The Low Fat Hypothesis Busted
Mammals Eat Different Foods, But The Same Diet!
I used to buy into the low fat hypothesis, because it was so wide spread. When reading conflicting information it is difficult to decide whether it is true, because most of us lack the educational background to fully understand. Going to school and studying alternative medicine was extremely rewarding. I was fortunate that one of my teachers was very thorough in providing a balanced view point above and beyond the class curriculum. This has prompted many good reads, which have clarified some concepts and allowed for a fuller understanding of what and why.
A recent read was very revealing in elaborating on the mammalian macronutrient ratio. No matter what native foods are consumed, the ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fat is very similar after digestion in all omnivores, herbivores and carnivores. The ratios range between: 0% to 16% carbohydrates; 15% to 25% protein; 56% to 77% saturated and monounsaturated fats; 1% to 14% polyunsaturated fats.
A cow grazing on pastures almost exclusively consumes carbohydrates in the form of fiber, but the bacteria in their digestive system ferments every single carbohydrate calorie. As a by-product the bacteria releases short chain fatty acids which are similar to butter and olive oil. At least 70% of the energy supply is provided through these fats. That’s right, cows mostly eat fat. By contrast feeding cows an unnatural high starch diet of grain and/or corn instead of the fibrous grasses is detrimental to their health. Instead of staying healthy and trim, cows quickly fatten and get sick. Treated with growth hormones a steer puts on its ideal slaughter weight within 14 months versus four years on their native grass fed diet. This of course saves the growers money, which is passed on to the consumer by keeping the price of beef low. However the high starch feed slurry which cannot be properly fermented by bacteria into fatty acids, doesn’t just fatten cattle, it causes obesity, fatty liver and even bovine type two diabetes. These cattle are under stress and sick from trying to adjust to an unnatural diet. The problem may further be exaggerated by an unnatural environment such as crowding in stalls and standing in their own feces. This situation often requires regular use of antibiotics to stave off illness and infection. Raising cows in an unnatural environment (including dietary changes) creates many health problems.
Although Gorillas are primates, they have evolved as herbivores and are also no different in the macro nutrient ratio. At least 60% of their calories also come from fats, similarly released by bacteria after fermentation of plant fiber. Once again you’ve read correctly, even though Gorillas exclusively eat carbohydrates, the end product consumed is fat. Gorillas have large guts with a very large and long colon, to accommodate the bacteria required for the fermentation process, much larger than that of humans. These plant fibers are consumed after foraging for leaves, shoots, stems and fruit.
As omnivores, humans may consume a wide variety of foods. Our digestive system however does not have the same ability to transform plant fiber to fats and therefore requires us to consume fats. Similar to cattle, a diet high in starches and sugars may cause chronically elevated insulin, fatty liver, obesity and may further lead to a host of chronic illness such as heart disease, type two diabetes, cancer etc. We can survive on many different food choices, but to remain healthy we require a good ratio of quality carbohydrates, protein and especially fats.
Combining the observational history of native diets from many cultures with recent research of mammalian diet, seems to suggest that the best diet for humans would comprise predominantly of fats. To be precise around 65% of all calories should come from different types of fats, especially saturated as found in butter and coconut oil. In view of these combined findings it looks like a low-fat diet is not desirable, and in fact may be damaging to our health