Internet News: A Web of Fat

If you read yesterday's post about the steady stream of press coverage surrounding the obesity epidemic you'll see that so many of those stories focus on miracle cures and surgical shortcuts (instead of the old "eat right and exercise").

But not all obesity-related news fits that mold. Here's a couple:

News items like these show that there are signs of countering the obesity epidemic, just as long as the focus involves developing weight-loss systems through valid scientific research and not sweeping problems under the rug the with fads, drugs, and surgery. Dr. Fuhrman's approach in Eat to Live is exactly that�adopt a healthy diet for disease protection and sustained wellness. He explains:

Eat to Live gives you the information and the motivation you need to take advantage of this opportunity to improve your health and maximize your chances for disease-free life.


Science and the development of modern refrigeration and transportation methods have give us access to high-quality, nutrient-dense food. In today's modern society, we have available to us the largest variety of fresh and frozen natural foods in human history. Using the foods available to us today, we can devise diets and menus with better nutrient density and nutrient diversity than ever before possible.

You have a clear choice. You can live longer and healthier than ever before, or you can do what most populations do: eat to create disease and premature death.

Monday's Health Notes

Here's some health-related news making headlines:

  • Candice Choi of the Associated Press reports many hospitals are turning to technology to ensure patients are eating right during hospital stays.
  • According to Charnicia E. Huggins of Reuters a new study links television watching to obesity in some children.
  • WTOP reports a new study claims teenagers using fad diets to slim down may end up gaining pounds in the long run.

Hoodia Gordonii: Natural Healthy Weight Loss Herb or Snake Oil?

Dr. Fuhrman's colleague Dr. Steven Acocella, MS, D.C., DACBN, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, American College of Lifestyle Physicians, and a Diplomat of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition, discusses a popular supplement:

An herbal extract of the Hoodia gordonii cactus was found to be useful in quelling the thirst and hunger pangs of desert nomads during times of famine. The proposed mechanism, according to Dr. Richard Dixey, a spokesperson for Phytopharm Pharmaceuticals, who heads a research team efforting the synthesis of P57, the appetite suppressing component of the plant, explains how it works:

"There is a part of your brain, the hypothalamus. Within that mid-brain there are nerve cells that sense glucose sugar. When you eat, blood sugar goes up because of the food, these cells start firing and now you are full. What the Hoodia seems to contain is a molecule that is about 10,000 times as active as glucose. It goes to the mid-brain and actually makes those nerve cells fire as if you were full. But you have not eaten. Nor do you want to."
Pretty impressive sounding stuff, but does it work? That depends on whom you ask. Naturally, any advertisement is filled with glowing endorsements. But there is only one published, peer-reviewed scientific evaluation of P57 and that was preformed on rats. This study concluded that there was evidence of drug-induced anorexia using the extract from Hoodia1. But before you run out to the health food store consider a few facts of this study. The study was conducted on rats whereby researchers injected huge dosages of P57 directly into the brains (hypothamus) of the animals and then observed their eating behaviors for several days (apologies to PETA). To date there are no credible published human trials. Basing the use of any product on a single animal trial and purely anecdotal information is risky.

Remember, the well known Leptoprin commercial, the "when is a diet pill worth 153 dollars a bottle�when it works" people? In it they state the effectiveness of their product is "backed by two major scientific clinical trials," what they don't tell you (and don't have to tell you) is that its effectiveness has also been debunked, refuted and disproved by 50 other clinical trials! It's up to us, the consumer, to do our own research.

Taking any substance that has not been thoroughly evaluated, or in which studies yield inconsistent or irreproducible results is a poor choice. Professionally I could never recommend, and personally I would never use, anything for which the credible scientific community has not reached a positive consensus. I don't experiment on my patients and I don't rely on social proof.

Smoke and Mirrors Weight Loss
The use of this substance as a weight loss aid really comes down to how you view health. The larger question we need to ask here transcends assessing if Hoodia is safe and effective, if it really works or is it is a scam. If we are desirous of losing weight and improving our health consider this:

Many of the Hoodia manufacturers boast that their product is safe because it is not a drug. And according to the Food and Drug Administration they're right; but relative to what Hoodia actually does in the body (if it really works) they're wrong. Hoodia is not a drug by FDA standards simply because it has not been approved by them (the FDA) to be "safe and effective in the treatment of aliments or conditions." Any substance that has been isolated, concentrated and ingested for the intent of producing a physiological response is a drug. I don't think anyone could have a problem with my definition here. With that said, during my pharmacology clerkship the first thing that my professor said is that every drug, no matter how trivial or potentially lifesaving has damaging negative side effects on the body that always accompany its intended beneficial use. There is always a 'health-tax' to pay with taking any substance. It's the nature of biochemistry and all drugs have negative side effects, no exceptions.

Okay, so let's say a thousand years of Hoodia use by the San tribesmen in the Kalahari Desert have got to give this stuff credibility, their Shaman can't be wrong, and it actually works well. Consider some potential negative side effects specific to taking Hoodia. Hoodia is said to suppress thirst as well as hunger. People taking it run the risk of dehydration which can lead to the development of kidney stones and other fluid related problems. More importantly, specific to weight loss, taking it over time it will do nothing to increase metabolism so you won't burn more calories at rest; as a good aerobic training regime will do for you. So, as soon as you stop taking it the body will go into a highly efficient fat-storage mode and store even more fat at an accelerated rate, the old diet rebound "yo-yo" syndrome. This phenomenon has been seen with every magic diet pill ever used. You've not changed any metabolic set points by taking Hoodia and your brain wants those stored calories back, big time. And, if you just continue taking it, it's possible that you'll begin to lose lean body mass and weight loss at that point can become deceptive and dangerous.

Also, what about those reduced calories you do take in? If you're on a reduced calorie diet style and in caloric deficit (the only way to lose weight) then you'll have to pay very close attention to what you eat to maintain excellent nutrition. A diet that does not contain the full complement of antioxidants, phytochemicals and other micronutrients and the right macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates and proteins) is disease promoting. If you've reduced your caloric intake 40% by using this substance then you'll have to get all of your nutrition from 60% of the amount of food you normally eat.

The problem is that the vast majority of Americans are already not getting nearly enough of the life-extending, health maintaining food elements eating 100% of their present calories to begin with! More food, or rather more higher quality food, not less low quality food is a much better way to get the appetite centers in the hypothalamus to cooperate and to lose weight. "Turning off" hunger can be achieved by not only the caloric component of food, but the bulk volume and nutrients present in the food as well. So, you can "suppress" (or better yet satisfy) your appetite with lower calorie, higher nutrient-dense foods and at the end of the day you've not only controlled your appetite, reduced your calories (and therefore weight) but you've also improved your nutritional status. Now we're talking!

Gee, what foods have all the following attributes at the same time?

A. High bulk, like lots of healthy fiber
B. Are extremely rich in nutrients
C. Are also much lower in calories

If you don't know the answer to this food trivia question we have a lot to talk about!

When it comes to Hoodia or any other quick fix medical breakthrough�flavor of the month diet pill�we just don't get something for nothing and there's always a price to pay. The arsenal in the war against being over fat and against obesity has got to include more than just weight loss; weight loss by itself does not necessarily equate to improved health. I regularly consult with patients that have lost large amounts of weight and are very unhealthy. What's the point of losing a bunch of weight only to develop some other diet-related morbid condition? Any change in body weight, up or down, should always result in an elevation of health and clearly this is not always the outcome of change, the scientific journals are full of such cases. I have seen several patients that have resorted to bariatic surgery (stomach stapling) and lost nearly 100 pounds each and are enduring tremendous nutrition-related health problems. And the damage I seen in victims of the Atkins weight loss scheme could fill volumes, but that's another article. A diet rich in Phen-Phen and Red-Bull can pretty much guarantee you rapid weight loss but it can be a bit hard on the system. Using some gimmick to fool the body to lose weight can result in the perfect body�corpse-weight! Write that down.

The smoke and mirror weight loss results you get from taking herbs and other diet drugs might win the battle short term but because it doesn't result in elevated health we still lose the war. Clearly Hoodia will not improve our nutrition and can further compromise our health over time. The only possible way it might be useful is if we were to learn how to eat healthfully while taking it, but if you learned how to do that you wouldn't need Hoodia anyway. Trust me; I see real weight loss success every day.

Allow me to leave you with the words of that pop-culture icon and high profile celebrity promoter of Hoodia, Anna Nicole Smith: "Hoodia works; it's the new miracle diet pill that aids in weight loss by suppressing appetite!"

Sorry Anna, we're not buying and neither should you. Now, how about you get with the program and go get a copy of Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman.

Continue Reading...

Beware the High Fructose Corn Syrup

In a reviewing science writer Michael Pollan's new book in The New York Times, David Kamp discusses the politics of corn, and how it affects obesity:

...he lays out the many ways in which government policy since the Nixon era � to grow as much corn as possible, subsidized with federal money � is totally out of whack with the needs of nature and the American public.


Big agribusiness has Washington in its pocket. The reason its titans want to keep corn cheap and plentiful, Pollan explains, is that they value it, above all, as a remarkably inexpensive industrial raw material. Not only does it fatten up a beef steer more quickly than pasture does (though at a cost to ourselves and cattle, which haven't evolved to digest corn, and are therefore pre-emptively fed antibiotics to offset the stresses caused by their unnatural diet); once milled, refined and recompounded, corn can become any number of things, from ethanol for the gas tank to dozens of edible, if not nutritious, products, like the thickener in a milkshake, the hydrogenated oil in margarine, the modified cornstarch that binds the pulverized meat in a McNugget and, most disastrously, the ubiquitous sweetener known as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Though it didn't reach the American market until 1980, HFCS has insinuated itself into every nook and cranny of the larder � in Pollan's McDonald's meal, there's HFCS not only in his 32-ounce soda, but in the ketchup and the bun of his cheeseburger � and Pollan fingers it as the prime culprit in the nation's obesity epidemic.

As we have blogged about in more detail before, in Onlyourhealth Your Child Dr. Fuhrman shows no love for high fructose corn syrup:

Soft drinks and processed foods are full of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is not only fattening, but this inexpensive and ultra-concentrated sugar has no resemblance to real food made by nature. It is another experiment thrust upon our unsuspecting children with unknown dangerous consequences. Besides sugar, corn syrup, and chemicals, these drinks often contain caffeine, an addictive stimulant. Children crave more and more as they get older. By adolescence most children have become soft-drink addicts. It is no surprise that six out of the seven most popular soft drinks contain caffeine. Contrast this high level of sugary "liquid candy" with the meager intake of fresh produce by children and teenagers, and it is no surprise that we have an obesity epidemic beyond all expectations.

The Misinformation of Barry Groves and Weston Price

I am glad Barry Groves (an electronic engineer, and honorary board member of the Weston Price Foundation) returned and chimed in again. (This is a continuation of an earlier conversation--if you haven't already please read the whole thing.) Now that his name has been mentioned many times here at Onlyourhealth.com when people search for it on the web, hopefully they will be able to read his comments and my responses and see that his nutritional viewpoints are illogical and dangerous. Hopefully this will have some effect from anyone dying needlessly from his writings elsewhere and some book publisher will have second thoughts about publishing anything he puts together.

Barry Groves doesn't get the idea that I am not defending the American diet or the almost worthless recommendations of the American Heart Association. However, I am claiming that my dietary and nutritional recommendations are dramatically protective and can enable people to heart-attack-proof their bodies.

Barry Groves obviously did not read Disease-Proof Your Child or Eat To Live, but maybe others too, are not clear that I clearly explain that processed foods, sugar, white flour, and other low-fat, low-nutrient foods promote heart disease. Saturated fat is only one causative factor; but one I do not ignore.

Dangerous Advice
I realize the web allows a forum for people with potentially dangerous advice, but I think most intelligent people can see through his straw arguments, so I welcome the opportunity to comment again to his skewed nutritional viewpoints and unsubstantiated claims. Each time Barry Groves reports on a medical study he gave a different conclusion to the data than the researchers do, and the studies are usually some poorly done old study. It is typical stuff for the Atkins crowd and the Weston Price Foundation to find one research paper they can claim makes their argument legitimate, but even when they hand pick one study, they typically don't report the research accurately.

Fortunately we have a comprehensive body of knowledge today with over 15,000 articles written since the 1950's documenting the link between a diet high in saturated fat and low in fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetable and beans and the increase risk of cancer and heart disease. Thousands of research scientists don't agree with Barry Groves' meat-centered diet recommendations and the platform of the Weston Price Foundation.

Respected Research Agrees
Let's look at what the most respected modern researchers say after a lifetime of collecting data from all over the world, and I will let the data speak for itself without my interpretation. I could have easily put a hundred decent studies on this list, but a few will illustrate the point. The following indented lines are cut and pasted from medical abstracts; the comments are from the abstracts not mine.

Huxley R ; Lewington S ; Clarke R. Cholesterol, coronary heart disease and stroke: a review of published evidence from observational studies and randomized controlled trials. Semin Vasc Med. 2002; 2(3):315-23
In observational epidemiologic studies, lower blood cholesterol is associated with a reduced risk from coronary heart disease (CHD) throughout the normal range of cholesterol values observed in most Western populations. There is a continuous positive relationship between CHD risk and blood cholesterol down to at least 3 to 4 mmol/l, with no threshold below which a lower cholesterol is not associated with a lower risk. Observational studies suggest that a prolonged difference in total cholesterol of about 1 mmol/l is associated with one-third less CHD deaths in middle age. Dietary saturated fat is the chief determinant of total and LDL cholesterol levels.

Tucker KL ; Hallfrisch J ; Qiao N ; et al. The combination of high fruit and vegetable and low saturated fat intakes is more protective against mortality in aging men than is either alone: the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. J Nutr. 2005; 135(3):556-61.
Saturated fat (SF) intake contributes to the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality. Recently, the protective effects of fruit and vegetable (FV) intake on both CHD and all-cause mortality were documented. However, individuals consuming more FV may be displacing higher-fat foods. Therefore, we investigated the individual and combined effects of FV and SF consumption on total and CHD mortality among 501 initially healthy men in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA). Over a mean 18 y of follow-up, 7-d diet records were taken at 1-7 visits. Cause of death was ascertained from death certificates, hospital records, and autopsy data. After adjustment for age, total energy intake, BMI, smoking, alcohol use, dietary supplements, and physical activity score, FV and SF intakes were individually associated with lower all-cause and CHD mortality (P < 0.05). When both FV and SF were included in the same model, associations of each were attenuated with CHD mortality, and no longer significant for all-cause mortality. Men consuming the combination of > or =5 servings of FV/d and < or =12% energy from SF were 31% less likely to die of any cause (P < 0.05), and 76% less likely to die from CHD (P < 0.001), relative to those consuming < 5 FV and >12% SF. Men consuming either low SF or high FV, but not both, did not have a significantly lower risk of total mortality; but did have 64-67% lower risk of CHD mortality (P < 0.05) relative to those doing neither. These results confirm the protective effects of low SF and high FV intake against CHD mortality. In addition, they extend these findings by demonstrating that the combination of both behaviors is more protective than either alone, suggesting that their beneficial effects are mediated by different mechanisms.

Dwyer T ; Emmanuel SC ; Janus ED ; et al. The emergence of coronary heart disease in populations of Chinese descent. Atherosclerosis. 2003; 167(2):303-10.
Most countries in oriental Asia have not yet experienced the 'western' coronary heart disease (CHD) epidemic despite substantial economic development. An exception has been Singapore. We compared mortality and CHD risk factors in Singapore with two Oriental locations, Hong Kong and mainland China, which have not experienced the CHD epidemic. Mortality data from World Health Statistics Annuals age standardized for each location and were supplemented by local data. Risk factor data was obtained from population-based surveys using similar protocols in each location. Measures included diet, blood lipids, blood pressure, height and weight. CHD mortality in the year chosen for comparison, 1994, was significantly higher for Singapore Chinese males [108 (95.2-119.1)] than Chinese males in Hong Kong [44.3 (40.2-48.2)] or China [45.5 (44.2-46.8)]. Female CHD mortality was also relatively higher in Singapore Chinese. The only CHD risk factor markedly higher in Singapore Chinese was serum cholesterol; Singapore males [5.65 (5.55-5.75)], females [5.60 (5.50-5.70)], Hong Kong males [5.21 (5.11-5.31)], females [5.20 (5.10-5.29)] and China males [4.54 (4.46-4.62)], females [4.49 (4.42-4.55)]. Dietary differences in saturated fat consumption were consistent with this. Although there was little difference in total fat intake, a higher consumption of dietary saturated fat and lower consumption of polyunsaturated fat, accompanied by higher serum cholesterol, appear to explain the relatively high CHD mortality in Singapore compared with Hong Kong and mainland China. Differences in body mass index, blood pressure and smoking between locations did not explain the differences in CHD mortality.

Hu FB ; Manson JE ; Willett WC Types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001; 20(1):5-19.
During the past several decades, reduction in fat intake has been the main focus of national dietary recommendations to decrease risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Several lines of evidence. however, have indicated that types of fat have a more important role in determining risk of CHD than total amount of fat in the diet. Metabolic studies have long established that the type of fat, but not total amount of fat, predicts serum cholesterol levels. In addition, results from epidemiologic studies and controlled clinical trials have indicated that replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat is more effective in lowering risk of CHD than simply reducing total fat consumption. In this article, we review evidence from epidemiologic studies and dietary intervention trials addressing the relationship between dietary fat intake and risk of CHD, with a particular emphasis on different major types of fat, n-3 fatty acids and the optimal balance between n-3 and n-6 fatty acids. We also discuss the implications of the available evidence in the context of current dietary recommendations.

But this is not just about heart disease. And again, with 1,500 references in my book, Eat To Live documenting my dietary recommendations for healthy weight loss, I am only placing a few representative studies here. For example, a recent study showed that after following almost 200,000 Americans for seven years, those who regularly consumed red meat had a double the occurrence of pancreatic cancer. (Nothlings U Wilkins, LR, Murphy, SP Hankins JH et al. Meat and fat intake as risk factors for pancreatic cancer the multiethnic short study J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005 97:1458-65.)

Profits vs. Sense
I realize that quoting one study after another or using clear science and logic will not change the mind of those selling and profiting from the appeal of the meat-based diet like Barry Groves and the Weston Price Foundation recommend. It is still important to address them so that an uninformed individual is not taken in by their dangerous form of quackery, like so many did with Atkins.

Poor Health of Indigenous Meat-Eaters
The dangerous habits of Americans or Europeans who eat only about 5 percent of their caloric intake from fresh produce and the majority of calories from processed foods, does not in anyway make a diet centered on meat health supporting. The whole purpose of this website is to offer information that can offer people control over their health destiny, without dependency on medications and without a premature death due to nutritional ignorance. With the knowledge we have available today and the access to high quality foods all year round we have a unique opportunity to live well and longer than ever before in human history.

When Barry Groves and the Weston Price Foundation people listed above rest their laurels on the health of high meat eating tribes, we have to counter that with real research, not phony claims. The research on the life expectancy of these people is clear. The Inuit Greenlanders have the worst longevity statistics in North America. A careful literature search reveals multiple studies documenting an earlier death in these people as a result of their low consumption of fresh produce and their high consumption of meat.

Legitimate research on the health of these people at present and in the past, show that they die on the average about 10 years younger and have a higher rate of cancer than the general population of Canada. Again, we don't want to mimic the population of Canada and certainly not a population with even a shorter life expectancy. But this research can not be ignore: Iburg KM ; Br�nnum-Hansen H ; Bjerregaard P. Health expectancy in Greenland.
Scand J Public Health. 2001; 29(1):5-12. Choini�re R. Mortality among the Baffin Inuit in the mid-80s.Arctic Med Res. 1992; 51(2):87-93.

Similar statistics are available about the Maasai in Kenya. The Maasai are best distinguished by their jewelry and ornamentation in their "self-deformation" of the body: elongated or torn ear lobes and stretched out lips. They do eat a diet rich in wild hunted meats and have the worst life expectancy in the modern world today. Maasai women have a life expectancy of 45 years, and men only live 42 years. I know these red-meat loving nuts will claim that those statistics are of the modern Maasai, not those of years gone by, but the data is also damaging even if you bring up statistics from 20 or more years ago, when good data was collected. Real African researchers, not Weston Price who just briefly visited them, or the list of Groves' Weston Price Foundation compatriots, documented that a Maasai rarely lived past the age of 60 and when they did, they were considered a very old man. If you want to mimic that dietary style, I guess that is your right, but certainly we know a little more about nutrition than the typical Maasai warrior. (Consider these sources: http://www.kenya.za.net/maasai-cycles-of-life.html and www.who.int/countries/Ken/en/)

Adult mortality figures on the Kenyan Maasai, show that they have a fifty percent chance of dying before the age of 59.

Choosing Between Two Bad Diets vs. Choosing an Optimal One
Weston Price and the Weston Price Foundation's claims about achieving good health on a diet rich in saturated fat are entirely without substance or merit. Weston Price himself did not painstakingly document the lifespan of these people; he was a dentist who just made a quick visit and jumped to simplistic conclusions claiming people were healthy by looking at their teeth. He ignored life expectancy, infant mortality, high rate of infection and many other confounding variables. Weston Price did not grasp the complexity of multi-factorial causation and this tradition is continued by his followers today. This in no way dismisses or makes less of the importance of Price's criticism of the dangers of sugar and other processed foods modern societies eat.

And maybe eating lots of wild meats and natural vegetation, without exposure to modern processed foods may offer a better health outcome than a modern American eating even less produce, and more processed foods, (which may be even worse) but we don't purchase a car by comparing it to a junkyard wreck, we want to know what is best. Fortunately, we actually know that eating a higher percentage of vegetables, legumes, fruit, and raw nuts and seeds in a diet (and much less animal products) can offer a profound longevity advantage due to a broad symphony of life-extending phytochemical nutrients. We have a unique opportunity in human history, we can devise a lifestyle and diet-style to dramatically increase our productive years and live well into the nineties or later without dementia or medical tragedies. We must offer recommendations based on a broad overview of all the evidence. The evidence here is overwhelming; and for those who want maximum control of their health destiny one's dietary choices should not be based on politics, ego, or a belief system.

Cheese, Calories From Fat

Most cheeses get the majority of their calories from fat, and even the lower fat cheeses are rich in artery-clogging saturated fat:

CheesesPercent of Calories from FatPercent of Fat that is Saturated Fat
Cream Cheese89%63%
Gouda Cheese69%65%
Cheddar Cheese74%64%
Mozzarella Cheese69%61%
Mozzarella Cheese, part skim56%64%
Kraft Velveeta Spread65%66%
Kraft Velveeta Light43%67%
Ricotta, whole milk68%64%
Ricotta, part skim51%62%

From the forthcoming revised version of Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection for Life.

Preparing Your Home for Eating Healthfully

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

  • Stock your home with a variety of produce, especially fresh fruits, raw vegetables, raw nuts, and seeds. Incorporate bean burgers, vegetable/bean soups, and fruit-centered desserts.
  • Replace foods of animal origin with foods of plant origin. Limit poultry to once or twice a week and red meat to even less. Remove skin from poultry. Use the light meat only.
  • Remove sugar, salt, and white flour from the home, as well as all products with these added. Use only whole-grain breads and pasta. Use tomato sauce for pasta, not oil-based or cheese-based sauces. Try bean or lentil pasta instead of wheat flour pasta.
  • Minimize the use of vegetable oils, replacing them with dressings and sauces made with avocados and whole nuts and seeds. Make delicious desserts with nuts, seeds, and avocados to encourage the consumption of healthy fats.
  • Do not keep cheese and butter in the house. If eating dairy foods, select no-fat varieties and only eat small amounts. Replace dairy products with soymilk and nut milk fortified with calcium and vitamin D and B12. If utilizing dairy products in your home, only use fat-free versions.
  • Avoid eating lobster, shrimp, mollusks, catfish, swordfish, bluefish, mackerel, pike, shark, tuna, and any fish caught in questionable waters. Limit other fish to once weekly.
  • Eliminate fried foods and barbecued foods, both of which expose you to high levels of carcinogenic compounds produced by these high-heat cooking methods.
  • Remove all sweet drinks, soda, and processed fruit juice from the house.
  • Make healthy snacks available; cherry tomatoes, raw nuts, carrots, fruit, chickpeas, corn, and raw string beans are great choices. (For toddlers below the age of two and a half, be aware of the choking hazard of whole nuts and carrots.)

Something Fishy Here

Think Dr. Fuhrman and a good percentage of the news media are all crazy to be worried about mercury contamination in fish? Then this site's for you. Especially odd about the site: it's clearly well-funded, but it's not clear at all by whom.

The Haggis and Butter Diet?

The Scotsman reports fad diets like Atkins and processed convenience foods are taking Scotland by storm. With more and more Scottish citizens adopting these diet-styles, health correspondent Lyndsay Moss says Scottish bones could be at risk.

A balanced diet including calcium, vitamin D and other minerals is vital for healthy bones, which are less at risk of fracture.


But the National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) warned that many Scots could be putting their bones at risk due to food fads and because they are eating more processed foods than before.

The charity said regimes such as the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet and the cabbage soup diet could mean people are not getting a nutritional balance.

Bone health is one of the less-discussed aspects of low-carbohydrate diets. A great place to find out more about it is at AtkinsExposed.org, which addresses bone health several times. Here are some highlights:

  • "Some high-protein, very-low-carbohydrate, weight-loss diets are designed to induce ketosis. When carbohydrate intake or utilization is insufficient to provide glucose to the cells that rely on it as an energy source, ketone bodies are formed from fatty acids. An increase in circulating ketones can disturb the body's acid-base balance, causing metabolic acidosis. Evidence suggests that even mild acidosis can have potentially deleterious consequences over the long run, including low blood phosphate levels, resorption of calcium from bone, increased risk of osteoporosis, and an increased propensity to form kidney stones." Read more.
  • "Urinary excretions of calcium and acids are correlated positively with intakes of animal and nondairy animal protein but are correlated negatively with plant-protein intake." Read more.
  • "The concern with bone health arises from the fact that muscle protein has a high sulphur content. When people eat too much of this meat protein, sulfuric acid forms within our bodies which must somehow be neutralized to maintain proper internal pH balance. One way our bodies can buffer the sulphuric acid load caused by meat is with calcium borrowed from our bones." Read more.
  • "Despite having some of the highest calcium intakes in the world, the Inuit also have some of the worst rates of osteoporosis." Read more.

Watch Out for Starch!

For those with heart disease or who are overweight, limit starchy foods to one serving or one-cup daily. That is, one corn on the cob, one baked potato, or one sweet potato. There is no limit on the amount of low-starch, plant foods you can eat. Although there is some flexibility with higher starch vegetables, if you are not overweight, you can eat more starchy vegetables.

Avoid all refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta. Oatmeal and steel cut oats are permissible for breakfast, but even whole grains such as 100 percent whole-wheat products should also be limited to one serving per day.

Healthier Starches (one or two daily): Turnips, parsnips, butternut & acorn squash, corn, sweet potato, peas, carrots, wild rice & brown rice, quinoa & millet, and steel cut oats & oatmeal.

Unhealthier Starches (none to one weekly): White bread, pasta, white rice, quick cook hot cereals, tortillas, chapattis, cold breakfast cereals, pancakes, and waffles.

The most important exclusion here is the removal of refined carbohydrates--sugar, white rice, white bread, white flour pasta, but even whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat bread are limited to one serving per day. Squash, corn, sweet potato, carrots are preferable carbohydrate choices to white potato, and whole grain breads; they are richer in phytochemicals and carotenoids. They are best utilized by adding them to soups, mixed with greens and beans. Whether you use a little more or a little less of the high starch grains or vegetables (dependent on your body weight and activity level), your meals should still have a higher ratio of green-to-starchy vegetables when you are trying to lower cholesterol.

From the forthcoming revised version of Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection for Life.

Honey We're Killing the Kids!

The Learning Channel has a new reality TV show called Honey We're Killing the Kids that premiered last night. The show's website describes it like this:

In each family, the children's eating habits have spiraled out of control into a diet of nonstop junk food - sugar, snacks, processed food- and huge, oversized portions. Coupled with a lack of exercise and sleep, this lifestyle means the kids are not only hyper and unruly, they are at serious risk of becoming overweight and developing high-blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Honey We're Killing the Kids! offers a startling look at the causes of America's childhood obesity epidemic and issues a critical wake-up call for parents. In the series, nutrition expert Dr. Lisa Hark shows how everyday choices can have long-term impacts on children, and offers both the motivation and the know-how to help turn these families' lives around. Using state-of-the-art computer imaging and certified assessments based on measurements and statistics, Dr. Hark first gives Mom and Dad a frightening look at the possible future faces of their children - and a dramatic reality check. Then, introducing her new guidelines and techniques, Dr. Hark works with parents to reverse course and give their kids a healthy diet and active lifestyle.

The family then has three weeks to overhaul its bad habits under the direction of Dr. Hark, who delivers a set of life-altering rules with the aim of completely transforming the children's future health and lifestyle. Dr. Hark's rules are straightforward and simple - rules like "Sack the sugar," "Family eats together," "Set a bedtime routine," "Limit television hours" and "Exercise together" are introduced each week.


CNN has a video report on the show which you can watch online.

Overdosed America

Dr. John Abramson is the author of the book Overdosed America which investigates the relationship between the medical community and the US pharmaceutical industry. He believes a shift of priorities has taken place in America�more emphasis on profitability and less on patient care. Here's an excerpt from his book:

What I found over the next two and a half years of "researching the research" is a scandal in medical science that is at least the equivalent of any of the recent corporate scandals that have shaken Americans' confidence in the integrity of the corporate and financial worlds. Rigging medical studies, misrepresenting research results published in even the most influential medical journals, and withholding the findings of whole studies that don't come out in a sponsor's favor have all become the accepted norm in commercially sponsored medical research. To keep the lid sealed on this corruption of medical science�and to ensure its translation into medical practice�there is a complex web of corporate influence that includes disempowered regulatory agencies, commercially sponsored medical education, brilliant advertising, expensive public relations campaigns, and manipulations of free media coverage. And last, but not least, are the financial ties between many of the most trusted medical experts and medical industry.

A Hefty Amount of News

America's weight problem is reported on weekly�if not daily. News of new complications and proposed solutions are everywhere. Here's some of this week's press coverage:

  • According to the Associated Press a new study shows the number of overweight women in the United States is leveling off, but men and children are still gaining.
  • Medical News Today reports over 250,000 American children under the age of six can't fit into car seats designed for their age group.

The New York Times was especially busy this week:

  • The Times reports in an attempt to improve the nutrition of New York public schools, apples slices will be sold as healthy alternatives to chips and other snack foods.
  • Another article from The New York Times explains that the obesity epidemic in children may start as early as age two.
  • According to The New York Times an amendment to the National School Lunch Act would require all food sold in schools to meet higher nutritional standards.

What Happens When You Tell The Truth About Atkins

This is part of a weeklong review of the popular Dr. Atkins high-protein low-carbohydrate diet-style. See Monday's post for an overview.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, international speaker, and author of the book Carbophobia: The Scary Truth Behind America's Low Carb Craze. Dr. Greger is also one of the many medical professionals opposing the Atkins Diet Revolution. In 2004 Dr. Gerger received this threatening letter from Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. for comments made on his website AtkinsExposed.org, formerly AtkinsFacts.org.

Dr. Greger is exceptionally knowledgeable of the risks associated with the Atkins diet-style. So he wasn't deterred by this corporate intimidation. Instead he mailed this comprehensive rebuttal of the accusations levied upon him to the Atkins Corporation. His retort is supported by a tremendous amount of scientific data.

The corporate letter makes seventeen claims against Dr. Greger. He and his staff handle each one with methodical precision.

The first accusation insists Dr. Greger is overlooking the overwhelming amount of evidence claiming the Atkins Diet presents no serious health risks. The Atkins Corporation cites no fewer than thirty-four studies demonstrating weight loss and other health benefits and that these studies show an absence of adverse health effects of a low-carbohydrate diet. Dr. Greger's response:

Thirty-four studies is your "overwhelming weight of evidence"? There are literally hundreds of published reports on low-carbohydrate diets,[545] and you can only find 34 that support your position?


There are also, for example, "no fewer than thirty-four studies demonstrating weight-loss and other health benefits" of cigarette smoking.[546-579] There are also 34 studies showing benefits from thalidomide.[580-613]

Just because the Philip Morris Corporation can wave around more than a hundred[614] studies showing health benefits from smoking, this doesn't mean that smoking is good for you. What it means is that one can cherry-pick data to argue almost any position. This is a classic tobacco corporation tactic.[615]

On your website one can indeed find a list of 34 studies downplaying the risks of the Atkins Diet. But if you go to the website of the Asbestos Institute you can find 34 studies downplaying the risks of asbestos.[616]

Dr. Greger also criticizes references to studies appearing in journals founded by an Atkins spokesman and studies funded by Atkins-Funded researchers. Dr. Greger implies this is a foolish strategy for illustrating unbiased research support.

Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. claims that the Atkins Diet can prevent colon and breast cancer. Dr. Greger points out that the American Cancer Society condemns both the products of tobacco industry and the Atkins Corporation for their potential to cause cancer. They write, "A low-carb diet can be a high-risk option when it comes to health." [873] Here is Dr. Greger's response to both claims of cancer prevention:

You seem to disagree with the American Cancer Society's assessment. Dr. Atkins was asked, for example, if "a lot of red meat could cause colon cancer." He replied that there was "very little evidence to support the viewpoint." [878] On your official website, an Atkins co-author even states that "a controlled carbohydrate eating plan could be a valuable way to help prevent colorectal cancer."[879]


Why then does the American Cancer Society say that "consumption of meat--especially red meats--has been linked to cancers at several sites, most notably colon and prostate"?[880] Is the American Cancer Society merely omitting studies that "contradict" their conclusion?

Your website also claims that "doing Atkins is the ideal way"[888] to control breast cancer risk. "A controlled carb way of eating almost automatically lowers your risk of breast cancer."[889] Eating over a half cup of lard's worth of saturated fat[890,891] every day is an "ideal way" to prevent breast cancer?

Your website claims "Saturated fat, the kind found in meat, butter, cheese and other animal foods as well as tropical oils, hasn't been shown to have any effect on your risk of breast cancer--whether positive or negative."[892] To support this surprising claim the Atkins website cites an article published in 1997 which, upon review, doesn't address the topic at all.[893]

Considering the subtlety of the data in their favor and weight of evidence opposing the Atkins diet-style, it is ponderous why Atkins Nutritionals, Inc would make such claims. Although in many corporate structures information flows from the top down. Therefore this next excerpt should explain the Atkins Corporation's foolishness:

Dr. Atkins was asked "Isn't the consumption of fat related to cancer?" He replied "According to the multitude of studies published, fat per se was not linked to cancer, with the exception of trans fats, which are not included in the Atkins Nutritional Approach."[902] This is incorrect on two counts. First of all, trans fats are not the only exception; saturated animal fat has been linked to cancers of the breast,[903] prostate,[904] endometrium,[905] lung,[906] and pancreas.[907] And second, trans fats are included throughout the Atkins Diet.

It seems logical that Dr. Atkins' employees would be left misinformed if he himself wasn't reviewing the necessary scientific data. This is the sustained theme of Dr. Greger's critique; a painstaking approach that refutes each of the Atkins Corporation's claims with real-world unbiased scientific data.

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Short and Long-Term Dangers of High-Fat Diets

This is part of a weeklong review of the popular Dr. Atkins high-protein low-carbohydrate diet-style. See Monday's post for an overview. The following is from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

An argument can be made for the usefulness of diets like the one advocated by Atkins because they often do result in weight loss. Being overweight is such a health risk that there are some real health benefits one receives from losing weight, even if the mode of weight loss places the person at increased cancer risk. Losing weight--even by a high-protein, high-fat, low-fiber diet--will lower triglycerides, decrease insulin resistance, and lower blood pressure.

These high-proteins strongly forbid refined carbohydrates, junk food, and the nutritionally depleted white pasta, white rice, and bread that most Americans consume in large quantities. That is the good part. They also frequently recommend that the dieter consume hundreds of dollars of nutritional supplements each month, Sure, the supplements are better than nothing on such an unbalanced diet, but they do not make it safe.

The conventional American diet is so unhealthy and fattening that an obese individual following the Atkins diet may derive some marginal benefit if he or she can use it successfully to keep his or her weight down, because of all the various adverse medical complications associated with obesity and because the added supplements add some missing micronutrients. However, the reality is that no matter how many supplements add some missing micronutrients. However, the reality is that no matter how many supplements are taken and how much psyllium fiber is prescribed, it is simply impossible to make up for so many important substances that are lacking in the diet. There are too essential nutrients that have never met the inside of a vitamin jar, and no supplemental gymnastics can ever offset the destructive effects of so much animal food and so little fibrous produce. Plus, on his plan, consuming even a moderate amount of the healthy carbohydrate foods such as fruits and starchy vegetables stops ketosis and you regain your weight.

High-fat diets are unquestionably associated with obesity, and eating meat actually correlates with weight gain, not weight loss, unless you radically cut carbs from your diet to maintain chronic ketosis.1 Researchers from the American Cancer Society followed 79,236 individuals over ten years and found that those ate meat more than three times per week were much more likely to gain weight as the years went by than those who tended to avoid meat.2 The more vegetables the participants ate, the more resistant they were to weight gain.

The Atkins diet, along with other similar plans, is virtually the opposite of the one dictated by our heritage. I has almost no fiber, utilizing instead the precise foods that science has established as the primary cause of cancer and heart attacks, and specifically excludes the foods that have been shown to have a powerful anti-cancer effect. Then you are told to take hundreds of dollars of supplements each month to make up for the deficiencies. Does this make sense to you?

 
Atkins
(from his book)
Eat To Live
(Typical menu)
Total Calories
2550
1600
Protein
188 gm
60 gm
Fat
167 gm
19 gm
Carbohydrate
67 gm
314 gm
Saturated fat
60 gm
2 gm
Sodium
5920 mg
592 mg
B carotene
212 mcg
8260 mcg
Vitamin C
30 mg
625 mg
Calcium
543 mg
877 mg
Magnesium
187 mg
593 mg
Iron
18 mg
22 mg
Manganese
1.5 mg
8.1 mg
Vitamin E
10 IU
22 IU
Fiber
5.4 gm
77 gm
Chromium
0.034 mg
0.168 mg

The Atkins menu above, like most of his meal plans, averages 60 percent of calories from fat. Obviously, the Eat to Live menu has fewer calories and almost no saturated fat and is much higher in fiber and other (anti-cancer) plant-derived nutrients.

Remember, the grams of fiber consumed, when acquired from natural foods, mark the level other phytochemicals--which may make a difference between a long life and a premature death.

Its is difficult to imagine a physician, practicing as a nutritional expert, selling millions of book while recommending 60 grams of disease-promoting saturated fat a day.3

Telling people what they want to hear sell books, products, and services. Atkins continues to make irresponsible statement in support of his dangerous advice. Take, for example, statements from his winter 2001 Health Revelations Special Report (an advertisement brochure for his newsletter):

  • Reverse heart disease with filet mignon!
  • Stop strokes with cheese!
  • Prevent breast cancer with butter!

The worst part is the most people do not have comprehensive knowledge of the world's nutritional literature and research and therefore are not in position to evaluate his fraudulent claims. As a result unfortunate things like this can happen, click here.

Tomorrow we'll take a look at what happens when you tell the truth about Atkins.

Continue Reading...

Increased Risk of Cancer Associated with The Atkins Diet

This is part of a weeklong review of the popular Dr. Atkins high-protein low-carbohydrate diet-style. See Monday's post for an overview. The following is from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Robert Atkins's books, as well as other authors advocating high-protein weight-loss plans, recommend diets for health and weight loss with significantly more animal protein than is typically consumed by the average American. Americans already eat approximately 40 percent of their calories from animal products; we have seen a tragic skyrocketing in cancer and heart-disease rates in the past fifty years as a result of such nutritional extravagance.1 You can lose some weight on the Atkins Diet, but you run the risk of losing your health at the same time.

Atkins recommends that you eat primarily high-fat, high-protein, fiberless animal foods and attempt to eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. Atkins's menus average 60-75 percent of calories from fat and contain no whole grains and nor fruit. Analyses of the proposed menus show animal products make up more than 90 percent of the calories in the diet.

Hundreds of scientific studies have documented the link between animal products and various cancers. Though it would be wrong to say that animal foods are the sole cause of cancer it is now clear that increased consumption of animal products combined with the decreased consumption of fresh produce has the most powerful effect on increasing one's risk for various kinds of cancer. Atkins convinces his followers that he knows better than leading nutritional research scientists who proclaim that "meat consumption is an important factor in the etiology of human cancer."2

Atkins devotees adopt a dietary pattern completely opposite of what is recommended by the leading research scientists studying the link between diet and cancer.3 Specifically, fruit exclusion alone is a significant cancer marker. Stomach and esophageal cancer are linked to populations that do not consume a sufficient amount of fruit.4 Scientific studies show a clear and strong dose-response relationship between cancers of the digestive tract, bladder, and prostate with low fruit consumption.5 To the surprise of many investigators, fruit consumption shows a powerful dose-response association with a reduction in heart disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality.6 There is also a striking consistency in many scientific investigations that show a reduction in incidence of colorectal and stomach cancer with the intake of whole grains.7 Colon cancer is strongly associated with the consumption of animal products.8 And these researchers have concluded that the varying level of colon cancer in the low-incidence population compared with the high-incidence population could not be explained by "protective" factors such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals; rather, it was influenced almost totally by the consumption of animal products and fat.

More saturated fat & less fruit = Higher cancer risk

Less saturated fat & more fruit = Lower cancer risk

There are numerous ways to lose weight. However "effective" they may be, some are just not safe. We wouldn't advocate smoking cigarettes or snorting cocaine simply because doing so would be effective in promoting weight loss. Advocating a weight-loss program based on severe carbohydrate restriction is irresponsible. You may pay a substantial price--your life! As was the case with Dr. Atkins's own death, most likely a heart attack that resulted in the slip and fall.

Check back tomorrow for a review of the short and long-term dangers of high-fat diets.

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The Extra Large Hospital Bed in the Corner

Numerous articles have been written predicting doom for our obese population. And do we do anything about it? Yes. We pledge allegiance to high-fat fad diets, buy gimmicky exercise contraptions, and, now, supersize the beds in our hospital to accomodate our growing demands.

The Associated Press reports even hospitals are being forced to acclimate to our band-aid approach of controlling obesity:

Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis [is] finding better ways to deal with the growing number of very obese patients, an issue for many U.S. hospitals. Barnes-Jewish is replacing beds and wheelchairs with bigger models, widening doorways, buying larger CT scan machines, even replacing slippers and gowns.


Last year, patient care director Colleen Becker decided to check the numbers. She looked at a daily hospital census � about one-third of the 900 patients weighed 350 pounds or more.

Now, of course hospitals must comfortably accommodate all shapes and sizes. But shouldn't any health institution respond to such obesity, at least in part, with at least some degree of focus on the causes of the obesity epidemic?

In many cases, the extra large hospital bed is the last step in an extended unhealthy cycle: Eating a bunch of cheeseburgers, buying an "Ab Tornado" or some such thing but never really exercising regularly, and then getting sick and needing an extra large hospital bed.

What's missing is regular exercise and disease-preventing nutrition to maintain a healthy bodyweight. Consider this excerpt from Eat to Live:

By following my vegetable-based diet you will significantly increase the percentage of high-nutrient foods in your diet and your excess weight will start dropping quickly and dramatically. This will motivate you even more to stick with it. This approach requires no denial of hunger. Patients of mine have lost sixty pounds in two months while feeling full and content. You can lose as much weight as you want even if diets have never worked for you in the past.

My promise is threefold; substantial, healthy weight reduction in a short period of time; prevention or reversal of many chronic and life-threatening medical conditions; and a new understanding of food and health that will continue to pay dividends for the rest of your life.

How a High-Protein Diet Works

This is part of a weeklong review of the popular Dr. Atkins high-protein low-carbohydrate diet-style. See Monday's post for an overview. The following is from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

How can you eat all the fat and grease that you want and still lose weight? Humans are primates; genetically and structurally, we closely resemble the gorilla. We are designed, just like the other large primates, to survive predominantly on plant foods rich in carbohydrates. When the human body finds that it does not have enough carbohydrates to run its "machinery" properly, it produces ketones, an emergency fuel that can be utilized in times of crisis.

At rest, the brain consumes about 80 percent of our energy needs. Under normal conditions, the brain can utilize only glucose as fuel. However, the human organism has evolved a remarkable adaptation that enables it to survive for long periods of time without food.

In the first few days of no carbohydrate fuel (food), the body's glucose reserves dwindle and the only way we can produce enough fuel for our hungry brain is by breaking down muscle tissue to manufacture glucose. Glucose cannot be manufactured from fat. Fortunately, our body has a built-in mechanism that allows us to conserve our muscle tissue by metabolizing a more efficient energy source--our fat supply.

After a day or two of not eating, the body dips into its fats reserves to produce ketones as an emergency fuel. As the level of ketones rise in our bloodstream, the brain accepts ketones as an alternative fuel. In this manner, we conserve muscle and increase survival during periods of food deprivation.

Atkins' dietary recommendations prey on his survival mechanism. When we restrict carbohydrates so markedly, the body thinks we care calorically deprived and ketosis results. The body begins to lose fat, even if we are consuming plenty of high-fat foods, as Atkins recommends. Once you start consuming carbohydrate-containing fruits, vegetables, or beans, the ketosis ends and the meat and fat become fattening again. Meat consumption leads to weigh gain, unless you have caused a carbohydrate-deficiency ketosis.

To make matters even worse, you pay an extra penalty from a diet so high in fat and protein to generate a chronic ketosis. Besides the increased cancer risk, your kidneys are placed under greater stress and will age more rapidly. It can take many, many years for such damage to be detected by blood tests. By the time the blood reflects the abnormality, irreversible damage may have already occurred. Blood tests that monitor kidney function typically do not begin to detect problems until more than 90 percent of the kidneys have been destroyed.

Protein is metabolized in the liver, and the nitrogenous wastes generated are broken down and then excreted by the kidney. These wastes must be eliminated for the body to maintain normal purity and a stable state of equilibrium. Most doctors are taught in medial school that a high-protein diet ages the kidney.1 What has been accepted as the normal age-related loss in renal function may really be a cumulative injury secondary to the heavy pressure imposed on the kidney by our high-protein eating habits.2

By the eighth decade of life, Americans lost about 30 percent of their kidney function.3 Many people develop kidney problems at young ages under the high-protein stress. Low-protein diets are routinely used to treat patients with liver and kidney failure.4 A recent multitrial analysis showed that reducing protein intake for patients with kidney disease decreased kidney-related death by about 40 percent.5

Diabetics, who are at increased risk of kidney disease, are extremely sensitive to the stresses a high-protein diet place on the kidney.6 In a large, multicentered study involving 1,521 patients, most of the diabetics who ate too much animal protein had lost over half their kidney function, and almost all the damage was irreversible.7 In my practice, I have seen numerous patients who have experienced significant worsening of their kidney function after attempting weight loss and diabetic control with high protein diets. Coincidence? I think not. Damage from such lopsided nutritional advice can be very serious.

Ketogenic diets, like Atkins, have been used to treat children with seizure disorders when medication alone is unresponsive. Medical studies reveal that these diets can result in serious health consequences. Investigators report a greater potential for adverse events than had ever been anticipated. The dangers of these high-protein diets include hemolytic anemia, abnormal liver function, renal tubular acidosis, and spontaneous bone fractures (despite calcium supplementation).8 Kidney stones are another risk of high protein diets.9 These studies point out that there are many subtle adverse outcomes not being attributed to this dangerous way of eating. One outcome is the Atkins Diet's relative inability to lower cholesterol when compared to my vegetable-based, nutrient-dense diet-style.

Tomorrow we will look at the increased risk of cancer associated with the Atkins' diet.

Continue Reading...

The Physician and The Student

Following is written by Dr. Fuhrman's colleague Dr. Steven Acocella, MS, D.C., DACBN, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, American College of Lifestyle Physicians, and a Diplomat of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition:

A young university pre-med student was called from class one day. It seems that unexpectedly and without warning, or even prior symptoms his dad had collapsed on their kitchen floor and was rushed to the emergency room; his dad had had a major heart attack.


At the hospital several hours later, with his father fortunately in stable condition, the son and his mother spoke about what to do "if dad makes it though this". Anxiously, his mom suggested that the son place a call to her doctor, whom she had been seeing for many years and trusted implicitly. And, this doctor was a cardiologist, so what could be better?

Calling directly from the hospital the son was able to get the doctor on the phone. They spoke at length about his dad's sudden and near fatal heart attack. What the son sought most from this kind hearted and concerned physician was advice and guidance. The son wanted to make sure his dad would recover and would never have to endure such suffering again.

The supportive doctor spoke of all the right medications, tests and about lowering his father's stress level at work. The son remembers learning the word "prognosis" that day. When the son specifically asked about diet (he told him dad had always loved barbeque and bacon) the cardiologist assured him that any connection between heart disease and food is a complete myth and that his dad's diet was fine. The doctor went on to tell the son that even if there was a connection between diet and heart disease it wouldn't help to change anything this late in his father's life. At that time his father was 53 years old. The son appreciatively took the advice from this very successful M.D. and dutifully passed it along to his parents.

Twenty-five years later the dad is still alive. He's 79 years old. In the past 20 years he has remarkably survived 5 subsequent heart attacks and a triple open-heart by-pass surgery! The mom is still alive too. She's 72 years young, but severe obesity has left her totally wheelchair bound. Both his mom and dad remain loyal to and follow the advice of their beloved doctor, even today. Their loyalty is a bit surprising considering each of their own maladies.

Well, at least they're both still alive and the family remains close. And as for the son, he knows a lot more now than he did that day in the emergency room. After completing his Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition he went on to become a doctor. In fact, the son has dedicated his professional career to the prevention and recovery of heart disease and other killers like diabetes and cancer through nutrition. Although he has become vehemently opposed to the brand of advice the kind cardiologist gave him so long ago he still does his best to help his parents with their unfortunate health problems. But sadly, despite the son's successes with his own patients, his parents remain set in their ways; they still recite their beloved doctor's rhetoric every time the concerned son tries to help.

The nice cardiologist on the phone that day in the emergency room was Dr. Robert Atkins, and that concerned son was me.

This is part of a weeklong review of the popular Dr. Atkins high-protein low-carbohydrate diet-style. Throughout the week Followhealthlife will examine: