Diabetes and Dolphins Show Why “Diet Don’ts” Don’t Always Work Out

What if I told you that new research shows that eating more ice cream, full-fat yogurt and other rich dairy products could actually help prevent type 2 diabetes? That would be surprising, wouldn’t it? I mean, everyone knows fat is bad–especially saturated fat like ice cream has. Right? This is common knowledge. That’s what we’ve been told, for YEARS.

But, guess what? There IS new research, albeit preliminary, that suggests a specific saturated fat found in dairy and fish may actually help to normalize insulin levels in the blood.

The research got started thanks to dolphins. As it turns out, dolphins, like humans, are susceptible to metabolic disorder – that’s the pre-diabetic condition where blood sugar levels are high, blood pressure is high, and waist measurements are larger than they should be (sucking it in doesn’t count). But dolphins can “naturally” correct this condition by eating fish containing a very specific type of saturated fat. When they eat enough of the fish containing this fat, their blood insulin levels return to normal.

And yet, for decades, we’ve been watching our saturated fat intake. And type 2 diabetes is sky rocketing. Has all that advice about avoiding fat actually been aggravating our health instead of helping it? (And, yes, Americans probably could stand to add more fish into their diets, that would help too.)

No, I’m not suggesting that ice cream cones are the solution to type 2 diabetes or metabolic disorder. French fries — still probably a bad idea. And these findings still need more research to establish a link in humans between the saturated fat in certain fish and dairy and blood insulin levels. But the study does highlight the notion that actively stripping our diets of whole categories of foods has unintended consequences.

Remember the reversal on eggs? Eating them doesn’t raise cholesterol levels in our bloodstreams after all, even though eggs themselves are high in cholesterol. Eggs were on the “don’t eat too much” list for decades. And not just eggs, but dietary fat in general – now –  not so bad. Good for us, in fact.

So, is SATURATED fat – the “worst” kind of fat there is –  the next food type to come off the list? Are others on that “diet don’ts”  list that we should be eating more of because they are helpful in a way we don’t yet understand? Healthy, even?

Food for thought.