Like so many others, Sally-Ann Creed spent decades attempting to navigate the maze of health, lifestyle and diet misinformation, all the while suffering from various chronic illnesses. Creed now leads a healthy, happy life and is a pioneer of the Low-Carb, Healthy Fat (LCHF) lifestyle. In this article she goes back to basics by describing the three vital macronutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrates; as well as a delicious, simple fish pie recipe.
Back to Basics: Macronutrients
The human diet consists of three macronutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrates. Two of these are essential to life: protein and fat. We have no need for carbohydrates as the body is able to generate these from protein and fat as needed. However, we do need to eat vegetables, which have a mixture of these three macronutrients. Therefore, when we eat vegetables, we automatically eat some carbohydrates. This includes fibre, which is also a carbohydrate. Fibre does not significantly raise blood sugar, so we can deduct it from the total carb count to get a net carb count.
Micronutrients found in vegetables (such as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients) act as co-factors for the metabolism of the macronutrients in the cell and are a healthy part of any diet.
Carbohydrates are found in all food except fat and animal protein. They comprise mainly sugars, which are called simple carbohydrates, starches and grains, which are often referred to as complex carbohydrates, and fibre. Carbs elicit a much faster spike in glucose than the other two macronutrients and, while fibre is not digested as such, it does have beneficial health properties.
It’s now believed a high-carbohydrate diet may cause heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and many other health conditions. While carbohydrates are restricted on this lifestyle, most vegetables, in particular green vegetables grown above ground, are encouraged as part of a healthy diet. There are no essential carbohydrates, nor essential sugars, but fat and protein are both essential.
Fat is an essential nutrient for the human body – without fat you’d die. It is an energy source (like petrol to a car), a building block for hormones and provides satiety. Food is more flavourful with fat, without which one would start craving sugar as an alternative source of flavour. There is saturated fat which you need not fear; polyunsaturated fat, which we don’t want in an unnatural form, as in seed oils; and monounsaturated fat, as found in foods like olives and avocado. All fat is made up of all three of these fats – it’s just the different ratio of saturated to polyunsaturated to monounsaturated that determines the type of fat.
Protein is essential to life. It is made up of amino acids; a ‘complete’ protein will have all 22 common amino acids, nine of which are essential for adults and another four for children and infants. The alphabet is made up of 26 letters, now imagine the ‘alphabet’ of a complete protein – this alphabet has 22 amino acids instead of letters, which are building blocks. From just 26 letters we form every word we have in the English language, and in the same way we form every kind of protein from these 22 amino acides (over 50,000). In each case it’s the sequence and the length that makes the difference.
Only nine of these amino acids are essential. The others can be manufactured from these; they are the raw materials. When you eat animal flesh, you get all nine essential ones – and most of the others too, unlike vegans. You may recognise some names of proteins: milk has casein and whey, whereas red meat has collagen, actin and myosin.
Plant proteins have different names but none of them are complete proteins as you find in the animal kingdom, as they all lack some of the nine essential amino acid building blocks.
This pie can be eaten hot or cold. This is a true budget meal that can feed half a dozen people if served with vegetables on the sides. For a delicious twist, add cabbage fried in lard.
400g tin of pilchards in brine
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp coconut flour
250ml full cream milk
1 tsp salt
Ground black pepper
1 tsp oregano
Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a pie dish.
Drain the pilchards and mash them with a fork.
Lightly fry the onions in the coconut oil. Add the onion to the fish and stir.
Now add the coconut flour and eggs and stir well.
Lastly, add the milk and seasoning.
Pour all this into your pie dish and bake for 30 minutes.
The pie firms up on standing, so leave it for 10 minutes before slicing.
Add 250ml of grated Cheddar to the mixture. Add green pepper to the onion. You could also add chopped fresh parsley.
Having spent her early years in and out of ICU units, suffering from chronic illness, and her 20s battling an ever-escalating list of ailments, Creed found herself on dozens of medications, seeing innumerable doctors and specialists, and undergoing endless tests and thirteen sinus operations.
After decades of searching for a stable sense of medical wellbeing, it wasn’t until Dr Robbie Simons gave Creed back her health and her life that she decided to study the subject further. She went on to achieve a postgraduate diploma in Clinical Nutrition and later studied Functional Medicine. Sally-Ann Creed is the author of nine books, including the bestselling Let Food Be Your Medicine, which is still viewed as a classic today.
This article contains extracts from The Low-Carb, Healthy Fat Bible by Sally-Ann Creed.