We Were Born to Eat Meat
Paul A. Mabry MD
Please address questions or comments to the following email:
Required Disclaimer: Please consult your own doctor before implementing any dietary recommendations I have made. You may have a medical condition that would be adversely affected or your medications might need to be adjusted. I am retired from medical practice and no longer give individual medical advice but only comment on medical topics in general.
Despite medical school, internship and residency training in family medicine, I felt helpless for most of my 26 years of medical practice as I saw’ my patients gain weight, then develop high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and heart disease and complain that they just “didn’t seem to have any energy”. Equally distressing was that the same thing was happening to me. About 4 years ago somewhat out of desperation I tried a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, high fat, traditional Atkins diet. I quickly lost 30 lbs and felt great. This led me to take a second look at the latest scientific information available on the subject. It became clear to me that the the standard American diet which is so high in carbohydrates and low in fat was the major cause of the problems I and my patients had been having. lReading books like “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes and “The Big Fat Surprise” by Nina Teicholz opened my eyes to the fact that the dietary advice promoted by the medical establishment that I had passed along to my patients was in no way supported by the available science and had been significantly influenced by contributions from the sugar/processed food manufacturers and the pharmaceutical industries.
On April 10, 2015 I read about a family that had eaten nothing but meat for 18 years and were quite healthy. After further reading on the internet it became clear that quite a number of people were eating this way all around the world with great success. Through videos like Dr. Barry Grove’s wonderful lecture called “Homo carnivoris”, and another great lecture by Dr. Michael Eades “Paleopathology and the Origins of the Paleo Diet”. I came to realize that 2 1/2 million years ago our evolutionary ancestors had formed a separate branch from the fruit eating apes and with each evolutionary step had developed bigger brains and smaller guts so nothing but fat rich meat in that small gut could have allowed them to maintain such a large brain. This same material is presented in a more visually appealing format in the movie “The Perfect Human Diet” where the moderator actually visits the laboratories of the scientists doing the research on Paleolithic diets to interview them.
I think the most important component of a healthy diet is that it avoid the 3 greatest enemies of great health in the diet of most modern humans in the world today – SUGAR, STARCHES AND GRAINS AND SEED OILS.
Public Health Enemy Number 1 is sugar. We’re just not designed to handle it. Our ancestors had a few mostly bitter seasonal fruits (we’ve now bred them to maximize sugar content) and some occasional honey. Table Sugar whose scientific name is sucrose is actually 2 sugar molecules stuck together. One molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose. Once table sugar gets into our body the 2 sugars are quickly separated from one another. Fructose is far more toxic than glucose for several reasons. The first of which is that it is primarily metabolized in the liver through the same pathway as alcohol. When Fructose is eaten in the large quantities that we humans are now for the first time in 2 1/2 million years consuming, the liver is overwhelmed so it converts almost all the Fructose it processes into fat. It has a great deal of trouble getting rid of fat from this pathway and winds up storing a large proportion of it in liver cells. This leads to fatty liver and then inflamed liver. The same thing happens when people drink a lot of alcohol since it is processed through the same pathway. The end result of drinking too much alcohol for many is cirrhosis of the liver which is a doctor word for an inflamed liver full of fatty nodules which is the same thing we see in people who develop it from eating too much Fructose only doctors call it Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver disease (NAFLP) when it’s mild and Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) when it’s severe. Liver damage from fat leads to resistance to insulin which sets you on the path to adult diabetes. Since the liver is where all of your Cholesterol is processed, packaged and shipped through the blood stream to all parts of your body, damage to this system from fatty liver leads to the production of “Small dense LDL Cholesterol Particles”. This is the kind of LDL particle that leads to heart attacks and strokes. People who eat a low carbohydrate diet like me also produce a lot of LDL Cholesterol but when it is analyzed in the lab these are usually the safe large fluffy type of LDL particles which are vital to our health and strengthen our immune system. These high LDL levels though often scare doctors who are not aware of the literature showing it’s the small dense particles that cause heart attacks. So if you consider going on a low carb diet don’t be surprised if your Total and LDL Cholesterol go up, it normal. I have a post with references about that here.
Another benefits of the low carb/low sugar diet is a dramatic reduction is dangerous triglycerides levels. This large study considered them a much better predictor of heart attack risk than LDL Cholesterol. A low carb diet also is the best way to raise your HDL Cholesterol (good Cholesterol) Level. Mine more than doubled. Here’s a a scientific study showing a low carbohydrate diet lowers triglycerides and raises HDL Cholesterol. So if you really want to avoid heart disease, go low carb/low sugar!
Sugar is also the root cause of Alzheimer’s. Many researchers are now calling Alzheimer’s disease “Type 3 Diabetes”. Here’s an article that explains why. Sugar is implicated in all kinds of other diseases as well but rather than getting into that now I recommend you listen to leading voice today challenging the Sugar Industry propaganda that sugar “is just harmless energy like any other calorie,” Dr. Robert Lustig, who is a Pediatric Endocrinologist and Professor of Medicine at UCSF Medical School. Here’s what he has to say.
And of course the latest scandal is that in the 1960s the Sugar Industry paid researchers at Harvard to bias a study by emphasizing the weak link between saturated fat and and heart disease while ignoring the strong correlation between sugar and heart disease. This story has been reported by most large news outlets. Just google “sugar industry bribes scientists” and you’ll get several hundred articles on the “smoking gun” documentation they found and which was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Here’s one article.
GRAINS AND STARCHES
Grains and starches include Wheat, corn, oats, rice, millet, potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes including beans (except green beans), peanuts, tapioca and bananas. So why do I list grains and starches as the second great nutritional enemy of good health? It’s true they rarely contain Fructose which is the big enemy. They are all quickly turned into the more benign sugar glucose which almost any cell in our body can burn for energy. The problem is that we didn’t evolve to eat starch except in times of famine. When we eat too many carbohydrates we have no good way to store them. Our bodies can store up to a maximum of around 2000 calories worth of glucose as the human starch glycogen in the liver, kidney and muscles. That’s enough to keep us going for about 24 hours sitting around or 3-4 hours of vigorous activity. If your body becomes “geared” (adapted) to primarily burn carbohydrates all the time because that’s the majority of what you are consuming, when your body does run out of glucose to burn and has to switch to burning it’s own fat for energy, it can’t burn fat nearly as efficiently as a person who rarely eats carbohydrates and whose mitochondria (the little organelles inside every cell in our body that burn carbs, glucose or ketones to produce energy for us) are tuned to burn fat preferentially. People who eat carbs all the time when they can’t get carbs experience weakness, fatigue and carbohydrate craving.
But the problem doesn’t stop there. If the amount of sugar (glucose) in all the blood in your body exceeds about 1 teaspoon your blood sugar will begin to rise above the recommended limit. Why doesn’t our body like to have high blood sugar levels and desperately tries to control the level to a range between 80-100 mg/dl? It’s because glucose is a highly toxic “oxidant” that can irreversibly stick to other chemicals that make up our bodies and particularly likes to stick to proteins which, after water makes up the bulk of our bodies. This is the same chemical process as water rusting iron. Proteins are often not able to do their job properly after they get a sugar molecule stuck on them. This process is called “Noenzymatic Glycation” . Eating just 2 slices of “healthy whole wheat bread” will typically spike the sugar level up to between 140-150 mg/dl about 90 minutes after consuming them. You can easily and inexpensively get a glucose meter and check this yourself, imagine what a “Pop Tart” does. People who are pre-diabetic or diabetic can easily spike 2-3 times this high. During the blood sugar spikes proteins are being ruined by sugar sticking to them all over the body. This is what causes a lot of the major consequences of diabetes like kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage resulting in lost limbs , Alzheimer’s and on and on.
Some people think that if they eat “slow releasing carbs” (low glycemic index carbs) and don’t eat a lot of Fructose containing foods they’ll be fine. The problem with that position is that when you eat too many carbs, more than you can burn off in a few hours, the excess that can’t be stored as glycogen will either be turned into fat or diverted into another metabolic pathway in the liver, kidneys and brain and other organs called “The Polyol Pathway”. In the Polyol Pathway up to 30 percent of those “healthy carbs” you ate get turned into “Public Health Enemy #1” – FRUCTOSE! And it turns out Fructose also causes rusting of proteins by glycation. Still worse Fructose has 8 times the binding affinity for proteins as glucose (much more corrosive). And even worse the Polyol Pathway can go on to convert much of the Fructose to another sugar Sorbitol which the body cannot break down or get out of cells like brain cells, eye lens cells and kidney cells and is thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s, diabetic kidney failure and cataracts.
And finally when a significant (>5%) amount of your daily energy intake comes in the form of carbohydrate, the body has a great deal of trouble regulating the blood sugar levels within the relatively safe 80-100 mg/dl range and often “over corrects” sending blood sugars plummeting. When this happens a person feels, shaky, weak, foggy, tired, hungry for carbohydrates and has difficulty concentrating. Our body’s control mechanisms for sugar then often overreacts spiking the sugar level too high leading to another emergency Insulin release leading to another crash a few hours later. I call this “The Blood Sugar Roller Coaster”. Doctors often call it “Reactive Hypoglycemia”.