Fat fights back

Today, I have some fantastic news. The so-called “experts” who perennially demonize all types of fat are FINALLY starting to lose ground. Yes—fat is fighting back and taking no prisoners (now there’s an image). And I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve been saying for years that we need to eat fat. Our bodies require it in order to make brain cells, lubricate our joints, synthesize vitamins, and keep us full (and those are just a few of fat’s critical functions in the body). There’s tons of research to support the role of fat in a healthy diet. But this new study, published in the journal Diabetologia, highlights one important benefit in particular.

Researchers found that full-fat dairy products actually lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Previous research has linked consumption of dairy products with a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But most of those studies assumed this benefit came from the low-fat versions.  (Need I remind them of what happens when you assume?)

But this study showed, unequivocally, that only full-fat dairy is protective. Researchers found that people with the highest consumption of full-fat dairy products had a 23 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, the subjects in this study were eating a LOT of dairy. The group that saw the most protection against diabetes consumed more than eight (8!) portions of full-fat dairy products per day. That’s a little extreme, even for me.

But you really don’t need to go overboard. The main point I want you to take away here is that giving up fat isn’t the healthy choice so many people think it is. In fact, in this study, low-fat dairy products didn’t appear to have any effect on diabetes risk one way or the other.

So why bother? Opting for low-fat won’t make you healthier. And while this study didn’t expose it, low-fat “foods” (and I use that term very loosely) have a dark side no one—except me—wants to talk about.

You see, by nature, animal foods like meat and dairy contain fat. When you remove that fat, you’re turning a real, whole food into a processed, fake food. And to make matters worse, when manufacturers remove fat, they almost always add sugar. So it’s no wonder all those low-fat foods (including dairy) haven’t been the magic bullet “experts” led us to believe they would be.

The fact is, since the advent of low-fat, reduced-fat, and fat-free foods, obesity rates have skyrocketed. And diabetes has gone up with it.

Now you know why.

Scientists discover the body’s built-in stroke repair (but here’s how to make sure you never need it)

I always love stories that show the body’s ability to heal itself, and here’s another one. Researchers have just discovered a previously unknown mechanism through which the brain produces new nerve cells after a stroke.

The findings, published in the journal Science, showed that following a stroke, support cells, called astrocytes, start to form nerve cells in the injured part of the brain.

Just a little background:a stroke occurs when a blood clot gets stuck in a blood vessel and blocks blood flow to the brain. Without adequate blood flow, the brain experiences a shortage of oxygen. This lack of oxygen kills nerve cells. Which, in turn, results in the devastating effects most often associated with stroke: motor, sensory and cognitive problems.

So this new discovery—that the brain has the ability to form new nerve cells to help repair the damage—is huge.

Again, it’s great to see evidence of what the body can do on its own. But there’s still plenty you can do to support it. First of all, a healthy lifestyle (a nutritious diet that focuses on protein, healthy fats, and lots of fruits and vegetables) will ensure your body is primed and ready to heal itself when and if it needs to.

But there are also some specific things you can do to help make sure it never has to repair stroke damage in the first place.

In fact, one of the best—and easiest—ways to cut stroke risk is by taking a simple vitamin B supplement. Last year, a major meta-analysis involving 14 trials and some 55,000 older participants showed that a combination of B vitamins significantly reduced incidence of stroke. And, the longer patients took the supplements, the more stroke risk dropped.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s wonderful to learn that the human body has such exciting potential to heal itself. But, as I always say, it’s better to give your body what it really needs, so it can prevent problems in the first place—instead of testing its healing potential after the fact.


“Big Intake of High-Fat Dairy May Be Protective for Diabetes,” MedScape Medical News, 9/16/14 (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/831789)

A latent neurogenic program in astrocytes regulated by Notch signaling in the mouse.” Science, 2014; 346 (6,206): 237

“Mechanism that repairs brain after stroke discovered.” ScienceDaily, 10/10/14 (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141010083859.htm).