Saturated fat has always been part of the normal human diet & is a normal part of metabolism. Saturated fatty acids are synthesized in your body, a process that is stimulated by a high carbohydrate diet. This has been known for years. The process is called de novo lipogenesis & is in the biochemistry textbooks. However, the idea is immediately forgotten when official dietary recommendations are being written. A collection of studies, some going back 25 years was not able to find any risk in dietary saturated fat.
Richard D Feinman of State University of New York Downstate Medical Center described the current state of nutrition science as follows:
The idea that dietary carbohydrate, sugars and starches, have some unique power to make people fat is pretty old. It would be hard to identify the first farmer who fattened animals for market by feeding them grain.
The mechanism: The anabolic effects of the hormone insulin, stimulated primarily by the sugar glucose, was a well established physiologic phenomenon before the first low carbohydrate revolution. Although it has been around for a long time, carbohydrate restriction only became
revolutionary with the ascendancy of a kind of low-fat nutritional-medical monarchy with powerful influence.
Gary Taubes’book“Good Calories, Bad Calories”documented the political ascendancy of the low-fat paradigm and the establishment of something like the Court of Low-Fat. Taubes’book was the most compelling presentation of how nutritional science had been taken over by this group of lipophobes. Numerous re-tellings have followed. The recent "Big Fat
Surprise" is of comparable literary quality to “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and is more explicit in its condemnation of the players. Ultimately, with control over even the NIH, the low-fat mafia could now resist all scientific argument and dismiss all of the experimental failures of low-fat to give us anything at all. The ascendancy of low-fat was, and still is, coupled with a special hatred for low-carbohydrate diets and especially for its main exponent, Dr. Atkins, even after his death.
Of the tests of the low-fat idea that failed, nothing was more embarrassing than the Women’s health initiative (WHI) which reported in 2006: “Over a mean of 8.1 years, a dietary
intervention that reduced total fat intake and increased intakes of vegetables, fruits, and grains did not significantly reduce the risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD in postmenopausal women.....”
The WHI women weren’t getting any better and the population at large, doing its best to adhere to low-fat advise,was getting fatter and more diabetic in this period. Refusal to see the WHI for what it was, represented a clear statement that the lipophobes, starting at the top of the NIH, were going to stonewall any effort to change.
Over 36 months, the moderately low carbohydrate diet intervention showed sustained effectiveness (without safety concerns) in improving HbA1c, lipid profile, and liver enzymes in Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes. For details, click here.
If you are doing conventional aerobic exercise like jogging, walking etc, you should consider trying High intensity interval traing (HIIT aka HIIE). HIIT can better protect your arteries from endothelial dysfunction inflicted by high fat diet. Why bother endothelial function? Because endothelial dysfunction can lead to atherosclerosis which is the root cause of age-related diseases like CAD, stroke, PAOD etc. Recent research has found that HIIT can save precious time and get the same or even better results compared to conventional aerobic exercise. For more information click here.
Canadian researchers recently hypothesized that HIIT combined with carb-restriction might be the optimal combination for treating metabolic diseases like T2DM. For details click here.
Endothelial function is measured by assessing flow mediated dilatation (FMD) in brachial artery. In above figure, FMD is reduced in control group (bottom line). CME (Conventional moderate intensity exercise) group also has reduced FMD (middle line). The red line (HIIE) does not fall 16-18 hours after a high fat meal. This experiment showed postprandial reduction of FMD caused by high fat diet is prevented by HIIE but not CME.
The 2 most powerful promotors of inflammation in our modern diet are refined carbohydrates & refined vegetable oils. "Vegetable" oils are oils extracted from seeds--these include soybean oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, corn oil, and many, many others. We were taught that these oils were healthy for us because they are cholesterol-free, low in saturated fat & come from plants, but the truth is that they do not exist in nature, require industrial methods & often chemical solvents to extract, & are loaded with omega-6 fatty acids & fight against the precious omega-3 fatty acids our brains need to develop properly & function properly every day. Vegetable oils are found in nearly every processed food in the grocery store—baked goods, salad dressings, chips, snack bars, soups, sauces, fried foods, mayonnaise, etc. Click here to see more
In above picture, it is pretty clear that Palm oil, coconut oil, butter, lard & olive oil are quite low in omega-6 fatty acids compared to the vegetable seed oils like corn, soy, sunflower, even peanut oil.
To cool and quiet inflammation in your brain naturally, steer clear of refined carbohydrates & vegetable oils, which no human was ever meant to eat, & choose whole animal & plant foods that we are well-adapted to consuming. This means avoiding processed foods like baked goods, pasta, cereals, salad dressings, candy, chips, mayonnaise, soda, fried foods, and fruit juice & sticking to real whole foods like meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, fruits, & vegetables.
This is incredible. It is a marker of arterial aging. The following study supports the above statement:
44,052 asymptomatic individuals free of known coronary heart disease underwent cardiac CT scan for the assessment of subclinical atherosclerosis (Coronary calcium score assessment). They were followed for a mean of 5.6±2.6 years for the primary end point of all-cause mortality. Individuals without traditional risk factors (smoking, dyslipidemia, DM, hypertension, & family history of coronary heart disease) but elevated CAC (who are generally not candidate for aggressive prevention) had a significantly higher mortality rates than individuals with multiple traditional risk factors but no CAC. These findings challenge the exclusive use of traditional risk assessment algorithms for determining the intensity of primary prevention therapies & suggest that selected groups of patients without traditional risk factors may benefit from further risk assessment and preventive therapies. The findings from this study are consistent with other reports: 43% of the subjects in this cohort had no traditional risk factors, & within this subgroup, 48% had detectable CAC and 6% had a CAC >400. Although prior guidelines only recommended CAC testing for select intermediate-risk individuals with 10-year risk of 10% to 20%, updated guidelines have now acknowledged the CAC testing for further risk stratification in lower risk individuals & had reduced the threshold to include individuals with estimated 6% to 10% risk of CHD in next 10 years. However, current guidelines recommend against CAC testing in those with 0 to 1 traditional risk factors. This study suggests that CAC testing even among those with no traditional risk factors provides important prognostic information, which can be instrumental in guiding preventive therapies.
All those who care about healthy eating & nutritional science are encouraged to read "the Big Fat Surprise". Some important points are extracted below so you can have a taste of its importance:
The Big Fat Surprise lays out the scientific case for why our bodies are healthiest on a diet with ample amounts of fat and why this regime necessarily includes meat,eggs, butter, and other animal foods high in saturated fat. The Big Fat Surprise takes us through the dramatic twists and turns of 50 years of nutrition science and lays out the evidence, so that a reader can fully understand the evidence to see for him- or herself how we arrived at our present understanding. At its heart,this book is a scientific investigation, but it is also a story about the strong personalities who corralled colleagues into believing their ideas. These ambitious,crusading researchers launched the entire American population, and subsequently the rest of the world, on the low-fat, near-vegetarian diet, a regime that ironically may have directly exacerbated many of the ills it was intended to cure.
For all of us who have spent much of our lives believing & following this diet, it is of vital importance to understand how and what went wrong, as well as where we might go from here.
To a surprising degree, in fact, the story of nutritional science is not, as we would expect, one of sober-minded researchers moving with measured, judicious steps. It falls, instead, under the “Great man” theory of history, whereby strong personalities steer events using their own personal charisma, intelligence, wisdom, or wits. In the history of nutrition, Ancel Keys was, by far, the Greatest man.
. . . . .
Once ideas about fat and cholesterol became adopted by official institutions, even prominent experts in the field found it nearly impossible to challenge them. One of the 20th century‘s most revered nutrition scientists, the organic chemist David Kritchevsky discovered this 30 years ago when, on a panel for the National Academy of Sciences, he suggested loosening the restrictions on dietary fat. “ We were jumped on!” he told me. “People would spit on us! It’s hard to imagine now, the heat of the passion. It was just like we had desecrated the American flag. They were so angry that we were going against the suggestions of the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health.” This kind of reaction met all experts who criticized the prevailing view on dietary fat, effectively silencing any opposition. Researchers who persisted in their challenges found themselves cut off from grants, unable to rise in their professional societies, without invitations to serve on the expert panels, and at a loss to find scientific journals that would publish their papers. Their influence was extinguished and viewpoints lost. As a result, for many years the public has been presented with the appearance of a uniform scientific consensus on the subject of fat, especially saturated fat, but this outward unanimity was only made possible because opposing views were pushed aside.
Unaware of the flimsy scientific scaffolding upon which their dietary guidelines rest, Americans have dutifully attempted to follow them. Since the 1970s, we have successfully increased our fruits & vegetables by 17%, our grains by 29%, and reduced the amount of fat we eat from 40% to 33% of calories. The share of those fats that are saturated has also declined, according to the government’s own data. (In these years, Americans also began exercising more.) Cutting back on fat has clearly meant eating more carbohydrates such as grains,rice, pasta, and fruit. A breakfast without eggs and bacon, for instance, is usually one of cereal or oatmeal; low-fat yogurt, a common breakfast choice, is higher in carbohydrates than the whole-fat version, because removing fat from foods nearly always requires adding carbohydrate-based “fat replacers” to make up for lost texture. Giving up animal fats has also meant shifting over to vegetable oils, & over the past century the share of these oils has grown from zero to almost 8% of all calories consumed by Americans, by far the biggest change in our eating patterns during that time.
In this period, the health of America has become strikingly worse. When the low-fat, low cholesterol diet was first officially recommended to the public by the American Heart Association in 1961, roughly 1 in seven adult Americans was obese. 40 years later, that number was one in three. (It’s heartbreaking to realize that the federal government’s “Healthy People” goal for 2010, A project begun in the mid-1990s, for instance, was simply to return the public back to levels of obesity seen in 1960, and even that goal was unreachable.) During these decades, we have also seen rates of diabetes rise drastically from less than 1% of the adult population to more than 11%, while heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both men and women. In all, it’s a tragic picture for a nation that has, according to the government, faithfully been following all the official dietary guidelines for so many years. If we’ve been so good, we might fairly ask, why is our health report card so bad?
It’s possible to think of the low-fat, near-vegetarian diet of the past half century as an uncontrolled experiment on the entire American population, significantly altering our traditional diet with unintended results. That may sound like a dramatic assertion, and I never would have believed it myself, but one of the most astonishing things I learned over the course of my search was that for 30 years after the low-fat diet had been officially recommended and we were taking it’s supposed benefits for granted, it had not been subjected to a large scale, formal scientific trial. Finally, there was the Women’s Health Initiative(WHI), a trial that enrolled 49,000 women in 1993 with the expectation that when the results came back, the benefits of a low-fat diet would be validated once and for all. But after a decade of eating more fruits, vegetables, & whole grains while cutting back on meat and fat, these women not only failed to lose weight, but they also did not see any significant reduction in their risk for either heart disease or cancer of any major kind. WHI was the largest and longest trial ever of the low-fat diet, and the results indicated that the diet had quite simply failed.
Now, in 2014, a growing number of experts has begun to acknowledge the reality that making the low-fat diet the centerpiece of nutritional advice for six decades has very likely been a bad idea. Even so, the official solution continues to be more of the same. We are still advised to eat a diet of mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with modest portions of lean meat and low-fat dairy. Red meat is still virtually banned, as are whole-fat milk, cheese, cream, butter, and, to a lesser extent, eggs.
A line of argument in favor of eating these whole-fat animal foods has sprung up among cookbook authors and “foodies”, who can’t believe that all the things their grandparents ate could really be so bad for them. There are also the Paleo eaters, who swap information on Internet blogs and survive on little else but red meat. Many of these recent animal foods devotees have been inspired by the doctor whose name is most closely associated with the high-fat diet: Robert C. Atkins. As we will see, his ideas have endured to a surprising extent and have been the subject of a great deal of scholarship and scientific research in recent years. But newspapers still carry alarming headlines about how red meat causes cancer and heart disease, and most nutrition experts will tell you that saturated fat is absolutely to be avoided. Hardly anyone advises otherwise.
In writing this book, I had the advantage of approaching the field as a scientifically minded outsider free from affiliation with or funding from any entrenched views. I’ve reviewed nutrition science from the dawn of the field in the 1940s up until today to find the answer to the questions: why are we avoiding dietary fat? Is that a good idea? Is there a health benefit to avoiding saturated fat and eating vegetable oils instead? Is olive oil truly the key to a disease-free long life? And are Americans better off having attempted to rid the food supply of trans fats? This book does not offer recipes or specific dietary recommendations, but it does arrive at some general conclusions about the best balance of macronutrients for a healthy diet.
In my research I specifically avoided relying upon summary reports, which tend to pass along received wisdoms and, as we’ll see, can unwittingly perpetuate bad science. Instead, I’ve gone back to read all the original studies myself and in some cases have sought out obscure data that were never intended to be found. This book therefore contains many fresh and often alarming revelations about flaws in the foundational work of nutrition as well as the surprising ways in which it was both ill-conceived and misinterpreted.
What I found, incredibly, was not only that it was a mistake to restrict fat but also that our fear of the saturated fats in animal foods – butter, eggs, and meat – has never been based in solid science. A bias against these foods developed early on and became entrenched, but the evidence mustered in its support never amounted to a convincing case and has since crumbled away.
Hope you will continue reading the whole book.
Swedish scientists found rapid and dramatic reductions of liver fat in patients wih fatty liver.
Read the news.
20 months after being edited, my article was published in Feb edition of Taiwan Medical Journal!
Click here to read
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Don't fear fat. Eating saturated fat will not make you fat. Eating refined carbs will.