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Impressions from Wise Traditions 2010

In Mid-November I had the good fortune to attend the 11th annual conference of the Weston A. Price Foundation (1) near Philadelphia, PA.  I have both attended and given talks at other nutrition-oriented conventions, but this one was distinctly different.  Most of the attendees were not scientists but were people from all walks of life who are keenly interested in good nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and green living.  Instead of the usual rivalries that occur among conference attendees, everyone was generally in agreement about what constitutes a good diet and were eager to learn of the latest discoveries exonerating traditional foods.

Subtitled “The Politics of Food” the conference focused on exploring the political strategies being used against the growing farm-to-consumer food movement, and laid out strategies for protecting small family farms and artisan food producers.  To this end we were ‘treated’ to a soon to be released movie, “Farmageddon” (2), which documents the unprecedented raids being inflicted on small farms and food buying clubs for daring to defy the monopolies of the big agriculture and food corporations.  The food safety legislation now moving through Congress was also discussed.  While we all agree that factory farming needs a lot more regulation that it is currently receiving, imposing the same rules on small farmers practically insures that they will go broke and have to sell out to big agricultural companies.

As I have explained in previous posts, if we want to have superior health we need to eat superior food, at least most of the time.  This conference was in large part about explaining how these exemplary foods are the ones our ancestors have been eating for generations.  Unlike the people who think that we should eat only what our Paleolithic ancestors ate (meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, tubers) because that is what we are genetically adapted to eat, people who follow the teachings of Weston A. Price (see May 20, 2010 post) look to our more recent ancestors and what they ate prior to the introduction of industrial foods in the 1800s, i.e. paleo foods plus dairy products and properly prepared grain products.  He emphasized the high vitamin and mineral content of grass-fed meat and dairy products, bone broths, organ meats and fish and seafood.  There were no refined or denatured foods.  Primitive diets contained 4 times the calcium and 10 times the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) as modern diets.  In order to absorb fat-soluble vitamins you need to ingest fat.  The low fat diets we have been told to eat for years prevent the absorption of these vitamins.  I have always questioned the wisdom of adding vitamins A and D to skim milk!  Interestingly, all of the primitive peoples that Price studied included animal foods in their diet.  There were no traditional people who ate a vegan diet, and those who ingested the most animal foods were the healthiest and most robust.

Besides traditional diets, there were many talks on wellness (overcoming illnesses, weight loss, dentistry) holistic practices, farming practices, cooking, food preservation, green homemaking, and environmental contaminants (including electromagnetic fields).  Since many sessions ran concurrently it was impossible to attend all the ones I wanted to hear.  A couple of interesting sessions provided food for thought and further research.  For example, Dr. Tom Cowan (3) explained research that showed that heart attacks are not caused by a blockage in a coronary artery but by the deterioration of the small blood vessels in the heart from stress, smoking, high insulin concentrations, diabetes, and/or inflammation.  The heart does not get enough nutrients and goes into anabolic metabolism.  There is a resulting buildup of lactic acid, which leads to pain and death of the cells.  This also happens in the brain (stroke).  The blockage in the major arteries happens after the heart attack or stroke and has little to do with plaque buildup.  Another example, from Natasha Campbell McBride (4), if you have the proper gut bacteria they will manufacture lactase, allowing adults to consume milk products.

In conjunction with the sessions there were many exhibitors selling products and information about everything relating to traditional eating.  Farming coops from the surrounding countryside were selling locally produced raw milk and cheese, fermented products, baked goods, butter, potato chips fried in lard, grass fed meats, pastured chicken and pork, wild caught salmon, etc.  Books, DVDs, skin care products, supplements, and opportunities for further education were all being offered.  I stopped by one booth selling aloe juice and tried a sample.  That was the only thing among the exhibitors that I didn’t like!  I bought as much as I could conveniently carry on the bus and train back to Long Island.  Some of the cheese and beef jerky even made it back to Hawaii.

Last, but certainly not least, were the meals provided to the conference attendees.  They consisted entirely of foods from the local area, lots of grass fed meat and butter, whole raw milk at most meals, fresh and fermented vegetables, soups and sauces made from bone broth, traditionally prepared breads for sandwiches and French toast, and desserts that incorporated local fruit, natural sweeteners like maple syrup, and lots of whipped cream.  And guess what—very few people at the conference had a weight problem.  We all stuffed ourselves with the marvelous food but did not go home any heavier.  This corroborates the ongoing theme of this blog—eat real food and your good health and normal weight will take care of itself.

Can we put the demonization of saturated fat to rest?

In March 2010, the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published an article (1) which explained an analysis of pooled data from 21 epidemiological studies encompassing 347,474 individuals.  The authors concluded, “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD (coronary heart disease) or CVD (cardiovascular disease). “  Finally maybe we are beginning to see the light!  Natural saturated fat is a necessary and healthy part of everyone’s diet.  It does not clog arteries.

Heart attacks were unknown prior to 1912, when the first report of this unusual phenomenon appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2).  Doctors at that time had never seen one.  Why then?  Suspiciously, Crisco had come on the market in 1911.  In 1907 candle-maker William Procter and soap-maker James Gamble needed a use for cheap cottonseed oil, a waste product of the cotton mills they owned, and developed the process of hydrogenation, which turned the liquid oil into a solid resembling lard. Since candles were rapidly being replaced by electric lighting, they needed a new product and Crisco (crystallized cottonseed oil) was born (3).  It was heavily advertised to the unsuspecting public as a healthier and cheaper alternative to lard.  The partial hydrogenation of cottonseed oil produced an abundance of trans fatty acids.  Oleomargarine, made by the same process but using corn and soy oils, had been invented in France in 1869 and began being manufactured in the 1870s. This inexpensive butter substitute became popular, particularly during the 2 world wars, when butter was scarce or rationed.  Numbers of heart attacks increased steadily. Deaths from heart disease peaked in the 1960s and have since declined, due mainly to better medical intervention, and a steep decrease in smoking (4), although they are still the number one cause of death in the US.

Meanwhile, in the late 1960s a government committee, with far less than universal consensus, decided that eating saturated fat and cholesterol led to cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, strokes, and clogged arteries).  Fat, particularly saturated fat, has been demonized ever since.  Trans fat was added later, when the overwhelming evidence for its adverse health effects could no longer be suppressed by the big food companies.  But isn’t it strange that humankind has been eating natural fats from animals, olives, nuts and coconut for hundreds of thousands of years and heart attacks have only become a problem in the last 100 years?  And we are encouraged to give up natural fats like butter, lard and beef fat in favor of modern, industrially processed, often trans fat laden vegetable oils?  What an egregious experiment in human health.

Besides trans fatty acids, what makes vegetable oils so problematic?  All fats and oils are made up of mixtures of fatty acids.  The solid fats have a higher proportion of saturated fatty acids.  Notice that saturated fatty acids are more abundant in tropical plants and warm-blooded animals.  They make up much of the structure of cell membranes, which must remain semi rigid to function correctly.  Seed oils (soy, corn, safflower, canola) come from temperate zone plants.  These contain mainly omega-6 fatty acids.  Cold water fish contain mainly omega-3 fatty acids.  Their cell membranes must remain permeable at cold water temperatures.  Humans need to consume both of these unsaturated fatty acids, ideally in equal amounts, but we need them in very small quantities.  They are both prone to oxidation and herein lies the danger.  Oxygen, the very substance that is so necessary for life, has a dark side.  It is very chemically reactive with the equally reactive double bonds in unsaturated fatty acids and it is this oxidation that damages our cells, including those in our blood vessel walls.  Saturated fats have no reactive double bonds so they do not oxidize.

Most clinical or epidemiological studies comparing people consuming vegetable oils in place of butter or lard claim that they see less heart disease when people switch from the more saturated fats to the polyunsaturated oils.  However, the vast majority of these studies are confounded by testing too many factors at the same time and then singling out saturated fat consumption to blame for heart disease.  The few studies e. g. (5)(6) (7) that specifically tested the substitution of vegetable oils for animal fats found either no difference in heart disease or worse outcomes in the vegetable oil group.

Why are butter, eggs cream, whole milk, beef, pork and chicken fat still getting a bad rap?  Again, follow the money.  The vegetable oil industry is huge and highly profitable.  A myriad of processed foods can be made with cheap vegetable oil, sugar and white flour and sold at a huge markup.  We like the taste of deep fried foods.  Heating polyunsaturated oils to high temperatures speeds up oxidation and with it cell damage (ours).  As we persist in consuming these oils more of us succumb to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, you name it.  They are not the only cause but certainly a contributing factor.  And the drug and medical industries profit as we become sicker and sicker.  As usual we can conclude that eating real, whole, minimally processed food, cooked at home (most of the time), with generous quantities of natural fats will keep us in the best health.

Solving the obesity crisis—some preliminary thoughts

I am old enough to remember when most children and adults were not overweight or obese.  I was born a few months before the Japanese bombs were dropped on Pearl Harbor, propelling the US into World War II, so I’m not old enough to remember the rationing and deprivation during the war.  Growing up in the 1940s and 50s was very different than it is today.  Industrial foods such as margarine, Crisco, cake mixes and TV dinners were coming into common use, but most food was cooked at home from real starting ingredients.  I lived in a suburban area with many small farms nearby.  Farm stands were common in the summer and sold only what was grown on the farm.  Milk was not homogenized and was either delivered to the house or picked up at the local dairy.  We had eggs delivered to the house by a local farmer.  In the summer, when fruits and vegetables were plentiful and inexpensive, many people would preserve them by canning, pickling or jelly-making for use over the winter.  In the 1950s home freezing became more common.

At the same time most people were thin, especially growing children.  Part of the reason was the copious amounts of exercise we got regularly.  Those who lived on the many family farms were kept busy with chores, which involved intense manual labor.  The rest of us came home from school, changed our clothes and played outdoors until our mothers called us for dinner.  During the long summer evenings we also went out and played after dinner.  Most adults were also working at jobs that required a lot more activity than sitting behind a computer.  We ate 3 meals a day and probably a snack after school.  All were cooked at home, except for school lunch.  Fast food restaurants were non-existent and eating in restaurants was reserved for very special and infrequent occasions.  Snack foods like soda and potato chips were reserved for parties.

After WWII the massive industrial complex that had been created to manufacture war materials turned its talents to synthetic fertilizers and equally synthetic foods.  New convenience foods were introduced to the market at an ever-increasing rate and, because they saved time in the kitchen, were embraced enthusiastically by most people.  They certainly lacked something in taste, but people traded taste for convenience and soon they no longer noticed. The 1960s and 1970s came and went and ever more women entered the workplace, some out of genuine career interests and some out of necessity.  Fast food restaurants sprouted up all over the country and soon all over the world.  They were inexpensive (because of farm and fuel subsidies), convenient, and tasty (because of food additives and flavor enhancers).  At the same time grocery stores gave way to large supermarkets and the number of ‘edible food-like substances’ (to quote Michael Pollan) they offered mushroomed.  Most of these pseudo foods are composed of wheat, corn and soy, all subsidized by government programs, and flavored with artificial flavors, colors, a few nutrients, and the ubiquitous MSG, and many are fried multiple times in unhealthy vegetable oils (1).

Since about 1980 the rate of introduction of these new food-like products has skyrocketed.  At the same time real household incomes have stagnated, corporations have cut numbers of workers and shipped jobs overseas, causing many people to be un- or underemployed.  This results in the people who do have reasonable jobs having to work longer hours for less money, creating stress and lack of time.  They barely have time to take care of their families, much less cook nutritious meals.  Buying prepared foods or stopping at fast food restaurants becomes a way of life.  Often children are at home alone after school and are instructed to stay in the house because it’s not safe outside, so they watch TV or use the computer and snack, snack, snack on empty calorie food.  With modern kids so used to the taste of processed food, school lunch programs have given in to serving it because that’s what the kids will eat.  Schools receive money for sports teams and other non-academic programs for using food corporation logos and allowing vending machines in the schools, though this is slowly changing.  Also, the amount of homework children are assigned at present keeps them immobile and snacking after school instead of playing.

This extremely simplified history gives us a glimpse into some of the reasons for our current obesity epidemic.  There are many more, some of which I have examined in previous posts.  The solutions to the problem are complex.  Childhood overweight and obesity will be only minimally impacted by improving the school lunch program or getting vending machines out of schools, or bringing back PE classes.  How much exercise did any of us get in PE class?  While advertizing to children is an abomination, it can be counteracted by parents who explain its purpose.  I used to tell my kids that if they saw it advertized on TV it wasn’t worth buying.  Childhood obesity has come about on the coattails of adult obesity, and therein lies the road to a solution.  Children will not be drawn to processed and fast food if they are not fed it at home or taken regularly to fast food restaurants, nor will they eat processed snack foods if they are not in the house.  If what they are offered at home is real whole food that is what they will ultimately like, although they may rebel during the teen years.  That means we adults have to clean up our act in regards to food first so that our children will follow our example.

However, how can we do that when from all sides we are bombarded with junk food?  When we glorify it as delicious and special? When our government gives us the wrong advice by way of the dietary guidelines (see July 7, 2010 post)?  When we perceive healthy food as boring and tasteless?  And when we are too busy and stressed out to care?  Real food, as I have described previously, is delicious as well as nutritious if it is prepared simply and well, with the generous use of natural fats like butter, lard and coconut oil, a small amount of natural sugar, to bring out the intrinsic deliciousness of the food itself.  If we begin to demand this type of food and stop buying the processed frankenfood, food companies will wake up and smell the profits.  Small local farms using sustainable methods will undergo a resurgence, as is happening in many areas.  The marketplace is a powerful force. If enough people discover the pleasures and health benefits of eating real, whole, minimally processed foods such as fresh meats, eggs, dairy products, vegetables, fruits and properly prepared starchy foods the marketplace will soon provide them.

Sweet tooth

We are born with a sweet tooth. Human milk is very sweet to the taste due to its lactose content, a sugar specific to milk and necessary for building the nervous system. Humans seem to be innately hardwired to like sweet tastes, but in nature sweet foods, such as fruits, come packaged with fiber, vitamins and minerals necessary for the digestion and utilization of the sugar. It is when we process and concentrate the sugar from natural foods that we tend to overeat it. Not all sugar-containing foods are sweet, however, providing a trap of sorts. Starch, a component of all plant foods, is made up of long chains of sugar, which our bodies efficiently cut apart and absorb. In this post I will explain the many forms in which sugar is available to us, and which ones may be less detrimental to our health.

Chemically speaking, sugar is a general term for an organic compound consisting of a ring of carbon atoms (6 in glucose, 5 in fructose) with hydrogen and oxygen atoms attached. Sucrose, commonly called table sugar, is a disaccharide (2 sugars) composed of 1 glucose molecule bonded to 1 fructose molecule. It is one of the energy storage compounds in plants. Plants also store energy in the form of starch, which is composed only of glucose molecules bonded together in long branching chains, and does not have a sweet taste in this form. When seeds germinate they often hydrolyze the starch into maltose, another disaccharide, consisting of 2 glucose molecules bonded together and most often used in the brewing industry. The other sugar commonly consumed is lactose, found in milk and consisting of 1 glucose and 1 galactose molecule bonded together. These are the sugars that nature provides and the ones that we should be consuming, albeit in smaller quantities than most of us are accustomed to.

Unless we are getting our sugar from whole foods, all sugar is processed to some extent. The least processed, those that still contain some of the vitamins and minerals of the original plant are honey, molasses, maple syrup, rapadura and sucanat. All of these except honey are sucrose. Raw honey is made from nectar by honeybees and extracted from their hives, filtered, and bottled, but most honey has been heat treated and further purified. Honey is a mixture of equal parts glucose and fructose, with small amounts of other sugars also present. Molasses is the liquid left after most of the sucrose has been extracted from sugar cane. Pure maple syrup is the boiled sap of the sugar maple tree and has nothing else added. Rapadura is sugar cane juice that has been squeezed from the cane and dried into cakes, which are later shaved into small particles for use. Sucanat is very similar to rapadura but it has been heated in processing. Both contain the natural molasses that is part of the sugar cane and make excellent substitutes for table sugar and brown sugar. All other forms of sugar have been highly refined, heated, washed, chemically treated, and crystallized. Even those that are labeled organic, raw, natural and other terms, are really no better than table sugar. The brown forms have been highly purified and then have had molasses added back in. Save your money. Also remember that although using the minimally processed sugars is more desirable than using the refined ones, they are still a concentrated form of pure energy and should be used sparingly. Concentrated apple, pear or whatever juice on labels is still just sucrose.

Even less desirable than refined sucrose are the industrially produced, ultra processed sweeteners. High fructose corn syrup is the prime example. While not sold as such on grocers’ shelves it is used in a myriad of processed foods, such as breads, cereals, cereal bars, ice cream, yogurt, soups, lunch meats, and of course soft drinks and condiments. It is produced from corn and contains a ratio of about 55% fructose to 45% glucose; thus it is sweeter to the taste than sucrose, but manufacturers do not cut down on the amount in their products to compensate for the extra sweetness. Besides acclimatizing us to like sweeter tastes, it is the greater amount of fructose contained in this sweetener that is the problem. While glucose is absorbed directly into the blood from the digestive tract, to be used as energy by our cells, fructose must first be processed by the liver, where is shunted into the metabolic pathway that leads to fat synthesis. Because of this fructose does not appreciably affect insulin levels but it does lead directly to fat storage. And beware—high fructose corn syrup may now be called corn sugar on product labels. An even more insidiously problematic sweetener is a relatively new product being touted as a health food—agave syrup. This industrial waste product of tequila manufacture is 85-95% fructose. Eat it if you really want to pack on the pounds!

Sugar substitutes or non-nutritive sweeteners are to be avoided. These include Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet, Canderel), Saccharin (Sweet’N Low, SugarTwin), Acesulfame K (Sunett, Sweet One), and Sucralose (Splenda). These are highly processed industrial (non) foods which, although they contain no calories, research is beginning to suggest may trick our bodies into eating greater amounts of food subsequent to consuming them (1). One product that may be okay is natural stevia leaf. However, beware of such highly processed products as Truvia and PureVia, which contain crystalline extract of stevia and other additives. For a thorough discussion of artificial sweeteners see Sugar Free Blues.

Apropos the recurring theme of this blog, eat whole foods and keep refined products to a minimum. Current research is showing that the high levels of sugars and starches that we have been advised to consume may be largely responsible for the existing obesity and diabetes epidemics. Use sugar sparingly and when you do stick to the least processed varieties.

Fermented foods—why and how to eat them

In my last post I talked about how our emphasis on wiping out microorganisms from our environment is impacting our health in a negative way. We can give up sanitizing our environment and overreliance on antibiotics, but in order to replace the beneficial bacteria in our digestive systems we need fermented foods. There are many ways to include these healthful traditional foods in our diet. Before the advent of refrigeration fermentation was used to preserve food for later use and also to enhance its nutritional content. The organisms that do the fermenting produce alcohol, lactic acid and acetic acid, which can be called “bio-preservatives”, as they not only prevent spoilage but also enhance nutrition by breaking foods down into more easily digestible forms and adding certain B vitamins to the food (1). Even more importantly, they provide living beneficial microorganism to maintain our own bacterial communities.

All cultures used some type of alcoholic fermentation, but these beverages were brewed with naturally occurring yeasts and retained many of the nutrients contained in the starting materials. Beer is brewed from fermented grain and contains many of the B vitamins of the grain and yeast if it has not been refined and filtered. Wine is fermented fruit juice, usually grape, but any untreated fruit juice will ferment. Wine, particularly red wine, has been shown epidemiologically to have health benefits when consumed regularly in small quantities; the mechanism for the benefit is still being researched. Distilled alcohol has lost any health benefits inherent in fermented beverages, containing only very strong alcohol.

Other fermented beverages add beneficial bacteria to the diet without the alcohol content. Kombucha is a sour tonic beverage made from either black or green tea which has been brewed, sweetened, and cultured with a SCOBY, or symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. The SCOBY turns the sugar into lactic acid for a pleasant fizzy drink containing live microorganisms. Fruit juices can also be fermented using the SCOBY. Natural sodas such as ginger ale can be made using fresh grated ginger, sugar and water and allowing it to ferment. Since the sugar in these beverages has been largely converted to lactic acid it does not raise insulin levels the way regular sodas do (2).

I have already blogged about the virtues of sourdough bread, which is leavened via a fermentation process in which the acids produced by bacteria called Lactobacilli give it the sour taste, and wild yeasts cause the dough to rise. Other starchy foods are also traditionally fermented to improve their nutrition and keeping qualities. Familiar here in Hawaii is poi, a pasty starch made from cooked, mashed and fermented taro corms. It is the staple food of Polynesian cultures and manifests probiotic properties from the Lactococcus and Lactobacillus lactic acid producing bacteria that it contains (3). Certain varieties of another starchy staple, cassava-widely eaten in tropical South America, Africa and Asia, must be fermented to remove cyanide and render the starch edible.

Asian cuisines contain an abundance of fermented foods. Thousands of years ago people living in this region learned that nutrients from the soybean could be made available for human consumption by fermenting the plant in various forms. Most of these foods are eaten in small quantities, as they still contain antinutrient substances. Such condiments as soy sauce and tamari are used as flavorings; miso makes a nutritious soup, especially when combined with fish; natto, tempeh and traditional tofu supply protein. Fish, especially small fish from rice paddies, are fermented in an earthen jar with water and salt to make fish sauces and pastes. Vegetables are often pickled, a form of fermentation, to preserve them. Kim chee is made of salted won bok or other vegetables which is then combined with spices and buried in earthen jars for the winter. Japanese and Korean cuisines contain many different traditionally fermented vegetable dishes served in small quantities. Many of these foods are highly salted and as such are eaten as condiments. Even a small amount can supply a big dose of beneficial microorganisms.

Western culture, too, contains its fermented dishes. Sauerkraut and pickles are ways of preserving the cabbages and cucumbers that are so abundant during summer. Traditionally, these vegetables are brined in salt water to which the appropriate spices are added and allowed to ferment for several weeks in a crock, usually in a cool basement. I remember the delicious dill pickles my mother made every winter. They had a flavor far superior to the overheated, overprocessed varieties available on supermarket shelves. Actually, any vegetable can be preserved by fermenting, and often the nutrient content is improved. Captain Cook kept his crew free of scurvy on his discovery trip to Hawaii by feeding them sauerkraut.

Dairy products are extremely perishable. Since humans first began keeping cows and goats for milk they had a problem with spoilage. However, they discovered that fresh raw milk will ferment, after which it is much more stable and long-lasting. Today, with refrigeration we do not need to ferment milk products but we have grown to relish such fermented dairy products as yogurt, cheese, buttermilk, sour cream, kefir, etc. All of these products in their traditional forms contain live bacterial cultures that convert the lactose in milk to lactic acid. Therefore, even those with lactose intolerance can enjoy them. Be sure to look for yogurt and related products that say on the label “contains live cultures”. Some of the concoctions now being sold as yogurt are not only loaded with sugar but microbially dead.

To give an old adage a new twist—a fermented food a day keeps the doctor away. Enjoy the pleasures of these foods. Your gut will love you for it!

Are we too clean?

We are not sterile beings. We have more bacteria in our digestive tracts than cells in our bodies.  Just as all living things are part of the ecosystem around them, our bodies are ecosystems unto themselves.  We have a suite of bacteria and fungi that normally live within our bodies and cause no trouble.  In fact, when they are not there in the correct ratios we get sick because they assist with the breakdown and assimilation of nutrients and keep unwanted microorganisms in check.  So much in our modern environment is engineered to keep us from coming in contact with the dreaded germs that we are often inadvertently destroying the normal gut flora and opening up our bodies to numerous ailments, such as allergies and behavioral disorders.

The first environmental culprits are antibiotics.  While these are lifesavers for serious bacterial infections, they are indiscriminant in their ability to kill bacteria and therefore wipe out the good bugs along with the bad.  If these beneficial bacteria are not replaced then the body may become susceptible to opportunistic fungi or digestive disorders. How to re-inoculate the gut with beneficial bacteria will be the subject of my next post—stay tuned.

Secondly, we are encouraged by everyone from medical professionals to the advertising media to sanitize everything.  While it is true that we can pick up disease germs from our environment and it is reasonable to wash our hands and keep away from people who are obviously ill, it is not reasonable to disinfect every surface in the house and constantly sanitize our hands.  It is more important to keep our immune systems functioning optimally through a nutrient-rich, real food diet, adequate rest, exercise, and stress reduction techniques.  Then if we encounter a germ or two (billion) our body will dispense with them in short order.

Third, real food is dirty—literally.  Vegetables and some fruits grow on or close to the ground.  Animals wallow in dirt and mud.  While we of course wash off the dirt from vegetables and fruit and keep meat products refrigerated to prevent unwanted bacterial growth, these real foods come with a suite of bacteria and fungi that are beneficial.  We ingest these microorganisms with the food and continually refurbish our gut bacteria. But in order to sell food that has been contaminated, usually by inappropriate treatment of waste matter on factory farms, processors must irradiate, sterilize, pasteurize, sanitize, or otherwise process it.  Without going directly to farmers or farmer’s markets it is no longer possible to buy food that has not been treated in some way for a long shelf life.  Sure it’s convenient, but what it is doing to our health?

When a baby is born his digestive tract (gut) is sterile.  As he moves through his mother’s birth canal his gut is inoculated with whatever bacteria she has.  In this respect, a baby born by Caesarean section is at a disadvantage.  The baby who is subsequently breastfed receives beneficial bacteria from the milk, further inoculating his system with factors that facilitate digestion and protect against disease.  Breast milk is a living food, teeming with nutrients in the right proportions, microorganisms, enzymes, immune factors, etc that keep the baby healthy.  If he is weaned onto real unprocessed foods from the family table he will retain his healthy gut flora and subsequent good health.

Unfortunately, the majority of babies do not receive this benefit and start off with a sterilized, factory made, reconstituted formula (I’m one of them) that does not provide the correct microorganisms for gut health.  When they begin to eat table food they are fed sterilized mush out of jars.  These babies, children and adults are more susceptible to a host of ailments from asthma and autism to ADHD, digestive difficulties and later depression and schizophrenia (1).  Incidences of all of these ailments have skyrocketed as our food supply has become more and more processed.

In the same way that human milk is a living food, so is cow’s milk.  In the raw (unpasteurized, unadulterated) state milk from cows fed on pasture grass contains beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and other factors that facilitate the assimilation of its nutrients (2). It is much less likely to trigger allergies or intolerances than the pasteurized (or worse, ultra-pasteurized), taken apart (skim, 1%, 2%), homogenized milk available in the grocery store.  There were reasons for pasteurization when it was first developed in the late 1800s.  Milk is a superb medium for bacterial growth once it leaves the cow.  Dairies, especially near cities, were filthy places with rampant disease among both cows and milkers.  Rather than clean up the dairies pasteurization came into widespread use in urban areas.  Farmers and their families still drank it raw.  With the recent advent of factory farming and mega dairies of grain-fed cows living in their own filth the milk must be treated to be fit to drink, though even that is questionable.  It is a sad commentary on our modern way of life that purchasing raw milk is illegal in many states, and even where it is legal small dairy farmers are being harassed.  Again, follow the money—such is the power of the dairy industry.  Sustainably raised, pastured, healthy cows give perfectly safe milk, and the taste and health benefits make it worth seeking out.

If you want to be healthy allow your body to come into contact with bacteria.  The vast majority of them are either beneficial or harmless.  Don’t attempt to sterilize your environment.  The chemicals in all those sprays and cleaners are probably more toxic than the ‘germs’ they are killing.  Eat living food, i.e., food that will rot, spoil, mold or deteriorate, but eat it before it does.

Energy bars—are they beneficial during exercise?

This blog is about real food, and energy (granola, protein, nutrition, performance) bars are about as processed as you can get, so this should be a no brainer. However, in addition to being a real food advocate I am also an avid cyclist, logging up to 100 miles a week. So the question of how to keep energy up on a long ride often comes up. Most of my fellow riders eat these bars while riding, so I thought I would look into the ingredients in various bars and explain the pros and cons of consuming them on a ride (or run, walk, hike, whatever you are into).

On the plus side the bars are convenient. They are lightweight and easy to carry, unwrap and eat while stopping for a break on a ride or out on the trail. They provide a quick carbohydrate boost to replenish diminishing blood sugar during sustained exercise to prevent ‘bonking’ or ‘hitting the wall’, when our bodies run out of glucose from our glycogen stores and we suddenly run out of energy. Unfortunately, convenience is about their only attribute.

The major ingredient in these bars is refined sugar. It may not be listed first on the label because it is generally listed in several places by various names, such as brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, apple (or any other juice) concentrate, berry extract, oat syrup solids or oat syrup, barley malt extract, honey, maltodextrin, fructose, dextrose, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, invert sugar, corn syrup solids, all different forms of highly processed sugar. With the exception of maltodextrin, these sugars are a combination of glucose and either fructose or another slow to digest sugar. It is glucose we need to fuel our muscles. It can enter our blood stream quickly after ingestion and provide a boost in energy. Fructose must first travel to the liver and then enter the pathway to fat storage. Other sugars also take 2-3 hours to digest. Maltodextrin is processed from starch and consists only of glucose, but it is not generally found in energy bars. The upshot is that about half of the sugar in these bars can be quickly processed into energy; the rest will go to storage (fat).

All of the ingredients in these bars are highly processed. The grains have not been soaked or sprouted (see previous post) and have been cooked or extruded, meaning that many of their nutrients are unavailable. The majority of these bars contain soy protein isolate. This substance is produced from soybeans as a byproduct of the huge soybean oil industry. While it is a highly processed food it has not undergone fermentation and therefore contains phytates (see previous post) trypsin (a protease) inhibitors, phytoestrogens (a good way for men to reduce their testosterone), and goitrogens (which reduce thyroid function). Although it contains all of the amino acids of a complete protein, they are not in the correct ratios, making it a poor quality protein source. Other highly processed ingredients include flavors, colors, oils (sometimes partially hydrogenated, i.e. trans fat), and sources of fiber. Some even contain sugar alcohols (maltitol, sorbitol) and non-caloric artificial sweeteners (sucralose, acesulfame potassium). Why put non-nutritive sweeteners in an energy bar?

Fiber is often added to these bars in the form of inulin, a soluble fiber that is partially fermented in the large intestine, causing gas in some people. Quick energy is the goal, but adding fiber can slow digestion, thereby increasing the time it takes for glucose to hit the blood stream and do you some good.

Another drawback to energy bars is cost. A quick survey shows that they cost between $1.29 and $2.29 apiece (Hawaii prices; may be less elsewhere). Taste also leaves something to be desired, especially if you are used to eating real food.

There is one brand of bar that can be recommended—Lara. These bars come in several flavors but all of them contain only fruit, nuts and flavorings, no added sweeteners, oils, fibers or processed grains. However, they tend to be expensive. A better alternative is ‘gorp’ or trail mix. It is a mixture of dried fruit and salty nuts and/or seeds that can be conveniently carried in a small plastic bag and eaten intermittently during a workout. For a better taste make your own. Packaged trail mix tends to taste stale since the nuts absorb moisture from the dried fruit on sitting for long periods. Dried fruit is a concentrated source of sucrose, which provides as much glucose as the highly processed sugars in energy bars, and nuts with their protein, fat (for staying power), and carbohydrate. The salt is necessary to replenish what is lost in sweat. Some people like to add pretzels to the mix. Though highly processed, they do provide easily digestible carbohydrate that breaks down into glucose, and of course salt.

One final note, many of these bars are little different from cookies or candy bars, except that they are purposely low in fat (and you know how I feel about that!). If you need an energy boost while exercising eat whole, minimally processed, real food and skip the overpriced imitations.

What about grains?

As I said in my last post our Paleolithic ancestors did not use grains as food and many researchers and health professionals think that we should not be eating them today. Lets look at the use of grains for the last 10,000 years and how that use has changed in the recent past. I will be using wheat, and specifically bread, as a primary example, since we eat so much of it, but much of what is true for wheat also applies to rye, oats, corn, rice and other grains. Grains are energy dense, containing about 10-20 times more energy (calories) than most succulent fruits and vegetables. Compositionally, grains consist of 12-14% water, 65-75% carbohydrates, 2-6% lipids and 7-12% protein. Cereals are quite similar to each other in composition, being low in protein and high in carbohydrates (1).

It is thought that humans began cultivating grains around 10,000 years ago. In the raw state grains are indigestible due to the tough, cellulose-containing cell walls that surround the nutrients and make them unavailable to human digestive enzymes. Our ancestors must have figured out early on that extensive processing was necessary in order to obtain sustenance from grains. Grinding the grain using stones was an early method of breaking the kernels apart and the resulting flour or meal could then be soaked and cooked in various ways. It is thought that bread making started about 4300 years ago in Egypt when someone left a mixture of flour and water out for a few days and it started to bubble. This starter was mixed with more flour and water and the first sourdough bread was born.. Cultures around the world developed methods of soaking, sprouting and fermenting grains to both preserve them and make them release their nutrients (1). In all of these instances they used the grain whole.

Though it is much more complex than described here, the wheat seed consists of 3 basic parts.
1. Bran: Forming the outer layer of the seed, the bran is a rich source of niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. The bran also contains most of the seed’s fiber.
2. Germ: The part from which a new plant sprouts, the germ is a concentrated source of niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. The germ also contains protein and some fat.
3. Endosperm: Also called the kernel, the endosperm makes up the bulk of the seed. It contains most of the grain’s protein and carbohydrate and has small amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Whole grain products contain all three parts of the wheat seed, while refined grain products contain only the starchy endosperm. While we throw away most of the nutrients of the grain when we make white flour, we also discard the majority of the so-called anti-nutrients, most of which occur in the bran and germ. We are being urged to eat whole grains, but unless they are properly prepared we are not absorbing and utilizing the nutrients that occur in the grains.

The two major anti-nutrients in wheat are phytates and enzyme inhibitors. Phytates are salts of phytic acid and occur in many plants, but are especially abundant in cereal grains. They are capable of forming insoluble complexes with calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium and other nutrients and interfering with their absorption by the body. Phytates reduce the bioavailability of minerals, and the solubility, functionality and digestibility of proteins and carbohydrates. Enzyme inhibitors are molecules that bind to enzymes and decrease their activity. Protease (enzyme that breaks down protein) and amylase (enzyme that breaks down starch) inhibitors occur widely in cereal grains. They are believed to impair health and growth by interfering with digestion and causing pancreatic abnormalities and metabolic disturbances. Since both phytates and enzyme inhibitors are most abundant in the bran and germ of the wheat, whole grain products that are not properly pre-treated in order to inactivate them will not release their nutrients during digestion.

Cooking of grains is necessary in order to disrupt cell walls and make digestion possible, but it does not affect the anti-nutrients present. Grains contain phytases (enzymes that break down phytate) and if these have not been inactivated by extrusion (breakfast cereals) or heat treatment there is appreciable degradation of phytates in the human stomach and intestines. But humans eat grains that have been heated or extruded; therefore the phytases are inactivated and cannot break down the phytates. (2). Soaking, sprouting and/or fermenting of grains all must be done prior to cooking in order to reduce the content of phytates and enzyme inhibitors. Phytates broken down during germination of grains make minerals available for the growing plant. Soaking and germination increase phytase activity and decrease phytate content, but fermentation is even more effective. Fermentation creates a slightly acid medium, which increases the ability of phytases already present in the grain to reduce phytate content by catalyzing the conversion of phytate to inorganic phosphate, thus releasing bound minerals (3, 4). Although enzyme inhibitors tend to be heat stable, there are numerous reports that their levels are also reduced during fermentation of grains (1).

Applying this knowledge to bread-making, we begin to see where problems arise. Today we do not think of bread as a fermented product, but this kind of natural leavening remained the norm until the 20th century, when bread made from commercially prepared yeast was introduced. Prior to the 1950s most bakeries ran 2 shifts of workers because the dough was fermented throughout the night with a long and slow natural fermentation process. But this required 2 shifts of workers so corporate bakers introduced the fast loaf (3 hours from start to finish). This increased profits by eliminating the second shift of workers. Today some bakeries produce bread in just 40 minutes from start to finish. These fast processes effectively eliminate the fermentation step by greatly increasing the amount of yeast used. Naturally fermented bread, e.g., sourdough, is left to proof for at least 8 hours and often longer. This proofing affords time for bacteria in the sourdough culture to produce lactic and other organic acids that lower the pH to ~5.5 and effectively activate phytases to degrade phytates. Sourdough fermentation reduces the phytate content to a much greater extent than yeast. The rapid processing of whole grain flour into bread leaves the phytates and enzyme inhibitors mostly intact and greatly reduces the nutrients available from the bread. With the new interest in whole grains from the nutrition and medical communities it is important to emphasize that the grains must be properly prepared.

There are two other problems with rapidly made bread: gluten, which comprises about 80% of the protein in wheat, and starch digestion. Gluten is found in the endosperm complexed with starch, and is what gives yeast bread its elasticity, or ability to rise. In fact, extra gluten is often added to yeast bread for this purpose. A far greater amount of gluten is now present in regular yeast breads, both white and whole grain, since it is found in the endosperm, possibly leading to the steep rise in gluten intolerance that has occurred recently. Only when wheat gluten is properly broken down into amino acids by fermentation is it healthy for human consumption. If not, it is potentially one of the most highly allergenic foods we eat, since it can pass whole into the blood. During sourdough bread-making gluten is hydrolyzed by proteases during the acidification that occurs from the microorganisms that are present in sourdough culture. Gluten is not so important for structure in fermented breads as it is in ‘regular’ bread. The increased contents of water-soluble polysaccharides (chains of sugar molecules) in sourdough fermented bread dough compared to straight dough contribute to the water absorption and gas retention (rising) capacities of the dough, as observed in rye baking. (5, 6). The other aspect of regular yeast breads compared with sourdough is the body’s reaction to the starch. Being finely ground, the starch in both white and whole wheat bread is quickly broken down into glucose in the digestive tract and absorbed into the blood stream, causing a rapid rise in blood glucose and resultant insulin. It has been shown that the acids formed during sourdough fermentation retard the outpouring of glucose into the bloodstream and lower the insulin response. (7).

Should we be eating grains? For most of us they are probably fine in moderation and properly prepared. We are used to light and fluffy loaves of bread, even whole grain varieties, and most of us are unaware of the effects of commercial processing, such as high yeast levels, accelerants, proofing agents and bromide, that regular bread undergoes. There are whole grain breads made with sprouted grains, usually found in the freezer section of health food stores. Unfortunately, while the sprouting is beneficial, the makers of these breads often add extra gluten and yeast rather than using a sourdough process. If you live in an area where good traditional sourdough bread is available try it. Otherwise maybe you would enjoy making your own.

How our evolution has shaped our dietary needs

One thing that bothered me while I was studying nutrition in graduate school was that the majority of nutrition professionals had little biology background.  I was not only older than my classmates (and most of the professors) but had been steeped in the evolutionary aspects of biology for many years, both as a biology teacher and as a wife and mother of biologists.  I knew that humans had spent most of their time on earth as hunter-gatherers, in fact 99.6% of the time since the genus Homo appeared ~2.4 million years ago. The hunter-gatherer period encompasses all but the last 10,000 years of our existence.  The genetic adaptations to our food environment occurred during the hunter-gatherer period, with only minor changes occurring after the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago.

The diet of a person during that long time span before agriculture began varied, of course, depending on where he lived.  Modern humans arose on the subtropical savannahs of Africa and migrated to all parts of the earth.  In general, however, hunter-gatherer societies obtained at least 50% of their sustenance from animal foods.  This high reliance on animal foods plus the relatively low carbohydrate content of plant foods means that the most plausible percentages of total energy would be 19–35% for dietary protein, 22–40% for carbohydrate, and 28–58% for fat (Cordain et al, 2000). Game and wild plant foods contain more protein, less fat, more fiber, and more micronutrients per unit weight than do modern supermarket foods (Eaton et al, 1997).  Even though wild animals have a lower fat content associated with their muscles, our human ancestors did not limit themselves to lean muscle meat; doing so, in light of their high animal source diet, would have meant that they consumed a toxic amount of protein.  Instead they coveted the fatter parts of the animals—organ meats, brains, bone marrow, etc. (Cordain et al, 2000).  The meat of game animals living on wild plants and grass also contains much higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than does the meat of modern domesticated animals.  Furthermore, animal foods for our ancestors also included a large quantity of fish and shellfish as well as small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, snails, etc.  Many of these animals were no doubt collected along with foraged plant food, which consisted mainly of vegetables, fruit, nuts and maybe a smattering of grain.

We are adapted to this hunter-gatherer diet, which sustained us for millennia.  Prehistoric humans had robust skeletons and were about as tall as we are today in developed countries.  With the advent of agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago humans went from a diet based largely on animal foods to one based largely on grain.  Archeological sites reveal that people during this period were shorter and showed signs of bone loss (Cohen, 1989; Larsen, 2003) compared to their hunter-gatherer ancestors.  There are many factors involved in this seeming decline in health—increases in population, crowding, living in close proximity with animals and the resultant transmission of diseases, but certainly the change in diet was a major factor.  There has not been enough time since the advent of agriculture and grain-based diets for a major change in our genetics, although genetic modifications for eating grains is beginning to be discovered using advanced genetic techniques and information from the human genome project.  Evidence for multiple copies of the salivary amylase gene in high starch eating Asians, and a gene variant that is important for breaking down fats in plant foods in Europeans and Middle Easterners may reflect an adaption to agriculture (Hancock et al, 2010). Along with the growing of grains came the domestication of certain animals for use as food, mainly cattle, sheep/goats, pigs and chickens, introducing new foods made from milk into our diets, and subsequently the retention of the lactase gene into adulthood in cattle-raising populations.  Until about 100 years ago these novel foods sustained us because they were grown locally or raised on their natural diets, eaten fresh and whole, or preserved in ways that enhance nutrient content.  Grains went through many steps (soaking, sprouting, long proofing) before they were deemed fit for consumption.

A little more than 100 years ago began the industrialization of the food supply.  The roller mill was invented, meaning we could have white flour.  Then, as the need for candles waned with the advent of electricity, vegetable oil was turned into Crisco and oleomargarine and touted as healthier than butter.  Sugar consumption climbed until it is now in the stratosphere, and food has become ultra-pasteurized, taken apart and put back together, stripped of nutrients (they spoil) and “fortified” with all manner of industrial waste masquerading as nutrients.  Farm animals are raised in deplorable conditions, fed unnatural diets, and their meat and eggs are frequently contaminated with pathogenic bacteria as a result.  Even fruits and vegetables have been modified to keep and ship well instead of taste good and be nutrient dense.  And how does this modern supermarket diet compare to the one we evolved on?  Remember, our ancestors would have gotten 19-35% of their energy from protein, 22-40% from carbohydrate, and 28-58% from fat. In the United States, the third National Health and Nutrition Survey showed that among adults aged ≥20 y, protein contributed 15.5%, carbohydrate 49.0%, fat 34.0%, and alcohol 3.1% of total energy intake (McDowell, 1994).  Therefore, the range of percentages for carbohydrate and protein in most hunter-gatherer diets falls outside the average value for Western diets, and even more so for the USDA recommended healthy diets (15% of energy from protein, 55-65% from carbohydrate, and 20-35% from fat). Furthermore, the types of plant and animal foods that together comprise the macronutrient composition of hunter-gatherer diets are substantially different from those commonly consumed by Westernized societies. In the United States, the 1987–1988 National Food Consumption Survey indicated that cereal grains contributed 31%, dairy products 14%, beverages 8%, oils and dressings 4%, and discretionary sugar and candy 4% of the total energy intake for all individuals. Virtually none of these foods would have been available to hunter-gatherers. Cereal grains represent the highest single food item consumed on the basis of energy content in both the United States and the rest of the world (Cordain et al, 2000).

Is it any wonder that we have such high rate of chronic disease?  There is a small but growing group of people, e.g. Primal Body Primal Mind, Mark’s Daily Apple, who believe that we should adopt a diet more like our ancestors would have eaten.  This eating plan would eliminate all grain and dairy products, and of course processed foods of any kind.  Many people have found markedly better health when switching to this type of eating.  However, Weston A. Price found healthy traditional cultures consuming properly prepared grains and dairy products.  But a generalized message might be that we would all be better off cutting back on carbohydrates to some extent, making sure we have adequate complete protein from animal sources, and increasing our natural fat intake.  By the way, vegetable oils, with the exception of olive and coconut, are not natural fats.  In order to be extracted from seeds they must be highly processed.  Our ancestors would never have eaten them. We are all individuals in our nutrient needs and body tolerances.  If someone is sensitive to grains or dairy products he/she may well regain healthy be eating a more “cave man” diet.  If not, a diet of whole natural foods, which includes some grain and dairy, may be the healthiest for them.  It’s worth experimenting!

Levels of knowledge and concern about eating and health

Sorry for the hiatus in posts; I have been travelling and visiting with children and grandchildren, which afforded me little time to write but ample time to think about the hierarchy of nutrition and health comprehension in our society. It seems to me that we can define 3 broad levels of nutrition/health awareness.

Level 1. This includes the majority of people and the least amount of understanding or concern. Food choices are based on taste, cost, habit, ease of preparation, and availability. These are the people consuming the standard American diet (SAD). Major components of this eating style include fast food from chain restaurants, prepared meals from the supermarket or deli, easy to eat snack foods, and frozen, canned, or boxed foods that are easy to cook or microwave. The main ingredients in these foods are refined sugars and starches, cheap vegetable oils and cheap grain-fed meat. The taste is enhanced by the addition of chemical flavoring agents and multiple trips through the deep fryer. The combination of sugar in all its forms and the wrong kinds of fat give us food that is addicting at the same time that it is lacking in nutrients. These two qualities do not assuage hunger; in fact they encourage overeating. The SAD is adequate in protein from the burgers, but lacking in fruits and vegetables and way too heavy on sugars, starches and poor quality fats. It is a recipe for obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. People eating this way do not perceive the link between diet and health or deny that it exists.

Level 2. To counter the disastrous state of the SAD the nutrition and medical communities have proffered the purportedly healthy diet. They recommend a largely plant based diet, with the majority of the food being whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, and smaller amounts of lean meats, skim milk, egg whites, and a very small amount of vegetable oils. The most demonized food is saturated fat, which is lumped with trans fats as causing instant heart disease. This is the current advice from our government and is what most people think of as a healthy diet because it is promoted so loudly in the media. It guides what is fed to our children in school lunches and the WIC program, and to people in institutional settings of all kinds. Health food stores promote it, as do restaurants and packaged foods trying to be perceived as healthy. Highly processed and reformulated foods such as high fiber breakfast cereals, low fat dairy products, egg replacers, margarines, soy products of all sorts, and sports drinks and bars are considered healthy because they are low fat or low saturated fat, or have added fiber and a few synthetic vitamins and minerals. Non-caloric sweeteners are encouraged. Organizations supposedly working for our health, such as the AMA, AHA, ADA, Am. Cancer Society, etc, also promote it. Vegetarians and vegans fall into this eating pattern. It is an improvement over the SAD in that fruits and vegetables are encouraged, but it is woefully lacking in nutrient-dense whole foods of animal origin. Unfortunately, this is the way most health-conscious people are trying to eat, but many are failing because the diet is so unsatisfying.

Level 3. Real food; what everyone ate 100 ago; most nutrient dense; highest level of nutritional understanding. This is whole food without chemical additives, stabilizers, flavor enhancers, preservatives, and non-caloric sweeteners. This is a diet rich in healthy animal fats, coconut oil and olive oil. Many types of meat, organ meats, fish and foul are eaten, but they are humanely raised on their natural diets or wild caught, and have not been force fed grain, gobs of soy, animal byproducts, antibiotics and hormones to obtain maximum growth in minimum time. Lots of vegetables and fruits are consumed in season from local sources, and many are also consumed fermented. Grains are used in moderation and properly prepared by soaking and/or sprouting to make them more digestible. Dairy products are consumed raw from a local source. Eggs are from chickens allowed to run freely outdoors. As more and more people are discovering the health and taste benefits of this type of eating it will become more and more available. This is food that will rot or spoil, but is eaten before it does!

Now lets follow the money. The SAD is hugely profitable for the big food companies—cheap sugars, flours, oils and meat turned into a myriad of products that cost only pennies to make and sell at huge profits. The pharmaceutical and medical industries also profit because this way of eating is a prominent factor in our prevalent lifestyle diseases—obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, allergies, etc., chronic diseases that need ongoing and expensive treatment. The so called healthy diet is also profitable for the food industry because it is allowed to print health claims on highly processed products, also made predominantly of cheap grains and oils. And the medical and pharmaceutical industries still profit because people eating this sort of low fat diet do not regain health long term and still need chronic care and medication. No wonder the big food and pharmaceutical companies fund nutrition and medical research! The traditional diet does not put money into the pockets of food, pharmaceutical or medical corporations. It affords a decent living to farmers who raise animals and plants in a sustainable manner and it cuts the medical costs for those eating this type of diet. But there are no deep pockets promoting it, so people need to find out about this way of eating on their own.