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Unexpected facts on... food


Now I have studied food and health thoroughly, and a picture emerges that is scaring. Today's health advice (more or less unchanged for more than 30 years) are a direct cause to the increase in national diseases like coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, cancer, obesity, adult-onset diabetes, allergy, eye diseases, etc. Life has been unnecessary shortened for many, still more people have got a reduced quality of life. Many researchers know it, but their good health advice does not reach the general public via government agencies or media. E.g. the Swedish government has received the following letter, with a very interesting appendix, without any action seen: Missledande kostråd kan förorsaka övervikt och diabetes (Mislead health advice can cause obesity and diabetes).

This far I guess most can agree with me, but you will hardly believe in what I say below. But it is based on numerous research reports that almost all point towards the same direction. I will explain them first briefly, then more thoroughly later and give lots of references. To enter this field like a health detective (I have spent more than 300 hours reading documents during two months in spring 2003) I find more thrilling than reading a detective book. There are both undeliberate and deliberate errors, you need to follow the clues and investigate if proofs are firm. And we are all part of the action, the world's biggest food experiment.
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The three worst (i.e. bad) food advice:

  1. Eat a variety of low fat food.
  2. Let the main energy content be complex carbohydrates, like pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, etc.
  3. Use margarine instead of animal fat.

And here are some good food advice:

  1. Eat a variety of low carbohydrate food (preferably not more than 60 g carbohydrates/day).
  2. Let fat be the main energy content.
  3. Avoid all hardened fats (margarine and many additives).
  4. Avoid all food based on cereals and legumes.
  5. Avoid high amounts of polyunsaturated fats, but small amounts with a high content of omega-3 fat are good, e.g. fat fish captured in the wild (eel, mackerel, sardines, salmon, trout and herring).
  6. Avoid artificial sweeteners in drinks.
  7. You should probably avoid milk, but whip cream and butter are OK.
  8. Fish, eggs, meat, nuts, non-starchy vegetables, butter, cream and not too sweet fruits and berries can be included in healthy meals.

Some additional health advice:

  1. Don't smoke.
  2. Make a long walk (about 2 hours) every second week or more and not immediately after a meal.
  3. Eat relaxed, don't stress.


The above advice somewhat simplified: Eat less carbohydrates and more fat (not spreads, though). That is easy to remember.


Regarding 3 and 6: Margarine is manufactured from polyunsaturated vegetable oil. But we want a more firm consistency, so they harden it. They use heat and a nickel catalyst to add hydrogen to the fat chains. Some of the fat thus created turns into trans-fat, which has a geometry different from natural fats. Enzymes in your body are, like all enzymes, very dependent on molecular geometry. So they don't recognize trans-fat and it is not handled normally. Damaged trans-fat in cell membranes is not replaced when needed and fat based hormones don't get the intended effect. Research shows an increased risk of arteriosclerosis, diabetes, allergy, breast and prostate cancer.

There are also residues of nickel and other contaminations from the manufacturing and the heating damages antioxidants and other useful ingredients that originally were in the oil. Margarine contains no useful nutrients in it; butter is a better choice (there is, however, a small amount of trans-fat also in butter; but the types of isomers that are found in the ruminant fats behave in a very different way from those found in the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils; the contents difference can be seen on page 9 and 15 in The influence of trans fatty acids on health ). Butter contains many useful vitamins and minerals and animal saturated fat do not cause diseases. On the contrary, more saturated fat causes less arteriosclerosis and logically less risk for premature death. According to the Danish report above, if you eat trans fatty acids (e.g. pop corn, cakes and margarine) you are ten times more likely to get CHD diseases compared to those that eat saturated fats; also the risk to develop allergy and diabetes was higher. Enligt den danska rapporten ovan löper den som äter transfett (t.ex. popcorn, kakor och tidigare margarin) 10 gånger högre risk att få hjärt- kärlproblem jämfört med dem som äter mättat fett, även risken för allergi och diabetes är högre.

In Sweden, producers of spreads have been good in reducing the trans-fat content from earlier high levels, see table (they use a mixture of saturated and polyunsaturated fats instead of hardening). Industrial margarine and frying oils still have high levels, which affect many fried or baked products, like chips, fried potatoes, cookies and crackers. There may be trans fat in other foods too (e.g. ice cream, muesli); check if the contents label says hardened fat or vegetable oil but the product is not oily.

The high content of omega-6 fat in margarine and spreads clearly is unhealthy and the most important cause to many of our national diseases, see 8 below.

Regarding 8: High amounts of polyunsaturated fats suppress the immune system. It has because of that been given to patients to avoid tissue rejection after an organ transplant. But the cancer frequency rose several times, see: POLYUNSATURATED OILS AND CANCER. Cooking oils, margarine and spreads contains lots of polyunsaturated fats.

However, usually (nowadays) we get too little of the omega-3 (or n-3) fat. You don't need much. You get it from fat fish captured in the wild (2-4 meals per week suggested) and flaxseed, hemp seed, canola, olive oil, walnuts, also butter and beef ( if cows have been grass fed, e.g. Skånskt Naturbeteskött, Gröna gårdar or Naturkött ). However, some doubts on canola, see: The Great Con-ola. Canola and other oils are also often used to make cheap olive oil. Deficiency in omega-3 fats or other essential fats (probably already in mothers) is believed to increase the risk of Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder in children.

Later research has shown that the ratio of omega-6 fat / omega-3 fat that has a big effect on health. It should be between 3:1 - 1:1 (western diet has about 15:1). Our body can only use 0.2 - 15 % of short chain omega-3 fat (the only type that exists in plants). High content of omega-3 fat exists mainly in fat fish. Too little omega-3 fat can cause diseases like atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, inflammatory disease, allergy, MS, diabetes type 1, psoriasis, depression, ADHD, Alzheimer, etc.

Polyunsaturated fats easily get oxidized (rancid), even inside the body. Then free radicals are created that damage nearby cells. Because of that vitamin E or other antioxidant should always be used together with it (always present in the original product, but lost when processed). Heat, light and oxygen accelerate the process, so it is important to keep the oil cool, in the dark and minimize air exposure.

To prevent getting oxidized fat, never use unsaturated fat for frying or deep-frying. Butter or coconut oil is best for this use.

Regarding 7: Cereals, rice, corn, beans, peas and soy contains "anti nutrients", i.e. substances that inhibit the uptake of nutrients that is in the food. The worst one is phytate, which inhibits uptake of calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and other important metals. Uptake of biotin is also suppressed and causes ridged nails. Cereals also contain lectins that can cause the body's immune system to attack its own cells, which causes rheumatism. Can also cause allergy. The fat content of this group of foods also has too high ratio of omega-6 fat compared to omega-3 fat. This high ratio is also reflected in meat and eggs from grain or soy fed animals.

Regarding 1, 2, 4 and 5: Food consists mainly of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. We eat food for two reasons (besides it tastes good): To get building parts to build and maintain the cells of our body and to get energy.

Proteins are needed to maintain our muscles, including our heart, enzymes and hormones, but it is inefficient to use it as an energy source. They consist of amino acids and our body uses about 20 kinds as building parts. Eight of these are essential, our food must have them and in suitable ratios. If one or more of them is missing in a meal, the protein cannot be used as building parts but just for energy. Animal proteins are always complete whereas many plant proteins are missing some of the essential proteins. So using plants as a protein source, you have to mix several for each meal to get all required amino acids.

Fats of different kinds we need to build cell membranes and hormones, but it is also a good source for energy. Fat consists of fatty acids. They can be saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Saturated fats are stable (don't oxidize or get rancid) whereas polyunsaturated are very unstable; in nature they come together with antioxidants to protect them. We need a suitable mixture of all three kinds so our cell membranes get the right flexibility and permeability. Two of the polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential, we must get them from the food. They are called omega-6 and omega-3 fats. A suitable ratio between them is in the range of 3:1 - 1:1, but in today's food unfortunately it is usually 20:1. Fat is also the carrier of vitamins, minerals and flavors.

Carbohydrates are not used to build up anything, but can be used as an energy source. It is first broken down to sugar and enters the blood stream. There it can be used by our muscles and our brain, the rest is converted to fat and stored away for later use. Food with complex carbohydrates generally causes just as fast a rise in blood sugar as food with simple carbohydrates. But some food (e.g. most fruits) are slower than other food (e.g. bread or potatoes), see GI/GL/II tables below.

Yellow = blood sugar The problem using carbohydrates as the main energy source can be seen in the diagram to the right, the yellow line showing blood sugar as a function of time after a meal. Except for fibers, all carbohydrates are broken down to sugar, which enters the blood. After a carbohydrate-rich meal there will be a big sugar peak that requires high insulin levels to bring sugar down to a normal level (fasting level, the dashed black line). Unfortunately, the insulin level does not decrease as fast as the sugar does. So even after normal sugar level is reached, the conversion to fat continues. This creates a sugar deficiency (orange stripes in the diagram), a dangerous state because the brain cannot live without energy. So we get very hungry and eat again, even though we just stored energy as fat. Again blood sugar and insulin levels increase and it all repeats.

Why doesn't our body convert the just stored energy to sugar when it now is needed, although it has the means to do so? This process is also dependent on the insulin level. When it is low, stored fat is converted to a form that can directly be used by our muscles, and to sugar for our brain. But, as I said, after a carbohydrate-rich meal the insulin level is high for a long time, so no stored fat is converted. In this type of eating, stored fat will never be used. We grow overweight and obese although we often feel hungry.

Another problem with carbohydrate-rich meals is that the body has no built-in feeling of satisfaction when enough energy has been provided by carbohydrates. The only satisfaction feeling is the volume of food, when there is no more space in our stomach, but that goes away quickly. However, for a fat-rich meal it is hard to eat more fat than is needed. When you have eaten enough the satisfaction feeling gets very strong and lasts. Even if you eat more the excess is not used or stored, rather fat burning is increased.

A third problem with carbohydrate-rich meals is that a high level of sugar or insulin in our blood is in itself dangerous. Here is a list of effects: 146 Reasons Why Sugar Is Ruining Your Health . Sugar depresses the immune system. That increases the risk of cancer and to get a virus or bacteria infection. Sugar accelerates aging by attaching to the ends of proteins, which then stop working. High levels of sugar and insulin are a direct cause to arteriosclerosis, CHD and stroke. High insulin level in itself also causes a high blood pressure by inhibiting uptake of magnesium, which is muscle relaxing, also in veins. Some eye diseases get worse by high sugar levels. Sugar can cause mental diseases and epilepsy; even haemorrhoids are caused or made worse by sugar.

The following reference in four parts is a lecture that Ron Rosedale has been giving his students. After a slow start it then turns very interesting: Insulin and Its Metabolic Effects. Formally it is about insulin (he is a diabetes expert), but by and by almost all aspects on how our body handles food is explained. It is told in a way that you don't need to be an expert to understand it. It is a long text, but well worth the two hours it takes to read it. Do so! A better motivation to change food habits is hard to get.

Regarding 9: Already when we feel the sweet taste in our mouth, the insulin production starts in anticipation to the expected sugar uptake. But if it is just artificial sweetness there will be no sugar and the blood sugar level goes too low. That causes us to get hungry and we start to eat. Not the effect we want from a diet-drink. Also see special problems with Aspartame: Aspartame, A Bitter Sweetener. There are risks with other sweeteners too. Even Splenda/Sucralose is bad.

Regarding 10: Those who are lactose intolerant should of course not drink milk. But it also contains lectins that open up back doors in intestine cells, enabling the entrance of substances that can cause allergy, diabetes type 1 and rheumatism. There is also a correlation between milk and osteoporosis, so another reason to stop drink milk: Excessive Calcium Causes Osteoporosis. This is probably due to the high calcium levels depletes the body from magnesium , which is needed for bone rebuilding. Also higher risk for prostate cancer. One more critical article: The Case Against Milk. The only part of milk that doesn't cause problems is fat when not homogenized, so some creams and butter are OK. High milk fat intake decreases the risk of CHD and lowers insulin resistance, according to this investigation.

Regarding 11: You should eat a "normal" amount of protein (15-25 % of calories), as little carbo hydrates as possible and as much fat as possible. The fat should mainly be saturated or monounsaturated. All sorts of spreads and margarines should be avoided.

If you are allergic to any of the suggested foods, you should of course omit those. Nuts, eggs, tomatoes and green peppers are the most common problems. For eggs, it is usually boiled or fried eggs that cause trouble, raw eggs less often.

Recipe suggestions with mostly healthy food (skip those containing soy):

A few tips:

I must emphasize how important it is to eat fat fish because of its high omega-3 fat content. I propose one breakfast a week with sardines in tomato sauce, one lunch a week with mackerel/salmon/herring and one supper a week with pickled herring. And the best fish of all is eel, which you should eat as often as there is an opportunity to. Shrimps, tunas, perch, cod, stockfish, fish balls and fish fingers contains less than 1/10 as much omega-3 fat as the previously mentioned ones, so it would require unreasonable amounts to balance all the omega-6 fat normal food contains (but they do contain more omega-3 than omega-6 fat, so they are still good food).

Also cut down on omega-6 fat as much as possible, like cooking oils, margarine, spreads, soy and cereal foods. Saturated or monosaturated you can eat as needed to get enough calories.

I think that if you eat low carb food six days a week, it doesn't matter much if you eat high carb food once a week, e.g. if you are invited to dinner or going to a restaurant. That is assuming you are not a diabetic or are addicted to carbohydrates and will have problems returning to low carb meals the next day. If possible, choose something with a low GI/GL/II value, see references further down. The risk of getting thrombus or stroke is slightly higher on such a day, but on the other hand it was still higher eating high carb food seven days a week.

It is worth considering that even if you haven't come down to just 60 g carbohydrates per day, any step down from a high value is a big improvement to health. And although you have to skip many kinds of food because they have too much carbs, you can still eat a tasty meal. How about e.g. a 3-dish meal with salad and shrimps for first course, beef with butter, tomatoes and cauliflower for main course and strawberries with cream for dessert. And for snacks nuts are healthy.

Regarding 12: There are firm proofs that smoking damages the body. However, if we use all the good advice given here, the body will more often succeed in repairing the damages. It is more important to stop eating carbs than to stop smoking. Don't try to do both at the same time, it almost always fails. Change food first, and then when you are healthier, stop smoking.

Regarding 13: Every time when we get a sugar peak, and thus an insulin peak, it increases the insulin resistance of the cells. That is, it requires higher and higher insulin levels for it to have any effect. Eventually the required level is so high, it cannot be produced. Then the sugar level goes up permanently and we have become adult-onset diabetics.

But if we go for a walk, and it is not immediately after a meal, then after about half an hour (when the sugar stored in the muscles have been used up) the insulin level will become so low that stored fat will be used for the energy need. That is twofold good: We get rid of some stored fat and the low insulin level decreases insulin resistance. We get a decreased disease risk. This effect has been found to work best using a slow walk; heavy exercise is not as good because then the liver releases sugar into the blood preventing fat burning. If we walk immediately after a meal it takes longer for the fat burning to start, it is best to first wait 1 - 2 hours. Besides walking, bicycling, dancing and other activities with suitable intensity and duration should work too.

To prevent that a trivial thing like a false step may cause a sprained muscle, some fitness exercise is useful. I like TBK:s Bodyweight Exercise Routines, they are easy to do anywhere and don't take much time to do.

Regarding 14: Atherosclerosis starts with a damage of the inner cell layer of the arteries, the endothelium. Factors that have been shown to damage the endothelium include:

If you eat whilst under physical or mental stress, you will have high levels of all the first three factors at the same time. This causes damage and the risk for heart disease can be four times as high compared to eating relaxed and calmly. See: SO, WHAT DOES CAUSE HEART DISEASE?, LDL Cholesterol: Bad Cholesterol, or Bad Science? and WHAT PROTECTS THE FRENCH FROM HEART DISEASE?

Reducing weight

It sounds logical that if we are too fat, we should eat low fat food if we want to loose weight. But chief physician Christer Enkvist writes in a morning paper: "We don't grow fatty by eating fat. Thinking so is as stupid as thinking we get green by eating greens." And, as we saw above: food low in fat means it is relatively high in carbs, causing high insulin levels, which prevents fat burning. So we don't loose weight even if we try. And there is a big risk we don't get all the essential fats needed to maintain a healthy body.

If we reduce both fat and carbs we can reduce weight by starving our body. This is also not a good method. Our body notices that it is bad times and adapts to a low energy economy. It increases nutrial uptake efficiency and stores away energy as often as it can. The metabolism rate goes down (you are not performing well). If energy is still insufficient, it will convert protein from muscles (including our heart) into sugar. It could worst case cause heart failure. Sooner or later we give up and return to old food habits, but after a while we will weigh more than when we started.

Then there is the third method: Eat low carb food with lots of fat and make a long walk now and then. It makes insulin levels go low and gives our body the opportunity to burn stored fat. Everyone that has tried has managed much better than with other methods. The first one to find this out was William Banting already in 1863 (the Swedish verb "banta" is referring to him), see: The Father of the Low-Carbohydrate Diet. Later it has been rediscovered now and then, many books have been written to inform others: Eat Fat And Grow Slim", " Eat Fat, Loose Weight", " Eat Fat, Get Thin", Ät dig ner i vikt!, Fettskrämd, etc. You don't have to count calories, you don't have to be hungry and you loose weight.


There are many reports where diabetic people using low carb eating have been able to drastically decrease the amount of insulin needed and very often can totally stop insulin injection. It should be done with supervision; blood sugar and insulin levels should be monitored. You can't do that yourself and it also has to be correctly interpreted. Here are some references: Therapeutic achievements of the Optimal Nutrition and The evidence that a low-carb, saturated fat diet is better for diabetics.

Diabetes type 1 we often get when young and it causes the body not to be able to produce normal levels of insulin. In such a case it is important to add insulin to prevent blood sugar to raise too high, the amount needed depends mainly on the amount of carbs in the food. Diabetes type 2 we normally get when we grow older and is caused by the cells increased resistance to insulin. In this case we should not add more insulin; the level is already too high and will increase damage. Instead the remedy is more exercise and low carb food. Dr Mercola writes:

"I am constantly amazed at how many type 2 diabetics are placed on insulin to further control their blood sugars by well-intentioned physicians. Unfortunately this uninformed and absurd therapy is a prescription for disaster that will rapidly accelerate the death of virtually anyone who is placed on it. The problem in type 2 diabetes is not that there isn't enough insulin, but that the insulin present doesn't work very well due to impaired insulin receptor sensitivity. So when type 2 diabetics are placed on insulin, their blood sugar drops, but their insulin levels rise. The problem here is that the increased insulin levels increase the diabetic's appetite and they gain even more weight.

The weight gain contributes to a worsening of their insulin receptor dysfunction and their blood sugar continues to rise, thus resulting in higher and higher levels of insulin. The ultimate insanity is giving the type 2 diabetic a pancreatic transplant. Not only does this not solve the problem, but also the diabetic, whose immune system is already impaired, will be placed on immunosuppressive drugs to control the rejection. These costly drugs need to be taken for their entire life and will invariably increase their risk of cancer.

So what is the solution? Fortunately it is quite straightforward. One needs to reduce, not increase insulin levels and this is typically done by radically reducing the foods that cause one to make insulin. This is primarily grains and sugars. Exercise will do wonders to improve the insulin receptor sensitivity, as will omega-3 oils and sleep."


We often hear nowadays that we should reduce the intake of salt to get a lower blood pressure and thus a lower risk of CHD and stroke. But there is no scientific evidence for such an effect. The only investigation that has been done on death risk as a function of salt intake showed the opposite, a slightly decreased risk at higher salt intake.

There is a risk for cancer in the stomach and bone loss with high salt intake; a low intake on hot days can cause heart failure and feebleness. But to decrease salt intake from "normal" to low is controversial and other means have much greater CHD-reducing effect, e.g. more long walks.


One or two glasses of red wine per day makes a lower risk for CHD for elderly people. The reason is probably a combination of antioxidants present in red wine and the effect of alcohol on insulin levels. Also drinking pattern is important, 7 glasses once a week is not as effective as one glass a day. And at 3 or more glasses a day the total disease risk increases. There are probably several reasons; one is that the cancer risk increases with increased alcohol intake. For people younger than 50 years mortality increases already at one glass a day.


If you have read this far, you have learnt all the important things. What follows is advanced info on which the above health advice is based. Go directly to Final Comment at the end. But if you find it interesting, read on, there will be many references. First some info on how to read and interpret documents on health.

On examining documents and proofs

When reading reports on food and health, one must be aware, as I mentioned in the beginning, that there are both undeliberate and deliberate errors.

It happens that a research team gets money to verify that food A causes less CHD risk. When the investigation is done they find that it was true, but also that the cancer risk increased more than the CHD risk decreased. But the last part may be missing from the summary; you have to read the whole report to notice it.

In another case there was a table showing a death risk completely uncorrelated with intake of saturated fat. But when creating a diagram, data was selected from the table to give a nice rising line instead of getting scattered dots all over.

It is not uncommon to investigate the effect of eating more of food A and B. If it shows positive health effects, then both manufacturer of food A and manufacturer of food B can say that their food contributed to better health. In reality, it could be that A was very positive but B slightly negative, together it became positive.

And if you increase A and B, then either total calories increases or you have to decrease C. Maybe that was what caused the most effects.

To make objective investigations they should be double blind (neither researcher nor the test person knows who gets which substance). But that is hard when it comes to food: "Eat this now and you will not be told if it is beef or pasta".

That cows' milk is not good for humans is often motivated by the reason that it was never intended for humans, only for the calf, and thus must be unsuitable for us. It is probable that it is unsuitable for us, but not because of that "proof". If so, eating egg yolks should also be unsuitable for us, because it was intended for the chickens, and we are not chickens. But in reality the egg yolk is the most perfect food of all (if hens have been eating grass and worms instead of cereal food, in Sweden KRAV-labeled are closest, also omega-3-eggs are good). It contains all essential proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins in suitable amounts, only vitamin C is missing.

Some more opinions on investigations: The Soft Science of Dietary Fat and a recently done proof examination: DOES ANIMAL FAT REALLY CAUSE CANCER? A critical report on bad peer review function: Bias in Recent Papers on Diets and Drugs in Peer-Reviewed Medical Journals. And a general study: Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.

Indicator level or death risk

A very common error, probably unintentional, occurs the following way:

What we really want to measure is premature death risk or number of disease cases. But that is expensive, we need to observe many people and during a long time to get significant results. What is often done instead is to use an indicator from such a big investigation and then adding new inexpensive measurements on how to affect this indicator.

Example: A big investigation has shown that both blood cholesterol level and death risk increases when smoking. Same for overweight. Then an investigation is done on the effect of polyunsaturated fat on the cholesterol level. And yes, more PUF reduces the cholesterol level a little. This is an inexpensive finding; it is easy to measure cholesterol levels in the blood after just a few weeks. Then when more money is available and the death rate is also measured, they find that, whoops, cholesterol level decreased but death rate went up. How could that be? Earlier test did show positive correlation with cholesterol level and death risk.

To explain this we use a simulated example where we measure things everybody can understand. We assume that it is easy and inexpensive to measure firemen density in an area and it is expensive to measure damage cost caused by fire. But there has been a big investigation done that found a positive correlation, the more damage in an area the more firemen there have been. Then three research teams start investigations on how firemen density can be affected. Team A varies their salary and finds a positive correlation, lower salary means fewer firemen. Team B changes the number of fire engines, and finds a similar positive correlation. There is no living journalist that can resist the temptation to write an article on how researchers now have found means to reduce fire damage by reducing salaries and fire engines. Team C changes the number of fire warning devices and finds that it requires more devices to see fewer firemen in an area. Then all three teams get more money and can measure cost of fire damage too. Team A and B find that their advice was totally wrong, it caused fewer firemen but higher damage cost. The advice from team C happened to be right; fewer firemen also meant lower damage.

From this we learn that firemen are just an indicator, they arrive to the area because there are fires but they did not start the fires. In the same way, cholesterol is just an indicator, not the primary cause of CHD. There are lots of cholesterol in the cell membranes, and if it gets damaged cholesterol is needed to repair it. If you throttle the creation of cholesterol, then some cells will not be repaired and death rate increases.

Blood pressure is probably also just an indicator, not the primary cause of CHD. To decrease blood pressure via a lower insulin level from more exercise decreases CHD risk, but decreasing pressure by eating less salt does not seem to have any benefit.

I'm astonished of that about 80% of all reports I've seen have just measured some indicator in the blood. True, they are inexpensive to produce, but a lot of money is thrown away for very little use. If the indicator level decreases, how would you know if it is because of lower need or throttled creation? You don't, you have to ignore the report. But it can very well already have been copied and cited a 1000 times, almost making it true. That is why I think health detective and proof examination are notions that suit.

The investigation starts

The old pyramid My interest in food matters started with an article in Scientific American, which I subscribe to since long ago. It was named "Rebuilding the Food Pyramid" and effectively turned the current food pyramid upside down. The food pyramid, see picture to the right, is rather ingenious. At the wide base are things we should eat a lot of and at the top things we should eat just a little. The gist of the article was that white bread, rice, potatoes and pasta went from the bottom to the top and different fats from the top to the bottom, see picture below (click on the image below to read the full article).
Articel on the new pyramid

Book review Then in May 2003 I happened to see an interview in Swedish television with Göran Burenhult, who is an archaeologist at Gotland University, but he has also investigated the life of now living hunter-gatherers. Almost the whole interview was about food and life style, like this (Swedish) article: Ta ditt hälsoansvar! He has also written a book, Det ofullkomliga djuret (The imperfect animal), that I bought. An excerpt on food from the book is here: Vilken föda är vi biologiskt anpassade till att äta? (What foods are we biologically adapted to eat?). What has struck Burenhult is that hunter-gatherers don't have any of our modern diseases even if they become very old. Elderly people participate in all activities without problems until one day they get an infection and die after a week without any painful disease.

Bone remains show that from being big and healthy, after the start of agriculture people became shorter and got more diseases. Burenhult, and other spokesmen for paleodiet, conclude that all new food types introduced by agriculture must be bad. That is cereals, rice, legumes, milk, butter, cheese, sugar, salt, spices, etc. I, as a health detective, think it just means that the old food was good and that something in the new food is bad (it may be all the new food types).

There is also some disagreement on the content of typical food used by hunter-gatherers. Those Burenhult has studied eat a lot of vegetables and a little meat, while other groups eat a lot of meat and preferably guts and grease, including brain, marrow and lard. However, everyone agrees that they did not eat any of the new food types introduced by agriculture.

They get suitable exercise when they walk long paths hunting, bring home preys and climb up trees for coconuts.

Recent detrimental impact on food

In the latest 100 years many diseases have increased in frequency as a result of industrializing food production and well meant political initiatives, which was founded on faith instead of scientific facts. See: Top Ten Historical Events That Created Our Current Health and Nutritional Quagmire

Continued investigation

Searching for paleodiet gave many interesting links.
Here is an international list of links: links.

Calculators for ideal weight and percent fat:

Glycemic index, GI. Explanation and tables:

Doctors/experts/authors with web sites or books:

People eating or loosing weight the low carb way:

Articles, interviews, lectures:

Links to research reports on food and health and exercise:


After reading all of the above documents, and many of those they refer to, a picture emerges that shows that our health depends on our food much more than people are aware of. Unfortunately, the health advice we get from government agencies and media are not the best.

Research shows that paleodiet based food is beneficial for all, children, grown-ups and elderly. It greatly reduces the risk of getting our common diseases. Those that already got diseases, e.g. those with obesity, diabetes, rheumatism, MS, etc., often become better or even recover fully. The reason paleodiet type of food reduces or prevents so many different diseases is because it is the kind of food that we are genetically adapted to. We have not yet adapted to the new food types introduced by agriculture about 10'000 years ago. Unfortunately there are many that still are skeptical to low carb eating and there are also many misunderstandings about it.

If everybody started eating paleodiet food I think there would be some problems to pay pension to all long living pensioners. But costs for hospital treatment and drugs would decrease enormously, so there will probably be a net gain. And most important, quality of life would increase for everybody.

Although not knowing the paleodiet benefits, I myself made a few steps in the right direction 15 years ago. I quit eating bread for breakfast, lunch and in the evening, also started to eat three fruits every evening. And I have always made long walks every week. That can be the reason that despite my age I have a low value of "bad" cholesterol and a high value of "good" cholesterol. My blood pressure, though, has increased from a low to a normal value. That indicates an increasing insulin resistance, surely because there were still grains, legumes and sugar in my food. I will now successively go the remaining steps towards a full paleodiet type of eating. May goal is that for the rest of my life always be able to participate in all activities without impairment from diseases.

Changes to the food consumption I've done are

That seems to be a certain increase of the calorie intake and I have never felt hungry, so it is interesting that I despite this have lost weight. It shows that my body just use as much of the fat that it needs.

Status after 1.5 years with low carb food is that I initially lost 2 kg and then have been keeping that weight, 63 kg and 174 cm for a long while. I have had to punch 3 new holes in my belts. Lately I have gained some weight, but without changing holes in my belts. It is muscles that have gained. It has increased my jogging speed and I'm down to times that I had 13 years ago (seen to physical performance I grow younger by the time :-) Three years ago I became more farsighted than I was before, now I'm back to my former nearsightednes. My haemorrhoids have giving me trouble several times a month for many years, but now I've had no trouble at all. I get fewer colds than before.

low carb icon I would like to have an icon put on low carb food. Think it would make it more interesting for food companies to release low carb food products. I think a suitable symbol is an hour glass. It is easy to recognize, has a thin waist which is what you get eating such food. It also indicates time and you don't get hungry as fast as with high carb food. The question is which authority is to award and control such icon permits and exactly what the requirements on the food are. Is the food better than other of the same type or should it be a content limit (maybe different for different food types)? I definitely don't want this icon on artificial low carb food with removed fat and added soy ( soy is neither good for your health nor for the environment). What requirements would facilitate your food buying the most? Please submit your suggestions to my email address below.


Jan Engvald
( health detective :-)

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XJE The above text is educational information only, not medical advice.
This page last changed 2006-04-30. Originally written 2003-07-22.
Email: Jan.Engvald`at`   (change `at` to @).
Copyright © 2003-2006 Jan Engvald. May be copied if source is stated.