DR MICHAEL MOSLEY: Is it OK to eat eggs, cheese and butter if you’re battling high cholesterol?
Over the past six months, thousands of you have written to me in response to my articles in The Mail on Sunday.
We read ALL correspondence – your emails and letters help provide topics to cover in this column.
When dozens of you asked why people who aren’t overweight get type 2 diabetes, I wrote in response.
Over the past six months, thousands of you have written to Dr Michael Mosley (pictured) in response to his articles in The Mail on Sunday
Likewise, scores of you asked for 5:2 recipes that were simple and easy, and also recipes for one – and I gave them to you.
Although I’d love to be able to respond to all your questions, it’s just not possible.
But here are a selection of some of the most common queries, and my answers. Please do keep writing.
I have very high cholesterol – it runs in my family – and take cholesterol-lowering drugs. My doctor says I should stick to a low-fat diet. But I’ve read a lot about how it is OK for people with high cholesterol to eat full-fat cheese, milk and butter. Can you clarify?
People with genetic high cholesterol – the condition is called familial hypercholesterolaemia – get huge benefit from taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. Whether a low-fat diet also helps depends on the sorts of fats you are eating, and what you would start eating instead of fat.
If it means eating more sugary carbs, for example, this will not help your heart, according to a wealth of research. On the other hand, eating more healthy fats, such as olive oil, oily fish and nuts, will help cut your risk of heart disease.
Cheese and butter tend to increase levels of LDL – ‘bad’ cholesterol – and should be eaten only in moderation
When it comes to full-fat dairy, the picture is a bit more confusing. In a generally healthy population, consumption of full-fat yogurt and milk has been linked to a lower risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Cheese and butter, on the other hand, tend to increase levels of LDL – ‘bad’ cholesterol – and should be eaten only in moderation.
Does your advice to drink full-fat milk, rather than skimmed or semi-skimmed, apply to type 2 diabetics? This contradicts what my GP and diabetes nurse said.
It is a widely held belief that skimmed or semi-skimmed milk must be better for you, because it contains less saturated fat. But saturated fats are not all the same and some of the fats you find in full-fat milk are beneficial.
You could, for example, refer your GP and diabetic nurse to a study in the Annals Of Internal Medicine, called Trans-Palmitoleic Acid, Metabolic Risk Factors, and New-Onset Diabetes.
In this study of 3,736 people followed for 12 years, they found that those who had the highest levels of palmitoleic acid in their blood – a sign they were drinking full-fat milk – had much lower levels of insulin-resistance and they were less than half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
It is a widely held belief that skimmed or semi-skimmed milk must be better for you, because it contains less saturated fat. But saturated fats are not all the same and some of the fats you find in full-fat milk are beneficial (stock image)
You said you eat scrambled eggs and smoked salmon most days for breakfast. But I’ve also read we shouldn’t eat more than two or three eggs a week because of the cholesterol in them. Help!
It used to be thought that eggs, because they contain cholesterol, boost your blood levels of cholesterol. We now know that is not true. Eggs are rich in protein and all sorts of other nutrients, which is why I am a fan. NHS Choices points out: ‘There is no recommended limit on how many eggs people should eat.’
So going to work on an egg shouldn’t be a problem.
DR MICHAEL MOSLEY: Eggs are rich in protein and all sorts of other nutrients, which is why I am a fan
I have been a type 2 diabetic for about 25 years, but thanks to the 5:2 diet I have lost more than a stone and a half and managed to cut my medication by half. My BMI is still 30. Do you think I’ll be able to stop medication completely with more weight loss?
Your weight loss is a real achievement, and will doubtless mean a lower risk of some of the complications of diabetes, such as heart disease and dementia.
Losing weight means that you have cut your risk of arthritis and lots of other problems that arise from carrying too much fat.
As to whether you will ever be able to stop your medication, I can’t say.
I have come across people who have had type 2 diabetes for more than ten years and who have managed to come off all medication after doing the 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet, but the longer you have been type 2 diabetes, the less likely your pancreas is to spring back into life. That said, since you are still overweight, the more gut fat you lose the better.
If you would like more help and support, do visit thefast800.com.
Many of my friends have had great success in losing weight on your New 5:2. But it doesn’t seem to work for me. Could this be due to the fact I’m menopausal and on HRT?
The menopause can go hand in hand with weight gain for many reasons. It can be linked to hormones, but lifestyle changes around this time count too.
I would recommend trying the rapid weight loss element of the Fast 800, which means cutting back to 800 calories a day, every day, for a few weeks.
Most people find it surprisingly easy to do.
I have been trying to adhere to the Fast 800 diet and not doing too badly. But I have one important question: do artificial sweeteners have the same effect on blood sugar levels as normal sugar?
Artificial sweeteners don’t have the same impact on your blood sugar levels as normal sugar because they are not absorbed in your small intestine.
That said, they can cause inflammation when they reach the colon, or large intestine.
The best artificial sweetener seems to be stevia.
I appreciated your article on ageing and balance. I tried the test you suggested: seeing how long I could stand on one leg with my eyes closed. I managed three seconds on one side and then 23 for the other. I’m 65. What does this mean? Also, I have a friend with Meniere’s disease. Will the test work for her?
In that article, I talked about the importance of having good balance and why doing more balancing exercises, like yoga, are a good idea, particularly for older people.
Do you have a question for Dr Mosley?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to him at The Mail on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT.
Dr Mosley can only answer in a general context and cannot give personal replies.
The ability to stand on one leg is a great measure of healthy ageing, and most people your age (between 60 and 70) should be able to manage at least 34 seconds with their eyes open and four seconds with their eyes closed.
Although most of us have one leg on which we find it easier to balance than the other, I am surprised that in your case there is such a big difference. And only being able to stand upright for three seconds on your weaker leg is also surprising.
The test measures lots of different things, from the strength of your legs to the efficiency of your vestibular system, the ‘spirit level’ in your inner ear that tells your brain which way up you are.
It is hard to say what, if anything, is the reason for this discrepancy.
I would practise standing on your weaker leg and see if that improves things.
As for Meniere’s disease, where you often get a lot of vertigo, there is good evidence that specific exercises, known at vestibular rehabilitation, can help. For further details on exercises, visit menieres.org.uk.