Food is vital to life. Duh! “We are what we eat.” “Let food be thy medicine; medicine be thy food.”
The nutrition revolution we’re in today certainly has roots at least as far back as Hippocrates of Cos in 5th century BC Greece. But as Gary Taubes chronicles in his iconoclastic Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It, for a mix of reasons contemporary understanding fell off a cliff in the early 1960s and has yet to recover.
In 1963, Ancel Keys, inventor of WW II “K-ration”, published the first major report of his Seven Countries Study, which appears to have set the table for US nutrition — up until today. His was an epidemiological study — looking at correlation between the estimated dietary fat in diet of these seven countries and the heart disease in each. He is accused (apparently justifiably) of “cooking the books” — excluding countries where the “facts” didn’t support his original thesis, and ignoring other dietary factors — such as dietary sugar in the diets of his study countries. Confirmation bias is universal. “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you’re the easiest one to fool!”, Richard Feynman. Maybe Keys’ confirmation bias was “innocent”. Maybe not. In any event, Keys preached that the secret to curing heart disease and losing weight was to cut out dietary fat from our diet. Based largely upon Keys’ strident advocacy, the US Department of Agriculture, US medical establishment, and the US food industry bought into this thesis and Low Fat has been the rage ever since. See the US Food Pyramid — nutritionally upside down?
It’s more than sad. This idea has become deeply imbedded in our culture. Unfortunately, it appears to be flat wrong.
US eaters did as we were told — cut dietary fat from our diet, replaced the fat with sugar, flour, high fructose corn syrup and other simple carbohydrates. Coincidentally, attendant chronic “Western” ailments of Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease & cancer rose dramatically. There just might be a causal linkage here?
Is there a way out of this morass?
I have high hopes that Gary Taubes and Peter Attia together with other skeptical, intellectually rigorous, articulate, dedicated research analysts can break the code and provide clearer guidance for others seeking Health, Vitality and Joy!
Taubes and Attia have recently formed the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSi) to start a revolution. More power to them. It’s way past time for just bitching!
In my next article I’ll go into more detail about how I actually rolled back the clock by possibly 15-years and how you can, too.