- Before the 1900s, fewer than 10 Americans suffered heart attacks in any given year. Today, it’s the leading cause of death. Cancer deaths were also much lower. Pre-1900, fewer than 1 in 100 of Americans died from cancer, and today, cancer kills 1 in 3.
- Diet is a key strategy that can make or break your health. Rather than attempting to list everything you need to include in a healthy diet, it’s far easier to identify and eliminate the dietary components that do the most harm
- Linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fat, is by far the most damaging ingredient in the modern diet. Excessive LA intake — in the form of industrial seed oils — is responsible for most chronic diseases, including obesity, cancer and heart disease
- As a general rule, anything over 10 grams of LA a day is likely to cause problems. The lower the better, but a reasonable goal for most people is to get your level below 5 grams per day
- Fats to be avoided include cottonseed oil, canola, corn, soybean, safflower and sunflower oil. Use avocado oil and olive oil in moderation, and only if you can ensure it hasn’t been adulterated with industrial seed oil. Healthy cooking fats include coconut oil, tallow, organic grass fed butter, ghee, duck fat and organic lard
- Conventional chicken and pork are both loaded with LA due to being fed high-LA grains. This is why I don’t recommend either as a protein source.
- Grass fed beef is relatively low in LA, but lowest of all are bison and lamb
- Diet is, as you might expect, a key strategy that can make or break your health (and your tolerance for stress). The Paleo diet, which has gained popularity over the years, essentially strives to mimic the diet our ancestors ate during the Paleolithic era. But we don’t actually have to go that far back.Merely turning back the dial about 150 years will do. That’s when industrial food processing began. That’s also when industrial processed seed oils (aka, vegetable oils) were introduced as a replacement to healthy animal fats like lard and tallow, which had previously been the norm.
The first commercial food seed oil to be introduced was cottonseed oil — a waste product from cotton production. That was the primary ingredient of Crisco. Prior to the 1900s, only 1% to 2% of daily calories came from omega-6 fats, the primary one of which is linoleic acid (LA). Today, the average intake is 10 times that.
Like omega-3, LA is a polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), but unlike omega-3, LA, when consumed in excess, acts as a metabolic poison. Anything above 4% of your daily calories is likely to cause problems.
Importantly, LA is in virtually all foods, so it’s near-impossible to be deficient. This is why I disagree with claims that LA is an essential fat. You need very little of it, and you’re getting it from most whole foods. If you eat processed foods made with seed oils, you’re bound to get far too much and will suffer adverse health consequences.
Before the 1900s, fewer than 10 Americans suffered heart attacks in any given year. Today, it’s the leading cause of death. Cancer deaths were also much lower. Pre-1900, fewer than 1 in 100 of Americans died from cancer, and today, cancer kills 1 in 3.
Most health-minded experts still believe the primary cause for these trends is sugar, but LA is far more dangerous than sugar, from a metabolic perspective. I’m convinced it’s really the massively excessive amounts of LA in our modern diet that drives these metabolic diseases.
Looking at statistics of seed oil consumption and chronic diseases such as obesity, cancer and heart disease, these trends all rise in tandem, even in areas where sugar consumption has remained extremely low well into the modern era. Another major difference between sugar and seed oils that demonstrate the superior risks of seed oils is this:
Sugar, when consumed in excess over time will result in insulin resistance and metabolic inflexibility. However, if you cut out sugar, you can rather rapidly restore both your insulin sensitivity and metabolic flexibility, because your body can only store about a day’s worth of glucose.
Not so with fat. Your body can store a lot of it, for long periods of time. LA is literally incorporated into and stored in your cell membranes, where it can remain for seven years. So, even if you go on a low-LA diet, it’ll take years to fully clear it out of your body. This also means you won’t notice improvements in your health as quickly as you do when cutting out sugar.
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