Health kick 2 year update, and defending Ancel Keys

Something occurred to me during my transition to a low sugar diet. If you think about it, it makes no sense that cholesterol in eggs, or saturated fat, would be harmful to humans. Our species has been raising chickens for around 4,000 years, and surviving on fatty meat for tens of thousands of years. Sugar, on the other hand, only became a regular part of most people’s diets between the 17th and 19th Centuries.

The Sheep Look Up

PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as C8, is a surfactant used in the production of Teflon® or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), the non-stick substance found in a billion kitchens. It was also used to make Gore-Tex, fast food wrappers, pizza boxes, and microwave popcorn bags. Related chemicals are released if you overheat your Teflon cookware; they can kill birds in seconds, which is why we eliminated all the Teflon from our kitchen a decade ago.

Sugar and historical incidence of gout and arthritis

So, today I learned that gout and rheumatoid arthritis were diseases that barely existed in Europe — until sugar consumption became widespread. « The evidence arguing for sugar or fructose as the primary cause of gout is two-fold. First, the distribution of gout in western populations has paralleled the availability of sugar for centuries, and not all refined carbohydrates in this case. It was in the mid-17th century, that gout went from being exclusively a disease of the rich and the nobility to spread downward and outward through British society, reaching near epidemic proportions by the 18th century.

Cholesterol is harmless

Recent news: The nation’s top nutrition advisory panel has decided to drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food, a move that could undo almost 40 years of government warnings about its consumption. The group’s finding that cholesterol in the diet need no longer be considered a “nutrient of concern” stands in contrast to the committee’s findings five years ago, the last time it convened. […] The finding follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now believe that, for healthy adults, eating foods high in cholesterol may not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease.

Ancel Keys and the low fat diet

« Keys launched his “diet-heart hypothesis” at a meeting in New York in 1952, when the United States was at the peak of its epidemic of heart disease, with his study showing a close correlation between deaths from heart disease and proportion of fat in the diet in men in six countries (Japan, Italy, England and Wales, Australia, Canada, and the United States). […] At a World Health Organization meeting in 1955 Keys’s hypothesis was met with great criticism, but in response he designed the highly influential Seven Countries Study, which was published in 1970 and showed a strong correlation between saturated fat (Keys had moved on from fat to saturated fat) and deaths from heart disease.

Health Kick: Conclusion

So, that’s my story. I cut my sugar to under the AHA recommended level. I increased my fat intake and aimed for the upper end of the recommended daily intake, so the food I ate would cause less glycemic load and keep me satisfied for longer. I switched to whole grain for pretty much everything, and started eating quinoa, flaxseed and nuts. I ate as much raw or lightly-cooked food as possible, even if it meant turning it into a smoothie.

Health Kick: Diet is hard, let’s go shopping

Here are the basic rules I set out to follow when food shopping, in roughly descending order of importance: Aim for under 28g of sugar per day, excluding sugar in raw fruits and vegetables. Whole grain everything. Try to increase my fat intake towards the upper end of the recommended daily amount, so that food would taste better without sugar, have a lower glycemic load, and cut my hunger for longer.

Health Kick: Gadgets

I’m generally skeptical about health gadgets, even more than I am about gym membership. Call me a cynic, but I don’t think sauna pants are going to get you slim just by wearing them for an hour a day, or that the thigh toner is going to melt the fat off your ass. Even if the device works, we’ve all been to someone’s house and seen the exercise bike that’s been converted into a coat rack.

Health Kick: Ten simple improvements

Well, notionally simple. Actually having the willpower, well, that’s a whole separate discussion. But here are some tricks to start with. 1. Stop drinking soda The first thing I did after deciding I needed to lose weight, was to cut my soda intake to zero. There is absolutely nothing good about soda. A single can of Coke contains more than a day’s sugar. Soda has no nutrient value aside from the glucose which makes up half the sugar, and it will often leave you thirstier.

Health Kick: Some good news

The last article focused on bad news. This time I’m going to focus on good news — or at least, what good news I’ve been able to find. You can enjoy eggs again As mentioned in the last article, for most people eggs do not contribute to high cholesterol levels. They’re also good for you, and very nutritious. Just try and pick up the free range ones. I like omelets and quiche, and it has been good to be able to eat them again without feeling guilty.