The chronic diseases riddling my relatives, plus my mother’s physical and mental deterioration, in addition to mine and other people’s struggle with keeping fit, and overlaid with the knowledge that our elders back in the old country were fitter, lived longer and had better quality lives than their descendants in the West, all combined to make me receptive to unconventional information and a different truth.
Which is when I serendipitously stumbled across Gary Taubes’ seminal New York Times article “What If It All Has Been a Big Fat Lie”
Gary Taubes, a well respected science writer, with science and engineering degrees from Stanford and Harvard, wrote about how the low-fat dietary dogma that has been pushed by the medical and scientific establishment for the past 30 years has proved to be a dismal failure. A quotes from the article:
These researchers point out that there are plenty of reasons to suggest that the low-fat-is-good-health hypothesis has now effectively failed the test of time. In particular, that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic that started around the early 1980’s, and that this was coincident with the rise of the low-fat dogma. (Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, also rose significantly through this period.) They say that low-fat weight-loss diets have proved in clinical trials and real life to be dismal failures, and that on top of it all, the percentage of fat in the American diet has been decreasing for two decades. Our cholesterol levels have been declining, and we have been smoking less, and yet the incidence of heart disease has not declined as would be expected. ”That is very disconcerting,” Willett says. ”It suggests that something else bad is happening.”
He states an alternative hypothesis that a small but growing number of researchers are working on to explain the obesity epidemic in light of decreasing fat consumption in the US. Mianly, that carbohydrates affects insulin and blood sugar which in turn affect fat, hunger and metabolism.
If the alternative hypothesis is right — still a big ”if” — then it strongly suggests that the ongoing epidemic of obesity in America and elsewhere is not, as we are constantly told, due simply to a collective lack of will power and a failure to exercise…. But because the public health authorities told us unwittingly, but with the best of intentions, to eat precisely those foods that would make us fat, and we did. We ate more fat-free carbohydrates, which, in turn, made us hungrier and then heavier
Taubes gives overviews of different studies, lots of them either ignored or unfunded when they contravened conventional wisdom about the dangers of fat, which show that diabetes, the obesity epidemic, heart disease and other diseases of civilization are caused by a high intake of refined carbohydrates in the form of grains and sugar.
I cannot overstate just how much this article served as my version of the glitch in the Matrix. I was hungry for more so I proceeded to devour his lauded book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” where he expands the thesis presented in the NY Times article, comprehensively going into the epidemiology and history of nutritional science, explaining how we got to this state of affairs and presenting anthropological evidence of societies that thrived, with very low disease rates, before adopting the western diet, heavy on grains and sugar.
GutsandBlackStuff gives a great chapter by chapter summary of the book, for those of you too lazy to read it.
Reading Taubes led me to reading Weston A Price’s fascinating book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects”, the Drs. Eades’ “Protein Power”, Rob Wolff’s “The Paleo Solution” and Mark Sisson’s “Primal Blueprint”. All of them agreeing on a central point, with some some differences, i.e. that a diet of unprocessed foods, which naturally means a higher-protein, higher-fat, but lower-carb diet than one recommended by the conventional scientific, medical and nutritional establishment, is one that is best for optimal health and weight as it the kind of diet our ancestors ate and that we evolved on.
What I read explained why the elder generation back home in the old country in lived longer and healthier lives than their children in the West. It explained why my mother and others, despite diligently following doctors and dietitians advice to eat low-fat, whole-grain “heart” healthy food, were losing the battle against the bulge, losing the battle against diabetes with rising A1C1 and losing the battle against rising triglycerides and LDL, year over year. Finally, it explained why mostly everyone I know who did the conventional low-fat diet, plus exercised diligently, failed miserably at either losing or keeping off the weight.
I had taken the red pill.