Gov’t Doubling Down On Anti-Fat Nonsense

soup bowlGranny Tea made an absolutely marvelous butternut squash soup the other night. I had butternut squash, sweet potato, chicken broth, onion, whole cream, a bit of milk and a couple other ingredients. It was incredibly delicious. We all raved, and asked her for the recipe. She admitted it was tasty, but sighed, “It’s not very healthy.”

It’s incredibly healthy and nourishing, in fact:

“The top scientist guiding the U.S. government’s nutrition recommendations made an admission last month that would surprise most Americans. Low-fat diets, Alice Lichtenstein said, are “probably not a good idea.” It was a rare public acknowledgment conceding the failure of the basic principle behind 35 years of official American nutrition advice.”

Those low-fat diets are particularly not a good idea for children, and yet, they are baked into the dietary restrictions the unelected Michelle Obama wrote for our nation’s children when she wrote the regulations schools have to follow for school lunches.

The USDA and HHS have been preaching the false gospel of no fat for decades.  It was never based on good science.

Ancel Keys, who in many ways can be considered the “father” of the cholesterol-heart disease hypothesis, had this to say in 1997:

“There’s no connection whatsoever between the cholesterol in food and cholesterol in the blood. And we’ve known that all along. Cholesterol in the diet doesn’t matter at all unless you happen to be a chicken or a rabbit.”

This is a reference to early studies performed on chickens and rabbits where they force-fed these animals high-levels of cholesterol. Since rabbits and chickens are mostly vegetarian, their physiology is not adapted for processing such large amounts of dietary cholesterol, so it’s no surprise they developed atherosclerosis. The mistake was assuming that the results of this experiment could be extrapolated to humans, who are omnivores with significant differences in physiology.

 

In the last five years or so, evidence not even they could ignore has come out indicating their horrible advice actually contributes to obesity and diabetes.  Saturated fats from foods like good meat, cheese, and butter are actually good for you.

The most current and rigorous science on saturated fat is moving in the opposite direction from the USDA committee. A landmark meta-analysis of all the available evidence, conducted this year by scientists at Cambridge and Harvard, among others, and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that saturated fats could not, after all, be said to cause heart disease. While saturated fats moderately raise “bad” LDL-cholesterol, this does not apparently lead to adverse health outcomes such as heart attacks and death. Another meta-analysis, published in the respected American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010, came to the same conclusion. The USDA committee has ignored these findings.

So the USDA hasn’t made much of an effort to let the public know about their embarrassment.  In fact, in some areas they are doubling down on the stupid and ignoring the science- lots and lots of science:

Another consistent thorn in the side of supporters of the “lipid hypothesis” is that women suffer 300% less heart disease than men, in spite of having higher average cholesterol levels. At the recent Conference on Low Blood Cholesterol, which reviewed 11 major studies including 125,000 women, it was determined that there was absolutely no relationship between total cholesterol levels and mortality from cardiovascular or any other causes.

Our government’s dietary advice has probably been killing off those who follow it:

And finally, the huge Japanese Lipid Intervention Trial with over 47,000 participants:

“The highest death rate observed was among those with lowest cholesterol (under 160mg/dl); lowest death rate observed was with those whose cholesterol was between 200-259mg/dl”

In other words, those with the lowest cholesterol had the highest death rate, and those with cholesterol levels that would today be called “dangerous” had the lowest death rate.

Women naturally have higher cholesterol than men, and we’re supposed to.  There’s no benefit at all to women taking statins and reducing our cholesterol levels, and plenty of risk.  The risks may even include Parkinson’s Disease:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070115215509.htm

Science Daily:” Researchers are sufficiently worried by new study results that they are planning clinical trials involving thousands of people to examine the possible link between Parkinson’s disease and statins, the world biggest selling drugs, reports Patrick Walter in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI.

New Parkinson’s Therapy

Suggestions of a statin link are not new, but the results of a recent study linking low LDL cholesterol to Parkinson’s provide the strongest evidence to date that it could be real, because statins work by reducing LDL cholesterol. The study by researchers at University of North Carolina showed that patients with low levels of LDL cholesterol are more than three and a half times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those with higher LDL levels.

When asked whether she was concerned by the new results, study leader Xuemei Huang said: ‘Yes I am very concerned, which is why I am planning a 16000-patient prospective study to examine the possible role of statins.’ Huang was quick to point out, however, that a causal link with statins had not yet been proven. And Yoav Ben-Shlomo, a professor of clinical epidemiology at University of Bristol said that it is also a possibility that LDL cholesterol is a consequence rather than a cause of Parkinson’s.

But according to Huang, the well-established link between Parkinson’s and apoE2, a gene associated with lower LDL cholesterol, supports her theory that low LDL is the culprit in many cases of Parkinson’s.

 

We need to be eating healthy fats without worrying about cholesterol. What we should be worrying about is our carbohydrates, and especially sugar.

In place of saturated fats, these agencies have counseled Americans to consume ever-larger quantities of unsaturated fats, which are found mainly in soybean and other vegetable oils. Yet a diet high in these oils has been found in clinical trials to lead to worrisome health effects, including higher rates of cancer. And the USDA, which espouses a commitment to finding healthy “dietary patterns” based in history, is now in the paradoxical position of telling Americans to derive most of their fats from these highly processed vegetable oils with virtually no record of consumption in the human diet before 1900.

The most hopeful path lies in a different direction: An enormous trove of research over the past decade has shown that a low-carbohydrate regime consistently outperforms any other diet in improving health. Diabetics, for instance, can most effectively stabilize their blood glucose on a low-carb diet; heart-disease victims are able to raise their “good” HDL cholesterol while lowering their triglycerides. And at least two-dozen well-controlled diet trialsinvolving thousands of subjects, have shown that limiting carbohydrates leads to greater weight loss than does cutting fat.

The USDA committee’s mandate is to “review the scientific and medical knowledge current at the time.” But despite nine full days of meetings this year, it has yet to meaningfully reckon with any of these studies—which arguably constitute the most promising body of scientific literature on diet and disease in 50 years. Instead, the committee is focusing on new reasons to condemn red meat, such as how its production damages the environment. However, this is a separate scientific question that is outside the USDA’s mandate on health.

Politics are trumping health and science.

 

“Have we been conned about cholesterol?
by MALCOLM KENDRICK

“…A leading researcher at Harvard Medical School has found that women don’t benefit from taking statins at all, nor do men over 69 who haven’t already had a heart attack.

There is a very faint benefit if you are a younger man who also hasn’t had a heart attack – out of 50 men who take the drug for five years, one will benefit.

Nor is this the first study to suggest that fighting cholesterol with statins is bunk. Indeed, there are hundreds of doctors and researchers who agree that the cholesterol hypothesis itself is nonsense.

What their work shows, and what your doctor should be saying, is the following:
• A high diet, saturated or otherwise, does not affect blood cholesterol levels.

• High cholesterol levels don’t cause heart disease.

• Statins do not protect against heart disease by lowering cholesterol – when they do work, they do so in another way.

• The protection provided by statins is so small as to be not worth bothering about for most people (and all women). The reality is that the benefits have been hyped beyond belief.

• Statins have many more unpleasant side effects than has been admitted, while experts in this area should be treated with healthy scepticism because they are almost universally paid large sums by statin manufacturers to sing loudly from their hymn sheet.
So how can I say saturated fat doesn’t matter when everyone knows it is a killer? Could all those millions who have been putting skinless chicken and one per cent fat yoghurts into their trolleys really have been wasting their time?

The experts are so busy urging you to consume less fat and more statins that you are never warned about the contradictions and lack of evidence behind the cholesterol con.

In fact, what many major studies show is that as far as protecting your heart goes, cutting back on saturated fats makes no difference and, in fact, is more likely to do harm.

So how did fat and cholesterol get such a bad name? It all began about 100 years ago, when a researcher found feeding rabbits (vegetarians) a high cholesterol carnivore diet blocked their arteries with plaque.

But it took off in the Fifties with the Seven Countries study by Ancel Keys, which showed that the higher the saturated fat intake in a country, the higher the cholesterol levels and the higher the rate of heart disease.

The countries he chose included Italy, Greece, the USA and the Netherlands. But why these particular ones?

Recently I did my own 14 countries study using figures from the World Health Organisation, and found the opposite.

Countries with the highest saturated fat consumption: Austria, France, Finland and Belgium had the lowest rate of deaths from heart disease, while those with the lowest consumption, Georgia, Ukraine and Croatia, had the highest mortality rate from heart disease.

Added to this, the biggest ever trial on dietary modification put 50 million people on a low saturated fat diet for 14 years.

Sausages, eggs, cheese, bacon and milk were restricted. Fruit and fish, however, were freely available. I?m talking about rationing in Britain during and after World War Two. In that time, deaths from heart disease more than doubled.

Even more damning is what happened in 1988. The Surgeon General’s office in the US decided to gather all evidence linking saturated fat to heart disease, silencing any nay-sayers for ever.

Eleven years later, however, the project was killed. The letter announcing this stated that the office “did not anticipate fully the magnitude of the additional expertise and staff resources that would be needed”.

After eleven years, they needed additional expertise and staff resources? What had they been doing? If they’d found a scrap of evidence, you would never have heard the last of it.

Major trials since have been no more successful. One involved nearly 30,000 middle-aged men and women in Sweden, followed for six years.

The conclusion? “Saturated fat showed no relationship with cardiovascular disease in men. Among the women, cardiovascular mortality showed a downward trend with increasing saturated fat intake.” (In other words, the more saturated fat, the less chance of dying from heart disease).

Even stronger evidence of the benefits of increased fat and cholesterol in the diet comes from Japan. Between 1958 and 1999, the Japanese doubled their protein intake, ate 400 per cent more fat and their cholesterol levels went up by 20 per cent.

Did they drop like flies? No. Their stroke rate, which had been the highest in the world, was seven times lower, while deaths from heart attacks, already low, fell by 50 per cent.

It’s a bit of a paradox, isn?t it? That’s one of the features of the dietary hypothesis – it involves a lot of paradoxes.

The most famous is the French Paradox. They eat more saturated fat than we do in Britain; they smoke more, take less exercise, have the same cholesterol/LDL levels, they also have the same average blood pressure and the same rate of obesity.

And you know what? They have one quarter the rate of heart disease we do.

The official explanation is that the French are protected from heart disease by drinking red wine, eating lightly cooked vegetables and eating garlic.

But there is no evidence that any of these three factors are actually protective. None. By evidence, I mean a randomised, controlled clinical study.

Every time a population is found that doesn’t fit the saturated fat/cholestrol hypothesis – the Masai living on blood and milk with no heart disease, the Inuit living on blubber with low heart disease – something is always found to explain it.

One research paper published more than 20 years ago found 246 factors that could protect against heart disease or promote it. By now there must be more than a thousand.

The closer you look the more you find that the cholestrol hypothesis is an amazing beast. It is in a process of constant adaptation in order to encompass all contradictory data without keeling over and expiring.

But you don’t need to look at foreign countries to find paradoxes – the biggest one is right here at home. Women are about 300 per cent less likely to suffer heart disease than men, even though on average they have higher cholesterol levels.

For years there was an ad hoc hypothesis to explain this apparent contradiction – women were protected by female sex hormones.

In fact, there has never been a study showing that these hormones protect against heart disease in humans.

But by the Nineties, millions of women were being prescribed HRT to stave off heart disease.

Then came the HERS trial to test the notion. It found HRT increased the risk of heart disease.

So what to do? Put them on statins; bring their cholesterol level down ? below 5.0 mmol is the official advice.

But, as The Lancet article emphasises, women do not benefit from statins. The phrase “Statins do not save lives in women” should be hung in every doctor’s surgery.

But it’s not just hugely wasteful handing out statins to women and men who are never going to benefit; it also exposes them to the risk of totally unnecessary side effects.

These include muscle weakness (myopathy) and mental and neurological problems such as severe irritability and memory loss.

How common are they? Very rare, say experts, but one trial found that 90 per cent of those on statins complained of side effects, half of them serious.

Only last week, a study reported a link between low LDL cholesterol and developing Parkinson’s disease.

Statins are designed to lower LDL. In the face of anticholesterol propaganda, it is easy to forget cholesterol is vital for our bodies to function.

Why do you think an egg yolk is full of cholesterol? Because it takes a lot of cholesterol to build a healthy chicken.

It also takes a hell of a lot to build and maintain a healthy human being.

In fact, cholesterol is so vital that almost all cells can manufacture cholesterol; one of the key functions of the liver is to synthesise cholesterol.

It’s vital for the proper functioning of the brain and it’s the building bock for most sex hormones.

So it should not be such a surprise to learn that lowering cholesterol can increase death rates.

Woman with a cholesterol level of five or even six have a lower risk of dying than those with a level below four.

The Lancet reported that statins didn’t benefit anyone over 69, not even men; in fact, there’s good evidence that they may hasten your death.

The Framingham study in the US found that people whose cholesterol levels fell were at a 14 per cent increased risk of death from heart disease for every 1mg/dl.

Set up in 1948, the study screened the whole population of Framingham near Boston for factors that might be involved in heart disease and then followed them to see what happened to them.

It is still going today, making it the longest running and most often quoted study in heart-disease research.

A massive long-term study that looked specifically at cholesterol levels and mortality in older people in Honolulu, published in The Lancet, found that having low cholesterol concentration for a long time increases the risk of death.

This may be because cholesterol is needed to fight off infections or there may be other reasons ? but many other studies have found exactly the same thing.

Low cholesterol levels greatly increase your risk of dying younger. So the cholesterol hypothesis looks something like this:

There is no evidence that saturated fat is bad – and there are lots of ‘paradoxes’ where countries with a high cholesterol intake don’t have a higher death rate from heart disease.

But there is an even more fundamental problem. The theory claims fat and cholesterol do things in the body that just don’t make sense.

To begin with, saturated fat and cholesterol are talked of as if they are strongly connected. A low-fat diet lowers cholesterol; a high-fat diet raises it.

What is never explained is how this works. This isn’t surprising because saturated fat doesn’t raise cholesterol. There is no biochemical connection between the two substances, which may explain all those negative findings.

It’s true that foods containing cholesterol also tend to contain saturated fats because both usually come from animals.

It’s also true that neither dissolve in water, so in order to travel along the bloodstream they have to be transported in a type of molecule known as a lipoprotein – such as LDLs (low-density lipoproteins) and HDLs (high-density lipoproteins).

But being travelling companions is as close as fats and cholesterol get. Once in the body, most fat from our diet is transported to the fat cells in a lipoprotein called a chylomicron.

Meanwhile, cholesterol is produced in the liver by way of an incredibly complicated 13-step process; the one that statins interfere with.

No biochemist has been able to explain to me why eating saturated fat should have any impact on this cholesterol production line in the liver.

On the other hand, the liver does make fat – lots of it. All the excess carbohydrate that we eat is turned first into glucose and then into fat in the liver.

And what sort of fat does the liver make? Saturated fat; obviously the body doesn’t regard it as harmful at all….”

• Extracted from The Great Cholesterol Con: The Truth About What Really Causes Heart Disease and How to Avoid It by Malcolm Kendrick

 

Deja Vu?  They were wrong about salt, too.

cornsyrup ad1It reminds me somehow of the history of corn syrup– once advertised as cleaner, purer, and more sanitary than honey, as though that were a good thing.

In The Science of Eating (published in 1919) we read that ” Food manufacturers declare their chemical preservatives are ‘harmless.’ Scientists are found to agree with them. Thus they set up arguments of such plausible and convincing character that the government has been prevailed upon to permit them to employ chemicals in the manufacture of a hundred food products.’

Katie Couric is the narrator for the film Fed Up, a film which does to the food industry what Inconvenient Truth did for climate, and with the same tactics (dishonesty, hyperbole).  She wants to blame our obesity epidemic on the food industry and Ronald Reagan.  The food industry basically produced and delivered the food the government told them too and rewarded them for producing. The FDA encouraged food manufacturers to replace saturated fats with poly unsaturated fats, which resulted in the transfats in our processed foods.  Then the food manufacturers had to increase the sugar  to boost the flavor so the public would still like it.   The government made adding sugar, soy, and corn to all our food attractive by offering subsidies to farmers for growing those foods,  and then it pushed those foods to us as healthier.  In blaming Regan, Couric missed the mark:

it was McGovern:

The government, of course, must be involved somewhere, because whenever basic, simple, organic realities are tampered with and made more complex and costly, we can look to the meddling hand of government stirring that pot:

” No single event marked the shift from eating food to eating nutrients, though in retrospect a little-noticed political dust-up in Washington in 1977 seems to have helped propel American food culture down this dimly lighted path. Responding to an alarming increase in chronic diseases linked to diet — including heart disease, cancer and diabetes — a Senate Select Committee on Nutrition, headed by George McGovern, held hearings on the problem and prepared what by all rights should have been an uncontroversial document called ”Dietary Goals for the United States.” (Michael Pollan, source at the link above).

Actually, even that is a little late. It was in the 1900s when corn syrup was marketed as a better product that honey because of its ‘sterility’ and lab-created hygienic purity (think, too, of the reasons doctors once preferred, and some still do, formula over breast-milk- it’s measurable and quantifiable qualities, its scientific manufacture- all so much tidier than breastmilk, easier to quantify and test).  In the government recommended diet for children as published in 1929, there was a shocking shortage of fresh fruits or vegetables of any sort, and an over-reliance on breads.

The government’s dietary advice has been dangerously off base for over a century.  So why do we still listen?  Another question- where is the government mandate for dietary advice in the first place?  There are about 18 powers granted to the Federal government in our Constitution.  All other powers not specifically mentioned in the Constitution are legally the domain of the states (or individuals).  So why are confiscating our tax dollars to pay for this history of bad science?

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One Comment

  1. Ruth
    Posted October 30, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    My total cholestrol stays at 220 or so. My doctor always prescribes statins, and I always politely refuse to have the prescription filled. He’s used to it by now…

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