Why I Eat The Way I Do, Part I

I recently jumped into the fray of a debate about diet on Facebook recently, where a young woman who shall remain nameless was telling someone near and dear to me (no, not Beloved) that his high fat dietary ways were going to lead him into a great deal of trouble.  The young woman in question is the sibling of an athletic trainer, or so she claims, and has apparently swallowed the bunk about “carbohydrates fueling workouts” hook, line and sinker.

“Eat the food pyramid,” she said.

Good grief.  I can think of a great many things I’d like to do with the food pyramid, but eating it isn’t one of them.  We’ve been “eating the food pyramid” for better than 30 years and, as a population, we’ve just gotten fatter and sicker.  (I’d like to pause here and really drive home the point that the food pyramid is a dietary guideline issued by the United States Department of Agriculture.  How the damn USDA got into the business of telling us what to eat is an amusing story, but what we need to remember is that the ultimate goal of the Unites Stated Department of Agriculture is to promote United States agriculture.  Why wouldn’t they base the food pyramid on the most subsidized of commodity crops – grains?)

I’ve been writing about the evils of the Standard American Diet, so centered on grains, GMO soy, industrial seed oils and refined sugars, for about a year and now a study published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine has hammered another nail in the coffin of the dietary recommendations of the USDA.  The study is titled Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease: The detrimental role of a high carbohydrate diet, and the abstract alone is extremely sobering (emphasis mine):

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating disease whose recent increase in incidence rates has broad implications for rising health care costs. Huge amounts of research money are currently being invested in seeking the underlying cause, with corresponding progress in understanding the disease progression. In this paper, we highlight how an excess of dietary carbohydrates, particularly fructose, alongside a relative deficiency in dietary fats and cholesterol, may lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. A first step in the pathophysiology of the disease is represented by advanced glycation end-products in crucial plasma proteins concerned with fat, cholesterol, and oxygen transport. This leads to cholesterol deficiency in neurons, which significantly impairs their ability to function. Over time, a cascade response leads to impaired glutamate signaling, increased oxidative damage, mitochondrial and lysosomal dysfunction, increased risk to microbial infection, and, ultimately, apoptosis. Other neurodegenerative diseases share many properties with Alzheimer’s disease, and may also be due in large part to this same underlying cause.

The full text of the study is full of similar “OMG moments”:

Several researchers have noted a strong correlation between insulin resistance in the brain and early [Alzheimer’s disease], suggesting that [Alzheimer’s disease] might be considered a neuroendocrine disorder of the brain or so-called “type 3 diabetes.”

Recent population studies have confirmed a correlation between low blood serum cholesterol and both dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

It has been shown that patients with type-2 diabetes are at two to five times increased risk to [Alzheimer’s disease].

The depletion of cholesterol leads to loss of both myelin and membrane functions. The cell membranes in the brain will also become deficient in essential unsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fats derived in the diet especially from fish oils, with further functional failure of important metabolic processes.

So, basically, consuming more carbohydrates and less fat and cholesterol kills your brain.

What was that you were saying, Mr. Ebert?  I don’t know about you but out of all the problems that come with growing old, the possibility of something like Alzheimer’s frightens me the most.  And here you are telling America that every human being on the planet needs to avoid dietary cholesterol at all costs and eat a vegan diet.  That is incredibly irresponsible at best, and downright criminal at worst.

At any rate, I suggest you take a moment and at least skim through the entire article – it’s really not at all difficult to understand.  Well, I don’t think so, anyway, but then again hanging out with the science/diet/fitness geeks over at PaleoHacks may just be rubbing off on me. 😛

Have a lovely weekend, y’all, and a great Memorial Day to all of my U.S. readers.  And while you’re enjoying your cookout, just put down the bread and eat some of those deviled eggs your Aunt Martha brought along.

Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday

14 thoughts on “Why I Eat The Way I Do, Part I”

  1. I just want to say that one report will just spawn another that will say exactly the opposite. It is just the way of science writing.
    One needs to do what one needs to do to feel healthy (I sound like a freaking hippy. Oh wait, I kinda am). People can no longer eat like their fore-bearers. We don’t have the same lifestyle. We have too many crappy pre-packaged options. And, many haven’t been taught how to cook and eat locally or homegrown. The 1950s to the present has sort of screwed up the order of things.

    Be: Step away from the Chips Ahoy and nobody will get hurt. 🙂

  2. I’m nowhere near as intentional as you are about this. I eat bread, pizza, chocolate, tortillas. But the bread and tortillas are whole grain and whole wheat. I have always eaten a lot of protein, because otherwise I had such dips in energy. I’ve always tried to eat vegetables, because my mom told me too. I’ve never eaten processed foods much because I always found them gross, and because I had enough money to afford Whole Foods.

    All of which is to say that I think eating “low-fat” as America has defined it is clearly a bad mistake. On the other hand, I believe it’s possible to wander through the grains reasonably well, in moderation. Big believer in the middle ground, FWIW.

    1. I was going to write about how processed foods are disgusting (except for flavored Doritos and for Fritos, an essential component of Frito Pie) and the stuff I make tastes a lot better and how I don’t get so hungry if I eat protein and fat (or oatmeal), but then Lisa beat me to it and did it far more eloquently than I could have.

  3. Well, you know I agree on the high carb thing. (Although I ate a Hersheys bar AND ice cream yesterday in a fit of PMS!) I also agree with a lot of your other current food “beliefs.” I have to say I’m in a different space on fats though. I agree some fats are good. BUT I have a husband who is involved daily with surgeries on the GI tract. He sees first hand the insides of people with high fat diets and those with low fat diets. Unfortunately for me, he brings home photos and videos to share with me. Having seen, first hand, what a high saturated fat does to the inside of our bodies … I don’t think it’s healthy or safe. I think moderation is key. Just my opinion. (Ducking now as you throw things at me!)
    : )

  4. My grandmother had alzheimer’s, and my mother in law had it, so both hubby and I are nervous about it as we age. If one of us forgets something we joke “don’t make me start worrying about you!” All kidding aside though, I’m glad to learn about this report. It fortifies my decision to change to eating real foods and ignore all of the nutritional knowledge programmed into my brain from birth.

  5. Imagine how much money we could save if we ditched the low fat/high fat approach and realized that fat is a good thing. My husband and I are doing Paleo and we do sport consultations and coaching. It is an uphill battle to convince people to think they way we do…It doesn’t make it easier when FDA doesn’t think it is our right to chose what to eat:

    “Plaintiffs’ assertion of a new ‘fundamental right’ under substantive due process to produce, obtain, and consume unpasteurized milk lacks any support in law.” [p.17]

    “There is no absolute right to consume or feed children any particular food.” [p. 25]

    “There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds.” [p. 26]

    “Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.” [p. 26]

    FDA’s brief goes on to state that “even if such a right did exist, it would not render FDA’s regulations unconstitutional because prohibiting the interstate sale and distribution of unpasteurized milk promotes bodily and physical health.” [p. 27]

    “There is no fundamental right to freedom of contract.” [p. 27]
    Taken from:

  6. I agree it is MADNESS to allow an agency with a clear conflict of interest to establish “guidelines” as to what is heathy to eat. That being said, I am not totally throwing in the towel on grains.
    Here’s why: depending on your current state – that’s what you need to start off with. There is no one-size fits all. (otherwise it’s just another diet!) what I believe is that we need to cut all grains for the moment to shock our bodies back to where we were (like losing the weight,) then adding the grains back much the same way we do to the infants.
    I know it is a blasphemy in some circles, but bear with me here.
    I once asked my grandparents why we ate getting sicker with our diet eating the same sort of stuff they ate. The answer was simple: life was simpler back then. You were in a rural area, and you worked your ass off. Yes, you ate bacon, eggs, even toast. But you worked your ass off!
    There were no snacks, eating every 3 hours. Most people would have called bullshit on that. Certainly not a lot of processed stuff, unless you processed it yourself. Thy meant canning, drying, preserving your own harvest. That meant getting to know your food.
    I was recently giving a demonstration on BBQ ribs the other day. I saw some squirming when I was ripping off the back membrane. See, we are so far removed from our food chain. Back in my grandparents day, they would have had to
    Slaughter that pig.
    Finally, have you ever seen the original eating guidelines from the first US government plan? It came out in 1917 (I believe) and it is eye-opening!

  7. I’m with you 110% Jan. I came to Paleo because I was searching for a solution to the health issues I had started to experience, and after trying many other potential cures, removing grains (and the massive amount of beans I was eating on my basically vegetarian diet) resolved each and every one of them.

  8. I plan on reading up on your site this summer. It’s like you do all the research for me Miss Janand I can just swoop on in and get the information ; -)

  9. Many of us also think that the school lunch program was started to provide nutritious lunches for children, especially those children who do not get a good meal at home. However, my father, in his 70’s, says that the reason it was started was to use leftover farm surplus. This was well understood at the time. Isn’t it funny how the spin on using farm surplus has turned to “proper nutrition”, but it’s just that, a spin.

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