Fat Heals—Sugar Kills: Chapter 2, Modern Diets and Degenerative Disease

by Dr. Bruce Fife

A Big Fat Lie

Dr. Fife gets right to the point:

The warning to reduce consumption of fat, specifically saturated fat and cholesterol, is found everywhere we look. Doctors advocate low-fat diets to help fight heart disease and other degenerative conditions.

Here is the real irony about this situation. Doctors are offering dietary advice that is more of the same as what likely has caused these degenerative diseases (DDs)in the first place. Health insurance companies are on the same misguided bandwagon. I have seen in the “health tips” from my Medicare company promoting the same worn out bad advice: “Reduce your intake of saturated fat.” Sadly, the American Heart Association (AHA) spews out the same, horrible advice.

Dr. Fife explains that fat is a necessary component of our lives, and without it we would be dead. Consider just how important fat is:

  • Fat provides a protective cushion for our delicate organs.
  • Fat helps insulate our bodes when exposed to cold temperatures.
  • Fat is involved with the production of vital hormones.
  • Fat provides energy when food is restricted or when physical activity. Is increased.
  • Several vitamins and other import nutrients are only found in fat (lipids) from animal and vegetable sources.
  • Fats are an important part of the structure of our cells and particularly our cell membranes.

Fat provides necessary calories between meals and helps keep our blood sugar levels much more even compared to eating carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates. Fife explains that one of the most important lipids is cholesterol, and without it, we would die.

My comment: Previously, we spent over a year digesting Dr. Stephen Sinatra’s book, The Great Cholesterol Myth. We learned just how essential is a proper level of cholesterol is in our bodies for optimal health.

Continuing: Dr. Fife points out that without cholesterol, we would be sexless, meaning that our bodies transform cholesterol into important hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, and others.

He continues by saying that if we do not consume enough cholesterol in our diet, our liver will produce the shortfall. If we eat too much cholesterol, it is broken down by the liver and stored as fat.

Dr. Fife broaches a subject that has been the topic of entire books: Not all fats are the same; in fact, some fats are downright dangerous. He reminds us that “health” professionals condemn good fats and advocate consuming bad fats. We still have the AHA condemning saturated fats and promoting fats from oils such as soybean, canola, corn, etc.

The Food Revolution

Our ancestors ate fresh, local food right off the farm. These were real foods with only a minimal amount of refining and additives. As societies urbanized, foods become packaged and canned for longer shelf life. This resulted in food becoming less nutritious and containing more and more questionable additives.

Nutritional diseases were rare in these primitive cultures as well as the panoply of degenerative diseases (DDs) that we see today. Infectious diseases such as tuberculosis were the dreaded diseases of the day but certainly not coronary artery disease.

The food habits of our ancestors changed. Wholesome brown rice was polished into starchy white rice. Whole wheat was milled into white flour. Sugar consumption dramatically increased.

  • 1800: Sugar consumption was about 15 pounds per person per year
  • 1900: 85 pounds per person per year
  • 1999: 150 pounds per person per year
  • Today: About 130 pounds per person per year. The drop isn’t necessary good as it’s due to the increased use of artificial sweeteners.

The increase in refined carbs wasn’t the only problem. The fats our ancestors ate were lard, beef tallow, butter, coconut and olive oils. Except for olive oil, the other fats are all saturated. Thanks to the invention of hydrogenation and seed oil presses, seed oils (soybean, canola, corn, etc.) were processed into cheaper Crisco shortening and margarine containing dangerous trans-fats.

These refined foods were then packaged to make them look appealing. The processing of whole wheat into white flour removes 22 nutrients and vitamins. Four or five synthetic ones are put back. So now we have “enriched” flour.

My Comments: the easiest way to remember this trifecta of cheap, refined foods is the acronym SORF:

Sugar — Oils (derived from seeds) – Refined – Flour  =  SORF

Continuing: The important thing to remember is that as fats, particularly saturated fats, were demonized, we transitioned from a high fat diet to a high carb diet.

My Comments: Think of a breakfast of pancakes (refined flour) slathered with fake butter (margarine) and fake syrup (a high fructose corn syrup concoction) all washed down with frozen orange juice (mostly sugar). That’s a high carb, SORF-loaded breakfast that will shoot anyone’s blood sugar level through the roof!

By contrast, our ancestors enjoyed bacon, fresh farm eggs, and raw, whole milk. Degenerative diseases (DDs) such as heart attacks, strokes, and type 2 diabetes were a rarity among these people.

Knowing that societies that consumed large amounts of saturated fats and having an absence of degenerative diseases should make one wonder why the AHA condemns these healthy fats while at the same time promoting unhealthy, refined fats. Stay tuned!

Continuing: Traditional Diets

Dr. Fife uses pages 18-27 highlighting various groups of people that used to eat, an ancestral, real food diet. He also discusses a constant theme: When these people transitioned to Western, refined foods, they began developing the list of DDs.

As soon as a population starts to adopt modern foods, degenerative disease sets in. Diseases such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, asthma, bronchitis, diabetes, allergies, obesity and the like are referred to “diseases of Western civilization.”

He first discusses Dr. Weston A Price. Dr. Price, a dentist who practiced in the first half of the 20th century, noticed a decline in the general health of his patients through the years. The correlated with the introduction of more and more refined foods, particularly after WW I.

Dr. Price set out to study foods from various cultures across the globe. He noticed that the more isolated these people were, the better was their dental health (lack of cavities) along with a virtual absence of DDs.

He also noticed that even unborn children from parents who ate processed foods were affected as their pallets were less well developed. People in the more isolated cultures had room for their wisdom teeth.

Here is one of the most important observations made by Dr. Price:

One of Price’s most frightening discoveries was that it didn’t take much of a change in the people’s diets to cause notable changes in health. While their diet remained primarily the same as it had always been, the additives of even a small quantity of sugar and white flour made dramatic differences in their health. [Ed: my emphasis]

My Comments: How many fad diets suggest that you keep your head to the grindstone five days per week only to capitulate to your cravings for that doughnut, bagel, Danish, or whatever the other two days. Not only is this advice bunk, it’s dangerous to your health. Imagine telling a smoker not to smoke during the weekdays, but it’s okay to smoke on the weekends. Imagine telling the alcoholic to stay dry during the week, but happy hour Friday and Saturday night is okay! Think how well that advice would go over at an AA meeting.

The problem is that most everyone is an alcoholic (meaning addicted) to refined, processed foods. To further complicate matters, these addictive, processed foods tease our dopamine receptors. We like them and get a buzz from eating them. The best solution is to purge our homes of SORF, refuse to buy it, and refuse to consume it even in social situations. Doing so will help prevent us from succumbing to the “some is okay” mentality. According to Dr. Price’s observations, some is not okay.

Continuing: Are High-Fat Diets Harmful?

Dr. Fife recounts several cultures that ate a high fat, low carb (HFLC) native diet while at the same time were remarkably free of DDs. There are groups in east Africa whose diet is primarily meat and milk. Pacific islanders ate saturated coconut meat and fish. The Innuit’s (Eskimos) diet was mostly meat and fat. 80% of their calories were from fat!

In every situation when these cultures were exposed to Western refined foods, DDs started occurring. The slim and trim Innuits became paunchy.

Whenever a people have adopted modern, processed foods, diseases of modern civilization have quickly followed. The transition from moderate to high fat diets to a modern low-fat diet has always resulted in declining health. When fat is removed from the diet, it is invariably replaced with carbohydrates, so now we have a high carb, low-fat diet. These carbohydrates are primarily refined flour and sugar. Fat is necessary for optimal health.

You Can’t Outrun a Bad Diet

There are those who contest the HFLC concept and instead suggest that the reason these isolated cultures were virtually disease-free was because they were physically active. Their argument is that exercise overcomes and “burns up” refined, processed foods. Dr. Fife points out that even high carb athletes suffer from heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses just like everyone else.

He then references the 1977 best selling book, The Complete Book of Running by the running guru, Jimmy Fixx. The only problem is that Fixx died at age 52 from a massive heart attack. His autopsy revealed that his coronary arteries were plugged up.

Dr. Fife cites another study of 36 runners dying an early death due to heart disease. Their mean age of death was 43.8 years. Getting regular exercise and being physically fit did not protect them from heart disease. He concludes by saying that the belief suggesting that the isolated cultures stayed healthy due to their physical activity doesn’t hold up.

Dr. Fife references the concept of carbohydrate-loading. High endurance athletes would load up on carbs (pasta, bread, etc.) for several days before an event. The belief was that this technique was to store up as much glucose in the body as possible. Meanwhile, fat was declared a useless nutrient. With these runners dying off like flies, it appears that this theory wasn’t such a smart idea after all.

Dr. Fife mentions Peter Attia MD, a physician specializing in preventative medicine. Dr. Attia, too, was on the high carb, low fat bandwagon. Despite avoiding junk foods and fast food restaurants, his health continued to decline. Worse, he was developing insulin resistance, the marker for type2 diabetes. His intense exercise could not overcome the negative effects of his supposed healthy, low-fat diet.

My Comments: I was not familiar with Dr. Attia, so I did an internet search to learn more about him. I cam across this YouTube video titled Dr. Peter Attia: Readdressing Dietary Guidelines. While it runs over an hour, it packs in plenty of fascinating information about fats and cholesterol.

Continuing: Frustrated, Dr. Attia started cutting out the sugar from his diet. He switched from relined grains to whole grains foods. He reduced his protein consumption. Over a two-year period, he gradually transitioned to a high fat, low carb (HFLC) diet. During this timeframe his markers continued to improve. His LDL dropped and his HDL (good cholesterol) went up. His waistline shrank from 38 to 32 inches. Lastly, he was able to exercise less to maintain his same level of fitness.

Conclusion: No amount of running or exercise will protect you from a bad diet. …Regular physical activity is not the magic bullet that protects primitive societies from degenerative disease. It is the sugar-free diet that does that. (Ed: My emphasis) End