Nora Gedgaudas

Dietary fat

Dietary fat

We are living today in a geologic time period called The Holocene and it’s all taking place within a much larger era that began about 2.5 million years ago called the Quaternary Period or the Quaternary Ice Age. The start of the Quaternary was the start of the current ice age---the ice age we are ALL still technically living in today, which consists of both periods of glacial advance and “interglacial” or glacial retreat periods, roughly 11,500 years apart.  During this 2.5 million years of the Quaternary (nearly the whole of our hominid evolutionary history), there have been about 90 glacial and “interglacial” periods, with shifting conditions and prolonged extremes that were often prone to occurring relatively rapidly. But keep in mind: Cold glacial periods have always been much, much longer than warm interglacial periods.

We are living today in a geologic time period called The Holocene and it’s all taking place within a much larger era that began about 2.5 million years ago called […]

Basically, for all but maybe 10% of the last roughly 500,000 years, alone, our planet has been mostly in active periods of glacial advance, with average global temps 0º C or well below, with shorter growing seasons and many climatic extremes on a planetary scale.

Physiologically, we became identical to modern humans roughly 200,000 years ago, during one of the colder and more extreme periods.

Only those humans adapted in their physiological makeup and cunning would have survived such sudden onsets of frigid or otherwise extreme geologic activity, weather patterns, and frequently unforgiving conditions—and not necessarily just snow and ice.

This brings us to two inescapable observations:

First, that we are ALL Ice Age beings in our fundamental genetic makeup!

Second, Fat to our physiological makeup literally means survival—and the need for survival trumps everything else. Leptin—it’s been more recently discovered–is our most important hormone…and leptin is a FAT SENSOR.

Once again–As Ice Age beings we were designed to weather not just the cold, but EXTREMES of climate (extreme cold and extreme heat, drought, wildfires, floods huge storms and the effects of widespread volcanic activity—these patterns sometimes lasting thousands of years). There would have been time periods and places where plant life—particularly edible plant life–would have been pretty scarce and impractical as a meaningful source of calories. NUTRIENT DENSITY would have been of paramount and highly coveted importance. We migrated from equatorial regions of the globe over 150,000 years ago and have since occupied every single ecological and climatic niche on the planet —always as hunter-gatherers—and it turns out that for most of that time we have been mainly hunters.

A recent study published May 1, 2013 in the open-access scientific journal PLOS ONE, revealed solid evidence evidence that hominins (our early human ancestors) practiced what is referred to as “persistent carnivory”– in other words they processed and consumed animals on a regular basis as part of a more consistent hunting economy (central to the development of our species), no less than 2 million years ago. –In other words, it wasn’t just an occasional thing by that point as it is known to be among most other great ape primates.

The authors said:

“The acquirement, processing and consumption of meat from animals is theorized by many evolutionists as a critical element in the requirement for high-protein, high-fat, high-energy foods necessary to support the growth or evolution of the distinctive qualities of humans as compared to other animals, such as the larger brain. The development of systematic and sustained carnivory by early humans (hominins) at an early stage in the evolution of humans has been considered a central element in models of human evolution.”

As understood and widely accepted by most anthropologists today it was likely our dependence on the meat and especially fat of the animals we hunted that not only allowed us to survive and evolve rapidly as a species—but also consequently resulted in the very rapid enlargement of the distinctly unique human brain.

“So”, you might say, “it’s not really that cold out now. Do we really still need that much dietary fat?” I have just one question for you: 

Do you still have a brain??

 

Your brain structure is mostly made up of fat—and this structure is largely comprised of the fats you supply it with.

Your brain represents maybe 2-5% of your total body weight (a little less with certain people…though I’m not naming names) yet uses a whopping 20-30% of our total caloric energy demands! This is in contrast to the great apes whose brains use only about 8% of their caloric demands. This makes OUR brains very expensive in energy terms.

Where did we humans get the extra energy to spend on our large brains? Researchers WR Leonard and ML Robertson concluded that the evolution of brain size imply changes in diet quality during hominid evolution. They say,

“The shift to a more calorically dense diet was probably needed in order to substantially increase the amount of metabolic energy being used by the hominid brain. Thus, while nutritional factors alone are not sufficient to explain the evolution of our large brains, it seems clear that certain dietary changes were necessary for substantial brain evolution to take place.” (Leonard WR, Robertson ML. Evolutionary perspectives on human nutrition: the influence of brain and body size on diet and metabolism. Am J Human Biol 1994; 6: 77-88).

 

Here’s an outright shocker: The fact is that since the adoption of an agricultural lifestyle, beginning about 10,000 years ago we have actually progressively LOST 10% of our brain volume (and counting…)!

This quote is taken from the journal of Human Biology, where the author states:Human populations during the last 10,000 years have             undergone rapid decreases in average brain size as measured by endocranial volume or as estimated from linear measurements of the cranium.” (Hawks, J. “Selection for smaller brains in Holocene human evolution.” Hum. Biol 60, 395−405 (1988)

I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT…I would hesitate to refer to this trend as “evolutionary”….

So what might explain this reduction in brain size?

According to Dr. Marta Lahr of the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies at Cambridge University, UK (stated in a presentation given at the Royal Society in London, in June of 2011), “The brain is a fatty organ, and two forms of fat that play an integral part in its development are arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Arachidonic acid is found in, among other things, meat. Docosahexaenoic acid is also found in fish, seafood and meat, as well as bone marrow and, perhaps not surprisingly, brain (there is good evidence that our early ancestors used stone tools to break open skulls and bones to gain access to brains and bone marrow respectively). In some respects, therefore, the diet we ate as hunter-gatherers, rich in animal foods as it was, provided an abundance of brain food. Of course our move to grains as a staple food would have seen a fall in our intake of crucial brain-building fats.” (bold emphasis mine)

This is the very diet, in fact, promoted by government food pyramids today. Hmmm….something wrong with this picture? Think about what we’ve been mostly eating for the last 10,000 years….(while our brains have been progressively shrinking…)

Ah well, we’re dumber but at least we’re malleable….

I think it also makes sense to talk about dietary fat from the standpoint of more recent neo-Paleolithic cultures—just to highlight the fact that it doesn’t have to be cold out or particularly extreme in order for fat to have a critical role in the human diet. I don’t buy into that “they ate lots of low-fat lean meat” hypothesis, though following the demise of the mega fauna current species of wild game certainly may have less fat on them—but that just made fat all the more precious and sought after.

In fact, all primitive and traditional cultures utterly revered and coveted sources of dietary fat!

  • Plains and Northern Indians used pemmican (over which entire wars were fought)
  • Lapps, Saami and Siberians valued reindeer fat
  • Marsh Arabs and Berbers valued camel fat
  • Canadian tribes relished moose fat
  • Coastal Salish tribes use oolichan grease
  • Inuit ate large amounts of seal, walrus and whale fat
  • Innus (of NE Canada) coveted caribou fat
  • Aborigines sought out emu fat (and any other type of fat they could find)
  • Masai consumed lots of high fat raw milk

And according to the work of nutritional pioneers such as Weston Price mental and physical illness were virtually unknown in these cultures.

Additional sources of dietary fat and fat soluble nutrients in indigenous cultures included things like: egg yolks, organ meats, insects, fish heads and shell fish, as well as some nuts and seeds. And these fatty foods would have been incredibly rich in critical fat-soluble nutrients, such as Vitamins’ A (retinol), E, D3 and K2. These fat-soluble nutrients use intracellular signaling pathways to initiate or modify our gene expression and they have been shown to have a direct effect on gene transcription…so they have a uniquely powerful role to play in your health!

  • Vitamin A: Organ meats, egg yolks
  • Vitamin D: Animal fats (tallow, suet, brains, tongue, marrow, organs, etc.)
  • Vitamin E Complex: Nuts and seeds
  • Vitamin K2 (MK-4 ): Organ meats, fish eggs, shellfish, insects (today, grass-fed butter oil/ghee is among the richest natural sources)

HOW ON EARTH DID WE EVER BECOME SO FAT PHOBIC???

The subject of dietary fat and cholesterol are among the most misunderstood and convoluted of all nutrition-related subjects. The history of the vilification of dietary fat and cholesterol spans essentially the entire last century and is so deeply ingrained in the mainstream mythos that separating fact from fiction is somewhat akin to attempting to rewrite everything you have ever been told about health and disease by your doctors, the media, heavily funded government health agencies and mainstream nutritionists/dieticians. It’s a tall order—but something that needs to be done because the truth is not what you have heard and the truth here is absolutely key to your health on every single level.

One of the most thoroughly and well-written articles on the subject can be found on Weston A. Price Foundation web site (www.westonaprice.org) and is titled “The Oiling of America”, written by Sally Fallon (the Foundation’s president) and the late, great world class researcher, Dr. Mary Enig (among the world’s foremost experts on dietary fat and human health and a legendary, highly respected bench chemist of over 50 years). Dr. Enig was a direct witness to much of the early history of the evolving anti-fat and anti-cholesterol agenda and was a heavily suppressed voice of reason from the very beginning. To me she was a national treasure and scientific hero—willing to take a bullet for the rest of us by speaking clearly supportable scientific truth in an otherwise misguided, ignorant, profit-driven and hostile, fat-phobic atmosphere.

It all began innocently enough through honest hypothetical conjecture—but later the science became hijacked by numerous financial interests and ego-driven politics. The actual dietary heart hypothesis—the idea that saturated fat and cholesterol are responsible for the development of heart disease– has quite literally never, ever been proven. In fact, it has more recently been summarily disproven through numerous, meticulously analyzed, quality meta-analyses studies and a growing body of medical researchers, cardiovascular health specialists, neurologists and countless other researchers stepping forward and willing to voice the truth. Unfortunately, there are still many interests and egos heavily invested in the outdated notions of science and health, and there are literally trillions of dollars on the line ranging from big agribusiness, the food industry, the petroleum industry, pharmaceutical interests, funding for government agencies (whose long-term recommendations are based on these outdated ideas), and, of course, the medical industrial complex, as a whole.

The renowned physicist, Max Planck was once quoted as saying (and I am paraphrasing here) that ‘science basically tends to advance one funeral at a time.’   Old, outdated ideas in science do tend to die hard—especially when money, power and human egos are at stake (remember the whole flat-earth thing or way back when where the sun used to revolve around the earth? –Or when the medical standard included the use of leeches to treat disease? Or maybe when there was all that casual and widespread mainstream use of frontal lobotomies for treating mental illness, or how about the good old days where smoking and margarine were supposedly good for you???). Bit by bit the old guard begrudgingly passes on and science painstakingly gives way to fresh new ideas (and thankfully Galileo has at last been pardoned a few years back for his earlier outrageous scientific heresy thinking that the sun and not the earth was at the center of our galaxy), but there can be a LOT of catching up to do.

 

You and your family can’t afford to wait as long as it will take for the mainstream to catch up here so hopefully you are willing to suspend disbelief long enough to weigh some of the hard evidence for yourself.  

CATCHING UP WITH MODERN SCIENCE

A recently published paper by cardiovascular specialist, Dr. Aseem Malhotra garnered front page news and created a firestorm when he dared to declare: “Saturated Fat Is Not The Major Issue” (BMJ 2013; 347 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f6340 (Published 22 October 2013) in the pages of the British Medical Journal. In it he said: “Let’s bust the myth of its role in heart disease.” He went on further in his opening remarks to say: “Scientists universally accept that trans fats—found in many fast foods, bakery products, and margarines—increase the risk of cardiovascular disease through inflammatory processes. But “saturated fat” is another story. The mantra that saturated fat must be removed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease has dominated dietary advice and guidelines for almost four decades.

Yet scientific evidence shows that this advice has, paradoxically, increased our cardiovascular risks. Furthermore, the government’s obsession with levels of total cholesterol, which has led to the overmedication of millions of people with statins, has diverted our attention from the more egregious risk factor of atherogenic dyslipidaemia.” He then said: “Indeed, recent prospective cohort studies have not supported any significant association between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular risk. Instead, saturated fat has been found to be protective.” (bold emphasis mine) And: “The ‘calorie is not a calorie’ theory has been further substantiated by a recent JAMA study showing that a ‘low fat’ diet resulted in the greatest decrease in energy expenditure, and unhealthy lipid pattern, and increased insulin resistance in comparison with a low carbohydrate and low glycemic index diet. In the past 30 years in the United States the proportion of energy from consumed fat has fallen from 40% to 30% (although absolute fat consumption has remained the same), yet obesity has rocketed.”

Dr. Malhotra later went on to state: “In previous generations cardiovascular disease existed largely in isolation. Now two thirds of people admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction really have metabolic syndrome–but 75% of these patients have completely normal total cholesterol concentrations. Maybe this is because total cholesterol isn’t really the problem?

Despite the common held belief that high cholesterol is a significant risk factor for coronary artery disease, several independent population studies in healthy adults shown that low total cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular and non–cardiac mortality, indicating that high total cholesterol is not a risk factor in a healthy population.”

In the last sentence of the study he concluded: “It is time to bust the myth of the role of saturated fat in heart disease and wind back the harms of dietary advice that has contributed to obesity.”

Bravo. And Aseem Malhotra is far from alone.

This huge recent article published in Time Magazine (on June 23, 2014) said that the 40-year demonization of saturated fat as the cause of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease was based on flawed data, citing a March 2014 Cambridge University study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Titled “Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” (Ann Intern Med. 2014;160(6):398-406. doi:10.7326/M13-1788) this huge game-changing meta-analysis study analyzed data from 27 randomized controlled trials and over 600,000 subjects in 49 observational studies. They were evaluating the coronary disease risk relative to the consumption of polyunsaturated fats (that we’re all told by doctors and mainstream dieticians are the “best” fats to eat) and saturated fat.

The conclusions stated: “Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.” (emphasis mine)

It’s not saturated fat we should worry about,” said Rajiv Chowdhury, lead author of the study. “It’s the high-carb or sugary diet that should be the focus of dietary guidelines.” Wow.

AMEN.

An article in an online news web site, The Examiner had a headline which read: “War on Saturated Fat is Over: Ketogenic, Atkins and Paleo Diets are Vindicated.” Yep.

It was only a matter of Time (pun intended).

Here’s what other bold voices in science and independent (i.e., non-industry funded) research and whistleblowers from the last few decades have been trying to tell us:

In Framingham, Massachusetts, the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower people’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.”

–From Archives of Internal Medicine, 1992,

Dr. William Castelli, Director of the Framingham Heart Study

“The diet-heart hypothesis (that suggest that high intake of fat and cholesterol causes heart disease) has been repeatedly shown to be wrong, and yet, for complicated reasons of pride, profit and prejudice, the hypothesis continues to be exploited by scientists, fund-raising enterprises, food companies, and even governmental agencies. The public is being deceived by the greatest health scam of the century”

–George V. Mann, M.D.,

Johns Hopkins-educated biochemist and physician and formerly one of the primary architects of the Framingham Heart Study Project

MORE RESEARCH:

A 1994 study in the medical peer-reviewed journal, Lancet tells us that 80% of what plaques our arteries isn’t cholesterol or saturated fat—but instead rancid unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (like the kind found in processed vegetable oil!)

The American Death rate from Heart Attack and Stroke was only 3% in 1900. By 1997 it increased to nearly 50% (while eating more grains, less protein, less fat, and less cholesterol)!

Felton CV, Crook D, Davies MJ, Oliver MF. “Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and composition of human aortic plaques.” Lancet. 1994 Oct 29;344(8931):1195-6.

“The commonly held belief that the best diet for prevention of coronary heart disease is a low saturated fat, low cholesterol diet is not supported by the available evidence from clinical trials. In primary prevention, such diets do not reduce the risk of myocardial infarction or coronary or all cause mortality.”

AND

“Vast sums of money have been invested in nutritional programs, dietary advice and nurse counseling to promote low saturated fat, low-cholesterol diets–yet the trials to date for both primary and secondary prevention suggest that these diets do not work.” (emphasis mine)

Corr LA, Oliver, MF. “The low fat/low cholesterol diet is ineffective.”European Heart Journal, Volume 18 (1), 18-22 January 1997 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/

In 2010 a large meta-analysis study was released in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition with the catchy title:

Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease” (just rolls right off the tongue…)

It evaluated 21 studies involving nearly 350,000 subjects exploring “the evidence related to the association of dietary saturated fat with risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease in prospective epidemiologic studies.”

And their conclusion? (drumroll please….)

“A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of Coronary Heart Disease or Cardiovascular Disease.” (Including stroke)

Are you getting this?

In fact, another study suggested that more saturated fat might actually be better!!

This study published in 2004 in the American Journal of clinical nutrition followed 235 women for over three years. It turned out that the more saturated fat they ate, the less their arteries seemed to get clogged. The women who ate more processed fake fats had by far the worst progression of atherosclerosis, especially if they were eating starchy carbs and a lot of high glycemic index foods.

The study’s authors concluded:

“In postmenopausal women with relatively low total fat intake, a greater saturated fat intake is associated with less progression of coronary atherosclerosis, whereas carbohydrate intake is associated with a greater progression.” (emphasis in bold mine)

Still not convinced?

That study was backed up by yet another study that found almost the exact same thing. More saturated fat means less heart disease!!

[Griel A, Kris-Etherton P. “Beyond saturated fat: the importance of the dietary fatty acid profile on cardiovascular disease.” Nutr Rev. 2006 May;64(5 Pt 1):257-62]

The authors here concluded that:

“These effects include the paradox that a high-fat, high–saturated fat diet is associated with diminished coronary artery disease progression in women with the metabolic syndrome, a condition that is epidemic in the United States.”

Wow—the evidence sure is mounting!

In a commentary published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition five respected researchers and physicians, including Stephen Sinatra, MD, FACN, Mark C. Houston, MD, FACN, Miguel A. Martinez-Gonzalez, MD, PhD, MPH and Beverly B. Teter, PhD, MACN basically stood up and said:

“The nutritional courts tried and convicted the wrong man!” They went to to say “It was never saturated fat that was killing us, it’s been sugar all the time and we’re eating record amounts of it, unprecedented in human history.”

(emphasis mine yet again…couldn’t help it)

(Source:   Stephen T. Sinatra MD, FACNa, Beverly B. Teter PhD, MACNb, Jonny Bowden CNSc, Mark C. Houston MD, FACNc & Miguel A. Martinez-Gonzalez MD, PhD, MPHd. “The Saturated Fat, Cholesterol, and Statin Controversy A Commentary”. Journal of the American College of Nutrition Volume 33, Issue 1, 2014, pages 79-88.)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in a 2009 global epidemiological report, mainstream recommendations to avoid dietary fat and cholesterol were in effect, misguided and just plain wrong.

Mind you, epidemiological studies of large populations are not necessarily the strongest way to establish clear associations (case in point: Ancel Keyes Seven Countries Study), BUT if saturated fat does truly cause heart disease like we’ve been told repeatedly for the last few decades, then the epidemiological evidence should show that higher levels of saturated fat are associated with a higher risk of heart disease.

Well, according to the UN WHO/FAO report, there is zero association.

The authors variously concluded:

“Intake of SFA [saturated fatty acids] was not significantly associated with CHD mortality…”

and also

“SFA intake was not significantly associated CHD events [e.g. heart attacks]…”

and finally

“…fatal CHD was not reduced by…the low-fat diets…”

[Fats and Fatty Acids in Human Nutrition. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2009; 55 (1-3]

So Ancel Keyes—the father of the “lipid hypothesis” (which is the notion that saturated fat and cholesterol are THE culprits in heart disease) artificially—as is now widely known– manipulated data in his 7 countries epidemiological study to try and prove his own hypothesis. His work has since been disproven and exposed for the exceedingly poor science and fraud that it was. Apart from completely ignoring data from 22 other countries that contradicted his hypothesis, Ancel Keyes even overlooked the rates of heart disease among a few primitive groups that ate diets exceedingly high in saturated fat with the lowest rates of all in cardiovascular disease! Apparently Ancel Keyes missed these outliers:

  • Maasai: From Kenya and Tanzania in Africa. Their diet traditionally consists of meat, milk and blood from cattle. Butter for infants. Diet is 66% saturated fat.
  • Tokelau: From three atoll Islands, New Zealand. Diet consisted of coconut and fish. Diet was traditionally 60% saturated fat.
  • Inuit: From the Arctic. Their traditional Diet consisted mainly of whale, seal and walrus meat and blubber. Diet is 75% saturated fat.
  • Rendille: From the Kaisut Desert, NE Kenya in Africa. Diet is camel milk and meat and “Banjo” – a mixture of camel milk/blood. Diet is 63% saturated fat.

Also–In Georgia, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Croatia, and the Ukraine, higher rates of heart disease are associated with LOWER levels of saturated fat in the diet!

In Austria, Finland, Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and France lower rates of heart disease are associated with HIGHER intake of saturated fat in the diet!

Gee…do you think that maybe we’ve all been just a little misled?

 

 

We really need to revisit the mantras of mainstream advice concerning the promotion of low fat diets and thoroughly revise them. It is taking us all in the WRONG DIRECTION!!!   Basically, we need to take that ridiculous food pyramid and almost literally turn it upside down!!!!

Here’s something else to ponder…and you may want to be sitting down for this one:

ALL large mammals are actually designed to obtain the majority of their caloric intake from fat!

Say what???                        

In both cases these largely herbivorous animals are deriving their caloric/energy intake NOT from carbohydrates that they eat all day long—but from short chain saturated fat from the bacterial fermentation of dietary fiber.

We as humans don’t have a primarily fermentative, bacterially-based digestive system—we have a hydrochloric acid-based digestive system. We are designed to get that fat directly from the foods we eat—including getting our essential fatty acids (EFA’s – like omega-3’s) primarily in their elongated forms from the animals that have more efficiently done this work for us!

“Compared to large-bodied apes, WE have this enhanced capacity to digest and metabolize higher fat diets. Our gastrointestinal (GI) tract, with its expanded small intestine and reduced colon, is quite different from those of chimpanzees and gorillas and is consistent with the consumption of what is termed by anthropologic researchers “a high-quality diet” with large amounts of animal food.”

(Milton, K. 1987. “Primate diets and gut morphology: Implications for hominid evolution,” in Food and Evolution: Toward a theory of human food habits. Edited by M. Harris and E.B. Boss, pp 96-116.   Philadelphia: Temple University Press).

You mean to tell me that dietary fat is actually GOOD FOR YOU??

YES. Natural, unprocessed, and fully pastured dietary fat.

In fact we were literally BORN as humans to rely on fat as our primary source of fuel!

The Journal of Neuroscience Research states that:

“Once the onset of suckling takes place…ketone bodies become the major fuel for brain development.”

Medina, J. M. and Tabernero, A. “Lactate utilization by brain cells and its role in CNS development. “ (2005) J Neurosci Res, 79, 2-10

In the textbookBasic Neurochemistrythe authors state that:

“Cerebral utilization of ketones is increased more or less in direct proportion to the degree of ketosis. Significant utilization of ketone bodies by the brain is normal in the neonatal period. The newborn infant tends to be hypoglycemic but becomes ketotic when it begins to nurse because of the high fat content of mother’s milk.” (emphasis mine)

And apart from coconut oil and palm kernel oil THE richest natural source of medium chain fats—the MOST ready source of ketones—is human breast milk. Human breast milk contains the fatty acids needed for large brain development, by the way, and cow’s milk does not.

“Without this metabolic adaptation, H. sapiens could not have evolved such a large brain.”

Cahill GF Jr, Veech RL. “Ketoacids? Good medicine?”

Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2003;114:149-61; discussion 162-3.

“Recent studies have shown that D-beta-hydroxybutyrate, the principal “ketone”, is not just a fuel, but a “superfuel” more efficiently producing ATP energy than glucose or fatty acid.”

Cahill GF Jr, Veech RL. “Ketoacids? Good medicine?” Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2003;114:149-61; discussion 162-3.

“The effects of ketone body metabolism suggests that ketosis may offer therapeutic potential in a variety of different common and rare disease states.

Veech RL. “The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism.” Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2004 Mar;70(3):309-19.

We have just barely scratched the surface of all the evidence, abundantly illustrating the fact that dietary fat and cholesterol are simply not an issue when it comes to heart disease, or any other illness. Not only this, but there are innumerable important benefits associated with dietary fats—and especially animal source fats. In fact, a fat-based ketogenic Paleo approach to diet is emerging as the superstar over all dietary approaches with vast research evidence now pointing to an incredible array of benefits.

A well adapted ketogenic state (a state where you are relying on fat as your primary source of fuel, instead of glucose) effectively:

  • Stabilizes your neurological functioning
  • Provides you with a long lasting stable energy substrate the brain can use all day long—even in the absence of regular meals
  • Is anti-inflammatory
  • Dampens free radical activity (which damage your tissues)
  • Protects from hypoxia (low oxygen)
  • Improves brain function, cognition and memory
  • Is non-glycating (unlike sugars, fat does not gum up and damage your tissues)
  • Spares lean tissue mass
  • Helps stimulate regeneration and repair mechanisms, and as such…
  • Is literally anti-aging in its effect!
  • Helps normalize weight without hunger or deprivation!
  • Improves sleep
  • Improves your mood
  • Increases mitochondrial efficiency
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Improves your immune function
  • Gives you healthier skin
  • Eliminates blood-sugar issues and lowers hemoglobin A1C
  • Improves thyroid efficiency
  • Enhances antioxidant activity and glutathione production
  • Improves cardiovascular markers such as
    • Increasing your HDL
    • Reducing or eliminating “small particle” LDL (the bad stuff)
    • Lowers your triglycerides
  • Reduces your cancer risk
  • Helps resist/reverse diabetes or significantly improves management
  • Reduces your Alzheimer’s risk

Who in their right mind wouldn’t want all this??

OBVIOUSLY the low fat dogma of the last several decades is in need of some serious revision!

BUT HERE’S THE RUB:

 

“The deleterious effects of fat have been measured in the presence of high carbohydrate. A high fat diet in the presence of high carbohydrate is different than a high fat diet in the presence of low carbohydrate.” Richard Feinman, PhD

Richard Feinman is Professor of Biochemistry at Downstate Medical Center (SUNY) in New York

In other words, YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS! —That’s the rub! You can’t have your cake and eat your fat, too. The problem is with dietary sugars and starches. Natural, quality dietary fat on its own has zero detriments—and substantial benefits!

WHAT KIND OF FATS DO WE NEED TO BE EATING?

All naturally occurring fats have some role to play in human health. It’s not the actual amounts of any one type of fat that matters as much as the relative balance of the fats in your diet.

Among the most deficient of all nutrients in the modern-day human diet are the elongated forms of (animal source) Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid). EPA is used to manufacture critical anti-inflammatory compounds in your body and DHA is the form of omega-3 that is stored in your brain and essential for its optimal functioning. Unfortunately, if EPA and DHA are not in your diet, then they are not in your body or brain, either. This is especially true of DHA. Plant-based omega-3’s such as ALA (alpha linolenic acid) found in things like flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and sacha inchi oil, etc. are not at all efficiently converted to EPA and possibly not at all into DHA. In fact, many people lack certain critical enzymes to make any part of these conversions happen at all. In other words, it is not possible for vegetarian to helpfully maintain omega-3 levels using plant-based omega-3’s. We were designed to get these elongated forms of this critical essential fatty acid from the grass-fed animals (and wild fish) that made these conversions for us. Unfortunately, omega-3 levels in conventionally raised feedlot meat or farmed fish are nearly nonexistent and have led to widespread deficiencies adversely affecting brain function, inflammation, mood and virtually every aspect of our health. Also, it is very easy to squeeze out healthy dietary Omega-3’s by over consuming Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids tend to predominate in grains and seeds/seed oils of virtually all kinds (i.e., processed vegetable oils), as well as feedlot meat and farmed fish. It is critical that we avoid these sources of omega-6 fatty acids as much as humanly possible. Although omega-6’s are also essential to us, they tend to be vastly overrepresented in the modern diet, leading to huge imbalances and a tremendous variety of problems. Excess omega-6 fats adversely contribute to problems with your cell membrane health, systemic inflammation, your insulin response, your brain health/cognition and cell repair—as well as depleting your omega-3 levels. Other ways of adversely affecting healthy omega-3 levels, apart from not eating or supplementing with enough healthy dietary sources includes things like the consumption of either/both sources of trans fats (soybean oil, canola oil, margarine, vegetable shortening and most pre-packaged processed foods) and alcohol.

Eating more grass fed meat and wild caught fish from uncontaminated waters, as well as fully pastured eggs are some of the best sources of EPA and DHA in modern times. If you have been depleted of these critical nutrients for an extended period of time then some supplementation with either high quality fish oil and/or Antarctic krill oil are probably a good idea. It will also be important, however to be sure that you are getting sufficient vitamin D3, vitamin E, and vitamin K2 for important antioxidant protection when consuming these delicate oils (highly prone to rancidity). Norwegian fermented cod liver oil and fermented skate oil are good sources of some of these nutrients.   When it comes to vitamin E you will want to be very cautious, as the majority of vitamin supplements are encapsulated with soybean or canola oil (hydrogenated, no less) and lack the full vitamin E complex essential for healthy functioning. Look for a source that is based in mixed tocopherols, rich in gamma tocopherol and tocotrienols and encapsulated in a glycerin base rather than a (rancid and hydrogenated) vegetable oil based capsule. Dietary fat is always essential for making healthy use of any fat-soluble nutrient, so it’s best to take these things with meals.

Human breast milk is naturally supposed to contain DHA and EPA— but this is directly dependent on there being sufficient omega-3’s in the mother’s diet. It can be a real problem if her diet is deficient; as infants deprived of sufficient omega-3’s are considerably prone to impaired neurological, cognitive, visual, and spatial development and may be additionally prone to slower learning, as well as things like allergies and asthma. Infant formula tends to be entirely devoid of necessary omega-3 content. Needless to say, putting children on low-fat or vegan diets can have catastrophic consequences for their long-term health and brain development. Babies, children and teens have the greatest need for dietary fat (other than perhaps pregnant women) in the entire human population. Mainstream recommendations for reducing dietary fat and cholesterol in these populations is tragically misguided, at best. (I am trying—hard—to be nice)

Apart from addressing the issue of essential fatty acids, it is mostly just important that you eat dietary fat from a variety of natural sources, including 100% fully pastured animal source foods and 100% wild caught fish/seafood from clean, uncontaminated sources (which admittedly are getting very hard to find nowadays).

It is also fine to consume monounsaturate-rich fruit oils such as olive oil and avocado oil, or macadamia nut oil. It is particularly important not to cook with these oils with anything other than the lowest possible heat, however, as they have the relatively low smoking point and are extremely prone to rancidity. I personally do not cook with these oils at all and merely add them to cooked foods after the fact for flavor, or on salads.

I recommend avoiding peanut oil (peanuts aren’t a nut, btw, but are instead a legume), as peanuts and peanut oil contain a very potent lectin, cleverly called “peanut oil lectin” (or PNA) that is actually a very potent initiator of atherosclerosis (arterial disease)! (Gresham GA et al.  “The independent production of atherosclerosis and thrombosis in the rat.” Br J Exp Pathol 1960;41:395-402. AND Boyle EM et al.  “Atherosclerosis.” Ann Thorac Surg 1997;64:S47-56.). AND Kritchevsky D et al.  “Influence of native and randomized peanut oil on lipid metabolism and aortic sudanophilia in the vervet monkey.”  Atherosclerosis 1982;42:53-58. AND Kritchevsky D, Tepper SA, Klurfeld DM. “Lectin may contribute to the atherogenicity of peanut oil.” Lipids 1998 Aug;33(8):821-3). Lectins, incidentally, are any plant’s equivalent of teeth and claws, designed to be a biochemical defense against animals that want to eat them. They are basically plant toxins with a potential variety of adverse effects.

For cooking, there are a variety of fats that can work extremely well. Coconut oil can be extremely good to cook with because it is an extremely saturated fat and, as such, contains an extremely high smoking point and tolerates heat well. Other excellent fats to cook with include pastured beef tallow, non-hydrogenated and fully pastured lard, poultry fat (I and especially partial to duck and goose fat), cultured ghee, butter (only if tolerated) and palm oil (which may be a bit strong tasting for some).

DIETARY FAT’S ESSENTIAL ROLE IN YOUR BODY (101):

  • Fats make up 60-80%+ of the human brain (by dry weight) – @¼ of these are DHA, an omega-3
  • Fats are essential for absorption of many nutrients
  • Fats are essential for the formation of most hormones
  • Fats are essential for the structure and healthy functioning of our cell membranes
  • Normal levels of healthy dietary fat are essential to the healthy functioning of the gallbladder
  • Fats are THE primary fuel for muscles – including the heart!
  • Fats are essential for healthy immune function
  • Fats are essential for a healthy and stable nervous system
  • Ample fats are critical to the formation of the brain and nervous system in prenatal nutrition and in the developing brains and nervous systems of babies, children and teens. Low fat diets should never be promoted, particularly in these populations.
  • Certain fats (EFA’s) are additionally needed for normal brain function, growth and development, bone health, stimulation of skin and hair growth, regulation of metabolism, and maintenance of reproductive processes.
  • Dietary fat is essential to the proper utilization of dietary protein
  • Fats are our primary form of stored energy reserves
  • IS THERE ANYTHING FATS CAN’T OR DON’T DO????
  • Fat in the body serves to insulate, cushion and protectively line vital organs
  • Fat provides taste and texture to the foods we eat (makes foods taste good)
  • Dietary fat helps to slow the absorption of food for better regulation of blood sugar

A FEW FUN FACTS ABOUT THE UNDERAPPRECIATED AND CRITICAL ROLE OF SATURATED FAT IN THE HUMAN BODY:

  • The Heart (yes—the heart) actually prefers saturated long-chain fats like 18 carbon stearic acid and 16 carbon Palmitic acid as its primary source of fuel!
  • Bones need dietary saturated fat and fat soluble nutrients to assimilate calcium and other minerals effectively
  • Hormones use saturated fat as signaling messengers for their production
  • Cell membranes require roughly 50% saturated fat (plus cholesterol) for proper membrane functioning
  • Lungs use oxidative-resistant saturated fat 100% (16-carbon palmitic acid) to make lung-surfactant (a di-saturate molecule) to form a protective barrier for the vulnerable lung tissue
  • Appetite is satiated predominantly by the presence of fat, which leads to less over-eating and healthier weight (in the absence of dietary sugar and starch)
  • Dietary protein and EFA’s require saturated fat for their best absorption and/or utilization. Saturated fats help protect delicate EFA’s from rancidity
  • The immune system uses saturated fats in many critical ways:
    • Certain short and medium chain saturated fats have potent anti-microbial properties
    • Saturated fats prime white blood cells to destroy invading bacteria, viruses and fungi, as well as tumors.
    • Tumor growth is suppressed in a state of ketosis (and must have a glucose-rich environment to thrive, btw)

Dietary saturated fat is used in an incredible variety of critical ways—and one of them is NOT plaqueing your arteries! Is also worthwhile to mention that saturated fat, by its very nature is inherently resistant to oxidation, giving it certain protective qualities (i.e., it’s role in lung surfactant, for instance), much like an antioxidant. Saturated fats are far less likely to go rancid in warm environments (like, oh, say…the human body at 98.6 degrees F) and as such are additionally beneficial. I am not saying “the more the merrier” when it comes to eating saturated fats (no need to start drinking lard), only that you have literally no reason to fear them. The fact is that we need them. Animal source fats have been a part of our evolutionary hominin diet from the very beginning, over 3 million years ago. Were they detrimental to us, we never would have survived as a species long enough to make it this far and we never would have developed the uniquely large and sophisticated brain we have today. Unless we continue to supply our brain with the fats that forged our brains in the first place, however, we are invariably destined to continue to lose our brain volume as we progressively have over the last 10,000 years. Losing our intelligence is probably beneficial for those that profit from human stupidity, but it doesn’t bode well for the survival of our species or our planet. If we ever needed bigger and healthier brains in our evolutionary history we need them now. We need to be able to think our way out of the mess we’ve created for ourselves. To do that, we all need the healthiest brains possible.

The bottom line is this:

The human body and brain are designed to run primarily on fat and not carbs!

As creatures of the Ice Age, FATS—and not sugar– are actually meant to be our primary form of stored and everyday energy and can safely and efficiently power our brains unlike any other nutrient. This is how we evolved and what our ancestors did for most of their energy! A diet excessively high in carbohydrates will cause your body and brain to adapt to the unnatural dependence on blood glucose for its primary fuel—to your considerable detriment.

The more we can come to rely on fat (in the form of ketones and free fatty acids) for our primary source of fuel– and not sugar– the longer you will live the more gracefully you will age, and the healthier you and your brain will be by far.

In short, dietary fat is where it’s at!

By Nora Gedgaudas

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