Live fast, die young

I was searching the Internet for bathroom scales and stumbled across this article on “scaling” in the Science News. I love stuff like this. A single equation to relate metabolic rates for creatures that range in size over 21 orders of magnitude. From bacteria to blue whales, all obey the same equation! Correcting for temperature, metabolism varies with mass to the 3/4 power.

What really frosts me is that this article doesn’t give the equation. I mean, it describes it well enough that I pretty much could write it down, but even here, in the “Science News” for Pete’s sake, they shy away from presenting the equation. Talk about math phobia.

It’s also kind of neat that, in 1883, Max Rubner thought metabolism ought to vary with the 2/3 power of mass, based on simple geometry. That’s what I would have thought, had I thought about it. The “washing machine” explanation of the 3/4 law isn’t as clear as the surface/volume explanation, but I guess I buy it (considering how well it works).

One final question. Does this explain why fat people can’t lose weight? OK, one more. Doesn’t this say fat people should also live longer?

DadConnections02/25/05 14 comments


AJ • 03/18/05 2:04 PM:

Fat people can’t lose weight because even when they care, they believe that “calories in = calories out.” It’s so simple! Right. The whole problem is eating too much.

If you believe that eating a bushel of apples will get you fatter than eating one krispy creme donut because it’s more calories, you’ve been brainwashed by marketing. You KNOW that isn’t true. But it clearly violates the in=out rule! Oh no!

People get fat eating like crap and living a life that is completely dysfunctional. The human body is not designed to sit and stare all day, it’s designed to move. That movement also works intimately with the ‘inner workings’ of your body. Your body is also designed to eat the food that was designed by the designer, not created by the designed. Your body is forced into fat storage mode most often because it is overloaded with either sugars or toxins. Let’s face it, these are found in foods that are advertised as “healthy” or “low fat” as much as they are in junk foods.

I’m starting to rant. Sorry.

David • 03/19/05 9:32 AM:

Calories in does = calories out. For the most part this IS how it works. And it is that simple. Come on now AJ. And poor example with apples/donuts. You’re wrong on that one. I’m just going to do a quick estimate here - a bushel (basically 36 Liters) would have 8 apples/liter X 36 X roughly 150 calories per apple = 43,200 calories vs. 340 calories in a Krispy Creme.

That being said - we (my kids in class, because we just started our unit on Biochemistry) just read a good article from Nature on trans fats (like in Krispy cremes) and the damage they do to the body.

The exceptions (now’s where it isn’t that simple, and that too is true) to the In/Out rule come from ways in which our bodies process/digest food, exercise, feel full, crave food, metabolize, etc. Certain foods help with the process and certain foods hinder/hurt the process. And obviously exercise is a major factor. And genetics is a gigantic factor. AJ, as a naturally lean and athletic person, I don’t think you realize enough how much people’s genetics (affecting their hormones and metabolism and digestion) factors into their diet/eating habits and health.

David • 03/20/05 10:47 PM:

Conservation of Energy is a law.

AJ • 03/21/05 3:12 AM:

Conservation of energy is a law? Ok, well now I’m mad that I have to spend a half hour of my life explaining to you how terrible that argument is in application to eating whole foods. Hopefully, the angry energy that I put into this article will be conserved so that if it doesn’t clear up anything for you, it will at least come out of the computer screen and punch you in the face (like The Cheat’s website for Strongbad does).

Yes. Dave, genetics plays a part in food assimilation. Remember that and try to eat foods that supported your race, nationality, and cultures in the past. Unless you think your digestive system evolved faster than your kins, of course. Regardless, NOBODY does well on manufactured non-foods that come from refined sugars, white flours, or new foods like processed grains, vegetable oils, and protein bars. I’ve read about studies where the rats eating some of these things die faster than rats that eat either nothing or the box they come in. But that’s probably just a conspiracy.

It is a conspiracy, and it’s just like I said in the e-mail that I sent to you. You can take the blue pill and learn the truth or you can take the red pill and well, as they say, “ignorance is bliss.” (Until you get cancer and they treat you with the best known treatment - chemo. You have a 50% chance of surviving that treatment. Then ignorance is “Not Awesome”[Tiny House])

So the mathematical estimation (as an engineer, it is my estimation that every formula is merely an estimation) says that energy in = energy out. Well, even if you could calculate the number of calories you burn in one day, given your RMR and how much each ounce of food you eat has, so what?

It’s not like you’re a car, and all food is gasoline. You’re not taking into account your body’s nutritional needs for healing and function. Most importantly, however, you’re not taking into account that natural foods come with a certain combination of fats, vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates the necessary enzymes to break them down. Your body has a very limited ability to produce enzymes. This is because foods come with most of what is needed to assimilate them into you. You truly are what you eat.

Maybe I need to start with what a calorie is and how that applies to the human physiology. It doesn’t. Burning a piece of food to see how many calories it has (that is how they do it) has absolutely nothing to do with how your body uses that nutrition. If it did, than using David’s clear mathematical figures I would come up with 1 krispy kreme donut provides roughly the same amount of energy as 2-3 apples, give or take 100 calories. Therefore, they are equivalent sources of energy. I’m assuming that you’re assuming nutrition = energy = calories = life.

The idea that fats are bad because “FAT HAS SOOOO MANY CALORIES” is insane. Fats help break themselves down, counteracting your calorie theory. Plus fats slower digestion slows the absorption of accompanying sugars into your blood stream. This helps protect you from the crash you feel after eating sugar - known as hypoglycemia.

Also, animal fats contain many important vitamins vital to human function that can not be found in any other source of food (vitamin B12 can not be absorbed from sea algae). Entire cultures have lived for thousands of years by eating anywhere from 40-90% animal fat diets. The same ‘entire cultures’ that make up all humans living today. Besides, have you ever seen a vegetarian that looks healthy? Me either, and if they aren’t on there way to anemia, it’s because they supplement a ton. It’s very difficult to do. I wonder why it’s so hard.

But all of a sudden we “discovered” that saturated fats are bad and only these new vegetable oils will save us. Anything with fat and especially saturated fats like animals, coconuts, etc. must be harmful to the body. Well, as David is well apparently aware now, vegetable oils are mostly rancid fats and are the main source of the “new” bad guy Trans fats. Of course, if you ate like your great-great grandparents and every single one of their predecessors you might not suspect that humans survived for thousands (or however many years you believe humans have been in existence) on a diet that was wrong. All this time they should’ve been eating trans-fat loaded foods that we can manufacture like margarine, soy oil, and canola oil. I realize I’m harping on a point you already agree with me on, but, let’s face it, for the last 20 years you were told (by who?) that you should cut down on real fats and cholesterols, but nobody ever apologized for that. They just said, “Uh, yeah…Trans fats are bad.”

I’ll save cholesterol for some other day. That’s an easy one for me. Just know that I believe your body isn’t making a mistake when it’s producing it.

Oh yeah, and grains are great! (Never mind the fact that at least 60% of the population is intolerant to grains) Wonderful, wonderful grains includes white flour products and whole grains that instead of being sprouted are just cooked at extremely high temperatures put through some sort of extrusion process (or puffing, or flaking - your choice) and then stuffed in boxes to sit on shelves for virtually ever. We’ll call those cereals, stamp a “heart healthy” label on them and despite the fact that it NEVER goes bad, people will not only call it food they’ll call it healthy food. Then they’ll poor pasteurized milk over it, because there is no point in eating anything that is still alive.

No, no. We know what makes life go on. It’s vitamin A,B,etc. proteins, and carbohydrates. We can make those synthetically now; just make sure you have the right amounts. It’s on the labels. Better yet, here’s a pill with the right balance. Take one every morning.

Don’t do it the OLD way. The way nature or God intended is wrong anyway. Should we be killing living plants and animals for food? For crying out loud, we’ve mapped out the human genome. We understand more than nature or God did by now. We know everything.

Well, except why people are fat and the leading causes of death in our “medically enlightened” era are cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and medical malpractice (just from taking the right prescriptions at the right time as recommended). Those are all random occurrences and diseases that we can’t stop from happening. But we’ll find a cure someday, so you can continue your dysfunctional lifestyles and we’ll just cure that cancer with a tiny blue pill (or two.) We will. I’m sure of it. We sure are smart.

You know Dave, this last point about genetics I can hardly believe. I may have a genetic advantage over you, but it’s not a genetic advantage to be healthy. To me, that is like believing people are born kings because of royal blood.

I know it’s not fair to use me as an example, because I was, by your estimation, born better than most people, but even as healthy as I thought I was a few months ago, a lot has changed with me in that last few months.

I stopped playing volleyball for the last 4 months and the only working out I did was going to the gym 2-3 times a week to workout. Granted they were good workouts, but I don’t think it was nearly as physically demanding as playing beach volleyball 4-5 times a week for the whole rest of the year. The only other thing I changed was the way I eat. I just found out, on a whim because I didn’t care about it, that my body fat decreased about 4%. Not to mention the clearing up of any bouts of indigestion, higher energy levels, and clearer thinking.

Anyway, I basically just cut out as much sugar as possible and increased the quality (mostly organic) of the foods I eat. Oh, and I made sure I get enough rest based on the fact that “you get stronger at night not in the gym.”

If you are eating good foods, you will only need to eat as much as you need. You won’t be eating excess calories, because (aside from maybe your own weakness for Oreos or whatever comfort foods you were exposed to growing up) your body will be satisfied.

Here’s my Law: Less toxins in my environment, food, lifestyle equals healthier, stronger me.

I’m probably wasting my time though. I’ll probably die from the first 28 years of poisoning myself anyway.

But, if it’s too much of a conspiracy to believe that the food industry isn’t looking out for you, than keep shopping those center aisles of the grocery store. Or keep looking for the miracle food like soy, if that’s what you think it is. Or use a reduction diet; try not to eat too much and get the right amount of exercise. (I can’t imagine primitive peoples making sure they got there running in if they had a good hunting season, or making sure not to eat as much as they wanted to, but we’ve already covered the fact that they don’t know nearly as much as we do now.) Keep in mind I’m only downplaying exercise’s importance in comparison to eating well.

Yep. We know exactly what we need, exactly which pills make the pain numb, and exactly where to cut to remove what we don’t need. Aldous Huxley would be proud of us all.

OK maybe that took an hour, but count this as my first health essay. I can’t believe I stayed up this late.

David • 03/21/05 10:13 AM:

You misunderstand me entirely. And now I’M mad. Looks like we’ll have to settle this with a thumb wrestling match when I come visit.

And I’m also mad because I have to read the book you wrote (even though I agree with you on 97% of the stuff you wrote). No time yet - as I’m supposed to be making copies of our microscope lab.

There is nothing you wrote that is news to me. And I agree with just about everything you say. Just because the laws of the universe apply to humans too doesn’t mean I think we should eat donuts. Nor do I think that processed food is good. I already have taken the blue pill. You can ask Dan about my thoughts on this stuff.

I disagree with some stuff - like grains being bad, fruits being bad (from your Mercola fellow - who then has them on his list of recommended foods), and saturated fats being “awesome” for you. Sure, some stuff is a conspiracy, but not all.

I need to go make copies and eat some lolly pops, twinkies, and a few cokes. More to come.

David • 03/21/05 11:17 AM:

I just finished reading your first health essay. Thanks for staying up to write it. I do appreciate your thoughts, even if I don’t agree completely.

This debate will be far better in person. Email isn’t the best medium.

Get this - my kids are in lab (as I said before) and someone brought in bagels to sell and use the money for our missions collection. I am totally against the whole idea of selling stuff to get donations (some of the other teachers bring in dunkin donuts EVERYDAY to sell to the kids - I hate this). My question to you, AJ, is where do you stand on cream cheese? I don’t like the stuff anyway, but I’m just curious.

Patrick • 03/21/05 5:09 PM:

I don’t know about you two, but the only place I stand on cream cheese is right in front of my refrigerator, when one of the kids makes a mess and doesn’t clean it up. It’s not a pleasant feeling, especially on a Sunday morning before I have any socks on, so I try to avoid standing on cream cheese otherwise.

AJ • 03/21/05 6:44 PM:

Pat, thanks for the funny. Oh, and feel free to edit my writing where it goes awry. Dan says that I used ‘than’ instead of ‘then’ or vice versa somewhere in there and there’s no way I’m re-reading a post that long, even if I wrote it.

Also, I’m not sure I’ve ever stood on cream cheese, but I’ll take Pat’s word for it that it isn’t pleasant.

I love cream cheese, but it’s still made from pasteurized dairy so I would suggest avoiding it. Even if you have no intolerances to it (it is the #1 allergy), there is no reason to think that you need to eat dairy. Despite what the dairy industry trys to tell you, you get your calcium from your dark leafy vegtables. And while you may be able to absorb some vitamin D from raw dairy your best bet for that common deficiency is adequate sun exposure.

I actually made my own cream cheese twice by leaving a bottle of raw milk out for 5-6 days (longer works better depending on the ambient temperature - I could probably leave it out up to two weeks and still make good quality cream cheese and whey). It can then be separated into whey and cream cheese. It tastes a bit more sour than the store bought kind, but at least I know about the purity of the process and quality of the ingrediants since I make it myself. Last time, I made an all-raw cream cheese cake out of the raw cheese I made combined with raw honey, eggs, milk, vanilla and some other ingrediants. It was pretty good tasting, but awesome considering that it was actually a really healthy dessert as opposed to “healthy for a dessert.” Regardless, the consenus I got is that I probably I need to make it sweeter next time.

The whey is useful for various recipes, particularly for fermenting your own vegetables. That’s how they used to preserve food before refrigerators, and the lactic acid producing bacteria actually increases vitamin content and digestability of most foods. I’ve made pickled beats and sauerkraut successfully.

That brings up another interesting point about raw milk. It doesn’t putrify, like the cooked versions everyone we know consumes. It turns into cream and then it sours, and maybe then it starts to break down. Leave a bottle of your cooked and homogonized milk out of the fridge for just three days and tell me how it smells. Even with the added deodorizers in there I bet you couldn’t breath that smell for long without vommitting.

That said, I think cream cheese and bagels is a better alternative to donuts. I have the same issue at work every Friday morning when they bring in one or the other. I generally try not to eat any of it, but sugar will kill you faster than anything. At least in theory grains in a bagel and fats in cream cheese would be healthy. Unfortunately, besides my argument about the food source being low quality, many people have serious problems digesting milk and grains (sprouted or not). I’ve heard that a lot of “lactose-intollerant” people can consume raw milk with no problem since the lactase isn’t destroyed by cooking and can proceed with its purpose of helping breakdown lactose.

Back to the bagels vs. donuts. If you’re healthy you can probably tolerate the exposure to poorly prepared grains and cooked milk. However, it would be hard to negate the effects of sugar shock. With the kids, since they tend to be extremely sensitive to their environments, it’s probably exaggerated hyperness followed by a hypoglycemic crash with poor concentrations throughout.

That is an interesting point about selling stuff for donations, and you could probably convince me of your argument on that.

I bet we also agree that junk foods shouldn’t be allowed in schools at all. Where my definition of junk food might be broader than yours, I’m sure we both consider donuts nothing but empty nutrition with the added benefits of loads of sugar and transfats. They’re on Mercola’s top 5 things you have no excuse for eating.

I’d leave links and use italics and all that jazz, but the instructions are gone from the posting area and I don’t remember how to use moveable type.

Dad • 03/21/05 11:36 PM:

Finally, I get some comments. Yeah! That’s what it’s all about. I just want to put in another good word for conservation of energy. And calories. Aside from the fact that metabolic calories are really kilocalories (I think), burning food in an autoclave really DOES produce the same energy the body generates. Of course, the body, through eons of evolution (or through the hand of God in direct creation, if you prefer) has developed a way of “burning” the food slowly and enzymatically so as to avoid “spontaneous human combustion.” And complete oxidation is never attained. And there are undoubtedly large efficiency differences between and among people. And imbalances in body chemistry and intestinal bacterial consortia (isn’t that fun to say?) and hormones and other stuff I’m not qualified to discuss probably have a substantial impact on overall health and performance. (Not to mention steroids.)

That said, I don’t believe there’s a conspiracy afoot make Americans (and wannabe Americans) unhealthy. There is, however, a well-known business plan developed by food processing companies to make money. They do it by giving people what they want (e.g. sugar), by increasing shelf-life, and by devising ways of getting various foods to market quickly and without obvious spoilage. (This explains why pears now taste like cardboard.) Trans fats, as I understand them, are the result of chemical hydrogenation of vegetable oils, which is done to increase shelf life. I guess the problem is they don’t occur naturally, so the body decides life is no longer worth living and uses them to clogg arteries and, thereby, induce death.

Finally, I think AJ might find this site interesting.

AJ • 03/23/05 3:17 PM:

I’m glad you’re finally getting some comments too.

Ok, well let’s clear up our misunderstandings then, shall we?

First, my point about a calories is that a calorie=a calorie=a calorie is NOT true. Sure, a calorie of input equals a calorie of output. MY POINT is that the type of input determines the type of output. If you are eating calories the body has no use for because they are toxins, or they aren’t natural, or whatever reason, than it probably gets stored as potential energy, i.e. fat. Toxins get stored in fat when the liver is too overloaded to remove them itself. Often these fat cells aren’t healthy either (cellulite). I guess I’m making the pretty obvious point that it is far more important to eat the right foods than the right amount of calories. Certain foods make you feel good, while others make you feel like crap. So, one calorie of input doesn’t equal one calorie of “feel good energy.”

Moreover, a piece of wood consists of a certain amount of calories, but it doesn’t mean that the energy is converted to me if I eat it. Also, some of the energy is always lost in conversion from one source to another. Efficiency, is basically defined by the minimization of these loses. A “non-food” is something that takes more energy to break down that it provides you with. This is why the rats eating the corn puffs died before the ones with nothing and the cardboard. (All rats got vitamin supplements and water).

Second, although I said “yes, there is a conspiracy,” the truth is more along the lines of what your Dad said. Food processing companies want to make money and have no loyalty to consumer health. You could say it is conspiracy like only because you know they know they’re selling food labeled “heart healthy” that isn’t healthy at all and possibly hardly even food. Even in “Super Size Me” he gets one of the executives for McDonald’s to admit “we are part of the [obesity] problem.”

It is important to understand the value of your purchasing dollar. These food companies (and even McDonald’s] only thrive if we buy what they sell. So by buying good foods, you actually create competition for good foods and bring the price down. On the other hand, every time you go into the store and buy the cheapest food you can you send the message that you don’t care about the quality or preparation of your food, only the price.

There is no study ever that links saturated fats to cholesterol or heart disease. Several studies that have set out to do so have proved nothing or the opposite is true. In fact, Sally Fallon references a study in some country where the all cause death rate for people with “high” cholesterol is lower than those with normal to low cholesterol. Cholesterol is produced primarily by your body; to the magnitude that if you were eating a high-cholesterol diet you may be eating about 5-10% the amount of cholesterol your body produces. IF cholesterol actually did CAUSE problems in the body it would seem highly unlikely that it was that 5% you ate that pushed you over the edge.

Cholesterol has many roles in a healthy bloodstream, not least of which is that it is a precursor to cell repair. That is why your cholesterol level will go way up after you work out. You have lots of torn tissues in need of repair. So, cholesterol level is not a constant value in your blood and is produced by your body as needed. It’s certainly not an accident that it is there, but a normal function of the body.

It’s typical of doctor’s nowadays to treat symptoms as the disease. But, if your cholesterol is dangerously high, it doesn’t do much to take a medication to lower the cholesterol since your body is producing the cholesterol for some reason. Beware of cures that are easy, but not logical.

“Myth: Saturated fat clogs arteries.

Truth: The fatty acids found in artery clogs are mostly unsaturated (74%) of which 41% are polyunsaturated. (Lancet 1994 344:1195) “(See for more)

There are tons of articles and studies linking cholesterol to depression, stroke, suicide, etc. Check out

Mercola warns against fruit juice consumption because it is pasteurized. Even freshly squeezed juice loses 50% of its Vitamin C in a few minutes. Imagine what is left in cooked juice with indefinite shelf life. Sugar and water only probably.

He warns about fruits and root vegetables because they have a lot sugar in them. Keep in mind that Mercola’s site is directed at many diabetics. You will find that he comments that if you actually are healthy, which you probably aren’t if you are reading his site, you can tolerate these things more. He does comment also that these fruits contain natural sugars and come with fiber, secondary nutrients, and vitamins to help you assimilate them. Fruit juice has none of the fiber, and if pasteurized comes with damaged or no enzymes, vitamins, etc.

The proper preparation of grains has been left by the wayside. You may notice that seeds don’t break down. This is because they have phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors to keep that from happening. If seeds could be digested, they would never make it out of a bird or animals butt and back to the ground to grow. Your body wastes a lot of enzymes and effort trying to break down these things which it can not.

However, grains can be healthy forms of nutrition if your body can tolerate them. Mercola’s clinical experience is that 75% of people have celiac disease and have intolerance to grains. There is a blood test to confirm this so he’s not making it up. Perhaps this is because of poor grain preparation. Allergies or intolerances are often formed by undigested particles that reach the blood stream and are instantly attacked by the immune system as an invader. Anti-bodies are formed and now every time a milk protein, or whatever you’re allergic to comes along, the body thinks it is a bad guy.

Anyway, the proper way to breakdown these enzyme inhibitors is by “sprouting.” Basically you soak the grains in water for a period until the seed begins to “sprout.” Usually overnight is acceptable for preparing grains for eating or cooking. You may have noticed that this is the natural method for a seed turning into a plant. A sprouted grain can be digested the same way (same enzymes, etc.) as a vegetable.

AJ • 03/23/05 4:18 PM:

The Pasteur site is interesting, if brief. I do not dismiss the discoveries of Pasteur or their importance to humanity.

Sterilization is particularly useful in hospitals. Understanding the source of infection was an important discovery.

Here are some of my thoughts in the order that I wrote them.

1. The human body is not a sterile environment.

2. Just because some microbes can result in illness, they are not automatically mini human enemies. Most have a symbiotic relationship with other life forms, including yours. Without bacteria in your colon, you are no longer an omnivore. The hydrochloric acid released into your stomach doesn’t digest plants. Pasteur makes no claim to understanding the purpose of microbes, and I doubt he assumed they are all to be destroyed. CHEK makes a point that on his deathbed Pasteur himself said, “It’s not the germ, it’s the landscape,” an overlooked understanding of illness.

3. With regard to pasteurized milk: How do you explain that lactose intolerant people can often drink raw milk with no problems? (Don’t worry; nobody has an answer for this except that something crucial for digestion is missing from the cooked version)

4. Many forms of bacteria survive pasteurization and are extremely harmful. Without other “good” bacteria to compete with they thrive. This is why the only outbreaks of salmonella in recent times have been in pasteurized milk.

5. How is it that we are exposed to millions of “germs” everyday, but we don’t get sick everyday? Mercola has made the claim that he is confident enough in his health and his own immune system to work in a room full of SARS patients without catching the sickness (This was during the SARS outbreak). Why shouldn’t he? I know I only get sick when I sacrifice the proper amount of rest. If you make your body a habitable landscape for disease, then it will accommodate you and grow there.

6. Before refrigerators food was preserved by fermentation. This is typically done by allowing anaerobic bacteria to digest the food. In the process they release lactic acid which keeps the putrefying bacteria from surviving in the food. These microbes are a big part of why these foods are extremely beneficial to eat.

7. How much of piece of food is it OK to damage by cooking it? Do you really know what parts of the food are used by your body? The same argument is used for organic foods which often contain hundreds of times more “secondary nutrients” than conventionally farmed foods. Are these nutrients not important because they aren’t the primary nutrients in a fruit or vegetable?

8. Pasteur first came up with pasteurization to help the wine product sell without getting people ill. He showed that microbes were capable of living in the fermented product and could be killed by heating for a few minutes. Is it possible to make wine without it becoming contaminated? Of course it is. So again you are treating an effect instead of a cause. Pasteurization allows for a lower quality product to be produced and the contaminants within it killed off. Is this really ideal?
As much as I have against pasteurized milk, I would never suggest any living thing come close to the milk that comes out of most commercial dairy farms before it is pasteurized. These animals are typically full of hormones and antibiotics, fed diets to make them lactate well beyond their natural cycles, fed grains (not the natural diet for a cow), and treated inhumanely. They are extremely unhealthy, but likely that has no effect on the milk that comes out of them.

I wish I could write more concise comments.

I’m not a very good thumb wrestler. Janet always beats me. Everytime I try to maneuver to win, she says I’m cheating, but I don’t really understand the rules because I never know what she’s talking about. I think it’s a conspiracy. Maybe we can settle it the old fashioned way with ro-sham-bo.

David • 03/24/05 9:05 AM:

How about cowboy-ninja-bear? (ask Dan)

As for saturated fats and cholesterol - I’m going to believe the Harvard School of Public Health. I do not believe they are part of the conspiracy (although I suppose it’s possible). Here’s what they say about saturated fats and cholesterol. There are dozens (hundreds?) of studies linking saturated fats/cholesterol with poor heart health. I mean - when they cut open somebody’s chest and scrape out the cholesterol lining and clogging the arteries (hopefully before the person dies of a heart attack) do you think there might be a connection? Atherosclerosis, or How does Atherosclerosis start? (see first trigger).

I have so much to say, so little time/desire to write it all. My one comment is on vegetable oils being so lousy because they go bad. First - your argument is contradictory - one moment it’s better if food goes bad quickly (more natural, no preservatives) and then it’s better if foods last longer (the argument for vegetable oils being bad because they can spoil food). I don’t get it. If you want studies of the healthiest diets and the people with the lowest incidence of heart disease, check out Mediterranean folks who eat tons of vegetable oils (slightly more than 40% of caloric intake from fats). Then compare to Scandiavians who have basically the same fat caloric intake, but almost all fat is from dairy (again - still all natural). The Scandinavians had something like 10/15 X the heart disease incidence. It’s in the Scientific American article I sent Dan. Dan’s copy has cool pictures with it and is pdf.

AJ • 03/24/05 9:31 PM:

I like writing about this stuff, because it helps me clear up my arguments so that I better understand them. It helps me to find out where the holes in my own knowledge are. You seem to want all the answers, even though you have many already. Of course, I can only offer what I know and what is available. Regardless, I will try to touch on all the topics you brought up and a few that I think are useful in supporting my arguments. I will also throw in some links to pertinent information and try to address your sources as well. I will not apologize for writing a 5 page essay.

First, I was wrong about one thing in the pasteurization comment. The fat soluble vitamins are apparently not destroyed by pasteurization.

Here’s a “good article”: by Sally Fallon on Men’s Health Magazine.


You really don’t get it? You never want to eat food that is spoiled. Most vegetable oils are damaged in their very production! When I say you should eat food that spoils I never suggested you eat it AFTER it spoils. What a ridiculous conclusion to draw, and certainly not a funny one, so if you’re playing it off as a joke it was a terrible one.

What you seem to keep missing is that I am stressing the extreme importance of the fact that everyone has different dietary needs. For some people 60-80% fat may be ideal, but for a “carb-type” 30% could be dangerous so their health. Everyone needs some proteins, and on the food pyramid they are considered least important; weird.

Fats are more complicated than “saturated, mono-unsaturated, poly-unsaturated, and trans.”

The “traditional” Mediterranean folks eat a healthy diet of many fresh vegetables, and lots of olive oil, which is one of the best oils. It does oxidize at fairly low temperatures and thus shouldn’t be used on anything more than medium heat. But, of course, the Med’s don’t have the longest life spans, so I’m not sure why you are using them. They eat carbohydrates that come from whole foods.

Cultures that rely on the coconut as a staple have super low incidences of heart disease. Coconut oil has by far the highest amount of saturated fat of all oils (reference your Harvard study). The saturation varies on temperature, and is higher in hotter climates. How is this data consistent with the Harvard recommendation to limit saturated fat intake?

I’m not sure if you even read the stuff I sent you about what those clogs are actually made up of and why the lipid hypothesis actually is formed from selective data.

Read this or this or any of these

Anyway, cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease as you will see that most people who have heart disease or suffer from attacks may have either high or low cholesterol. You will also find that most heart attacks are triggered and followed by high sugar meals, which by the way is the best way to boost your cholesterol: consume fructose.

If your arteries are filled with plaque, cholesterol may play a part in the clogging, although not much I’m not sure. That hardly makes it the cause or the villain. I am sure that the healthiest people in the world, who are free from the diseases of industrialized countries, who may not even have a word for these diseases eat pure diets with no processed foods. All these diets include animal products. Everyone consumed meats in every traditional diet, even the ones that were as close to vegetarian as possible. Natural fats promote health.

Anyway, the clogged arteries aren’t clogged by saturated fats. So, bad point.

Sunlight also reduces your cholesterol, probably because of cholesterol’s crucial part in Vitamin D production. Of course, we’re now told that humans should stay away from sunlight unless covered in sun blocking chemicals. This is probably the #1 reason 80% of Americans are vitamin D deficient.

By the way, the Harvard article references no data to link saturated fats to heart disease, but instead merely claims that “it is well known that saturated fats are linked to heart disease.” It is also rife with inconsistencies, stating often that although the research is inconclusive, you should follow such and such recommendation. Although, like I said, it is found throughout, the best example of this is actually in the conclusion:

Although the different types of fat have a varied - and admittedly confusing - effect on health and disease, the basic message is simple: chuck out the bad fats and replace them with good fats. Try to limit saturated fats in your diet and eliminate trans fats and replace them with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

So, because Harvard School of Public Health couldn’t possibly be swayed by outside influences when public health is on the line, you’ve decided to follow their report of recommendations based on research that they admit does not prove their recommendations. Most assumptions are stated as “well-known” and not referenced. If I taught high school, I’d give them a B+ for presentation mostly, but would have to steer away from the A because of lack of supportive content. My biggest complaint, however, is that the fat article implies that there are general rules that everyone should apply even though it claims that studies show that fat intake had no discernable affect on participants regarding heart disease, cholesterol, etc.

The problem with these dietary studies is they completely negate the effect of lifestyle, other foods consumed, and quality of saturated fats consumed. It’s like trying to figure out the effect of oranges with regard to hair loss, and only controlling the amount of oranges people eat, and maybe their shampoos. You’ll probably get some interesting results, but you won’t prove anything. Maybe all the hair loss victims are consuming distilled water and have mineral deficiencies because of it (mineral deficiency is a common cause of hair loss), but they’re all in the group eating the most oranges.
Holy crap, I can’t believe oranges cause hair loss. We need to stop giving those slices at half time of kid’s soccer games. Is that really the best way to serve oranges, and why do soccer players need oranges so badly?

I think the quality of food has a huge effect. It’s proven that free animals, such as grass fed cows or range free chickens, have the correct ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fats, while caged animals feed grains diets do not. It’s also proven or accepted that boosting your Omega-3 EFA’s will boost your overall, but particularly your heart, health because the American diet consists of so much Omega-6 EFA’s. So, logically the quality and health of the animals you eat has a significant effect on your own health.

Stress causes heart disease. Maybe just appreciating your food is helpful. There is a guy who studied the molecular structure of water and found that it varied based on whether he taped the words love or hate to the side of the jar. My friend tried this with rice: Fill two jars with rice (and water? - I forget) and write “love” on one and “hate” on the other. Each day talk lovingly to the “love” rice and hatefully to the “hate” rice. He said after 1 or 2 weeks the “love” rice was still white, but the “hate” rice was gross and covered with mold.

Anyway, I would guess that someone is providing misinformation here.

Let’s see who’s a more likely culprit of providing skewed data:

1. An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act.
2. A group of conspirators.
3. Law. An agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action.
4. A joining or acting together, as if by sinister design: a conspiracy of wind and tide that “devastated coastal areas”:

Because it is very difficult to produce organic or biodynamic foods in enormous quantities, organic farmers tend to be small, local farmers. The only advertising I’ve seen them do for their food is to label it farmed to the highest quality standards with a stamp “ORGANIC.” They also stress a symbiotic relationship with the soil and spend much of their time making compost to grow new crops in. On the other hand, they are certainly trying to make a living doing it.

A University study funded by ???, for the reason ???. This is clearly for the public good and the least likely to be persuaded one way or the other. People who go to Harvard are probably smarter than everyone else, so their report is probably about as good as it can get.

I try to take into account the aims of a study, and who finances it. I suppose you could think George Bush Sr. paid his son’s way through Harvard. Nonetheless, I’m sure this study was paid for with nothing but good intentions with no money and or influences from the food industry. I suppose you could also think that Sally Fallon, Dr. Mercola, and the Weston A. Price Foundation are being coerced to write their articles by the Coconut Industry, Organic Farmers, or for their own private gain?

Maybe Mercola and gang’s recommendations to avoid sugars, processed grains, and processed unnatural oils and to eat more whole foods, including healthy meats, and most of it raw, is actually just a hoax. But why didn’t butter, meat, milk, and coconuts ever cause heart disease, cancer, or heart attacks before margarine, vegetable oil, and soy products were available. Why did these illnesses surge after the introduction of the apparently healthier alternatives?

If I eat animal meat and fats, I feel good, and I feel good for a long time. If I don’t I’m constantly hungry, get fatigued, have difficulty concentrating at work, might even get a caffeine drink, or crave sugars. I figure that if I feel good, then I’m treating myself right. If my energy fluctuates, or my stomach is distended, or I am suffering from any form of indigestion, or I’m not sleeping well I’ll go ahead and pay attention to that and take it as a sign that what I ate isn’t the best for me.

I’m going to trust my body about what it wants instead of the Harvard Medical School. I’ll try things that sustained humans for thousands of years before I’m influenced by current scientific research. Surely the more educated you are the more you realize that all things are estimations since it is nearly impossible to control all variables without having complete understanding of the entire universe. Einstein probably came up with some theories about that. If you want to trust Harvard’s ambiguous recommendations in an age where humans are more “medically advanced, but more disease-ridden than ever that is your choice. I will not follow suit, or support it, but likely argue against the weaknesses of the study until they can be proven by logic and maybe science too.

By the way that was the longest borings article ever about the new food pyramid, and even though I skimmed it three times, I never found the reference to Scandinavia (although I’ve heard it before). Anyway, that article just proves my point about how all the dietary studies don’t really come to any conclusion and even if they do, it’s a questionable outcome. Even if Americans consume a great deal of meat, a great deal of that meat is processed or in the form of fast food cooked in trans fatty oils. They also consume a ginormous amount of sugar: “In the last 20 years, we have increased sugar consumption in the USA 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year! Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year! Cardiovascular disease and cancer was virtually unknown in the early 1900’s.

Like your articles state, health is affected by many factors and to find one consistency doesn’t mean that it is a certain consistency. For instance, just because Americans consume more meat than other cultures and have higher heart disease doesn’t mean that sugar isn’t the culprit.

Here’s an article blaming insulin, which of course is released in response to increased blood sugar, for almost every disease.

Here’s one describing the “benefits” of sugar to your body.

Dad • 03/26/05 8:41 AM:

I apologize for not having completely read all of AJ’s comments. I plan to when I have more time. However, let me reference something my doctor passed along to me a few months ago, with the comment, “Don’t necessarily take it too seriously, but see what you think.”

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