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Is Saturated Fat Bad? No. But It’s Not a Health Food Either.



More than 60 years ago, in the court of public opinion, the American public convicted saturated fat of an unforgivable crime: attempted murder of a U.S. president.

In 1955, while on vacation in Colorado, Dwight Eisenhower suffered a heart attack. “Suddenly people were frantic to understand the cause of heart disease,” says Jonny Bowden, Ph.D. and author of Smart Fat. In the years that followed, fat—and specifically saturated fat—took the blame.

If you’ve spent most of your life avoiding saturated fat, this moment is a big reason why. The day after Eisenhower’s heart attack, the president’s physician recommended the nation cut down on fat and cholesterol, citing the work of a nutritionist named Ancel Keys.

How Saturated Fat Became a Villain

Later that decade, Keys published research connecting countries that consumed the most fat with higher rates of heart disease. His “Seven Countries Study” wielded great influence on how Americans eat.

In 1977, a Senate select committee cited Keys’ research while making sweeping recommendations to the American people, stating you should consume less red meat — and by extension, less saturated fat — to avoid heart disease.

That message hardened into national policy when the government issued the 1980 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which advised people to trim the fat from their steaks and avoid saturated-fat foods like butter, cream and coconut oil.

Why Saturated Fat Made a Comeback

Today Keys’s research is under fire. An analysis by researchers at Harvard looked at 21 studies and found no link between saturated fat and heart disease (or stroke).

In 2014 an analysis of 76 observational studies and randomized controlled trials from the University of Cambridge concluded, “saturated fatty acids were not associated with coronary disease.” (The study also noted that some saturated fatty acids, notably the margaric acid found in dairy foods, was actually associated with a lower risk of heart disease.)

Finally, a couple years later, a third meta analysis published in the British Medical Journal reached a similar conclusion. After looking at more than 62,000 people in 10 randomized trials, researchers found that while reducing saturated fat helped to lower cholesterol levels, the effect didn’t translate to a lower risk of death. And death is what matters in this debate, ultimately.

Saturated Fat Isn’t Evil. But Does That Mean It’s Healthy?

The seeming turn of the tide within the scientific literature has led to an even bigger shift in public perception. Today you’re hearing loud messages from popular health pundits proclaiming that saturated fat is actually a long lost health food. Some even say you should get more of it by drinking butter in your coffee.

Wait. What?

Now’s a good time to call a timeout and look at what’s really going on in this debate. Because both sides have gotten a little carried away.

Let’s start with the first side of the pendulum swing, starting all the way back with Eisenhower’s heart attack. It was a gross oversimplification to place all the blame for that heart attack — and eventually, heart attacks in general — on saturated fat.

First, let’s look at Eisenhower. The man was president at time, and a five-star general before that — both stressful jobs, to say the least. Ike was also known to have a temper, and at one point smoked four packs a day. It’s fair to say there were confounding lifestyle issues.

A slab of beef contributes saturated fat to your diet, but cheese is a far bigger source for most Americans.
While some worry about the saturated fat in red meat, cheese is a far bigger contributor to saturated fat intake.

Second, saturated fat isn’t necessarily something most people eat in excess. The USDA and World Health Organization recommend you cap your saturated fat consumption at 10 percent of your daily calories. A 2007 analysis by researchers at Rutgers University showed saturated fat makes up about 11 percent of the average American diet. The top sources of saturated fat being full-fat cheese (8.5 percent), pizza (5.9 percent), and cakes and pastries (5.8 percent).

It’s also true, as Sat-Fat supporters love to point out, that Ancel Keys’s research showed correlation, not causation. “The lowest evidence,” as Bowden described it. Modern day reviews have not been kind to the study’s findings.

“The most recent evidence, which reviews all the evidence from the past decade, shows that when you feed people more saturated fat, that doesn’t increase their chance for heart disease,” says Kamal Patel, director of the nutrition research website

But Patel quickly adds, “That still doesn’t mean that saturated fat is good for you.”

The Connection Between Saturated Fat and Cholesterol

There’s a lot we don’t yet know for certain about saturated fat’s effects on the body. But here’s one thing we do know:

Saturated fat does increase LDL (i.e. “bad”) cholesterol.

This has been proven many times.

Elevated LDL doesn’t guarantee you’ll have a heart attack — a possible explanation for the researchers’ null association between saturated and heart disease. It’s just one risk factor among many. But the general consensus is that, if your goal is to live longer, keeping your LDL low should still be part of the plan.

“If you have two people who are exactly the same except that LDL is high in one person and low in the other, the person with high LDL will still be at a higher risk [for heart disease],” says Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, a physician and osteopath based in San Diego.

So modern evidence shows that, at the very least, the once dogmatic fear of saturated fat is overblown. But Nadolsky and others caution that this doesn’t necessarily mean you should actively seek more saturated fat within your diet.

“Look at the Blue Zones,” says Nadolsky, referring to areas of the world where people live the longest. “Their cholesterols are low. They’re not putting butter in their coffee, but at the same time, they’re not entirely avoiding saturated fat.” In fact, they consume lots of dairy, mostly in the form of yogurt and cheese (albeit from sheep and goats, rather than cows).

“I’m not anti-saturated fat,” adds Nadolsky. “The problem is when people say, ‘Look! Saturated fat’s not bad for you now!’ Then you get people putting butter in their coffee. And what I’m seeing, and other doctors are seeing this as well, is that people [who do dramatically increase their saturated fat intake] are having explosive changes in their cholesterol.”

Saturated Fat and Your Diet: Here’s What to Do Now

You may not need to make any changes at all.

Your body doesn’t actually need saturated fat. “There are only two essential fatty acids,” says Patel. Those are alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3) and linoleic acid (an omega-6)—both of which are unsaturated.

While some people thrive on diets high in saturated fat, your body might not.

For some people—it’s unclear what percentage of the population—small amounts of saturated fat lead to big changes in cholesterol levels.

“We call them hyper-responders,” Nadolsky says. Some day there may be a reliable genetic test that will show who these people are, but it doesn’t exist yet. It’s safe to say that if heart attacks are part of your family health history, you’d be smart to keep your saturated fat intake within the existing 10 percent recommendation.

If you have people in your family who had heart disease, despite having normal cholesterol, then you should probably do everything you can to decrease your risk,” Patel says.

But if you’re still interested in adding more saturated fat to your diet, there is a relatively easy way to monitor how your body reacts to it. Schedule two cholesterol tests spaced one month apart. Take the first test while eating your current diet. Then make the dietary changes you wanted and take the second test. This is the approach Nadolsky uses to assess his clients.

“You can tell pretty quickly if you’re going to have big changes to your LDL cholesterol,” he says.

Another test, which some experts say is more accurate and should replace the standard cholesterol test, examines your blood’s concentration of apolipoprotein B, or the cholesterol-carrying protein that embed themselves within arterial walls. The apoB test, as it’s called, looks specifically at the particles of greatest threat.

“When we check cholesterol [through a standard test], we’re just measuring the cholesterol on that low-density lipoprotein,” says Nadolsky. “But what really gets stuck in the wall is the lipoprotein, and that actually correlates better with risk.”

The Healthier Way to Eat More Saturated Fat

If bloodwork sounds too intense for you, then consider a simpler and safer way to add more fat to your diet: Skip the butter and eat nuts, avocado, and olive oil (all proven healthy fats) instead.

Avocado contains healthy saturated fat.
Olive oil, avocado and nuts contain proven healthy fats.

The safest fat to eat is monounsaturated [fats, which are found in nuts, avocados, olive oil and fish],” says Patel. “They always have a benign or positive effect on lipids, and on the end result for heart disease and heart attack.”

Another saturated fat source that’s become popular in recent years is medium-chain triglycerides in the form of MCT oil, which is one of the saturated fat additives people have begun adding to their coffee in recent years.

“MCTs don’t have to go through the liver, so they’re available for your body to use more quickly,” says Patel. That can be useful during extremely low-carb diets, when you need energy. But Nadolsky adds, “I wouldn’t have anybody replace their olive oil or nuts with MCT oil. I don’t want to replace the fat that we know is beneficial with fat that may be of some little benefit for fat loss.”

The bottom line is that saturated fat is a nutrient, not something that your entire diet should revolve around. The body of evidence, taken as a whole, indicates that saturated fat is neutral. You should neither go out of your way to eat more of it, nor concern yourself with avoiding it.

“You shouldn’t be scared of saturated fat,” says Nadolsky. “But you’d be better off focusing on your overall diet.”


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Health & Wellness

How To Make Your Meditation Practice Rock So That You Stress Less And Accomplish More




Do you find meditation boring, time-taking, or too difficult? This interview with Emily Fletcher might just change your mind.

Emily Fletcher is the Founder of Ziva Meditation who has trained the teams of Google and Harvard on what meditation really means in the modern world.

In this interview she shares…

  • Why clearing your mind has nothing to do with meditating
  • Why top performers don’t go a day without their practice
  • What’s the difference between meditating like a monk and modern meditation
  • The science behind why meditation gives you a deeper rest than sleep and reduces aging
  • And how you can use meditation to perform better in every area of life

As Emily says,

We meditate to get good at life, not to get good at meditation.

If you liked this interview, check out Emily’s new book: Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance. It’s an amazing guide for everyone who wants to improve their relationships, level up at work, or heal themselves.

This is not just another meditation book. In Stress Less, Accomplish More, Emily teaches a powerful trifecta of Mindfulness, Meditation, and Manifesting to improve your personal and professional performance, clarity, health, and sleep.

You’ll learn how to cultivate Mindfulness through brief but powerful exercises that will help you stop wasting time stressing. Plus, you’ll get Manifesting tools to help you get crystal clear on your personal and professional goals for the future. Grab your copy on Amazon.

What’s your biggest motivation to get better at meditating? Share it with us in a comment below.

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What Part Of The Brain Controls Balance?




Standing upright, maintaining balance, and walking are all pretty natural processes to us. We don’t consciously think about balance during our daily activities.

But have you ever wondered how you manage to stand on one foot? Or perform any sports activity? Or how you don’t fall down every time you stumble? Today we’re learning what part of the brain controls balance.

What Controls Balance In The Brain?

As your body moves , your brain grooves.

—Jim Kwik, Author of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Program

Maintaining balance is a very complex process in the brain. It’s performed by multiple parts of the brain and occurs as a result of the brain communicating with our environment.

The main part of the brain that control balance is the cerebellum.

But there are other parts of the brain that help out too, such as the brain stem which helps us develop healthy breathing practices.

The cerebellum or “little brain” is located in the back of your skull, above the amygdala (the part of the brain that controls emotions).

Besides controlling balance and posture, it’s also responsible for monitoring voluntary movement, eye movement, and speech.

What Part Of The Brain Controls Balance

What Part Of The Brain Controls Balance And Hearing?

The processing of sound happens in the temporal lobes which are a part of the cerebrum. The audio stimuli come through the ear and go directly into the primary auditory cortex located in the temporal lobes.

But how does the temporal lobe affect balance?

Have you ever heard a loud noise and reflexively found yourself moving away from the source of the noise?

That’s the temporal lobe at work. Your temporal lobe is directly connected to the cerebellum by neural pathways. This connection enables a quick reaction to loud noise.

Which Part Of The Brain Controls Balance And Posture?

We already mentioned that the cerebellum does not work alone. It controls equilibrium by combining sensory information from the outside world.

Those pieces of information come from the eye (visual), the ear (auditory) and muscles and joints (motor). The cerebellum sends information out to your body in order to stay balanced during movement. But that happens as a response to the information that comes in.

Consider standing on one foot. Your joints and muscles use receptors, called proprioceptors, to gather information about the spacial position of your body.

These receptors the send the information back to the cerebellum which adjusts your position by making you shift body weight, or even stretching your arms out to help maintain equilibrium.

Now, continue standing on one foot but close your eyes. It is much more difficult to stay in that position, isn’t it?

This is because you have limited the information coming to the cerebellum. It’s now unable to use visual information from the eyes and has lost a little of the spatial orientation.

Usually, we are not aware of these processes — they happen reflexively. But we often become aware of them when we exercise — especially exercise that involves a high degree of coordination.

For example, a ballerina doing a pirouette on one leg has to learn how to use surroundings in order to perform the movement without losing balance. And that’s no easy feat!

What Controls The Body’s Balance?

In addition to the cerebellum, two crucial structures in maintaining balance are the inner ear and the vestibular cranial nerves.

The vestibular system, located in the inner ear, enables you to be aware of the position of your head in relation to the floor. It’s responsible for helping you know that the object that you are looking at is not moving but that you have, for example, tilted your head.

Damage to any part of the brain related to balance can result in jerky, uncoordinated movements. Damage to any of these structures isn’t inherently life threatening, and movement is still possible. It simply requires a little more conscious attention than usual.

Are you skilled in any activity that requires good balance? Share it with us in the comments below!

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What is the Rig Veda? Behind The Veil Of History




The Vedas are a peculiar topic of study.

They are one of the most primeval and mysterious texts known to man. They have no celebrated author and no timeline of origin… Yet, they have inspired world religions (namely, Hinduism) and their hymns are regarded as law — shaping societal, political, and economic philosophies.

The Vedas are split into 4 separate sacred texts, but are often compiled into a book referred to as the Chathurveda Samhitha.

The Rig Veda: The Book of Mantra

The Sama Veda: The Book of Song

The Yajur Veda: The Book of Ritual

The Atharva Veda: The Book of Spell

The Vedas were originally formed, recited, and passed down from generation to generation by Aryan nomads (considered “the noble ones”) in ancient India. It is most commonly believed that the Vedas were created during the Vedic Period (1,500 – 500 B.C.E.). Although, many scholars and great yogis today hypothesize that the creation of this oral tradition could have started as far back as 12,000 B.C.E.

However, it wasn’t until centuries later (long after the Vedic Period) that the Vedas were written into physical form, creating what we know today as the Vedic Texts.

The oldest and most fundamental of these texts is the Rig Veda.

What Is The Rig Veda?


In Sanskrit, the word Rigveda means “knowledge of the verses (or mantras).”

The Rigveda is by far the most prominent of the Vedas; it was the first Vedic text ever written and is the main source of history on the ancient Hindus.

The text is comprised of 1,028 hymns (sūktas) dedicated to various deities, including the Purusha Sukta and Creation Hymns. These hymns are all organized into 10 different books, which are commonly referred to as “circles” or “mandalas.”

The older books contain hymns that are more devoted to the praise of various gods and goddesses. The younger books are more concerned with philosophical questions, the virtue of dāna (generosity, charity) in society, and other metaphysical issues.

The hymns include praises, blessings, and sacrifices written in enchanting poetry and prose. When these beautiful words are chanted, one is transported to another state of mind.

This light hath come, of all the lights the fairest,

The brilliant brightness hath been born, far-shining,

Urged on to prompt the sun-god’s shining power.

Night and Morning clash not, nor yet do linger.

It’s awe-inspiring, to say the very least. But who wrote such wise and captivating hymns?

Here’s the thing about the Vedas — there is no acclaimed human author. They are simply a “language of the gods” in comprehensible human form.  

The Vedas were channeled by risis (the seers, the sages) from the very breath of “Source.” “Source” being the Paramātman: the “Primordial Self” or the “Absolute Atman.” The risis saw and interpreted the Vedas, but they did not compose them.

There are seven risis credited to channeling the Rigveda:  Atri, Kanwa, Vashistha, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Gotama, and Bharadwaja.

Just as one is transported to another state of mind when reciting the Vedas, it was within that same mind-state they were written — in a state beyond.

The Vedas contain universal truths that can help you understand and experience your connection to the Divine through study and practice. Sacred study reveals the practice, and practice helps you implement the powerful spiritual truths that can transform your life.

— Deborah King, Spiritual teacher and author of Mindvalley’s Be a Moder Master program.

Do you want to learn more about spiritual empowerment? Heal emotional wounds and past traumas that are holding you back and take the next step in your spiritual journey with this FREE Masterclass below:

Like the ancient sages, have you ever experienced mystical encounters with deities? Have you ever been transported to that “state beyond?” Share your experience with us in a comment below.

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