Monthly Archives: May 2012

Who is Compensating the Food Guidelines Committee?

Who is Compensating the Food Guidelines Committee?

Reference:  Nutrition Action, Sept 2004 Volume 31

There is a lot of interest going on right now about obesity in America.  How did we all get so fat?   We have skyrocketing rates of obesity that is driving up health care costs, creating huge personal torment and travail, and making our society less competitive economically.  The US Dept of Agriculture is the body of authority in America tasked with telling us what food we should eat.  They design the food guidelines that we follow.  The question arises, have we been given bad advice?  The science of just what we “should eat” is quite complex, but there is now abundant evidence that what we are eating and doing is almost diametrically opposite to what we should be eating.

My first instinct, in my aging years, is to recognize that people behave by their own economic instincts.  Aka, follow the money.  If you know who is compensating someone, you can figure out why they behave.   I am increasingly coming to the point of believing that many mysteries and odd human behaviors are made much more clear when we know where the money is coming from.  (Just look at Congress and ask why they are so resistant to absolute transparency in their political fundraising.)  So, how about the food guidelines?   If you read Michael Jacobsen’s article in Nutrition Action, you will find out what all the leading officers of the USDA were doing for a living prior to going to work for the government, and setting food policy.  Guess who they all worked for?  Giant agribusinesses.  These are the folks who sell you our food.  Are they experts in keeping you healthy?  No.  Their expertise is in selling you stuff you can’t resist.  Is their goal to keep you healthy, or to sell you a bit more food?  Answer: a bit more food.  And they are paid by agribusiness.   In Oct of 2000, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine had to sue to find out who was paying the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines Committee.  It wasn’t open and public knowledge.  And the answer is….?   Six of 11 had financial ties to the food industry, including the chair.   The fox is in the hen house.  If Americans cut out 100 calories a day, agribusiness in America would lose $ 40 billion a year.  Can you expext agribusiness to voluntarily cut their business model and reduce their income.  What are their incentives?  I would contend that they are intently focused on molding public policy to keep them out of the limelight, and still selling as much as they can tempt you to buy.  And then blame it on you for not being able to resist.

The conflict of interest is beyond rational behavior.   The argument is made that they are the experts at food.   I would argue that they have been expert at making confusion by making obfuscating advice that you can’t really follow.  Example: “Consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fat and less than 300 calories a day of cholesterol.”   Sounds neat doesn’t it.  Do you follow it?  Can you?  Of course not.  It takes a degree in dietetics to follow that advice.    Another example:  “Keep total fat between 20-35% of calories.”  Do you do that?  Is there any proof that that reverses heart disease and diabetes?  No, and no.

WWW.  What will work for me.   I believe we need much more simple advice.  The food guidelines that have been issued are consistently stupid and utterly unable to be followed by normal folks.   Furthermore, they don’t work.  So we blame you.  I would suggest that all of that is actually intentional public policy created by the reach of economic interests lobbying Congress to push economic agendas.  And just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.   But you are in the cross hairs and you are failing.  There are better answers.  Next week we’ll start on them.

Why Plants Protect Your From Heart Attack

Why Plants Protect Your From Heart Attack

Reference:  Esselstyn, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: see color figures in book.

Blood vessels are dumb little creatures.  They can only do a few things. They can relax (that’s good – lower blood pressure), they can constrict, (That’s bad – high blood pressure) or they can call for help (hormones to call white cells to clean up the mess – that’s good when you have an infection, bad when you have inflamed LDLs.)  The lining of your blood vessels is the last barrier between the outside world and your cells, so it is a crucial barrier. And it is the largest organ in your body by weight.  Nitric oxide is the chemical it puts out to relax.  Ergo: you want more nitric oxide. The more you make the better off you are.

How do you make nitric oxide?  (Remember, nitro under the tongue takes chest pain away? Same idea)  L-arginine does it.  It’s the amino acid that’s abundant in plants that is the prime building block for nitric oxide.   L-arginine is it.  Lots of plant foods have it.   Unfortunately, there is a chemical that blocks L-arginine processing into nitric oxide.  It’s called ADMA.  It comes from digesting animal protein.  More ADMA, less nitric oxide.  Now, a bit of nuance on top.  There is another blocker called DDAH (dimethylarginine dimethylaminohdrolase) that blocks ADMA.  DDAH blocks ADMA.  You want more DDAH because that lowers the ADMA and raises nitric oxide.  It’s good but it’s very delicate and finely balanced.  Anything that makes for extra “oxidative stress” like smoking, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high sugar or white flour diet, alcohol consumption, all destroy DDAH resulting in more ADMA, resulting in less nitric oxide.  Did you get all that?  Make it simple.  You want nitric oxide.  You get that from eating plants.  You don’t want too much ADMA.  You get that from eating too much meat and you make it worse by eating wheat and processed white flour.

It sounds like a mouthful but this is the key to why a low fat, low animal protein diet works.  We have to get to lots of nitric oxide.  That makes your dumb little artery stretchier, more flexible and less inflamed.  Your immune system chills.

Now, I can combine those two in the office clinically.  It is now possible to measure the shape of your pulse wave with a nifty little ultrasound machine.  Not just the top and the bottom of your blood pressure, but the whole wave and the shape it makes.  If you have nice, stretchy, flexible arteries, your pulse wave looks different than if you have stiff arteries.  In fact, we can now roughly assign the “age” of your arteries to you, regardless of how old you are, and then lower it by giving you L-arginine as a supplement (with a few other supporting supplements)  And then, over the course of a year, watch your arteries wave age come down.  Yes, we can reverse artery disease chemically.  The mechanical, artificial bypass of surgery can be “bypassed” with a motivated human who takes the right diet, the right supplements, and the right hormones.

WWW. What will work for me?  I’m eating more vegetables and less oil.  And I have lowered my own artery age by 10 years over the last 10 months by taking arginine every day.   My arteries were 60 years old, just like me.  Now they are 50.  Cool huh?   You can too!

Written by John E Whitcomb, MD   Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic 17585 W North Ave, Suite 160,  Brookfield, WI 53045  262-784-5300

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Is Olive Oil a Safe Oil? Yes or NO!

Primer on Reversing Heart Disease I

Is Olive Oil a Safe Oil?  Yes or NO!

Reference:  Esselstyn, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (2007) and, Vogel and Correti Jr of Amer College of Cardiology, 2000

It has been a sacred tenet of “healthy living” proponents that we should eat a Mediterranean diet instead of a standard American Diet.  That reduces our fat intake.  The benefit is that you will reduce mortality from vascular disease.  That part is true.  And if you are willing to settle for a reduction in risk, that’s fine and dandy.  What happens if you want to reverse coronary artery disease and double the amount of live span ahead of you?  Does that catch your eye a bit?  Does mine.

There are some cracks in our current heart care system that I want to explore.  The first crack is the problem with olive oil.  Mind you, that’s about the only oil I eat so this is shaking me up a bit.  But I found out about the Brachial Artery Tourniquet test and the effect of olive oil.  Here is the test.  You put a blood pressure cuff around your arm and pump it up  to enough to obstruct your blood pressure.  Then you leave it there for 5 minutes.  Your arm turns blue.  It hurts.  You let go of the pressure and measure how fast your brachial artery returns to normal.  When you are eating olive oil and bread, your artery takes quite a while to get back to normal.  When you are eating a plant based diet with no fat in it, (< 10% calories from fat) your artery bounces back right away.

That’s the crack in the Mediterranean diet.  Folks still get heart disease.  Just not quite as fast.  It’s not reversing the disease, it’s just slowing it down.  What are you willing to settle for? And as for olive oil, other researchers have found that olive oil damages the ability of the endothelium of arteries to recover in other senses too.  For example,  green monkeys, when fed olive oil had just as much artery disease as when fed saturated fats.  Green monkeys metabolize fats and get heart disease very much like humans.  Hmmm.

It sounds like our artery lining, the endothelium doesn’t like olive oil much.  It may be better than bacon grease, but it’s still no panacea.  Next week, how do our arteries work and why is fat a problem?

WWW. What will work for me?  I’m a heavy consumer of olive oil.  I need to understand this more.  I’ve had very dear friends have heart disease recently and I’m not willing to settle for “just a bit” less risk. This is too important an illness not to take straight aim at.  I want to beat it back.  Sounds like I have to figure out a different way to eat my salad.

Written by John E Whitcomb, MD   Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic 17585 W North Ave, Suite 160,  Brookfield, WI 53045  262-784-5300

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