July 27, 2001
In this issue:|
| i everyone! Enjoying your Summer? I sure am! In fact,
recall ever feeling quite this terrific. People keep asking me what I'm "taking". [grin] Ever had your face actually get sore from smiling so much? Mine's been that way for days now. I'm not questioning it. ;) I believe it's because I have both purpose and love in my life. Sound a little sappy? Maybe, but sometimes the truth just happens to be a little cliché.
Each new day is a blank page in the diary of your life. The secret of success is in turning that diary into the best story you possibly can.
And in the words of John Edward, "Remember to communicate, appreciate and validate the loved ones in your life today."
On with the newsletter!
"The Big "Diet & Heart Disease" Misconception - PART I"
This week I was pointed to the wonderful continuing education course authored by Stephen Byrnes, ND, RNCP (thanks, Joan!) and I was so impressed by his course curriculum that I wrote to request permission to share some of it with you. He graciously granted my request — and please see the link to his site at the bottom of this article. There is so much information to cover that it cannot be done in one issue, so we bring you, Part One.
The course begins by laying out the "Lipid Theory" — which is basically what most of us have already heard on a daily basis — that which states that fat is bad, fat causes heart disease, fat causes artery blockage and an ever-increasing assortment of serious illnesses, most notably cancer. That cholesterol is the root of all evil. Traditional foods like butter, cream, lard, meats, and eggs have been blamed for horrible diseases, especially heart disease. Eliminate them, say the experts, and your risk for heart disease will drop drastically.
They go on to say that Coronary heart disease is a twentieth-century phenomenon and so is the emphasis on animal products in our diet. In the early 1900's, coronary heart disease was a comparatively rare illness... The rise of coronary heart disease in the United States (and other Western countries) paralleled the changes in the U.S. dietary habits.
They report that as the consumption of animal fat and cholesterol began to rise during this century, so did the incidence of coronary heart disease. People in most of the world... have never increased their consumption of animal products. In these countries, coronary heart disease is still a rare illness.
It is very common in nutritional medicine books to see low fat diet/low cholesterol diets recommended for hypertension and CVD. Such diets are also urged for "cancer prevention" and improved vitality and well being. All of the major health and nutritional organizations in the Western world embrace and promote the Lipid Hypothesis and its twin, the Cholesterol Hypothesis. A third theory goes along with the Lipid and Cholesterol hypotheses – a theory about high and low density lipoproteins (or HDL and LDL, respectively).
Of course the "Lipid Hypothesis" has been a boon for many industries, especially the pharmaceutical and food processing industries, which make a brisk dollar on cholesterol-lowering drugs and low-fat/cholesterol processed foods. The other major benefactor of the Lipid Hypothesis has been the vegetable oil and shortening industry.
So, now we'll jump right to what's wrong with this theory:
The Lipid Hypothesis Never Proven.
Of course, a bevy of scientific studies have supposedly proven the Lipid Hypothesis theory – that eliminating saturated fats is a good idea. Unfortunately, the Lipid Hypothesis has never been proven. There have always been scientific detractors from the Lipid Hypothesis, some very vocal in fact, but their minority views never seem to get much attention, either from the medical or journalistic communities. Nevertheless, there is ample evidence against the Lipid Hypothesis, as well as the cholesterol and HDL/LDL theories that deserves our attention. Before we get into this, however, we need to clarify a few things about lipids, or fats, so we'll all know what we're talking about.
There is a tendency for some nutrition writers to mix different kinds of fats together, treating them as if they were all the same — listing meat, milk, eggs, butter, margarine, and ice cream in the same category. This creates the impression to the reader that one fat is the same as another. This is false.
The error is repeated time and time again by researchers who hold to the Lipid Hypothesis. At the onset, you must remember that there are different types of fat, each with a mode of action different from the other. Lipid biochemistry is a complicated field, but anyone can understand the basics. Let's define our terms.
* Fatty Acids:
Fatty acids are chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms - short and some long depending on the one in question. They are placed into three groups: Saturated fatty acids (SFA), Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), and Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).
The number of available carbon bonds in the fatty acid molecule is what determines its degree of saturation. If all of the carbon bonds in a fatty acid are full and occupied by hydrogen atoms, it is saturated. If two carbon atoms are double-bonded to each other, therefore lacking two hydrogen atoms, it is monounsaturated. And if more than two carbon bonds are available, it is polyunsaturated. All fats, whether of animal or vegetable origin, are blends of these three types of fatty acids, but with one type usually predominating, depending on the fat in question.
The more a fat is saturated, the more stable it is chemically.
Saturated and monounsaturated fats do not go rancid easily if stored properly. Likewise, these fats are more stable under heat, making them ideal for cooking. Polyunsaturated fats, however, especially those of vegetable origin, are not as stable and go rancid more quickly, even in the body.
Rancid oils breed cancer-causing and tissue damaging free radicals. While some polyunsaturated fats are needed by the body, they should not exceed 4% of your total caloric intake due to this problem. Ironically, it is the polyunsaturates that have been urged by health experts for the last 50 years. And as people have consumed more of them, certain health problems, like heart disease, have escalated.
* Essential Fatty Acids:
There are two groups of fatty acids that are vital for our health: omega 3's and omega 6's. These are also known as the essential fatty acids (EFAs) and, like vitamins and minerals, must be gotten from our food. The body manufactures chemicals called prostaglandins from certain EFAs. Prostaglandins are localized tissue hormones that appear to regulate numerous chemical activities in our cells. In times past, humans consumed a balance of omega 3's – found in fish, walnuts, eggs, flax oil, dark green leafy vegetables, and some whole grains and omega 6's – found principally in vegetables. This is as it should be as both are equally important.
When there is an overabundance of omega 6's in the diet, however, our body's ability to absorb and utilize the omega 3's is inhibited. This causes a host of undesirable reactions including sexual and immune dysfunction, and increased cancer risk. This is something that most modern lipid researchers, especially those wedded to the Lipid Hypothesis, either overlook or do not know.
* Trans-Fatty Acids:
There is another type of "fat" that is produced during chemical processing called a trans-fatty acid (TFA). The major way that trans-fats are produced is by forcing hydrogen atoms into a vegetable oil by adding a nickel catalyst. In other words, hydrogenation makes a liquid lipid (vegetable oil) solid through chemical tampering. Although the finished product looks like a saturated fat (also solid), its chemical structure is very different. These are unnatural fats that our bodies cannot utilize properly because of their chemical structure.
These fake fats are found in margarine, "vegetable oil spreads," shortening, processed vegetable oils, and canola oil, as well as any foods made with them.
It is mostly trans-fatty acid consumption, and not saturated fat consumption, that is strongly correlated with increased cancer and cardiovascular disease, not saturated fat or cholesterol.
And what is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a heavy weight molecule, actually an alcohol or sterol. It is a slippery substance that moves at a high rate of speed through the body. It is found in every cell membrane. It is also the substrate used by the body to manufacture several hormones (e.g., adrenalin and progesterone). It is also an antioxidant that the body uses to repair damaged tissues, including damaged or weakened arteries.
So, what is the History of the Lipid Hypothesis?
Mortality data from the turn of the century indicate that heart disease and deaths from myocardial infarction (MI), a massive blood clot leading to death of the heart muscle, were extremely rare, usually less than 6% of total deaths. This rarity continued up until the late 1920s. Then, things started to change for the worse. Doctors who had never even seen a heart attack patient their entire careers, now began seeing them with increased frequency. By the 1950s, heart disease and MI's accounted for about 30% of all deaths in Western countries. That figure has risen steadily and now holds at about 45%. In just five or six decades, a once rare condition grew to become our number one killer. Scientists and doctors in the 1950s were grappling with this problem, trying to figure out what had caused the dramatic rise.
So let's look at the 1954 research paper (describing the effects of feeding cholesterol to rabbits by mixing the substance with rabbit chow) that became the [rather silly] basis on which we now assume cholesterol to be the root of all health-evils:
Young Russian researcher David Kritchevsky noted that the rabbits (herbivores with no mechanism for processing animal-based nutrition) developed arterial plaque, (atherosclerosis). The studies were actually repeats of experiments carried out decades before, also in Russia, in which cholesterol and saturated fat fed to rabbits resulted in clogged arteries and heart problems.
Later in 1954, Kritchevsky published another paper demonstrating that polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) in the diet could lower blood cholesterol levels. These two studies attracted immediate attention because they lent support to a theory that had developed to explain the rise of CVD, namely that saturated fats and cholesterol from animal products raise cholesterol levels in the blood, leading to fatty deposits in the arteries. It was as a result of this research that the Lipid Hypothesis was born.
A televised campaign was a success in terms of public acceptance. On the surface, it appeared that the theory was true because it was so simple - if you eat more fat and cholesterol, then more will clog your arteries. Things were helped along by slick advertising campaigns carried out by vegetable oil and margarine companies in which doctors such as Frederick Stare of Harvard University endorsed new products and belittled traditional animal fats and cholesterol-containing foods.
What's Wrong With This Picture? A look at Dissenting Voices:
Dr. Dudley White, a cardiologist, dissented, stating that he'd never seen an MI patient until 1928. "Back in the MI-free days before 1920 the fats were butter and lard, and I think that we would all benefit from the kind of diet that we had at a time when no one had ever heard the word 'corn' oil."
His pleas in 1956 went unheard at the time, but he had brought up a telling point – how could the Lipid Hypothesis possibly be true if, in times when heart disease and MI's were rare, people consumed plenty of animal fats, namely, butter and lard?
One would expect to see the same high rates of CVD in those who ate a lot of animal fats, like the Masai of East Africa or the Inuit of the Arctic Circle, but such was not the case. Several nutrition researchers noted the same thing and began to publish their objections.
Dr. Mary Enig and her associates at the University of Maryland published a series of papers severely damaging to the vegetable oil and margarine industries and the American government agencies urging a low-fat/cholesterol diet, specifically noting that the trans-fatty acids in such products produced dangerous changes in cells. One of the main findings Enig and her colleagues determined was that trans-fatty acids interfered with cellular enzyme systems that neutralised carcinogens, but increased enzymes that potentiated them, hence the high correlation between trans fat consumption and various cancers.
Dr. Enig became suspicious of the validity of the Lipid Hypothesis when she realized that animal fat consumption had declined steadily since the turn of the century. For example, a report in the Journal of American Oil Chemists showed that animal fat consumption had declined from 104 grams per person per day in 1909, to 97 grams per day in 1972, while vegetable fat intake had increased from a low 21 grams to almost 60 grams. Total fat consumption had increased, as the proponents of the Lipid Hypothesis argued, but this increase was due mostly to vegetable oils with 50 percent coming from liquid oils and another 41 percent from margarine made from vegetable oils.
Enig and her colleagues wrote up a detailed paper criticizing one of the assertions of the Lipid Hypothesis — that there is a strong correlation between dietary fat intake and the incidence of colon and breast cancer. The paper also demonstrated that the positive correlations between fat intake and cancer rates came from vegetable and trans fats, not the saturated fats of animals or coconuts. Indeed, Enig concluded that saturated fats seemed to protect against cancer! The paper was published in an American journal, Federation Proceedings, in July 1978 to the dismay of the vegetable oil industry.
After the publication of this paper, Enig and her colleagues lost all their funding for research. The paper was subsequently viciously attacked by proponents of the Lipid Hypothesis and scientists employed by food companies, but Enig and her colleagues defended themselves well, at least in the scientific journals that printed their response letters; several journals refused to print her rebuttals to criticisms.
Enig also began investigating the trans fat levels in a wide variety of foods on the market. Despite pressures from the food industry and the University of Maryland to halt the research, Enig and her colleagues discovered disturbing things about the amount of trans fat consumption, as well as its effects on the body.
Another well-known detractor was Dr. John Yudkin of Great Britain. In the 1950s, at the same time the Lipid Hypothesis was being promoted, Yudkin and his colleagues published conclusive findings that excessive refined sugar intake was associated with elevated blood cholesterol, elevated triglycerides (blood fats), enlargement of the liver, increased corticosteroid levels in the blood, hypertrophy of the adrenal glands, and shrinkage of the pancreas. Other researchers, following Yudkin's lead, also looked into the role of refined sugar in disease and discovered that increased sugar intake was one of the main causes of heart disease!
Yudkin's studies were ignored, too.
Next time, a point-by-point analysis of what's wrong with the Lipid Theory. In the meantime, we invite you to visit Dr. Stephen Byrnes' site at: PowerHealth.net to learn more.
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Another Visit to Small[mind]ville...
While working online this morning, I ran across a link at MSN's site heralding the Headline, "New fat-buster drug?". Okay, you know I'm not gonna pass this one up, so a click later, I am reading pretty much what I expected to find. The usual routine...
As expected, the article begins by quoting the "current" statistics in the US for those who are overweight or obese. More than half, they tell us, suffer this fate. (You'll note I placed quotes around "current" because newer statistics show we are now over 60%. Their figures are two years old.)
They go on to state a simple truth — that even those who are not overweight face increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and gallstones.
This truth is one I've been trying to get into the heads of several of my "thin" friends for a very long time now... that though weight loss is an obvious side effect of eating too many carbohydrates, even those who do not have a weight problem are damaging their health by eating their daily barrage of refined carbohydrates.
The article's main thrust then comes to play — the varied and numerous drugs now "coming down the pipeline" to aid in weight loss.
One (already used to treat anxiety and depression and help stop smoking) is Zyban. Zyban? Wow, now this "miracle" drug will help us become svelte and trim also? Can it get us a good job and fix split ends?
Uh oh... now there goes the miracle — it seems that Zyban (AND the others they mention) only work when the user sticks to their low-calorie diet and exercises regularly.
Hmmmmm... If the patient can do that, what exactly does the pill do?
Yes, the usual disclaimer makes clear that the drug(s) won't work if you don't do your part. So basically, they're saying that if we fail, it's only ourselves we have to blame.
Have we learned nothing?
Well, at least those of us reading this newsletter, HAVE learned that it's all in how you define "eating right". I do eat right, though the authors of this WebMD/MSN article would disagree with me. Can we look at the fact that we can succeed in losing weight (and keeping it off), getting healthy and feeling great WITHOUT their pills?
This article's source — WebMD — is not exactly a fan of low-carbohydrate diets — calling them "fad" diets that can kill you. Their idea of "eating right" is low-fat, low-cholesterol, and we all know where THAT's gotten us!
Let's stop asking the drug companies for more and more "miracles" and simply eat the way mankind ate for many centuries of health and vigor. You know... before the advent of Coca-Cola, Lunchables, and Honey-Nut Cheerios.
Low Carb Connoisseur "Kicks it up ANOTHER Notch!"
Fun with Desserts
Once again, here are several of our favorites of recipes submitted to us by our readers. Thanks to everyone that keeps them coming in. We have LOTS of fun "taking them out for a spin"! Included are two variations of coconut macaroons — different but both good.
Flaxseed Almond Cookies
Walnut Spice Drops
Almost Oatmeal Cookies
Laura's Coconut Macaroons
Jamie’s Coconut Macaroons
Cooking with Stu!
Nope, I'm in far too good a mood to "rant" this week, and since I've been cooking up a storm (and we get more requests for recipes than anything else!) here are some of the ones I made in the last few weeks that I hope you'll enjoy as much as my family and friends.
Five Spice Beef
Chicken Wings with Chiles and Lime
John's Cottage House Pie
Three of these recipes were sent to me by an online buddy (thanks, John) though I altered them a bit. Low carbing has truly taught me to love to cook!!
Splenda Sweetened Soda Pop
I noticed in "Stuart's Rant" in the June 29th newsletter, he mentions that he drinks diet soda (Splenda sweetened only). Can you tell me what diet sodas are sweetened with Splenda? I'm trying hard to stay away from aspartame and all the diet sodas I see seem to be sweetened with that. I would really appreciate any input.
Dear Shannon —
We agree — It's sometimes hard to locate non-aspartame drinks when you want one. Here's a list that we have compiled so far of those drinks that are Splenda (or Splenda/Ace-K mix) sweetened and contain no aspartame:
As you can see, there's a lot to chose from, though most are still "buy it and bring it home" drinks. Fountain drinks in most restaurants still offer only aspartame sweetened drinks because they're dominated by Coke and Pepsi who won't budge from Nutrasweet. More often than not, we order unsweetened ice tea and bring our own sweetener (Splenda) with us.
To make even more great Splenda sweetened sodas (in nearly every flavor imaginable), add DaVinci or Nature's Flavors sugarfree syrups to sparkling water and stir!
Thanks for all your letters, everyone! I get hundreds of letters each week and try to answer as many as I can.
Thanks for reading! Keep your suggestions and questions
coming in — we always want to hear from you! Remember, we
can't address every request and query, but the ones we hear
about the most or offer the greater potential to help others
will surely make their way here.|
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