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Study Exonerates Butter, Condemns Margarine As Unhealthy For Heart

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Eating margarine instead of butter may not be good for you after all, scientists have warned.

For the past 50 years, we have been advised to reduce our intake of saturated animal fats, and eat more of the polyunsaturated vegetable fats found in margarine.

But now scientists in the US claim to have turned that conventional wisdom on its head, with a new analysis of a study carried out between 1966 and 1973. Some of the data had been missing for decades.

The study, conducted in Sydney, followed 458 men aged 30 to 59 who had recently had a heart attack or suffered from angina.

Half were advised to cut their animal fat consumption and replace it with safflower oil – similar to sunflower oil – and safflower oil margarine.

The results, published in the British Medical Journal, showed that those who ate more of these products were almost twice as likely to die from all causes, including heart disease.

They chose the Sydney study because it was the only randomised controlled study to look at the impact of increasing consumption of omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acid.

Most studies of dietary interventions have involved multiple changes, but the Sydney study looked solely at omega 6.

Omega 6, the most prevalent polyunsaturated fat in most Western diets, is also known as linoleic acid.

It is found in large quantities in vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, safflower and soybean and in margarines made from these oils.

Once in the body, it is converted into a chemical called arachidonic acid which can trigger the release of other chemicals leading to inflammation, a leading cause of a host of chronic diseases – including heart disease.

The researchers, from the National Institutes of Health in the U.S., say their findings could have ‘important implications for worldwide dietary recommendations’.

But other scientists have criticised the results, saying they did not provide enough evidence to suggest people should change their diets.

Professor Tom Sanders, of King’s College London, said the study was ‘enormously underpowered’, of ‘little relevance to diets today’ and its findings had been refuted by recent better studies.

Professor Brian Ratcliffe, of  Aberdeen University, said: ‘This paper does not provide evidence for changes to the current recommendations for a healthy diet.’

And Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Our understanding of the effect of different fats on our heart develops all the time as new research into this complex issue is published.

‘Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated alternatives is a well-known recommendation for your heart, which is based on many large and in-depth studies.

‘However, this research highlights the need for us to further understand how different unsaturated fats affect our risk of heart disease.

‘Whichever fats you use it  is important to be sparing with them.’ 

Vegetable oils and margarine are supposed to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and increase weight loss and improve overall health.

But they are some of the most chemically altered foods in our diets, and critics say they should not be promoted as healthy.

Source:Daily Mail

Heart Surgeon: ‘Today Is My Day To Right The Wrong With Medical And Scientific Fact’

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.

I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labelled “opinion makers.” Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol.

The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice.

It Is Not Working!

These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.

Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before.

Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.

Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

Inflammation is not complicated — it is quite simply your body’s natural defence to a foreign invader such as a bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process,a condition occurs called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.

What thoughtful person would willfully expose himself repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to cause injury to the body? Well, smokers perhaps, but at least they made that choice willfully.

The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.

Let me repeat that: The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.

What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.

Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding. you kept this up several times a day, every day for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now.

Regardless of where the inflammatory process occurs, externally or internally, it is the same. I have peered inside thousands upon thousands of arteries. A diseased artery looks as if someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall. Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation.
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For The Love Of Lard

Monday, March 5th, 2012

In all the uproar over Paula Deen cashing in on her diabetes with a drug deal, one ingredient has gotten unfairly trashed. Countless headline and opinion writers have been throwing around the word lard as if it were a bad thing. But kitchen cognoscenti these days understand what cooks and bakers did a century ago B.C. (Before Crisco): The other white fat is infinitely better than the product manufactured and marketed to replace it.

Not only does lard produce superior pie crusts, crispier fried chicken, and crunchier cookies than vegetable shortenings like Crisco, which was introduced by Procter & Gamble in 1911, but its fat is mostly monounsaturated, like olive oil’s. Sourced properly (ideally from a farmers’ market), or made from scratch, lard is the ultimate natural food.

And whatever the butter-guzzling Deen was peddling, lard did nothing to earn such scorn. If anything is to blame for the diabetes epidemic, it would not be an ingredient that fell so out of favor that NPR’s Planet Money recently devoted an episode to “Who killed lard?” Last time I looked, fast food and soda contained no lard.

As it turns out, that recent report of its death was premature. Lard has gone through decades of shame thanks to heavy marketing of the unnatural alternative and also to what I call nutrition nuttiness—in the fat-fearing ’90s even olive oil came under siege. But now this time-proven ingredient is on the ascendancy in a nose-to-tail world, where every part of the heritage pig has value. More and more restaurants and bakeries are not just using lard but bragging about it, and more home cooks are coming around, too. In April they will even have a fresh cookbook to try: Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient from the editors of Grit magazine, has recipes for everything from predictable pie to potato chips and brownies.

Steven Gedra, chef and co-owner of Bistro Europa in Buffalo, actually serves house-rendered lard instead of butter with his bread basket. He learned to make it in Italy from the Tuscan celebrity butcher Dario Cecchini, seasoning it with lemon zest, red wine vinegar, salt, and black pepper, and dubbing it “burro del Chianti” after Cecchini’s version. Gedra admits, “We kind of force it on our clientele,” but adds: “It’s like with kids—they think they don’t like it and then they try it. You gotta educate ’em.” Gedra’s wife and co-owner, Ellen, has an easier job using lard in her bread and pie doughs. Like more and more restaurants, theirs brings in a pig every other week and makes the most of it, even selling the roasted head.

Paul Fehribach, executive chef and co-owner of Big Jones in Chicago, says he’s built a following for his flaky biscuits and pies made with lard. At first he was only rendering lard in-house “to be true in our whole-animal commitment,” he says, but now he has to buy extra to meet the demand. Asked how his diners deal, he shrugs: “I’ve been very outspoken about both the culinary and health benefits of lard in particular and whole-hog cooking in general, so I think our core client base has been relatively enthusiastic.”

Gwin Grimes, owner of Artisan Baking Co. in Fort Worth, Texas, also uses lard that she renders herself, and many customers now actually ask to be certain they’re getting pies with lard-based crusts rather than those made with butter or vegan shortening.

Nathan Sears, chef du cuisine of Vie in Chicago—and another proponent of whole-animal cookery—renders lard to cook vegetables with instead of butter, which, he notes, has more saturated fat. And at Americano in Cleveland, co-owner Cole Davis says the deep-fryer is filled with lard because “we believe it is the healthiest and most durable” fat for frites.

Lard is still saddled with a debased name (although when you add one extra letter it sounds more seductive—lardo is everywhere thanks to the salumi craze). No wonder some chefs say it sells better as “pork fat.”

But when I jokingly Tweeted “Lard: What is it good for?” the other day, the responses were surprisingly nearly all positive, with only one crack about grandparents cooking with it and living to tell the tale. Whoever is monitoring D’Artagnan’s account picked up on the music reference and responded: “Absolutely everything.” From food and nonfood followers came such raves as this one from Los Angeles restaurant critic Jonathan Gold: “Biscuits, pie crusts, tamales, French fries, confit, goulash, bizcochos, and dim sum.” Lori Ferro, of Cafe Aroma in Idyllwild, California, put it succinctly: “Lard beats Crisco any day, no matter what ‘The Help’ says,” alluding to a controversial scene in the movie in which one of the characters rhapsodizes about shortening for more than just frying chicken.

There’s lard and then there’s lard, though. What’s sold in supermarkets, often labeled with the Spanish name, manteca, is almost as bad as shortening was before the trans fats were eliminated, because it’s been processed in the same way—hydrogenated so that it will stay solid at room temperature and need no refrigeration. (Note: This is the kind used in Pillsbury roll-and-fill pie crusts.) The real deal can be found mostly at farmers’ markets or some butcher shops, especially by special order. As is the case with restaurants, butchers who specialize in whole animals are likely to have lard or at least fat to render for it.

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The Myth About Fried Food And Heart Risks

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

They say there is mounting research that it is the type of oil used, and whether or not it has been used before, that really matters.

The latest study, published in the British Medical Journal, found no association between the frequency of fried food consumption in Spain – where olive and sunflower oils are mostly used – and the incidence of serious heart disease.

However, the British Heart Foundation warned Britons not to “reach for the frying pan” yet, pointing out that the Mediterranean diet as a whole was healthier than ours.

Spanish researchers followed more than 40,000 people, two-thirds of whom were women, from the mid 1990s to 2004.

At the outset they asked them how often they ate fried foods, either at home or while out. They then looked to see whether eating fried foods regularly increased the likelihood of falling ill from having coronary heart disease, such as a heart attack or angina requiring surgery.

Dividing participants into four groups, from lowest fried food intake to highest, they found no significant difference in heart disease.

There were 606 incidents linked to heart disease in total, but they were split relatively evenly between the four groups.

The authors concluded: “In a Mediterranean country where olive and sunflower oils are the most commonly used fats for frying, and where large amounts of fried foods are consumed both at and away from home, no association was observed between fried food consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease or death.”

Commenting on the findings in the BMJ, Professor Michael Leitzmann of the University of Regensburg in Germany said two other studies – one from Costa Rica and another by an international team – had also failed to find strong evidence of a link.

He said: “Taken together, the myth that frying food is generally bad for the heart is not supported by available evidence.

“However, this does not mean that frequent meals of fish and chips will have no health consequences.”

Fried food did contain more calories, he said, while it had also been linked to high blood pressure and obesity.

The authors of the Spanish study noted that the findings could only really be extrapolated to other Mediterranean countries with similar diets, whose people tended to fry ‘fresh’ with olive and sunflower oil.

Fried foods from modern American-style takeaways were different, they argued, because these tended to have been cooked in re-used oils, higher in transfats.

In addition, such takeaways tended to contain much more salt, known to increase blood pressure and heart disease risk.

However, more and more people in Britain are now frying with olive oil or sunflower oil. Britain now consumes around 28 million litres of olive oil a year – double that sold a decade ago.

Half British households now use it regularly in some way, although not necessarily for frying, compared to a third 10 years ago.

Victoria Taylor, senior heart health dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Before we all reach for the frying pan it’s important to remember that this was a study of a Mediterranean diet, rather than British fish and chips.

“Our diet in the UK will differ from Spain, so we cannot say that this result would be the same for us too.

“Participants in this study used unsaturated fats such as olive and sunflower oil to fry their food.

“We currently recommend swapping saturated fats like butter, lard or palm oil for unsaturated fats as a way of keeping your cholesterol down and this study gives further cause to make that switch.

“Regardless of the cooking methods used, consuming foods with high fat content means a high calorie intake. This can lead to weight gain and obesity, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

“A well-balanced diet, with plenty of fruit and veg and only a small amount of high fat foods, is best for a healthy heart.”

Source: Telegraph

Eat Your Fat Not Your Vegetables

Friday, April 1st, 2011

The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it?


The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it? does what it says in the title it answers those two critical questions. It takes you on the journey that the author, Zoe Harcombe went on to answer those questions and hopefully it will shock you as much as it shocked her.

The starting point must be when did The Obesity Epidemic start? The graphs and tables show a stunning increase in obesity levels at the turn of the 1980 s and obesity literally takes off, like an aeroplane trajectory, from that point onwards.

Obesity in the UK, as an example, increases almost 10 fold between the 1970 s and 1999 from 2.7% to 25%.

So what happened? The short answer is we changed our diet advice. More accurately we did a U-turn in our diet advice. We used to believe (and our grandmothers still do) that bread and potatoes were fattening and we should put butter on our vegetables.

We changed this completely to tell citizens of the developed world to base our meals on starchy foods and to replace nature s butter with man-made hydrogenated spreads. Coincidence or cause?

The Obesity Epidemic takes you through the actual documents that changed our diet advice, most importantly why the advice changed and what is stopping us from changing the advice back. This is a journey through the landmark turning points in the history of public health diet advice and the impact that this has had on obesity and all the accompanying modern illnesses: heart disease; cancer; diabetes and the lack of well being that the average human suffers today.

If you currently believe that energy in equals energy out be prepared to change your view, if you read this book with an open mind. If you think one pound equals 3,500 calories, you may be in for a surprise. If you assume that you will lose one pound for every deficit of 3,500 calories you create, you will see irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

You will understand where five-a-day comes from and will hopefully revise your adherence to this marketing slogan afterwards. You will hopefully be shocked and appalled at the conflict of interest in the food and obesity industries. You may never drink fruit juice again.

With 400 references and every fact backed up with sourced and presented evidence this is the most informative book on the subject of obesity ever written. You cannot fail to learn a great deal and to have your thinking continually challenged in a highly engaging way. The research for this book changed everything the author held to be true read with an open mind it could do the same for you.

Love it or hate it, you have to read it.



How Michael Pollan Has Missed The Boat

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Eat real food. Eat a lot. Mostly local.

If you could encapsulate what you believe about food in three statements of three words or less, what would it be?

I’m prompted to ask this question for two reasons:  1) It’s fun and 2) Michael Pollan is wrong!

That’s right, I said it.  Michael Pollan got me thinking about this because everyone seems to love and quote his mini-tidbits of nutritional wisdom.   They’re becoming so commonly quoted that most people are unaware they stem from his writings.  Here’s a few you’ve probably heard:

“Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

“Avoid food products that make health claims.”

“Shop the perimeters of the supermarket and stay out of the middle aisles.”

I love them and quote them myself all the time!  And here’s probably the most popular one of all:

“Eat Food.  Not a lot. Mostly plants.”

Sounds good, right?

Truth be told…I hate it.   And I’m not the only one.

Thousands of people are waking up to our escalating health epidemics in this country.   And the further we get from the source of the problem, the more the truth becomes clear.   Vegetarians say it’s meat.  Vegans say it’s all animal products including eggs and milk.  Doctors and dietitians say it’s saturated fat and cholesterol.   Fitness experts say it’s lack of exercise.  Basically, everyone says it’s some combination of those things.  But the real reason is none of the above.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love Michael Pollan as much as the next real food enthusiast.  His book, Omnivore’s Dilemma, is the Silent Spring of this generation.  It raised the red flag on industrialized agriculture and it made us look harder than ever at where our food is coming from.  In so doing he has given a voice to small farms, to sustainably grown food and to everything that is good and noble and important about our food system.

His follow up to that book, In Defense of Food, condensed the message in Omnivore’s Dilemma into a more direct look at the controversial events and studies that led to our modern-day ideas about nutrition, which he wryly calls “nutritionism.”   Pollan cleverly describes the inherently flawed nature of all nutritional studies, especially those that have led to the lipid hypothesis, the theory that fat causes disease.   He attacks the forty-year government-pharmaceutical-medical-promoted war on fat, which he correctly points out has done nothing to improve our collective health.  Pollan blows apart the lipid hypothesis with sheer venom and wit:

What the Soviet Union was to the ideology of Marxism, the Low-Fat Campaign is to the ideology of nutritionism–its supreme test and, as is now coming clear, its most abject failure.

At this point you’re probably saying to yourself, Hold on just a minute.  Are you really saying the whole low-fat deal was bogus?  But my supermarket is still packed with low-fat this and no-cholesterol that!  My doctor is still on me about my cholesterol and telling me to switch to low-fat everything. I was flabbergasted at the news too, because no one in charge–not in the government, not in the public health community–has dared to come out and announce: Um, you know everything we’ve been telling you for the last thirty years about the links between dietary fat and heart disease?  And fat and cancer?  And fat and fat? Well, this just in: It now appears that none of it was true.  We sincerely regret the error.

No, the admissions of error have been muffled, and the recent mea culpas impossible to find.  But read around the recent scientific literature and you will find a great many scientists beating a quiet retreat from the main tenets of the lipid hypothesis.

Pollan contrasts the low fat mantra with nutritionism’s greatest enemy:  the almighty Common Sense.  In a chapter from In Defense of Food titled “The Elephant in the Room,” Pollan discusses the life and research of Dr. Weston Price.  Price traveled the world in the 1930s studying the diets of cultures untouched by civilization.  Dr. Price found a wide variety of diets but nowhere did he find cultures eating low fat or low cholesterol.  He found that most cultures relied heavily on animal foods be they milk, meat, or eggs and found that these foods were considered sacred for good health, child development, and fertility.  And nowhere did Dr. Price find type II diabetes, heart disease, or any of the other major epidemics that plague us today.

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The Low Fat Craze May Be On The Way Out

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

The low-fat trend finally appears to be on its way out. The notion that saturated fats are detrimental to our health is deeply embedded in our Zeitgeist—but shockingly, the opposite just might be true. For over 50 years the medical establishment, public health officials, nutritionists, and dieticians have been telling the American people to eat a low-fat diet, and in particular, to avoid saturated fats. Only recently, have nutrition experts begun to encourage people to eat “healthy fats.”

This past December, the Los Angeles Times reported that excess carbohydrates and sugar, not fat, are responsible for America’s obesity and diabetes epidemics. One of the lead researchers in this field, Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said, “The country’s big low-fat message backfired. The overemphasis on reducing fat caused the consumption of carbohydrates and sugar in our diets to soar. That shift may be linked to the biggest health problems in America today.” Another expert, Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, said, “Fat is not the problem.”

Last month, Martha Rose Shulman of the New York Times Recipes for Health section, wrote that she’s taken the “no low-fat pledge.” Shulman writes, “I took a pledge the other day that will surprise my longtime followers. It even surprised me. I pledged to drop the term ‘low-fat’ from my vocabulary.”

Shulman, an influential food and recipe writer with over 25 books to her name, has long promoted low-fat and light cooking, but now writes, “There are many recipes in my cookbooks from the 90s that now look and taste dated to me. I’ve put back some of the oil and cheese that I took out when editors were telling me to keep total fat at 30 percent of total calories–a concept that is now obsolete even among policymakers.”

She and a room full of “nutrition scientists, dietitians, doctors, chefs and food service titans” recently listened to experts on nutrition debunk some of the common fat myths. Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, who co-directs the program in cardiovascular epidemiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School and is an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, was also there and said, “No randomized trial looking at weight change has shown that people did better on a low-fat diet. For many people, low-fat diets are even worse than moderate or high-fat diets because they’re often high in carbohydrates from rapidly digested foods such as white flour, white rice, potatoes, refined snacks and sugary drinks.”

These are clear indications that an important tipping point in the mainstream understanding of fat and nutrition is underway. But it did take some time. Back in 2002, Gary Taubes wrote about it in the New York Times magazine, laying out a fine deconstruction of the low-fat premise presented to the American people. He pointed out that the science behind this recommendation was never proven and was actually based on “a leap of faith” (more on this here).

In 2001, Dr. Hu, writing in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, noted, “It is now increasingly recognized that the low-fat campaign has been based on little scientific evidence and may have caused unintended health problems.” Or, as Michael Pollan pithily puts it in his In Defense of Food, “The amount of saturated fat in the diet may have little if any bearing on the risk of heart disease, and the evidence that increasing polyunsaturated fats in the diet will reduce risk is slim to nil.”

This brings up several important issues in the fat debate. It is still widely held that what matters are the types of fat we consume. Even in Shulman’s article on her fat re-education, there are contradictions—it’s clear she just can’t get her head around the idea that saturated fats may indeed be healthy. She writes, “Saturated fat—the kind found in animals and dairy products, as well as in any hydrogenated fat—is also regarded as a less healthy fat because it raises L.D.L cholesterol, or ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood, and this kind of cholesterol is related to heart disease. But even saturated fat is not so bad compared to refined carbohydrates, the doctors say, and if we were to eliminate it from our diet we would also be eliminating many foods that are also rich in healthy fats, like fish, whose omega-3 fatty acids are vital to good health.”

But as Pollan points out, the idea that saturated fats are a less healthy fat just isn’t true, as the picture is fairly complex. Indeed, most foods are composed of a many different types of fats. For example, half the fat found in beef is unsaturated and most of that fat is the same monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Lard is 60 percent unsaturated and most of the fat in chicken fat is unsaturated as well, according to Taubes 2008 book Good Calories, Bad Calories.  In his New York Times article he writes, “Even saturated fats–AKA, the bad fats—are not nearly as deleterious as you would think. True, they will elevate your bad cholesterol, but they will also elevate your good cholesterol. In other words, it’s a virtual wash.” Taubes continues, “Foods considered more or less deadly under the low-fat dogma turn out to be comparatively benign if you actually look at their fat content. More than two-thirds of the fat in a porterhouse steak, for instance, will definitively improve your cholesterol profile (at least in comparison with the baked potato next to it); it’s true that the remainder will raise your L.D.L., the bad stuff, but it will also boost your H.D.L. The same is true for lard. If you work out the numbers, you come to the surreal conclusion that you can eat lard straight from the can and conceivably reduce your risk of heart disease.”

Nearly every day new research and studies come out debunking popular fat myths; despite this, misinformation persists. On the Mayo Clinic’s Web site, saturated fats are lumped in with trans-fats under the banner “harmful dietary fat” and the site claims that saturated fat can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

The link to cardiovascular disease is tenuous at best—the idea being that saturated fats raise your cholesterol and triglyceride levels which in turn leads to cardiovascular disease. But according to the most recent studies, including one reported in the Los Angeles Times article, this is not true. “Contrary to what many expect—dietary fat intake is not directly related to blood fat. Rather, the amount of carbohydrates in the diet appears to be a potent contributor,” Marni Jameson writes.

And during a symposium called “The Great Fat Debate: Is There Validity In the Age-Old Dietary Guidance?” at the American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, four leading experts agreed that replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates is likely to raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Walter Willett said, “If anything, the literature shows a slight advantage of the high fat diet.”

And as for diabetes, there is no data to support the notion that a high-fat diet increases the risk for diabetes. Again, if anything, the opposite appears to be true. In a 2008 study reported in the Los Angeles Times article, obese men and women with metabolic syndrome (a precursor to diabetes) that went on a high saturated-fat, low-carb diet saw their triglycerides drop by 50 percent and their levels of good H.D.L. cholesterol increase by 15 percent.

But old dietary habits die hard and convincing people that what they’ve been told for the past 50 years is just plain wrong, is a hard sell. Not only that, but the continued recommendations to eat low-fat versions of foods (as in the USDA’s latest dietary guidelines and on the Mayo Clinic’s Web site) don’t help. Americans are confused about nutrition and disease and it’s only getting more complex with corporations claiming to make healthier foods (see Mark Bittman’s take on McDonald’s oatmeal and my take on Wal-Mart’s health washing).

Keep in mind, there is one type of fat that is implicated in high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, heart disease, and diabetes: Trans-fat. Trans-fats raise bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol, and increase triglycerides, they also promotes inflammation and insulin resistance, according to a 2000 article in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. This points to the one basic axiom that always hold true: Eat real, whole foods and nothing else—now, if we could only just all agree on what those are.

Source: Civil Eats


Hippocrates Prescription: Eat Low-Carb

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Dr. Robert Atkins is credited (or blamed) for creating the low-carb diet. But Dr. Atkins was not the first to advocate a high-fat, high-protein, low-carb diet for losing weight.

The father of medicine was also the father of low-carb. Hippocrates of Kos, the most famous and honored doctor of all time, known as the “Father of Medicine” was the first to advocate a low-carb diet for losing weight.

Who Was Hippocrates?
Hippocrates was born in the middle of the fifth century before Christ. He revolutionized the practice of medicine in ancient Greece. At that time, there was a conflict in Greek medicine. There was a division between those doctors who relied on aggressive, dangerous treatments like drugs and surgery (yes, the ancient Greeks used both), and those who saw illness as a punishment from the gods and advocated religious means for healing. Hippocrates created a new path for healing.

Hippocrates studied his patients by observing them, taking careful notes, and using his experience to diagnose their conditions. His approach was centered on strengthening the patient through food, exercise, and rest, so the patient’s body could heal itself. Some other techniques used to strengthen the body included massage, inhaling various fragrances, soft music, relaxation, even gentle conversation designed to help calm the patient, and other similar techniques.

Hippocrates taught that it was more important to know the patient’s body and how to strengthen it, than to know the disease the patient had. Hippocrates taught that the body had the power to heal any illness, if the natural processes were properly supported.

The Hippocratic way of healing always started with diet and exercise. Only if those did not work was medication used. The use of medication was stopped when the patient was well enough to respond to diet and exercise. Surgery was the last resort. The doctor was instructed that every patient was a unique individual, and treatment had to be designed for each particular patient. This was the total opposite of today’s “same treatment for the same disease for everybody” approach.

Hippocrates taught that the patient should be treated with kindness, respect, love, and understanding, and knew that a person’s mental attitude had a great deal to do with the healing process.

Hippocrates believed that aggressive medical treatment could do great harm to the patient, and said that the most important rule for the physician was, “First, do no harm.”

Why Was Hippocrates Considered the Greatest Doctor of All Time?
Hippocrates was considered the greatest doctor of all time, because he was so successful in treating illness. While he did not cure everybody, he cured so many that he became recognized as the greatest and most successful doctor of antiquity, perhaps of all time.

Hippocrates became particularly famous when he was credited with stopping the great plague that hit Athens during the Peloponnesian War. Athens was under siege, with large numbers of people and animals crowded together. All food had to be brought in by sea, and there was a shortage of fresh food. A terrible plague broke out, killing thousands. The drugs and treatments of the conventional doctors proved useless, as did trying to appease the Greek gods. Hippocrates and his followers came to Athens to try to cure the plague, as it was feared that this terrible disease would wipe out Athens and threaten the very survival of the rest of Greece.

Diet and exercise would not work here, as the victims of the plague were too sick to keep food down, or to exercise. Hippocrates carefully observed the situation. He noticed that the only group of people not affected by the plague were the blacksmiths and their workers. Hippocrates noted that the blacksmiths spent a great deal of time around burning fires, and often drank warm water that had been brought to a boil, since they were always around hot fires. Hippocrates gave these instructions to the people of Athens:

They were to light large fires in every home, and keep them burning.
All corpses were to be burned completely.
All water was to be boiled before drinking.
The people of Athens followed his prescription, and the plague soon ended.

I should mention that modern doctors and historians call this a legend, refusing to believe that an ancient physician could cure the plague. After all, he had no modern drugs or antibiotics. Any end to the plague must have been a coincidence that had nothing to do with Hippocrates. But the people who were actually there gave credit to Hippocrates, and considered him the greatest doctor in the world.

How to Lose Weight—“Let the Foods Be Rich”
Hippocrates lived in a time when many people were fat, and wanted to lose weight. He said: “People who wish to become thin should let the foods be rich.”

Hippocrates believed that a diet consisting of rich foods would satisfy the appetite, giving the body what it needed so the patient would not eat too much. “Rich food” in his day meant the fat from grassfed animals and pigs, fatty cheeses, and fatty meats. By limiting his patients to the rich foods, he was putting them on a low-carb diet, a diet that was very similar to the one advocated by Dr. Atkins, 2500 years later!

Hippocrates also cautioned doctors to avoid a “one size fits all” approach to weight loss. He stated that each patient had a natural weight that was ideal for that person. The goal was to reach the degree of thinness that the patient’s body would support, and maintain naturally with a good diet.

By advocating that each patient reach the level of thinness that was right for them, Hippocrates rejected the idea that every person must reach the same degree of thinness. The modern idea of identical thinness for everyone has caused so much pain and misery, causing the horrible cycle of drastic weight loss followed by drastic weight gain that is so common today. This horrible cycle is repeated by person after person, resulting in huge profits for the diet industry.

It should be noted that Hippocrates prescribed various diets to help sick people. Sometimes he would prescribe a diet that contained carbs, and sometimes he would put a patient on an all-barley diet for a short period, but not for weight loss. As always, he customized his treatment to the individual patient.

Hippocrates Said
Some of the quotes from Hippocrates really show his philosophy, and are completely consistent with the alternative doctors of today:

“Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.”

“Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot, if you can cure the patient with food.”

“Walking is man’s best medicine.”

The Hippocratic Oath
Hippocrates is famous for establishing a code of ethics for the medical profession, which was embodied in an oath he wrote for all physicians to take.

There was a time when all Western doctors took the oath, though many did not honor it. The modern version of the Hippocratic Oath does not even resemble the oath written by Hippocrates, and is completely different.

To me, the most important part of the original Hippocratic Oath is stated in this paragraph:

“I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability, and judgment, and I will do no harm or injustice to them.”

In other words, doctors used to take an oath to heal with diet! Not drugs, radiation, or surgery, but diet.

Hippocrates and the Research of Dr. Weston A. Price
The healing approach of Hippocrates, based on a healthy diet that supports the natural functioning of the body, is completely consistent with the findings of Dr. Weston A. Price.

Dr. Weston A. Price studied a number of healthy peoples who ate the diet of their ancestors. All of these peoples followed the Hippocratic method of using diet to support the natural functions of their bodies. All of these peoples were completely free of the chronic diseases that plague the modern world. All of these peoples ate a diet that was much higher in animal and fish fat, and much lower in carbs than modern diets. And all of these peoples were in great physical shape, with obesity being unknown.

Dr. Robert Atkins, the founder of the modern low-carb diet, had been demonized, vilified, and heavily criticized. His critics constantly claimed that his findings had no support in science or history. They were wrong, as the greatest physician of all time, Hippocrates of Kos, also prescribed a low-carb diet for losing weight, using very much the same approach as Dr. Atkins.

Source: Tender Grassfed Meat

Study Finds Whole Fat Dairy Foods May Lower Diabetes Risk

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

People with higher intakes of a fat found mainly in dairy products might have lower odds of developing diabetes, a new study suggests.

Looking at more than 3,700 U.S. adults, researchers found that those with higher blood levels of the fatty acid — known as trans-palmitoleic acid — were about 60 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes over the next 20 years than people with the lowest blood levels.

That would seem to run counter to longstanding recommendations to trade in whole milk and cheese for the skim varieties for the sake of health.

And experts caution that it’s indeed too soon to break out the full-fat dairy.

For one thing, whether the fatty acid itself deserves the credit for the lower diabetes risk is not clear. And then there’s the fact that full-fat dairy products are often high in calories, which could lead to weight gain — itself a risk factor for diabetes — and saturated fat, which could boost “bad” LDL cholesterol and contribute to heart disease.

“Dietary recommendations should not be changed based on any one study,” said lead researcher Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

But he said the findings are “exciting” and warrant further research — including, at some point, clinical trials in which people would be given supplements of trans-palmitoleic acid to see if the fat itself curbs diabetes risk.

The results, reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, also point to a potential explanation for some previous research that showed dairy lovers to have a lower diabetes risk than people who consume little dairy.

Even if the benefit does not come from trans-palmitoleic acid specifically, Mozaffarian said, these findings bolster the case that dairy has some anti-diabetes property.

“I think this study confirms that there is something about dairy foods that’s responsible,” he said.

Mozaffarian said he feels confident, in part, because he and his colleagues were able to account for a range of diabetes risk factors among the study participants — including their age, weight, exercise habits and general diet. And those things did not explain the link between the dairy fat and lower diabetes risk.

Of more than 700 study participants with the highest blood levels of the fatty acid, 38 later developed diabetes. That compared with 94 cases among the 700-plus with the lowest levels of the dairy fat.

When the researchers adjusted for the other factors in their analysis, people with the top-20-percent blood levels of the fatty acid showed a 62 percent lower risk of diabetes than the group with bottom-20-percent fatty acid levels.

Trans-palmitoleic acid falls into the broad category of “trans-fat,” which has become notorious in recent years for its links to elevated LDL cholesterol and heart disease.

However, unlike the trans-fats in many processed foods, like cookies, crackers and chips, trans-palmitoleic acid is a natural fat. And so far, Mozaffarian said, research has not linked natural trans-fats in dairy and meat to an increased heart disease risk.

Source: Reuters

Super High Fat Miracle Diet Helps Control Epilepsy

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Once every three or four months my son, Sam, grabs a cookie or a piece of candy and, wide-eyed, holds it inches from his mouth, ready to devour it. He knows he’s not allowed to eat these things, but like any 9-year-old, he hopes that somehow, this once, my wife, Evelyn, or I will make an exception.

We never make exceptions when it comes to Sam and food, though, which means that when temptation takes hold of Sam and he is denied, things can get pretty hairy. Confronted with a gingerbread house at a friend’s party last December, he went scorched earth, grabbing parts of the structure and smashing it to bits. Reason rarely works. Usually one of us has to pry the food out of his hands. Sometimes he ends up in tears.

It’s not just cookies and candy that we forbid Sam to eat. Cake, ice cream, pizza, tortilla chips and soda aren’t allowed, either. Macaroni and cheese used to be his favorite food, but he told Evelyn the other day that he couldn’t remember what it tastes like anymore. At Halloween we let him collect candy, but he trades it in for a present. At birthday parties and play dates, he brings a lunchbox to eat from.

There is no crusade against unhealthful food in our house. Some might argue that unhealthful food is all we let Sam eat. His breakfast eggs are mixed with heavy cream and served with bacon. A typical lunch is full-fat Greek yogurt mixed with coconut oil. Dinner is hot dogs, bacon, macadamia nuts and cheese. We figure that in an average week, Sam consumes a quart and a third of heavy cream, nearly a stick and a half of butter, 13 teaspoons of coconut oil, 20 slices of bacon and 9 eggs. Sam’s diet is just shy of 90 percent fat. That is twice the fat content of a McDonald’s Happy Meal and about 25 percent more than the most fat-laden phase of the Atkins diet. It puts Sam at risk of developing kidney stones if he doesn’t drink enough. It is constipating, so he has to take daily stool softeners. And it lacks so many essential nutrients that if Sam didn’t take a multivitamin and a calcium-magnesium supplement every day, his growth would be stunted, his hair and teeth would fall out and his bones would become as brittle as an 80-year-old’s.

Evelyn, Sam’s twin sister Beatrice and I don’t eat this way. But Sam has epilepsy, and the food he eats is controlling most of his seizures (he used to have as many as 130 a day). The diet, which drastically reduces the amount of carbohydrates he takes in, tricks his body into a starvation state in which it burns fat, and not carbs, for fuel. Remarkably, and for reasons that are still unclear, this process — called ketosis — has an antiepileptic effect. He has been eating this way for almost two years.

uriosity bordering on alarm is the only way to describe how people receive this information. “In-teresting,” one acquaintance said. “Did you make this up yourself?” Another friend was more direct: “Is this a mainstream-science thing or more of a fringe treatment?” We are not surprised by these reactions. What we are doing to Sam just seems wrong. The bad eating habits of Americans, especially those of children, are a national health crisis. Yet we are intentionally feeding our son fatty food and little else.

Read the rest at The New York Times.