Healthy food, healthier living

20 April 2016
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As published in Feeling GOLD on 20/04/2016

Great food and with the right diet: Pascale is proof that it works. She spoke about carbohydrates and fats, diabetes type 2 and the latest findings with Professor Hanno Pijl.

Why are we encouraged to ‘consume carbohydrates to boost energy and eat as little fat as possible’?
Hanno Pijl: 'That recommendation was first put forward by the renowned American researcher Ancel Keys. His infamous '7 countries study' in the 1970s seemed to suggest that the ingestion of saturated fats resulted in cardiovascular disease. The ensuing school of thought was: we had to stop consuming saturated fats. But when you take away something, you have to eat something else. And that something else was carbohydrates. The food industry also began to introduce carbohydrates and sugars into varying products to enhance the taste. This is actually the main reason we consume such high concentrations of carbohydrates nowadays.'

How do people react to Ancel Keys’ findings?
Hanno Pijl: 'There has been a lot of criticism of the 7 countries study, which apparently had not been conducted correctly. In addition, there are several newly published epidemiological studies and extensive retrospective studies that have failed to support a single correlation between the ingestion of saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. But what the studies do show is a correlation between the ingestion of fast carbohydrates and cardiovascular disease, which is quite evident. In retrospect, we’ve given the wrong advice and have been doing so from the 1970s. That’s now quite apparent. There have been new advances made in science. After all, that’s how science evolves. There has been a great deal of research into the correlation between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease since then and that gives us the insight to know that we shouldn’t be afraid of fat.'

But in spite of the new studies and new findings many nutritionists remain firmly opposed to saturated fats. Why is that?
Hanno Pijl: 'The Dutch scientists firmly opposed to fats have grown up with the doctrine of Ancel Keys’ theories. It was such a firm tenet in the nutritional world, ingrained in the minds of men, that it’s very hard to forego.’

But shouldn’t we expect our experts to be open to the possibilities of new findings and not stubbornly cling to outdated ideas?
Hanno Pijl: 'Yes, that is what you should expect. That’s how it should be in science and among scientists. You have to be open to things that are different that you thought.'

 

* These are a few excerpts from the article. The full article can be found on the PDF file (in Dutch) below.

‘In retrospect, we’ve given the wrong advice. Now we know that we shouldn’t be afraid of fat.' - Professor Hanno Pijl