Through the ages people have passed down stories. In ancient times this was how history was recorded. Today with the Internet, everything is recorded in ink and future generations will know much more about us than we do about our forebears.
With everything there can be a downside. There is so much information out there that it can be overwhelming. And to make matters worse much of this is contradictory. With dietary advice in particular we know that what is good for you one day is bad the next.
When useful information comes out it can be either hard to find (as it may not get much media coverage) or shouted down by vested interests Prof Salim Yusuf presented preliminary findings of the PURE study at Cardiology Update 2017. A study of 140,000 people, ongoing since 2009 showed, (again) that carbohydrates not fats are the problem in the diet. He criticises WHO and other “official” positions for extolling a low fat diet and the avoidance of meat as well as the promotion of low fat dairy.
He outlines how we went wrong by confusing “proxy” end points like weight and blood markers with real end points like heart attacks and rates of diabetes. He demolishes the case for low fat foods.
Naturally the empire has sought to strike back. Presenting a major study where the findings challenge entrenched ideology was described as “unhelpful”, “bizzare”, and misguided “or even” slander.
Many will feel that if the experts are so polarized then what am I to think?
This is where stories can come in.
We are still intrigued, amazed or entertained by stories. They can also be informative or educational.
Recently I attended the premiere of the documentary movie Fat Chance. This is about Warren Hepworth who rode a pushbike from Perth to Melbourne whilst eating a low carbohydrate and high fat diet. Instead of the usual carb loading he got virtually all his energy from fats. Now before continuing I must declare that I am in the film as a “talking head”.
The great thing about stories is that people can relate to them. A message can be conveyed without it being a lecture or without there being any attempt to convert anyone’s thinking.
In the film, we see Warren’s preparation for the ride, and assorted highlights and lowlights from along the journey. He also describes how he changed from eating lots of carbs to eating a low carb, high fat type diet. Interview commentary from various people is interspersed.
As we follow the journey we learn that much of what we have been told about diet is wrong. The notion that sports people have to “carbo load” or that one cannot get energy from fats is demonstrably debunked. A 3800km bike ride will sort out if you are not getting enough energy.
Could one do the same trip eating a more “approved high carb diet”? Of course. And there is an interesting contrast between Warren and another cyclist he meets along the way.
A movie like Fat Chance tells a tale of what can be done with altering diet. At the same time the story is not seeking to tell anyone what to do. That said the story provides a valuable lesson. Hopefully it will get a wider distribution and can be seen by more people. It was a privilege to be involved in its making.
Dr Joe Kosterich MBBS is an author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, who wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life. Dr Joe also gives practical, motivational health talks for the general public and organisations where he is known as “An independent doctor who talks about health”.
His latest book “60 minutes to Better Health” is available on Amazon.