrose, amylase to break down starch, and so on….

Sugar is a disaccharide (glucose and fructose making sucrose) while fruit is a singular monosaccharide.  After these sugars are all digested, it is the balanced of the types of the monosaccharides that determines whether cellular respiration will be healthy and complete or we nourish or damage our metabolisms.

Cells require glucose for fuel therefore glucose is not the enemy when the carbohydrates, including fruit, are kept within range of what the body can and needs to utilize to function at a healthy level.  In order for the thyroid to  convert T4 to T3 properly and allow that T3 to convert cholesterol to pregnenolone  (to convert it to lovely sex hormones later) the cells need glucose.  Most people vilify fructose (fruit sugar) wrongly.  Fructose, when eaten as fruit, in its whole form, does not store as fat. Quite the contrary, it does not cause the insulin reaction/spike glucose does, therefore eating ripe fruit in its whole form, in sane amounts (a few pieces a day) will supply the body with the fuel it needs. Fruit juices (namely orange juice)  Fruits and fruit juices (namely fresh orange juice), in small amount, help balance blood sugar and calm the adrenal glands. If you add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of sea salt to your fruit juice, this will raise your blood sugar to normal and lower damaging stress hormones.  Salty fruit juice helps stimulate the conversion of T4 (inactive thyroid) to T3 (active thyroid hormone).

Dietary fructose is preferable to starch for mineral balance in the body.  The anti-nutrients from most starch containing foods bind to minerals such as magnesium, copper, zinc, calcium, and iron.  Fructose actually helps retain these nutrients.  Again, we are talking about whole fruits, not HFCS nor isolated fructose.  Raw honey is almost a perfect balance of fructose and glucose (when unprocessed and not fed on sugar) and can be nourishing to the thyroid.

In short, and there is so much more to be covered in subsequent articles, white sugar, with absolutely no nutritional value and bleached with industrial chemicals is no better, and often far more addictive than heroine.  Fruits or even natural sugars like honey, unrefined cane sugar like sucanat in small amounts, even coconut syrup, combined properly with healthy fats and the right proteins, are actually necessary to create the trinity of perfect thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormone support.  (Which means a happier, healthier, slimmer, younger looking YOU!)

5.  Whole Grains are superior to refined.  Starch, be it refined or whole grain, breaks down entirely into glucose (though it may take a little longer to break down in a whole grain than a refined grain). Key dietary sources of starch are grains and legumes.  Root vegetables (carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, turnip and even white potatoes) are mostly starch as well, but also contain some fructose, high mineral levels, and none of the anti-nutrients or polyunsaturated fatty acids that grains do.  Glucose, by itself, can cause an over production of insulin; Starches (being all glucose) are more likely to be sent to convert to fat rather than where we want it, in the cells  (especially since most people rarely utilize all the glycogen stores/calories from the ingestion of these foods.) Fruits on the other hand, contain fructose with glucose, as well as high concentrations of potassium that helps to metabolize the glucose in a safe way so that you don’t turn it into fat.

Couple all of the fat storing capacity with the the issues with gluten, gliaden, and phytic acid malabsorption issues of consuming grain, or, at the very least, ill prepared grain, and you have a cocktail for a nutritional “perfect storm”.