Diet Information

There’s a lot of information on diet / health / human nutrition available to us these days. The purpose of this page is to present some of the facts and information that I've found helpful. It isn't meant to be an comprehensive, exhaustive, or definitive presentation. I will add to it from time to time. 

I’m not a physician. I encourage everyone to educate themselves on the subject of diet, nutrition, and health. I'm convinced that the great healthcare challenge we face in the coming years can only be met if we get our thoughts on diet/nutrition/health truly grounded in scientific reality, instead of the currently accepted dogma.

The Standard American Diet (appropriately abbreviated SAD) is carbohydrate-heavy (approximately 60% of calories), in response to the past two generations of nutritional advice from a variety of “authorities." We’ve been told that reducing our consumption of fat, particularly saturated fats, will reduce our incidence of coronary (and several other chronic) disease. This has lead to the guidance to reduce animal products in our diet. BUT –
There’s never been a single study that proves saturated fat causes heart disease.

Consider the following "No Bologna Facts" from Tom Naughton:
  • As heart-disease rates were skyrocketing in the mid-1900s, consumption of animal fat was going down, not up. Consumption of vegetable oils, however, was going up dramatically.
  • Half of all heart-attack victims have normal or low cholesterol. Autopsies performed on heart-attack victims routinely reveal plaque-filled arteries in people whose cholesterol was low.
  • Asian Indians - half of whom are vegetarians - have one of the highest rates of heart disease in the entire world.
  • Kids who were diagnosed as suffering from ADD have been successfully treated by re-introducing natural saturated fats into their diets. The human brain is made largely of fat.
  • Many epileptics have reduced or eliminated seizures by adopting a diet low in sugar and starch and high in saturated animal fats.
  • Despite everything you’ve heard about saturated fat being linked to cancer, that link is statistically weak. However, there is a strong link between sugar and cancer. In Europe, doctors tell patients, “Sugar feeds cancer.” 
    The statistics are scary. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
    • 24 million people in the United States now have diabetes—an increase of 3 million over the past two years.
    • There are also 57 million more people who have prediabetes.
    • One third of Americans are morbidly obese
    • Two thirds of all adult Americans are now overweight or obese
    • The number of overweight children has increased, along with diseases associated with being overweight.
    • One third of children born in the US today will develop Type II diabetes.
    • For the first time, life expectancy of US children is less than their parents.

    We’ve been told that the answer to obesity/over-weight is to eat less and exercise more. But the scientific evidence does not support this! A 245 lb man walking up 20 flights of stairs will burn the equivalent of a slice of bread (and depending on the brand, "whole grain" bread will spike blood sugar more than sugar!)…

    We are NOT what we eat. We are what our bodies do with what we eat. There are such things as essential amino acids. These building blocks of proteins are required by the human body, but we cannot make them. They must be in our diet. The only source of complete proteins (ones that contain these essential amino acids) are animal proteins (fish, poultry, and meat). There are also such things as essential fatty acids. These fatty acids are required for optimal health, and the best source for them is animal fat. There is NO such thing as an essential carbohydrate. Thus, the officially-recommended low fat diet (which must be a high carbohydrate diet, by definition) does not provide sufficient essential amino acids and fatty acids, while it provides an excessive amount of carbohydrate. 

    Carbohydrate consumption raises insulin.Chronically elevated insulin levels are now understood to be a cause of metabolic syndrome (approximately 47 million Americans now have this condition). And metabolic syndrome signals an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, gout, hypertension, and a host of other chronic “modern” diseases.

    Towards the end of 2007 I was spooked by several folks close to me being diagnosed with prediabetes and the fact that I had several symptoms myself. Since then I’ve gone from 220+ lbs (27+ % body fat) to 170 lbs (15+ body fat).

    Nancy had begun her own journey of dietary research and diet modification a few years before I was ready. So when I became ready to make a change in my life, Nancy was ready to help. She directed me to a number of books and web sites. Since then, I’ve been accumulating the information presented on this page.

    There are three videos at the following link: The interview piece includes Gary Taubes, Dr. Wortman, and Dr. Eades (whom I mention below), and there are presentations on metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, etc. 

    Here’s a presentation by Dr. Barry Groves - He makes a couple of very interesting points, and his books have been helpful.
    Wise Traditions UK - Barry Groves from Wise Traditions UK on Vimeo.

    Here are some books that I've read, found helpful, and recommend unconditionally:

    Stop Prediabetes Now: The Ultimate Plan to Lose Weight and Prevent Diabetes
    by Jack Challem and Ron Hunninghake. This is the “program” I followed at first.

    Richard Bernstein, M.D. developed diabetes and used his engineer’s mind-set to develop his own approach to treating his condition. But because he wasn’t a doctor, physicians wouldn’t pay attention to what he had to say. So he went to medical school and became a doctor! His book is Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars.

    The program that I now follow is laid out in Protein Power: The High-Protein/Low-Carborhydrate Way to Lose Weight, Feel Fit, and Boost Your Health--in Just Weeks! by Michael Eades and Mary Dan Eades and their newer book, The Protein Power Lifeplan.

    Another of their books, The 30-Day Low-Carb Diet Solution gives lots of information on what and how much to eat.

     Michael (aka "Dr. Mike") and Mary Dan (aka "MD" - kind of funny, since they're both physicians) have blogs. There's lots of good info here, plus links to other blogs to explore.

     Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. This book will give you the information that you'll need to resist the messages that come from government, the food industry, the drug industry, the medical establishment (and even, at times, our own friends & families). This isn't an easy read, but I recommend it strongly for anyone who's truly interested in the subject of diet, nutrition and health. Taubes is an award-winning science journalist who was a scientist BEFORE he became a journalist. His coverage of this subject is unlike anything that's been done to date.  The following is copied from the Random House web site:

    Eleven Critical Conclusions of Good Calories, Bad Calories :

    1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, does not cause heart disease.
    2. Carbohydrates do, because of their effect on the hormone insulin. The more easily-digestible and refined the carbohydrates and the more fructose they contain, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.
    3. Sugars—sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup specifically—are particularly harmful. The glucose in these sugars raises insulin levels; the fructose they contain overloads the liver.
    4. Refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are also the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and the other common chronic diseases of modern times.
    5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating and not sedentary behavior.
    6. Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter any more than it causes a child to grow taller. [This was one of the tougher ones for me to understand. Simply stated, absent
    insulin, we can not make fat (for example, Type 1 diabetics) regardless of how much we eat. Absent human growth hormone, we can not grow. pb]

    7. Exercise does not make us lose excess fat; it makes us hungry. 
    8. We get fat because of an imbalance—a disequilibrium—in the hormonal regulation of fat tissue and fat metabolism. More fat is stored in the fat tissue than is mobilized and used for fuel. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses this imbalance.
    9. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated, we stockpile  calories as fat. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and burn it for fuel.
    10. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.
    11. The fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be.

    I found these points so counter to what I'd been taught that it's taken me a while to fully appreciate them. For example - I now understand that obesity isn't the result of overeating and sedentary behavior. This change in my thinking has produced a change in my perceptions. I now realize that prior to this new understanding, whenever I saw a heavy person I was judging them to be lazy gluttons. I don't think I'm unique in this respect. And I realize how harshly we judge ourselves …

    An interview with Taubes from "The Brian Lehrer Show."

    Here's a relatively short interview (only 14 minute) with Taubes. I find Judith a little annoying, but it's a decent interview.
    Here's a long lecture (~72 minutes) Gary gave at the Steven's Institute of
    Here’sanother lecture that Taubes gave. It’s a little shorter (52 minutes) and more recent (I think he was speaking at Dartmouth).

    There's a series of YouTube postings (8 parts plus question and answer sessions) containing Gary's lecture "Why We Get Fat", given this August via Innovative Metabolic Solutions. Here is the link for part one.

    Dane Miller’s website is offering a 1+ hour-long video interview with Taubes. He’s posted some excerpts on YouTube:

    “Gary Taubes on Carbohydrates and Degenerative Diseases
    “Gary Taubes on Cholesterol and Science Practices
    Jimmy Moore recently interviewed Gary. That interview is posted here.

    This link contains a number of links to different talks (scroll to the bottom) and this one lists several other links.

    Gary's latest book, Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It, is focused on obesity and is aimed at the audience who might not have read Good Calories, Bad Calories.

    Gary spoke at Google in May, 2011. You can see the video here

    Two videos that I think are worthwhile:

    Remember the film “Supersize Me”? Tom Naughton, a stand-up comedian and long-time dieter, thought there was something wrong with it (turns out Morgan Spurlock hasn’t released his food diaries. Something fishy there …). Naughton started to make a rebuttal documentary in which he’d go on a fast food diet and loose weight. He did, but along the way he learned a LOT about how wrong the “Conventional Wisdom” was. A very entertaining film. There are a number of clips on YouTube, including the Fat Head trailer and a clip called “Why we get fat.” Tom has his own blog.

    "My Big Fat Diet" is a documentary about a study involving a First-Nations community in British Columbia. 100-some residents went on a restricted carbohydrate diet (aboriginal people in North America have a 2.5x greater risk of diabetes than the population as a whole).

    A link to the CBC program "The Lens", the original TV program.
    A link to Mystique Films, the distributor.
    A link to Dr. Jay Wortman's (the doctor who conducted this study) blog, laying out his personal experience and information regarding the study.
    You Tube links:
       My Big Fat Diet intro.
       My Big Fat Diet challenge from the chief.

    Mark Sisson was a successful distance runner, who competed at a very high level. But as a result of following “Conventional Wisdom” (CW), he suffered a number of injuries and health impacts. After several years of his own journey, he has written a great deal about what he calls “Primal Living”. In short, he espouses ways of eating, exercising, and living that allow our inherent human-ness to be expressed in optimal health. His book is called The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy. He writes almost daily for his blog, Mark’s Daily Apple; Primal Living in the Modern World.

    There’s some very interesting information emerging regarding Vitamin D’s role in our health. A great place to start is Dr. Holick’s “The UV Advantage” website. His presentation to the 34th European Symposium on Calcified Tissues May 5-9, 2007 “The Vitamin D Pandemic and its Health Consequences” presents some remarkable data:

    Researchers at the Moores Cancer Center and Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, UC San Diego used a complex computer prediction model to determine that intake of vitamin D3 and calcium would prevent 58,000 new cases of breast cancer and 49,000 new cases of colorectal cancer annually in the US and Canada. The researchers model also predicted that 75% of deaths from these cancers could be prevented with adequate intake of vitamin D3 and calcium. Dr. Cedric Garland, UCSD School of Medicine, lead researcher on the study discusses the implications of this finding and the proposed actions. Here’s another video on vitamin D by Dr. John Cannell.

    Another book I’ve found compelling is Lierre Keith’s “The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability.Lierre was a vegan for 20 years. As a result of her own deteriorating health, she had to re-examine the beliefs that had lead her to choose the vegan life-style. She came to the conclusion that these beliefs were, in fact, myths. While I can’t agree with Lierre on all of her positions, I found her book well worth reading. 

    What do we eat? Here’s a summary:
    • Fresh fatty cuts of meat (grass-fed, even better!)
    • Whole free-range, local farm-raised eggs
    • Clarified, full-fat butter (cream, and natural cheeses are fine, but Nancy’s discovered that she has a dairy sensitivity, so she avoids them, too)
    • Olive oil, coconut oil, rendered pork fat, bacon drippings, avocado oil
    • Green leafy veggies (i.e. spinach, kale, collard greens, arugula)
    • Non-starchy veggies (i.e. green beans, spaghetti squash, spinach, cauliflower)
    • Nuts and seeds (i.e. macadamia, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds)
    • Low-sugar fruits (i.e. berries and melons)

    That's probably MORE than enough for now! Rest assured that I'm happy to talk about this subject anytime you're interested! I'll keep my soapbox handy ... 

    Kind Regards (and best wishes for your health!)

    Pete B