Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Letter to President Obama

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Twice that I know of over the past year you have commented on food and health care costs. The first mention was during an October 2008 interview with Joe Klein. You said, "I was just reading an article in The New York Times by Michael Pollan about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it's creating mono cultures that are...partly responsible for the explosion in our health care costs because they're contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in health care costs."

The second mention was in a speech to the American Medical Association delivered earlier this year. You said, "The second step that we can all agree on is to invest more in preventive care so that we can avoid illness and disease in the first place. That starts with each of us taking more responsibility for our health and the health of our children...It also means cutting down on all the junk food that is fueling an epidemic of obesity, putting far too many Americans, young and old, at greater risk of costly, chronic conditions. That's a lesson Michelle and I have tried to instill in our daughters with the White House vegetable garden that Michelle planted. And that's a lesson that we should work with local school districts to incorporate into their school lunch programs."

I congratulate you on paying attention to the quality of the food supply. It is a problem that began in the nineteenth century with the development of technology that made it possible to cheaply and efficiently produce enormous quantities of sugar, refined wheat flour, and omega-6 seed oils. As the science of chemistry advanced, chemical technology spawned the food manufacturing industry that supplies most of the calories Americans currently consume.

These developments have had disastrous consequences for human health. Periodically, various scientists, both here and abroad, have attempted to call attention to the problem. But sadly, academia and government have ignored them. For example, in the Preface to Food for Nought (1973), biochemist, author, and teacher Ross Hume Hall, PhD observed, "Nourishment of the American populace has undergone a startling transformation since World War II. A highly individual system of growing and marketing food has been transformed into a gigantic, highly integrated service system in which the object is not to nourish or even to feed, but to force an ever-increasing consumption of fabricated products. This phenomenon is not peculiar to the American scene and occurs in every industrialized country. The United States, however, has progressed furthest in the transformation. Man can never be more than what he eats, and one would expect that a phenomenon with such profound effects on health and well-being as a radically changed system of supplying nourishment would be thoroughly documented and assessed by the scientific community. Such is not the case. The transformation has gone unmarked by government agencies and learned bodies. Government agencies, recipients of the public trust charged with protecting and improving the public's food, operate as if the technology of food fabrication rested in pre-World War II days. Scientific bodies, supported by public funds and charged with assessing and improving the public's health, ignore completely the results of contemporary methods of producing and marketing food."

I began taking responsibility for my own health back in October of 1977 after sustaining a back injury. A week of hospitalization afforded time to think about my future. I decided to read some nutrition books and use what I learned to improve my body's ability to heal itself.
I did not read one or two books; I read dozens, then hundreds. I did so because nutrition experts disagree and one cannot afford to be following the advice of experts who base their opinions on personal experience or consensus of opinion.

Eventually, I figured out that sugar interests, edible oils producers, and food manufacturers exert a powerful influence on both government and academia. I realized early on that sugar (Google "Sugar:The Bitter Truth"), not saturated fat, was the major factor in heart disease. But it was not until 1994, after suffering a leg ulcer, that I learned how dangerous excessive consumption of the supposedly "heart healthy" omega-6 vegetable oils can be (Google "Omega-6 Research News").

Which brings up another issue, the quality of nutrition instruction in this country. The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) is the arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for educating Americans about nutrition. It is also the highest nutrition authority in the land.

Every five years, by law, the CNPP must appoint 13 distinguished scientists to review the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and recommend changes based on the latest scientific research. That process is currently underway and three meetings have already taken place.

Hopefully, four mistakes, that have persisted in the government's dietary advice for more than three decades, will be corrected this time around. They are as follows: 1) the universal recommendation to restrict fat intake to lose weight, 2) the doctrine that high saturated fat consumption leads to clogged arteries, 3) failure to warn consumers about the hazards of excessive fructose consumption, and 4) failure to warn consumers about hazards associated with excessive omega-6 polyunsaturated vegetable oil consumption.

I am not the only one disturbed by the government's dietary guidelines. Many Americans are voicing their concerns to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. In January, these poignant remarks, submitted by someone named Ethyl, were published in the federal register.

"Here's how I'd like to answer the members of the USDA if I could speak to them personally about what nutritional guidelines to provide for Americans:
1. You need to decide what is more important to you: support for the wheat, soy, corn, and sugar industries or the health of Americans.
2. You need to wrap your minds around the fact that the nutritional advice you have dispensed for the past forty years is dead wrong. A diet with carbohydrates as the largest daily food group makes people fat and/or sick.
3.You have been embarrassingly wrong for the past forty years about the dangers of fat in the diet. The extreme fat reduction you have recommended makes people fat and/or sick.
4. Your dietary recommendations for the past forty years are largely responsible for the amount of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, depression, and more that Americans experience in ever-increasing numbers.
5. I visited the Web site and found your pyramid to be what one would expect government bureaucrats to create: unnecessarily complicated, confusing, filled with misinformation, and condescending. It claims to be "science-based" but does not admit - or understand? - that it is based on junk science that has been poorly conducted.
6. If you want to give the public at large advice about what to eat to be healthy or correct many health problems, it should go something like this:
a. Eat mostly real food, not food products processed in food labs.
b. Make the time to prepare almost all of your meals at home from scratch. Know what's in the food you eat.
c. Retrain your body to derive its energy from fat ... by fueling it with quality fats such as lard, coconut oil, butter, nut oils, and olive oil. Eliminate all trans fat from the diet, and drastically reduce the amount of fat from vegetable oils. Saturated fat is good for you, enjoy it..."

Mr. President, clearly our industrialized food supply is making us fat and sick. And the cost of dealing with health issues is destroying our economy. But your mention of the monoculture/junk food connection to chronic disease and obesity in relation to "our huge explosion in health care costs" raised hopes that you will study the matter further. Below is a short list of individuals who can help you visualize what needs to be done to improve the food environment by, first and foremost, correcting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Fred and Alice Ottoboni: retired public health scientists and authors of The Modern Nutritional Diseases.

Gary Taubes
: award winning journalist and author of a 2002 New York Times Magazine
article entitled "What if it's all Been a Big Fat Lie?" and the book Good Calories, Bad Calories.

Michael Pollan: author of The Omnivore's Dilemma.

Sally Fallon: founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation and author of Nourishing Traditions.

Joel Salatin: grass farmer and author of Everything I Want to Do is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front.

Mark McAffee: California raw milk dairy farmer and owner of Organic Pastures Fresh Raw Dairy.

Nina Planck: created the first farmers' markets in London. Author of Real Food: What to Eat and Why.

Before closing, I have a few comments about health care reform. First, I am in favor of incentives that encourage people to make healthier lifestyle choices. In a recent New York Times Op-Ed article entitled "Big Food vs. Big Insurance" Michael Pollan suggests changes in insurance rules that could help accomplish this goal.

Second, I would like to have the option of a health savings account. Rather than being forced to purchase health insurance, I would like to be able to put tax-deferred money into savings that could be used for health emergencies. If spent on health care, the money would not be subject to taxation.

Third, my family has never purchased health insurance. We simply pay for medical services as needed. We would far rather spend our hard-earned money on high quality food than on medical screening. At our income level, being forced to purchase health insurance would pose a hardship making it more difficult for us to obtain high quality food. Seems like there ought to be a better reward for taking care of ones health than being forced to pay for something which one cannot afford and may never use.

In your inaugural address you said, "...our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."

You speak words of hope. But unless you and your policy advisers reeducate yourselves as to what constitutes healthy eating, eventually there will be no funds to "remake" anything.

Toward the end of your speech you said, "Those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."

Have governments ever been trustworthy? It is a nice thought.

In most respects I think elected officials are trustworthy. I believe they are doing their best to protect us and improve our circumstances. However, those narrow interests you mentioned are NOT trustworthy. And their influence, where food issues and nutritional controversies are concerned, is pervasive in business, academia, media, and government. And because governance involves a broad spectrum of political issues, it is understandable that the vast majority of politicians are not programmed, by either their education or their experience, to be interested in food issues, much less understand them. While this may continue to be the case, it would be incredibly helpful if grass roots efforts to improve the quality of the food supply and correct the government's horribly flawed dietary advice had the support of the President of the United States.

In closing, I note that you were elected to office on the strength of a promise; a promise that you would do things differently. My prayer is that you will study the connection between food choices and chronic disease until you fully understand the issues and that God will give you the ability to discern and the courage to do what needs to be done to reduce demand for medical services. Recall Dr. Hall's observation: "Man can never be more than what he eats..."

David Brown
1925 Belmar Dr
Kalispell, MT 59901

Nutrition Education Project

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Unabsorbed Calories

Most weight control experts teach that reducing caloric intake and increasing caloric expenditure through exercise are absolutely necessary to achieve and sustain weight loss. Many dieters have been successful with this approach but does it work for everybody? Not really. Why? Well, some people are not genotrophically equipped to thrive on a low-fat/low-calorie diet no matter how much exercise they get. (The genotrophic concept, by the way, simply refers to the fact that each of us is biochemically and physiologically unique and that this uniqueness is determined by genes.)

A number of books have been published over the years suggesting that adding calories (especially fat calories) to the diet can produce weight loss. The first I'm aware of is Calories Don't Count by Herman Taller, MD. It caused quite a stir as reported by Ruth Adams in her 1972 book Did You Ever See A Fat Squirrel? In Chapter 7 subtitled Calories Do Count or one foot is a lot different than ten feet she reports, "The case of Calories Don't Count reached the halls of Congress in the fiery address of one knowledgeable congressman who called the FDA's attack on the book "Trial by press release." A lot of unfair and inaccurate things were said about Dr. Taller and his book in the decade following its publication. The government seized his books and safflower oil capsules displayed nearby from health food stores calling the capsules "drugs" and the book "labeling" of these drugs. While Dr. Taller's book contained a few inaccuracies and despite it's apparent contradiction, his approach, which recommended a daily intake of 3935 calories (more or less) as calculated by Ruth Adams, did work for a lot of people. But on to the next book.

Published two decades later, Why Calories Don't Count by biochemist Paul Stitt, MS did not attract any attention, probably because Robert Atkins was taking so much heat at the time. Poorly edited and clumsily written, the book actually contains a reference to research documenting unabsorbed calories.

Another book entitled How to Lower Your Fat Thermostat by Remington, Fisher, and Parent describes force feeding experiments where subjects were unable to gain more than small amounts of weight despite huge amounts of extra eating. Most subjects quickly returned to their pre-study weight after a return to normal caloric intake. There's also some interesting discussion describing how food denial (caloric restriction) can increase the surface area of the gut which increases efficiency of calorie absorption. They noted, "Rats eating only one meal a day have a markedly increased rate of food digestion and absorption. Many obese people also seem to digest food more quickly, perhaps because of dietary efforts and periods of food denial."

Fast forwarding to the present, Prevention magazine recently released a 52-page booklet advertising The Doctors Book of Food Remedies. I'm ordering a copy to see if the book contains any references to research that documents what the advertiser asserts; namely that some fats, calories, and cholesterol do not get absorbed but are excreted when certain fiber-containing foods are eaten with every meal. Here's a few pages of that advertisement:

Fat-Blocker foods!
Foods that fill you up...block absorption of calories & fat...and make it easy to shed 10, 20, 30 pounds, or more.

Page 9 - Imagine being able to shed all the pounds and inches you want, NOT by starving yourself, but by actually eating MORE of certain types of food?
Oh, how satisfying that would be! But it couldn't possibly be true, could it? Doctors are responding with a resounding YES! Here's the story...

Medical researchers have identified dozens of delicious foods bursting with this amazing combination of benefits - they're not only scrumptious, but they also block the absorption of fat and calories in the other foods you eat!

What's more, the same foods leave you feeling full - totally satisfied - for much longer periods of time, so you automatically eat less during the day. In other words, these delicious foods give you an enormous DOUBLE advantage in your efforts to lose weight. First, you automatically eat less because you feel full and satisfied longer. And then, (Page 10) when you do eat, you absorb far fewer fat and calories! (Their mistake, not mine.)

That's why these "fat-blocker foods" are a dieter's dream-come-true. And in The Doctors Book of Food Remedies, you're going to learn all about them, and how to use them to lose more weight than you've ever thought possible.

The Greatest Weight-Loss Secret of All-Time ?
The secret behind Mother Nature's incredible fat-blocker foods can be summed up in a single word - fiber.
But not just any fiber. In recent years, researchers have discovered that foods rich in a certain type of fiber have an almost magical power to trap fat and calories as they pass through your system...block their absorption...and carry these unwanted fats and calories right out of your system before they have a chance to pack their weight on your thighs, hips, rear, or belly.
But only one type of fiber does this, and on pages 201-203 of The Doctors Book of Food Remedies, you're going to discover the many foods that are richest in it. Thank goodness, there are dozens of these fat-blocker foods to choose from, so you'll easily find a host of favorites to enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, as you watch pound after pound melt away so easily.

Blocks Out the Fat in Your Steak...So You Don't Absorb It!
Just how easily does it work? Let's look at an example...

A big reason we gain weight - and find losing it so hard - is because of the fat in our diets. Fat makes you fat! When you eat a steak, for example, molecules of fat and cholesterol pass through your intestinal wall and into your bloodstream...and eventually get deposited as fat someplace in your body where you least want it.

Page 12 - But before that can happen, the special fiber in these fat-blocker foods prevents you from absorbing these fats and calories in the first place. When you eat these foods, their special fiber dissolves in your digestive tract, forming a sticky gel that acts like a protective coating, preventing fat and cholesterol from getting through your intestinal wall.

Remember the example of the steak? If you accompanied it with a heaping serving of one of these fat-blocker foods, its special fiber would turn into gel, trapping molecules of fat and cholesterol and preventing them from getting into your body. And because this fiber itself isn't absorbed, it passes out of your body, taking the fat and cholesterol with it!

You'll get complete details of this wonderful form of fiber on page 201 of The Doctors Book of Food Remedies. Then on page 202, you'll see all the foods richest in this near-miraculous ability. This information is worth its weight in gold because it makes losing weight so much easier than you've ever experienced!

Now you can lose by eating, not starving! There are no pills to take, no unhealthy fad diets to follow, and, best of all, no starvation! Losing weight was never so easy!

What's more, these fiber-rich fat-blocker foods bring you many other benefits, as well. They keep you as regular as a Swiss watch. They lower your cholesterol, and cut your risk of heart disease in half. They can also reduce your risk of cancer by 31% because they sweep food particles out of your colon faster and keep your insides cleaner. This is why some doctors call fiber "Mother Nature's broom."

In another section starting on page 32 and titled Cut Your Risk of Heart Attack by 80 % or more, there's further mention of unabsorbed fat and cholesterol. For example, on page 33 under the heading Traps Cholesterol in Your Body Like Velcro and Flushes It Away Harmlessly one reads, "Take Pears for example. They contain an all-natural compound called lignin, which is Mother Nature's most ingenious antidote to high cholesterol. Lignin acts just like nutritional Velcro, attaching itself to the cholesterol in your body, trapping it in your intestine, and ushering it right out of your system so you don't absorb it!"

Finally, on page 35 under the heading Your Internal Cholesterol-Busting "Police Force" one reads, "You'll get an entire list - plus lots of recipes - of the best cholesterol-busting foods you can eat. All share this incredible benefit: they're filled with a substance that forms a gummy gel in your digestive tract that mops up fat and cholesterol, dragging it straight out of your body before it gets deposited on your artery walls."

Well, don't you just love advertising copy? Considering the darth of information on the subject, one wonders where the author(s?) of Food Remedies got the idea that fiber can "sweep" fat, calories, and cholesterol out of the body. There are no references to research.

Dave Brown

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Excessive fructose consumption a major health hazard? Likely so

The following was published in the Saturday, January 3, 2009 edition of The Daily Inter Lake:

Fructose, Sucrose and your health

By David Brown

For those resolved to lose weight gained over the holidays, I suggest you eat less fructose. And for those who didn't gain any weight whatsoever, I suggest a lowered fructose intake also. Why? Because excessive fructose consumption is finally being recognized as a major health hazard in the modern diet.

And we're not just talking about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) here. White sugar (sucrose) has nearly the same effects. I say "nearly the same" because scientists have shown that the liver processes the fructose part of a blend of molecules of fructose and glucose into triglycerides (fats) a little differently from sucrose, a double sugar molecule consisting of fructose and glucose chemically bonded.

Blended or bonded, it's fructose that loads the bloodstream with fat. In a July 24, 2008 New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope titled "Does Fructose Make You Fatter?" the author reports, "In a small study, Texas researchers showed that the body converts fructose to body fat with 'surprising speed,' said Elizabeth Parks, associate professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas...In humans, triglycerides, which are a type of fat in the blood, are mostly formed in the liver. Dr. Parks said the liver acts like 'a traffic cop' who coordinates how the body uses dietary sugars. When the liver encounters glucose, it decides whether the body needs to store it, burn it for energy or turn it into triglycerides. But when fructose enters the body, it bypasses the process and ends up being quickly converted to body fat.

In a 2004 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article authored by George Bray, Samara Nielsen, and Barry Popkin the authors wrote, "It is becoming increasingly clear that soft drink consumption may be an important contributor to the epidemic of obesity, in part through the larger portion sizes of these beverages and through the increased intake of fructose from HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and sucrose."

Subsequent research by Peter Havel, Richard Johnson, and others has confirmed the suspected connection between fructose and weight gain and elucidated the metabolic pathways that affect hunger, fat storage, and fat mobilization.

Fructose also appears to promote diabetes, heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and many lesser known effects. In an article by Laura Jefferson titled "The Negative Effects of High Fructose Corn Syrup on the Human Body Excluding Obesity, Diabetes, and Kidney Failure" the author wrote, "Many of the lesser-known effects of high fructose corn syrup are the result of a trickle down effect. When high fructose corn syrup changes the balance of nutrients, it also can lead to problems with vitamin and mineral deficiency. The most noticeable effects of high fructose corn syrup include problems with liver disease, heart failure, minerals, osteoporosis, micro nutrients, accelerated aging, and copper deficiency."

Of course, bad publicity about HFCS has elicited a response from the Corn Refiners Association (CRA). In June, the CRA launched a 30 million dollar advertising campaign in a transparent attempt to convince consumers that HFCS is not a problem. To familiarize yourself with their version of the truth Google "The Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup - HFCS Facts."

Apparently negative publicity is making the CRA extremely nervous because spokesmen for the organization have begun to troll the internet for articles and editorials containing negative comments about HFCS. For example, in the comment section following a Boston Globe article titled "Florida farm an organic gourmand's delight" Audrae Erickson, President of the CRA, wrote, "The American Medical Association (AMA) in June 2008 helped PUT TO REST (emphasis mine) misunderstandings about this sweetener and obesity, stating that “high fructose corn syrup does not appear to contribute to obesity more than other caloric sweeteners.”

Regarding the AMA decision not to bash HFCS, Clinical nutritionist Byron Richards wrote, "Last year the AMA was able to avoid making a public decision on the resolution, but intense pressure over the past year from within their own ranks forced them this year to take a stand. After all, the obesity epidemic is rapidly becoming the top public health problem in this country. With their tail between their legs and no trumpets blaring, the AMA sided with the Corn Refiners Association and against the public health – based on the lamest logic imaginable. Their decision was immediately broadcast far and wide – interpreted by the media to mean that the AMA had given high fructose corn syrup its seal of approval. The AMA said they couldn’t tell if high fructose corn syrup was worse than any other sweetener, and there was no way to tell if it was really causing obesity because people eat too much in general. Their conclusion is laughable."

The beverage industry, on the other hand, tracks nutrition research closely and apparently has seen the hand writing on the wall. A few years back Coca-Cola teamed up with Cargill to finance studies to determine the safety of Rebiana, a stevia derived sweetener. Their efforts paid off because on December 17, 2008 the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of stevia as a food additive. Some natural health practitioners believe stevia to be far safer than artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose.

Meanwhile, most Americans remain clueless regarding the health hazards associated with excessive fructose consumption. Clearly, the sweeteners industry has powerful ties to dietetics, public health, medicine, and commerce. You'll have to do your own research if you want to learn the truth. You won't see it on television or the print media.

With some reservation, I recommend The Sugar Fix by Richard J. Johnson, MD. Like most authors of books about nutrition and disease, Dr. Johnson made little attempt to understand or resolve the saturated fat controversy.

For those with internet access I suggest you Google "HFCS hazards" or "On High Fructose Corn Syrup and Weapons of Mass Destruction."

Have questions, comments, or criticism? Contact me at

David Brown
1925 Belmar Dr
Kalispell, MT 59901