Category Archives: Fat in Diet

What’s Our Preferred Fuel?

Dr. Jay Wortman has been thinking about whether our bodies prefer to run on carbohydrates (as a source of glucose) or, instead, on fats.  The standard American diet provides derives about half of its energy from carbs, 35% from fats, and 15% from proteins.  So you might guess our bodies prefer carbohydrates as a fuel source.  Dr. Wortman writes:

Now, consider the possibility that we weren’t meant to burn glucose at all as a primary fuel. Consider the possibility that fat was meant to be our primary fuel. In my current state of dietary practice, I am burning fat as my main source of energy. My liver is converting some of it to ketones which are needed to fuel the majority of my brain cells. A small fraction of the brain cells, around 15%, need glucose along with a few other tissues like the renal cortex, the lens of the eye, red blood cells and sperm.Their needs are met by glucose that my liver produces from proteins. The rest of my energy needs are met with fatty acids and these come from the fats I eat.

Dr. Wortman, who has type 2 diabetes,  in the same long post also writes about oolichan grease (from fish), an ancestral food of Canandian west coast First Nations people. 

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under Carbohydrate, Fat in Diet, Fish

What Happened to Lard?

Lard? Wut choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?

Lard may be making a come-back.  An NPR article reviews its fall from grace, with mention of Upton Sinclair, Procter and Gamble, and Crisco.

Steve Parker, M.D.

h/t Laura Dolson

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Filed under Fat in Diet

Got Spare Time?: Track Your Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acid Consumption

One of the major changes in the Western diet over the last century has been the increase in our consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, primarily in the form of industrial seed oils.  Examples include oils derived from soybeens, corn, and rapeseed (canola oil).  Omega-6 fatty acid consumption in the U.S. increased by 213% since 2009.  This may have important implications for development of certain chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.  Excessive omega-6 consumption may be harmful.  On the other hand, omega-3 fatty acid consumption may prevent or mitigate the damages.  Hence, the omega-6/omega-3 ratio becomes important.

This’ll improve your omega-6/omega-3 ratio!

I haven’t studied this issue in great detail but hope to do so at some point.  Evelyn Tribole has strong opinions on it; I may get one of her books.

I saw an online video of William E.M.Lands, Ph.D., discussing the omega-6/omega-3 ratio.  He mentioned free software available from the National Insitutes of Health that would help you monitor and adjust your ratio.

You can see the video here.  Dr. Lands’ talk starts around minute 12 and lasts about 45 minutes.  He says it’s just as important (if not more so) to reduce your omega-6 consumption as to increase your omega-3.  And don’t overeat.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under cancer, coronary heart disease, Fat in Diet

Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt Explains LCHF Diet

LCHF Cheese

Dr. Eenfeldt of DietDoctor.com gave a talk at the recent Ancestral Health Symposium in California, on the rationale of the current low-carb, high-fat diet (LCHF) so popular in his home country of Sweden.  It’s very understandable to the general public and is a good introduction to low-carb eating.  The entire YouTube video is 55 minutes; if you’re pressed for time, skip the 10-minute Q&A at the end.

He also discusses the benefits of LCHF eating for his patients with diabetes.

If you reduce carbohydrate, you’re going to replace it with either protein, fat, or both.  As Dr. Eenfeldt recommends, the Ketogenic Mediterranean and Low-Carb Mediterranean Diets replace carbs more with fats than protein.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under Carbohydrate, Fat in Diet

Which Of Three Low-Carb Diets Reduces Future Risk of Diabetes?

Men eating low-carb diets featuring protein and fats from sources other than red and processed meats may reduce risk of developing type 2 diabetes later, compared to other types of low-carb diets.  The same Boston-based researchers previously looked for a similar association in women and found none.

The article in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition seems to me unusually complicated, like the first sentence of this post.  It was frustrating to read, searching for but not finding much useful for clinical practice.  How low-carb were these diets?  Thirty-seven to 43% of energy from carbs in the most dedicated dieters, compared to 50-60% in the standard American diet.

After wading through most of this article, I came away with the impression the authors were just data-mining a huge database, to add one more item to their CVs (curriculum vitae).  This article is a confusing mess, or maybe I’m just stupid. I regret wasting an hour on it.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: De Konig, Lawrence, et al.  Low-carbohydrate diet scores and risk of type 2 diabetes in menAmercan Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.004333

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Filed under Causes of Diabetes, Fat in Diet, Protein

Dietary Oil Change Over the Last Century

Dr. Stephan Guyenet at  Whole Health Source provides details about the large increase in U.S. consumption of industrial seed oils over the last hundred years.  I’ve  not studied the issue in detail, so I have no opinion about the health ramifications.  But it’s interesting for sure.  Dr. G is well worth reading.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under Fat in Diet

Asian Strokes Are Not Same as Western

The higher the consumption of saturated fat, the lower the risk of death from stroke, according to Japanese researchers in a recent American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Most physicians in the West would have predicted the opposite: saturated fats increase your risk of stroke.  Western physicians tend to think most strokes and heart attacks are caused by the same process, atherosclerosis, and would be aggravated by saturated fat consumption.  We’re learning that ain’t necessarily so.

Most strokes in the Western world are thought to be linked to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) of relatively large arteries. In Japan, most strokes not caused by bleeding in the head are actually lacunar infarctions involving small arteries in the brain, not necessarily involving atherosclerosis

Another major difference between East and West is that saturated fat consumption in Japan is far lower than in the West.

Are you confused yet?

It seems to me that comparing strokes in Japan versus the West is comparing apples to oranges.  The take-away point to me is that we have to be quite wary of generalizing the research results applicable to one culture or ethnic group, to others.

By the way, stroke had been the third leading cause of death in the U.S. for the last 50 years.  It was recently demoted to fourth place by chronic lower respiratory disease.  The traditional Mediterranean diet is one way to reduce your risk of stroke, and the DASH diet works for women.  Keeping your blood pressure under 140/90 is another.  And don’t smoke.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference:  Yamagishi, Kazumasa, et al.  Dietary intake of saturated fatty acids and mortality from cardiovascular disease in Japanese: the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study for Evaluation of Cancer Risk Study.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 4, 2010.  doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.29146

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Filed under Fat in Diet