Fat Fiction Fat, lies and measuring tape


Darwin’s view of Paleo

Gaucho in Argentina

In less than 48 hours, I’ll find out if eating a highly nutritious diet dissolves gallstones. And really, this blog shouldn’t exist in this day and age, because food has moved from being something we just eat to survive to becoming incredibly difficult but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Eating real food has never been so complicated. In the West, we’ve moved from eating a healthy balanced diet in the 1960s, to today’s society where the obvious culprit of dietary problems – processed food – gets lost in and amongst top tens of things we must eat, written by neurotic, diet-obsessed journalists advocating certain foods to promote health, while warning us of the dozens of things that’ll give us bad teeth, bad skin, bad health, probably cancer and an early grave to boot.

And out of this mess came Paleo, which has now softened into eating real food while not relying heavily on grain, dairy or legumes. Most people in the 1960s would call it just eating. It’s handy to blame it all on Ancel Keys (the guy who condemned saturated fat) but as ever the truth is more complex. Processed food came about because we demanded it. Dietary fat was condemned because we needed a simple culprit for the increasing rates of heart diseases. And high sugar content came about because we – well - we love it.

But the revelations of today are not revelations. They’re just rediscovering stuff that’s been right in front of us since time immemorial. I stumbled across this in Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, written in the 1830’s:

“We were here able to buy some biscuit. I had now been several days without tasting anything beside meat; I did not all dislike this new regimen; but I felt as if it would only have agreed with me with hard exercise. I have heard that patients in England, when desired to confine themselves exclusively to an animal diet, even with the hope of life before their eyes, have hardly been able to endure it. Yet the gaucho in the pampas, for months together, touches nothing but beef. But they eat, I observe, a very large proportion of fat, which is of a less animalised nature, and they particularly dislike dry meat … Dr Richardson also has remarked ‘that when people have fed for a long time solely upon lean animal food, the desire for fat becomes so insatiable, they they can consume a large quantity of unmixed and even oily fat without nausea’: this appears to me a curious physiological fact.”

Damn right it is. Darwin’s ability was to observe the detail without losing sight of the whole. As science is reductionist so the whole is almost always lost. The whole is this case is simply what we as humans thrive on in the context of a whole diet. Something which today’s scientists would do well to remember.

The worst idea in the world

Some nutrition researcher in the UK on Sunday called for food and drinks to be supplemented with Vitamin D, in what’s being called a “sunshine vitamin” campaign to reverse the rise of rickets (caused by a lack of vitamin D). It’s behind The Time’s paywall I’m afraid, so you’ll have to trust me ;) . But the idea is pure lunacy. So we mistakenly ask people to eat less fat and more grain. Then as a result their levels of vitamin D fall. And then we try and supplement our way out of it? Do me a favour.

And yes, it’s blamed on lack of sunshine and sunscreen I know. But do you seriously think inner city kids are slathering on the factor 50 in their lunchbreaks? Errr no they’re not. But they are drinking tons of skimmed milk, necking skinless chicken and eating enough cereal to curb the most veracious of sexual appetites (you did know that right? Kelloggs designed his cereals to reduce sex drive because sex is dirty and wrong. Apparently.)

Some processes are incredibly complicated to understand (like obesity, and the subject of this whole blog) but the cause and effect is ridiculously simple:

-          Processed food leads to obesity

-          Whole food leads to normal weight

-          Processed food leads to disease

-          Whole food leads to health

In less than 48 hours I hope I’ll be able to add another one of those to the list; specifically that a highly nutritious diet dissolves gallstones. I have a feeling the answer may be a bit more ambiguous than that but there’s only one way to find out…

Back Wednesday

Picture copyright Fat Fiction for a change (it’s of a real gaucho I took in Argentina)

Comments (7) Trackbacks (0)
  1. And the Inuit dipped meat in whale blubber, the people of the high Alps smeared butter on everything, the American Indians ate tallow with their dried beef (pemmican), American farmers cooked with bacon fat, and now, the most diseased of all civilizations, guzzles canola oil and sunflower oil because saturated fats are bad.

    I am excited to hear of your progress. A return to meats and saturated fats reversed my own chronic illness.

  2. Good luck! I can’t wait to see your results!

    • Thanks for your support Nancy, let’s hope something useful comes out of it eh?!
      And Peggy – I’d totally forgotten the Alps. I remember years back buying some cheese on toast atop a large Swiss mountain. I told the guy that he’d given me a fondue instead – it was a bowl of melted cheese. He cheerfully pointed out there was some toast lurking several cms below the surface. They don’t do things by halves…

  3. Hi – just read through your intro posts and love the theory. I was overweight for 20 years and suddenly lost weight on holiday in China eating huge amounts of food. Still trying to figure out what happened but your theory makes sense. I am eating more whole foods and avoiding processed foods. Keep up the hard work. I’m interested in your ideas. By the way, I lived in the UK until recently and am now in NZ. No offence to Americans, but it’s nice to have a British blog on this topic.

    • Hi Jo, whatever it was, you need to find it, bottle it, and sell it… Maybe you ate something that changed gut flora, which changed nutrient absorption? Interesting either way. Cheers for your support.

  4. what is your take on full fat ice cream? do you think it has to many carbs in it or is the fat enough to buffer the glucose to prevent glucose spikes? I agree with all that I have read and experienced myself, obesity is a malnutrtion problem. people don’t eat enough natural saturated fats, enough vita a, d, k, etc vita bs and minerals because they are filling up on processed foods that also are high gi, which means that because they are nutrient deficient is why they are high gi?

    RDA recommendations are way to low on most nutrients to make one thrive. just wondring how do I increase the flora and fauna of my gut, I have been trying to eat alot more raw veggies and fruits over the past year, now I take pure cod liver oil, (never could eat liver yuck!) and whole milk and lower gi foods when I do eat a high gi food I buffer it with fiber and saturated fats but such foods I only crave occassionally not every day.


    • Ice cream – privilege of the slim really. If it’s high in calories and low in nutrition, it isn’t going to do much for you. RDAs are probably wrong true, but I’d be guessing if I said I knew what they should be. I am certain though people’s needs are different making an average dose pretty irrelevant.
      Gut flora – supposedly acidophilus, kefir, miso soup, green bananas and a wide variety of vegetables are the staples of good gut flora. And absence of sugar and other processed carbs of course.

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