Perhaps you saw the headline stories about some Harvard professor calling out coconut oil as “pure poison?”
Her ridiculous lecture sound bites were seized upon by the modern media machine and turned into a salacious international news story. Predictably, folks in the primal/paleo community quickly weighed in to discredit her irresponsible comments, which are remnants from the decades of flawed conventional wisdom that issued a blanket condemnation of saturated fat as the proximate cause of heart disease. MarksDailyApple.com always does a great job providing a thoughtful perspective with numerous links to respected science when the debate of the day arises. Here’s Mark’s take on the coconut oil issue.
Perhaps you’re old enough to remember the aggressive and highly successful movement in the early 1970s to transition Americans from butter to margarine? Yes, refined high polyunsaturated vegetable oils, now acknowledged by respected science to be directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths from heart disease and cancer each year, were highly touted by the pillars of conventional wisdom for decades. This sad story is a fascinating example of what happens when special interests intersect with government and educational bureaucracy heavily invested in the status quo (in assorted ways, including ego, tenure, and profit interests), and the individual consumer ends up royally screwed.
It’s still confusing to process today’s passionate and disparate opinions about diet. Today we have the seemingly opposing camps of the plant-based folks versus the primal/paleo/keto folks. I prefer to focus on the common ground, such as eating a colorful, nutrient dense diet with abundant intake of vegetables. No one argues with that! If you decide not to eat some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet (meat, fish, fowl, eggs) in favor of a commitment to vegetarian or veganism, this may work well for you with a careful approach to ensure you get the nutrients you need. Similarly, if you decide to adhere to ancestral eating patterns and end up with most of you calories from fat and comparatively minimal carbohydrate intake, there is great scientific and anecdotal evidence that you can thrive, drop excess body fat, and reduce disease risk factors.
One thing is for sure: we have enough sensationalism, controversy and irresponsible cultural influencers out there to proclaim that enough is enough. This coconut oil story is a good example of bullshit of the modern media machine and entrenched conventional wisdom spouters creating massive damage to humans interested in eating and living healthy.
Hence, I am compelled to squeeze this show into the lineup ASAP and go off! Hopefully, you will obtain a basic education and fresh perspective on the matter of consuming a healthy, natural product like coconut oil in your diet, and the general rationale for an ancestral style eating pattern. Here’s my starting point: How can something that’s easily and naturally extracted from an edible plant, something that humans have been eating for thousands of years, be a “poison”?
Some elements of the show that may interest you:
- The difference between saturated and unsaturated fat, explained by knowledgeable sounding Brad and his utter lack of scientific background
- Comments from the esteemed science journalist Gary Taubes (author of Good Calories, Bad Calories; Why We Get Fat, and The Case Against Sugar, to backup Brad’s otherwise potentially irresponsible comments.
- Comments from Dr. Cate Shanahan, perhaps the world’s leading advocate against vegetable oil consumption, who is not afraid to call out the mighty institution just up the road from her Connecticut home. Yes, (horrors!) Harvard. “Harvard is bought and sold, and rampant with arrogant finger-waggers who lack the integrity to check their facts.”
- Cameo for the iffy 90’s rock bank Poison. They never recorded anything nearly as quality as Skid Row’s Slave to the Grind
- Stats from the vaunted Framingham Study that show no correlation between saturated fat intake and heart disease, nor dietary cholesterol intake and blood cholesterol levels.
Dr. Cate reminds us of a science scandal where there was “recovered data” from an old study called the Minnesota Coronary Experiment refuted the conclusion at the time that informed American dietary policy. Here’s a quote: “Findings from the Minnesota Coronary Experiment add to growing evidence that incomplete publication has contributed to overestimation of the benefits of replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid.” That’s pretty gentle to say, “incomplete publication” instead of “cherry picking opportunistic liars” eh?
Who to trust when you get disparate point of views: A distinguished Harvard professor or an ultra-spiritual Internet funny man named JP Sears? After careful consideration, we are going to have to go with JP, because he is freakin’ hilarious and makes some brilliant points with his humor, including on this coconut oil matter.
There is no doubt that in due time, conventional wisdom will come around and we will accept that saturated fat is not evil, that refined polyunsaturated vegetable/seed oils are indeed evil and contribute directly to heart disease and cancer. Dr. Shanahan references a study where the ingestion of a dose of vegetable oil causes an immediate disturbance in healthy arterial function for up to 24 hours. In contrast, smoking a cigarette generates a shorter duration of distinct disturbance. In some respects, a hit of French fries can be worse for your arteries than a cigarette.
Here is the thing: it’s going to take a long time for the slow moving forces of academia, government policy and conventional wisdom to come around.
Here’s Gary Taubes book excerpt on the matter: “Even if these researchers do see the need to address the problem immediately, though they have obligations and legitimate interests elsewhere, including being funded for other research. With luck, the ideas discussed in Good Calories, Bad Calories [I’m saying here – carbs make you fat and make you sick, not fat making you fat, and not lack of exercise either] may be rigorously tested in the next twenty years. If confirmed, it will be another decade or so after that, at least, before our public health authorities actively change their official explanation for why we get fat, how that leads to illness, and what we have to do to avoid or reverse those fates. As I was told by a professor of nutrition at New York University after on of my lectures, the kind of change I’m advocating could take a lifetime to be accepted.” ― Gary Taubes, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It
Dr. Doug McGuff, a prominent evolutionary health expert, emergency room physician, co-author of The Primal Prescription, strength training enthusiast who wrote Body By Science, said something unforgettable to me on the issue: “I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wait that long (for conventional wisdom to come around).” Indeed, Mark Sisson’s founding principle for the Primal Blueprint movement was to “empower you to take personal responsibility for your health.”
It doesn’t take long for people to form opinions, without any verification of the facts, about something they have heard or seen on TV. [00:00:51]
Brad explains the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats. [00:03:04]
How is something that is natural extraction from an edible plant be called a poison? We’ve been eating this for centuries. [00:06:10]
Highly respected authorities we hear about exposing these scientific facts are getting criticized by other respected authorities. No one is beyond reproach! [00:07:53]
Saturated fat has never been shown to promote more heart attacks than the polyunsaturated vegetable oils that Harvard still recommends. [00:10:04]
There has never been a single study ever published implicating saturated fat as unhealthy by itself. [00:13:05]
Framingham Study says: Dietary cholesterol intake and blood cholesterol levels have no correlation. [00:15:03]
Brad goes on to explain more about the heating of different fats. [00:16:14]
Forty percent of all restaurant calories come from these highly offensive refined high polyunsaturated vegetable oils. [00:17:33]
Twenty percent of the standard American diet comes from soy bean oil alone. [00:18:50]
Why hasn’t the truth come out for the reasons we get fat? Things move pretty slowly. [00:19:58]
A study on coronary heart disease in Sri Lanka showed that those people consumed the equivalent of 120 coconuts a year and had lowest heart disease deaths. [00:22:54]
For years the American Heart Association has put the little red heart on packaging for their stamp of approval for these trans and partially hydrogenated fats. [00:27:26]
Soy and Canola Associations representatives are on the American Heart Association Nutrition Advisory Panels. [00:28:54]
Correlations are often mistaken for causation because common sense seems to dictate that one causes the other. [00:31:26]
Dom D’Agostino, a leading researcher in Keto diet says “Real scientists ask questions and they don’t traffic in absolutes.” [00:33:04]
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) is found in coconut oil and helps fat burning mechanisms. [00:36:49]
DNA Fit can tell you what is right for your individual needs. Get blood check and see how you are doing when experimenting with changes in your diet. [00:39:14]
Brad discusses some various theories on low fat diets. Step ONE is to get rid of junk food and start eating healthy nutritious foods and then play around with carb intake. [00:43:09]
Pairing of foods that are high in carbs and high in fat represent the main indulgences of modern society (pie and ice cream) and they tend to hijack the reward system in the brain. [00:46:53]
- Butter makes comeback as margarine loses flavor
- MarksDailyApple success stories
- Framingham Study
- JP Sears coconut oil kills
- JP Sears passive aggressive relationship techniques (hilarious)
- Harvard prof Karin Michaels coconut oil poison
- About correlation and causation
- Minnesota Coronary Experiment Redo
- Brad Kearns’ Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bark
- Brad Kearns’ Super Nutritious Morning Smoothie
“Harvard is bought and sold, and rampant with arrogant finger waggers who lack the integrity to check their facts.” – Dr. Cate Shanahan
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wait that long (for conventional wisdom to come around and embrace evolutionary health principles)” – Dr. Doug McGuff
LISTEN:Download Episode MP3
Welcome to the Get Over Yourself Podcast. This is Brad Kearns.
“Saturated fat has never been shown to promote more heart attacks than the polyunsaturated vegetable oils that Harvard still recommends. In fact, the opposite is true, and we know this now, thanks to medical detective work and the smoking gun that the National Institute of Health just published.”
Hello listeners, it’s time to get into it. I’m feeling a little pumped up today because of the recent headline story, viral news story that coconut oil is poison. Here we go again, and let me describe a recurring pattern. A) Brad is known to be in the health and the diet Industry. So, Brad’s family, friends, casual acquaintances, pastors by on the street will reach out and say, “Oh my gosh, how about the latest news? That coconut oil is bad for you.”
Then they will come to me with an expected reply, maybe know that I’m going to get pumped up, and then possibly get into a debate because they read this important article or saw this great news coverage on the evening news. And so, now, everything that’s the foundation of the primal paleo, low carb fat is okay, approach to living is called into question. And we get more confused and frustrated.
So, I thought I would do a show on the fascinating topic of how news spreads like wildfire. How we form opinions and conclusions and crave certainty where everything is black or white and which side are you on? Whoa! Politics comes to mind. How about sports? How about many other topics where we want to be righteous and comfortable in our beliefs and knowing that our beliefs are the end all set in stone.
How about religion? Other things come to mind, all kinds of things popping into my mind. But especially, in the diet scene where we have these fervent factions of disparate beliefs that are butting heads, clashing all the time.
So, here we go with this recent headline story and it started with a Harvard professor delivering a lecture in German language somehow, but getting translated and carried over into mainstream viral publication.
So, even like the evening news in Los Angeles, my mom taped a two-minute segment where they were referencing this YouTube video that was watched millions of times and passed around. Where the person stood up and said, coconut oil is pure poison and so on and so forth. So, it reignited the debate about the high polyunsaturated vegetable oils that we’ve been urged to consume instead of saturated fats for many, many years. And this was kind of the big turning point in American dietary policy and American health back in the ‘70s when this widespread movement came to take people away from butter and into the wonderful world of margarine.
We are now with great certainty realizing that was a horrible mistake that cost hundreds of thousands of lives every year, and the widespread consumption of highly refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils, those bottled up vegetable oils. Including margarine, because margarine is a vegetable oil that’s been whipped into a butter-like consistency.
In contrast, we have the saturated fats and the reason they’re called saturated is because they’re solid at room temperature. The chemical bonds, the hydrogen carbon bonds are saturated in these types of fats where in the unsaturated fats, whether mono unsaturated or polyunsaturated, you have these chemical bonds that are not filled and therefore, the unsaturated oil is more susceptible to damage from heat, light and oxygen. This is just basic chemistry which I know nothing about. But when I say, “Hey, it’s basic chemistry,” don’t I sound like I know something about basic chemistry?
Anyway, I know enough to tell the story here of the distinction between saturated fats and unsaturated fats. So, when you cook with a saturated fat, for example, it is more temperature stable. These are not disputed assertions. So, I’m not coming off as an expert trying to tell you something that’s in dispute. There is a lot of stuff in dispute that we’ll get into, but we know that the saturated fats are more temperature stable, less susceptible to oxidative damage. Whereby the unsaturated fats … and this is why many health experts agree that this is the worst thing that you can consume on the planet.
In the food supply today, are these refined high polyunsaturated vegetable oils, soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil. These have sustained oxidative damage in the processing of the oil, extracting an oil from something that’s not generally yielding a lot of oil, like the corn, soybean, things like that. And as soon as you heat them up, they sustain further oxidative damage. And the health consequences of consuming these oils are extremely serious. So serious that Dr. Cate Shanahan calls them consuming free radicals in a bottle. The free radical damage that you’re familiar with that leads to aging cancer, death, all that great stuff.
So, these are possibly the number one killers in the modern diet right there with sugar, where a lot of people will argue that the high consumption of sugar is really setting us up for heart disease, cancer, accelerated aging.
So, back to the coconut oil story. First of all, from the peanut gallery, let’s say the layman’s observation, how is something that’s a natural extraction from an edible plant that we’ve been eating for thousands of years, how can that be called a pure poison? We know when we force things out of a food, like the extraction of oil from the things that aren’t meant to yield oil, corn, soybean, whatever. We can get something that’s unhealthy, but when we’re talking about a coconut and eating something that’s a natural part of a coconut, that’s my first question. How can you call this poison? It’s not poison.
A poison, let’s look in the dictionary. “Poisons are substances that cause disturbances in organisms usually by chemical reaction or other activity on the molecular scale.”
“Poison is an American rock band which achieved great commercial success in the mid- ‘80s through the mid- ‘90s. They’ve sold over 45 million records worldwide.”
Notice how they said “achieved great commercial success”. I guess that’s opposed to critical acclaim, right? I don’t know about poison, man. I mean, slave to the grind, skid row, I’m okay with that. Can’t really recall any favorite songs from Poison. Maybe you listeners can weigh in and help me out there. I remember a lot of yelling and screaming on some of their tracks. Anyway, so poison’s poison, right? A coconut is something that grows on the planet earth and has been consumed by humans.
Anyway, when it comes to this debate, I just want to point out that these highly respected authorities, dispensing health to America, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic, these fabulous bastions of intellectual and scientific excellence, you know what? These organizations are getting roundly and savagely criticized by other respected authorities. So, no one is above criticism. No one is above corruption too.
Dr. Cate Shanahan, putting her name on the line and her fabulous reputation as one of the leading ancestral health physicians on the planet, allowed me to quote her saying that, “Harvard is known to be bought and sold. They have been in big trouble for falsifying evidence and doing things that are corrupt and deceptive to the American public. They’re full of arrogant finger waggers who lack the integrity to check their facts.”
Quote, Dr. Cate Shanahan, not saying this for fun, but saying this with great thought and also many other people weighing in. Dr. Peter Attia has a great Twitter account that’s burning up with his savage criticism for people who deserve it, including these important resources like the vaunted medical clinics and the great university researchers.
Harvard recently got busted for falsifying evidence. Dr. Cate Shanahan calling more attention to that, then otherwise might’ve been buried under the rug. So, let’s first acknowledge that no one is beyond reproach where you can say, “Well, the American Heart Association says this, so they must be right.” Nothing has gone really well as far as American diet and health and heart disease and cancer rates over the last 50 years of us listening to these great authorities like the US government, the American Heart Association telling us how to eat.
So, we definitely have a problem here. We have the accelerating rates of all these diseases, especially type two diabetes that we really need to sit back and reflect upon and say, “Hey, maybe we’re not getting the greatest advice.”
Okay. Cate was saying more to me recently, that saturated fat has never been shown to promote more heart attacks than the polyunsaturated vegetable oils that Harvard still recommends. In fact, the opposite is true, and we know this now, thanks to medical detective work and the smoking gun that the National Institute of Health just published in the BMJ. And a link in the show notes. We’ll go to that, but I’m going to send you the relevant conclusion.
So, this is a quote from a study which has the ominous title Analysis of Recovered Data from the Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-73). So, they had a well-chronicled experiment way back when, and data was cherrypicked from that experiment to inform government health policy for decades to come. And so, you know, that’s a troublesome title to a study; Data Recovered from the Coronary Experiment.
Okay, so, here’s the conclusion;
“Available evidence from randomized control trials showed that replacement of saturated fat in the diet with unsaturated, effectively lowers serum cholesterol, but does not support the hypothesis that this translates to a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease or all causes.”
Findings from the Minnesota Coronary Experiment add to growing evidence that incomplete publication has contributed to overestimation of the benefits of replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid. Can you read between the lines there from this polite commentary? When they say “growing evidence that incomplete publication has contributed to overestimation”. That means people cherry-pick the data to advance their own case.
Furthering that quote from Cate about saturated fat has never been shown to promote more heart attacks than unsaturated – Gary Taubes, the leading health journalist, arguably in the world of the last 20 years with his landmark books like Good Calories, Bad Calories. Another book; Why We Get Fat. Another book; The Case Against Sugar. And this is a completely unbiased scientific journalist with no product to advance, no argument to tout in favor of another one because he’s on a certain side of the debate. He’s just an independent journalist who has dug deep into these matters.
You can look at Good Calories, Bad Calories. This beast of a book that’s been the foundation of the primal paleo movement in many ways, or was the inspiration coming out many, many years ago, 15 years ago, maybe. Has 60 pages of scientific reference included. So, everything he says is highly backed up by respected science.
He comes out with a quote like;
“There has never been a single study ever published, implicating saturated fat as unhealthy by itself. What gives then, it seems that when you have a shit diet that’s high in grains and sugars, like virtually every one of the developed world, you will overproduce insulin and create a state of oxidation and inflammation in the bloodstream. You are laying the foundation for bad things to happen with the cholesterol and the saturated fat you ingest.”
So, that’s a pretty simple unwinding of the confusion and the debate about whether this bacon stuff is going to kill you and clog your arteries. The answer is yes, the bacon will contribute to clogging your arteries and killing you if you are washing it down with massive doses of orange juice and toast with jam and cereal and nonstop overconsumption of high carbohydrate foods, producing a lot of insulin and creating this undesirable state in the bloodstream of oxidation and inflammation. Does that make sense?
But actually, consuming saturated fat by itself, independent of the other variables, like your crappy lifestyle and your crappy diet, has never been any study to show that it’s unhealthy. In fact, our cell membranes are comprised of saturated fat. So, we’re ingesting something that is natural to the body, easy to digest, a wonderful source of sustained energy, talking about fat, whether it’s dietary fat or burning fat off your body.
So, just to set that clarity for you in a casual, nonscientific manner. Furthering the observation that Gary Taubes makes from looking at hundreds, thousands of studies, the Framingham study (another quote, not exact quote), but the Framingham study conclusion says, “Dietary cholesterol intake and blood cholesterol levels have no correlation.”
This is the longest and largest longitudinal study of the effects of diet and lifestyle on health ever recorded – the most respected. It’s from residents of Framingham, Massachusetts, started back in 1948; covering generations of residents with detailed analysis of their dietary and lifestyle habits.
They’re finding that the amount of cholesterol you eat in the diet does not affect your blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fat intake and heart disease – no correlation, according to the Framingham study. So, why does this stuff stick around despite mounting evidence that our conventional dietary wisdom has been disastrously wrong and highly influenced by lobbying, manipulative marketing influences? Of course, people trying to sell you stuff, especially the vegetable oils and the grains and the dairy and those lobbies that find their way onto the food pyramid, not in the cleanest and purest, most independent manner.
Why are experts saying that saturated fat is okay? I talked a little bit about the stability just to get a little more detailed with some notes in front of me this time. The saturated fats are known to be more temperature-stable, because the hydrogen and carbon atoms are bonded together each time they appear. This makes the molecules pack tightly together such that the saturated fats are solid at room temperature. They’re tightly packed like a stick of butter as opposed to a bowl of vegetable oil. So, when they’re exposed to heat, light and oxygen, there’s no oxidative stress because the molecules are packed tightly together.
Then you have the unsaturated fats where the carbon atoms are not saturated with hydrogen. They’re not packed as tightly, thus they’re liquid and thus they’re unstable when they’re heated up or overtime exposed to just general countertop, light and oxygen. So, the oxidative stress and the free radical production ensues due to these floating around loose areas unsaturated carbon atoms.
Canola oil’s processed in a very stressful manner with heat and high temperature processing and the use of chemical solvents, that’s why Dr. Cate calls it free radicals in a bottle. A reference cited often by Dr Cate Shanahan, that 40% of all restaurant calories come from these highly offensive, refined, high poly unsaturated vegetable oils. Why 40%? Isn’t that huge when you ordered a steak and a salad and whatnot? It’s because the high caloric density of vegetable oil.
So, if something is cooked in these offensive oils like that omelet, and if you forget to ask the waiter or waitress to cook your omelet in butter instead of vegetable oil, if you have a salad with some dressing on it … imagine a huge bowl of salad and all that great stuff in there, but the dressing is going to have a preponderance of the total calories because dressing so calorically dense. And most dressings that you get at a restaurant are in with these vegetable oils because they’re cheaper, so the restaurant can make more profit.
Not just fast food where the fries are fried in the oil and the chicken is battered or what have you, but even the finest restaurants will generally speaking, cook their meals in vegetable oil. Their $18-entrée, their $27 entrée, absolutely ridiculous and sad. And so, it compels you to speak out when you’re ordering a restaurant to make sure you get exactly what you want and you get something that’s healthy.
Further stats here, Dr. Andrew Weil – respected health authority. He claims that 20% of all the calories in the standard American modern diet come from soybean oil alone. And this is a commonly cited reference that the switch, that massive and successful switch that American society made from margarine to margarine from butter, and the general vilification of dietary fat in favor of a grain-based diet, has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths annually over the past several decades.
Sadly enough, this is the kind of product that we export across the world to other developed nations. That is our dietary policy and our dietary preferences. So, the margarine folks, I imagine their sales have declined in recent years because the news is finally getting out. They’re probably upping their game in those developing countries that are on the cusp and still willing to buy into whatever the advertising billboard says without a second thought.
Oh, my goodness. Okay, so why is this still happening? Why has the truth or the common sense not caught up to conventional wisdom? Why are we still jumping and reacting to a YouTube video presentation where a doctor makes a highly irresponsible quip like coconut oil is pure poison?
Here’s a quote from Gary Taubes, speculating about this. And just the dynamics that cause policy and conventional wisdom to take hold.
“Even if these researchers do see the need to address the problem immediately…”
Let’s say the problem he’s talking about is that sugar is actually bad for you. High carbohydrate eating can contribute to heart disease, cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes.
“Even they need to address the problem immediately, though they have obligations and legitimate interest elsewhere, including being funded for other research. With luck, the ideas discussed in my book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, things like carbs make you fat and make you sick, fat doesn’t make you fat, that exercise is not really a central factor in the obesity epidemic – these may be rigorously tested in the next 20 years. If confirmed, it will be another decade or so after that, at least before our public health authorities actively change their official explanation for why we get fat, how that leads to illness, and what we can do to avoid or reverse those fates. As I was told by a professor of nutrition at New York University after one of my lectures, the kind of change I’m advocating could take a lifetime to be accepted.”
That’s a quote from Gary Taubes’ book; Why We Get Fat. Whoa! I imagine we can all nod our heads and agree that the slow-moving beast that our US government policy, public policy, we understand that it takes a long time. How about social change? Realize the ridiculous rate of change that we’ve seen here. Even though we are making continued progress, things move pretty slow in some respects.
There are people alive today that lived during a time when women were not allowed to vote. That happened in 1920, almost my own father. He was born in ‘22, imagine that. That you’re alive when women are second-class citizens. You know, slavery took a long time for us to come to our senses. Even things that are on the cusp right now like equal rights for females in the workplace, equal pay, same sex marriages. Whether you stand on one side or another of the debate, things move very slowly when the forces are pushing against the status quo, right?
So, here’s an interesting (speaking of the coconut oil) study from Mendis titled Coronary Heart Disease and Coronary Risk Profile in a Primitive Population. And the observation that in 1978, each man, woman, and child in Sri Lanka consumed the equivalent of 120 coconuts a year. That equates to the average adult drinking 40 quarts of coconut oil each year. And during that year, Sri Lanka had one of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world. Only one death out of 100,000 was caused by coronary heart disease.
In the United States, coconut oil was less than 1% of the fat consumed, and people were increasingly hitting the soybean oil hard, margarine and their other choices. This is in ‘78 when the transition was in full swing. Yet heart attack, death rates in the United States were 280 times higher than in Sri Lanka, despite the Sril Lankans consuming 40 quarts of oil each year.
When people became fearful of coconut oil and other saturated fats and began to replace it with polyunsaturated oils, developing nations like Sri Lanka began falling into line and they began bringing in the soybean oil and margarine in place of coconut oil. Interesting things happened. Coconut oil consumption declined and heart disease rates increased.
Of course, anyone can bust into my studio right now and offer counter arguments and describe the causation and correlation that the Sri Lanka heart disease rates might’ve had nothing to do with their coconut oil, but more to do with the fact that they walked around a lot every day in a more primitive society, whatever. And we’ll talk about causation and correlation shortly, but I’m just saying interesting insights when you look at these traditional dietary patterns and the healthiness of these populations that resisted the transition to the modern diet.
So, if you’re getting confused, wondering who to listen to – the Harvard professor or the goofiest of internet sensations, JP Sears, I’m going to argue strongly in favor of listening to JP Sears, because he makes far more sense than some of these experts that have a stick up their butt and a lot of background influences that might not be as squeaky clean as you might expect from a professor at a respected university.
So, you’ve got to go and look up this guy JP Sears. You can YouTube search “JP Sears Ultra Spiritual Life”. And he has dozens of videos that are absolutely hilarious. There are parodies making fun of an assortment of cultural factors like relationship advice, like dietary trends and crazes. So, he has one about being gluten-intolerant. How it’s the latest, coolest, hottest health craze. He has JP Sears passive-aggressive relationship techniques which will make you laugh your ass off.
But he also has a way of weaving in a legitimate and impactful message for improving your enjoyment of life. So, you get a lot of parody and fun stuff, but he’s making some really important points. And he has a video about coconut oil. What’s the title? Coconut Oil Kills; JP Sears, look it up. And he says, “There’s an authority that I really want to take dietary advice from, and that’s the American Heart Association. Because today, it is known that one out of two Americans will get heart disease in their lifetime.” He’s comparing that to having a sky diving instructor where one out of two of their clients would have a malfunctioning parachute and die.
That’s some funny shit right there, but it has a kernel of truth to it. We’re listening to the American Heart Association as they preside over the greatest disaster in the history of humanity. Americans are today, the fattest population in the history of humanity and the heart disease rates continue to climb even as we have greater understanding and incredible scientific breakthroughs every single day on all matters of health and science and medicine.
Okay, so, also to note about the American Heart Association, is they gave their stamp of approval, literally the little heart icon that goes on the box of these manufactured products. For years, they recommended products, American Heart Association, heart, healthy approved that contained trans and partially hydrogenated fats. Fortunately in recent years, the science has come through loud and clear and every single person on the planet is against these offensive, highly toxic poisonous oils. And so, the American Heart Association backed off of course, and now they’re instead still recommending vegetable oils. So, they took a tiny baby step due to intense pressure to back off from allowing trans and partially hydrogenated fats, but they’re resistant to opening up to a complete transformation where they look at the disasters that they’ve presided over and change course.
Here’s some more fun stuff from JP and his crude hand drawn graphic, which was beautiful and memorable to look at in his video. He points out that they don’t have a lot of coconuts growing in the United States, right? Because that’s a tropical plant that only grows down there in the tropics. But what we do have in the United States is plenty of farm land to grow corn and soybean and make oil out of that stuff. And we have representatives (true, true stuff, okay?) from the soy and canola associations, these lobbying associations. We have representatives from them on the American Heart Association Nutrition Advisory Panel.
It seems like it’s time to think more critically about our health rather than outsourcing it to respected authorities like the Harvard School of Public Health. Oh, these wonderful newsletters that are spit out like Nutrition Action, Harvard School Public Health. I think Berkeley has one too, and you get that little logo up in the corner, the esteemed university logo. And no criticism intended for these wonderful institutions of higher learning, but they’re being bastardized and branded out for profit-seeking ventures such as these newsletters, let’s say for example, and they’re putting all kinds of stuff in there that is biased and manipulative.
Thankfully, we have the watch dogs out here now with a voice like Peter Attia’s Twitter account. Dr. Cate Shanahan and her distinct communications, ripping apart these people who are too lazy. What was her quote she offered earlier? They’re too lazy to do the proper research. They’re just arrogant and too lazy.
Okay. So, yeah, critical thinking. Oh my gosh, that was the title of one of my favorite college courses. It was in the philosophy department and it related to those exercises where you have the, if p, then q presentation, right? If it rains, then the street gets wet. If the street is wet, is it raining? Not necessarily so. But we often mix these up when it comes to real life examples of dietary studies, fitness observations. Like if you increase your speed at every single workout, you will have a faster race in six weeks’ time. Which is probably true, but it fails to recognize some of these other variables like the big picture, long-term consequences of an overly stressful training pattern as described in the scientific study that they performed, but has no connection to real human in real life with other stress factors that they have to balance between their high intensity training practices, that kind of stuff.
So, here’s a quote from an article about causation and correlation. Correlation’s are often mistaken for causation because common sense seems to dictate that one cause the other.” And this, in my opinion, is what mainstream media and salacious headline media is doing. We see this fancy headline that catches our attention. “Coconut oil is pure poison,” says the doctor from Harvard. Wow! That’s going to make you sit upon, huh?
Then what we do with that information is we call upon, we light up our brain and reference past experience, past exposure, things like our traditional upbringing and values that were brainwashed into us from traditional dietary education, especially people that are studying the great fields of nutrition and dietetics. They are steeped in American Heart Association, Conventional Wisdom, USDA, Food Pyramid commentary, to the extent that they proclaim themselves to be experts in this material, which they are because they just received a degree in it, but it’s such a narrow look at the overall big picture, because the American heart association blinders on. And they have people on their advisory boards representing the soy and canola industries.
Okay, so, opening up and expanding our horizons and extremely important, is to be open-minded and not making these firm conclusions just because you’re too busy and want to outsource your conclusions to respected authorities, because they might not be as respectable as you think.
Dom D’Agostino, University of South Florida, one of the world’s leading researchers in the ketogenic diet, doing fantastic work for the US government and the high performing military folks like the deep-sea divers and testing nutritional ketosis to help them avoid some of the health consequences of their extremely dangerous missions. He’s also been a leader in the formulation of the ketone supplements that are popular these days. When I was interviewing him for the Keto Reset Diet book, he gave me the memorable insight that, “Real scientists ask questions and they don’t traffic in absolutes. They remain open-minded and they like to ask more questions.”
Unfortunately, the scientists who do traffic in absolutes are the ones that we see on TV. But he says these are not the real scientists. And if you talk to a real truly scientific-minded person – like my podcast with Peter Attia, where instead of saying, “Yes, absolutely,” he would pause for a moment and be thoughtful and offer a more open-ended response.
Same with D’Agostino, when I was peppering him with questions about ketogenic eating, trying to get some conclusions formulated so I could go off and write a book, he said, “I don’t know,” so many times, that I finally burst out laughing. I’m like, “Dude, your favorite answer seems to be, ‘I don’t know.’” And yet, you know, he’s the world’s leading authority on this stuff. And he’s like, “That’s absolutely right.” And that’s when he gave me this beautiful quote that “real scientists ask questions and don’t traffic in absolutes”.
So, back to the causation and correlation. To prove causation, you need to find a direct relationship between the variables. Eating coconut oil and other saturated fats cause heart disease. That’s a causation and correlation, right? But it’s extremely difficult to find these direct relationships You need to show that one relies on the other, not just that the two appear to move in concert. For example, this is from a website quoting about causation and correlation;
“Until the late 19th century, it was believed by scientists and lay people alike that bad odors caused disease. The sick and the dying tended to smell unpleasant. So, the two phenomena were correlated. It was only in 1880 that the germ theory of disease became accepted. With this, it became clear that while bad smells and disease often appeared together, they were caused by a third hitherto unknown variable.”
The microscopic organisms we now know as germs. And we also know that you can have a foul odor without disease. I guess if someone doesn’t like to shower a lot, right? They’re super fit, they’re super healthy. They’ve been hiking the Appalachian trail for 27 days straight. They come into the hotel lobby and they want to get their first night in a motel room in the last month, and they stink to high heaven like nature and sweat all packed together. I don’t think they have any diseases, right? They just need a shower and a warm bed.
Okay, so, with that, Brad offers the important insight that lots of the material that we see in scientific studies might be thrown out, de-emphasized a little bit or at best put into a bigger picture perspective. Like I gave you that quick example of the exercise study where the people speed up and they race better six weeks out.
So, back to your diet and the benefits of coconut oil, you might’ve read this from the proponents that coconut oil is rich in a special kind of fat called medium chain triglycerides. These are rarely found in the diet. Coconut is a rich source of them, and it’s a special kind of fat that’s easy to burn and difficult to store. And the good thing about MCT, is it kind of boosts your internal fat burning mechanisms and even ketone manufacturing to the extent that they make MCT oil supplements to help you boost your ketone production.
I take the Mickey T’s model and I put it in my smoothie many days. So, you can see that on my Brad Kearns’ Super Nutrition Green smoothie video on YouTube. So, MCT oil’s a wonderful, tremendous health benefits product. Coconut oil is a great source of it. Coconut oil, also highly nutritious, high antioxidant, highly saturated, it’s the most saturated of vegetable oils. That’s why it’s been called out as an offender back decades ago because of its saturated nature that makes it solid at room temperature, even though it’s coming from a plant. So, it’s rare in that sense, because most you see olive oil, avocado oil, other healthy oils of that nature, as well as all the highly processed polyunsaturated oils are liquid at room temperature.
The coconut oil is also antibacterial, people put it on their skin and on their wounds, total body care, great to ingest. And look, if you’re trying to have some big picture insights here and wonder what’s best for you, whether it’s the high fat, keto, primal paleo ancestral style eating or the veggie, dean ornish, Pritikin, Rip Esselstyne Engine 2 vegan plant-based world, you know what? There’s so much common ground there where we want to just go and eat healthy foods that come from the planet earth, that have been unadulterated, such as virgin coconut oil, for example. You’re probably going to win in many respects regardless of the precision of your approach and whether you fall into the vegan camp or the high fat camp. If you’re getting rid of these toxic modern foods, you’re making wonderful positive steps forward.
One thing you can do, especially respecting your genetic particulars, that’s why I work with DNAFit, so you can go get tested and see what your genetics are all about and what your family background from the previous 10 generations or what have you. Maybe there are certain foods and dietary patterns that will work better for you and be different than the person next door. So, go get tested. It’s great fun; dnafit.com.
Oh, guess what? You have a 30% discount coming at you just from listening to the show. So, there’s a commercial right in the middle of the show. If you go to DNAFit and you put in the code G-O-Y30, like get over yourself, 30% off baby, you are dialed. Fun stuff to do. You get that wonderful infographic report I talk about on the commercial. We’ll patch that very commercial onto the end of the show, so you can hear more about it.
Then you have a little bit of armed information to predict what might work best for you, and then you can try stuff for three weeks. You want to go veggie vegan for three weeks? You want to go primal paleo keto for three weeks? That’s a good test period. Take some blood before and after. If you have concerns about blood risk factors like your triglyceride levels, your levels of inflammatory markers, like high sensitivity, C-reactive protein, so you can go into your doctor if you’re so lucky to be able to pull blood and get that covered. And ask them for reports on C-reactive protein, on your triglycerides, on your cholesterol, LDL particle size rather than just total LDL. You’ll have to ask for more than that.
Ask for vitamin D and make sure that poppy is up there over 50, even though your regular physician and blood report will say that 30 and up is fine. The vitamin D advocates want to see you getting up over 40, 50, 60, even 70. So, just seeing how your blood’s doing and how it might respond favorably to a dietary transformation.
My friend Robbo was cooking some triglycerides up over 600. So, in many ways a ticking time bomb of heart disease risk factor. And in about six weeks of primal style eating, basically cutting back on the high consumption of grains, sugars, perhaps alcohol too, and getting things dialed in, he got his triglycerides down to 149 in six weeks. And the experts want to see you under 150 at a bare minimum, and the ideal for heart disease risk protection, this is something that most primal paleo ketogenic eaters fall into easily, is a 1:1 ratio between triglycerides and HDL.
That’s the good cholesterol that they call nature’s garbage truck because it scavenges the bloodstream for offensive molecules and recycles or eliminates them, rather than allowing these, let’s say, small dense LDL particles to lodge on the walls of your arteries and start causing trouble and forming plaque.
So, the HDL, you want to have that number high. It’s a great aspiration to get that thing over 40. How do you do that? Known to be exercise and also increased intake of healthy natural saturated fats like coconut oil, like animal fat, have some eggs in there, have some good food that’s not offensive, not overly processed. Get that HDL increased, and then getting the triglycerides down. Generally agreed, Best way to do that is ditching the grains and the sugars, and also the refined vegetable oils that have wreaked so much havoc on your body. It will mess up your liver function. It’ll mess up your efforts to be healthy even if you’re eating a bunch of other good stuff.
To finish here with some open-minded insights, some research and advocacy I’m looking at lately are some support for the effectiveness of low-fat diets. The stuff that the primal paleo community scoffs at, generally speaking. If you go on a very disciplined low-fat diet and it’s high and, you know, the plant-based foods that are colorful and nutritious, rather than having a high Slurpee diet, right? We all agree that junk food has no place in any diet. But if you go on a low-fat diet, eat a nice plant-based diet, there is some support that this is effective for body fat reduction.
Just like the overwhelming evidence that primal paleo, ancestral keto diet, where you restrict carbohydrate intake delivers reliable results on the reduction of excess body fat because you are dialing back your insulin production and allowing your stored energy to become accessible and burned around the clock.
This is dating back for many decades, back to the original premise of the Atkins diet, which had many flaws because they weren’t focused efficiently on the nutrient quality of the foods you chose. But then they were going for the macro nutrient recommendations of cut carbs way back and you will drop excess body fat, highly effective.
So, we’ve known that for decades without dispute. But the concerns on both sides are warranted where people are pointing at Atkins saying, the bacon and butter diet is not nutritious. We think plant-based is better because we have our kale salads every day. So, good points on both sides, respectable ideas.
The one thing about the low-fat diet is it might be difficult to sustain, right? Because the fat foods have such a high, say tidy factor, but many people who are sufficiently motivated and tuned in and make these wonderful veggie and vegan meals, they can feel great. Maybe their genetics are aligned for that. Where other people might have trouble a year in or two years into a vegan type situation, because the diet is highly restrictive.
So, we have all these factors at play, but we want to keep an open mind and know that healthy nutritious foods regardless of the other particulars, step one is to get rid of the junk food and start eating healthy nutritious foods. Then you can play around with your optimal level of carb intake. And Mark Sisson and I have talked for so long about being flexible and intuitive and enjoying your life. And if your carb intake ranges from Mr. Strick Keto of 20 grams a day, all the way up to let’s say the primal natural limit of about 150 grams of carbs per day, and that entails abundant consumption of vegetables, sensible consumption of fruits. Enjoying other foods like nutritious carbs like sweet potatoes, Keen-Wah, riled rice, having some dark chocolate in your life, incidental carbs from nuts, seeds and their derivative butters, and all told you’re getting into a carbon take pattern that is way higher than the keto guidelines warrant. But still plenty healthy, focused on colorful nutrient dense foods.
The end conclusion is don’t worry about it so much, because if your carb intake is ranging from 20 to 150 grams per day, you’re in a low carbohydrate, low insulin producing eating pattern, and you’re doing just fine. Yeah, getting more common sense into the picture rather than dogmatic lecturers saying that natural plant foods are pure poison.
Here’s another interesting dietary tidbit I’ve seen discussed recently, and that is the pairing of foods that are high in carbs and high in fat; the pairing of those together. And these represent the main indulgences of modern life. Pie and ice cream – ice cream itself has got fat as well as carbs, sugar cheesecake, the assorted process crap like twinkies. These are made with intention to hijack the reward system in the brain. Because in nature, it’s not common to find foods that are high in sugar and high in fat together.
So, it really messes with us and it kind of leads to addictive behaviors when we’re presented with these amazing foods which have the say, tidy power of fat. And also, that that sweet tooth triggering, reward system triggering, opioid receptor triggering experience when we consume sugar. So, I believe in the ancestral example, when we look at their sweet tooth, their sugar indulgences, it came from the ripening of the berries during those narrow windows of time during the year when they could binge and gorge on all the blackberries they could eat, even fattened up for the winter ahead. That was our ancestral example.
Then on the converse, they had the killing of the fish or the land animals and eating the animal nose to tail, or eating the high fat oily cold-water fish that sustained human life throughout evolution. These things were absent carbohydrates, right? So, in the ancestral example, in our hard-hardwired genetics, we do not have the experience of pie and ice cream or a magnificent peanut butter flavored heath bar, Oreo cookie cheesecake from the cheesecake factory.
So, the idea here, the concept from this research is that you might want to stay away from these high fat, high carb paired dessert treat indulgent decadent foods. So, if you’re going to indulge, why don’t you go for the high fat options like my fabulous chocolate mousse, which I will put on YouTube; thanks to big George – giving me the dusted off old recipe from his childhood in France. And it’s extremely nutritious. The only ingredients are high cacao percentage, dark chocolate, 85% dark chocolate, butter, egg whites and egg yolks. That’s it. And it’s absolutely delicious. It’s decadent tasting.
But again, no sugar, very, very low carbohydrate to the extent that it’s keto approved. Just like my dark chocolate macadamia nut bark, which you could find on YouTube. And these things are high fat, indulgent treats that don’t spike insulin and don’t give you that sugar high and that sugar crash later.
So, if you’re going to go for a treat, look for some of the high fat stuff. The fat bombs and the keto reset diet – Dr Lindsey Taylor’s specialty. You can make these amazing concoctions with coconut and coconut oil in there. Oh, coconut oil, isn’t that bad for you? Oh, no, we already talked about that.
Thanks for listening to the show. Keeping an open mind, checking out the world’s leading authorities like JP Sears and his Coconut Oil Kills video. Thanks also to Dr Peter Attia and Dr Cate Shanahan for keeping these academic institutions on their toes by calling out when it’s bullshit, even if it’s cloaked in disguise of a wonderfully respected institution. Thanks for listening. Talk to you later.
Yeah, this is a cool newsletter; how to produce a successful pod … Are you recording yet? No, don’t push record yet, I want to read through this. Let me know what you think. It says, “If you’re going to read an advertisement, make sure it’s authentic. Otherwise, you’ll harm your credibility.” Yeah, that makes sense. And oh, it says, “If you’re asking your audience for a call to action, be sincere. Thank them from the bottom of your heart and make it short.” So, let’s try that. Okay, yeah, hit that red button, record. Yeah, right there. Okay.
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