A number of popular books, documentaries, websites and magazine articles passionately advocate different versions of a Low Carbohydrate diet. Examples are the BBC’s The Men Who Made Us Fat, ABCs Catalyst program’s The Heart of the Matter and Time Magazine’s Don’t Blame Fat.
Some facts presented by these programs include:
- Serum cholesterol is irrelevant to heart disease. Studies have consistently failed to show evidence that fat, saturated fat and cholesterol are involved in heart disease.
- The concept that diet and heart disease are linked resulted from corrupt science. Ancel Keys is frequently demonised in this regard with the assertions that he manipulated data to obtain his conclusions regarding fats and heart disease.
- The idea that saturated fats and cholesterol cause heart disease is the greatest scientific deception of our times.
Two people that the cholesterol sceptics fail to attack are Joseph Goldstein and Michael Brown. They are well known (famous) researchers in cholesterol research. They won a Nobel Prize in 1985 for determining the method that cholesterol is filtered from the blood by the liver. More Nobel Prizes have been won for research on cholesterol than any other subject. They wrote in a 1984 Scientific American article that, “extreme dietary change is not warranted for the entire population” because of the “extreme social and economic consequences” 1
Does not the 380,000 heart attacks in Australia and 45,000 deaths a year from cardiovascular disease represent severe social and economic consequences? For something that is preventable. 2
About 30% of heart attack deaths are unexpected. One morning, a family has an apparently healthy father / husband and by the next morning, they don’t. That is what I think of as being extreme.
Changing your diet is far less extreme than being wheeled into an operating theatre and having heart surgery. Having heart surgery is extreme – changing your diet – not so much.
To be fair, that statement was written in 1984. In a speech at the 2006 International Achievement Summit in Los Angeles, California, Dr. Michael Brown tells the Academy’s students that heart disease is totally preventable. He opens his talk by telling the audience to:
And it turns out to be a lot easier to do the science than to change people’s behaviour. The real news is that we shouldn’t really need these drugs (statins). That for those of us who have normal genes, the reason why our blood is being filled up with cholesterol is because we are basically eating too much cholesterol and too much animal fat. And if you look at populations where the diet is lower in cholesterol and fat, they don’t need these statin drugs, they have low cholesterols in their blood, and they have twenty times lower rate of heart attacks than we do in the United States.
How many of you have been to the doctor and received nutritional advice? What was it?
The standard medical nutritional advice from the Australian Heart Foundation website includes:
- Include vegetables, wholegrains, fruit, nuts and seeds every day.
- Make good fat choices with nuts, seeds, avocadoes, olives and cook with their oils.
- Aim for fish or seafood 2-3 times a week.
- Include beans and legumes in at least 2 meals a week, and up to 6 eggs a week.
- Keep ‘sometimes’ foods to only sometimes.
- Choose reduced fat milk, cheese and yoghurt.
- Choose herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of adding salt.
- Drink water.
Doing that is like driving your car into a tree at 90 kph instead of 120 kph. It is really not all that helpful.
The Physician’s Health Study 3commenced in 1981. It consisted of a study of 22, 071 male doctors between 40 and 84 years of age in the USA who were reported an absence of heart disease, cancers, liver disease, peptic ulcer and gout.
A key finding is that physicians consuming 7 or more eggs per week had a 31% increase in all-cause mortality compared with those consuming less than 1 egg per week. With diabetic physicians, the association was much higher with the increase in mortality slightly more than doubled.
The National Heart Foundation of Australia states that “as part of a healthy balanced diet you can eat up to 6 eggs each week without increasing your risk of heart disease.” 4
Any activity that doubles the mortality rate must be treated with some caution.
Dr Walter Willett is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and head of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.
He was involved in the Nurse’s Study II. Anyone heard of the Nurse’s Study? The Nurses Study I followed 121,700 female registered nurses since 1976 and Nurses Study II followed 116,000 female nurses since 1989 to assess risk factors for cancer and cardiovascular disease.
After adjustment for lifestyle and dietary factors, the hazard ratio of total mortality for a 1-serving per-day (85 g/d) increase was 1.13 for unprocessed red meat and 1.20 for processed red meat.
CVD mortality hazard ratio was 1.18 and 1.21. For cancer mortality, the hazard ratios were 1.10 and 1.16.
Substitutions of 1 serving per day with fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy and whole grains for 1 serving per day of red meat were associated with a 7% to 19% lower mortality risk.
Dr Willett has said, “the optimal amount of red meat in the diet is zero”.
Who watched the ABC’s Catalyst programs the Heart of the Matter that was shown in about cholesterol and heart disease? What did you learn from it? 5
Dr Ernest Curtis was the expert cardiologist in the program. He claims that we have been lied to regarding cholesterol and its role in heart disease.
“Everybody has atherosclerosis to one degree or another,” states Dr. Ernest N. Curtis. “It is simply a biological fact of aging.”
Atherosclerosis is not a product of aging but the consequence of long-term consumption of our Standard Western Diet.
Autopsies of 300 male soldiers killed in action in Korea showed 77.3% of the soldiers had gross evidence of heart problems. The average age was 22 years, fit and active and had not been diagnosed with heart problems. 6
Yes, heart disease is inevitable if you continue eating our standard diet.
Or you can choose to not only stop the progress of the heart disease but reverse it.
Dr Curtis also stated that we do not know the cause of heart disease. What he really means is no explanation that matches his view.
It is “Normal” to Die from Heart Disease
One difficulty in accepting the role of cholesterol in heart disease is that the “normal” ranges in Western countries are unhealthy. It is also normal to die from heart disease. 31% of all deaths in Australian (that is, 45,600 people) died of heart diseases in 2011. 7
According to the Mayo Clinic, cholesterol should be below 200 mg/dL (5.2 mmol/L). 8
- Dr Bill Roberts (previous long-time editor of the medical journal Cardiology)
- Dr Bill Castelli (former director of the Framingham Heart Study)
- Dr Caldwell Esselstyn (former surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic)
have stated that they have never seen a heart disease fatality when cholesterol levels are below 150 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L).
Type II diabetes is another disease that is rapidly becoming more prevalent. It is detected by the amount of glucose in the urine. The kidneys are attempting to get rid of the excess glucose in the blood. The obvious solution is to reduce the amount of carbohydrate that you consume.
What really happens is that because of a high fat diet, the muscle cells contain an excess amount of fat. This prevents insulin from doing its job of allowing glucose to enter into the muscle cells.
The cells are not getting the fuel they need – you become tired. The excess glucose needs to be removed by the kidneys.
A whole-food, plant based diet can solve this problem in a very short period of time – a few days to a few weeks.
In 1990s, Finland had the highest incidence of Type I diabetes and cow’s milk consumption in the world. They also had the highest incidence of heart disease deaths.
In Finland, researchers compared levels of incompletely digested cow’s milk protein (Bovine Serum Albumin – BSA) in 142 diabetic children. Levels of IgG anti-BSA antibodies were higher than 3.55 RFUs (relative fluorescence units) for the 142 diabetic children whilst each non-diabetic child in the control group of 79 children had levels of less than 3.55. 9
There was no overlap of the levels between the two groups of children. All children with diabetes had a higher level of the antibodies (which can only occur from consuming cow’s milk) than the group without diabetes.
There is a specific sequence of 17 amino acids that is found in proteins in cow’s milk. The immune system recognises this sequence as a foreign intruder so antibodies are produced to eliminate the unwanted intruders. Unfortunately, the same 17 amino acid sequence is found on the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin. Consequently, the immune system is unable to distinguish the cow’s milk protein fragments from the pancreatic cells. It therefore destroys both which leads to the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin and leads to a life time dependency of insulin injections and their consequences.
Why are we told that it is important to eat dairy? To get calcium. What happens if you do not get sufficient calcium? Osteoporosis. Hip fractures.
Where do you get calcium from if you do not eat dairy products? The same foods that cows, elephants, rhinoceros and brontosaurus obtain their calcium. Plants, green leafy vegetables. The following graph show hip fractures increase as the intake of calcium increases.
Hip fractures increase also as the intake of animal protein increases.
Dr. James Anderson is Professor Emeritus at the University of Kentucky who has been researching diabetes for more than 30 years. He advocates a high carbohydrate, high fibre diet for treating diabetes. 12
Ideally, diets providing 70% of calories as carbohydrate and up to 70 gm fiber daily offer the greatest health benefits for individuals with diabetes. However, these diets allow only one to two ounces of meat daily and are impractical for home use for many individuals.
It should be noted that living with diabetes is not always practical either.
A strong commitment to health has been a part of Seventh Day Adventist’s tradition since in founding in the 1840s.
There has been three large Adventist cohort studies in the United States and Canada 13 since the 1950s.
Data from the AHS-2 study shows that Adventists smoke much less frequently than the general American population (males – 1.2%, females – 1.0%) and drink less alcohol (6.6% drink alcohol).
Diet is also significantly different from the general population with 4.2% are total vegetarian, 31.6% lacto-ovo-vegetarian, 11.4% include fish with their lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, 6.1% are semi-vegetarian (eat meat <1 time/week) and 46.8% are non-vegetarian.
The AHS-1 study showed 30-year-old Adventist males lives 7.3 years longer than the average 30-year-old white Californian male and with females living 4.4 years longer than the average Californian white female. For vegetarians it is 9.5 years longer for men and 6.1 years longer for women. The rate of breast and prostate cancer is 4 times greater in the US population than is experienced by the Adventists. Similarly, the rate of cardiovascular disease is 5 times greater in the general population.
Men drinking five to six glasses of water a day had a 60% – 70% reduction of the incidence of a fatal heart attack. 14
The table below shows the Odds Ratio of the prevalence of type 2 diabetes and BMI according to diet type. 15
|Category||%||BMI||Type 2 diabetes
Odds ratio (*)
No red meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs
Vegan with eggs and milk
Vegan with fish, milk and eggs
Red meat, poultry less than once a week plus fish, milk, and eggs
Red meat, poultry more than once a week plus fish, milk, and eggs
(*) After adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity, education, income, physical activity, television watching, sleep habits and alcohol use.
Below are difference in outcomes depending upon diet type. Vegetarians in the tables below include vegans, lacto-ovo-vegetarians and pesco-vegetarians. 16
Odds ratios by vegetarians compare with non-vegetarians in California Seventh-day Adventists
|Cause of Mortality||Vegetarian||Vegan||Significance|
|All-cause mortality||0.91||0.85||< 0.05|
|• Males||0.86||0.72||< 0.05|
|• Females||0.94||0.97||< 0.05|
|• Males||1.01||0.81||< 0.05|
|• Females||0.85||0.99||< 0.05|
|Ischemic heart disease||0.82||0.90||< 0.05|
|• Males||0.76||0.45||< 0.05|
|• Females||0.85||1.39||< 0.05|
|Cardiovascular disease||0.90||0.91||< 0.05|
|• Males||0.77||0.58||< 0.05|
|• Females||0.99||1.18||< 0.05|
|Other cause||0.91||0.74||< 0.05|
|• Males||0.89||0.81||< 0.05|
|• Females||0.93||0.70||< 0.05|
Relative risk of common cancers in Seventh-day Adventist vegetarians compared with non-vegetarians
These studies show that replacing red meat, with chicken and fish is of limited benefit. It is still a high fat, high protein, high animal based diet.
Colin Campbell is a nutritional biochemist at Cornell University. In the 1960s, he was involved in nutritional programs in the Philippines to help families provide for their critically undernourished children. Peanuts were one of their preferred sources of protein. It is a legume – great for improving the soil, easy to grow and is nutritious and tasty. 17
Children younger than 10, were dying at alarming rates from liver cancer. Normally liver cancer is an adult disease. And the children dying from the disease were from the most affluent suburbs in Manila. These are the families that could afford the best housing and the best food.
Whilst in the Philippines, he read a paper in an obscure medical journal. Rats were fed aflatoxin – one of the deadliest carcinogens known. One group of rats was given a diet of 20% protein – and they all died of liver cancer. The second group was given a diet of 5% protein – they all lived. 100% deaths compared to 0 deaths. They were all fed aflatoxin – but only those rats that had a high protein diet died.
And, peanuts and corn in the Philippines were often contaminated by aflatoxin. And what did the wealthy eat – the wealthy ate western style diets – one rich in protein. That was Colin Campbell’s first clue.
Feeding the rats a 20% protein diet of casein (the main protein of cow’s milk) and albumin (the main protein of egg white) resulted in cancer deaths. Feeding the rats 20% protein of gluten or pea protein did not result in deaths. Grains are often considered to be deficient in the amino acid lysine. However, if lysine was added to the gluten to match the lysine content of the egg, then this resulted in deaths from liver cancer.
A few years later, in the early 1970s, the premier of China, Chen EnLai, was dying of cancer. At the terminal stage of his illness, he instigated a survey of death rates from cancers throughout China. Some regions showed cancer rates over 100 times greater than the counties with the lowest rates. The counties with the highest rates were still lower than the death rates of the USA.
To study these results, a team of scientists from Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, Cornell and Oxford Universities conducted a study of 6,500 people in 65 different counties over a period of 20 years. They looked at over 360 different health, lifestyle and nutrition factors and found over 8,000 significant correlations.
Some comparisons with Chinese and American diets are worthwhile examining.
|Nutrient||China||US||US / China|
|Calories (kcal/ day)||2641||1989||0.75|
|Total fat (% of calories)||14.5||34 38||2.5|
|Dietary fiber (g/ day)||33||12||0.36|
|Total protein (g/ day)||64||91||1.4|
|Animal protein (% of calories)||0.8||10 11||12|
|Total iron (mg/ day)||34||18||0.5|
Chinese consume much more calories but they weigh much less. They eat more fibre with much less fat and protein. Animal sources for the Chinese diet is less than one tenth of the American diet. Despite that Chinese people consume twice as much iron.
Let’s compare our anatomy with real carnivores. Our canine teeth are canine only in name. A real carnivore (like your cat and dog) has razor sharp canine teeth designed for ripping and tearing. Our molars a large and flat designed for grinding fibrous plant material. The jaws of a carnivore move up and down – they tear the food and swallow it whole. We can move our jaws up and down and side to side to ground the food.
Our intestines are much longer in comparison to carnivores. A carnivore intestine is 3 – 6 times the body length whilst humans are 10 times. All animal proteins produce carcinogenic compounds – even more so when cooked. Therefore, the least amount of time it is in the carnivore’s body the better. Animal proteins also produce opiates which probably explains are addiction to meat.
And our hands – try wrestling a pig to the ground with your bare hands and making a meal of it. Yes, it may sound appealing but if you actually try it – it is not really practical. These are dexterous hands of a food gatherer not the claws of a hunter.
Harvey Diamond writes – “Put a baby in a crib with a rabbit and an apple. If the baby plays with the apple and eats the rabbit, I’ll buy you a new car”. 18
We are simply not designed to eat rabbits, pigs or any other creature that can hop, walk, swim or crawl.
If you doubt that a whole food plant-based diet is our natural diet then consider this. When you see dead kangaroo on the side of the road, are you tempted to stop for a snack?
Professor Colin Campbell conclusion from his 20-year study in China:
- Brown, M. S. & Goldstein, J. L. (1984) How LDL receptors influence cholesterol and atherosclerosis. Scientific American. 251 (5), 58–66.
- Australian Heart Foundation www.heartfoundation.org.au/
- Anon (n.d.) Physicians’ Health Study Web Site [online]. Available from: http://phs.bwh.harvard.edu/index.html.
- National Heart Foundation of Australia (n.d.) Eggs – The Heart Foundation [online]. Available from: heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition/protein-foods/eggs (Accessed 18 February 2016)
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation – Catalyst program shown Thursday 31 October 8pm
- The China Study Campbell T. Colin; Thomas M. Campbell II (2006-06-01) We (p. 112). BenBella Books
- Australian Heart Foundation website www.heartfoundation.org.au/
- Karjalainen, J. et al. (1992) A Bovine Albumin Peptide as a possible trigger of insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus. New England Journal of Medicine. (327), 302–307.
- Saukkonen, T. et al. (1994) Children With Newly Diagnosed IDDM Have Increased Levels of Antibodies to Bovine Serum Albumin But Not to Ovalbumin. Diabetes Care. 17 (9), 970–976
- Levy-Marchal, C. et al. (1995) Antibodies against bovine albumin and other diabetes markers in French children. Diabetes Care. 18 (8), 1089–1094
- Anderson, J. et al. (1987) Dietary fiber and diabetes: a comprehensive review and practical application. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 87 (9)
- Butler, T. L. et al. (2008) Cohort profile: The Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2). International Journal of Epidemiology. 37 (2), 260–265.
- Buettner, D. (2012) The Blue Zones. Second Ed. Washington DC: National Geographic.
- Tonstad, S. et al. (2009) Type of vegetarian diet, body weight, and prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 32 (5), 791–796.
- Fraser, G. E. (1999) Associations between diet and cancer, ischemic heart disease, and all-cause mortality in non-Hispanic white California Seventh-day Adventists. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 70 (3), 532s–538s
- The China Study Campbell T. Colin; Thomas M. Campbell II (2006-06-01) We (p. 112). BenBella Books
- Harvey & Marilyn Diamond Fit for Life Harper Collins (USA) 1985