Heart Muscles And Fat

Gee, what do you know?

…eliminating or severely limiting fats from the diet may not be beneficial to cardiac function in patients suffering from heart failure, a study at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine reports. Results from biological model studies conducted by assistant professor of physiology and biophysics Margaret Chandler, PhD, and other researchers, demonstrate that a high-fat diet improved overall mechanical function, in other words, the heart’s ability to pump, and was accompanied by cardiac insulin resistance.

How many people has the FDA and the nutrition/industrial complex killed with the fatophobia over the past decades? I’m pretty sure my father was one of them.

And I continue to be amazed at how easy it is to find “low-fat” or “fat-free” products in the interior aisles of the grocery store (especially in the candy aisle…), but almost impossible to find low-sodium products.

25 thoughts on “Heart Muscles And Fat”

  1. This is a hot-button issue for me, and THANK YOU for getting the word out there.

    I think they day I decided that they were completely insane was when I saw a carton of iced tea labled as “fat free!” at the supermarket. (uncoincidentally, I’ve never seen iced tea with fat).

    My suspicion is that the FDA’s pyramid scheme (the food pyramid) and associated anti-fat hype was first based on the notion that we’re all morons, and can’t tell the difference between good fats and bad. So, it was just “all fat bad!” as their message. They counted olive oil the same as transfats.

    I’m low carb by necessity. I’m a MODY (Mature Onset Diabetes of the Young) diabetic (similar to type 2, but clearly genetic). What that means is that the phase one insulin response that most of us have is lacking in me. In a normal pancreas, you have insulin production cells and also insulin storage for fast release (such as if you eat a candy bar). The specialized cells that accomplish fast release don’t exist in me. I was born without them. So, seeing as how I don’t have them and they are required to handle large carb loads, I had to go to a low low carb diet. (generally speaking the most advisable option for a type 2 diabetic).

    What rankles me is that gluten-free stuff is everywhere, but low carb is intensely hard to find. Yet, the number of gluten-intolerant folks is far less than diabetics or of people who would just like (or need) to trim unneeded carbs (or calories) from their diet.

    The finding that eliminating fat is hard on the heart is no surprise to me at all. Personally, I’m inclined to blame the rise in obesity in large part on the vilification of fat and the massive increase in fast carbs.

    Any chance of a change from the government? I don’t see it happening. It’d mean having to admit they were wrong.

    One possibility though, they might try to play it both ways with a campaign that says both “eat fat” and “don’t eat fat”.

    That wouldn’t be anything new… remember the “eat cheese” “don’t eat cheese” snaffu? (The great cheese paradox; the FDA is against Cheese, but the Dept of Agriculture is spending boatloads of money to advertise it and boost consumption. They are the same government agency behind the “got milk?” campaign, which the FDA opposes.

    So, our tax dollars at work, pushing people to both eat, and don’t eat, cheese.

  2. Rand – Why are you looking for low-sodium? What is harmful about salt in the diet?

    Or to be less obtuse: Are you accepting recommendations to
    consume less sodium from the same experts that recommend eating less fat, with similar evidenciary support? From what I’ve read so far (in Taubes’s Good Calories, Bad Calories) salt doesn’t significantly affect blood pressure.

  3. No, I am accepting the recommendation of a physician who also recommends a paleolithic diet (which is intrinsically low sodium). Whatever you’ve read, I have empirical evidence that salt increases my blood pressure. When I was on a high-sodium (jerky, cheese, bacon, etc.) diet it was through the roof (sometimes with systolic over 200). Now that I’ve cut it out, it’s almost under control, though still a little higher than I’d like.

    My understanding is that one only needs a few hundred mg a day, which comes naturally from meats and vegetables (e.g., spinach). A typical American diet can have several times that much (just a typical large cheeseburger with condiments at McDonalds is a couple thousand mg).

  4. From what I understand, sodium is a major factor for about 1 in 10 people when it comes to high blood pressure. Many people can consume it with no blood pressure effects, but many cannot. This is a case where one size does not fit all.

    I live in the Arizona high country, which isn’t as hot as in the desert, but it still can get hot. If I’m out clearing brush, chopping wood, moving rocks, etc in hot weather, I increase my salt intake a lot.
    Otherwise, I tend to avoid it. I much prefer herbs and spices to salt as a flavoring.

    Now, as for a typical large cheeseburger at McDonnalds, you can make those safe to eat. It’s easy… but the burger, then take the top bun off. Remove everything between the buns and throw it away. Then, remember that a big chunk of the fat, almost all the carbs, an a lot of the sodium is in the buns, so throw it away too. Then eat the box it came in; it’s high in fiber and better for you then the burger. 🙂

  5. This article at reason.com is oddly timely: Could eating less salt be deadly?

    I’m glad though that controlling your salt is helping your blood pressure. Hopefully blogging induced stress isn’t the next thing to be cut from your lifestyle to drop your BP to a healthy level. I recommend getting a second opinion if your doctor goes there.

  6. Of course, I can only speak for myself. Twenty years ago I was fat. 275 on a 165 pound frame. I hit the low fat diet, did not lose much weight, and promptly developed cardiac arrhythmia.

    Went back to push back from the table, and lost weight slowly and tired very quickly. Tried Atkins, lost weight quickly, heart function as indicated by treadmill time improved very quickly.

    And as long as I butter my bread, try for 35% of my caloric content to come from fat; and hold the carbohydrates down I stay around 175, with 120/68 blood pressure. And at 78 birthdays tomorrow, I stay active in all respects. Especially when I visit my friends in the assisted care homes who tried to subsist on unsalted rabbit food and sweets.

    Fat and salt might kill, but I am not dead yet.


  7. Good point. High carb with bad glycemic index, suger, fructose corn syrup, and sodium are a far larger probem, but have gotten much less attention. Fat is not a problem unless you get way to much of it, and as it says here, a moderate amount is even beneficial.

    However, I also dont buy the idea that you can eat all the fat you want, as long as you keep carbs low. In the end, overall calories still matter, and a balanced and varied, but calorie restricted diet, is still best.

  8. It’s like with clothes. There’s a Men’s 40 Regular that fits a sort of middle range of men to some degree of … well…fit. But that suit doesn’t fit a whole lot of men, & fewer women.

    My BP at 182 was 70/130. Doc said “lose ten pounds.” So I lost them. My BP at 172 is 70/130.

    At 5’9″ 172 lbs I am supposedly overweight. Say what? Maybe I could lose ten more pounds, but why? Heck, if I get really sick, I might need a few extra pounds around just to keep from dying. But wait! I had some hernia surgery, didn’t eat much, and GAINED 5 lbs. Huh?

    Nobody knows nothin.’ Except Mark Twain: “I eat what I want & let the food fight it out inside.”

    If you don’t have anything particular wrong with you that requires attention – diabetes, & so forth – then just go with moderation. Find out what puts weight on & stop doing it. Exercise if you like to, otherwise just move around some every day. A couple of glasses of wine will do you good. Have a martini now & then. Find out if you are better off grazing your way through the day, eating two decent meals, or getting three squares, then go with it. Don’t eat food you don’t like.

    Butter your bread, but make sure the bread is worth eating in the first place.

  9. Mr. Simberg, I suggest you read what Taube’s review of the scientific literature in GCBC said about the salt/hypertension hypothesis. Taubes guess, or his untested hypothesis, since no studies actually prove or disprove the widely accepted hypotheisis that salt aggravates or causes hypertension, is that salt by causing water retention, does cause a temporary slight rise in blood pressure, thus creating the myth that to cure or treat hypertension one should limit salt intake, when in fact there is no scientific proof of such a connection. His hypothesis is that high blood pressure is just another symptom of metabolic syndrome caused by consuming too many quickly digestible carbohydrates over a lon period of time, which includes the hardening the arteries from the constant insulin flood and eventual insulin resistance. In other words it is caused by following the govt. food pyramid jigh carb dietary recommendations and limiting one’s fat intake, etc.

    When people go to the doctor they of course want the doctor to give them a quick and easy treatment or cure. They demand for the doc to tell them something they can do. Salt has thus become a very easy and convenient boogie man.

    I challenge you to show me and your readers the scientific paper that significantly shows any increase in longevity from salt reduction, where salt was the only variable tested. I think it does not exist. Taubes looked for it. He could not find it.

  10. Part of the thing at work here is that NOTHING in human (or mamal) diet is one size fits all. My friend, Dave Freer, who is a biologist says this is a fact known to every zoo keeper in the world. Lions from the same litter, on the same diet, one will be obese, the other undernourished. The only reason this isn’t applied to humans is because it’s politically incorrect.

    The compulsion to tell us top-down what to eat is likely to do as much harm as good. If not more.

    For instance, I have a freakish system that gets rid of salts — as far as I can tell all salts — very rapidly and can create some very interesting issues if I don’t make sure to replenish electrolytes when exercising or doing heavy work.

    And my determination — I was young and stupid — to eat low salt probably caused pre-eclampsia in my first pregnancy. (Paradoxically it seems to act that way in some women.)

  11. I challenge you to show me and your readers the scientific paper that significantly shows any increase in longevity from salt reduction, where salt was the only variable tested. I think it does not exist. Taubes looked for it. He could not find it.

    As I said, in my own case, I have demonstrated that salt reduction reduced my blood pressure. I am not an Aristotelian in these matters — I am an empiricist. I went to what I though was paleolithic (naively and simplistically — high protein, no grains) and my blood pressure went through the roof. Because I was eating a lot of salty protein. I cut it out, and it went down. Way down.

    Now if you want to argue that there is no causation in death from high blood pressure, I guess you can attempt to make that case if you want, but until you do, I’m thinking that the risk of high blood pressure is higher than the risk of sodium too low. In my case.

  12. Salt, too, as mentioned earlier: another link. Well. if you already have heart trouble adjusting your intake is still a good idea, but your chances of getting into trouble if you eat “too much” salt is slim –

    Note the careful statement that the study was concerned with Euro types. I heard years ago that it was non-PC to mention that the high-salt-intake risk was largely a factor for Northwest Africans (and their descendants), not for most Africans, Asians, Europeans, Australian natives, American natives…

    = = = = =
    And yeah, I am still waiting to see lard labelled “sugar free!” as candy is “fat free.”

  13. @Arizona CJ – A few years ago, I had a good talk with my internist and theorized the food pyramid as the root of the obesity and adult-onset diabetes epidemic and he concurred. Unintended consequences and all that.

    I’m quite a carb addict and am 70 lbs heavier than when I met my wife. I just started Atkins to get the weight down. That’s a lot of bad choices on my part, but the low-fat, high carb plan foisted upon us did not help.

  14. Taubes agrees that not taking salt will reduce your blood pressure – a little bit – for a short time. You said you made multiple diet changes. What proof do you have that it was the salt change that lowered your blood pressure?

    No one, me included of course, can wisely comment on your case without knowing your particulars in detail, like for instance what else did you change, any medication, other foods, etc to get your reduction, what were your particular number changes etc.

    Likewise you nor I can draw any scientific conclusions for the masses based upon the anecdotal evidence of your particular case.

    I was simply commenting on the medical establisment’s recommendations for the masses and the lack of scientific evidence for those broad recommendations concerning salt. I was thus also addressing your mention of those recommendations concerning salt as if they were scientific fact. It is my understanding that nothing could be further from the truth. My point is that the salt myth is just like the fat myth that you and I both know and agree about, are both scientifically unsound but both widely accepted as fact.

  15. I’ve been limiting my salt intake also and noticed the same problem. What gets me is what they add salt to. Things like raw, uncooked chicken. Look at the package, up to 15% broth by weight including salt. I quit worrying about fat a long time ago.

    My cholesterol is usually below 150. Fat intake doesn’t have a whole lot to do with one’s cholesterol level.

  16. Google Paleo 2.0 and go to the archevore.com site of Dr. Kurt Harris. Following his getting started recommendations, well the first 10 anyway, I’ve lost 70lbs and gone from 56 to 42 waist on a 6’4″ lineman’s body. Still slimming down and feeling great. Better skin, endurance, strength. Most of it came off before I started working out. I do 30 min of intense resistance once a week and am seeing great gains there too. Easy since I have so much more energy eating this way. It is about avoiding Neolithic Agents of Disease: Gluten, Fructose, excess linoleic (SP?) Acid. The metabolic science is all there at his site. Give it a look.

  17. Isn’t Lou Gehrig’s Disease something about the oily sheath covering the nerve endings wasting away? They have found enough evidence that the connection between low-cholesterol medicine and the incidence of Lou Gehrig’s Disease needed to be investigated. They don’t know.

  18. Great comments on this thread.
    As an engineer who worked in Research and Development, I learned years ago when it comes to complex problems, if one thinks the answer is simple and straightforward, one just doesn’t know very much.
    For a variety of self-interested reasons, I have researched a number of health related topics and found that the deeper I probe, the less certainty I find. The kidneys are made to efficiently eliminate excess salt, for some people no matter how much salt they intake, their kidneys do the job and it has no effect. For others its a problem. For some people, excess weight has little impact on their health, I know obese people with low blood pressure. I am fairly lean and in good shape and have high blood pressure. My great grandmother lived to 94 and her systolic blood pressure in her later years topped 200. Her son, my grandfather, dropped dead of a heart attack at age 66.

  19. It certainly seems unfair that as we get old, the various parts of our bodies get less and less effective. We get hard of hearing, nearsighted, farsighted, squeaky joints, things don’t smell as good…EXCEPT for one thing. It seems our aging digestive systems now can extract 2,000 calories from nothing but cardboard and bean sprouts.

    Where do I file my class-action….

  20. Am I imagining this or has anyone else noticed – the low fat “look” on women? Boney breast and a rather bulbous butt. Prime examples – Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman, and Teri Hatcher of Desparate Housewives.

  21. I like Harris’ approach. He’s another of the low-carb guys who deals with actual science, not the politicized junk science and witchcraft that characterizes so much of what passes for conventional nutritional wisdom these days.

    Eades is a good one, too.

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