Turning a gigantic ship like the Titanic, under way with a full head of steam, is said to take a lot of time and miles of open sea. Turning the Nutritional Guidelines for American is proving to be equally difficult and time consuming. But Americans are changing their Way of Eating, slowly but surely. And this in spite of obdurate resistance from the cabal of forces united in opposition: the USDA/HHS, Agri-Business, Big Pharma, and the Medical Establishment.
That is hopeful, because we all know what happened to the Titanic. And we are a nation of individuals of free will. We are not confined together on the deck of a ship. We are free to choose our own course. Admittedly, however, in the absence of the certain knowledge of our impending doom (metabolically speaking), combined with the lack of an assurance of the safety and efficacy in choosing an Alternative course, we are reluctant to change our Way of Eating. Most of us “go along for the ride,” blindly willing to follow the course determined by our captains of public health and guided by the pursers of the processed food industry. We are marshaled by the stewards (the media) who serve us our daily reminders -- avoid saturated fats, now called solid fats, and dietary cholesterol -- and the clinicians who bus up after them all with myriad medications for our mounting metabolic maladies (see #8).
Never mind that the course that we have been following was based on a hypothesis that was based on a flawed epidemiological study (Ancel Keys’s cherry-picked studies of 6, later 7, nations out of 22: see #3). Never mind that Keys, the father in 1953 of the Lipid Hypothesis, admitted in 1997: “There’s no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in blood. We’ve known that all along. Cholesterol in the diet doesn’t matter at all unless you happen to be a chicken or a rabbit.” Never mind that “Epidemiological studies can only go to prove that an agent could have caused, but not that it did cause, an effect in any particular case.” From the beginning, the dissenters never had a chance once the AHA got behind the hypothesis with public advertising (and a fundraising effort) promoting their “risk factors” for heart disease. Never mind that Keys and the AHA were wrong all along!
Never mind that the body synthesizes its own cholesterol to compensate for the amount that we don’t eat. Cholesterol is essential for all animal life. It is the essential structural component of all cell membranes, and it repairs damage from inflammation in our blood vessels. Did you know that the brain is the most cholesterol-rich organ in the body, most coming from in situ synthesis? And, that human breast milk contains loads of cholesterol? And that it is needed to make bile acids, steroid hormones, and absorb the fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K.
Never mind that the evidence supporting saturated fat in the diet has been convincingly documented. Never mind that those pursuing low-fat diets in The Framingham Study had a higher incidence of all-cause mortality. Never mind that after 40 years the director of The Framingham Study had to admit (July 1992, Archives of Internal Medicine): "In Framingham, Mass, the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person's serum [blood] cholesterol.” This startling message has been drowned out by the drum-beat from public health officials to lower cholesterol, especially LDL-C, led by the AHA, Big Pharma, industrial food processors, Medicare, Medicaid and by the clinical practitioners who peddle Big Pharma’s statin drugs.
Never mind that… Well, you get the idea. If you are interested in reading the evidence-based science out there, there are many good books out by real science writers (not “hacks” like me) who look closely at the evidence, even in early 2011 when this blog was originally written,. Maybe the best is Gary Taubes’s “Good Calories – Bad Calories” (2007). His more “accessible” “Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It” (Knopf, 2010) is an easy read. Sally Fallon and Mary Enig’s “The Truth About Saturated Fats,” is also a good read. And, Malcolm Kendrick’s “The Great Cholesterol Myth” and Uffe Rafnskov’s “The Cholesterol Myths.” And, adding just one of many books written since 2011: Nina Teicholz’s “Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” (2014).
These writers would create a food pyramid very different from the most recent HHS/USDA “Guidelines.” But the latest guidelines do show signs of change. The Titanic has begun to turn. You’ll see how in the next Retrospective.