[0:00] Introduction/ Texas Superfood
[2:45] About Denise Minger
[5:51] Why Denise Doesn’t Drink Coffee and Eats Lots of Sushi and Sashimi
[9:33] How in the Process of Redeeming fat, We Traded One Form of Oversimplified Blame for Another…
[11:44] What Carbosis Is, and Why We Need to be Very Careful Mixing Carbohydrates with Fats
[15:12] Why Our Current Definition of Low Fat is Very Flawed, and The Definition of What Low Fat Actually Is
[21:07] The Low Fat History You’ve Probably Never Heard
[26:28] The Shocking Evidence That Sugar and White Rice Can Actually Cure Diabetes and Melt Fat Off the Body
[42:59] Why It’s a Myth That a Low-fat, High-carb Vegetable Diet is What Eventually Killed Researcher Nathan Pritikin
[54:42] Why Denise Has Changed Her Mind About Some Issues With “Forks Over Knives”
[1:00:56] Why Denise Apologizes at the End of Her Article
[1:05:35] End of Podcast
Ben: This episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show is brought to you by Texas Superfood. You can check them out at texassuperfood.com and when you take Texas Superfood not only do you get to use something that sounds very very American, don’t you love my Texas accent, but you also get 55 fruits and vegetables all in one supplement. So you can get it in a capsule, you could get it in a powder, you could get it in a stick pack, but it doesn’t just have vitamins in it, it also has probiotics, it’s got digestive enzymes, it’s got a ton of other stuff that helps you to sleep better and gives you a lot of energy during the day. It even reduces craving because your body is getting the nutrients that it needs from these tiny little capsules, or powder, or stick pack. Your choice, but regardless. Whatever you choose, you get a 10% discount off of your Texas superfoods when you go to texassuperfood.com. That’s texassuperfood.com and you use promo code ‘Ben’ at checkout. That’ll give you a full 10% off your first order from texassuperfood.com. Check them out.
In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“We can’t actually see the therapeutic effects of eating a very low fat diet until we’re about 10% of calorie is fat. So all these studies that are using 30% as the bar, they’re completely missing what’s going on at that actual low fat end of the spectrum.” “When people go into what I’m calling carbosis which I’m identifying as its own that starts at about 10% of calories from fat and lower, and maybe 75 to 80% carbohydrate is the minimum. When people are in this zone, something equally fascinating happens where carbohydrate metabolism is actually optimized and insulin sensitivity improves paradoxically.”
He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness. His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance. He is Ben Greenfield. “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…” All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Ben: Hey, folks, it’s Ben Greenfield and a few days ago in podcast 335 if you took a listen, I mentioned that there was a very kind of controversial article that got published this week by Denise Minger in an apparent attempt to break the internets. At least the internets of the nutritional world. The article is called “In Defense Of Low Fat: A Call For Some Evolution Of Thought.” and you’ve probably been hiding under a rock if you haven’t seen all the explosive responses especially in those who live in, like the high fat low carb or ketosis realm when it comes to some of the potentially inflammatory statements that Denise makes in that article talking about how you can lose weight eating a bunch of sugar, and starch, and you cannot just lose weight but you can even do things like cure diabetes by eating a bunch of carbohydrates. And this is some really interesting information that a lot of people aren’t talking about but that Denise lays out quite extensively in an 18000 plus word article that I will linked to in the show notes for this episode. So I have Denise on the call today to talk about this article, and actually Denise has been on the Ben Greenfield Fitness website before. She hasn’t been on the podcast. You haven’t been on the podcast right, Denise?
Denise: Not that I remember.
Ben: Not that I remember either. One of us would probably remember.
Ben: Yeah. Anyways though. Denise wrote a book, really good book that I recommended about a year ago. It’s called “Death By Food Pyramid”. Death by Food Pyramid, and we actually published an article last year that’s kind of an anecdote from that book called “How To Figure Out What Diet Is Right For You” and I like Denise, because Denise, you’re such a good writer.
Denise: Thank you!
Ben: Your writing is fun to read. But anyways, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Denise, her blog is rawfoodsos.com, and she spends about five hours a day reading and writing about nutrition. At least that’s what the bio on her website claims and Denise also speaks. I’ve seen her speak at the Ancestral Health Symposium. She does a lot of lectures on nutrition and she’s known pretty well for quite aggressively challenging conventional nutrition wisdom and dogma, and she’s perhaps most famous for a relatively thorough refutation of The China Study which appears on her website and which I will also link to in the show notes for this episode. So before we dive in, the show notes, you can get them at bengreenfieldfitness.com/highcarb/ That’s high spelled with the G. H. bengreenfieldfitness.com/highcarb/ with the G. H. Not the way all the cool kids are spelling it with just the H. I. these days. Anyways though, I’ll put all the show notes, studies, articles, everything that we talk about over there. So Denise, first of all, welcome to the show.
Denise: Why thank you. And I must point out, you forgot to mention that I don’t like coffee.
Ben: You don’t like coffee.
Denise: I don’t like coffee. This is very important.
Ben: Denise never having a chat, just before we begin recording, it is 10 AM here. Pacific Time in Washington State and, Denise, you just woke up.
Denise: I went to bed pretty late.
Ben: Okay. So you are a night owl?
Denise: Yeah. (laughs)
Ben: I’d love to have a separate chat sometime about circadian rhythms and all that jazz.
Denise: I’m not saying it’s a good thing.
Ben: And you also are not a coffee fan.
Denise: I cannot stand it. It is vile to me.
Ben: Okay. I will try and ensure that this podcast is not sponsored by a coffee company but I make no promises. And then finally, just out of curiosity because I know that you are quite infatuated with nutrition and all things diet related. Tell me about what you ate yesterday.
Denise: Oh my goodness. What did I eat? Okay. I found raspberries on sale and I ate an absurd amount of raspberries. I don’t even know how much but they were very delicious even this time of year. It’s amazing. I actually can’t remember. Oh, I think I went out. Oh, I got sushi yesterday. I ate quite a few pieces of salmon onigiri and some spicy salmon rolls and some, what did I get? Yellowtail sashimi which was delicious and I had a pretty big (censored) salad and yesterday’s pretty busy. I don’t really remember. I think I was kind of eating distractedly which was not a good thing but it was a pretty busy day. So that’s not necessarily typical.
Ben: Well, I’ve actually quite flattered that you too, use the term big (censored) salad to describe your, well for me it’s my daily lunch. Now, you used to be, did you use to be, because your website’s called Raw Food SOS. Did you use to be like a raw food-ist, I guess the term would be?
Denise: I was and I probably still qualify. Probably my diet is about 75% raw and not necessarily intentionally. It’s just what I enjoy the best. And yeah, I started my website actually as an ex-raw foodist to help struggling raw foodists. Hence, the SOS on the title.
Ben: Gotcha. Now what would a raw foodist struggle with?
Denise: Oh, everything. No, I think especially if you’re a raw foodist vegan, you’re gonna run eventually into problems with fat soluble vitamins in many cases. Vitamin K2, vitamin B12. A lot of people struggle to get enough protein. A lot of women end up not menstruating and there’s problems with hair loss, extreme weight loss, occasionally weight gain, fatigue, dental issues. There’s a very long list of things people can encounter and I’m not saying that everyone will encounter everything on that list or anything on that list but my experience has been that there’s generally a honeymoon period for people who go raw and that is followed by a period of crashing in it.
Ben: Now, you mentioned you ate sushi yesterday. Would that be considered part of a raw food diet?
Denise: Probably yeah. I mean, I guess the rice wouldn’t, but the fish would.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. So you are a raw foody or a foodist for a while and now, do you follow any type of specific like dietary dogma or macronutrient ratio, or do you just kinda like eat raspberries and fish willy nilly?
Denise: I pretty much eat raspberries and fish willy nilly. I will say I try very hard not to identify with any specific group. I think a lot of them have things we can learn from even a raw foodist, even the vegans, even the very low carbers, etcetera. We can draw inspiration from all of these communities but when we latch onto a single one is when things get dangerous.
Ben: So that means that your next book is not gonna be the Denise Minger diet?
Denise: Well, that’s kind of a good idea but probably not.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. Alright, let’s jump into the meat here. Pun intended. So you say in this article about low carb specifically or low fat in the article in defense of low fat. You say, “In the process of redeeming fat, we traded one form of oversimplified blame for another.” Can you expound on that?
Denise: Yeah. So, if we look historically at our beliefs about food, especially the ones that were given by the government, you can see that in the starting kind of the late 1970s but especially in the 90s when the food pyramid came out, we had this anti-fat movement arise in America where all of the sudden we’re blaming the obesity epidemic on eating too much fat, diabetes, all these chronic diseases, we’re saying, oh, that’s result of people consuming way too much fat in their diet. So let’s replace that with some carbohydrates and put people on a “low fat diet”. So what happened is America collectively reduced our relative intake of carbohydrate. We actually, oh I’m sorry, fat. We actually didn’t eat less fat on absolute amounts. We just ate it, relatively speaking, through eating more calories in general. And so we had this low fat movement happen where the government was pushing us in that direction, nutritionist were pushing us in that direction.
Most people believed it was the healthiest thing to reduce our fat intake, and lo and behold, especially the government version of what low fat was, which we can speak about later, it didn’t produce the health outcomes that we were hoping for. It just, people kept getting sicker, the obesity epidemic got even worse. And then lo and behold about a decade and a half later, we started seeing books like ‘Good calories, Bad calories’, a resurgence of the low carbohydrate movement and now, today 2015, there is a very strong movement trying to blame the obesity epidemic on the low fat diet, on eating too little fat and, by way of that, too many carbohydrates. So we kind of swung from this extreme of believing that fat was the culprit to now believing that carbohydrates are the culprit and in my mind, we’re not learning from the history that we experienced with the low fat shaming and were starting to do the same things with carbohydrate in a way that is not scientifically founded.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. Now, you use the term carbosis in your article. What do you mean when you say carbosis?
Denise: So that’s a word I made up. It’s a word that is supposed to represent the opposite of ketosis. So when people going to ketosis, their fat metabolism is optimized. They’re running on ketones. When people go into what I’m calling carbosis which I’m identifying as a zone that starts in about 10% of calories from fat and lower and maybe 75 to 80% carbohydrate is the minimum. So when people are in this zone something equally fascinating happens where carbohydrate metabolism is actually optimized and insulin sensitivity improves paradoxically.
Ben: How does that happen, like biochemically?
Denise: Biochemically. So this is gonna be the subject part of my second blog post on this topic and in short there’s quite a few different things that happen and I’m still trying to condense to something that makes sense, but what we do know is that we have a lot of studies done on diabetics and normal people, you know non-diabetic people, where we’ll feed them a potato. This is so interesting to me and I’m amazed by this kind of study. So we feed them a potato and then we measure their post meal response, blood sugar, insulin levels, etcetera and then we feed them later on a different day, under the same circumstances, a potato plus 10 grams of fat, and then potato plus 20 grams of fat, a potato plus 50 grams of fat and contrary to what we might expect with normal people, people who are not diabetic, yeah, the blood sugar response is lowered but the insulin response is actually the same the more fat you add and even as the blood sugar response is diminished.
So what that tells us is that we are secreting more insulin relative to the amount of glucose in our blood when we’re adding fat to a meal. And in diabetics it’s even more interesting because adding fat to a carbohydrate meal does not lower the blood sugar response after the meal, and it actually raises the amount of insulin that is required. So with diabetics, we see an extreme reduction of insulin sensitivity after combining fat with carbohydrate relative to eating carbohydrate alone and we see a somewhat similar but milder phenomenon with nondiabetic people. And the reason this is happening, as best I can identify, is there’s a few different things going on. One is called the Randall Cycle which is not, for some reason, is not discussed that much in like biochemistry textbooks but it’s very prevalent in the scientific literature. And it’s basically this competition between glucose and fatty acids for oxidation and the two of them together tend to compete very viciously in the body. And when like fatty acids are gonna actually inhibit glucose uptake and glucose in some ways is gonna inhibit fat oxidation and so when we moved to either be in mostly glucose running or mostly fatty acid [14:39] ______ the context of a single meal, it improves insulin sensitivity and basically makes metabolism optimized and more efficient.
Ben: So big picture is that if you eat a high amount of carbs it’s actually going to be more metabolically unfavorable to include certain percentages of fat with those carbs and if you have the carbs all by themselves?
Denise: Exactly. Especially for people who are already having health issues and who have “metabolic damage”.
Ben: Okay, interesting. Now as far as that combination of carbohydrates and fat, one of the things that you go into in the article is how what we would consider to be a high carb or low fat diet, specifically the low fat part of that, is actually flawed. What exactly do you mean by that?
Denise: Yeah. So basically since the 1980s we’ve been finding low fat as anything that is 30% of calories as fat or less. Generally not that much less ‘cause it’s really hard for people to go lower than that and on a normal diet, and when we look at what the American Heart Association recommends as low fat diet, it’s usually 25 to 30% of calories. Same with the American Dietetic Association, the USDA, all these large organizations that dictate dietary advice. They have set the bar for low fat as being 30% of calories and what the problem is, is that when we’re conducting studies that move the macronutrient ratio from like 35% of calories as fat, which I think is pretty standard in America, as the average right now to 30%; we don’t see any benefits most of all. Generally speaking in these studies and so we say, “Okay. Well, low fat isn’t doing anything beneficial. This must not be the right route for us to go.” But something really fascinating happens when you push that fat limit even lower and we can’t actually see the therapeutic effects of eating a very low fat diet until we’re about 10% of calories as fat. So all these studies that are using 30% as the bar, they’re completely missing what’s going on at that actual low fat end of the spectrum. And so I’m trying to communicate to people that when we’re citing these studies saying, “Low fat diet did something really bad.” Or the low carb diet, in this specific study, beat the low fat diet in terms of weight loss and insulin sensitivity, and blood lipids, and so on, and so forth. It’s not actually low fat diet that’s being used 99% of the time.
Ben: When you go around the world and you look at, I guess what we would call, like ancestral peoples or people who are living longer, hunter gatherer tribes, people like that, a lot times you do see anecdotes that they’re eating a high carb diet or like they’re eating lots of tubers, starches, bananas, whatever. What kind of percentages are they at?
Denise: There’s quite a few that are, there’s one that’s even three percent calories as fat but there’s quite a few that hover between 10 and 15%, and what we should remember too is that here in America or in the west in general, we have access to a lot of isolated fats that are not that easy to obtain in non-industrialized societies and so if we take away the…
Ben: What does that mean?
Denise: Isolated fats?
Denise: Yeah. Oh so just basically fats that have been separated from their whole food source even things like olive oil, in some regards, but definitely things like you know vegetable oils, pretty much any plant based oils is gonna be pretty hard to obtain without advanced technology. And when we take those kinds of foods out of the diet either because they are not highly obtainable elsewhere even things like animal fats. You’re gonna be limited in other areas that can’t import large quantities of butter, of Kerrygold butter, and lard and tallow and all these animal fats, you’re gonna be limited to what an animal itself can produce and often times when you’re relying on animals that have been captured from the wild, their fat deposits on their body are much much much lower than the fat in cattle and animals we have here in America. So if you look elsewhere in the world there’s a lot of lean animal products being eaten. There’s a much lower intake of refined fats, isolated fats and that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re at 10% level but you’re gonna be much lower than you are here in America and there’s quite a few societies that you have around that 10% mark.
Ben: I want to jump into the research with you here in a little bit but basically what you’re saying is if you take like an Okinawan who’s eating not very much fat, or like you know, these folks in like Papua, New Guinea are eating three percent of the calories is fat or the Tarahumara Indians, or whatever and you were to take their diet that’s mostly carbohydrates and you were to say, “Okay. Here’s some butter. Here’s some nice extra virgin olive oil, Here’s some medium chain triglycerides and some coconut oil that theoretically what would happen would be when you introduce those “healthy fats” into their diet, you would actually increase issues of metabolic syndrome or potential for issues as far as like pre diabetes, stuff like that because you would actually be affecting this Randall Cycle in their bodies and shifting them for them to be able to oxidize all this glucose and carbohydrate that their eating towards having to kind of mix it with fats?
Denise: Yeah. I would say that would probably happen on a mild level. I don’t think it would be anywhere near as severe as we see in developed nations just because we don’t, not only do we not have a base of whole foods carbohydrates here, we also have a ton of junk carbohydrates. A lot of food industries working in cahoots to make things really hyper palatable and addictive and so that’s also a factor here. And in these societies we might see a certain decline of health but I don’t think you’d be as dramatic because there’s a benefit still to eating whole food sources.
Ben: Yeah, there was actually a couple of years ago, I forget how they, you may remember this but they’re called something like live cell carbohydrates or carbohydrates that are, nutrient dense isn’t the right word, but basically carbohydrates that come from like living plant-based sources versus like starchy processed carbohydrates, and the way that those are different metabolically in terms of the way that they are processed. I forget the term. I believe it was either Chris Kresser or Robb Wolf wrote an article about the difference in the actual cellular composition of carbohydrates when you’re getting them from natural sources versus processed sources. I’ll try and find a link to that to put in the show notes but yeah either way. So not all carbs are created equal is basically what you’re saying.
Ben: Okay. So I want to jump into some of these folks that you cited because a lot of people who have heard of the food pyramid and the whole like high fat low carb, low fat high carb controversy here in America they think of this guy Ancel Keys. But you actually talk about a lot of people who came before Ancel Keys. So first of all, can you kind of quickly review who Ancel Keys was and what exactly, what we associate him with, then I wanna jump into some of these other folks.
Denise: Okay. Well, Ancel Keys, depending on who you ask, was the devil incarnate which is not something I agree with. I think his story has been cartoonish the way we’ve portray it, but anyway, he was a researcher who emerged in the last century. He was most famous for two things. One was the 7-country study and he’d get, but a lot people can relate the 7-country study with an earlier graph that he made which was a 6-countries graph that basically just plodded on 6 different nations in terms of their mortality and their fat intake, and showed this perfect upward curve. And when you Google Ancel Keys’ name or whenever you see an article written about him, you’ll usually see a representation of this graph posted with it and a lot of times people assume that that graph was the thing that caused shockwaves throughout the nation and changed our ideas about fat, and what convinced everybody. And in reality, he was actually, he was kind of ostracized. Based on his use of this graph initially which started, I think in the early 1950s. He presented it at a World Health Conference or World Health Organization Conference and he is essentially laughed out of the conference for presenting this idea that fat could cause heart disease.
And so I just want to take that moment, I always want to take the moment when I talk about Ancel Keys, to clear up that myth because a lot of people still repeat it. That was not the 7-country study. The 7-country study was a much larger undertaking that happened a couple decades later, but essentially he is credited with the idea of first of all, in some ways, inventing the idea that fat causes heart disease and modifying it later to say that it’s really saturated fat that causes heart disease by way of raising blood cholesterol. And of course, as he got older, he actually adopted more of a Mediterranean diet where he didn’t believe all fat was bad is mostly still just saturated fat in his mind. Anyway he’s often given credit is for inventing the low fat movement and in reality, there a lot of people, as you just mentioned, that came before him and we’re actually doing, I think, much more interesting work in terms of discovering what the effect of fat restriction can do on human being. And in my blog post the first person I talk about is Walter Kempner and so this guy, he was a German researcher who’s Jewish and so he fled Germany in the late 1930s as the country was getting very inhospitable to his kind, and he landed in Duke University where he started researching people with renal failure, kidney disease. He had put them on a special low sodium diet that was basically nothing, you know this is kind of shocking, nothing but refined sugar, fruit, rice, and fruit juice and that was it. Occasionally some supplements, but that was the diet. And his initial goal was just to treat kidney failure. But what he found happened over the years is that people who had diabetes, they were down for this diet they had kidney failure and he found that these people would start to improve in terms of their insulin requirements would go down, they’re fasting blood glucose would go down, other people would lose weight, people would heal their psoriasis, all of the heart failure would improve, all these various conditions that he did not even design the diet for would start improving and when people went on it.
Ben: And these people are eating like 2000 calories a day from just like refined sugar?
Denise: Yeah. They only form of his diet that was calorie restricted was the diet for extremely obese people. And so that one was calories restricted but for the rest of the people who didn’t enter this diet often he’d have to supplement their diet with more sugar to make sure that they didn’t lose weight. And so he would feed people up to a pound of sugar a day, of refined sugar plus sugar that was in the fruit in the fruit juice. So that is kind of shocking in many ways.
Ben: So he was looking at weight loss primarily or was he looking at like other metabolic factors?
Denise: Definitely other metabolic factors. I mean, again, his original goal was kidney disease and high blood pressure. Those two things ended up being probably what his diet was mostly known for, at least initially, ‘cause it was, you know back at the time, there was, we didn’t have these blood pressure medications. We didn’t have a lot of medical therapy for kidney disease and so people who are diagnosed with these conditions back in the 1930s and 40s was almost a death sentence. And often people are not expected to live more than a few years after the diagnosis but he gave them decades and decades and decades of extended life basically. And so he actually, the rice diet program ended up being more of a weight loss thing as the years rolled down. He ended up switching, I guess he backed down from the program eventually in his old age and some other people took it over and continued it mostly as an in-house weight loss clinic. But what the fact remains that some of his early papers demonstrate pretty convincingly that diabetics, and this is the part that interest me the most, diabetics would be eating a diet of basically almost pure sugar. Pure sugar and refined carbohydrates and they would get better. Fifty eight percent of them would reduce their insulin requirements and about 25 percent could go off insulin entirely, eating a diet of almost nothing but sugar.
Ben: That’s crazy. So do you think that, I guess you’re writing a part two on this but as far as Walter Kempner is researching these people who are literally beating diabetes and losing literally hundreds of pounds eating a bunch of rice and sugar, you think it has to do with this cycle that you talked about. What was it called again? A Randall cycle?
Denise: Yeah, the Randall cycle. I mean that’s just one component of it. I think there’s a lot that happens immediately after a meal too that can inhibit insulin sensitivity. So I don’t want to say too much about ‘cause I’ll probably be like, “Oh, I just misspoke and now I’m embarrassed.” So I’m still working on it and that’s why my part two isn’t out yet, but yeah, I think a big part of it is the dramatic increase in insulin sensitivity that comes through reducing fat intake to rock bottom levels.
Ben: Now I know some people are gonna be like screaming through the podcast right now asking about confounding variables. Is there like exercise introduced so they quit smoking. Did they like move to pristine Himalayan mountain top like where there other things going on?
Denise: I would say the biggest confounder was just the fact that they were in an in house environment where there is more support for staying on the diet. Walter Kempner, for his severely ill patients, the ones who if they went off the diet would probably die, he would whip them which is obviously a big issue of controversy.
Ben: He would whip them?
Denise: He would literally whip them, yes. He said that they wanted to be whipped. There was some shady business going on with that. I mean there’s definitely some weird stuff that was going on but for the most part the fact that the diabetics in his programs responded the way they did, and I don’t think they were whipped, I think it was mostly the people who had extremely severe blood pressure issues and kidney disease where literally like they’re on their death bed, he would just try to whip them to make sure they complied with the diet and which I’m not excusing as a practice. I’m just saying I think he did it only in the most extreme cases. So that’s obviously a confounder because if we put these people in a real world environment and told them to eat this diet, probably most of them would not be able to stick to it. But for the purpose of what I’m trying to explore with my blog post here, I’m more interested in understanding the mechanisms that are underlying these results. So much is this specific diet real world applicable because I think that’s a separate issue.
Denise: So I mean that was a confounder but you know in the 1930s and 1940s smoking was not considered a huge health hazard yet. He didn’t pressure people to stop smoking. Exercises as far as I know is not a large component. In fact, I think for the first few weeks of the program people were expected to be pretty sedentary because the diet was so low in salt, it had a very potentially deadly mix of electrolytes that were very low. He had to restrict water intake because the salt intake was so low. People were at risk of suffering from problems with lacto rate imbalance and so they weren’t supposed to exert themselves. So I don’t think that was a confounder. I think really the only things that could be considered really problematic in terms of the outcomes where the fact that people were monitored in house, not set to do their own thing and perhaps also of course, his diet eliminated so many different foods. You can make the argument that, “Oh, maybe it was the gluten he eliminated.” Or “Maybe it was the dairy that was eliminated.” And that sort of thing.
Ben: Yeah, they’re still eating crap loads of sugar. It’s crazy. And if you look at the photos, I’ll publish some of them in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/highcarb but you’ve got people who are literally like dropping over 250 pounds in a year eating essentially pure sugar and rice it’s…
Ben: It’s kind of nuts. Okay. So you got this Walter Kempler dude at Duke who puts people on the rice diet and fixes a bunch of issues. Weight loss, diabetes, insulin resistance, etcetera. And then you talk about this guy, Roy Swank. Who is he?
Denise: So Roy Swank, he is pretty awesome. He’s from where I am currently living, Portland, and so his whole thing was multiple sclerosis. When he was younger, he was invited to start researching amass because at the time people really did not understand what the condition was, and why it was occurring and why it was clustering around certain geographical locations. And for everyone who doesn’t know, MS is a pretty crippling auto-immune disease or neurological disease that over time pretty much, if untreated, will leave people incapacitated and eventually dead. So this was back in the 1940s as well, 1948, he got invited to Montreal to start researching this condition and one of the first things he noticed was when he conducted surveys of geography in terms of correlating with the disease he would find that the mountainous farming regions in certain areas where experiencing much higher rates of multiple sclerosis than the low land fishing areas where fat intake was lower, especially saturated fat. People were perhaps eating more carbohydrate foods but in general, the big difference here was saturated fat intake, at least according to what he saw. Of course, we could also make the argument, there’s a lot of confounding variables geographically too but this was what he had to work with at the time because really nobody knew anything about the disease. So his first hypothesis was that it might be saturated fat contributing in some way to multiple sclerosis. So he designed this diet that was, again, he didn’t limit white sugar or fine grains and he didn’t tell people to eat a whole bunch of vegetables and fruit. He didn’t tell people to stick with only whole food sources. The only thing he did was reduce people’s saturated fat intake and he reduced it pretty dramatically. The average saturated fat intake take, according to some of his papers of his patients at the time of the study starting, was about 125 grams a day. And he ultimately lowered that to about 15 grams maybe 10 to 20 is the flexible range.
Ben: So they were eating 125 grams of saturated fat. Just to put that in context like what would that look like if you’re like looking at butter, and coconut oil, and stuff like that?
Denise: Oh gosh. That’s a lot. I don’t know. Actually I don’t really, how much?
Ben: One hundred twenty five. You said 125 grams, right?
Ben: It’s a pretty decent amount. That would be, it’s basically 9 calories per grams. So we’re looking at over 1000 calories of saturated fat per day.
Denise: Yeah, and keep in mind too back then there’s not this big movement towards vegetable oils. A lot of the people eating fat, it was gonna be mostly saturated. So especially if you’re cooking with animal fat, and butter, and that sort of thing. So this was the average for his patients which might not be representative of their eating about a thousand calories daily.
Ben: That’s basically like three sticks of butter.
Denise: Yeah. So that’s the equivalent. So that is very animal heavy, animal food heavy population that he’s studying. So he took these people and again, he didn’t reduce their sugar intake, he didn’t reduce their refined carbohydrate intake. He just made them switch from the fatty animal products to extremely lean animal foods, if they’re going to eat animal foods. And so things like skim milk were fine, chicken breasts, turkey that was very lean, very lean cuts of meat. Those foods, very lean fish and I think even fatty fish was limited. So all these foods were fine and so it wasn’t a vegan diet. It wasn’t a refined sugar-free diet. It wasn’t a refined grain-free diet and what he did was he trapped these people for up to 50 years eating this diet and during the first few years, of course, he was very vigilant about checking in with them and making sure they’re sticking to the diet, giving them food frequency questionnaires at a very rapid basis, having them come up to his clinic in Montreal to get assessed and have their disease progression monitored. And what he found was that first of all, not all of his patients were able to adhere to the very very low saturated fat diet.
So he divided up the group into people who were, he called them good dieters which means they were eating less than 20 grams of saturated fat a day, and then he divided everyone else up into a group called poor dieters, and the people who were eating more than 20 grams a day. So what he found over the course of literally decades was that the mortality rates and the disease progression for the people who were eating a low saturated fat diet successfully worked much much much much lower than the people who had even marginally fallen off the diet. And again this is, it’s not a matter of people who are eating more saturated fat were also eating more vegetable oils or they were also eating more refined grains because that was not even part of the program. And what’s very ironic in my mind too is he eventually, after the first few years of his study being started, he let peoples start eating a little bit of, about 10 to 40 grams a day of fluid vegetable oils which include the really high proof of stuff that most of us completely loathe and he found that this did not harm the progression of the disease at all. And so essentially he boiled down the factor here to the differences in people’s saturated fat intake. And so this was a struggle for me to read because I’m so anti refined vegetable oil and I’m a much bigger proponent of natural fats if they’re probably gonna be saturated, if they’re from animal sources.
So it was really disturbing to kind of see the results of the study and I think we would need much much more detailed documentation of exactly what people were eating to rely all confounders, but what else intrigues me is another thing I’ll be posting about in my next installment in the series which is a lot of research he did on saturated fat intake and blood circulation, and tissue oxygenation, and I’ll spoil, I’ll give a small teaser right now. I don’t wanna spoil the whole thing. I do wanna wait for that blog post to come out but what he found essentially was that even in a single meal of not even a bad saturated fat meal like carrot cake and milkshakes but like having people drink a glass of pure cream. That’s the kind of thing we’re talking about here. They drink a glass of pure cream and the results for the next eight hours which show that as that fat was entering the bloodstream, people would suffer from severely reduced blood oxygenation. Their capillaries would start clumping, the blood cells as they’re passing the capillaries would start clumping and even circulation will get cut off into many different parts of the body. And what he decided and what he concluded eventually was that saturated fat for susceptible individuals was having an effect where it was basically, after consumption, was starving different tissues in the body of oxygen. And I’m still kind of working on going through all of the research that he cited and worked on showing that how this happens, but it does seem like in certain people, I won’t say everybody, but certain people there is a really negative effect of saturated fat intake.
Ben: Do you think it all like part of that could be from the source of the saturated fat, like you look at heavy cream for example, some people just do not do freaking well. Like I do horrible with heavy cream but I also get bloating and gas and stuff from it because I’ve got some cow’s milk allergies and also lactose intolerance. So for me, I’ve always wondered like is it the fat or is it being allergic to something that’s coming along with the fat?
Denise: Right. That’s a great point especially with dairy fat because that is a special case. I will say for Swank’s research he did these other forms of fat including fluid oils and I think he used lard in one of his studies too, and it showed pretty much the same thing. It did seem like dairy fat was the worst but it was not the only type of fat that was eliciting these effects.
Ben: Okay. So basically what the big picture though is that you go ahead and as they seem to respond very very well to lowering their fat intake and even in many cases like increase their intake of just straight up freaking vegetable oil.
Ben: Now, what about this next guy you talk about, Lester Morrison. He’s kinda like the next piece of the puzzle. Who is he and what did he find?
Denise: So Lester Morrison, he was kind of hard to research because there’s not a lot of info out there on him but the short story is that he was a doctor that was researching heart disease, and probably one of the earliest more well-known physicians who is putting patients on a low fat diet as a way to treat their heart disease. So for him, he started his work also in the 1940s. In 1946, it was actually that he launched his first studies, a hundred people who have had a heart attack and so they clearly already had heart disease and he set up an intervention group and a control group. The intervention group, he had 50 patients left their menu, he took all, basically again, all the fat out of their menu. Now, say too like a lot these men, they were inspired by seeing the results of World War 2 where rationing in certain areas was corresponding with the reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality. And so this was a big thing back then because you know in 1940s, late 1940s a lot of people were seeing the same statistics and thinking, “Wow. I wonder if the meat and the dairy that were being rationed and seem to be improving health via their absence maybe that had something to do with it.” So, again, this is a time before we had a lot of the current understanding that we do and so…
Ben: And so is meat and dairy that was being rationed, it wasn’t just like food in general so you couldn’t just say it was calories in general that are being lowered. It was meat and dairy specifically that they were getting less of?
Denise: Well, that’s actually a point of contention I have with that data because a lot of different things did change. In a lot of places, fish intake went up, refined sugar went down, refined grains went down, food in general, as you just mentioned, probably was restricted in general. People had to start foraging for wild foods. There was a ton of stuff that happened, and so if I was looking at that data today I would never look at it and say, “Oh gosh. I want to throw this meat and dairy.” But the men back at the time who were doing this research, that’s what they had to work with and that was the first thing that kind of pinged on their radar. So I won’t agree with their methodology for reaching the idea that low fat could have some merit, but I will say that their results from putting that into practice with their patients did have very interesting outcomes. So yeah, I wouldn’t say that that World War II data is really a good thing to look at in terms of trying to figure out what factor that was important. But anyway, so with Morrison that was kind of the thing that tipped him off to the idea that, “Oh, maybe we should take out the meat heavy or the fat heavy meat and dairy from people’s diets and see if that improves their cardiovascular outcomes. So 50 people, he left their menu as is, 50 other people, all he did was he took out all the really high fat foods and didn’t tell them again to eat less sugar, didn’t tell them to eat less refined grains, didn’t tell them to stop smoking, anything like that. And his results were essentially the same as what I’ve been talking about through all these other people too which is that the control group had much much higher mortality for the next 12 years than the intervention group did.
Ben: So that means that the control group which was a group that wasn’t eating a low fat diet, they were dying much earlier and the low fat group was actually living longer.
Denise: Right. Exactly and by the end of 12 years, 34% of the people who’d had heart attacks that were put on the low fat diet, they were still alive whereas every single person in the high fat group had died.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Interesting. Now this result from Lester, his name is Lester Morrison, is that right?
Denise: Yeah, that’s right.
Ben: Lester Morrison. Okay. So as far as his results go these fat restricted patients living longer, do you think that there were other variables that could have been applied?
Denise: There could have been, I mean one confounding factor is the fact that they were eating a bit more protein relative to what they were eating originally largely because they’re switching to lean animal products so you know they were trying to establish an equal calorie balance and taking out the fat then replacing it with something else. So we could say, “Oh, well maybe there’s an effect of increasing protein intake on heart disease survival.” A lot of them initially in the first year, lost a significant amount of weight although that stabilized for the next 11 years and we could also say, “Well, maybe the weight loss had something to do with it.” So there’s a lot of what ifs that if I was looking at his study in isolation I might say, “Well, we can’t really use this as evidence for anything.” It’s only the fact that his results corroborate what all these other researchers were also finding using similar methods that I find that has merit.
Ben: You know well, that’s the thing. You talk about another researcher who’s a little more famous, who had a bunch of results that kind of backed up with this guy Lester Morrison study, Nathan Pritikin.
Denise: Yeah, so Pritikin, I think a lot more people are familiar with his name. So what’s funny here is that Pritikin was actually kind of a patient of Lester Morrison and this is, at the time, Pritikin, he actually did get diagnosed with heart disease in his younger years and at the time, he didn’t really pay much attention to high cholesterol until he went in for an electrocardiogram and the results came back pretty abnormal. He was like, “I really got to do something to fix my own health.” And Pritikin was an engineer by trade and so he had this really mechanical mind where he loved to test variables and take meticulous documentation of things. And what he did was he ended up spending a really long time experimenting on himself trying to get his cholesterol lower. So I think it was close to 300 I believe when he had it tested at Lester Morrison’s office.
So he ended up trying things like experimenting, like eating nothing but legumes and some beef or some dates after dinner and just various combinations of food, and each time he would try a certain dietary experiment for a couple weeks and then go back to the doctor and get his cholesterol retested. And he eventually, he was able to pound his cholesterol down below 150 total cholesterol and at that point his electrocardiogram, to the shock of his doctors, ended up coming back normal, meaning that he had done something to essentially fix the state of his heart. So at that point he started counseling other people for free saying, “Hey, this is what I did. The diet that ended up working for me was extremely low fat. I kicked out almost all the sources of fat from my diet except for very occasional chicken or fish.” He started putting people on the same program he had tried and he ended up just accumulating this huge group of people who wanted his information and his help, and it led to him eventually starting a longevity center in California where it was designed specifically to bring people in who had heart disease or who even had other health conditions. Who needed to lose weight, who had diabetes, he would bring them into his clinic and put them through a 28-day program where they’d learn how to eat his diet. The only exercise that was added was some walking each day which he was actually a really big fan of people walking for about an hour each day. And apart from that he would just bring them in, put them in for 28 days and a lot of times, I would say the majority of the time, they would rapidly improve their conditions.
Ben: Now what about like with the Pritikin thing, like the way I understand is they were eating a lot of vegetables and fiber and stuff like that, right?
Denise: Yeah, he was a very big proponent of fiber. I think he believed that there was an independent effect of fiber that really helped lower people’s triglycerides and improve their cholesterol profile which is true. I mean if we look at the progression of results from Walter Kempner, yeah, he had some really amazing results with diabetics, but it was much improved with Pritikin’s diet when the diet was shifted to a whole foods form of the diet. And so he, over two hundred papers have been published on Pritikin’s results largely from a researcher who is James Bernard who’s the medical director for a while, and it’s really fascinating to me. Like when I was writing this blog post, I was just reading through all these studies thinking, “Wow, there’s so many people out there saying that low fat has never been proven. That it’s never had any good results in studies, and here I’m looking at hundreds and hundreds of papers showing people, again, like reducing the diabetes, going off insulin entirely after just 28 days on this diet.” And Pritikin, he even had some longer term studies lasting for several years that showed people could maintain the diet and maintain their health improvements.
Ben: Interesting but with Pritikin, isn’t there like an issue with him dying horribly of some kind of disease or something like that related to this diet?
Denise: Yeah, so I was inspired to write about this in my blog post because I gave a talk on the same subject at the Ancestral Health Symposium in 2014 and somebody in the audience brought up a good point which is something I think a lot people believe which is that Pritikin committed suicide. He committed suicide, I think he was 69. He was in his late sixties, that’s still relatively young, and he also had either a form of leukemia or lymphoma depending on who you ask about the diagnosis at the end of his life. And so what a lot of people see is, “Okay. Well, he was on a super low fat diet. We already suspect that that kind of diet can impair neurological function and cause people to be depressed and have mood disorders, and he had cancer. So wow, it must have been all the carbs turning into sugar in his body feeding the cancers cells.” And so I see that argument made a lot of the reason that Pritikin failed on his own diet and what a lot people don’t know is that before he ever started his low fat experimentation, Pritikin was blasted, just blasted with radiation due to a skin condition he had. And he was given this huge dosage of radiation trying to fix the condition. I can’t remember what, I did the calculation. It was just like, it was equivalent of so many thousands of chest x-rays. It was just like a ton of radiation and immediately after he had this happen basically his white blood cell count never came back normal, people would take his blood work and would be like, “Wow. Something’s really really wrong with what’s happened in your blood.”
And shortly after that it progressed into, again, into a rare form of either leukemia or lymphoma. And so he actually had this cancer before he started the diet and it was a cancer that people did not expect he was going to be able to live with for more than a few years at the time of his diagnosis. So he had a very grim prognosis. It was before he started the low fat thing and are we gonna argue that it was his low fat diet that failed to cure this disease or can we argue that he gave him 30 years of basic remission to be experimenting with this diet and eating something that was healthy for his body. And the reason he committed suicide too was that at the end of his life he had, all of a sudden his disease went out of remission. It became much more severe. He had leg swelling so bad that he was no longer able to jog which is one of his passions in life, and he was so depressed about that fact that he actually let doctors give him some chemo which, at the time, he was actually not really a fan of. He wanted to cure his conditions with food. So he ended up getting chemo. The chemo completely destroyed his body. He ended up being super anemic, lost like 30 pounds even though he was super slender already and the tipping point for him came when he was told by a doctor in Albany that, “Hey, you have less than six months to live. You’re gonna be out of this world means in six months.” And he took his own life at that point.
Ben: So he probably didn’t die from a low fat high carb diet. He probably died from radiation.
Denise: I really don’t think it’s fair to say that and I think if we’re gonna make that claim there’s a lot of people who have died fairly recently within the high fat world like Barry Groves, Robert Su wrote a book called ‘Carbohydrates Can kill’. These men also died fairly recently at what we might expect to be not their full life span.
Denise: And if we’re gonna say that about Pritikin, shouldn’t we be saying that about to everybody? And I don’t think that’s fair either but it’s like, keep it balanced here.
Ben: So I’ve got a question for you. Prior to this point, kind of digging into this topic with you I’ve mostly been under the impression that some people do okay on a high carbohydrate diet based on their genes. Like whether it is less of an insulin response to carbohydrates or greater insulin sensitivity, or more production of the enzymes responsible for digesting starch in the mouth like a Kenyan marathoner being able to handle that more from like their genetic intake traditionally of a high carb diet versus say like a northern European who would do things like lose salt better because they’re used to having a higher amount of salt with curing and food preservation methods, or enduring higher amounts of fat ‘cause that’s what their genetic ancestors would have traditionally eaten. And even this, there is a really recent study that just came out. I don’t know if you saw this one. It was in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition out of Asia Pacific and this one was actually in Chinese, and they found that there were people with specific genetic polymorphisms within what’s called the lipoprotein lipase enzyme that would allow some people to develop insulin resistance in response to carbohydrates, and then some people to be just fine with carbohydrate intake showing that maybe part of this is genetics. But what kind of got me scratching my head was like a lot of these people who were being studied by Pritikin, and Lester Morrison, and all these other folks that you’ve been talking about so far like these were people from kind of a genetic melting pot, right? Weren’t they studying mostly just average people from America like fat people, or people with diabetes, or multiple sclerosis, or whatever?
Denise: Yeah, it was a pretty diverse population I believe. I mean diverse for America but there was, I mean it wasn’t like a specific ethnic group. We could probably say that people who ended up with diabetes or heart disease maybe had other genetic predispositions that clustered them into commonality but that’s actually really interesting. I would love if you could send me that later. Sounds awesome.
Ben: Yeah. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. I actually talked about that particular study in my last podcast episode.
Ben: But kind of following that train of thought, let just say that genetics aren’t responsible for some people being better adapted to a high carb diet versus a high fat diet at least in these studies that you’ve been talking about so far. Could you safely say, do you think that you’ve basically got two extremes, right? You’ve got carbosis where people who do like whatever like the fruitarian or the 80 to 90% carb based diet in relative absence of fats aren’t subjecting themselves to a situation where fats can I guess like do damage to the high carbohydrate state. And then on the completely opposite end of the spectrum, you have a bunch of people doing well with like ketosis, high fat carb restriction in a very appropriate sense of the word, like 5 to 10% carbohydrate intake and they’re doing well on that higher fat intake, and all this could be due to this Randall Cycle that you talked about where you could either do really well on high amounts of fat, you can do really well on high amounts of carbs but playing in the in between land could be dangerous?
Denise: Yeah. I would say that’s pretty on target. I do think, ‘cause even in the studies that I’ve discussed here, even when the majority did benefit from the dietary intervention, there’s always a certain percentage of people who got worse. And I think we do see the same thing with the very low carbohydrate diet too. This can be a lot of people who excel and who have a lot of great health benefits especially initially but long term, I see a lot of women who have problems long term. I see a lot of people who go off this diet and they may be experience great benefits initially but after the fact they run into like issues with stress hormones and whatnot. I think there is a range of response to both ends of those spectrum that probably is dictated by genetics, maybe early health history, other issues that people are entering the diet with already. And so I don’t think it’s a matter of saying like, “Everyone can do well on this end and everyone can do well on this end.” I think there’s going to be people who respond much more favorably to one end or the other and quite frankly I have no idea why at this point.
Ben: Okay. I wanna ask you a couple of other things. I wanna ask you about Esselstyn.
Ben: Because you actually talk about ‘Forks Over Knives’ on your website. You critiqued it kind of harshly. You criticized his fat shunning program because of some of the issues that you had with it. What do you think about Esselstyn now, now that you’ve dug into some of this stuff?
Denise: So my big point of contention with ‘Forks Over Knives’ is actually what I mentioned earlier about looking at the World War II statistics and the corresponding drop in cardiovascular disease plus the food rationing. So that was actually something that was a big central point for ‘Forks Over Knives’ and I was, I actually dug into the date there. I was like, “No, we can’t use that.” To say that it was the fat that caused the problem. But with Esselstyn, I’ve actually always been pretty impressed with the kinds of results he has achieved. The study that I wrote about in ‘Forks Over Knives’ was I think he was using 18 people who stuck with his diet and who were all able basically to reverse or arrest their heart disease. And so at the time I was thinking, “Yeah, that’s pretty impressive but look at their HCL. It’s really low. Look at their triglycerides. They’re kind of super high. They might be using statins for a lot of these people.” And it was only a group of 18. You know what would happen when he would try this diet on a much larger sample size? Would it still have these great results?
And so that was kind of the question mark I left off on my ‘Forks Over Knives’ post and I don’t want to say that I just completely wanted to discredit Esselstyn. I just wanted to point out that his results really needed to be replicated and we needed to understand further what was going on with his patients. So lo and behold, in 2014 I believe it was in July, he actually released another study using about 200 people and his results were just as profound if not more so than his study of 18. So when I was reading this more recent study and I was thinking, “Wow, there’s definitely something to this.” He has probably, this is the most successful study that I’ve seen even with Ornish. I mean Ornish did well too but he has so many different other factors in his lifestyle program like stress reduction, meditation, social support, smoking sensation, exercise. He had a lot different things going on besides diet. So he’s known too for reversing heart disease but it’s harder to blame that on diet specifically. But with Esselstyn, he didn’t have all those confounding factors. He basically just used diet and I think he did use statins for people whose cholesterol would not go below 150 with diet alone but there were a lot people who did not even use statins in this program and, again, it was I think only one person out of his group of adherent patients to his diet in this larger study saw any type of adverse cardiovascular event that was due to the diet which is pretty profound. And most of them, these were people who are basically on their death bed when he got a hold of them and decades later he was able to keep them alive.
Ben: And so just to clarify that this is the study that was just published like last year at the time of this recording?
Ben: This is the whole like Esselstyn ‘Forks Over Knives’ oil free, animal food free, plant foods type of regimen?
Denise: Exactly, yeah. His initial program I think originally allowed for skim milk but after he came buddy-buddy with Colin Campbell he decided that animal protein was really bad and so he stopped letting people drink milk even.
Ben: And it’s like a full on like heart disease reversal.
Denise: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Ben: Interesting. Now another kind of like devil’s advocate question for you. What about like if you look at stuff beyond just like mortality or like absence of heart disease, one thing that you hear in let’s say like Nora Gedgaudas, right? She’s someone who’s famous for saying like your IQ drops and you start to become stupid, and you get a cognitive decline when your cholesterol falls below 200. And I believe she may not be quite this blunt but something along the lines of, “and that’s why vegans and vegetarians are more stupid.” Or something like that. But what about like some of the other things. Like cognitive decline, or thyroid, or like drive and sex function, and all this kind of stuff, like do they track those kind of things or are they mostly looking at heart disease, “are you fat or not?”, and “how long do you live?”
Denise: I think for most of the studies there is a primary outcome that they’re trying to measure and it usually is some chronic disease. I’ve seen a few studies that do comment on people’s sense of well-being and their physical, youthful looks, and that sort of thing especially back in the 1940s where I guess it was more acceptable to comment on whether someone still looked vigorous and youthful. But for the most part, that is a concern and it’s one that I believe needs to be addressed because I believe it’s much more due to the vegan component of a lot of these studies rather than their low fat component.
Ben: Yeah, that’s kind of like my thing that I always think about with this stuff is like I wanna live a long time, but I wanna live a long time and be really smart and be a sex machine.
Denise: (laughs) Yeah.
Ben: I’m not saying that that’s not the case with that. That you can’t achieve that with like a plant-based diet or I mean even looking at some of these studies like a white rice and sugar-based diet. I just still question whether or not you can achieve like total health on these diets or if, yeah, we’ve just shown that basically they can help decrease heart disease and increase longevity, and decrease some of the symptoms of MS and stuff like that.
Denise: Right. Yeah, I think it’s important to look at the very extreme versions of these kinds of diets as therapeutic. Things that will help treat and reverse diseases that have already occurred or that are in the process of forming. And for somebody who is trying to maintain their health, I don’t think that going to a macronutrient extreme is the best plan of action ‘cause I think that the negative impact will be greater than the positive impact in those cases, if that makes sense. And my whole thing with this is I think we can find ways to combine the benefits of like carbosis, and ketosis, and all these different dietary theories that we have and compile them into an eating plan that’s probably pretty flexible for most people. But that will I guess draw from the results and the benefits of all these different eating styles and obtain kind of like a maximum benefit without as much harm.
Ben: Yeah, and you at the end of your article, you apologize. Why do you apologize?
Denise: Yeah. Well, my whole thing with having a blogging platform is I never set out to be a blogger when I started my blog. It was just a personal project and I feel like it was a real gift and a real honor to be given a platform where people will listen to me and people will sometimes even follow my advice, and ask me questions and listen to what I say, and it’s just kind of still amazing but because of that I consider my duty for accuracy to be very high and I hold myself to various high standards of accuracy of preventing my own ideas from falling into different forms of biases and dogma. And I feel that with the low fat thing especially the plant-based diet doctors squad, as I like to call them, people like Ornish, McDougall, Esselstyn, Fermin, Neal Barnard, all those people. I feel like I unfairly dismissed their results in a way that prevented my own knowledge from growing, and I feel like I disseminated certain pieces of information about their programs that were not complete and maybe not completely accurate. So I wanted to apologize just because I feel like, again, I have this great platform and I hold myself to very high standards in terms of what I tell people and what I tell people especially, like I just knew I wanted to be filtered through all of my different analytical criteria before I really make a statement about anything. And so I just feel like I short-changed myself and my readers in a certain area here and I wanted to apologize for that.
Ben: Well, you do realize it’s kind of weird for someone in the nutrition industry to apologize that they were wrong about something or mislead, or for you to even change your mind. That’s pretty weird. Most people are tied down to their URLs these days.
Denise: (laughs) I guess that’s true. I mean it helps that I’m not promoting to eating anything.
Ben: It helps that you don’t have a diet book. That’s always come back to bite me too. I don’t really have a diet book, and so I’m always kind of like open minded when it comes to research and changing my philosophy. And a lot of people get pissed because they want to be able to follow like a dogma and sometimes it’s not that simple. Well, good on you for publishing this because it’s actually really informative and I would recommend, again, I’ll link to this and some of the other stuff Denise and I talked about in the show notes at bengreenfieldfitness.com/highcarb, H. I. G. H. carb. Denise, I know part two hasn’t come out yet but it sounds like you’re gonna kind of expand on the biochemistry and the Randall Cycle and all that jazz?
Denise: Yeah, it’s gonna be pretty needy.
Ben: Sweet. I love it. I’m gonna get my propeller hat out.
Ben: Take it out of the closet to get ready for part two. In the meantime, thanks for your time and for coming on the show to talk about this stuff for all the people who don’t want to go read the big long article.
Denise: Thank you so much for having me on. Yeah.
Ben: Cool. Well, folks, thanks for listening in and I know that you’ll probably have your own comment, your thoughts, your questions, etcetera. I can’t promise that Denise is gonna come over to the comment section or reply to all your comments because I know she has plenty of comments to reply to on her own site, but feel free to leave your feedback over on the show notes for this post anyways. And I promise I’ll go read them and jump in and respond where I can. And in the meantime also keep your eye on Denise’s site, rawfoodsos.com for part two of this series. Thanks for listening in. Denise, thank you.
Denise: Thank you, Ben.
Ben: Alright, folks. Have a healthy week. I’m Ben Greenfield signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.
Meet Denise Minger.
Wait, no. That’s not Denise.
This is Denise.
The woman above Denise is a woman from a dietary study who lost 123 pounds in just shy of a year. She’s not to be confused with the woman above her, who obliterated 278 pounds in a bit over a year.
All on a 90-95% carbohydrate based, high-sugar, high-starch, low-fat diet.
And that’s just a peek into the contents of today’s podcast. But back to Denise.
Denise blogs at RawFoodSOS.com, where she just released the controversial article “IN DEFENSE OF LOW FAT: A CALL FOR SOME EVOLUTION OF THOUGHT.” That particular article is exactly what we’re going to be digging into this podcast…
…but Denise is no stranger to BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Last year, I published the article “How To Figure Out What Diet Is Right For You“, which contains many anecdotes from Denise’s book “Death By Food Pyramid“.
As a self-described health blogger, Denise typically spends about five hours a day reading and writing about nutrition. In both her writings and lectures she has a reputation for aggressively challenging today’s leading voices of conventional wisdom, and is perhaps most famous for her thorough refutation of “The China Study” book. Denise is considered to be a major thorn in the side of both mainstream nutritionists and other health figures who adhere to standard dietary dogma.
During my discussion with Denise, you’ll discover:
-Why Denise doesn’t drink coffee and eats lots of sushi and sashimi…
-How in the process of redeeming fat, we traded one form of oversimplified blame for another…
-What carbosis is, and why you need to be very careful mixing carbohydrates with fats…
-Why our current definition of low fat is very flawed, and the more appropriate definition of what low fat actually is…
-The low fat history you’ve probably never heard…
-The shocking evidence that sugar and white rice can actually cure diabetes and melt fat off the body…
-How decreasing “healthy” saturated fat and increasing intake of vegetable oils has been shown in baffling research to actually benefit conditions such as multiple sclerosis…
-Why it’s a myth that a low-fat, high-carb vegetable diet is what eventually killed researcher Nathan Pritikin….
-Why Denise has changed her mind about some issues she had with the documentary “Forks Over Knives”, and why she apologizes to vegans and vegetarians…
-And much more!