For years I suffered the fate of hayfever whenever winter abated and the sun reared its head. A time in which most peoples mood takes a sunny disposition was a season of dread for me.
We are ever moving towards a totalitarian superstate that exercises power and control over our lives, as envisaged by both George Orwell and Aldus Huxley. Authoritarianism shrouds our society and the transition towards a dystopian world happens from the moment you are born. The recent threat to tax sugar is an attempt to punish behaviors by an authoritarian government with a history of poor health advice. Claims made about sugar in regard to both obesity and health are backed up by what is labeled as weak evidence (i.e. not evidence).
As Orwell stated, “ignorance becomes strength” and via the mainstream media, our educational system, we slip into either learned helplessness in which we feel powerless to oppose, or we become ignorant/oblivious to alternatives. As a political tool controlling dissent and critical thought give power or indeed, authority.
As Huxley suggested, social control and ignorance has been introduced via the methods of pleasure and distraction. A world obsessed with celebrity, happily watching reality shows while eschewing actual reality. Chasing identities sold to us by the media sources that we freely trust without question. Allowing industry to freely show us what commodities are necessary to conform be it in social standing or even in the role of sick patient.
Critical thinking is dead, and if I’m honest I think it is squeezed out of us the moment childhood ends and education begins. From the very moment we dampen the inquisitive nature of our children and begin to focus them on curriculum criteria, we begin to kill the possibility freethinking. Daring to oppose the mainstream (group think) opinion risks being ostracisied from the jobs, educational settings and risks your ability to tick the boxes needed to move forward in society.
By the time we become adults we've often lost the ability to ask "why?". Oppression via distractions, diversions and the illusion the authority needs to be respected. Yet we soak it up and shirk at the thought of being asked to stand on our own two feet, to think for ourself and draw our own conclusions away from the vile contrived opinions of the Daily Mail. From sugar hating right through to the deadly C, we happily read and fall inline with all that we are told without question. Often by the time I meet a client they are swimming in a swimming pool of learned helplessness unable to stop themselves from drowning despite being told the water isn't deep, stand up and you can save yourself. Time and time again I throw out pubmed studies and suggest people confront their physician with their own evidence, to be hit back with "my doctor didn't want to discuss it", or "I don't want to upset them".
From a young age we constantly ask our parents “why?” and at times it can be frustrating to constantly receive the same question to every little thing that pops in their inquisitive minds. However, you’re empowering them more than any education they will ever receive, by simply engaging in the question. Help them look for real answers. Encourage the why, standby them if they challenge authority and above all question everything. For it is a dire state to be in when someone is no longer interested standing up and challenging authority. Do the same yourself,be a kid and question everything.
Prior to reading this article please be aware that in no way do I intend to offend anyone who has or wishes to raise money for the various cancer charities, I have the upmost respect for anyone who has dedicated their time and effort to a cause in which they believed would help. The criticism is focused on an industry that continues ‘research’ poor theories whilst avoiding biological evidence that won’t generate profit. Countless money is being wasted on an un-winnable war.
The War on Cancer was intended as an effort to research the biology of cancer with the aim of developing ‘effective’ cancer treatments. President Nixon declared War on Cancer when he signed the National Cancer Act of 1971, yet it is a war which ultimately has no end insight with no real progress by the allies in attacking the so called enemy. Forget about ISIS, the War on Cancer has cost the public dear, both in terms of lost life and wasted financial investment. Just like War’s in far away lands, the only benefits seem currently to be those who can profit from an enduring battle. Yesterday was the Anniversary of the Great War (December 23, 1971), is it time we declared peace, stopped fighting and directed our efforts at a scientific evidence based understanding of cancer metabolism?
How much has this war cost us? And what, if anything, has it achieved?
161,823 died of cancer in the UK during 2012 http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/content/cancer-mortality-statistics#heading-Zero and the financial costs were no less startling, estimated at ‘over £15 billion’ per year. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20222759
Year upon year we spend more and more on cancer treatment, we raised £522 million for Cancer Research here in the UK between 2014 and 2015 http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/sites/default/files/annual_report_and_accounts_2014-15.pdf
Sadly, despite their claims that we’re beating cancer sooner, we aren’t. As Kolata (2009) discussed, the cancer death rate, adjusted for the size and age of the population, has only decreased by 5 percent since the 50’s, and even that is debatable. (Read this article about how industry plays with the figures to both keep us donating and impress upon us that progress is being made in the war http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/cancer-disorder-energy.shtml). Cancer remains a major cause of death, and an unknown attacker despite 40+ years of ‘research’. Currently the war efforts are directed towards the Human Genome Project, which is intended to expose the genetic factors that cause cancer. As ever this is currently unable to progress the frontline battle and our frontline troops face an uncertain future as they raise money for research and keep their fingers crossed that aren’t one of the unlucky ones that gets dragged into a dirty war. For more on the gene mutation theory, have a look at this fantastic article by Ray http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/the-cancer-matrix.shtml
I have a confession, to my knowledge I have never donated to a Cancer Charity, other than ones set up directly by families in which I know they money is helping them directly at a very difficult time (either to seek treatment not paid for via the National Health Service or just to maintain their ability to survive during tough times). I have donated many hours to assist those in need (if they wish my advice) and will continue to do so. However, I will not put a penny in the pot if it goes towards junk research, as I stated earlier I totally respect anyone who has engaged in actively trying to help but for me the effort is unjustified from two major points.
So, should you run the race for life, or is it in fact putting you in the firing line? Lactate is produced during aerobic glycolysis when glucose is broken down and oxidized. During intense exercise (anaerobic glycolysis) when oxygen levels are lower, there is increased production of lactate.
‘High rate of glycolysis is a metabolic hallmark of cancer, and anaerobic glycolysis promotes energy production under hypoxia (inadequate oxygen in the tissue). Indeed, lactate is associated with poor clinical outcome in several cancers, and whilst initially considered an indicator of the glycolytic flux, we now know that lactic acid directly contributes to tumor growth and progression.’ (Dhup, Dadhich, Porporato, & Sonveaux. (2012). Cellular respiration refers to the metabolic processes occurring within the cells that convert food into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and waste products. Large molecules are broken down into smaller molecules that releases the energy that we need. Sugar, fatty acids and amino acids are all utilised and oxidised with oxygen (O2).
Aerobic respiration requires that we have O2 available in order that we can generate ATP. Pyruvate enters the mitochondria to be fully oxidized by the Krebs cycle resulting in the ‘so called’ waste product ‘carbon dioxide’ as well as water (H2O). The energy produced then breaks the bonds in Adenosine diphosphate (ADP) adding a third phosphate to form the ATP via the metabolic reaction known as substrate-level phosphorylation. NADH is also oxidized to NAD+, yielding 2.5 ATPs and FADH2 (flavin adenine dinucleotide) yields 1.5 ATPs during oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), which provides most of the ATP produced via cellular respiration.
The potential of NADH and FADH2 is converted to more ATP via the electron transport chain in which oxygen is the terminal electron acceptor. In theory 38 ATP molecules can be produced via cellular respiration (2 via glycolysis, 2 via Krebs cycle, and about 34 via the electron transport system). However, the yield can be lower due to various factors and may be anywhere between 29 to 30 ATP per glucose. Aerobic metabolism is much more efficient than anaerobic metabolism (which yields 2 molecules ATP per 1 molecule glucose).
Glycolysis is a pathway that can function both with and without oxygen. As discussed above, aerobic conditions produce pyruvate and anaerobic conditions produces lactate.
However, without oxygen pyruvate is not metabolised via cellular respiration and instead undergoes fermentation. Pyruvate is no longer transported into the mitochondria, instead it remains in the cytoplasm and is converted to waste products so that it can be removed from the cell. This works to oxidize the electron carriers allowing them to perform glycolysis and remove the excess pyruvate. Fermentation oxidizes the NADH to NAD+ so it can be re-used in glycolysis, which prevents a build up of NADH in the cytoplasm. This waste product is called lactic acid that occurs due to lactic acid fermentation. When your energy needs exceed your supply (such as when running a charity race), the respiratory chain is no longer able to process the hydrogen atoms that are joined by NADH. NAD+ regenerates when the pairs of hydrogen combine with the pyruvate and form the lactate. When oxygen becomes available again NAD+ attaches to hydrogen from the lactate and forms ATP. The fermentation process is far less efficient and produces only 2 ATP compared to the 29-38 ATP produced during aerobic respiration.
Otto Warburg's early work on Cancer Metabolism is often misrepresented (you’ll often see Warburg credited as finding that sugar causes Cancer) yet his main observation was that lactic acid was produced by cancer cells even when adequate oxygen was seemingly present. Over exertion (such as when running) depletes our reserves of glucose and we shift to producing lactic acid, which in turn increases cortisol (stress hormone) and causes you to shift to fat and protein as fuel rather than glucose (hurrah you here the fat burning gym junkies cry). How long you have the ability to run for without shifting to using fat or protein for fuel is an unknown factor, basically you could either run out of glucose stores (unless you have a very large rucksack to carry enough fuel for your required distance) or you may fail to consume enough oxygen. Either way its safe to assume that running any sort of distance puts you at an enhanced risk of fat/protein usage as opposed to the preferred source.
Forming lactic acid as a by-product of adapted energy metabolism is normal if one is running. For example, if you’re being chased by an attacker then it is far safer to produce fuel via an emergency mechanism if your either low on glucose or oxygen (such as when you’re losing the ability to breath properly mid chase). Long term its not a biomarker you wish to exhibit. Both Warburg and Albert Szent-Gyorgyi pioneered the understanding of respiratory defects being present in Cancer cases. Indeed Koch showed that the ability to efficiently use oxygen corrected a cancer metabolism.
Kolata. (2009). In long drive to cure cancer, advances have been elusive. The New York Times, April 24.
Dhup., S, Dadhich., R, K, Porporato., P, E, & Sonveaux,. P. (2012). Multiple biological activities of lactic acid in cancer: influences on tumor growth, angiogenesis and metastasis. Curr Pharm Des;18(10):1319-30.)
Koch, W.F. (1921). The Survival Factor in Neoplastic and Viral Diseases. The Inter. Oxid. Instit., Priest River, Idaho, 83856.
Endorphins are often referred to as the brain's "feel-good" chemicals. More often than not when I describe the lack of actual benefit from cardiovascular exercise, I'm confronted with the 'but it makes me feel good' stance.
Endorphin's are morphine like chemicals, your body's own stash of opiates that help decrease pain and create feelings of euphoria. A legal drug that is produced within your own body. From an evolutionary perspective it would seem that endorphins role is to allow us to persist despite some stressor.
The pituitary gland releases endorphins in response to stress, and that could be strenuous exercise, emotional stress, pain, and even under nourishment i.e.dieting.
Endorphins work to relieve pain and also induce euphoria, which leads to it playing a role in your brain's reward system. In exercisers this is the well known phenomenon "runner's high," which relates to the highs experienced post exercise, and the serious lows if they can't fit in that run or gym session.
From a clinical perspective these "feel-good" chemicals play a role in addiction to exercise and dieting, in which an individual habitually returns to starvation/fasting protocols despite poor previous results. When they discontinue a diet or can't train the stressor is removed and the endorphins are no longer released, leaving the individual with symptoms such as anxiety, pain, depression, guilt etc. Only when the stressor returns does the exerciser/dieter get their fix of opiate-like chemicals.
Thanks to Emma for this propaganda article http://www.msn.com/en-gb/health/nutrition/sugar-how-we-came-to-crave-the-food-that-nobody-needs/ar-BBmM1g5?li=AA51YE&ocid=HPCDHP
For those of you that don't want to click on the link and give the site a payday, I've pasted parts of it below. In short they are once again stating that we don't need sugar when I think you'll find that we do. In fact the brain needs around 120g a day and cannot function without it (aside from during prolonged starvation when it reverts to a survival mechanism...oddly some diets attempt to keep you in this shock/stress state).
It seems as though no other substance occupies so much of the world’s land, for so little benefit to humanity, as sugar. According to the latest data, sugarcane is the world’s third most valuable crop after cereals and rice, and occupies 26,942,686 hectares of land across the globe. I think we've already covered this, sugar does is fairly valuable for humanity, it is what our cells rely upon for energy.
Its main output – apart from commercial profits – is a global public health crisis, which has been centuries in the making. I'd like to see the evidence for this...oddly I can't find any!
The obesity epidemic – along with related diseases including cancer, dementia, heart disease and diabetes – has spread across every nation where sugar-based carbohydrates have come to dominate to the food economy. Again I've yet to see any evidence for these bold claims. Correlation doesn't equals causation, I mean it would be daft for me to point the figure at polyunsaturated fatty acids and state that the increased intake of these oils also correlates fairly well with increases in various disease states.
The rest of the article rants on about the socioeconomic impact of sugar and even it's links to slavery. Nasty old sugar, that essential energy that your brain needs to survive has a shady past.
As Jamie admits on his website, his team started looking into sugar consumption and decided they had enough to film a TV documentary. Now don't get me wrong, he may be well meaning, but the fact that he sees these devastating effects of sugar and decides to make a TV show just makes me think one thing, money, fame and attention. However lets play the game and imagine it was all for our benefit to scare us into becoming sugar-phobic like Davina McCall.
Jamie is pushing for a tax on sugary drinks, not the tax you already pay on many foods and beverages but another one just on drinks that contain added sugar (I'm fairly sure he's not including alcohol). He's not asking that you be taxed for indulging in his delicious sugary desserts, just drinks as far as I'm aware. I'm sure he'll still sell pavlova in his restaurants so don't panic just yet.
You can read this 'courageous, forward-thinking' document here Public Health England - Sugar Reduction, The Evidence for Action. Sadly this great document doesn't really contain anything new and just refers to The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report, Carbohydrate and Health which we'll cover in more detail later.
My belief is that the SACN report is based upon the World Health Organisation (WHO) Guidelines: Sugar Intake for Adults and Children which I covered in my previous blog post.
As you can see above, the WHO recommendations are based upon low quality and moderate quality evidence in relation to body weight, and very low and moderate quality evidence for dental caries. Basically it's not evidence that any self respecting scientist would dare use to make such bold statements.
However, as we know Jamie is using the SACN guidance for his campaign. So I thought I'd have a look through it and see what the evidence looks like.
The Science Behind SACN’s review contains the 'evidence' on page 15-18 and it makes for an interesting read. For the full review click the link above.
SACN’s claim the review was comprehensive and includes systematic reviews of the literature in order to identify 'relevant' studies.
Their 'objective was to identify the best quality evidence' so they restricted it to 'evidence from randomised controlled trials (which have the potential to demonstrate a causal relationship, e.g. between an aspect of diet and a risk factor for disease) and prospective cohort studies (which reveal associations, e.g. between an aspect of diet and a disease risk factor or endpoint) as these are considered the most robust study designs for diet and health research.'
Here are a few gems taken from this comprehensive review about the dangers of sugar. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions about the quality of evidence upon which Mr Oliver has based his latest campaign.
'Very few studies on the effects of individual sugars, such as glucose, fructose or sucrose, met the inclusion criteria. There was also insufficient evidence of appropriate quality to draw conclusions on the impact of sugars intake on the majority of cardio- metabolic outcomes in adults, including body weight.
Few trials on fructose met the inclusion criteria for the SACN report because many were either not randomised or they were of insufficient duration. No studies specifically investigating the effects of high fructose corn syrup were identified that met the inclusion criteria. However, as concern has been expressed around fructose consumption and its implications for cardio-metabolic health, evidence from trials that did not meet the inclusion criteria for SACN’s report were considered. It was concluded that, on balance, there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that fructose intake, at levels consumed in the normal UK diet, leads to adverse health outcomes independently of any effects related to fructose’s presence as a component of total and free sugars.'
'There was a lack of evidence to assess the impact of sugars intake on oral health in adults; evidence for a relationship comes from studies in children and adolescents. Most of the evidence on sugars and on sugars-sweetened foods and beverages considered in SACN’s report is derived from prospective cohort studies.'
'Prospective cohort studies are observational in nature rather than involving an intervention and so cannot demonstrate a causal relationship, only an association. Generally, evidence from three or more such studies was used to judge whether an association existed, where possible supported by a meta-analysis of the combined data.'
'Expert judgement was also applied and where an association appeared to exist, the evidence was graded as adequate, moderate or limited (details of the evidence grading system used by SACN can be found in Annex 2 of the SACN report).'
The evidence for a relationship between sugars intake and tooth decay comes from mainly prospective cohort studies and some trials, conducted in children and adolescents. Studies that adjusted results for tooth brushing frequency were given more weight during the assessment because oral hygiene practices may have affected results. SACN concluded that decreased consumption of free sugars would help to lower the risk of dental decay, which continues to be a problem in the UK.
In children and adolescents:
Cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes
The findings from prospective studies were:
but a greater risk of type 2 diabetes is associated with a higher intake of sugars- sweetened beverages. This finding was not supported by the limited evidence from randomised trials, which showed no effect of diets differing in sugars content on blood sugar and insulin levels or on insulin resistance (see paragraphs 6.25-6.28 of the SACN report)
SACN comments that the reason for this discrepancy with type 2 diabetes, between the results of prospective studies and randomised controlled trials, is not clear. Presumably the increased risk might reflect higher energy intakes among those with higher intakes of sugars-sweetened drinks. In a meta-analysis of prospective (observational) cohort studies, incidence of type 2 diabetes increased by 23% for each additional 330ml/day of sugars- sweetened drinks consumed (see paragraphs 6.35-6.37 of the SACN report).
Randomised controlled trials
Although most of the evidence available that met SACN’s inclusion criteria came from prospective, observational cohort studies, some randomised controlled trials also met the inclusion criteria. Randomised controlled trials can provide evidence of causal relationships rather than associations. Generally, there needed to be three or more randomised controlled trials to determine whether or not there was evidence of an effect. Where an effect appeared to be present, the evidence was graded by SACN as adequate, moderate or limited.
Randomised controlled trials examining cardiovascular risk factors, body weight, inflammatory markers and risk factors for type 2 diabetes demonstrate no effects of increasing sugars intake.
There is also insufficient evidence to assess the link between individual sugars and sugars-sweetened foods and drinks and cardio-metabolic outcomes.
I'm not totally against Jamie's desire to shift people towards a more wholesome diet, but his demonisation of sugar in drinks whilst continuing to sell sweet desserts ironically leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth. As I've stated before, sugar is neither toxic (unless consumed in massive doses, which applies to most substances) or addictive. It is essential, (especially for brain function it would appear) and pretty disgusting if consumed alone (take the sugar challenge and see how many spoonfuls of table sugar you want to consume). I admit that when food processors get their hands on sugar and fat they are able to induce sometimes uncontrollable cravings, but as a chef surely that is Jamie's role? To create dishes that entice our tastebuds and leave us desiring more?
So is it a 'courageous, forward-thinking' document with evidence for action.....or a cowardly, backward-thinking attack with action without evidence that Jamie doesn't fully understand?
According to the mainstream media, and that includes social media. Sugar is toxic, addictive and destroying the western world. An obesity crisis once blamed upon fat is now the fault of sugar.
Davina's "scary science bit" mentioned the World Health Organisation's (WHO) guidelines on sugar from 2002. A quick venture online and you can find the latest edition of this highly scientific document.
Within that document (page 12 if I remember correctly) we can see the quality of evidence that was used to determine such strong recommendations.
As you can see, Davina's book has a lot of sugar contained within the recipes. This caused a bit of an online backlash from both the pro-sugar camp, mocking the fact that sugar was openly used, and the anti-sugar camp who were disgusted that it wasn't extreme enough. Davina fought back via Twitter and pointed out that it was a plan that ended up sugar free, and not sugar free from the outset.
So, do we really need sugar? It appears we do, let's look at our most vital bodily part the brain. Your brain almost exclusively relies upon glucose, except during prolonged starvation (as encouraged by most media sources). It consumes around 120g daily which is about 420 calories so it would seem daft to avoid it when our survival is dependent upon it.
All forms of digestible carbohydrate must be broken down into monosacharide (simple sugar) in order to be used by your body. From your local expensive honey right the way through to your slice of wholewheat bread. It has to breakdown into monosacharide in order to be utilised.
So all the carbohydrate based foods in Davina's book end up broken down into simple sugar anyway, so why the big fuss about eradicating it from our diets? More likely than not it's just another excuse to make money for an industry focused on profit rather than scientific evidence.
Note: your body can catabolise tissue and fat (although it prefers to hold onto fat) in order to produce its own supply but I thought I'd avoid making it too much of a "scary science bit" and leave that for a later blog post.
How to get fat and deteriorate your metabolism is a weird topic for someone so used to helping people do the opposite, but frequently people either don't want to believe or simply don't think it possible to restore their metabolism.
So, stage one of project slow is to mess around with what you eat, and how much you eat. Drop those calories, avoid carbohydrates, eat like a caveman. Whatever it is make sure you really mess that diet up and develop some severe issues with food. Find a good diet cult and follow it like its your new religion. As a kid you probably ate whatever you liked with little effect other than you always had energy, were most likely constantly warm and you didn't worry about food like you do now. All well and good if you were born in the 1920's, however, for those of us looking to lay down some fat stores we're lucky that our government (via lots of lobbyists) decided that natural saturated fats (butter, coconut oil etc) were bad for us, and that we needed new "healthy" manmade poly-unsaturated fats (PUFA) which would improve upon what mother nature had intended us to eat.
Did genuine science pave the way for the "health" advice that we should consume PUFA rather than profit? I'll leave that for another post, but the science behind PUFA is a little slippery to say the least. For those of us wishing to get chunky its another stroke of luck that when groups of animals were fed unsaturated vegetable oil, pure saturated coconut oil, and various mixtures of the two. The animals’ obesity increased in proportion to the ratio of unsaturated fat in their diet, independent of the total amount of fat or calories they consumed. Animals that ate even small amounts of unsaturated oil were fat, and those that ate large amounts of coconut oil were thin. So, check your food packets and ensure that you pick foods laden with veg oil (sunflower oil, rapeseed/canola oil etc) if you want to bulk up ready for your next beach holiday. [REF]
The more unsaturated a vegetable oil is, the more it suppresses our tissues response to thyroid hormones which equals lower metabolism and increased ability to store fat. Unsaturated fats come from the seeds of plants (a plant's babies for all the vegans out there). Seed's contain toxins and enzyme suppressors which block protein digestive enzymes in the stomach to protect seed's from predators and prevent germination until conditions are optimal for sprouting. In effect a natural pesticide, so the more you eat the more thyroid suppression you get. Great for those of us looking to get fat, not so great for those that are conned into thinking that nuts, seeds and oils are essential for a healthy life.
The next stage is to encourage a touch of HYPOGLYCEMIA and to do this we're going to start eating erratically. Skipping meals, bingeing and then guiltily fasting. All help to confuse the body and lower that metabolism even further. Keep this up and you'll look soon bulk right up. You can guarantee that your cortisol, estrogen and adrenaline levels will be all over the place...your doing great.
As we've discussed above, malnutrition is the best way to begin slowing your metabolism in your quest for fatness. How else can we continue the good work you've begun....exercise!!
Exercise can be an aid to health and even weight-loss if its correctly prescribed, but we're going to push ourselves and guilt trip ourselves into working out far beyond our caloric intake. You're probably now frequently cold and have a decreased pulse, (unless your adrenaline is keeping it falsely high). You may struggle to bulk up and really slow that metabolism down, but once biology kicks in and your hormones down regulate, the fatigue kicks in and you're appetite becomes unavoidable, you're well on your way to the higher fat body you've always dreamed of.
Some more tips to gain body fat and lower your metabolism;
Increase Lactic Acid (Exercise)
Create an Oxygen Deficiency (Cardio, Classes or lack of Glucose Metabolism) –
Increase Stress, including over exercising, missing meals, caloric deficit, macro avoidance, poor food choice (pufa etc).
Avoid the following as they may improve metabolism and thyroid;
Animal Proteins (other than just pure muscle meat)
Cholesterol (oh yeah, the stuff they tell you is bad for you)
Caffeine (Always made with sugar and cream or drunk with a meal)
Oh, if by any chance you don't want to ruin your metabolism then just do the opposite. If you've already ruined your metabolism also do the opposite but realise that it will take time you undo years and years of damage.
Headlines such as 'swapping the butter for margarine may be bad for your health' (Daily Mail), 'Heart attack risk in healthy spreads' (Daily Express), ‘Start spreading the news – margarine might not be the healthier option after all’ (The Independent) and ‘Saturated fat not that bad for you’ (The i) hit the news on the 6th February 2013. Is this correct? Should we be reconsidering our dietary fatty acid recommendations?
What research is this based on? These headlines are based on a recent article, published in the BMJ on 5th February 2013, in which researchers have reanalysed the data from a study conducted in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the Sydney Diet Heart Study. The original data was reanalysed to investigate the effects of omega-6 linoleic acid on all-cause mortality (death from all causes) and mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD) or coronary heart disease (CHD). This dietary intervention study recruited 458 males, aged 30-59 years, who had recently suffered a heart attack or coronary event.
The intervention study group were given dietary advice to reduce their saturated fat intake to below 10% of energy intake and increase their n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake to 15% of energy intake by using safflower oil and safflower margarine. The control group were given no dietary advice. The original researchers followed the participants for an average of 39 months. The recent analysis found significantly higher rates of all-cause mortality and mortality from both CVD and CHD in the intervention group. Including the data in a linoleic acid intervention meta-analysis did not show a significant increase in mortality from CVD and CHD, although a trend towards significance was reported.
Can polyunsaturated fatty acids increase the risk of mortality?
This is an interesting study and it highlights that the science behind the effects of different fatty acids on heath is complex. The data in this study are from the late 1960s and 1970s when total fat and saturated fat intakes were much higher than they are currently. Total fat, saturated fat and polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake of the study group at the start of the study was around 40, 16 and 6% of energy intake, whilst current average intakes for an adult aged 19-65 are 35, 13 and 6% of energy intake, respectively.
The intervention study group was instructed to reduce their saturated fat intake to less than 10% of energy whilst increasing their n-6 PUFA intake to 15%. This is well beyond the current average n-6 PUFA intakes and it is worth noting that current UK public health recommendations are to maintain an intake below 6.5% of energy for total PUFAS as a population average and 10% of energy as an individual maximum, meaning that the intervention group in this study had intakes of n-6 PUFA that were significantly higher than the current maximum recommended in the UK. Recommendations for total fat and saturated fat are to consume no more than 35% and 11% of energy intake, respectively.
Cholesterol is a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and the intervention group did show a decrease in blood cholesterol which is consistent with previous studies. In addition, more recent prospective cohort studies have shown a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk with a higher n-6 PUFA or n-6 and n-3 PUFA diet. It is currently unknown what the relative contributions of n-6 and n-3 PUFAs are to the beneficial effects of PUFA but many spreads in the UK are formulated to contain both n-6 and n-3 PUFAs.
It is also worth noting that the study was conducted in men who had a high risk of mortality, so although the findings warrant consideration, the results may not be applicable to the general population in the UK today. The study participants were aware of which group they were in, intervention or control group, and as such it is possible that participants in the control group made more of an effort to make lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity. Dietary intake of other nutrients and food groups, such as trans fatty acids and fruit and vegetable intake, were unfortunately not reported.
In summary, although this is an interesting study, more clinical evidence is needed before any generalisation of the findings are made. The advice for consumers should still be to choose foods with a lower saturated fat content and to choose fats and oils that supply primarily unsaturated fats.
Once again we see a celebrity telling (or selling) their tale of dietary woe and subsequent triumph to the media. It is always a story in which they win the "battle of the bulge" in a desperate bid to attain the look that the media decrees to be both desirable and marketable.
Claire from Step's (a 90's pop band for those unaware of her) has once again reached her goal to be a size 10 after many years of weight cycling. And as ever, she is back in the media telling her story to a magazine which no doubt played a part in fuelling her disgust at putting on weight. Research shows that teenagers who read gossip magazines are at a greater risk of disordered eating behaviours (binge eating, skipping meals, caloric restriction or making themselves sick). These unhealthy eating behaviours can lead more serious disorders, and at the very least lead to individuals suffering from a lifetime of battling with diets/shame.
Dr James White who conducted the study is quoted as saying "What distinguishes gossip magazines is the way they ridicule celebrities who are overweight or even just don't conform to unrealistic ideals, and at the same time they praise celebrities for losing weight. That combination of messages of 'fat is bad', 'thin is good' seems to be a particularly potent influence on vulnerable teenagers." I would add that clinically I see fully grown adults who are just as vulnerable, and many have been suffering for years and years. The longer they diet, the harder it is for them to remove themselves from the war on weight, but they all wish they could turn back the clock and do it all a different way.
"This study suggests that there should be greater awareness of the potential impact that exposure to the kind of images of celebrities and models in gossip magazines can have on adolescents' eating habits."
Claire no doubt doesn't realise the potential impact, she's just sucked in by the media circus in a desperate attempt to stay in the limelight. At first it seems like she may of won her 'battle with the bulge", as she states that her yo-yo dieting has created hormone imbalances which have left her infertile. I had hoped to read that she had finally ditched the diets and had spent time restoring her metabolic function, but it appears this isn't the case.
Sadly, it appears Claire is continuing with the diet and exercise regime, allowing herself a measly 1000 calories per day whilst walking everywhere.
This is a battle she cannot win, despite being at her target weight for 6 months the odds of winning the war against the "bulge" are stacked against her. Biologically we are programmed to avoid starvation, which can help explain why Claire's repeated dieting has been unsuccessful in producing long-term results. Set point theory shows us that body fat percentage and body weight are controlled internally. An attempt to diet is an attempt to overpower your set point, and attempting to overpower (or starve) biological mechanisms is just a battle thats unwinnable.
According to the theory, your set point aims to keep your weight constant via various feedback mechanisms, primarily how much you're eating which is used to regulate fat stores and also to alter your behaviour. It can induce hunger or satiety, which in the case of the dieter causes that desire to eat that we all blame on weak willpower. Fatigue and depression may occur as a method of slowing you down to reduce your caloric expenditure. Set point is protective and wants to maintain a level of body fat which it deems safe for the environment you are in (famine etc). Dieters frequently (if not always) initially lose weight, before plateauing as the metabolic rate decreases, body temperature drops, pulse decreases, hormone levels change, fatigue increases and your hunger increases.
This is survival, your body defends its fat stores for the principle reason of ensuring you remain safe in a hostile (calorie controlled war). Caloric deprivation signals your body to decrease its metabolic rate and with it body temperature, pulse etc. Energy (calories) is used (burned) more slowly, so that you can function at the most basic level on the most meager of diets. Naturally, anything which isn't essential can decrease such as circulation (body temp and pulse), hormone production, growth and repair (tissue, bone, hair etc) and indeed anything which is deemed non essential such as muscle (added benefit of decreasing energy expenditure), fertility etc. You aren't eating enough to power your body, survival is more important than repair and growth. The body reacts to long term energy restriction as it would a famine. Your body becomes cautious and conserves the energy it already has. This innate biological response makes dieting or exercising less and less effective.
For Claire, sadly I think the battle will be an ongoing one until she either surrenders and makes a conscious decision that she isn't bothered about the weight anymore or changes allegiance. Either way, a major step would be binning the gossip mags.
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A Specialist in Independent Nutrition Analysis. Trained as a CHEK Practitioner I, HLC III, Advanced Metabolic Typing Advisor, N.A.S.M, Cert. Personal Trainer, Cert. Neuromuscular Therapist, BA Combined Studies & recently completed an MSc in Psychology.
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