Sugar is the Evil Culprit, Not Fat
My father’s cardiologist needs to have his face forcibly rearranged. I’m not one to bang heads, but I’d love to walk into that guy’s office and knock him around a little bit.
Two weeks ago, Dad had a massive coronary. Three stents and a stay in the ICU later, he received the worst piece of advice I’ve ever heard, courtesy of a man who should know better. With no hint of irony, the cardiologist told him to limit his fat intake.
The last thing my favorite four-heart-attack survivor needs is to stop eating fat. Quite the contrary, he needs to swerve his runaway diet directly toward lipids. A few fat calories would serve to displace a portion of his rampant carbohydrate consumption, regulating his blood sugar levels and mitigating his fortress-like insulin resistance.
Unfortunately, there was no mention of carbohydrates in their discussion. My dad will avoid fat like the plague, continuing his steady diet of egg noodles, bread, potatoes, and skim milk. He’ll be eating the very stuff that’s been killing him for the last sixty years.
Even worse, his highly educated, stethoscope-toting Specialist will sleep well at night, thinking he did everything he could to save Dad’s life. In reality, he put him on track for heart attack number five, albeit with a bit more metal in his chest and a newfound appreciation for the freedom of hospital apparel.
Perhaps a little less textbook and a bit more common sense would’ve done the trick. A simple lifestyle examination shows that my father’s diet is carbohydrate-based, his protein consumption is deficient, and the sum total of his daily exercise consists of getting in and out of his truck. Furthermore, his stress levels are off the charts.
These behavioral patterns haven’t changed a lick during the twenty-seven years I’ve had the pleasure of being my father’s son. Given the long duration of this lifestyle and the very unpleasant result, you would think that Captain Cardiologist’s advice would’ve turned Dad’s daily routine on its head. It didn’t. It just politely asked him to consume 80% less hamburger.
After I finish the Doctor’s impromptu facelift, I’m going to sit down with Dad. We’re going to cut the sugar from his diet, replace those calories with lean protein and unsaturated fats, and then we’re going to exercise with as much intensity as we can without blowing his ticker. If he has a fifth heart attack, it’ll be during a PR attempt.
I’ll be damned if he’s going to go while eating a grilled cheese sandwich made with low-fat cheddar and a dollop of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”, staring vacantly at the ceiling while his no-fat diet drops him into an early grave.
Picture courtesy of dartmed.dartmouth.edu, the fine Ivy-League Institution responsible for my father's care.