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Ep.15 – The Facts About Fat – $1 Billion Worth of Research Later: Eating Fat Does *Not* Harm Health

Jonathan: Welcome to Living the Smarter Science of Slim, where we provide a scientifically proven lifestyle for long-term health and fast lost by eating more and exercising less, but smarter.

Carrie: Eat smarter, exercise smarter, live better – I am so ready for that. Hey everyone! Welcome to your weekly Smarter Science of Slim podcast. I’m here with Jonathan Bailor.

Jonathan: And you are?

Carrie: I am Carrie Brown.

Jonathan:  Carrie Brown folks. (Laughter) We didn’t replace Carrie …. yet.

Carrie: (Gasp)

Jonathan:  (Laughter) I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding. So Carrie, if you recall, last week we started on a bit of a new path for the Smarter Science of Slim. We started a bit talking about the history of how we got into the confusing that world we find ourselves in. We talked a bit about the Food Guide Pyramid, My Plate, and how that relates to the overall history of human eating and how it was not possible, let alone healthy, for 99.8% of our existence. And then we talked about how that all originated from a political document, not a scientific document that came out in 1976. And we talked about how the scientific community had a lot of not so nice things to say about that document.

Carrie: Ok. I remember that. I remember getting all upset.

Jonathan:  Getting all upset. You were a little verklempt, I thought. You didn’t emote as much as I expected. Maybe it was just because you were like, “This is sad.”

Carrie: I was trying to be professional and grown-up.

Jonathan:  (Laughter) What you don’t know is that Carrie actually threw a chair out the window when we finished. No, no, no…. She did not.

Carrie: (Laughter) What are we gonna talk about this week?

Jonathan:  This week we’re gonna talk about …. I mean I can imagine that you and I, when I first learned this, and potentially our listeners now are like, “Ok, well then why did that document even get released? Like let’s go back …. Take me back further in history and tell me how this happened. And that’s what I was hoping to do this week, and it is actually fairly simple because it’s all really traceable back to one person, a gentleman by the name of Ansel Keys. And we need to just go back a few decades, prior to 1976…. Go back to the 1950s and Mr. Keys examined the diet and heart disease trends in 22 countries. Now remember the number 22. Ok, he did a study of 22 countries. Mr. Keys then published a study, which included data from six countries. Ok, right now that already seems odd, right? You have data from 22. You publish a study that only reports six of them. And coincidentally, those are the six countries which showed a scary relationship between diet and heart disease. Specifically, again, there were 22 countries, but what Keys reported was that in Japan, Italy, England, Australia, Canada and the United States, the greater the percentage of calories one got from fat, the higher their incidence of heart disease or the higher the heart disease death rate was. And I’ll post this graphic – there’s a graphic we’re looking at here up on the show notes. But again, six of the 22 countries showed a positive correlation between the amount of fat you eat and heart disease deaths.

Carrie: Ok.

Jonathan: Alright? Now here are the facts. When data from all 22 countries in Keys’ study are studied, there is no relationship – none – between fat intake and heart disease deaths. Keys selectively picked data, and designed a headline-worthy conclusion. In the words of a fellow researcher at the time, “No information is given by Keys about how or why the six countries were selected.”

In fact Carrie, further exposing the sketchiness of the methods here, the same researchers who I just quoted above, they chose six different countries – Finland, Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany and The Netherlands, and from Keys’ own data, and showed that those countries suggest a negative relationship fat and heart disease death. Meaning, the more fat people in those countries ate, the lower the incidence of heart disease death.

Carrie: I want to live in one of those countries (laughter) cause I love fat, as you know …

Jonathan:  Well, and the key point here Carrie is that this is bogus data, I mean researchers that looked at Keys’ data afterwards concluded, “The examination of all available basic data showed the association between fat and heart disease lacks validity.” And if fact, they discovered a strong negative association for both animal protein and fat, with mortality from non-cardiac diseases.

Carrie: Did we ever find out why he did it the way he did? Did anyone ever ask? Did anyone ever?

Jonathan:  I don’t know the answer to that question.

Carrie: Ok. I just wondered.

Jonathan:  I can imagine. You can imagine various reasons, um, but even the American Medical Association, at the time, spoke up in protest saying, “The anti-fat, anti-cholesterol fad is not just foolish and futile, it also carries some risk.” But, again, this all took place decades and decades and decades ago and was debunked by the actual experts back then; however, if you walk up to someone on the street today and say, “Does eating more fat increase or decrease your risk of heart disease?”

Carrie: They will say “Absolutely, yes.”

Jonathan:  They will ALL say it increases it and lets….

Carrie: So, somehow his theory lived on.

Jonathan:  And here’s why Carrie

Carrie: Regardless of the fact that it was nonsense.

Jonathan:  Scary propaganda, I mean, is very easy to spread. Right? I mean, that’s… that’s saying, “Oh my God, if you eat more fat…” Look at this graph. Folks, go to the show notes. I mean, if you didn’t know there were 22 countries whose data was collected and you just saw this graph, it’s like an exponential graph showing that the more fat you eat…. Holy crap, you’re gonna get heart disease. But again, that was six of 22 countries. We can pick another 6 and draw a graph which says, “Oh my gosh, the more fat I eat, the less heart disease deaths I’m gonna get.” You can’t do that take six countries and selectively report on those. Um, but the challenge here folks is that that happened, and Dr. Keyes was effective in getting his message out. He was on the cover of TIME Magazine. Had a large impact on our government and in fact, played an influential role in our dietary guidelines, Food Guide PyramidMy Pyramid and MyPlate – and you can see how those diets are impacted by this because their cornerstone is starch.

Why is it starch? It’s starch because starch is low in fat. And if you can’t eat fat, most animal products are off the table. Quite a few plants like nuts and seeds are off the table. Really the only thing left besides fruits and vegetables is starch.

Carrie: Although, actually a lot of the starches we eat come with a fair amount of fat in them. I’m thinking, you know, cakes and stuff like that.

Jonathan:  Yes. Yeah, certainly and even in the government’s graphics, you know, they would put that in the fat and oil and sweet category, but these things like bread and pastas and potatoes – that’s really the backbone of the diet because it is low in fat. But you’re exactly right Carrie. We generally see starch and sugar and fat, often all three combined. And that’s not a fun …..

Carrie: And don’t you think it’s true that people will, if they’re on a traditional diet, they’ll stop eating the cake because of the fat.

Jonathan:  Yes, exactly. Exactly. Exactly.

Carrie: The things they’ll stop eating are because of the fat.

Jonathan:  Yep.

Carrie: Although the fact that in reality, as you’ve shown over the last few podcasts, if you stop eating cake, the better result you get is because they’re not eating the carbohydrate and the sugar.

Jonathan:  Yeah, the sugar and the starch, exactly.

Carrie: It’s not the fat that’s being missing is giving them the result, it’s the starch and the sugar that’s being missing that’s giving them the result.

Jonathan:  Absolutely, and in fact, if you look at the same kind of thing with hamburger. I’m not talking about a hamburger that’s made with pink slime. I’m talking about a hamburger made with an organic, grass-fed, lean beef – ground up and served on a bun. It was all “Aw, the hamburger is bad for you.” Well, the bun is bad for you. The beef itself is not gonna be a problem

Carrie: Right.

Jonathan:  And again, this has been so ingrained – this fat is bad dogma is so pervasive. So again, let’s dig into our treasure trove of hard science to provide some counter arguments here. So let’s start with the Harvard Medical school. I’m quoting here, “Few public health messages are as powerful and as persistent as this one – fat is bad. The average American has substantially reduced the percentage of calories that she or he gets from fat over the past three decades, but we are not any healthier for all of this effort. In fact, we are worse off for it.”

Carrie: And fatter.

Jonathan:  And fatter. We are worse off in every single category, or major category of health than before we starting thinking that ….. frankly Carrie – food. Food has fat in it. Food-like products don’t have fat in them because we extract the fat out, but naturally occurring things have fat in them.

Carrie: And fat’s one of the reasons that natural foods taste so good.

Jonathan:  And fat is a critical … Remember, there is such a thing as essentially fatty acids. We need these things or we’ll get sick. There’s an essential amino acids. We need these or we get sick. There is no such thing as an essential starch. There is no such thing as an essential sugar. Your body can synthesize glucose from protein.

Carrie: Right.

Jonathan:  And it can run on fatty acids. So, it’s ironic that the one macronutrient that we do not need, that is a biological fact. If a human being never ate carbohydrate. Again, that’s not to say carbohydrate’s bad. Vegetables are carbohydrates – the most beneficial food you can ever eat. It just means that to say that we should be getting, as we talked about in the last podcast, the government recommending 60+ percent of our calories from carbohydrate, the only way you can do that is by eating mass quantities of starch, and that is something that is just not needed by humans.

Carrie: And it also makes us sick.

Jonathan:  And it makes us sick.

Carrie: And fat.

Jonathan:  And fat. And it doesn’t just make us sick and fat. A fun anecdote is that the way cattle are raised in this country is that they generally are fed grass, up until they reach a certain age. Then they are sent off to feed lots. The point of a feed lot is to make cattle get as fat as possible as quickly as possible. So you know what they feed cattle to make them fat quickly?

Carrie: Corn.

Jonathan:  Corn – starch. And it doesn’t just make them fat, it also makes them sick. It creates an acidic environment in their stomach, which would kill them if they weren’t going to be slaughtered anyway. So, it doesn’t – if you want to make cows fat and sick, you feed them starch. You want to make people fat and sick, you feed them starch – and sugar, which are biologically bioequivalent, basically, in the body.

Carrie: And you mess with their hormones.

Jonathan:  And you mess with their hormones.

Carrie: Cause I think it’s fair to say, that, of course, I’m not the scientific geek that you are. But, I think it’s fair to say that the corn these animals are fed has been genetically, hormonally modified.

Jonathan:  Oh absolutely, absolutely.

Carrie: That makes it makes it even worse.

Jonathan:  Oh absolutely, yeah. Genetically modified crops are just these, these crops, wheat, corn, all those kinds of things – hugely, hugely genetically modified. So, doubly bad. So let’s go through a few more studies here Carrie. Actually a little bit more than a few because – again, if you listen to this podcast, and then you go start to talk to people about, “Oh, you know I found out that fat isn’t so bad for you.” You will meet resistance.

Carrie: A lot

Jonathan:  A lot of resistance

Carrie: Of resistance.

Jonathan:  So, I, let’s, let’s make the goal of the rest of this podcast to equip you to meet these arguments head-on with science. I would highly recommend you don’t argue here because I always like to say that biology is not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of fact. Right, these are things we can study and we can prove. So, there’s no need to debate it if you’ve got the facts on your side, which you do. Just cite the facts.

Trust me. They will not have facts to come back at you with. Our government has spent more than a billion, I’m not exaggerating, a billion dollars trying to prove that a high starch, low protein, low fat diet is healthy. They have failed to prove that. And let’s walk through some of the studies that were attempted to try to prove this and failed.

Carrie: I think I should read a quote.

Jonathan:  You’re gonna read a quote?

Carrie: This is like our 14th podcast and I’ve never read a quote.

Jonathan:  Well, that’s because they’re my quotes. (laughter)

Carrie: Just one.

Jonathan:  Ok

Carrie: Just let me read one quote.

Jonathan:  What am I going to point to it? Or where….

Carrie: Cause, I’m sure everyone…. I’m not sure what everyone thinks about why I’m here, but I think I should do something sensible just to celebrate our 14th podcast.


Jonathan:  Ok. Well, here’s what we’ll do Carrie. I will introduce the study, and then I’m gonna….

Carrie: Ok.

Jonathan: And then you will do – I’m circling in my notes here folks what Carrie’s gonna help us out with here. Ok. So, study – the first – Doctors at the Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland did examined 21 studies – and it’s called a meta-analysis, which included a total of 347,747 people and found:

Carrie: “There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease or cardiovascular disease.”

Jonathan:  Boom!

Carrie: Take that!

Jonathan:  Well we’ve got a lot, as Mr. T would say, “We got a lot of mo.”

Carrie: Yes.

Jonathan:  So the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute funded an enormous trial, which was designed to link the consumption of foods containing fat to heart disease. This was a $115 million trial and it took 12,866 men with high cholesterol and split them into two groups and fed one group the government guidelines – low fat, low protein, high starch diet for seven years, with the hopes of lowering the incidence of heart disease. Carrie, tell me what the government’s diet resulted in.

Carrie: The government’s diet resulted in a 7.1 percent increase in heart disease deaths.

Jonathan:  Whoops! Whoops! We didn’t hear about that one in the news, did we?! Did we? Ok, well that was only $115 million. Carrie, you know what the problem was? I don’t think we spent enough money on that study. So, the government’s like, “Alright, alright…we need more studies.” So, let’s go ahead and do the Women’s Health Initiative study from the National Institutes of Health, which is an amazing study and, and referenced heavily in The Smarter Science of Slim, but didn’t show what a lot of people hoped it would show, ironically. And this was a seven hundred million, this was like Dr. Evil money, $700 million.

Carrie: That is an obscene amount of money.

Jonathan:  Obscene. And the reason it was so expensive Carrie, is that this study looked at 48,835 women over the course of eight years. It essentially divided them up into just eat what you normally eat or go on this higher starch, lower fat, lower protein government diet. And at the end of the study, the regular and government diet women weighed the same and had no differences in their health. Researchers concluded – and I’m quoting directly here:

“Dietary intervention that reduced total fat intake did not significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or cardiovascular disease. Further, this trial is the largest, long-term, randomized trial of a dietary intervention ever conducted to our knowledge. It achieved ….. It successfully achieved an 8.2 percent reduction in total fat intake. No significant effects on the incidence of coronary heart disease or stroke were observed.”

This one did get media attention and the New York Times ran the headline, “Low Fat Diet Does Not Cut Health Risk, Study Finds.”

Carrie: Yay! Eat fat!

Jonathan:  Yay! Yay! (laughter)

Carrie: Healthy fat. Good fat.

Jonathan:  Healthy fat, exactly. Fat from whole food, natural sources. So, we got more folks, we got more. So, this next one is called The MONICA Study. That’s an acronym. It involves 113 groups of scientists and doctors in over 27 countries studying everything they thought could possibly contribute to heart disease. They found little, if any, association between the average cholesterol level and heart related mortality.

Carrie: Why? I’ve gotta…. We’ve been talking about this for one whole podcast and a half a podcast now. How do we not know this?

Jonathan:  That’s a very good question Carrie. There’s a …… We’ll get to this in later podcasts, but there’s a lot of money to be made. Let’s be very clear here. When an institution comes out and says “eat this way. It’ll make you healthy,” it’s a pretty bitter pill to swallow to say, “Actually, we were wrong and not only were we wrong, we were so wrong that the reason there’s this crisis in the country is because we did this.” Right, like that’s a really, really bitter pill to swallow.

Carrie: But, people are dying.

Jonathan:  I know. You’re not exaggerating. People are literally dying. And that’s why I think we’re seeing such a massive movement. To be very clear, people who have tried this diet have not been successful and any major change such as the low carbohydrate movement, such as the paleolithic movement. These – even a plant-based diet, which focuses more on non-starch and non-sweets. These lifestyles have seen dramatically better results. Basically, anyone who doesn’t follow this de facto high starch, low protein, low fat diet does do better. And there’s been a lot of people who promulgated different approaches that have had wild success.

Carrie: Then why isn’t everybody else listening?

Jonathan:  Because we continue to be inundated with these low fat messages. If not, I mean, if not from our government, from our grocery stores, right? You walk down the food aisles, we see low fat – therefore it’s good for you, right? Oh, Starbursts, oh it’s low in fat so it must be good for you. Oh, sugar smack puff things, oh they’ve been enriched and they’re low in fat so they’re good for you. Low in fat is treated as meaning something healthy.

Carrie: You see, now I’m getting upset cause how ….. how can this happen?

Jonathan:  Well….

Carrie: In 2012, how can the people that run us, how can they allow this to continue?

Jonathan:  Well let us…. Now I’m gonna have to reel Carrie in. So Carrie, I can’t tell you that, but what I can tell you is that we can now leverage what scientists have shown to change this, right. And it’s very simple. We vote with our dollars. If people understand the science, and start making different purchasing decisions, and demanding SANEr foods, things will absolutely change. government and business will not sell products that no one buys.

Carrie: But it’s so difficult, when ….. when …. even when you know this. The marketing and the advertising is so clever that when you walk in that store and its got “fat-free,” it automatically sets off all of those kind of past messages that … that fat is bad and that this blueberry breakfast crunch is …. Has got blueberries in it so it must be … its just…

Jonathan:  Yep.

Carrie: I mean even I, who’s been brainwashed by Bailor …um …

Jonathan:  In a good way. (laughter)

Carrie: In a good way. I know this stuff inside and out now, and yet even I, when I see the adverts, I don’t go buy it, as you know …

Jonathan:  Yep.

Carrie: But it still ….

Jonathan:  It still rings of truth

Carrie: It, it pulls at you.

Jonathan:  Yep.

Carrie: It pulls at your sensitivities and you’re just like, “Oh, yeah, Red Vines, they’re fat-free. They’re good for you.” Red vines are wheat.

Jonathan:  Well.

Carrie: Nobody knows that.

Jonathan:  What’s even worse than that Carrie, even someone such as yourself, such as myself. We do have choice. Like, we could, even though it tugs on our emotions, and tugs even on our rationality cause of what we’ve been taught. But what I think really, I’m gonna say it, a crime against humanity, is these dietary guidelines, that is the document on which school lunch programs are based. And if you want funding for your school, you have to adhere to those guidelines.

Carrie: Is that the same guidelines that declared that pizza was a vegetable?

Jonathan:  Yes. Yep, those kinds of things. And it’s fine as long as its lower in fat and starch and sugar are fine, but it’s lower in fat. So, the only recommendation I can make Carrie, is for us to …. Again, let’s look at what happened with tobacco. There was billions and billions of dollars, and still is, that was associated with people smoking. And, of course, people who were in the tobacco industry wanted people to continue to smoke and the same thing applies now with food-related products. But the public became equipped with knowledge and thing changed. So, let’s continue to equip ourselves with knowledge and step through a few more studies.

Carrie: Ok, I’ve just got to say this one thing.

Jonathan:  Ok, one more thing.

Carrie: You can edit this out if you want.

Jonathan:  (laughter)

Carrie: It’s not like we’re saying, well, with tobacco it’s just like don’t smoke at all.

Jonathan:  Yep.

Carrie: We’re not saying that. I mean the food companies. Yes, we’re never gonna want to not have to have food. Just make us good food.

Jonathan:  You know, that’s a great point Carrie.

Carrie: We’re not trying to take their livelihood away. We’re just saying don’t kill us.

Jonathan:  Yeah, we’re not saying we won’t buy anything from you. We’re saying we’d like food. And food….

Carrie: Which is very different from the tobacco industry because we’re saying don’t buy it at all.

Jonathan:  Yes, exactly.

Carrie: We’re not saying that. We’re just saying give us something that doesn’t kill us, make us fat or give us diabetes.

Jonathan:  Well stated. Well stated.

Carrie: I’m gonna try and pipe down….

Jonathan:  No, no, no. It’s cool. It’s cool.

Carrie: I’m gonna sit down in the corner and calm down for a minute.

Jonathan:  Um, so…. Some more studies that will further enrage Carrie further. So The Western Electric Study, which is known in academic circles as, quoting “The most informative prospective study to date.” The researchers concluded, “Although the focus of dietary recommendations is usually a reduction of saturated fat intake, no relation between saturated fat intake and coronary heart disease was observed in the study.”

There’s no shortage of data here friends. In The Malmo Diet and Cancer Study, approximately 30,000 men and women were split into four groups according to their intake of foods that contained fat. After six years of observation, researchers found, quoting: “Individuals receiving more than 30 percent of their total daily energy from fat, and more than ten percent from saturated fat, did not have increased mortality. Current dietary guidelines concerning fat intake are thus generally not supported by our observational results.”

I’ll briefly point out just three more studies: that’s The Nurse’s Health StudyThe Health Professionals Follow-up Study, and The Nurses Health Study II. Together these studies tracked about 300,000 people. None of these studies showed total fat intake increasing the risk of heart disease. The only conclusive finding regarding fats was that eating more plant fats, such as the Omega-3 fats found in flaxseed, chia seeds, things like that – nuts, lowers the risk of heart disease. The researchers involved reported intake of lin……, excuse me, linoleic acid, which is an unsaturated fat, was inversely related with the risk of myocardial infarction, heart attacks. These data do not support the strong association between intake of saturated fat and the risk of coronary heart disease suggested by international comparisons. Which I believe is a wink at the Ansel Keys study of look at this international comparison.

So, Dr. Hu from Harvard University really sums this up: “It is now increasingly recognized that the low-fat campaign has been based on little scientific evidence and may have caused unintentional health consequences.” The government was trying to help with these guidelines, but they failed, and even worse, they keep on failing. Scientists know it and the data show it. And, actually Carrie, I … We, we can kind of explain why we haven’t been told about it. And I think that’s what we should do in the next podcast. And it has to do with this big business of low fat foods. What do you think?

Carrie: I’m still in the corner trying to keep calm.

Jonathan:  (Laughter) Trying to keep calm. Well folks, while Carrie calms down, I think we’ve covered a lot of good stuff to think about this week, and one quick disclaimer is: I think the take-away that we’ve talked about so far in this podcast and the last podcast is not necessarily go to your cupboard and eat a stick of butter. That’s not the take-away. The take-away is food.

People are designed…. We all evolved to eat things that are found in nature. There are things that exist in nature that contain fat. To think that those things kill us when they didn’t for hundreds of thousands of years and during the 40 years in which we actively tried to avoid them in favor of starches and sweets, we did start dying and becoming obese en mass. I think…. and ….. AND there’s a bunch of science to back all this up. So there’s some common sense there. Here’s some science on top.

The take-away is that if it’s a food that you can find directly in nature. Something that our ancestors could have enjoyed, it’s not only not gonna kill you, but it’s way, way better for you than the 40,000 food-like edible products that are in the center aisles of your grocery store. Stay on the perimeter. Stick with the non-starchy vegetables. Stick with the nutrient dense seafoods and meats. Stick with the whole food, natural fats like nuts and seeds. Stick with the low sugar fruits such as berries and citrus fruits. And that way you can be calm and happy, like Carrie is now. (laughter)

Carrie: And I’m even smiling.

Jonathan: Ding! Thanks folks for listening. This is Jonathan Bailor, Carrie Brown. Living the Smarter Science of Slim. Eat more, exercise less, but smarter. Next week we’ll pick up where we left off. See you then.

This week:
– Quickly step-through a billion dollars’ worth or research that failed to prove that eating whole food natural fats harms health or causes fat gain
– Why our government recommends the supposedly healthy diet that it does
– Debunk the single sketchy study that set us on the health destroying low-fat, low-protein, and high-starch diet that is so common today (Note: Across all twenty-two countries there was no correlation between fat intake and heart disease deaths)

Six of Key’s Twenty-Two Countries


Another Six of Key’s Twenty-Two Countries

– How eating fat has never been shown to increase the risk of heart disease
– How fearing foods containing fat essentially forces us to eat a harmful high-starch diet
– How the government’s “healthy” diet recommends that we get the vast majority of our calories from the only macronutrient that we do not need to survive
– How cattle are fattened using a diet similar to the diet our government recommends for us
– How to respond to people who criticize you for eating whole food natural fats
– How following the disproven and harmful governmental dietary guidelines is required within many schools in order to receive federal funding