An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
I noted earlier that I may add a bit more on the topic once I finished the latter half of the movie "Fathead." While the first half is a breath of free and fresh air filled with wit and UNcommon sense wisdom, the latter half left me with a great many questions. The first half tells us how the "obesity" epidemic is, at least in part, contrived by a sliding scale slid too far; that neither McDonald's nor any other corporate identity is responsible for your poor health - YOU are; that there is no conspiracy of Fast Food profiteers bent on addicting you to their food. The latter half takes on the popular (aka "consensus") science of our health and in particular our cardiovascular health. One is inclined to think that the filmmaker and those he interviews are akin to "global warming deniers" (who, by the way, lately seem to be seeming less and less crazy don't we they?).
The one BIG load of "bologna" (but certainly not the only one) he claims we've been fed is that a diet high in saturated fat is a leading cause of heart disease. In fact, he claims that There’s never been a single study that proves saturated fat causes heart disease.
This, to me, seemed a rather amazing claim. And so I set out on a literature search and found myself rather surprised. Tom Naughton is not entirely wrong...far from it actually. One big trial I stumbled upon was the WHI Dietary Modification Trial which happened to be the most ambitious and expensive long term study on the effect of diet and some specific diseases such as Cancer, Heart Disease, and Stroke. Started in the 90's during the height of our "low fat" government marching orders, they focused on the belief (hope?) that those in the study following a lower fat diet would demonstrate a marked decrease in risk...but they didn't. Not at all. Read about the study here. Now of course, with all studies, this one has its flaws. And despite the findings the summary article linked above still finds need to remind us that fats really are bad for us...specifically mentioning the need to get away from "saturated fats", claiming that replacing them with "natural vegetable oils can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes." Really? Citations please?
I ask because just prior to reading about this study I found the little treasure I was looking for: a review article. In the scientific world a review article is one that surveys as many published articles on a given subject as is possible and tries to formulate them into a concise conclusion. This one happened to be titled: "A Systematic Review of the Evidence Supporting a Casual Link Between Dietary Factors and Coronary Heart Disease" published in the Archives of Internal Medicine 2009; 169(7):659-669. Let me quote and summarize the relative portions of their conclusions:
We found strong evidence that trans–fatty acids are associated with CHD risk, but weak evidence implicating saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and total fat intake...Our results support an association between foods with higher glycemic index values and CHD outcomes. Metabolic studies have shown that higher glycemic index scores are associated with coronary risk factors, such as higher fasting triglycerides and lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
I am going to continue investigating, but clearly there is a great more at play here than I was led to believe. Notions that fat (or at least some kinds of fats) are okay and that certain carbs are bad is contrary to what I was always told. Though, as the Harvard review noted, we HAVE in fact been hearing about good fats vs. bad fats lately. I suspect there is more to learn.
So, I do suggest seeing "Fathhead" and taking some time to check out the information that's out there. Many thanks to my wife who no doubt grew tired of my poo-pooing things she's told me about this. But that doesn't mean my dear that the flood gates are open...as I've always said I will make an honest effort to look into the science on such issues and in this case I think you were largely right. So...in lieu of toast or oatmeal, we'll have bacon and eggs for breakfast, right?
Google Alerts brought me. Thanks for a thoughtful review of Fat Head. I encourage you to take that investigative tour of the evidence on saturated fats. You'll be surprised, as I was. In the few studies that can somewhat claim to have reduced heart disease by reducing saturated fat, you'll find lots of confounding variables, such as the subjects also quitting smoking and undergoing stress management. Considering that smoking and stress are two major causes of heart disease, the results are no surprise.
I also cannot recommend "Good Calories, Bad Calories" highly enough. Taubes reviews 100 years of research in that book.
Wow, good for you for doing the science. Isn't that 2009 review great? I had heard about that recently as well. If you look for it, you can find countless research (such as the Framingham offspring research study) that show that insulin resistance and CVD are strongly correlated.
It makes sense scientifically when you understand what occurs metabolically with excess glucose and how I believe it robs the hemoglobin of oxygen and thus causes inflamation and oxidative damage to the arterial walls, leading to calcification, then hardening of the arteries.
I love the notion Tom uses that likens cholestorol repairng inflamation damage to police coming to the scene of a crime. If there are lots of police, does that make police bad?
I also highly recommend Good Calories, Bad Calories. I think you especially would enjoy it as Taubes is a science writer and it isn't for the "layman".
Oh, and during the fast, here are some good breakfast options:
1) Avocado filled with those small shrimp. Yum!
2) Almond butter and celery/carrots/apples
3) Spoonful of coconut oil. Seriously; this is very satisfying.
Hi Tom! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the film...really appreciated it!
And thanks to both you and Carrie for the suggestion on "Good Calories, Bad Calories"...I will check it out. That Framingham study is amazing...a plethora of papers published from it....I guess I spend too much time in Infectious Diseases.