The Strange Truth about Fat
One of the key things about ethics is the necessity of truth. There has to be a basic respect for the truth particularly in the form of facts.
One of the most basic human questions is, “what should we eat?” That query has been debated for all time and it is of vital importance. The more you get it right, the more likely you are to live healthier and longer and the more you get it wrong the more likely you are to feel bad and live briefly.
A classic example would the brief popularity of radium dosed health drinks in the early years of the twentieth century, one particular drink being on the market from 1918 to 1928, with the side effect of radiation poisoning which could rise to a fatal dose. We know now that this was a very bad choice, indeed.
But many of our food choices are not so easily resolved. Take the subject of fat. By conventional wisdom, fat is bad – you eat too much and you gain weight. But the conventional wisdom is wrong. The strange truth about fat is that it sort of depends on the circumstances. Read this from the Guardian section on health –
Fear of fat is misplaced and guidelines that restrict it in our diets are wrong, say the Spanish researchers who have followed more than 7,000 people, some eating 30g of nuts or 50ml of extra virgin olive oil a day while others were put on a standard low-fat diet. Their research, they say, should put healthy fats – from vegetables and fish – back on the menu, changing attitudes and the way we eat.
A couple of years ago, I began eating avocados and was shocked to read how much fat was in them but then my follow up studying on the subject indicated that while they did have a great deal of fat in them, this did not seem to translate into weight gain. This was a big challenge to my “fat bad – protein good” diet ideas of the past.
I’d been taught as a child that weight gain was simple mathematics. If you ate more calories than you burned, you gained weight. But now it appears that all this is conditional based on a number of factors.
I know of one diet where the benefits are concentrated on your abdomen, the Abs Diet. The concept here is that certain kinds of food bring fat to certain parts of the body but not necessarily to others. You eat the right ones and exercise and the fat changes locale.
Now, this is not my field and I don’t know and I don’t expect to know absolute answers to that basic human question, “What should we eat?” But I do know that science moves and that facts can change and that as, a thinking human being, I have to move with the facts.
It’s a vital moral lesson. Unless morality and ethics are discussed and reasoned through using the best and most accurate information possible we will ere and not do what is best.
In a way, the discussion of food is a microcosm of all other vital subjects. Some facts may be in disputer. Other beyond. There is and will be a great deal of controversy. And yet, decisions must be made and they will be imperfect as we lack total information. But we have a duty as moral creatures to act on the best information possible.
Our duty is not to be always right but to try to do right.