We are in the midst of an epidemic of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, not to mention cancer and immune related diseases. What can we do about this tragedy? Let’s cover some general information.
Fossil remains from our hunter-gatherer ancestors show that they were lean, had strong dense bones, and no tooth decay. Evidence from cave drawings and coprolites shows that they ate a diet consisting mainly of fruit, nuts, and wild vegetables, and some meat. This diet is about the same as that of today’s hunter-gatherer tribes.
With the advent of agriculture, mankind’s diet shifted to a grain-based diet. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors probably ate some grain, having discovered that wheat and rye plants which grew wild, could yield a grain, which, when cooked, could be eaten. The agricultural revolution made it possible for grains to be the staple of the diet.
People began getting most of their calories and nutrients from grain about 10,000 years ago. Some 500 generations have lived since then. Geneticists say that it takes between 1,000 and 10,000 generations for any significant evolutionary change.
People whose diets consisted mainly of grains, had problems with their teeth, and likely had other health problems as well. The ancient Egyptians are a classic example of this. They subsisted mostly on grains. Mummies show tooth decay that is not found among hunter-gatherer tribes.
Grains are not unhealthy. In fact some, such as wheat or oats, are highly nutritious, providing high quality protein, along with many vitamins, minerals, and fiber. But they are a problem when they become the dominant food, at the expense of leafy vegetables and fruit. The real problem, however, comes when they are refined.
In the 1890s machines were invented that strip all the fiber and nutrition from grain, and extract sugar from cane, beets, or grain. The empty calorie was invented.
Empty calories deplete the body of nutrition. For every carbohydrate calorie the body burns, it needs a certain amount of nutrients. Chromium is needed to allow insulin to do its job, and certain B vitamins are needed to carry out the chemical reactions of metabolizing every gram of carbohydrate. Calcium is needed for certain metabolic reactions. These nutrients and many others are stripped from wheat to make white flour, sometimes simply called wheat flour, as opposed to whole wheat flour. Sugar is extracted from corn, beets, or cane and is added to most of our food and drinks, sometimes in large quantities. Consumption of refined sugar causes our bodies to rob nutrients from organs and bones in order to obtain the nutrients necessary for the assimilation and metabolizing of sugar.
Two hundred years ago the average American ate 10 or 12 pounds of sugar a year. The only sugar that most people consumed was what was naturally present in food. By 1928 sugar consumption was about 10 times what it was in 1828. In 1996 the average American consumed 152 pounds of sugar!
When scientists began studying the plaques in the arteries of people who died of heart diseases, they found fat and cholesterol deposits in these plaques and reasoned that it’s the fat and cholesterol in the diet that causes the problem. This simplistic reasoning was wrong and has been proven wrong by many clinical studies and statistical analyses. Heart attack rates do not correlate with the amount of fat and cholesterol consumed in a given population. But they do correlate strongly with the amount of refined carbohydrate and hydrogenated oil consumed. Type 2 diabetes also correlates strongly with refined carbohydrate consumption in a population. From the mid 60s to the mid 90s, the incidence of type 2 diabetes increased six-fold. A slight apparent increase may be due to better reporting of the disease or people being more aware of it, but this is a real epidemic and it is staggering! It is incredible for the incidence of a non-infectious disease to increase by a factor of six in forty years! This much change in only one or two generations can’t possibly be hereditary in nature.
In previous centuries people ate large amounts of butter and lard, beef, pork and lots of eggs. Despite the fact that large numbers of people lived into their sixties and beyond, heart attacks were very rare. The first heart attack in medical literature was described in a medical journal in 1912. Prior to the twentieth century heart attacks were so rare most doctors could practice a whole lifetime without seeing a heart attack victim.
The French eat a diet that is high in fat yet they suffer a heart disease rate 60% lower than Americans. Eskimos, the Masai in Africa, and the Icelanders, all ate a diet very high in fat but heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes were unknown to them until typical American diet was introduced to them. Then they began to suffer from these diseases at the same rate that we do. Yugoslavia and the Netherlands provide similar examples.
The two master hormones of metabolism are insulin and glucagon. These two hormones work in opposition to each other. Most people think only of blood sugar when they think of insulin, but it has many functions.
Functions of insulin:
1. Carries glucose into all cells (except red blood cells and cells that make up the lens of the eye)
2. Is essential in the conversion of protein and sugar into fat
3. Causes dietary fat to be stored in the fat cells
4. Puts metabolism into fat storage mode
5. Increases production of cholesterol
6. Causes the kidneys to retain water, potassium, and sodium
7. Stimulates the growth of the cells that line the inside of arteries, thus decreasing the inside diameter of the arteries.
8. Decreases the elasticity of the arteries
9. Converts glucose into glycogen (a form of carbohydrate that is stored in the liver and muscle tissues)
10. Carries amino acids into the cells
Functions of glucagon:
1. Stimulates the conversion of glycogen into glucose and releases it into the bloodstream
2. Converts protein and fat into glucose
3. Releases fat from fat cells to be burned for energy
4. Puts metabolism into the fat burning mode
5. Reduces production of cholesterol
6. Causes the kidneys to release water, potassium, and sodium
7. Reduces growth of the cells that line the inside of the arteries
8. Increases the elasticity of the arteriesv
9. Breaks down glycogen into glucose to be used for energy
10. Carries amino acids out of the cells
Without insulin the body could not survive long, because glucose wouldn’t be able to get into the cells. Without it, the body could not store fat for use when food is scarce. In its absence, a person could eat to their heart’s content and never gain weight. Our physiology has evolved into a complex system designed to store fat in times when food is plentiful and burn it when times are lean and food is hard to find.
When you eat a meal, the pancreas secretes insulin, which then shuttles the glucose (also amino acids, sodium, and potassium) into your cells. If there is an excess of glucose in the blood, some of it is stored as glycogen, and some is converted to fat and stored in the fat cells. If you don’t eat for several hours your blood sugar begins to fall. Your brain recognizes this and stimulates the pancreas to release glucagon, which stimulates the breakdown of glycogen that is stored in the liver and muscles. Glucagon enables us to burn our stores of fat and glycogen when we fast. Glycogen breaks down into glucose, thus keeping blood sugar from dropping any further. If you continue to fast, your reserves of glycogen will run out in a day or two. When it runs out, glucagon stimulates the release of fat from the fat cells and breaks down the fat into chemicals known as ketones. Your body can burn ketones for energy until you run out of fat.
The body is not equipped to deal with large amounts of sugar suddenly entering the bloodstream. This will cause the pancreas to overreact and produce too much insulin. After an initial rise in blood sugar and consequent burst of energy, the blood sugar will fall too low. If you don’t consume any more carbohydrate, your pancreas will secrete glucagon. This hormone will cause the blood sugar to slowly rise to normal levels by breaking down glycogen in the liver into glucose and releasing it into the bloodstream. Most people will consume more sugar-laden food or drink before their blood sugar returns to normal and cause another surge of insulin and repeat the cycle. Because of constantly high levels of insulin and low levels of glucagon, your LDL cholesterol (the so-called bad kind, and the only kind the liver makes) will go up. Your blood pressure will go up. Your body will be in a fat-storage mode.
When you were a child and you ate something sweet, your pancreas needed to secrete only a tiny amount of insulin in response to the rise in blood sugar. After years of consuming refined carbohydrate, the insulin receptors on your cells become less sensitive to insulin and your pancreas needed to secrete larger amounts to do the same job. This is called insulin resistance. Another cause of insulin resistance is chromium deficiency. Refined carbohydrate causes a deficiency in chromium as well as other trace minerals. Chromium is a critical component of the insulin receptors on the cell wall.
Lack of exercise also causes insulin resistance. And no doubt, some people have a genetic predisposition for insulin resistance, which is all the more reason for them to be careful how they eat and to make sure they get enough exercise. With the pancreas having to produce excessive amounts of insulin just to regulate blood sugar, you end up with all of the problems of hyperinsulinism. It is a matter of genetics as to which problem will hit you first, obesity, hypoglycemia, high blood pressure, or diabetes, etc, but sooner or later one or more of these problems will arise if you keep consuming refined carbohydrate. The body overproduces insulin in response to a rapidly rising blood sugar level; consequently blood sugar drops dramatically in a couple of hours. Many people who pass a glucose tolerance test have severe insulin resistance. They passed the test because their blood sugar checked out normal a couple hours after given a sugar solution, but their pancreas had to secrete abnormally large amounts of insulin to deal with a little bit of sugar.
Eventually a person gets to the point where the pancreas is producing as much insulin as it possibly can, but the cells in the body are so resistant to it that even a massive amount of insulin can’t bring blood sugar down. This person will fail the glucose tolerance test and be diagnosed with diabetes. Doctors will make matters worse if they prescribe insulin injections at this point in time, although sometimes drugs are given to make the body’s cells more sensitive to insulin. A change of diet and an exercise program will usually bring insulin sensitivity up to acceptable levels.
Type 2 diabetes should not be confused with type 1 diabetes. They are two different diseases. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes called juvenile onset diabetes, because it usually strikes a person when they are very young. It occurs when a virus or toxin (or even the child’s own immune system) destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Type 2, on the other hand, normally takes two or three decades of high consumption of refined carbohydrates before it becomes apparent. Type 2 diabetes can turn into type 1 if left unchecked because the insulin-producing cells (Beta cells) can become weakened and rendered nonfunctional by the continued over stimulation caused by a diet high in refined carbohydrate. This is known as beta cell burnout. When this occurs, the result is type 1 diabetes. With no insulin, blood sugar rises to dangerous levels and the hormone glucagon takes over. Without any insulin to oppose its actions, glucagon begins to waste away the body. The individual loses weight no matter how much they eat. They urinate excessively and are thirsty all the time. Cholesterol falls to dangerously low levels. At this point the individual has no choice but to inject insulin for the rest of their life.
Some will be genetically more prone to certain effects of hyperinsulinism than others. For instance, in some individuals obesity may be the first sign of hyperinsulinism. For others high blood pressure or high LDL cholesterol levels may be the first sign. In some individuals hypoglycemia will be the first symptom. But no matter what your genetic makeup, you can’t escape all of the effects of hyperinsulinism if it remains unchecked. You can’t change your genes but you can change your diet. And you can get off the couch and exercise a little.
Don’t be afraid to eat fat. The only types of fat that are unhealthy are altered or refined oil and hydrogenated oil. A deficiency of dietary fat is a dangerous condition and will kill you if prolonged. No properly done study has ever shown a convincing link between high fat consumption and heart disease. Fat is vital to the health of nerves, skin, the immune system, and just about everything else in your body. And fat is the only one of the three macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, and protein) that does not stimulate the production of insulin when consumed. It makes you feel full, so you’ll eat less. Fat, like fiber, slows the digestion of protein and carbohydrate, thus blunting the rise of serum glucose that results from eating a meal. This is good because the insulin response is much slower and more even, and the person goes longer without feeling hungry again.
You should scrupulously avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils they do not exist in nature, except in minute trace quantities in some meats. Trans fats (hydrogenated oils) have the unique property of lowering good cholesterol and raising the so-called bad cholesterol at the same time. They raise triglyceride levels. They also have an adverse affect on the body’s inflammatory system by disrupting the levels of certain substances in the body called eicosanoids. They suppress certain anti-inflammatory eicosanoids, and boost the level of inflammatory eicosanoids. This causes inflammation of the interior arterial wall. They also gum up the cell wall, adversely affecting cell receptors, including the insulin receptors. By reducing the efficiency of the insulin receptors they cause a person to become insulin resistant. As America’s consumption of saturated fat fell dramatically throughout the twentieth century, our consumption of trans-fats, refined oils and refined carbohydrates skyrocketed. The incidences of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes went through the roof.
The public has been led to believe that the refined, highly processed oils that line the shelves of the grocery store are healthy. Those bottles of golden colored oils have labels which tell you they are cholesterol-free or polyunsaturated. The truth is, those oils are very unhealthy. Do you think that the corn oil in the grocery store bears any resemblance at all to the oil that is inside a kernel of corn?
The problem begins with the method which is used to extract the oil from its source. The preferred method of the industry is to use extreme heat to extract the oil. The high temperatures used destroy most of the healthy components of the oil, including most of the vitamins. The molecular structure of the oil is altered. The oils are refined after extraction. The thick, heavy components are sold to companies that use vegetable oil as the base for certain lubricants or other industrial products. The light-colored oil that remains is an unhealthy and unnatural product that is devoid of nutrition.
Expeller-pressed oil is better than heat-extracted oil, but the high pressure used in the expeller process creates heat. Typically the temperature of the oil is raised to temperatures of 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometimes the nuts or seeds are heated to 250 F before being placed in the expeller, because the high temperature makes the expeller process more efficient.
Many oils are extracted by using a solvent, usually hexane. The problem with this is the solvent is impossible to completely remove from the oil after it is extracted.
When mechanical pressing is done without heating the source of oil first, it is called cold-pressed extraction. This method alters the oil less than any other form of extraction. Unfortunately, sesame seeds and olives are the only sources that will yield a large amount of oil from this process.
High serum cholesterol levels, in particular high levels of LDL cholesterol, have long been blamed for causing arteriosclerosis and heart disease, though there has never been any solid evidence to support this hypothesis. The truth is, the only kind of cholesterol that is damaging to the arteries is oxidized cholesterol. While it is true that LDL oxidizes easier than HDL, the level of oxidized cholesterol in the blood depends much more on the amount of antioxidant in the diet than on LDL cholesterol levels. LDL cholesterol is the only kind that your body can make and it is vital to life.
Cholesterol is a vital substance in the body. It is a major component of the myelin sheath which surrounds nerve cells. This myelin sheath insulates nerves like the insulation on wires. To put it in simplistic terms, this is what keeps your nerves from “short-circuiting.” Cholesterol is needed by the body to create many hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. It is needed by the liver to make bile, which is essential for the absorption of fats. Cholesterol under the skin is transformed into vitamin D by ultraviolet light penetrating the skin. It is an important component of the cell wall of all cells. Most of the cells in your body are capable of making their own cholesterol and will do so if the serum level of cholesterol falls too low.
The cholesterol that is found in arterial plaques is part of the healing process. It is a component of the scab that forms on a wound. Its presence in arterial plaque is an indication that the inner lining of the artery is damaged and in need of healing.
If your cholesterol is below 180, you’re at a high risk for stroke. Levels of 200 or even a little higher, are no cause for concern. If your ratio of LDL to HDL is too high, it is most likely because you are eating too much, or eating the wrong kinds of food. Smoking raises the level of LDL cholesterol because it is produced in response to the arterial damage caused by the chemicals in cigarette smoke. If your cholesterol is extremely high, say, above 300, it should be brought down by eliminating refined carbohydrate, hydrogenated and refined oils, and if you smoke, you should quit. High cholesterol is a symptom of artery disease, not a cause of it. Poisoning your liver with cholesterol-lowering drugs is not the answer.
Harvard researchers studied a community in Framingham Massachusetts for fifty years. This is the most thorough and carefully done study on diet thus far. They proved that heart disease correlates with high cholesterol levels and obesity. They showed that obesity and cholesterol levels were lowest in those who ate the most fat and cholesterol. They also showed that those who ate the most saturated fat had 76% less incidence of ischemic strokes. You won’t hear much about this study because it proved what the food and drug industries don’t want you to know.
Logic would dictate that if cholesterol is merely passively deposited in arteries, then it would be deposited in veins as well. Why are the coronary arteries the ones that seem most affected by cholesterol deposits? They are constantly flexing, and this action would actually impede any substance from collecting on their inner walls. The constant flexing of the coronary arteries causes tiny tears in the membrane if the artery is not healthy. If a person is lacking in certain nutrients, such as vitamin C, his arteries cannot be healthy. If a person eats too much protein, particularly animal protein, then the level of homocysteine in the blood will be high. Homocysteine is an amino acid that results from the breakdown proteins, particularly animal protein. It attacks the inner lining of the arteries. Vitamin B6 very effectively destroys homocysteine, but people who consume a lot of refined carbohydrate are deficient in B6, as well as the other B vitamins.
How much meat do we really need? Hunter-gatherer tribes don’t eat nearly as much meat as the average American, and they have strong, healthy bodies… People who become strict vegetarians live long, healthy lives as long as they stay away from processed foods.
Although some meat in the diet is probably not unhealthy, too much can cause a variety of problems, especially if the meat comes from steers which are fed a diet of corn and soy. One thing the meat industry doesn’t want you to know is that the fat in a steer that grazes on grass and eats no grain, resembles rather closely the fat in such cold-water fish as salmon.
As for milk, it is high in protein with all of the essential amino acids, and has lots of vitamins and minerals. In its raw, unprocessed state, milk is nutritious. The milk in the grocery stores has been pasteurized to kill germs. It has been homogenized to give it a consistent texture and keep the cream from floating to the top. Pasteurization destroys all of the enzymes and most of the vitamins. It also kills off bacteria that aid in its digestion. The enzymes that are destroyed in the pasteurization process aid in the absorption of minerals such as calcium.
Homogenization causes problems too. In order to understand why homogenization is bad, you need to know a little bit of about two substances, plasmalogen and Xanthine oxidase (XO for short). Plasmalogen is a type of phospholipid that is found in brain and spinal chord tissue, and on the inner lining of your arteries. The epithelial lining of the arteries is a protective coating on the inside of the artery. 30% of it is comprised of plasmalogen.
XO is an enzyme that is found in the liver, where it serves many functions, one of which is to destroy used plasmalogen. Plasmalogen and XO cannot exist in the same place for long because XO destroys plasmalogen. The liver has certain safety mechanisms for keeping XO from escaping into the bloodstream. Cow’s milk is very high in XO. In unhomogenized milk, the XO is destroyed in the stomach and intestines by the digestive process. The homogenization process creates extremely small balls of fat called liposomes. These liposomes form a protective layer around the XO, keeping the digestive juices from contacting it. The XO will then enter the blood stream intact and will be released from the liposomes. Plasmalogen in the inner lining of the arteries is gradually destroyed from years of consuming homogenized milk. The body tries to repair the damaged arterial wall by attaching cholesterol to it. That is why the plaques found on the arterial wall of heart disease patients are high in cholesterol. These plaques are wrongly blamed on fat and cholesterol in the diet.
Milk is promoted as something that will build strong bones. True, milk has a lot of calcium, but milk can actually cause a net loss of calcium from the body. Ponder for a moment the fact that the USA has the highest per capita consumption of dairy products and also has the highest per capita rate of osteoporosis. There are two reasons for this.
Milk is very high in phosphorus. Phosphorus competes with calcium for absorption. The ideal ratio of calcium to phosphorus for maximum absorption of both minerals in the human intestine is 2.3 to 1. Human milk has a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2.3 to 1. Cow’s milk has a ratio of 1.3 to 1. The high phosphorus content causes most of the calcium to pass through the digestive tract without being absorbed. Raw milk has an enzyme that enhances calcium absorption, and thus will lessen this problem to some extent, but this enzyme is destroyed in the pasteurization process.
Incidentally, red meat, poultry, corn, and potatoes are all high in phosphorus. These foods can greatly reduce calcium absorption. The worst offender of all is of course, the soft drink, or soda. Sodas are extremely high in phosphorus, and if drunk with a meal, will ensure that little or no calcium will be absorbed from that meal.
Milk is a highly concentrated source of protein and too much protein causes loss of calcium. When too much protein is consumed in a meal, much of the excess amino acids from the protein are turned into uric acid (urea), though some will be turned into fat and stored in the body’s fat stores. The kidneys must attach calcium to the uric acid in order to deal with it. The parathyroid glands detect falling levels of serum calcium and excrete a hormone that causes calcium to leech from the bones into the blood. Maintaining a certain level of calcium in the bloodstream is critical and the body will take calcium from the bones to keep the blood level of calcium constant. This can cause a significant loss of calcium from the bones over time.
Drug companies and food companies don’t want you to know the real cause of high blood pressure or high cholesterol. They would lose a lot of money if enough people knew how easy it is to control these problems by lowering consumption refined carbohydrate and trans-fats. The Food industry makes far more money on processed, refined grain-based food than on meats and vegetables. Most doctors aren’t acting dishonestly when they prescribe these drugs. They only know what they are taught in medical school, and those schools are given huge grants by drug and food companies, consequently they have a big influence on what is taught
Most people don’t want to take the time to educate themselves about nutrition and are content to get their nutritional information from the news media. They hear or read about the latest study which provides evidence for this or that notion, but never see the big picture. Nor do most people have a basic knowledge of nutrition or physiology. An ignorant public is just what the food and drug industries want. They do not need to engage in some sort of conspiracy. They merely rely on the mental laziness and apathy of the average person. Nonetheless, there are some examples of what can be described as a conspiracy to keep certain facts from the public.
Kilmer McCully discovered that a protein called homocysteine causes plaque to form in arteries. The amino acid methionine is an important constituent of protein in meat. It breaks down into homocysteine in the bloodstream. Vitamin B6 converts it back to methionine. McCully discovered that a B6 deficiency caused by consuming refined carbohydrates elevates homocysteine levels dramatically. After publishing an article about this in 1977 he lost his grant support. He lost his positions at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital. He was a victim of the food industry. They did everything they could to keep his findings from being made known to the public. Now his discovery is acknowledged as being important, but it’s not well known to the public.
People have eaten diets high in fat and cholesterol since time immemorial. If you factor out those who died of infectious disease before the advent of vaccines and antibiotics, the life expectancy a couple of a hundred years ago was virtually the same as today. But people were not having heart attacks and strokes. Obese people were a small minority.
Prior to our modern diet, heart disease and type 2 diabetes were virtually unknown. Refined carbohydrate doesn’t even exist in nature, and is probably responsible for more death than cigarettes. There is nothing wrong with eating grains, as long as you eat whole grains, and eat plenty of vegetables and some fruit. Eat fruit, but avoid fruit juice because the extraction of juice creates a concentration of sugar. Eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables. Eat some meat if you like, but don’t go overboard. Don’t be afraid of eggs. They are very nutritious. Eat all types of nuts, especially raw. Peanuts, technically a legume, are very good for you. They are a loaded with protein and vitamins, and high in healthy fat. White potatoes are fine if eaten in small quantities and always with high-fiber vegetables. Eaten alone, potatoes will raise your blood sugar at a very fast rate and have been shown to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes if eaten often.
One other natural food to watch out for is honey. Consume it in small quantities. It does have the advantage of being an invert sugar, which is more slowly metabolized by the body than sucrose, but it is still sugar. It has a lot of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants if it is in a raw, unrefined state, but don’t go overboard with it. Consume it in moderation, if at all. Be aware that most of the honey sold in stores has been stripped of its vitamin and mineral content. And don’t worry about salt. Sodium only raises the blood pressure if you are deficient in potassium. The main rule is, avoid all refined carbohydrate, refined oil, hydrogenated oil and partially hydrogenated oil. And get plenty of vigorous exercise.