Modern Scientific Controversies Part 6: Follow Up

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen

food_plates_smPrologue:  This is a follow-up to  a series of five essays that discussed ongoing scientific controversies, a specific type of which are often referred to in the science press and elsewhere as “Wars” – for instance, one essay covered the “Salt Wars1 and another the “Obesity War”.  The purpose of the series was to illuminate the similarities and differences involved in these ongoing controversies, with the final part (Part 5) showing the commonalities with the Climate Wars.    This essay illuminates two important new, potentially paradigm-shifting papers in the field of Human Nutrition and new findings in the Salt Wars that turn that entire field on its head.

Warning:  This is not a short essay.  Dig in when you have time to read a longer piece. 


Human Nutrition — the field of human physiology and health that concerns itself with the question:

What is the ideal diet for free-living human beings for optimum health and maximum longevity? 

Human nutrition and its continued onslaught of sensational news stories about the “latest research findings” — each one touting the benefits or harms of some item of the human diet, or the life-enhancing, lifetime-expanding benefits (or life-shortening harm) of a particular type of diet — has caused more damage to the reputation of Science as an enterprise than any other topic.  The continual series of whipsawing stories from the field has turned human nutrition into a public joke.2  

“Coffee: a poisonous carcinogen” last month, and now a “Coffee found good for your heart”.  “Butter is a killer, eat margarine for long life” last year, “Margarine causes heart attacks, avoid at all costs” this year.  “Alcohol is bad for you”, “Red wine is good for heart health”.3

For several years now, there has been a constant drumbeat of demand to reduce the amount of fats of all kinds from recommended diets — health insurers4,  medical associations, and the governmental health agencies in the West all urge reduced fat diets, with some fats being particularly targeted.  The stated reasons are many:  heart disease, obesity, trans-fat phobia, “artery clogging fats”, etc.   US FDA and Australian Health ministry both have issued recommended balanced diets in the last several years that included reduced fats.


So, what’s not to like about that? ……….  Science — unbiased carefully crafted and executed research — says differently, challenging three sacred cows of dietary science.


The PURE Study

The PURE Study  (NIH link) has been making big news since last week, having issued two new papers laying out their results accompanied by presentations at the ongoing meeting of the European Society of Cardiology.  McMaster University issued a Press Release on the 29th of August, covered by ScienceDaily here.

“Research with more than 135,000 people across five continents has shown that a diet which includes a moderate intake of fat and fruits and vegetables, and avoidance of high carbohydrates, is associated with lower risk of death.

To be specific about moderate, the lowest risk of death was in those people who consume three to four servings (or a total of 375 to 500 grams) of fruits, vegetables and legumes a day, with little additional benefit from more.”

“As well, contrary to popular belief, consuming a higher amount of fat (about 35 per cent of energy) is associated with a lower risk of death compared to lower intakes. However, a diet high in carbohydrates (of more than 60 per cent of energy) is related to higher mortality, although not with the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Online headlines tell how the papers were received:

European Society of Cardiology:  Revisiting dietary fat guidelines? (PURE)

CardioBrief:  Huge Diet Study Questions Conventional Wisdom About Carbs And Fats

TCTMD: PURE Investigators: Rethink Diet Guidance to Plug More Fats, Fewer Carbs

STAT:  Huge new study casts doubt on conventional wisdom about fat and carbs

The Lancet: PURE study challenges the definition of a healthy diet: but key questions remain  (paywalled)

Jo Nova: Low Fat consensus was wrong: High carb diets increase death rates

Two and three days later, the backlash has begun to appear in the press and on the web:

The Atlantic:  New Nutrition Study Changes Nothing (James Hamblin)

HuffPost: Diet And Health: Puzzling Past Paradox To PURE Understanding (Dr. David Katz)

The PURE study warrants some skepticism (by Marion Nestle)

American Council on Science and Health: Fruit And Veggies Beneficial For Heart Health, But Carbs Aren’t. What?

Those readers who have been following this series on Science Wars will recognize the pattern immediately.  A new finding is published that challenges an existing consensus in a scientific or medical field.  Almost immediately, within days, the new findings are attacked (there is no other word for it), denigrated, and downplayed by advocates of the consensus position with supporting salvos from their allies.    If you think this sounds like politics, you are right.

The first PURE paper itself gives this simple language summary:

“Consistent with most data, but in contrast to dietary guidelines, we found fats, including saturated fatty acids, are not harmful and diets high in carbohydrate have adverse effects on total mortality. We did not observe any detrimental effect of higher fat intake on cardiovascular events. Our data across 18 countries adds to the large and growing body of evidence that increased fats are not associated with higher cardiovascular disease or mortality. …

Removing current restrictions on fat intake but limiting carbohydrate intake (when high) might improve health. Dietary guidelines might need to be reconsidered in light of consistent findings from the present study, especially in countries outside of Europe and North America.”

The PURE Study’s first paper covers two points:

  1. Increased fats in the human diet do not lead to increased cardiovascular disease and do not cause increased mortality.
  2. Diets too high in carbohydrates (starches and sugars), above 60-70 % of total calories, increase mortality. (“Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products.”)

and thus concludes that dietary guidelines, especially outside of the US and Europe, might be reconsidered in light of this new evidence.

The second PURE paper covers dietary intake of vegetables, fruits and legumes (peas and beans), finding:

“The results showed that non-cardiovascular mortality and total mortality are decreased with high intake of fruits, vegetables, and legumes compared with low intake. …

Many dietary guidelines recommend a minimum of 400 g/day of fruits and vegetables, which might not be achievable globally since fruits and vegetables have previously been shown to be unaffordable in low-income and lower-middle income countries. Our findings that even three servings per day (375 g/day) show similar benefit against the risk of non-cardiovascular and total mortality as higher intakes indicates that optimal health benefits can be achieved with a more modest level of consumption, an approach that is likely to be more affordable in poor countries.”

This is, at first glance, an entirely noncontroversial finding.  Eating more fruits, vegetables, and legumes is better for your health.  Here’s the “but”….

  1. Eating more fruits, veggies, and legumes is better…but…
  2. Just three servings a day maxes out the benefit and is an achievable target for the poor, eating more is not that much better.  (These are also primarily carbohydrates.)

These two papers have stepped on a lot of toes and caused quite an uproar.

The consensus positions in human diet, set by such august bodies as the American Heart Association, the FDA, and the Health Fad Industry maintain, we could say “insist”, that:

  1. Fat is bad and should be nearly eliminated from human diets — meats must be lean, dairy must be low- or non-fat.
  2. Grains, vegetables and fruits should be the bulk of human diet — over 3/4s of total diet in both the US FDA and the Australian governmental recommendations.

Thus, these two papers directly contradict the consensus positions on fats, carbs in general, and vegetables and fruit.

On the “this is big important news” and “a paradigm changing study” side comes the always insightful Jo Nova from down under:  “Low Fat consensus was wrong: High carb diets increase death rates.  How many people have died prematurely because they swapped their fats for carbohydrates?  New research published in the Lancet shows that low fat diets could increase your risk of death.”

On the other side, the Health Triad — David Katz, Marion Nestle, and James Hamblin — immediately issued Rapid Response attacks, in the Atlantic and the Huffington Post.  They quote one another, of course.  David Katz, promoter of “integrative medicine” and plant-based diets, infamously accused of writing positive book reviews for the HuffPost under a pseudonym for his own Sci-Fi novels  — Marion Nestle, prolific author on Food Politics with a blog by that name, active anti-sugar, anti-soda campaigner — James Hamblin, media darling doctor and health writer for The Atlantic.

Katz says “I appreciate the good intentions- but the message is, simply, wrong.”

Hamblin, whose discussion is the best from the consensus viewpoint, in the end  insists “People are complex, and the ways we perceive and communicate and relate to one another are complex… But the basic agreement on what to eat for the health of people and the planet is not: diverse, naturally high-fiber, minimally processed foods, mostly plants.”

Nestle quotes both Hamblin and Katz and tries the “wrong by association” attack:   “Drug companies have a big interest in this topic, especially if dietary approaches to heart disease prevention aren’t proven.” (The PURE Study is funded by hundreds of groups, from many nations, starting with lots of governmental agencies and ending with “unrestricted grants from several pharmaceutical companies”). (List of funders in .docx format)


Bottom Line: 

  1. Prospective epidemiological health studies cannot, do not, say anything about causes. They can, however, be used to rule out public health issues — like the demonized high-fat diets, as the PURE study does in this case.  These types of studies cannot be adjusted for all confounders, despite all claims of authors and statisticians to the contrary, thus their findings are best taken ONLY as indicators of overall health outcome trends and point to interesting areas for further investigation.
  1. The PURE study found that internationally, poor and wealthy, rural and urban, humans are not harmed by higher fat diets — they do not die prematurely and do not suffer from more cardiovascular disease.

My opinion?:  The low-fat diet mantra has always been bias-driven.  This is just one more large study confirming this point.

  1. Overall, diets above 60-70% carbohydrates can lead to premature death.

My opinion?:  Diets that high in carbohydrates lack other important foods and are unbalanced, leading to poorer health.  The nit-picking “good carbs, bad carbs, processed carbs” is just that – nit-picking.

  1. Three to four servings of VFL (veggies, fruits, legumes) is generally sufficient for good health.

My opinion?:  Probably correct.  The western idea of “more is always better” is nonsensical – in the US fresh apples and oranges cost $1.50/lb, tomatoes and broccoli almost $2.00/lb  (June 2017 average) — out of reach for many low income families.

  1. The response to the studies indicates that what we see as Human Nutrition is not real science — it is yet another Science Controversy, The Nutrition Wars. All public information about human nutrition should be viewed with this in mind.
  1. In the United States, Europe and ANZO, the major diet problem is that people generally eat too much of everything — there is almost zero incidence of clinical deficiencies of any vitamin, mineral, fat, protein, or carbohydrate — despite the constant clamoring cacophony of alarm from the Food Faddists.



The Salt Wars Continue

Back in May 2017, Gina Kolata wrote an article for the New York Times’ Health section titled:  “Why Everything We Know About Salt May Be Wrong”.   It is very well done and is a fascinating read — and represents a new beginning for the study of salt (sodium chloride, table salt) in the human diet.   It details the years-long quest of a little known German scientist, Dr. Jens Titze.  Kolata relates this story:

“In 1991, as a medical student in Berlin, he took a class on human physiology in extreme environments. The professor who taught the course worked with the European space program and presented data from a simulated 28-day mission in which a crew lived in a small capsule.

The main goal was to learn how the crew members would get along. But the scientists also had collected the astronauts’ urine and other physiological markers.

Dr. Titze noticed something puzzling in the crew members’ data: Their urine volumes went up and down in a seven-day cycle. That contradicted all he’d been taught in medical school: There should be no such temporal cycle.”

Dr. Titze followed-up his interest in 1994, with the Russian cosmonaut program, sbtudying salt in the diets of simulated space travelers, and found:

a 28-day rhythm in the amount of sodium the cosmonauts’ bodies retained that was not linked to the amount of urine they produced. And the sodium rhythms were much more pronounced than the urine patterns”…… The conclusion, he realized, “was heresy.”

Exhibiting patience and perseverance that would be far beyond me, it was in 2006, twelve years later, that Dr. Titze had the opportunity to carry out the research required to find out what was happening.  “In 2006, the Russian space program announced two more simulation studies, one lasting 105 days and the other 520 days.”  The simulated cosmonauts would be fed diets controlled in all aspects, all intakes carefully monitored, bodily outputs of urine would be monitored, blood samples taken daily.

What he found was: “When the crew ate more salt, they excreted more salt; the amount of sodium in their blood remained constant, and their urine volume increased…..Instead of drinking more, the crew were drinking less in the long run when getting more salt. So where was the excreted water coming from?”  And again, the cyclical nature of salt excretion, regardless of intake.

“New studies of Russian cosmonauts, held in isolation to simulate space travel, show that eating more salt made them less thirsty but somehow hungrier. Subsequent experiments found that mice burned more calories when they got more salt, eating 25 percent more just to maintain their weight.”

Dr. Titze has followed that work up with years of lab experimentation to delve into this mystery.

The results are in these two (admittedly very dense, very technical) papers:

High salt intake reprioritizes osmolyte and energy metabolism for body fluid conservation  (pdf here)

Increased salt consumption induces body water conservation and decreases fluid intake  (pdf  here)

The problem?   These findings kick the underpinnings out from under the Salt Consensus, as  Gina Kolata points out:

“The salt equation taught to doctors for more than 200 years is not hard to understand.

The body relies on this essential mineral for a variety of functions, including blood pressure and the transmission of nerve impulses. Sodium levels in the blood must be carefully maintained.

If you eat a lot of salt — sodium chloride — you will become thirsty and drink water, diluting your blood enough to maintain the proper concentration of sodium. Ultimately you will excrete much of the excess salt and water in urine.

The theory is intuitive and simple. And it may be completely wrong.

The long-taught truth about salt is that too much salt causes the body to take on extra water in the blood, increasing blood volume thus increasing blood pressure.  This “truth” just isn’t so for most people.  Titze’s findings, unchallengeable, show that this is not how the human body regulates salt and fluid.

If we were not stepping in the middle of a long-running Science War — the Salt Wars — this would be hailed as a major advance for medical science and human physiology.  Instead, we get denial, equivocation, and dismissal.

Reduced Salt is a battle cry of nearly every medical association — and they influence the FDA and other governmental agencies, not only in the US, but worldwide, through the UN’s World Health Organization.  All of which have been promoting “reduced salt for all” based on the idea that “too much salt => high blood pressure => heart disease => death”.

It appears, from Titze and earlier studies, that this simply is not true.

As covered in my previous essay on the Salt Wars,  Mente et al., in a 2014 finding based on the PURE data, found the same results.  As an editorial in the highly respected New England Journal of Medicine reported:

“The authors concluded from the findings that a very small proportion of the worldwide population consumes a low-sodium diet and that sodium intake is not related to blood pressure in these persons, calling into question the feasibility and usefulness of reducing dietary sodium as a population- based strategy for reducing blood pressure.” 

Mente et al. agreed with other previous huge salt studies, all of which have been attacked and dismissed by the proponents of “Reduced Salt for All”.

Now, with the twin Titze studies casting (put mildly) very serious doubts on the consensus position on dietary salt, we find that not a single anti-salt advocate organization has made any statement of a change of position.

To the contrary, Gina Kolata reports:

 “This is just very novel and fascinating,” said Dr. Melanie Hoenig, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. [and a go-to expert relied on by many a MSM journalist on the topic of salt] “The work was meticulously done.”

The work suggests that we really do not understand the effect of sodium chloride on the body,” said Dr. Hoenig.

“These effects may be far more complex and far-reaching than the relatively simple laws that dictate movement of fluid, based on pressures and particles.”

She and others have not abandoned their conviction that high-salt diets can raise blood pressure in some people.**

But now, Dr. Hoenig said, “I suspect that when it comes to the adverse effects of high sodium intake, we are right for all the wrong reasons.”

** — this conviction statement does not reflect the actual position of anti-salt advocates — who, like the American Heart Assoc.,  demand lowering salt intake for everyone, not just those sensitive to salt.

Bottom Line:

The Salt Wars roll on, taking their toll on the general public as anti-salt advocates refuse to abandon a public health-policy based on demonstrably false understandings of human physiology that attempts to enforce harmful advice on the broad general public.

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  1. Please note that in all instances, the word salt in this essay, and in all  included quotes,  refers to common table salt, sodium chloride, in all of its customary forms found in kitchens, restaurants, grocery stores and food processing

The use of the term “Salt Wars” does not originate with me but has been in common usage in science journalism for some time.  I offer this link: Scientific American – Health – The Salt Wars Rage On: A Chat with Nutrition Professor Marion Nestle in support of its use. (Nestle is pronounced like the action “to nestle”, Dr. Nestle is not related to the famous chocolate fortune family).  The term’s use in this essay (and SA) is not to be confused with the many actual armed conflicts over the ages and around the world that have shared the title Salt War.  (back to essay)


“And it’s no wonder people are confused. Every day there’s a new headline: Eat more fiber. Drink less milk. Eggs are bad. Eggs are good.  As eaters, we feel whipsawed by the changes in the nutritional advice we’re getting.” (back to essay)


“For years, doctors warned people to avoid coffee because it might increase the risk of heart disease and stunt growth.”  “All of this concern emerged from studies done decades ago that compared coffee drinkers to non-drinkers on a number of health measures, including heart problems and mortality. Coffee drinkers, it seemed, were always worse off.”  “But it turns out that coffee wasn’t really to blame. Those studies didn’t always control for the many other factors that could account for poor health, such as smoking, drinking and a lack of physical activity.”   “Studies show that people who drink coffee regularly may have an 11% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than non-drinkers….people who drank several cups a day—anywhere from two to four cups—actually had a lower risk of stroke….Coffee may even help you live longer.”  (back to essay)

  1. (back to essay)


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Author’s Comment Policy:

I enjoy reading and responding to your comments and am happy to answer your on-topic questions.

Please remember, I am an essayist, not a medical researcher or doctor.  My opinions are just that, opinions based on my research of publicly available data.

I continue to be fascinated by the Science Wars — and am always anxious to hear of new entries into the field.

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Food for thought.

Silliness aside, I really appreciate this article. I have long been interested in both topics, and have been absolutely blown away by the muddle.

Bryan A

These heretics had better be careful or they could get labeled Dietary Deniers

Regarding ““Butter is a killer, eat margarine for long life” last year, “Margarine causes heart attacks, avoid at all costs” this year”: This evolved over decades, not a couple years. The former was from when it was recognized that saturated fats contributed to heart attacks. The latter, which is much more recent but still news about a decade old, comes from recognition that some of the unsaturated fat in margarine has fatty acids whose double bonds are all of the trans kind, which results in the artery-clogging properties of saturated fats, combined with trans fats having more presence in the blood than other fats (in proportion to intake) because one of the body’s fat metabolism mechanisms chokes on the trans-aligned double bond. Fatty acids in typical American diets with trans-aligned double bonds and no cis-aligned ones are mostly in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

As for percentage of calories from carbohydrates exceeding 60-70%: The usual modern American diet usually has this happening only with excessive calories or a shortage of something that is needed. That means the main problem isn’t so much carbohydrates, but generally poor diets that often have lots of junk food and/or not enough good food. And plenty of Americans also eat excessive calories and poor diets without exceeding 60% of calories from carbohydrates. Most fries and potato chips, tortilla chips and cheese curls have about half their calories from fat.


The first publications on the detrimental effects of trans fats were in the early 1990s. The first studies on the detrimental effects of stretching before exercise were in the mid 80s. There are several other examples of unwillingness to look at the data, including climate change. The concept of paradigm shift is an understatement of the difficulty in changing established belief.

Julian Braggins

Johanna Budwig, head of a German Gov. fat research department in the 1950’s sounded the alert about the dangers of de-natured fats (those heated to high temperatures or hydrogenation) and was taken to court by the local medical association and a medical teaching hospital, the presiding Judge declined to proceed with the case as she was the leading authority on fats. On being forced from her position she obtained a medical degree that enabled her to nurse terminal cancer patients with her diet that featured raw flaxseed oil emulsified with high protein cottage cheese or yogurt as the main energy source. She had a very high success rate.
I started that diet after being diagnosed stage 4 prostate cancer five years ago, now have no metastases and a PSA well below normal for my age (85) without radiation or chemo. and vastly improved general health.
When visiting relatives leave behind margarine I tried feeding it to the local wildlife, even in a severe drought and minimal food available nothing eats it, not even rats or mice. It now supplements my log fire.

Readers interested in the above topics might really appreciate
It’s my security binkie that I use to soothe myself after encountering the ubiquitous CAM (complementary/alternative medicine) proselytizers who have reached plague proportions.

sciencebasedmedicine, eh? It strikes me as odd that many of those who accuse climate science of being corrupt can’t for the life of them see that the science of vaccines has been corrupted as well, and the reason is blindlingly obvious: money (e.g. the blockbuster and virtually useless vaccine, Gardasil.) The website sciencebasedmedicine peddles the usual drivel. David Gorski, who pens many of the sciencebasedmedicine essays on vaccines, has been challenged by vaccinepapers to a debate The reason he doesn’t show up is exactly the same reason that Michael Mann never shows up, and a thorough perusal of the vaccinepapers website should give you an idea of what Gorski is up against.

I’ve been teaching a sharp little 10 year old friend of mine about logical fallacies. She’s been writing up flashcards covering the top thirty or so. We discuss them all the time, and I’ve been encouraging her to spot them “in the wild”. I’ll show her your post. She’ll have a field day.


WTF is that supposed to mean, Max? . . You work for CNN? ; )


DId you actually read the article above and see what your so-called science-based site says about the same topics? I put “salt” into its search function and up came the usual mainstream nonsense which it turns out, as described in the article above, was never based on good science. I then put in “statins” and again, more junk science based on statistical trickery like relative risk and no mention of data counter to their pre-determined view. Statins have been shown in multiple studies to barely (I’m being generous here) extend life-span while imposing severe and often debilitating side-effects on more people than they help. (For example, check out the for the data.) I think you might want to find another site(s) that actually are science-based instead of just being called that. I follow health science quite closely and if you are seriously concerned about your health I would seek a variety of viewpoints rather than just trusting that site. Acute medical care is actually very good and science based, but mainstream care for chronic conditions is horribly anti-science and shares a lot of bad characteristics with climate “science”. Other sources are not perfect either (that is why you have to think for yourself) but the mainstream chronic care establishment has no business criticizing anyone but themselves.

“I’ve been teaching a sharp little 10 year old friend of mine about logical fallacies. … I’ll show her your post. She’ll have a field day.”
That is fine. Just be absolutely sure that this 10-year old addresses the scientific issues raised by vaccinepapers. People believe the consensus story on global warming and usually don’t dig into the actual science; the very same thing happens with the consensus story on vaccines.

Tom Halla

Interesting, as the PURE study confirms the Ancel Keys study from the late sixties he declined to publish that came out last year. Apparently, advocates like Dean Ornish were wrong on diet, and the USDA recommendations are counterproductive. Low fat diets are not very filling, and a good many people gain weight on one.


Ancel Keys is the one who demonized fat. He was very much like James Hansen. Keys and his buddies suppressed evidence that the real culprit for obesity and heart attack is sugar, as well as carbohydrates in general. The truth didn’t even start to gain traction until Keys died. link
The demonization of fat is very much like CAGW. Keys had a wonderful career with lots of public acclaim. Some folks, the sugar industry, and much of the food industry had a lot to gain by ignoring the health effects of too much sugar and carbs. The people who make margarine gained when the population cut back on butter. The motives are pretty obvious and blatant.
The science was very bad but anyone who pointed that out was seriously punished.
Scientists are not the wonderful dispassionate souls they make themselves out to be. They are just as craven as anyone else.


USD*A* shouldn’t be setting nutrition guidelines anyways. DHHS should.

So how low fat is a low fat diet? 10 or 30 grams per day, which can be unsatisfying? 30% of calories from fat, which at 2000 calories per day is 67 grams of fat per day, which is compatible with carbs not exceeding the 60% mentioned in the article as problematic if exceeded (for unrelated reasons I mentioned in a comment above) along with protein at the minimum recommended daily intake?
What about reducing fat intake from far above 67 grams per day to something much less but still around or a little over 67 grams per day? Such as eating grilled chicken in place of crispy, and not going heavy on mayonnaise and oil-rich salad dressings? Check out the calories per tablespoon or whatever in those – oil-rich salad dressings have calorie densities about that of pure sugar, and mayo is higher. Potato chips have more calories per ounce than pure carbs due to having fat, which has over twice the calorie density of carbs. Although sugary soda is “empty calories”, and servings of those got upsized from the time of the 8 ounce bottle of Coca-Cola until about a decade ago.


I try to eat what I think is healthy and exercise a lot. 80-100 fast bike miles per week when the weather is warm and inside treadmill and stationary bike when it’s cold. Lift weights. Resting heartbeat 48, HDL 78, plenty of energy and 67 yrs old. To me its the exercise that does the most.
Right now the quality of life is over the top. May get hit by a truck tomorrow, but if you live for each day what else can you do? Stay active, my friends.

Curious George

I love the illustration “”. The government is now choosing my plate. Literally.


Only if you’re incarcerated, buying school lunch, or a resident of a nursing home, hospital or a military installation. Poor devils!


Great article, and very germane to the climate science wars, since both are two sides of the same coin, perpetuated by those with similar agendas. These new findings are strongly congruent with what has long been known about the diet of early man–that which allowed us to grow the larger brains that differentiated us from the near-vegetarian Great Apes.
(1) The “Diet-Heart Hypothesis,” aka saturated fat is dangerous, is almost 100% the artifact (ca. 1950’s) of research by the late Ancel Keyes, now known to have been every bit as cherry-picked and massaged as the “hockey stick” of climate infamy. He threw out any data that didn’t fit the theory. BTW, the AHA is for all intents and purposes little more than a heart surgeons’ “trade-guild,” self-interested financially in perpetuating the status quo. They sell their “stamp of approval” to mfr’s. of junk breakfast cereals.
(2) The elephant in the room is the high level of machine-refined, sugar and starch carbohydrates which have only been available in the human diet since 1880, and increase worldwide every year. These are the known causes of diabetes and everything that associates with it. They cause blood sugar, insulin, and insulin-like growth hormone to spike repeatedly and strongly whenever eaten, wreaking havoc.
Unfortunately they are ALSO the most profitable to produce items in the food chain, which is why this is information the MSM never dares mention. The USDA recently told us to eat 6-11 servings PER DAY!!!
Wonder how we got “obese?” This is exactly what you want to feed to fatten hogs for slaughter.
(3) We lack the ability (hind-gut fermentation common to grazing animals) to digest cellulose. Therefore, plants we eat exit pretty much in the same form they entered, following extraction of a small amount of water and a vanishingly small amount of vitamins and minerals. But if you eat them (or for that matter, wood chips or peat moss) in place of the highly refined starches and concentrated sugars above, yeah it’s better for you all right. Trouble is, the calories and nutrients they provide are barely worth the trouble of their preparation and eating, let alone their expense and often, pesticide/herbicide load. Dark secret, again.
Also why nearly all little kids don’t like them–they’re not a natural or desirable food for us. Modern fruit is bred to be sweet, and it is–small amount of fiber, the rest water and sugar. To tell a diabetic or cancer patient to eat a lot of fruit is to tell him to commit suicide. SUGAR, known culprit here again.
(4) It is known that early man preferred above all else “the fattest meat they could kill.” This includes organ meats we discard as offal, as well as bone marrow etc. EVERY SINGLE CELL MEMBRANE in the body REQUIRES the long-chain fatty acids that can only be obtained from animals for cellular health.
(5) Unfermented legumes and pulses (beans, soy, etc.) were NEVER traditional parts of the human diet until post-agriculture and the use of fire because they contain strong anti-nutrients that actually block absorption of many more valuable nutrients from other sources. They also were nearly impossible to digest without long cooking, causing painful gas, indigestion, etc. Soy also contains strong phyto-estrogens the effects of which may be contributing to endocrine-related cancers in women, low sperm counts and effeminacy in men, and more autoimmune problems such as Crohn’s, peanut allergies and other GI intolerances.
(6) Humans have survived and thrived on animal-sourced diets exclusively in many parts of the world in states of documented great health, free of ALL the “diseases of modern civilization,” citations Taubes, Steffanson, Price etc. since literally the dawn of time. We literally EVOLVED to best utilize fat and protein.
The other stuff is just what we were forced to eat when meat/fish were not available.
(7) AND . . . wait for it! . . . I have yet to see ANYONE involuntarily salivate at the smell of boiling broccoli, but it almost invariably happens when one smells frying bacon! The body has its own wisdom, that of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. This study only confirms what we all know deep inside.


I gave up Broccoli and other pulse veggies of that class, as it promotes serious flatus,which is why I had to give it up.Never liked the taste much anyway.
Most veggies bought at the store are bred for storage and shipping,NOT for flavor! Go buy your veggies at Farmers Markets instead,which are much better.
Grow your own peas,Carrots,Leaf lettuce and more,as they are easy to grow and far better tasting. Catalogs have a good list of varieties for flavor to chose from. Kids will often eat some young carrots from the garden,but resist the store bought one,which are often tasteless,since they are bred FOR the food industry,NOT for you.


The idea that eating vegetables is somehow inherently “virtuous” is not based biologically at all; it’s just olde-tyme religion recycled for a secular age. “Fasting” by abstaining from animal flesh was the basis of Christian, Jewish and Muslim austerities; in Buddhism, all animal flesh is avoided and soy (tofu, miso) are particularly used in monasteries to promote “quiescent” meditation and interestingly, kill the libido.
Now if your Holy Grail is Agenda 21, what could be nicer than an abstemious, quiescent, sanctimonious herd of docile emasculated plant-eaters who are cheap to keep and have difficulty breeding? Uh-huh! “Save The Planet,” maaaaannnnn . . . 😉

Joe D

Do the vendors at the farmers market, only use the breeds that are grown for flavor, and not the breeds bread for storage and shipment as the priority?


Goldrider, puzzled at your hard response. I focused mainly about FLAVOR,which you could do better at Farmers Market or grow them yourself,which you have full control over flavor choices.


Never BOIL broccoli!! Steam just enough that it stays firm to the fork… then add lots of real butter. Yummy. 🙂


As an 84 year old man in excellent health, I completely ignore the results of any study that attempts to tease out the effect of one variable (a foodstuff) on another (health) because the number of possible confounders is infinite. Like a bear, I’m an omnivore. I eat what I feel like eating but make sure I have variety in my diet. When I play golf (at least twice a week) I ALWAYS walk.


Good for you to walk the golf course. A lot of golf courses won’t let me walk. I’ve always enjoyed the walking part of the game. Cartball is not for me either.


Right on Trebla….I get sad when I see the 20-30 somethings trolling around the course in carts. 62 here and won’t play a course that won’t let me walk.

Mary Brown

No walk… no play. Mr. Brown’s rule. I tag along and drive but refuse to putt. Bad for your heart and mind!

Bill Illis

A golf course is a 8-10 km walk. Exactly the number we are designed for per day.

Andy pattullo

That’s the way nature designed you. Clever of you to figure that out when so many of my academic medical colleagues can’t see the light. Well done! Perhaps you could drop us a note in another 15-20 years to let us know how you’re doing. I hope your health outlives the many official and wrong assumptions about what is good for us.

Bill Illis

Your academic medical colleagues don’t agree with that? Tell them to look up human evolution and hunter-gatherer lifestyles.

joe - non climate scientist

“Like a bear, I’m an omnivore. I eat what I feel like eating but make sure I have variety in my diet.”
Your comment reminds me of a study done a few decades ago
Elementary school kids spent a week at a summer camp. The cafeteria provided both lots of junk food and good vegetables ,etc for the entire week with the kids helping themselves to the what ever they wanted. The first couple of days the kids ate the junk food, though by the third day, the kids started choosing the better food.
The thought / conclusion of the study/ test was their bodies told they were deficient in what the better food provided and they naturally choose what the body needed.


Irony alert: In an article that helps warn us against incorrect consensus in science, a reply is made casually and positively referring to human evolution. Now that’s funny right there, I don’t care who you are!

I am wary of that huge “study across 5 continents.” Typical diets vary greatly with general affluence — carbohydrates are cheap, protein and fat are more expensive. Other things such as medical care or environmental and work conditions will vary, too. In addition, there may be racial influences. I’m sure these things were considered and attempted to control for. Nevertheless, I think a study in a single country would be more meaningful.

Tom - the non climate scientist

In addition, there may be racial influences.
Your white priviledge – social science demands that you cleanse your mind of impure thoughts such as biological science

Tom - the non climate scientist

Just to clarify – genetics is a very important factor in biology, medicine etc, yet the social sciences say otherwise – social science not being a real science


Biggest confounding bias in all these “dietary” studies is well known to be socioeconomic status, whatever country you may live in. “Higher on the hog” isn’t just an expression. The Daily Caller broke a story yesterday that the MSM tried to suppress because a study that was expected would show “insured people have better health outcomes” showed no difference. This made the Obamacare pushers pout, bigly and they didn’t want the results out. In other words, health outcomes aren’t something we purchase from doctors; there are many other hidden influencers, mostly wealth vs. poverty and all that that entails.

Mary Brown

It is now clear there is a huge “wealth vs. poverty” divide on health outcomes in the USA.
I argue, politically incorrectly, that the same attributes that tend to make someone rich, also make them healthy. Discipline, delayed gratification, knowledge, ambition, perfectionism.
Some of wealth and health are clearly luck. But “skill” seems undeniable in both.

David A

Poor Mary, does not see her white privilege.
Just kidding, I suspect there is a great deal of truth in your assertion, although Kip is correct, no social scientist today has the death wish to study that assertion and publish if the study found it accurate.


Want to lower inflammation? Control your glucose? Drop all bad markers like triglycerides etc? Give the “Zone Diet” ( a try. He suggests trying it for 2 weeks and if you don’t notice the following (see list below) then try something else. I tried it for a month 15 years ago and I’m still on it. I would add a fourth item to the list: Bloods tests go into the reference range and stay there.
1) Not hungry for 4-5 hours.
2) Not sleepy after a meal. No fog and grog in the afternoon.
3) Sleep better.

John from Europe

I went with the Amazing results and perfect blood work and health!


The main problem is excessive Carbohydrate consumption. They are the #1 cause of arterial clogging and blood clot formation. They are known to cause a lot of preventable health issues.
Eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying with heart disease
What Diseases Come From Eating Too Much Sugar?
What is sad that this has been known for decades.
Cereals,Soda,fruit drinks,candy,condiments are LOADED with table sugar,which the body is not designed well to handle it,it is why Kidneys,livers begin to fall apart over time,throws the blood sugar regulation system out of whack,
When you have too much Carbs, flatus becomes much more apparent, the stools become softer and come more quickly in smaller amounts. Some Flatus is normal,but when you have a lot of it,blame the excessive Carbohydrate intake. The carbohydrate based food is fermenting in the Stomach/colon area,can become painful if it is trapped too long.
We are OMNIVOROUS,with an extended intestinal system and many flat back molar teeth,shows that we eat as Carnivores, yet also eat like a herbivore too. But we are set up to have meat and fat as the main caloric intake,with Veggies and fruits as supplements. We are somewhere in the middle range between 100% Carnivore and 100% Herbivore,which allows us a much wider choice of food to consume.
WE use too many chemicals to enhance flavor or preserve food,which bothers our alimentary system,indigestion and tummy gas become more apparent,which is rare in third world nations,since they use far less condiments and other food additives.
In today’s world,it is now backwards,with rising obesity,colon cancers and diabetic to deal with.
Why does anyone think you need to drink Orange PUNCH,which is damaging to the stomach and blood chemistry. Oranges and other citrus fruits already high in sugars,tasty too in its natural state. Why spoil the taste with table sugar? It is already HIGH in sugars.Same with Lemonade,they pour the on the sugar into it,taste bad.Try Lemonade WITHOUT the table sugar, you will find it much better. You can add a little orange juice in it. Dried foods have added sugar to them,destroys the taste which is why you need to dry your own fruits and meats.
I buy low to zero sugar cereals,drink small amounts of real fruit juice (lots of fruit sugar already) at a time.rarely eat candy,avoid soda completely,drink very little beer. Eat a fair amount of Potato,but always add Butter or cheese to it,to help the body handle the carbohydrates level,yes Fat is known to help metabolize the sugars,low fat diets with high Carbohydrate consumption can elevate the blood sugar too much.
Soda and Ice cream I believe are the main creators of Diabetes,as they are have obscene amounts of added table sugar in it,since people eat a lot of it by by choice. From the
Try going with far less sugar in the diet,I think you will feel better,lose some weight,have more energy since the body is no longer on the blood sugar yo yo bandwagon.
Ask yourself, this question when you go shopping,why do they feel the need to add table sugar to Orange Juice?There are foods out there with no added table sugar,they taste fine,with a lot less Carbohydrate load in it. Table Sugar Free Candy,Ice Cream, Fruit drinks are easy to find,Sugar free sodas.
From the first link;
“Sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks are by far the biggest sources of added sugar in the average American’s diet. They account for more than one-third of the added sugar we consume as a nation. Other important sources include cookies, cakes, pastries, and similar treats; fruit drinks; ice cream, frozen yogurt and the like; candy; and ready-to-eat cereals.
Nutritionists frown on added sugar for two reasons. One is its well-known links to weight gain and cavities. The other is that sugar delivers “empty calories” — calories unaccompanied by fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Too much added sugar can crowd healthier foods from a person’s diet.”
Table sugar is a long known EMPTY Calorie,that crowds out or use up the buffers the body has to use to deal with it. They promote CRAVINGS,which is a major cause of excessive eating,here is one more link to ponder over:
15 disturbing consequences of eating too much sugar
“People have been sounding warnings about the dangers of too much sugar for a long time. As early as 1957, John Yudkin, a professor of nutrition at Queen Elizabeth College in London, began arguing that when it came to heart disease and other chronic ailments, sugar — not fat — was the primary culprit.
Yet decades ago, after a landmark study by a team of Harvard scientists pointed to fat as the primary dietary risk factor for heart disease, Yudkin’s hypothesis was buried, and fat became public enemy No. 1.
Now it turns out that the sugar industry deliberately engineered that groundbreaking study, compensating the scientists for their efforts that essentially let sugar off the hook. That’s the conclusion of a September 12 report in JAMA Internal Medicine, which summarized an analysis of historical industry documents.”

Barry Cullen

+2 for the 2 articles from


Cut back on bread.
Cut back on sugar.
Only eat when you are hungry.
Unless it is chocolate.

Tom - the non climate scientist

Drink only when you are thirsty – unless is it is a good craft beer

Retired Kit P

Unless it is beer.
Craft = crap

John from Europe

And fast 16 hours a day. Works wonders!

Julian Braggins

JfE Have been trying that for the last week, so far sleeping better and less, more energy, and dreaming dreams that I can remember on waking, unusual for me.


In Defense of Foods was a really polyglot show. It jumped from topic to topic, fad to fad, and fact to fact. It is very difficult to dig out the actually correct information. That appears to be that a varied diet of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, meat, and dairy products is generally good for you.
They mostly missed the bad science behind food fads since the ’50’s. They missed that Ancel Keyes totally corrupted his evidence by studying the diet in seven countries and throwing out the two that didn’t show a correlation between saturated fat and heart disease. The FDA and NIH jumped on that study and started promoting low fat, and no saturated fat. Later on both agencies went overboard promoting grains and carbs, again based on essentially no information. Later on they followed the Boston Nurses Study(?) which was based on food diaries of some 32,000 nurses followed for about 40 year. Many correlations between diet and diseases were found, but based on very poor statistics and minimal corrections for confounding factors. The data was simply too loose(diet diaries are notoriously poor scientific data) for other than very small hints at possible further corroborative studies that mostly were not done. They never even mentioned the English physician that produced very detailed studies of the negative effects of sugars and carbohydrates. He was hounded out of the journals by both big business and the associated government agencies.


I guess I’m not “digging my grave with my fork” as my Mom was fond of saying. The caveat is, of course, as long as it’s not making you fat. Go to a nursing home and count all the old fat people. Almost as few as old men. For some reason they are mostly old women. Fewer heart attacks. They’re just carriers I guess.

Bill Illis

Two new studies from this summer showed that drinking coffee, even as much as more than 4 cups per day, was associated with very significantly lower death rates. Both very large study groups.
“The researchers found that participants who consumed at least four cups of coffee per day had a 64% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who never or almost never consumed coffee” and it went up as the number of cups per day went up. I don’t know about you but at 64% and even higher, that makes coffee the number 1 healthy food/beverage/anything you can do period.
“People who consumed a cup of coffee a day were 12 percent less likely to die compared to those who didn’t drink coffee. This association was even stronger for those who drank two to three cups a day — 18 percent reduced chance of death”


Bill, here is one reason why:
How Does Coffee Affect Blood Sugar and Diabetes?


And the next day the same data-churn showed that 3 alcoholic beverages a day are also associated with the lowest morbidity and mortality. Bottoms Up!

Bill Illis

Last year, another very large study showed that coffee protected liver damage in high alcohol consumption groups. The results were unreal.
My view is, heck how do we know what is really good for humans and what is not. Chocolate is apparently good for us but it is very detrimental to dogs for example.
We need huge, long-term studies done by objective scientists with actual statistical math tools to point the way. And then we need multiple large-scale studies using the right statistics all pointing to the same conclusion to confirm it. Not just one, but many of them, covering a very large number of people.
The results should not be dependant on the funding. That is where the sugar studies went wrong and where climate science has gone wrong today. NO climate scientist can be objective today. If they are, they get fired and blackballed and their funding dries up. It is not science, it is grant-mining.
Science cannot work properly without objectivity. Medical science or climate science or any science at all.
Facts and truth are the only things that matters. Because truth is not at all self-evident no matter what you are talking about.

john harmsworth

There are zero reports of death in people still drinking coffee. Or anything else.


If drinking coffee was dangerous Scandinavia would be uninhabited. All the Northern European Countries (Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland) drink three to four times as much coffee per capita as the US. And it is real coffee, no decaf junk and none of that slightly brownish water they call coffee in the US.

Reanne Wilton

I was researching both diets and “global warming/climate change” around the same time and realised they are both a very similar story. Basically the opposite of what we’re being told is true. It’s all political and politicians are controlling our lives and not for the better. It’s purely for their gain and so many people don’t realise this. Large companies lobby the governments and pay them big dollars to keep looking after their interests, 1. Sugar and 2, Wheat.
You’d be surprised how many things have either sugar or wheat in them. These are also the 2 ingredients that cause the vast majority of problems in diets. Sugar is a addictive and is like a drug. It’s added like a drug to make you want more. It increases insulin gives you a high for a short time and then you get a low and want more to give you that high again. Wheat use to be ok before they sprayed it with chemicals and soils were rich in minerals, but they have taken away all the nutrition and minerals and left glyphosate/poison which has most likely been the cause of the increased celiac disease.
The nutritional table/guide is wrong, the reason why so many people are obese and have type 2 diabetes is due to people being told to eat the wrong foods. We are told to reduce fat, eat more grains, have less salt…etc These things are wrong. We should be eating more of the right fats, less carbs/sugar and salt is ok. We should be eating natural foods and not processed foods.
Fat doesn’t make you fat, carbs/sugar that you don’t burn turns to fat. If you have a high fat diet, you’ll use fat as your energy source so you’ll be burning fat. Anything that has a low fat or light label you should avoid like the plague, it means less fat, but more sugar. Don’t go for the lean meat as there is less fat.
Fat doesn’t clog arteries, sugar does.
The so called experts tell us everything in moderation is ok as long as we don’t have too much of anything, it’s a bit like we better reduce CO2 just in case global warming is real or not. It’s a nothing statement and can be used or manipulated to tell a story.
Do your own research and work out what’s true and what isn’t.


With regard to sugar’s addictive qualities: I’ve seen, frequently, horses walking away from the most lush, beautiful pasture or hay you can imagine in favor of LICKING THE DIRT where molasses-soaked pelleted feed had been spilled. That’s how strong the urge for sugar is! Animals don’t lie and don’t have agendas.

D P Laurable

Except cats. And maybe terriers.

Andy pattullo

As a physician and academic I greatly appreciate this thoughtful article. It highlights very large gaps between what high quality evidence says about healthy diet and what the nutrition gurus promote, including my own colleagues in authoritative positions in the health services structure. The findings of the recent research are only adding to a long list of similar findings that call into question “consensus” dietary advice that is official doctrine and has been for decades. I have counseled my patients for many years to reduce carbohydrates but include saturated fats in their diet while practicing moderation in all. Salt is something we crave because we evolved to both depend on it and to use it optimally for health. Only patients with significant impairment of critical body systems (e.g. heart, kidneys) are at risk from excess salt but even some with heart failure have higher risk of death when salt is restricted excessively in some studies.
I agree this phenomenon of vested interests stubbornly defending their consensus model of reality against all evidence to the contrary is exactly what we see in the “climate wars”.

NW sage

I find it interesting that the folks who are attacking the PURE report and findings are NOT doing so on the basis of other, opposite, findings from similar epidemiological research but are doing what the 97% of the ‘Climate Scientists’ are doing – they dismiss on the basis that so-and-so said it doesn’t ‘feel’ the right thing to do. Come on ANTIS’ lets have a few relevant facts to support your position. Only then can we have a discussion about who’s facts are more relevant and appropriate.

Andy pattullo

Correct. And once you find the opposition are arguing based on anything but evidence it is reasonable to ignore them.


Here’s the thing: Epidemiological research on single dietary factors is, as practiced, utterly useless for a whole host of reasons. The data needed to actually establish causality is literally “ungettable.” The only way to produce meaningful results would be to take a certain cohort of humans at let’s say, age 5, lock them up in a compound (like rats) where their diet is rigidly assigned, their exercise mandated and monitored, and all other factors (like stress, sunlight, living conditions) are controlled. One group has 4 cups a day of coffee and the control group does not. Add up the numbers at let’s say age 45 for what difference this one dietary factor made. Good luck with that. Until we start keeping humans in Soylent Green feedlots, EVERY BIT of self-reported, anecdotal, observational “study” is nothing but data-dredging and can produce only the vaguest “associations.” There is a reason the press always announces the relative “risk” factor without ever mentioning the absolute number it relates to. “25%” of WHAT? This is not actionable information.


One always has to exercise some caution with any recent nutrition finding, as past experiences show. The PURE study is probably the biggest most international study. This means is the most representative for the human species. But the average man is not overweight and probably getting around 2600 calories per day. In rich countries a lot of people are overweight and a lot of men are getting over 3500 calories per day. A 45% energy from fat diet might be good for the first and bad for the second, as the amount of fat is higher and other risk factors come into play. I agree with other comments that a healthy, exercising adult that is not overweight should only be concerned with getting enough variety and not having too much of anything. Overweight people should concentrate on getting more veggies and less carbohydrates, and should not have too much fat.
Another important conclusion from the PURE study is that the benefits of veggies come mostly when they are eaten raw. Cooking them destroys much of the goodness. They don’t turn bad when cooked, but their main benefit then is that they displace other aliments that have negative effects, like carbohydrates.

Bill Illis

Carbohydrates by themselves are not really the problem. It is how many calories are in those Carbs compared to how to much we want to eat each day to feel fulfilled (or full enough) – around 2 kilograms
10 medium-sized potatoes per day – 3 kgs – (way more than enough to keep you full for a day) – 1000 calories – at the very bottom end of starvation-like calorie-restricted diets. Massive Carb-focussed diet but extremely low on the calorie-end. You are losing 1 pound per day until you are described as an anorexic. Then it stabilizes.
1 box of pasta per day – 2 kgs – (just enough to feel full over a day) – 3800 calories – and now you are gaining 1 pound per day until you are 300 pounds and way overweight. Then it stabilizes.
The issue is how many calories in 2 kgs. 1 calorie to 1 gram is a weight-loss diet.


agree with you about Carbohydrates in general,however too much of it,especially table sugar,coupled with LOW fat intake is really bad.The main problem with excessive HIGH Carbohydrate (especially with table sugar) diets,can create a CRAVING to eat more, since the excess blood sugar plummets after excessive insulin was brought in by the body trying to stabilize the blood sugar level. Repeated dumping excess Insulin over time,creates Insulin resistance,which is a major cause of Diabetes.
My father is on a restricted diet,cutting way back on Carbohydrates,to help control his blood sugar level. It is still elevated because he developed Insulin resistance over years of excessive Carbohydrate consumption,he loved to eat Ice Cream,lived a sedentary lifestyle too. He fwas diagnosed with Diabetes around age 45,I am 57 with not a bit of blood sugar problem,still in the 80-90 range,which is good.
His own dad did the same thing,result he also has Diabetes,lost a leg over it.
Table Sugar is the ultimate in “empty calories”,displacing better foods that would have helped the body run better.


Macro-nutrients’ (carbohydrate, protein, fat, mineral) proportional dietary reference is not what matters as much as their dynamics.
Here is an example – the functionality of an enzyme called “AMPK” ( 5′ adenosine monophosphate activated protrin kinase). In the news recently the drug Metformin was described as a simple longevity prospect that, although not explained, elevates AMP
Most here have probably heard how calorie restriction seems to be a life extension method. Calorie restriction leads to elevated levels of AMPK.
On the subject of embracing high fat intake, this too elevates AMPK levels. One delight of higher fat diets is the decrease in insulin many can demonstrate in contrast to a prior low fat way of eating & one downstream redult from elevated AMPK is reduced insulin/IGF-1 ( insulin-like growth factor).
AMPK is activated in the body in response to it being what is loosely categorized as “stress”. Looking at a cell that is healing it will normally have elevated AMPK.
Lest we assume carbohydrates are inferior & there is no reason to eat vegetables/fruits consider their tannin content. What are classified as “condensed” tannins oligomers/polymers (poly-hydroxy-flavin-3-ol) linked via carbon to carbon bonds. These are anti-inflammatory & reduced lipid alteration (undesirable lipid per-oxidation) among other dynamics; in these context a little is able to perform on the scale needed (ie: why more vegetable/fruit is not better).
Allow me to address coffee briefly as well, with reference only to the caffeine component. Caffeine acts on a specific cell so that calcium ions are released from that cell’s interior storage vesicle. Calcium ion flux is a dynamic phase shifter & if we consider that (up to a point) more coffee (caffeine) is “better” it is in part due to toggling intra-celular calcium ion balances.

Jeff L

The Pure study essentially the “paleo-diet” + or -.
Tons of peer reviewed literature on the now. If you find this article interesting, i strongly suggest you dig into it more, just as you probably have the “AGW wars”.
The parallels to AGW are numerous – but most specifically, when you dig into the science & the data support for the “consensus” vs the data support for the “skeptics” (such as the Pure study etc) & the non-biased scientist quickly comes to the conclusion that the consensus is most like wrong and that there are strong vested financial interests propping up the consensus (think pharma , corporate ag etc)

Excellent article Kip and right on! Dr. Weston Price got me started on healthy eating many decades ago.

Jeff L

As it relates to salt, I have heard that no one has died during a marathon from dehydration but many have died from over-hydration – drinking lots of water but no salt / electrolytes. They get so diluted that their muscles stop working, including the most import muscle , your heart. No sure if that is an urban myth or not but it is food for thought as it relates to salt.


Those interested in the dangers of over-hydration in sports can read Waterlogged by Tim Noakes for a very detailed discussion.

Gary Pearse

My grandmother, who died just before her 97th birthday, her life probably shortened a bit by a bad fall with a few broken bones a couple of years earlier, used to cut me an extra portion of the delicious crispy brown fat on a beef roast that she cooked each Sunday up until her accident. With dinner we did have potatoes and other veggies but another “piece de resistance”, Yorkshire pudding, an eggy little bread cooked and drizzled with the liquid fat from the roast was to live for! She also cooked and baked with butter and lard.
Out of six of her children four lived also well into their 90s, even a couple of boys who smoked, drank beer and whisky, played the horses, got into fights, and generally disregarded their health.
Naturally, with all these nutri-wars going on I followed in the family tradition, enjoying nice salty, greasy Canadian breakfasts with lots of strong coffee, crispy beef fat, crunchy pork rinds, barbecued ribs. I do like apples and veggies, too. Having lasted through seven full decades and parts of two others and still working (mining consulting), I may be on track to match other family members life stretches, hopefully.
I do concede that good genes and good luck have their places in the equation, of course.


Jo Nova covered this some days ago, so I’ll simply repeat what I wrote on her site.
When I was a boy in the 50s, they used to show us a chart of The Good Foods (the boring stuff) and The Bad Foods (the good stuff).
A few years later they moved half The Good (dairy, eggs, red meat) to The Bad. I was expecting them eventually to move all The Good to The Bad, and then put The Bad into The Good. That way I could claim to have eaten a healthy diet all my life. Instead, they decided we weren’t eating enough fibre. (Fibre?) We had to live on a diet of muesli made from ground-up coconut matting and builder’s rubble.
Then they decided too much fibre caused colon cancer, and concentrated on 99% fat free.
My mother never divagated from her traditional, vitamin-free, English diet of salt, sugar, and fat in roughly equal proportions. It got her eventually. She died last year, just a few weeks short of her 101st birthday.

michael hart

Pharmaceutical trials have immense difficulty demonstrating effects (hopefully beneficial ones) with single pure compounds under relatively well-controlled conditions.
Investigations of ‘diets’ in general are multi-factorial, uncontrolled, and….probably scientifically worthless in most instances.
Is there anything genuinely useful, diet wise, to be learned or expounded from the last 80 years or so since before world-war two, that can be quickly and simply explained? Probably only this: Avoid excessive consumption of glucogenic foods. That is, foods which produce large and sustained spikes in blood glucose concentration. This is not necessarily the same as carbohydrates. Glucose is a carbohydrate, but there are lots of carbohydrates which are neither glucose nor produce high concentrations of glucose.
Diabetes is probably the biggest problem because so many other ailments stem from it.


Michael, I agree, but seed oils (incorrectly called vegetable oils) are right down there too as a source of health damage. You may want to investigate and avoid

Don K

I gave up on worrying much about nutrition studies years ago. As with much “Climate Science”, I find them mostly unpersuasive and often outright weird. But I would point out that broad catagories like “Fruits and Vegetables” may be too broad to be useful for most purposes. Potatoes, Pineapples, and Kale (assuming Kale to be digestible by non-ruminant mammals) are vastly different foods. Lumping them together may well be a first step toward YAUS (Yet Another Useless Study).


As a non-ruminant who tried kale, I can assure you it is not digestible. Grass through a goose. Which is why it’s “trendy,” the anorexic chicks can fill up their yoga pants with it and not get any actual calories.

“there is almost zero incidence of clinical deficiencies of any vitamin, mineral, fat, protein, or carbohydrate ”
I was under the impression that Vitamin D was a problem for a significant population.

Mary Brown

Vitamin D is the only one I take based on my reading. I try to get it from food or sun, not pill form.

How did they factor dental hygiene from the dietary causes of heart disease?


Both are strongly (actually entirely, in the case of dental caries) associated with sugar consumption. Or as my dentist put it bluntly to me, “No sugar = no dental problems.”

Mary Brown

Despite 7.3 billion people eating everyday, we still have shockingly little conclusive evidence of what is good for you.
Pretty clear that cigarettes are no good as are most drug addictions. Exercise and vegetables generally good for you but probably overrated.
Beyond that? Eat drink and beat Larry and don’t worry about it.

Retired Kit P

Mary you seem conflicted. Your goverment tells you something is ‘no good’ but yet millions seem to enjoy doing it.
It is a matter of degree. I am glad I did not become a smoker and our children were raised is a smoke free home. I was also glad when my work place was smoke free.
However, what is the criteria for deciding what is ‘no good’.
It is like this, the goverment should enforce wearing seat belt and car seats for children. The goverment should not be mandating low flow shower nozzles to save energy.


The media and dietary community bury under a rock the fact that in all but the poorest countries, with all our imperfections like obesity, diabetes, cancer, etc. STILL our life expectancies increase every year. We may be dumber and uglier, but we’re living longer.

Retired Kit P

If you have to do a study, it is not a problem.
The risk of dying is one.
One real problem is being obsessed with irrational fear of risk. It is junk science if a number is not provided.
For example, the risk from accidental death from riding a bike can be quantified but the health benefit can not.
One of the things that drove me crazy in California was the irrational fear of everything. For example, organic wine to reduce the risk of pesticides when consuming alcohol.
A little common sense is better than all the ‘peer’ reviewed studies. No alcohol is consumed on my boat when underway. If you need a substance to help you relax when boating then you have a problem.
Our drinking club has a boating problem. Earlier this year I got injured while rendering aid during heavy weather. I happened to be sober at the time the distress call came it. Several other experienced sailors declined to help because they were not sober. I did find a sober novice and off we went.
The crew of the sail boat with a broken rudder also sober. The boat owner was a retired from commercial fishing in Alaska. His quick thinking prevented me from being seriously injured.
The point here is that you are going to die and spending time think about how you enjoy life is better than trying to avoid insignificant risk.

michael hart

“His quick thinking prevented me from being seriously injured.”
And your friends’ quick drinking also prevented them from getting injured as they chose to remain safe on terra firma. 🙂

Ben of Houston

I find it funny. They talk about how weird it is to find that increased salt increases water retention and decreased salt reduces it.
THIS HAS BEEN KNOWN FOR YEARS! The Quick Weight Loss company is notorious for exploiting this to obtain rapid weight loss in their new clients, which is of course not sustainable.

Jeff B.

It’s not about the fat, it’s about the source of the fat. Animal products are the problem. There are dozens of peer reviewed studies that show that animal products are the causal danger. That’s why fruits and vegetables have a mitigating effect because the more you are eating plants, the less you are eating animals.
Think about it. No other specie on earth consumes the breast milk of another specie. And if you study the physiology of humans, we are clearly much closer to that our our distant primate cousins, all of whom are herbivores than we are to true omnivores like bears.
Anecdotally I lost 25 pounds, have the lowest blood pressure I have ever had, have the best blood work numbers I have ever had, and at 50, feel like I am 25. All because I switched to a plant based diet.
But don’t believe me, get your blood work done, try a plant based diet for a month and get your blood work done again. See for yourself. Those in the know, no longer eat animal products.
If you need more evidence, Google and read all the papers there as presented by Dr. Greger.


Jeff B. “There are dozens of peer reviewed studies that show that animal products are the causal danger.” Dozens? Perhaps you would care to name your top 3 studies. I would like to know more. Most nutrition studies demonstrate correlation and the most recent I’ve read give saturated fats a pass. There are too many confounding variables. Is it the “red meat” or the “red meat lifestyle” eg smoking, drinking, sedentary, etc.?


And just how did Inuits and other people living in the Arctic and the taiga zone survive for many millenia on a virtually 100% animal diet (perhaps a few cloudberries in autumn did it?).

Julian Braggins

They ate the flesh raw or dried at low temperatures, thereby getting plenty of fats that have not been rendered harmful by cooking. Denatured fats do not make healthy cells, they make weak links and an inability to pass adequate oxygen via the membranes. Unless you buy oils that are cold pressed, there are virtually none in the standard American diet

“The response to the studies indicates that what we see as Human Nutrition is not real science — it is yet another Science Controversy, The Nutrition Wars. All public information about human nutrition should be viewed with this in mind.”
But it sounds like science, pleases other activists, and also allows for regulatory actions and for making decisions for others, and for controlling the economy — just a little perk that come with the territory.
Although, the one area of nutrition that I do pay attention to, and that I try to make sure my kids understand, are the symptoms of various deficiencies. Since Kip Hanson is discussing salt, then I suggest it is solid science to understand hyponatremia.
It took people a very long time to understand micronutrients and the problems with dietary deficiencies, even for animals. And the truth is that a good diet that has salt, meat, eggs and dairy supports the body and allows for better learning and concentration. The poor and the people who were considered to be inferior by the racial Darwinists always disproved that theory once they were free, enjoyed a real diet, and were literate.

“The body relies on this essential mineral [sodium] for a variety of functions, including blood pressure and the transmission of nerve impulses.”
Actually the four chemical ions that are used by the body to maintain potential difference and propagate electrical signals in the nervous system are sodium, chlorine, potassium and calcium. So deficiencies are not an option. If you like your nerve impulses and brain activity that is.


Socialstyrelsen vill att vi äter 6-8 skivor bröd varje dag.


Det vil nok sikkert Pågens også (eller mere)….. 😉

Now I wonder if Kip Hansen has ever noticed a covert war on all sources of iodine in the American diet, such as fish, eggs…
meats, particularly beef…
dairy products, and
iodized table saltcomment image
Iodine deficiency is very nasty, ref 1
and ref 2comment image

Leo Smith

What does climate change have in common with the food and drug industry?
They all lead to ‘solutions’ that have high consumer impact economically.
We all need energy. Energy is what we spend more on than anything else. Huge amounts of money are tied up in energy.
We all need to eat. Food is what we spend a large amount of income on.
We all need medical drugs. Next to energy, global pharma is the biggest multinational there is.
Is it any wonder that ‘science’ is being used to sell us what they have, not to develop what we actually need?
And I am afraid the standards of rigour in the medical profession are very very low.
Cause and effect are often interchanged.
Consider these two statements
“Some people with heart failure may also experience feelings of depression and anxiety.”
“if you have coronary heart disease and experience feelings of anxiety or are under lots of stress, it may bring on symptoms like angina.”
So guys, which is it? do heart problems cause anxiety panic attacks and depression, or dos anxiety depression and panic attacks cause heart problems?
“Correlation is not causation” is a statement completely ignored by many medical researchers.
And lest face it, careers and incomes and new drugs are not sold on the back of discovering the truth, but on the back of whatever peole can be induced to believe, and that’s especially so in the case of doctors, whose modus operandi is 99.7% received wisdom.
Or Big Pharma, whose goal is to get you taking something every day of your life whether you need it or not as a prophylactic. Viz statins.
The ‘ideal’ levels of cholesterol are as indistinct as the ideal climate…

Dodgy Geezer

From the last paper cited:
However, the accompanying relative predominance of rhythmical glucocorticoid release suggests that the maintenance of water homeostasis in states of surplus salt excretion is intimately coupled with changes in body energy expenditure in humans. Thus, salt-driven changes in energy metabolism may link high salt intake with diabetes mellitus (41–43), osteoporosis (44–48), and increased cardiovascular and neurovascular disease risk (49–54), even in the absence of any salt-sensitive blood pressure responses

From a hypothetical typical climate change paper:
However, the increase in polar bear numbers should not disguise the fact that if Climate Change continues and damages their habitat, the polar bear population may become extinct…

Notice the similarity? If you have a finding that challenges current thinking, you had better state that ‘of course, this does not really mean anything…’. I wonder how Einstein would have presented his Relativity papers today? “These calculations are, of course, hypothetical, and should not be taken to suggest that Newtonian physics is wrong in any way…”?

Peta of Newark

Some people with heart failure may also experience feelings of depression and anxiety.”
“if you have coronary heart disease and experience feelings of anxiety or are under lots of stress, it may bring on symptoms like angina.

Open it out a bit, look a bit wider.
Start with the anxiety – high Cortisol in circulation.
People feel that within themselves (and also recognise it in others)
Folks instinctively learn to self-medicate – all they need is something to promote Dopamine release.
So they find that ‘doing something’ alleviates the discomfort – exercise is good. As it was intended for to escape the proverbial sabre-tooth tiger.
But plants ‘came along’ (they were her first of course) and needed a way to disperse seed. Seeing as they didn’t have (still don’t) legs and or wings, took on to ‘borrow’ legs & wings i.e use other critters.
But. How to persuade the critters to do the lending?
And the plants came up with a Reward System. If the critter somehow picked up the seed(s), wandered/flew away somewhere new and then dropped the seed, the plant contrived to make the critter feel good or happy. To give a mental reward.
So they came up with fructose. The sweetest sugar of them all and the one that releases (for whatever reason) the biggest bang of Dopamine you’ll get almost anywhere.
Plants invented fruit – sugar coated seed.
(All sugars do the same, promote Dopamine release)
And Dopamine is an effective antidote to Cortisol – it gives relief from feelings of anxiety/stress.
So. Sugar fixes Stress.
Where are we all now – in The Modern World?
The boss wants more work for less pay. We want more stuff for less money. We want want want. Our kids want want, their moms relay the message to their pops who then have to fulfil their ‘romantic’ duty.
Romance being defined as “The giving of gifts in exchange for sex”
(Think about it – that’s all that happens in EVERY romantic story ever told innit?)
And for boys, being simple creatures as they are, lack of sex is a stressful thing in its own right.
The boys thus venture out into the modern-day world of Sabre-Tooths and they get stressed/anxious and use sugar to help relieve that stress. Alcohol, nicotine, caffeine etc also work.
Bur our primitive bodies see the incoming sugar as a sign of ‘bad times ahead’ and turn it into fat.
Then the positive feedback kicks in. The Modern World says ‘fat obese is bad’
The finger wagging do-gooders, loaded with good intentions descend upon the modern hunter/gatherer.
This causes stress/worry, leads to sugar eating leads to fat gain leads to stress and so on.
But too much body fat is ‘not good’
Meanwhile, the plants didn’t want the critters to go too far from home so programmed the sugar to make the critter sleepy – they made it a depressant. Hence the critter would eat the sugar coated seed, wander off for a couple of hours then hopefully deposit said seed somewhere distant, but not too distant, from the parent plant. Neat huh.
Trouble and especially the main stream media and the interweb (thank you Al Gore), finger wagging do-gooders are everywhere – delivering ‘warnings’ = messages designed to induce stress/anxiety/worry
Climate Science not the very least.
But the positive feedback gets even worse because the finger waggers themselves are stressed sugar eaters and hence depressed. This makes them unwilling to ‘do anything themselves’ so they pass the buck.
The modern way of passing-the-buck is simply to take what others have amassed in their attempts to be romantic.
Its called Tax.
But the tax collectors have wives and kids, who want want want. This is stressful on themselves, they pass on that stress via tax and alleviate it personally by eating sugar, hence falling foul of other finger waggers etc etc etc
It is A Total Mess innit?
Where/how will it finish?
Positive feedback systems never ‘end happily’

Roger Knights
Scott Adams vs. expertise & red flags in climatology. Good comments follow.


Blah blah blah. Who cares what doctors say about diet? They are always wrong. Just eat what we have been eating for the thousands of years before refined sugar and carbs were developed.


Yes I agree, Pure White and Deadly came out 45 years ago. However it threatened the sugar industry. So they commissioned lawyers and studies to discredit it. It was then that fat became the so called culprit. Now we finally see that sugars are bad for us. Causing early onsets of diabetics, gout and cardiovascular disease. It took 40 years to see through the deliberate sabotage.
The parallels with climate change are striking. If you threaten big business they will go to extreme lengths to discredit the evidence.
To introduce false science. Indeed a few weeks ago I was told that polymeric form of oxygen exists in the upper atmosphere.
Only one problem polymeric oxygen is red and the sky is blue.

Kip, nice article. Would add two caveats. 1. Complexity monster. People vary greatly in stature, physical fitness, and daily activity, hence needed caloric intake. For a physically active person, more complex carbs are probably essential. But not for a couch potato. 2. Diets vary greatly by region and custom. Dr. Black (Harvard Medical School ICU nutritionist) has written extensively on the importance of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to patient outcomes. That package varies with overall dietary custom.
Perhaps PURE controls sufficiently for both. But I tend to doubt it. The diet ‘war’ positions seem to oversimplify a more complex reality. Just like the climate wars.


People want to believe in a magic bullet that will make them live forever. Exercise in particular is pursued obsessively, with a glassy-eyed fervor that takes its extremists straight to the orthopedic ward. Food fads like pomegranates or kale or juicing or whatever. Truth is we’ve been looking for the Fountain of Youth since the Yellow Emperor in China was a pup, and we haven’t found it yet. The bottom line is that more of us rather than less born to advantage now actually achieve the genetically-programmed lifespan of 85 years + or – in relative comfort, a thing for which we should all be grateful. The real task is not micro-tweaking infinitesimal theoretical “risks,” but making possible that salutary outcome for the economically disadvantaged as well. That’s what’s going to pull the “numbers up,” lowering costs for everyone. TRUTH.

William J Bass

There are essential fats and proteins that we must get from our diet. There are NO essential carbs…at all.

sy computing

““Research with more than 135,000 people across five continents has shown that a diet which includes a moderate intake of fat and fruits and vegetables, and avoidance of high carbohydrates, is associated with lower risk of death“. (bold mine)
Perhaps I quibble, but when did the certainty of death suddenly get mitigated to a mere “risk”??


I just realized…no mention in the article of the recently released book The Salt Fix…very interesting reading and the author has lots of free podcasts available as well summarizing the book. Essential for anyone interested in health topics. It goes into many details beyond just Salt.

Dr Deanster

I’ll take this opportunity to publish my own repeated measures study. Carb vs low carb, n=1 (me). In gad school the nurse noticed I had elevated blood pressure (go figure … ya know with the dissertation and all) …. I formulated a diet based strictly on nutrients ….. lost a ton of weight, but BP still high. A few years later … sugar busters came out, then Atkins …. I lost weight on those too. To my surprise, after low carb, noticed my BP had gone down. Thought nothing of it. As with all diets, you fall off ….. BP went up ….. back on diet BP went down ….. off again and up again. Got to thinking, is it the low carbs that benefited my BP? Got back on low carb, and bought a BP machine. Within 2 days, no weight loss, BP went down to normal. Been keeping my BP in check with low carb ever since.
Nutritionist are EXACTLY like climate scientist. Their results cater to their funding source. Don’t list n to them. They are quacks, and push the no meat agenda ….. probably because they thought no cow farts cause global warming …. but I’ve found more likely because they oppose killing animals and have concluded they are sentient beings that deserve to be protected under the bill of rights.


A very good discussion about saturated fats and the background of the “science” behind the vilification of fats and cholesterol. This is another area where the science was perverted by politics and personal beliefs despite the actual data. Ancel Keys had his own hockey stick moment by simply deleting data that didn’t fit his hypothesis. So, yes, the government dietary guidelines are the basis of many of today’s health issues from obesity to diabetes. Very interesting talk.
[ snipped incorrect YouTube — kh ]


I’m not sure why the wrong video got posted. I’ll try again. It should be Enjoy Eating Saturated Fats. by Donald W. Miller, Jr., M.D.
[ snipped incorrect YouTube — kh ]


That is very strange. Is Youtube trying to filter something. Let me try it yet again,. That is very strange.
[ snipped duplicate incorrect YouTube — kh ]


I’ve tried several times and this sugar one keeps coming up. It is very frustrating, Apparently Youtube doesn’t want the video “Enjoy Eating Saturated Fats: They’re Good for You. Donald W. Miller, Jr., M.D. to be seen,” .

Retired Kit P

Something is not a problem if the ‘mitigated’ risk is insignificant. Real problems have smoking guns. Polio and smallpox were real problems. Vaccines, not so much.
Here is my list of commonly accepted problems, that have no smoking gun.
Environmental mercury: Not one American today has blood levels of mercury above the threshold of harm from activities such eating fish. That’s what the studies show.
PCB’s: You should not cook your food with electrical transformer oil. I learned in China that any green vegetable taste better when cooked in animal fat.
DDT: Non toxic for humans but deadly for pest that carry malaria.
Burning coal to make electricity in the US: No study has ever shown actual harm, even before we double the cost of US electricity with pollution controls.
Radiation from US designed nuclear power plants: Not one measurement of off site exposure greater than a chest x-ray.
On the other hand there are many smoking guns. Science has provided me with the knowledge of the level of oxygen to sustain life in a confined space, hydrogen concentration, nitrogen and ammonia concentrations that will immediately kill.
So after a hard day at working surviving all those hazards, I would sometimes throw caution to the wind and have a Phili cheese steak hoagie, fries, and a beer after work.


The “mercury from fish” question is, forgive dreadful pun, a bit of a “red herring.” My friend the retired game warden told me that the measurements of “how much mercury” in various kinds of fish are taken from the animal’s liver–but in nearly all cases people are not eating the liver, they are eating the muscle meat which has vanishingly less than the liver which tends to aggregate heavy metals. Danger overstated, bigly!