Monthly Archives: October 2015

Processed Meat

The theory that meat and in particular processed meats can contribute to heart disease and cancer has been banted around for some time but a couple of days ago it actually made the front page of the Times here in the UK. This was because the World Health Organisation had announced that processed meats are carcinogenic. This caused quite a stir with the much loved processed meats in Italy plummeting in sales.

Chris Kresser takes a mainly pro meat stance which is not surprising given he is a Paleo pusher. The trouble with his argument is that he correctly states that you cannot say categorically that meat is the cause of cancer. He rightly states that meat eaters on the whole tend to be more likely to smoke, more likely to eat meat in a flour bun etc etc, and therefore sifting out meat as a major cause is riddled with problems. My counter argument is that although we cannot say with 100% confidence that meat is a cause, we also cannot say that meat is certainly not the cause. What we can say is that plenty of populations live very long and healthy lives pursuing a fairly meatless existence, eating mainly veggies and fruits. We can therefore be confident that avoiding meat can lead to longevity especially if your particular meatless existence takes note of the potential weakness of a meat free diet. Despite the healthy association many vegetarians have an awful diet, consuming lots of pasta, sugar and various white flour products. If you are mindful of having a healthful diet as well as avoiding red meat populations show that longevity can result.

Dr Mercola has an interesting article about a research project that links meat consumption with the production of Trimethylamine N Oxide (TMAO) which slows the breakdown of Cholesterol. The project showed a link between increased TMAO and the development of fatty streaks in the arteries. You can read the article here.

You are left with a choice therefore, take a chance and eat meat and find out in 20 or 30 years time whether Chris is right or avoid meat and eat like the Okinawians and be pretty sure that you are assisting your bodies desire to live to its maximum.

Association does not mean causality but neither does it disprove causality.

Pulling the trigger on Sat Fat and Cholesterol

Given the deluge of media pressure over the years supported by ignorant doctors unwilling to look beyond their NICE guidelines you could be forgiven for finding it hard to stop having the occasional check on Cholesterol levels or maybe monitoring your saturated fat intake. The following account of research conducted as far back as 1965, before the low fat guidelines were adopted hook line and sinker, might just persuade you to check other levels in preference. Even checking your fasting and 2 hour blood glucsoe levels will be more predictive than checking cholesterol levels.

“Soon a “lipid (fat) hypothesis” was formed and traditional foods containing saturated fat and cholesterol were “out” and the new vegetable oils were “in.” Tropical oils — though they have no cholesterol — were targeted as detrimental because they contain saturated fats. The public became scared of anything containing saturated fat.

Was the hypothesis true? A number of heart disease studies that followed indicated differently. The Anti-Coronary Club Project, launched in 1957 and published in 1966 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, compared two groups of New York businessmen 49 to 59 years old.

One group followed a “Prudent Diet” with corn oil and margarine instead of butter, cold cereal rather than eggs, and chicken and fish instead of beef. A control group ate eggs for breakfast and meat three times per day.

The report noted that the cholesterol levels of those on the Prudent Diet averaged 30 points lower than the control group eating eggs and meat, but there were eight deaths from heart disease among the Prudent Dieters and no deaths from heart disease in the control group.

In 1965 The British Medical Journal published another study that involved patients who already had heart attacks. One group consumed corn oil, another group olive oil, and the third group ate saturated animal fats. After two years, the corn oil group had 30 percent lower cholesterol, but only 52 percent remained alive. The olive oil group fared better with 57 percent alive. But in the group that ate saturated animal fats, 75 percent still were alive.

The truths pointed out by these studies largely were ignored by the mainstream and the anti-fat theory prevailed, disregarding the beneficial role that saturated fats play in health and that population studies did not support the theory.”

The above add weight to the Esseltyn theory that the Med’ diet is a healthy diet despite Olive oil and not because of it.

Anthony Colpo gives a good explanation in his book ‘The Great Cholesterol Con’ of why saturated fat is the least harmful. When a fat has its molecules made up of two hydrogen atoms (ignoring the two end molecules) then it is referred to as a saturated fat. When a fat has one or more atoms missing a hydrogen atom then its an unsaturated fat. These latter types of fats are called double bonded and the problem is that they attract free radicals as they are more prone to oxidisation. Polyunsaturates are more prone than Monunsaturates which in turn are more prone than Saturates.

The counter argument to this more positive view on Saturated fat comes from Dr Dean Ornish and Esseltyn who both still prescribe a low fat diet to reverse heart disease in their patients. There is also a study at Cincinnati University that lends evidence to the saturate fat is bad in particular in obese people (link below).