Louisa Enright's Blog

Mainely Tipping Points

Posts Tagged ‘heart disease

Interesting Information: A Healthy Diet Includes 50-70% Healthy Fats

with one comment

Interesting Information:  July 3, 2012

A Healthy Diet Includes 50-70% Healthy Fats

How’s that for a shocker?

It’s especially shocking when the idea that plant-based diets are your healthiest choice is being pushed so strongly by the USDA and way too many health practitioners who have hopped onto this bandwagon without adequate scientific data for support.  The health of plant-based diets is another one of these food myths that I’ve been writing about for the past few years.  I can’t find any science that supports it that has stood up to peer reviews.  I can find TONS of science that refutes it.  Plants are NOT nutrient dense.  Period.

Dr. Joseph Mercola’s health web site published “Why I Believe Over Half of Your Diet Should Be Made Up of This,” on May 31, 2012 (http://articles.mercola.com).

The “this” was healthy fats, and Mercola noted that his own diet included 60 to 70% of healthy fats daily.

Mercola’s article begins with a history of Crisco, the industrial, white, vegetable-based lard made by Procter & Gamble and introduced a “little over 100 years ago.”  “Atlantic Magazine” published a history of the introduction of Crisco in their April 26, 2012, issue–using an excerpt from the book THE HAPPINESS DIET by Drew Ramsey, MD, and Tyler Graham.  (Mercola’s article contains a link to this Atlantic article.)  Up until Crisco, people used animal fats for frying and in baked goods like pie crusts.  But, the introduction of Crisco included a wildly successful ad campaign claiming that Crisco was “modern” and was healthier than the use of animal fats.

Crisco is an hydrogenated vegetable oil.  Actually its made from the “waste product of cotton farming,  cottonseed oil.”  It’s what we call a “trans fat.”  It causes heart disease for sure and “contributes to cancer, bone problems, hormonal imbalance and skin disease; infertility, difficulties in pregnancy and problems with lactation; low birth weight, growth problems, and learning disabilities.”

Mercola walks readers through the myth of saturated fat being harmful–and gives a history of the misinformation that is still very much present today–misinformation that has no science whatsoever behind it.  (Many of the Mainely Tipping Points essays on this blog discuss this history and what clinical trials and science are actually showing.)  Mercola retells how Ancel Keys ignored countries which contradicted his premise that saturated fat caused heart disease.  Mercola also cites the often-cited statement of Dr. William Castelli, former director of the famed Framingham Heart Study, wherein Castelli notes that “the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person’s serum cholesterol….We found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active.”  Mercola also includes a video of his  interview with Gary Taubes, whose work I’ve written extensively about also in the essays on this blog.

Saturated fats “provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet.”  I’ve read elsewhere–and I’ll need to find this discussion again–that when your body is burning energy from carbs and sugars, it puts a lot of pressure on the body, causing it to malfunction, causing energy swings, and constant hunger.  Saturated fats don’t have this effect–they provide sustained, steady energy for long periods of time.  And, Mercola discusses why trans fats and sugars, particularly fructose, are the “true culprits of heart disease.”  The Weston A. Price Foundation would add that overuse of highly processed vegetable oils (canola, safflower, etc.) are also a root cause of heart disease.

Saturated fats , notes Mercola, are also carriers for many of the minerals and vitamins that are crucial for the body’s health.  Saturated fats are needed for the body’s conversion of nutrients to useable forms in the body–like the conversion of carotene to vitamin A.  Saturated fats are building blocks for cell membranes, help lower cholesterol levels, act as antiviral agents, modulate genetic regulation, and help prevent cancer.

So, writes Mercola, don’t eat processed foods.  Elsewhere, Mercola has advocated not eating grains.

And, writes Mercola, do eat organic butter (hopefully made from raw milk), use unprocessed coconut oil for cooking, and eat raw fats, such as “those from avocados, raw dairy products, and olive oil, and take a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fat, such as krill oil.”  (The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends unprocessed, fermented, high-vitamin cod liver oil instead of fish oils and would add beef fat (tallow), pork fat (lard), and chicken fat–all from healthy animals NOT raised in CAFO environments–to the list of saturated fats to use and consume.)

Mercola notes that Paul Jaminet, PhD, author of PERFECT HEALTH DIET, and Dr. Ron Rosedale, MD, “an expert on treating diabetes through diet” both agree that “the ideal diet includes somewhere between 50-70 percent fat.”

Mainely Tipping Points 37: Statins: Profitable Toxins

with 2 comments

Mainely Tipping Points 37

STATINS:  PROFITABLE TOXINS

 

Stephanie Seneff is a senior research scientist in the EECS (Electrical Engineering, Computer Science) department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  Her degrees–a B.S. in biology, and an M.S., E.E., and Ph.D. in EECS—were awarded by MIT.  She researches within the interdisciplinary intersections of medicine, computer science, and electrical engineering, or the highly-respected biomolecular discipline.   

Seneff’s article, “Cholesterol:  The Essential Molecule–and The Adverse Effects and Overuse of Statins” (Well Being Journal, November/December 2011, 13-24), is the most complete, chemical explanation I have read of why statins are not a solution to the prevention of heart attacks. Statins, Seneff explains, create a situation where muscles are destroyed and where, eventually, the whole body is seriously at risk. 

Once again, drug industry researchers and medical doctors only looked at one piece of an illness puzzle—prevention of heart attacks–without understanding the actual causes and without acknowledging the long-term impact of their drug (statins) solution.  (Surely they know the harm statins do and are ignoring this harm because statins are so profitable.)  After exhaustive research, Seneff says the following:  “I will…make the bold claim that nobody qualifies for statin therapy, and that statin drugs can best be described as toxins” (13).  And, “I would in fact best characterize statin therapy as a mechanism to allow you to grow old faster” (22).

In addition, the drug industry and doctors have played a game I think of as “medical math.”  Seneff notes that a meta-study reviewing seven drug trials and 42,848 patients over a three- to five-year period did show a 29 percent decreased risk of a major cardiac event.  But as heart attacks were “rare among this group, what this translates to in absolute terms is that 60 patients would need to be treated for an average of 4.3 years to protect one of them from a single heart attack.  However, essentially all of them would experience increased frailty and mental decline….” (14).       

Seneff’s article describes the chemical components within the body when cholesterol is fully present and when it has been compromised.  Her explanations are clear and fully understandable, but complicated.  If you are taking statins or are contemplating them, I urge you to read Seneff’s article.  Meanwhile, I will do my best to synthesize the high points so that you can understand why it is so dangerous to use statins to reduce cholesterol in your body. 

Furthermore, many, many studies—some of them long-term studies—clearly show that people—and especially women–with high cholesterol counts live longer than those with low cholesterol counts.  This information is readily available, and it is a mystery to me why our doctors continue to ignore it.

 Statins interfere with the synthesis of cholesterol, a nutrient, explains Seneff, that has been demonized by the drug industry and doctors, but which is essential to human health.   “Cholesterol is absolutely essential to the cell membranes of all our cells, where it protects the cell not only from ion leaks but also from oxidation damage to membrane fats” (14).  Reducing cholesterol “places a much bigger burden on the body to synthesize sufficient cholesterol to support the body’s needs, and it deprives us of several essential nutrients” (14).       

Further, Seneff notes, “there are three distinguishing factors that give animals an advantage over plants:  a nervous system, mobility, and cholesterol.”  Cholesterol, which is “absent from plants, is the key molecule that allows animals to have mobility and a nervous system” (14). In a nutshell, when statins reduce cholesterol, they force the body to jerry-rig alternative chemical systems that lead eventually to body-wide damage (20).

One mythology today is that elevated serum levels of LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is a problem.  But, Seneff explains, “LDL is not a type of cholesterol, but… [is] a container that transports fats, cholesterol, vitamin D, and fat-soluble anti-oxidants to all the tissues of the body.”  Because these nutrients are not water-soluble, they “must be packaged up and transported inside LDL particles in the blood stream.”  Thus, “if you interfere with the production of LDL you will reduce the bioavailability of all these nutrients to your body’s cells” (15).

The LDL package, explains Seneff, is “vulnerable to attack by glucose and other blood sugars, especially fructose.”  If “gummed up” by sugars, “the LDL particles become less efficient in delivering their contents to the cells,” they “stick around longer in the bloodstream,” and the “measured serum LDL level goes up” (15).  But, worse, after the LDL particles have delivered their contents, they “become small dense LDL particles, remnants that would ordinarily be returned to the liver to be broken down and recycled.”  However, “the attached sugars interfere with this process…so the task of breaking them down is assumed instead by macrophages in the artery wall and elsewhere in the body.”  These “small dense LDL particles become trapped in the artery wall so that the macrophages can salvage and recycle their contents, and this is the basic source of atherosclerosis” (15). 

The liver, explains Seneff, produces the LDL particles.  Statin therapy “greatly impacts the liver, resulting in a sharp reduction in the amount of cholesterol it can synthesize.”  Also, the liver breaks down fructose and converts it into fat.  So, when there is a lot of fructose in the system, the liver becomes burdened with the task of converting it to fat and cannot “keep up with the cholesterol supply.”  Both conditions mean that “fats cannot be safely transported”(16).

Additionally, as the liver is burdened with handling the fructose, “it produces low quality LDL particles” (16).  So, harmful chain reactions begin to occur, such as the following:  fructose builds up in the blood stream, which causes more damage; the skeletal muscle cells are severely affected; and the brain, which houses 25 percent of the body’s cholesterol, is impaired.  Diabetes and arthritis are also associated with statin therapy (19, 21).   

When overburdened, the liver shifts the processing of excess fructose to the muscle cells, explains Seneff.  The muscle cells themselves begin to use an alternative fuel source that requires an abundance of fructose and which allows the production of lactate, which is a high-quality fuel for the heart.  This desperate production of lactate is why statin therapy can lead to a “reduction in heart attack risk.” (17).

But, continues Seneff, “the muscle cells get wrecked in the process” (17).  In effect, the muscles “can no longer keep up with essentially running a marathon day in and day out.”  The muscles “start literally falling apart, and the debris ends up in the kidney, where it can lead to the rare disorder rhabdomyolysis, which is often fatal” (20).  The drug industry readily admits to muscle pain and weakness with statin use (17).

The dying muscles also “expose the nerves that innervate them to toxic substances, which then leads to nerve damage such as neuropathy, and ultimately amyloid lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a very rare, debilitating, and ultimately fatal disease that is now on the rise due (I believe) to statin drugs” (20).

Also, as the cells struggle with ion leaks caused by insufficient cholesterol, they begin to replace a potassium/sodium system with a calcium/magnesium-based system.  The result is the “extensive calcification of artery walls, heart valves, and the heart muscle itself.”  Indeed “research has shown that statin therapy leads to increased risk of diastolic heart failure” (20). 

Seneff is very interested in the role of cholesterol sulfate.   Cholesterol sulfate is “very versatile.  It is water soluble, so it can travel freely in the blood stream, and it enters cell membranes ten times as readily as cholesterol, so it can easily resupply cholesterol to cells” (24).

Cholesterol sulfate, explains Seneff, is produced by the skin in large quantities with sun exposure.  Seneff  thinks that “the natural tan that develops upon sun exposure offers far better protection from skin cancer than the chemicals in sunscreens.”  And, Seneff thinks we should eat foods “rich in both cholesterol and sulfur”—“eggs are an optimal food, as they are well supplied with both of these nutrients” (24).     

To avoid heart disease, Seneff suggests cutting back on fructose intake, eating whole foods instead of processed foods, and eating foods which are good sources of lactate (sour cream, yogurt, and milk products in general).  (One can use goat-milk products if cow’s milk is a problem.)  Strenuous physical exercise helps “get rid of any excess fructose and glucose in the blood, with the skeletal muscles converting them to the much coveted lactate” (23) 

Seneff further advises:  “spend significant time outdoors; eat healthy cholesterol-enriched, animal-based foods like eggs, liver, and oysters; eat fermented foods like yogurt and sour cream; eat foods rich in sulfur like onions and garlic.  And, finally say `no-thank-you’ to your doctors when they recommend statin therapy” (24).

Mainely Tipping Points 29: A Cultural Studies Answer

leave a comment »

Tipping Points 29

A CULTURAL STUDIES ANSWER

In WHY WE GET FAT (2011), Gary Taubes asks a scientific question.  His answer deploys scientific data from respected scientists working with the relationship of food to human body chemistry.  To recap, overweight people develop a hormonal disorder which is caused by eating carbohydrates, especially the easily digestible, highly processed carbohydrates (white flour, sugars, grains, starchy and/or sweet vegetables, and fructose from fruits bred to be big and sweet).  This disorder causes human bodies either to trap and store food energy in fat cells, no matter the energy needs of the body, or to funnel food energy to the muscles, which makes for a lean body with lots of energy that must be exercised away.

Taubes addresses some of why the inaccurate calorie in/calorie out, or “energy,” paradigm has persisted despite a decided lack of supporting science and the existence of a growing body of contrary evidence stretching back at least sixty years.  My own discipline, Cultural Studies, would begin where Taubes often leaves off by asking who is benefitting and what structural and cultural forces are being deployed for support.   

Cultural belief systems are probably the most powerful organizing forces man has ever devised.  Taubes describes a particularly insidious cultural belief that supports the energy paradigm.  By arbitrarily deciding that obesity is not a dysfunction of the body, a path opens which allows the belief that obesity is caused by the brain —which has been culturally interpreted to be about behavior, about character, about gluttony and sloth (80-86).    

Taubes’ identifies Louis Newburgh, a professor of medicine at the University of Michigan, as one originator of the “head case,” or psychological, explanation for obesity.    In the 1920s, Newburgh became a nationally recognized expert on obesity, and he posited that either obese people were taught to overeat by their parents or they had a “`combination of weak will and a pleasure seeking outlook upon life’” (83). 

“Newburgh,” Taubes notes, “was preaching to a medical establishment that had been taught to revere authority figures, not question their pronouncements” (83).  Newburgh, I’d say, lived in a time when most fat people were poor people.  He was a patriarch who was preaching something that most people of his own class understood to be true:  there’s something wrong with people who are poor, and the fat ones, well, they have “perverted appetites” (82).   

Wrapped up in this psychological explanation are the intersections of class, race, and gender.  Taubes points out that the poorer one is, the fatter one is likely to be since the calories available to the poor derive from cheap carbohydrates (18).  Taubes lists many worldwide studies of poor fat populations who are, with one exception, people of color.  (The exception is Naples, Italy, right after World War II ended, when Naples was destitute.)   Within these studies, the fattest of the fat, by large percentages, are women, who, Taubes infers, are giving the best food to their families (17-32). 

Taubes demonstrates that these poor people are not lazy, that they work hard, physical jobs.  And, like the investigating scientists, Taubes concludes that both malnutrition and subnutrition coexist in these populations because traditional patterns of living have been displaced and available food is mostly highly processed carbohydrates (17-32). 

The medical community, Taubes explains, uniformly swerved in the “head case” direction until well after World War II (84).  Historically, we know that post World War II America is when industry began providing more and more processed food, particularly the highly processed vegetable oils and margarines that replaced animal fats like butter, lard, and tallow.  And, we know that obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer rates all increased.

In the 1970s, Taubes relates, the practice of “behavioral medicine” emerged and the term “eating disorder” became the preferred label, but the “head case” tenants are still intact.  The psychological eating dictates are with us today:  slow down your eating and eat only in the kitchen or at the dining room table (84).  I’d add this one:  we eat when we’re emotionally disturbed in order to nourish ourselves—rather than understanding when we’re emotionally upset, we have more trouble controlling an unsatisfying diet.  Anyway, Taubes notes that today “many, if not most, of the leading authorities on obesity are psychologists and psychiatrists, people whose expertise is meant to be in the ways of the mind, not of the body”—an outcome that ignores the chemical connections between obesity and diabetes (84). 

How is it that certain people get to be “experts” in combating obesity?  Newburgh, for instance, was a doctor of medicine.  Yet, most medical doctors study neither nutrition nor the chemical impact of foods on the human body.  So, where are medical doctors getting their information?  Like most of us, not many medical doctors have time to sit down and figure out whom among the “experts” actually has adequate credentials, is asking the right questions, has formulated solid scientific answers in an independent arena that is not tainted by either personal belief system or corporate funding, whose work has withstood ensuing peer critique, and whose results have been duplicated. 

Today, we are struggling with pronouncements from a host of medical doctors who have written very famous diet books—and made a lot of money–but whose diets often prove ineffective or, even, unhealthy when scientifically tested.  Many of these books are predicated upon the lipid hypothesis (anti-saturated fat).  Taubes uses the 1960s turn toward the belief that animal fats are bad for us and carbohydrates “heart healthy” to describe the formation of the lipid hypothesis belief system:   “…doctors and nutritionists started attacking carbohydrate-restricted diets, because they bought into an idea about heart disease that was barely even tested at the time and would fail to be confirmed once it was….They believed it though, because people they respected believed it, and those people believed it because, well, other people they respected believed it” (160-161). 

We are struggling with information from “expert” organizations like the American Dietetic Association, whose partners and sponsors, as revealed by Zoe Harcombe in THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC,  include “Coca-Cola ($31.4 billion), PepsiCo ($44.3 billion), GlaxoSmith Kline ($45.2 billion), General Mills ($14.9 billion), SoyJoy ($9.2 billion), Mars ($30 billion) and many others” (Tim Boyd, book review of Zoe Harcombe, THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC:  WHAT CAUSED IT?  HOW CAN WE STOP IT?, in “Wise Traditions,” Winter 2010, 50-52). Corporate industry funds academic departments and specific scientists and successfully obfuscates bedrock science, just as it did with tobacco and is doing with many current drugs and toxic chemicals.       

And we are struggling with a government whose agenda and regulatory mechanisms are controlled largely by industry–a government who has, regardless of dissenting bedrock science, used its authority and our tax dollars to effect vast, damaging, and unsustainable changes in our food system since World War II.  Industry has bent our government and our legal system to its will–corporations are now people, but do not have the ethical responsibilities of people–which is a potential death knoll for what remains of our democracy.      

In 1977, when Senator George McGovern’s U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs—a group operating out of belief, not science, decreed that saturated animal fat was dangerous, Dr. Mary Enig, then a graduate student of biochemistry at the University of Maryland, was so puzzled that she analyzed the report and reached the opposite conclusions.  Enig’s own work pointed to the highly-processed vegetable oils and trans fats as the likely culprits in increasing rates of cancer and heart disease.  She noted that the McGovern committee had “manipulated the data in inappropriate ways in order to obtain untruthful results.”  She published her findings, and the edible oils industry not only successfully silenced her and her colleagues, they prevented them from getting any further research money.  Though Enig and her colleagues continued their research, it wasn’t until the 1990s when European work on trans fats began to be published that Enig was vindicated (http://www.stop-trans-fat.com/mary-enig.html).  Nevertheless, deadly trans fats, often labeled “partially hydrogenated fats,” are still allowed in our foods.  

So, who is benefitting from the current energy paradigm?  In the end, no one.