Is Your Doctor Killing You?

shaky-pyramid

This is a story about Bob. There are  millions of  people who have stories just like his.

When Bob was 35 years old he had his blood cholesterol checked.  The results indicated that his total cholesterol was through the roof – 351 mm/dl.  The conventional wisdom said that anything over 200 was indicative of a high risk for coronary heart disease, which happened to run in Bob’s family.

The doctor put Bob on a cholesterol lowering medication but the drug wreaked havoc with Bob’s digestive tract. In addition, the warning that came with the drug said that it could possibly damage his liver,  and since Bob enjoyed both beer and wine, with the occasional adult cocktail, he decided to forgo the medication and attempted to lower his cholesterol with diet and exercise.

The American Medical Association along with the American Heart Association had long ago ‘conclusively’ determined that fat in the diets of Americans were killing them off.  Following their (and his doctor’s) advice, Bob began a regime of a very low fat, high carbohydrate diet coupled with daily rigorous exercise.  His fat intake was well below the recommended 30% of daily calories (it was likely well below 20%).  Every day he engaged in cardiac stimulating exercises for at least an hour, usually two.  He began running and was soon up to 15 miles a week. His weight dropped from 175 to 155 lbs  but he could never achieve his doctor’s suggested goal of 145 lbs  (he was only five feet, five inches tall but with  a muscular build).  Still, he felt great.

After a year of this discipline he returned for his follow up blood test and was dismayed to find that his total cholesterol had dropped only two points! In addition, he was advised to keep on eye on his salt and sugar intake as now his blood pressure had risen along with his triglycerides (whatever they were).  He agreed to take the cholesterol lowering drug and eliminate as much animal fat from his diet as possible.   So began a lifestyle that included a diet allowing only minimal lean cuts of meats, lots of fruits and vegetables along with plenty of plain bread, pasta, potatoes and rice.  No more butter or mayo.  No whole milk or cheese. No more ice cream or sour cream. No more Caesar dressing. No salt on his peanuts or pretzels. And no more rib-eye steaks.  But plenty of fiber; he could have all the crunchy fiber he wanted.  He took to wearing Birkenstocks and he was always hungry.

Even with such a lean diet, Bob struggled to keep the weight off. Disillusioned (and getting a bit older), Bob’s exercise regimen gradually fell off to taking brisk walks about three times a week.  He slowly put the weight back on (as he just as slowly lost his hair) and after 10 years he was back up to about 180 pounds. Even though he didn’t feel ‘fat’,  the conventional medical wisdom ( of that week) said that he was downright obese. But ‘they’ also  said that he was obese when  he weighed twenty pounds less.  He finally got over feeling offended.

Right around this time Bob called his doctor,  complaining of an occasional tingling along the entire right side of his body.  Undergoing multiple tests it was thought that he had experienced TIA (Trans Ischemic Attack) – a mini stroke, likely caused by hypertension.  Now he agreed to take medication for this condition, yet it still hovered around the high borderline.  The other meds had helped to drop  his overall cholesterol  to around 220 mm/hg yet his triglycerides (which had something to do with both arterial sclerosis as well as blood sugar) continued to rise.  He was diagnosed as pre-diabetic along with being at an ever higher risk for cardiovascular disease.  Continue to lay off the animal fats (except for fish – now that fat was good for you) and eat lots of fruits, vegetables and plenty of fiber, his doctor said.  Oh, and drop 20 or so pounds while you’re at it.

No matter how much Bob  stuck to the prescribed diet, he could not lose weight.  In fact, he started to develop that famous characteristic of the Western male; a beer belly (although he drank little beer). Not long after Bob’s 50th birthday his blood pressure shot up again. He began to feel occasionally dizzy and weak.  Aware of his pre-diabetic condition he bought a cheap monitoring device from Walgreen’s and was not surprised  to find that his blood sugar was now through the roof:over 300 mg/dl! (normal is between 90 and 120).  Bob had come to resign himself to the fact that he was just one of those genetically engineered walking time bombs.  Now, with full blown Type 2 diabetes added to his medical file,  his doctor placed him on Glucophage to assist with insulin production and ordered a cardiac stress test, which he passed, but just barely; there might possibly be some blockage of his pulmonary arteries.  This would have to be closely watched.  Meanwhile,  it was recommended that he visit the American Diabetes Association website for advice on what and what not to eat.

Bob was amazed.  Rather than recommending a radically different diet, the ADA was telling diabetics to eat essentially the same foods that he had been eating for 15 years now; low fat, high carbs and high fiber.  The only difference he could see was that he should completely eliminate alcohol from his diet, while minimizing, but not eliminating,  sugar and simple carbs like white bread, white rice and potatoes.  They even said that diabetics could eat the occasional dessert, as long as they exchanged it with another high glycemic item from their diet like biscuits or hamburger buns (something that made little sense to Bob, if he was supposed to be avoiding biscuits and hamburger buns anyway).

When Bob informed his parents of his new condition, his father ( a retired physician) was surprised.  He wondered how Bob had developed diabetes since he knew of no incidence of this disease on either side of the family.  As diabetes had been traditionally linked to genetics,  he wondered where this gene had come from.  (This idea has become highly suspect, as the rising rate of diabetes among indigenous populations throughout the world who had no history of diabetes prior to colonialism, would attest.)

Bob began to wonder;  if fat is the great food evil of  modern times  (as populist activists like Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest keep telling us), then why had his health deteriorated along with this supposedly healthier diet?  And why, as hundreds of studies have shown,  did the non-Western peoples of the world historically not suffer from diabetes, heart disease, periodontitis and numerous other common Western afflictions (including cancer) even though their diets were high in animal fat and salt and low in vegetables and grains? Now, as they have adopted Western habits, these diseases have become common, even epidemic,  among those people.

Why was it that, as Americans have dramatically cut meat and animal fat from their diets, the incidents of diabetes, vascular disease and cancer have increased? Was it possible that somewhere along the line the ‘experts’ got it wrong?  Could it be possible that the true villain was not animal fat but actually the carbohydrates that the USDA, the AMA and the NIH had been pushing on us for over thirty years?  Was a low-fat diet killing millions of people?

According to distinguished science writer Gary Taubes, in his book “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, the answer is a resounding YES.  And this well documented answer is one that many medical researchers have been proclaiming for years, much to their professional detriment.  To contest the conventional wisdom that advocates  the benefits of a low fat diet is to suffer the ridicule and derision of the professional powers that be, not to mention the government, the media and numerous  public interest groups.  It is risky business indeed to question an entrenched doctrine that many have staked their reputations on, along with their patient’s health.   Not just Bob’s health, but the good health of  millions of the world’s citizens have been compromised not by fat and salt, but instead a recipe of sugar and flour mixed with a large portion of political correctness.

Meanwhile, in our nation’s schools, the USDA and the departments of education have mandated that the current generation of  children continue with this nutritional experiment.  And we wonder why childhood obesity continues to rise.

Advertisements

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  1. #1 by Charles on May 1, 2009 - 1:13 pm

    I’m not too particular about diets, so I don’t know much about this particular idea, but I have noticed that the medical “consensus” seems to shift dramatically every generation or so.

    When my mother-in-law was born, the doctor recommended she get a small glass of OJ every day. And she likely slept on her stomach. Then SIDS came along, and when I was an infant I slept on my side, and now “back is best”. Who really knows?

    My main problem with diets is the usually force you to entirely remove something or other from your diet. But fat, salt, carbs, protein, heavy metals, and bacteria are all crucial to health.

    What we actually need is less food. We eat entirely too much, and it’s messes with our systems. Add to that that we have access to any kind of food at any time (and our proclivity to dietary favoritism) and we end up eating far too much of one kind of food. Then we get fat, or sick, or fat and sick…then die.

  2. #2 by Christian Beyer on May 1, 2009 - 5:23 pm

    Hi, Charles.

    What we actually need is less food. We eat entirely too much

    Sure, depending upon our level of physical activity. Too many calories is too many calories. But even a diet of greatly reduced calories, if it made up of the wrong kind of calories (carbs) is dangerous. (Sorry to all you vegans out there)

    What I’m suggesting is that the diet fads, both populist and medical, are all geared towards addressing the ignored elephant in the room: refined sugar and carbohydrates, items that were completely unknown to the physical systems of most humans until around 200 hundred years ago, right around the time these common ailments began to occur. And for the past 70 years the medical community has hitched their wagon onto the wrong train of thought: it is better to avoid fats (and thereby ingest more carbs, whether they be refined, grains, fruits or vegetables) when there was never any conclusive scientific evidence to support this hypothesis, a hypothesis that likely is doing tremendous damage to our health. Bob’s case is a very, very common one. It is not too hard to see that it is the conventional medical and nutritional wisdom that has ended up damaging his body, not protecting it.

  3. #3 by admin - Lifestyle Examiner on May 5, 2009 - 9:40 pm

    Ha ha ha!

    I love this version you posted about the Food Pyramid. Where did you get this photo?

  4. #4 by Lindsey on June 9, 2009 - 2:51 pm

    Interesting fact: prior to my first pregnancy I was a semi-vegetarian and I almost NEVER ate red meat. My midwife told me that she would highly suggest eating hamburgers. I asked why, she said, (and I quote)- “YOU NEED ANIMAL FAT.” She was worried that my baby would develop poorly if I didn’t have a much higher fat diet.

    It’s interesting, because I’m also hypoglycemic, and if I eat a carb based diet I get horrible migraines. Eating meats and other complex proteins helps regulate my blood-sugar levels.

    So I am a person who is genetically built to never be a vegetarian. It wreaks havoc on my body.

    • #5 by Christian Beyer on June 9, 2009 - 3:12 pm

      Thanks Lindsey. Welcome aboard.

      That’s an excellent example of what’s going on in nutrition.

      The say that a hypoglycemic is a good candidate for diabetes. And that’s because ‘they’ might understand nutrition but they don’t know much about ‘food’.

      My wife used to be hypoglycemic. Back in the early days of our marriage I would be amazed at the amount of food she could eat without gaining any weight; hotdogs, burgers, bacon, ham, eggs -supplemented with the German Lutheran vegetables she was raised on; kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and with generous portions of potato.

      Lately she has been going through the ‘change’ and has been dismayed that for the first time in her life she has begun to put on weight. She’ tried exercising, cutting calories – all to no avail. But around a month ago she cut the vast majority of simple carbs (especially bread and potatoes)from her diet – that’s it, no counting calories or exchanging groups – and has been able to drop a couple of dress sizes. And she feels GREAT and is never hungry.

      Meanwhile “Bob” has been able to get his weight, blood pressure and blood sugar down without resorting to the full regime of drugs his doctor has prescribed, by doing precisely the same thing. And he has never felt better.

      Tonight Bob and his wife will be having two porterhouse steaks with buttered grilled zucchini, roasted onions and tomatoes. Accompanied by a fine, cheap red wine. Dessert? Strawberries in zabaglione.

      Diet schmiet

      • #6 by Christian Beyer on June 9, 2009 - 3:17 pm

        By the way, everybody. Check out Lindsey’s blog. It’s worth a visit. (or two)

  1. 10 Things Your Doctor Doesn’t Know (or Won’t Tell You) « SHARP IRON

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: