9 Steps to Perfect Health – #2: Nourish Your Body

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In step #1, we talked about what not to eat. In this article, we’ll talk about what to eat.

Most of the calories we get from food come from protein, carbohydrates and fat. These are referred to as macronutrients. We also get other important nutrients from food, such as vitamins and minerals. These don’t constitute a significant source of calories, so they’re called micronutrients.

For the last 50 years we’ve been told to follow a diet low in this or that macronutrient. From the 1950s up until the present day the American Heart Association and other similarly misguided and pharmaceutically-financed “consumer organizations” have advocated a low-fat diet. More recently, low-carbohydrate diets are all the rage.

Not all macronutrients are created equal

The problem with these approaches is that they ignore the fact that not all macronutrients are created equal. There’s a tremendous variation in how different fats and carbohydrates affect the body, and thus in their suitability for human consumption. Grouping them all together in a single category is shortsighted – to say the least.

What many advocates of low-fat or low-carbohydrate diets conveniently ignore is that there are entire groups of people around the world, both past and present, that defy their ideas of what constitutes a healthy diet.

For example, the low-fat crowd will tell you that eating too much fat – especially of the saturated variety – will make you fat and give you a heart attack. Tell that to the traditional Inuit, who get about 90% of calories from fat, and were almost entirely free of obesity and modern degenerative disease. The same is true for the Masai tribe in Africa, who get about 60-70% of calories from fat (almost entirely from meat, milk or blood.) And then there’s the modern French, who have the lowest rate of heart disease of any industrialized country in the world – despite the highest intake of saturated fat.

The low-carb crowd is very much aware of these statistics, which are often used in defense of low-carb diets as the best choice. Tell that to the Kitavans in Melanesia, who get about 70% of calories from carbohydrate and, like the Inuit and Masai, are almost entirely free of obesity, heart disease and other chronic, degenerative diseases that are so common in industrialized societies. We see a similar absence of modern diseases in the Kuna indians in Panama and the Okinawans of Japan, two other healthy indigenous populations that get about 65% of calories from carbohydrate.

These rather inconvenient exceptions to the low-fat and low-carb dogma vigorously promoted by advocates of both approaches show us that humans can in fact thrive on a wide range of macronutrient ratios, ranging from extremely high fat (Inuit, Masai) to very high carb (Kitavans, Kuna & Okinawans). They also hint at the idea that perhaps not all carbohydrates are the same in terms of their effects on human health.

Human fuel: food that nourishes the body

We need to shift away from the idea of macronutrients – as Dr. Kurt Harris of PaleoNu recently suggested – and move towards the idea of nourishment or fuel. This means we classify foods not based on their macronutrient ratios, but on their ability to provide the energy and nutrition the body needs to function optimally.

Gasoline and diesel are both fuel that cars can run on. If you put gasoline in a diesel engine, or vice versa, the engine may run but it won’t run well – or for very long. In a similar way, the human body can run on the entire range of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. But it runs much better on the ones it was designed to run on, and if you put too much of the others in, the body will eventually break down.

With this classification in mind, let’s look primarily at how the different types of fat and carbohydrate (our primary sources of energy) affect us, and which of them we should choose as our preferred “human fuel”.

Know your fats

LONG-CHAIN SATURATED FAT
We’ll begin with long-chain, saturated fats (LCSFA): myristic, palmitic and stearic acid. These fats are found mostly in the milk and meat of ruminant animals like cattle and sheep. They form the core structural fats in the body, comprising 75-80% of fatty acids in most cells, and they’re the primary storage form of energy for humans. In other words, when the body stores excess energy from food for later use, it stores it primarily as long-chain saturated fat.

Unlike polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) and carbohydrates like glucose and fructose, saturated fats have no known toxicity – even at very high doses – presuming insulin levels are in a normal range. Long-chain saturated fats are more easily burned as energy than PUFA. The process of converting saturated fat into energy the body can use leaves no toxic byproducts. In fact, it leaves nothing but carbon dioxide and water.

This means that, assuming you are metabolically healthy, you can eat as much saturated fat as you’d like without adverse consequences. I’m sure this will come as a surprise to many of you, since we’ve been collectively brainwashed for 50 years to believe that saturated fat makes us fat and causes heart disease. If you still believe this is true, watch these two videos (1 and 2) and read all of the articles in my special report on cholesterol, fat and heart disease.

Verdict: eat as much as you’d like. The majority of the fats you consume should be LCSFA.

MEDIUM-CHAIN TRIGLYCERIDES
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are another type of saturated fat. They’re found in coconut and in mother’s milk, and they have unusual properties. They’re metabolized differently than long-chain saturated fats; they don’t require bile acids for digestion and they pass directly to the liver via the portal vein. This makes MCTs a great source of easily digestible energy. They’re so easy to digest, in fact, that they’re used in the liquid hospital formulas fed to patients that have had sections of their intestine removed and aren’t able to digest solid food.

In addition to being a good energy source, MCTs have therapeutic properties. They’re high in lauric acid, a fat found in mother’s milk that has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and antioxidant properties.

Verdict: eat as much as you’d like. Coconut oil is an especially good cooking fat, because it is not vulnerable to the oxidative damage that occurs with high-heat cooking using other fats.

MONOUNSATURATED FAT
Monounsaturated fat (MFA), or oleic acid, is found primarily in beef, olive oil, avocados, lard and certain nuts like macadamias. Like saturated fats, MFA form the core structural fats of the body and are non-toxic even at high doses. Interestingly, monounsaturated fats seem to be the only fats that typically fat-phobic groups like the AHA and fat-friendly groups like Atkins and other low-carbers can agree are completely healthy.

Verdict: eat as much as you’d like. But be aware that certain foods that are high in monounsaturated fats, like nuts and avocados, can contain significant amounts of the dreaded omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, which we’ll discuss below. Exercise caution.

These three fats – long-chain saturated, medium chain triglycerides and monounsaturated – should form the bulk of your fat intake. In addition to their lack of toxicity, eating these fats will:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease by raising your HDL, lowering your triglycerides and reducing levels of small, dense LDL (a type of LDL associated with a higher risk of heart disease). If you don’t believe me, read this.
  • Increase muscle mass. Muscle is composed of equal weights of fat and protein.
  • Stabilize your energy and mood. Fat provides a steadier supply of energy throughout the day than carbohydrate, which can cause fluctuations in blood sugar.

POLYUNSATURATED FAT: OMEGA-6 & OMEGA-3
Polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) can be subdivided into omega-6 and omega-3. PUFA are fragile and vulnerable to oxidative damage, a process that creates free radicals in the body and raises our risk for everything from heart disease to cancer. As I pointed out in Step #1: Don’t Eat Toxins, both anthropological and modern research suggest that for optimal health we should consume roughly the same amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fat (1:1 ratio), and that our total intake of PUFA should be no more than 4% of calories.

But Americans’ omega-6:omega-3 ratio today ranges from 10:1 to 20:1, with a ratio as high as 25:1 in some individuals! This means some people are eating as much as 25 times the recommended amount of omega-6 fat. And it is this excess consumption of omega-6 PUFA – not cholesterol and saturated fat – that is responsible for the modern epidemics of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disease and more.

Omega-6 PUFA (linoleic acid, or LA) is found in small or moderate amounts of a wide variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, cereal grains and meat. But it is found in very large amounts in industrial processed and refined oils, like soybean, cottonseed, corn, safflower and sunflower. These oils are ubiquitous in the modern diet, present in everything from salad dressing to chips and crackers to restaurant food. LA is also relatively high in most nuts and in all poultry, especially in dark meat with skin.

Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid. This means it is required for proper function but cannot be produced in the body, and thus must be obtained from the diet. However, the amount of omega-6 that is needed is exceedingly small: less than 0.5 percent of calories when supplied by most animal fats and less than 0.12 percent of calories when supplied by liver. When consumed in excess amounts – as is almost always the case in industrialized countries like the U.S. – omega-6 contributes to all of the diseases mentioned above.

Omega-3 PUFA can be further subdivided into short-chain (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA) and long-chain (EPA & DHA). ALA is found in plant foods like walnut and flax, whereas EPA & DHA is found in seafood and to a lesser extent the meat and fat of ruminant animals.

While ALA is considered essential, the long-chain EPA & DHA are responsible for the benefits we get from eating omega-3 fats, and they form the denominator of the omega-6:omega-3 ratio. A common misconception is that we can meet our omega-3 needs by taking flax oil or eating plant foods containing ALA. It’s true that the body can convert some ALA to EPA & DHA. But that conversion is extremely inefficient in most people. On average, less than 0.5% of ALA gets converted into the long-chain EPA & DHA, and that number is even worse in people that are chronically ill or have nutrient deficiencies (common in vegans and vegetarians).

This means that it is probably EPA & DHA that are essential, in the sense that they are crucial for proper function but cannot be produced in adequate amounts in the body, and thus must be obtained from the diet. Of the two, evidence suggests that DHA plays the more important role.

Verdict: for optimal health, eat no more than 4% of calories (about 9g/d for a 2,000 calorie diet) of polyunsaturated fat, with an equal amount of omega-6 and omega-3. Make sure the omega-3 you eat is long-chain EPA & DHA (from seafood and animal sources) rather than short-chain ALA from plant sources like flax. It is very difficult to limit omega-6 to 4.5g/day. See this article for tips.

TRANS-FATS
There are two types of trans-fats: natural (NTF), and artificial (ATF). The primary natural trans-fat, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is found in small amounts (about 2%) in the meat, fat and dairy fat of ruminant animals. CLA does not have the harmful effects of ATFs, and may have anti-cancer properties and other benefits.

Artificial trans-fats have been linked with a variety of diseases. I think most people are aware of this, so I’m not going to belabor the point. We’ve still got carbs to talk about.

Verdict: avoid artificial trans-fats like the plague. Natural trans-fats like CLA are harmless and probably even beneficial, but as long as you’re eating long-chain saturated fats, you’ll get CLA. You don’t have to go out of your way to find it.

SUMMARY OF FATS
Long-chain saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and medium chain triglycerides should form the bulk of your fat intake. Long-chain omega-3 fats (EPA & DHA) should be consumed regularly, while omega-6 LA should be dramatically reduced. Click on the fat pyramid below for a graphic representation.

Know your carbs

Carbohydrates are broken down into either indigestible fiber, glucose or fructose. Let’s discuss the suitability of each of these as human fuel.

Glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar (monosaccharide) found mostly in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, starchy tubers and grains. It has three main uses in the body:

  • It forms structural molecules call glycoproteins;
  • Like fat, it is a source of energy for cells (especially in the brain); and,
  • it’s a precursor to compounds that play an important role in the immune system.

Glucose preceded fatty acids as a fuel source for living organisms by a very long time, and it is the building block of foods that have the longest evolutionary history of use by mammals like us. The fact that glucose can be produced in the body from protein is often used as an argument that we don’t need to eat it in the diet. But I agree with Dr. Harris’s interpretation that, rather than viewing this as evidence that that glucose isn’t important, we should view it as evidence that glucose is so metabolically essential that we evolved a mechanism to produce it even in its absence in the diet.

One of the few differences between our digestive tract and that of a true carnivore, like a lion, is that we produce an enzyme called amylase. Amylase allows us to digest starch – a long-chain polymer of glucose molecules we can’t absorb – into single molecules of glucose that easily pass through the gut wall into the bloodstream.

Presuming we are metabolically healthy, the glucose and starch we eat is digested and rapidly cleared by the liver and muscle cells. It is only when the metabolism is damaged – usually by years of eating toxins like refined cereal grains, industrial seed oils and fructose – that excess glucose is not properly cleared and leads to insulin resistance and diabetes.

Verdict: the range of glucose that is tolerated varies widely across populations and individuals. Assuming no metabolic problems and an active lifestyle, glucose may be consumed relatively freely. However, many people today do have some form of metabolic dysfunction, and live a sedentary lifestyle. If you fall into this category, glucose should probably be limited to 400 calories (about 100g) of glucose per day.

Fructose
Fructose is another simple sugar found primarily in fruits and vegetables. While it has the same chemical formula and caloric content as glucose, it has an entirely different effect on the body.

As I pointed out in Step #1: Don’t Eat Toxins, fructose is toxic at high doses. It damages proteins in a process called fructation, which disrupts metabolic function and causes inflammation and oxidative damage. To prevent this, fructose is shunted directly to the liver for conversion into glucose or innocuous fats. But this process damages the liver over time, leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (which one in three Americans now suffer from) and metabolic syndrome.

Another issue is that excess fructose is not well absorbed in the gut, which in turn leads to its rapid fermentation by bacteria in the colon or abnormal overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. Small-bowel bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is now believed to be the major cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common functional bowel disorder that is the second-leading cause of people missing work behind only the common cold.

Most people without metabolic dysfunction can handle small amounts of fructose (as found in a few servings of fruit per day) without problems. But on the scale that fructose is consumed in the U.S. – including 64 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup per person each year on average – fructose wreaks havoc on the body. It should therefore be limited as a source of carbohydrate.

Verdict: 3-4 servings a day of fruit is fine for people without metabolic problems. Those with fatty liver, insulin resistance or other issues should further limit fructose intake, and everyone should avoid high-fructose corn syrup and other concentrated sources like agave syrup.

Fiber
Fiber is plant matter that is indigestible to humans. But although we can’t digest it, some of the 100 trillion bacteria that live in our gut can. In fact, up to 10% of the body’s caloric needs can be met by the conversion of glucose into short-chain fats like butyrate, propionate and acetate by intestinal bacteria. These short-chain fats are the primary energy source for intestinal cells in the colon, and butyrate in particular has been associated with several benefits. These are outlined in The Perfect Health Diet, by Paul & Shou-Ching Jaminet. Butyrate:

  • Prevents obesity.
  • Heals the intestine.
  • Improves gut barrier integrity.
  • Relieves constipation.
  • Improves cardiovascular markers.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Stabilizes blood sugar.

The evidence clearly suggests that vegetable fiber is beneficial. However, just as not all fats are created equal, not all fiber is created equal. Grain fiber – which the AHA and other so-called “heart healthy” organizations have been promoting for decades – is toxic for two reasons: it contains toxic proteins like gluten, and it is prone to injure the intestinal wall.

We’ve been bullied into believing that grain fiber prevents heart disease and provides numerous health benefits. But this claim has only been tested in a single clinical trial, and the results were less than spectacular. The Diet and Reinfarction Trial, published in 1989, included 2,033 British men who had suffered a heart attack, and compared a high-fiber group with a control group. The high-fiber group ate whole grains and doubled their grain fiber intake from 9 to 17 grams per day.

How did that work out for them? Not too well. Deaths in the high fiber group were 22% higher over the two year study. 9.9% of the control group died vs. 12.1% of the high fiber group.

There are other reasons to limit all types of fiber. Fiber isn’t essential. Human breast milk doesn’t have any, and traditional people like the Masai – who are free of modern, degenerative disease – eat almost no fiber at all (subsisting on a diet of meat, blood and milk). And while fiber can feed the good bacteria in our gut and increase the production of beneficial short-chain fats like butyrate, it can also feed pathogenic and opportunistic bacteria in the gut.

Verdict: vegetable (but not grain) fiber is beneficial in moderate amounts – about one-half pound of vegetables per day. But think about vegetables and fiber as accompaniments or flavorful condiments to fat and protein, which should form the bulk of calories consumed, rather than the other way around.

SUMMARY OF CARBOHYDRATES
Assuming a healthy metabolism (which isn’t necessarily a safe assumption these days), glucose and starch can be eaten relatively freely, which fructose should be limited to 2-3 servings of fruit per day. Vegetable fiber is beneficial but should also be limited, to about one-half pound of vegetables per day. See the carb pyramid below for a graphic representation.

Pyramid containing carbs we should eat

Know your protein

What about protein? As it turns out, eating the right type of protein is easy if you simply follow Step #1 (don’t eat toxins) and base your diet on the healthy fats I listed above.

Protein is mostly found in animal products, seafood, nuts, legumes and grains. Legumes and grains have toxic compounds that can damage the gut. These toxins can be partially and in some cases completely neutralized by traditional preparation methods like soaking, sprouting and fermenting. But the vast majority of people in modern industrial societies don’t do this and aren’t willing to do it, so I generally recommend that people avoid them altogether.

As I explained above, nuts are often high in omega-6 LA, which we get far too much of as it is. So nuts should not constitute a significant source of protein. Walnuts are especially high. Just 100g of walnuts a day amounts to a whopping 266g of omega-6 per week. Keeping in mind that we want a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, you’d have to eat 34 pounds of salmon a week to achieve a balance. Good luck with that.

Poultry, especially dark meat with the skin on, can also be very high in omega-6 and should also be limited. For example, chicken skin has about 14 times more omega-6 than even grain-finished beef, and 10 times more than grain-finished pork.

That leaves the meat and milk (including butter, cream and cheese) of ruminant animals (beef & lamb), pork, and seafood as the most suitable sources of protein. Animal protein is easy to absorb, is not toxic and is rich in beneficial long-chain saturated fats and natural trans-fats like CLA. Seafood is similarly easy to absorb, and is the primary dietary source of long-chain omega-3 fats DHA & EPA, as well as micronutrients like vitamin D and selenium.

We don’t need a pyramid for protein; you can simply follow the fat pyramid and you’ll naturally get the right type and amount of protein.

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Chris Kresser says

    In short, yes. But as this article is already quite long, I felt it would be too much to go into that here.

  2. Martin says

    Can you give a little more information about what “limiting” dark meat in poultry might mean. Right now my usual breakfast is chicken sausage from Whole Foods that is primarily, if not entirely, dark meat. 6 oz cooked each morning. I don’t eat it any other time, but this has become a convenient breakfast. Too much?

    EXCELLENT posting, btw. Very much looking forward to the rest.

    • jake3_14 says

      Even though dark-meat chicken has a lot of O-6 fat in it, you can make it part of breakfast. A breakfast staple for me is Diane Sanfilippo’s Buffalo Chicken egg muffin (in her 21-Day Sugar Detox book). Even though I grind the chicken thighs to stuff each muffin with chicken, each muffin supplies only .67 mg of O-6 fat in return for 7.4 g of protein — a pretty good ROI. Three of those + 2 oz. of cheese makes breakfast.

  3. Jack Kronk says

    Yah I was wondering about the dark meat chicken as well. I didn’t know that it was very high in O6. I don’t really eat much of it, but if I do eat chicken, that’s exactly the kind I like.

    Oh and I like your breakdown of the macronutrients. Well done Chris.

    -Jack K

  4. Danny says

    butter, cream, eggs and even animal fat have a significant amount of omega 6 , so if you are eating a high fat diet It’s become impossible to reach the ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega 6 without megadosing with fish oil.

    • jake3_14 says

      As long as you limit intake of O-6 fats to 15 mg./day (per Chris’ later writings), you’ll be fine. Here’s the O-6 fat content for typical servings of the foods you mention:

      butter, salted, 1 tbsp.: 392 mg.
      cream, heavy whipping, 1 fl. oz.: 249 mg.
      egg, white, large: 574 mg.

      As for animal fat, it’s going to vary by what the animal ate. Healthy, traditionally-raised animals are low in O-6 fats.

      If you’re going to troll, try with something that can’t be fact-checked.

  5. steph says

    What about eggs, some are labelled omega 3 but I think they are from chickens fed flax seeds? I love eggs and they are a big part of my low carb, dairy and grain-free diet. great post, very clear, thanks.

  6. Chris Kresser says

    That’s not true of grass-fed dairy and animal fat and the n-6 content of pastured eggs is also minimal. How do you think our ancestors managed a 1:1 ratio? They sure as heck weren’t taking fish oil.

    The 6:3 ratio in ruminant meat ranges from 1.2:1 in grass-fed meat to 4.84:1 in grain-finished meat. http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2011/01/practically-primal-guide-to_21.html

    According to this study, the 6:3 ratio of cheese from cows raised on alpine grass is 1.1. That is right in line with evolutionary ratios. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14676141

    It’s a similar story with eggs. Pastured eggs have significantly higher omega-3 content than commercial eggs. But even a commercial egg has only 500 mg of omega-6 LA, so we’re not talking about a large amount. You could eat 2 eggs a day and still be well below your 4.5g/d allowance (assuming 2,000 calories.)

    The evidence doesn’t support your claim.

  7. Gary says

    Danny is wrong about omega 6 in meat, et. al. Read the Don Matesz article that Chris linked to in the comments. Omega 6 is very low in butter, cream, eggs and beef and lamb.

  8. Mike says

    Awesomeness.

    I will definitely avoid the skin-on chicken thighs from now on. I had bought them as a cheap cut, but was not aware of the extent of the omega 6 issue!

  9. L says

    I would definitely appreciate more thoughts on rice.

    It was a staple of meals before I left home for college and now work.

  10. Jesse says

    Chris,

    The study you claimed to show negative health effects of grain fiber does not actually support that claim. The association between fiber and mortality was not statistically significant.

    A quote from the discussion:

    “There was no evidence of any benefit [from increased fiber]; mortality was somewhat higher in the fibre advice group, but this was presumably fortuitous since the difference was not statistically significant. No cohort studies have shown unfavourable relation between cereal fiber and IHD or total mortality, whereas several have suggested favourable associations. [Though the associations may be non-causal, etc.]”

    So the most we can say is that grain fiber does not seem to protect against heart disease and total mortality.

    I thought I should point this out.

  11. says

    Chris,
    Another great post. Thank you.

    But can you tell me where you got this from? – “Muscle is composed of equal weights of fat and protein.”

    From what I know, lean muscle contains approximately 70 to 75% water, 20 to 22 % protein, essentially no carbohydrate and has 4 to 8% lipid. I’d be curious to know where you got that information from.

    Thanks much!

  12. Jay says

    Chris,
    Great post as always.
    Question: what about us athletes that are trying to get in a relatively high amount of quality protein each day for muscle growth and recovery. It appears that unless one has access to grass fed beef and milk from grass fed cows it will be hard to get enough of it without getting too much omega 6. Protein powder is an option but I prefer to get my protein from natural sources if possible. Also, what about egg consumption. I eat 4-6 eggs a day for the protein and cholesterol which I understand to be one of the main building blocks of testosterone in the body. Like many, I strive for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day (190 grams for me). Can you offer any suggestions? Thank you for the great site.

  13. Jay says

    Chris,
    One more thing. I notice there are those such as Dr. Loren Cordain who specifically advise against the ingestion of coconut oil because of it’s saturated fat content, yet yourself and others recommend it for the same reason. Dr. Cordain’s site says “Two nuts that you should not include in your diet are coconuts and peanuts. Coconuts, far and away, contain the most saturated fat of any nut. Further they only have minuscule amounts of cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fatty acids, and they are devoid of omega 3 fatty acids.

    “In fatty foods the most common saturated fatty acids are lauric acid (12:0), myristic acid (14:0), palmitic acid (16:0) and stearic acid (18:0). Excessive consumption of 12:0, 14:0 and 16:0 elevate blood concentrations of total and LDL cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease”.

    Maybe the operative word here is “Excessive”, however, he advises against any use of it. I’ve read the Paleo Diet book and I know his work very well. Do you think this is just a professional difference of opinion or to your knowledge has he since modified his stance on the subject. Can you shed some light on the reasons for the difference in opinion. Thank a bunch.

  14. Dana says

    “Gasoline and diesel are both fuel that cars can run on. If you put gasoline in a diesel engine, or vice versa, the engine may run but it won’t run well – or for very long.”

    This is true.

    I think of the great macronutrient debate in terms just a little to the side of the ones you’ve presented here. My brother used to own a Toyota Corolla that had apparently been run on high octane for a significant period of time. By the time he bought it used, it acted up on any lower octane than the highest one available at gas stations. (I think it’s called 89?) Good thing the gas tank was small, because that got pricey.

    Most people in this country have been putting too high octane gas in their tanks, and now lower octane makes them knock, even though low octane would have worked fine in their engines had they been using it from the beginning. So now they are stuck with high octane, not because high octane is necessary for a Toyota Corolla but because it’s necessary for a Toyota Corolla that’s been run too long on high octane.

    There’s a difference between prescribing a diet for the maintenance of health from birth onward, and prescribing a diet to balance out physical damage from years of bad diet. It might help if people who try to suss out what constitutes a “good diet” would clarify which attempt they are undertaking: maintenance diet for already-healthy people, or medicinal diet for the chronically ill.

    Because if you think a Kitavan diet would work for a type 2 diabetic whose beta cells are almost all burned out, you dreamin’, bro. :P

  15. Dana says

    And I realize my octane analogy is not perfect, upon further examination; our chronic diseases seem to come from the wrong kinds of fats and carbs rather than too much fat or too much carb. And I’m still oversimplifying because I think other factors also come into play, such as inadequate sleep and too many stimulants. But there you go, that’s as close as I’ll get with the engine analogy.

  16. Jack Kronk says

    Jay,Dr. Loren Cordain is operating from the faulty theory that saturated fats are unhealthy to eat. Once you understand that the basis for that notion is incorrect, you can toss it out the window. Eating butter, beef, ghee, cream, coconut oil is all very good for you. As Chris mentions in the article, eating LCSFA should be a major staple and building block of your diet, and the MCSFA found in coconut oil are very good too, for reasons noted.

    Cheers,
    Jack

  17. Chris Kresser says

    Dana: I stated clearly in the article that my recommendations were made assuming a healthy metabolism. A type 2 diabetic clearly does not have a healthy metabolism.

    Jay: I’ll answer your question in more detail in a podcast, but in the meantime check out this article. Saturated fat decreases risk of heart disease in 3 ways: it increases HDL, decreases triglycerides and decreases small, dense LDL.

    Cordain seems to be backpedaling on his anti-saturated fat stance. His last paper was much more favorable towards it. I bet that in a few years he will have quietly transitioned away from warning people about it at all.

  18. SMK says

    Chris

    Please suggest a suitable Pro and Prebitic for a 5 yr old who was not breast fed.The past 6 months tried Udo’s probiotic.Has been throgh quite a few antibiotic doses for ear infections @ ages 2 and 3.

    In our search to try to cure his gut now,What do you think about the Megafoods one?

    Which part of the chicken has less Omega-6 ?

  19. Gary says

    I am a little confused on cholesterol particle sizes, specifically comparing the small dense LDL and HDL, which are opposing as indicators of health, but it seems they would be of similar particle size and density (a smaller denser LDL comparable to a HDL?) and therefor have a similar effect on the body. A little help on this is much appreciated, thank you, you’re awesome keep up the amazing work!

  20. Jack Kronk says

    Gary,

    Here’s a silly but possibly helpful analogy I came up with:

    Picture a swimming pool with a net over it with holes in the net the size of racquetballs. Now place 100 muddy baseballs on the net. The baseballs could represent small, dense LDL particles. If any balls fall through the net, it makes the water dirty (let muddy water represent cardiovascular disease). Chances are, some baseballs will ‘fall through’ the racquetball sized holes, creating a significant ‘risk’ for muddy water. Now remove 80 of the baseballs and replace them with 80 clean and fluffy beach balls (20 remaining baseballs). The ‘volume’ of LDL increased greatly (figure this to be the total LDL count). Let’s just say for arguments sake that your LDL count with the baseballs was 100 but with the beachballs it jumped up to 180. Your doctor would freak out and try to put you on statins. But would you say the risk of balls falling through the holes in the net to make the water dirty increased or decreased?

    It may not be an exact truth that small, dense LDL ’causes’ heart disease. But what has been determined is that small, dense LDL is strongly associated with poor cardiovascular health and a higher risk for heart attack, indicating it as sort of a marker or a warning sign for greater risk.

    It is my understanding that the lipid numbers that appear to be most favorable based on current knowledge is essentially 3 important factors:

    1. High HDL
    2. Low Trigs
    3. Large, bouyant LDL particles (type A)

    Chris,

    Please feel free to throw in your 2 cents if anything I’ve said here needs some tweaking. I won’t mind at all.

    Thanks,
    Jack K

  21. Chris Kresser says

    I think I’m going to address this question (small LDL, lipids) in my first podcast episode coming up soon.

    Small LDL is a risk factor because it’s more likely to oxidize. Oxidized LDL is 8x greater risk factor than non-oxidized LDL.

    Jack: I agree with your 3 numbers.

  22. steve says

    I was not aware of this are 2 avocados a day to many???

    But be aware that certain foods that are high in monounsaturated fats, like nuts and avocados, can contain significant amounts of the dreaded omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, which we’ll discuss below.

    Thanks for posting such great stuff….

  23. says

    Really enjoying this series Chris. You are great at breaking things down and making them easy to understand. My dad uses a similar analogy on fuel to help explain why carbs are not always the best form of fuel and why eating low fat does not logically lead to weight loss. Basically, the if there was a fuel (fat) for a car that gave 9 miles per gallon and a fuel (carb) that gave 4 miles per gallon, in the long run, you would be able to go further using the 9 mile per gallon fuel and would have to consume much more “fuel” to go the same distance with the 4 mile fuel. Of course, once we apply this to the human body, there are many other factors that come into play, but I like the analogy.

  24. Lisa says

    Just wanted to send a quick and loud THANK YOU Chris for what’s turning out to be a great series.

    As Katie mentioned, you do have a gift for taking complex information and explaining it so the non-technical among us can understand. I’m finding that I can forward your articles to my mom, friends, etc. as a great resource that’s completely digestible (pun intended). :)

    Lisa
    Boston, MA

  25. Glenn says

    Martin, Jack, Danny, Steph:

    I believe you have been needlessly confused by Chris’ information on omega-6 oils. And Chris, please read the above posts one more time. You have people actually saying they will stop eating their favorite chicken thighs, etc. to not overdose on omega-6. Does this not seem a bit extreme? Enough is enough. Please let me explain.

    Instead of being a skeptic, you have seemingly gone along with the fish-oil pushing masses and slammed omega-6 once again. I know you didn’t intend for it to come out this way, but people seem to be interpreting your message as anti-omega-6.

    To all those with an open mind: think about it. Do you think anyone every had to “balance” their omega-6 and omega-3 intake in the past? If we had, we would have been having heart attacks and strokes and diabetes and cancer right and left. Pure, simple logic tells us that the balance is not the issue. There probably would be nothing wrong at all with eating 100 times as much omega-6 as omega-3 if it were from natural sources.

    The problem is the industrial oils that were originally clean, wonderful omega-6 before they became heat treated and ruined for consumption. The problem is that also, health writers have continued to call these adulterated chemicals “omega-6″, even though they can no longer provide the function of omega-6 in our bodies. For proof, see the link at the end.

    Its as though a restaurant took your order for “chicken breast” and brought the food out burned to a crisp. You would complain that it was ruined and the answer might be “its still chicken breast”. What do you think? Maybe, if this happened constantly, a new word should be coined for “burned chicken breast”? But the general public should certainly not buy off on accepting the burned meat as a suitable substitute for a properly cooked meal. But that is what we are seeing here. Using one term to refer to both healthy oil and tragically toxic oil.

    So until we get another word for the toxic vegetable oils, and clarify this issue just by using the right word, the solution is just to stop eating the food industry’s versions of these vegetable oils. Eat nothing with “canola oil” or “safflower oil” or “corn oil” or “soy oil” on the label, unless you are buying a bottle of organic, cold-pressed salad oil and the oil is the only ingredient. Why? because these ingredients, the oils, are now either rancid or otherwise cannot move oxygen through your body’s cell walls as they should, so they are not just worthless, they are damaging.

    But its not a matter of balancing you omega-6 intake by raising your fish-oil intake 3000 percent. Just stop eating the processed foods as Chris cautions. Then you will have balance. Then you will not have to worry one whit about how much of EITHER omega-3 or omega-6 you consumed, just as your great-grandparents never worried, and yet never died of cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.

    So, Martin, Jack, Danny, Steph: please do your own research before you decide you have to start watching omega-6 intake, and have to stop eating your favorite cuts of chicken with the skin still attached! Just cutting out the use of commercial vegetable oils will get the polluting substances out of your body over time. The pollution is not omega-6, the healthy original oil found in all foods, it is the adulterated chemical result from the food industry that so far has no identifying name.

    A side note to this is that, in case you didn’t notice it, the Don Matesz’s “recent article” link cited by Chris mentions that grain fed cattle have only 1/3 the omega-3 that grass fed cattle have. Think about how all the extra carbs (mostly grain!) one eats is also cutting into OUR desired share of omega-3. Probably no one would need to supplement with omega-3 if they just at green leafy vegetables instead of the pastas and breads they eat. Amazing.

    Another note: Chris states “For example, chicken skin has about 14 times more omega-6 than even grain-finished beef, and 10 times more than grain-finished pork. ” It helps to have knowledge of physiology here. Chris is comparing skin from one animal with the meat (probably no skin involved) of another animal. It might be interesting to compare skin with skin. Skin is known to be high in omega-6. In the human being, skin is higher in omega-6 compared to omega-3 than any other organ of the body. Human skin has 1000 times as much omega-6 as omega-3. The brain has only 100 times as much omega-6 as omega-3. Muscle has 6.5 times as much omega-6 as omega-3. For more on how much your body needs the essential fatty acids, please read some at the web site that I provide a link to.

    Good luck to the person who has been convinced that omega-6 is an evil substance that should be eliminated from the diet. It isn’t termed an essential oil by physiologists for no reason. For more on how to make sure you know what you are doing with respect to healthy and unhealthy oils, read a few articles on this web site: http://www.brianpeskin.com/

    Best of health to all.

  26. Jack Kronk says

    Glenn,

    I hear you, but O6 is still PUFA, no? And it’s a fat that still is unstable to its double bond structure. Can we not still conclude that the oxidation risk of an overabundance of O6 combined with perhaps and insufficient intake of O3 and saturated fats would still be problemtic, even if the O6 is coming from sources like chicken and/or pork fat and/or grain fed beef fat etc etc. I would COMPELTELY agree that the most important and effective way to dramatically reduce dangerous levels of O6 would be to cut out the vegetable (seed) oils. It’s also probably a good idea to not eat a handful of roasted walnuts everyday. But it seems to me that you would still want to have a very healthy intake of O3 and sat fats if you are going to have a regular and fairly significant intake of even naturally present O6.

    Also, we eat the skin of chickens on purpose, but we don’t eat the skin of cows. And I don’t know bout you, but I don’t eat human skin more than a few times a week, so that’s a moot point as far as I’m concerned.

    Jack K

  27. says

    Good article, as per usual. I’d like to add that it is not only a mistake to focus on macronutrients — proteins, carbs and fats — but also to focus on vitamins, minerals and amino acids in terms of optimal health. This is because vitamins, minerals and amino acids are all isolates and NOT foods. While vitamins make for good marketing, they do not make for, nor constitute, what can be called “nutrition.” There are nutrients and substances in nature’s whole foods that are overlooked as important as marketers focus on selling their isolates. A few examples are carotenoids, pigments, flavors, fiber, aroma, co-vitamins, enzymes and flavonoids. None of these substances are found in vitamin pills. — Vic Shayne, nutritionresearchcenter.org

  28. Gary says

    Thanks Jack! I like the analogy, makes sense.

    So then it’s not all about particle size but rather oxidizing capacity?

  29. Chris Kresser says

    It is about particle size, in that the small, dense particles are more likely to penetrate the gaps of the endothelial lining. But they’re also more likely to oxidize. A double whammy.

  30. Gary says

    So why are high levels of HDL, which are small and dense, associated with a decrease in heart disease? wouldn’t those penetrate the gaps easier than the small dense LDL? I guess the question is what makes HDL good if they’re small and dense?

  31. claire says

    I enjoyed the article as usual, and really liked Glenn’s clarifications of natural omega-6 as (not) toxic. Chris- I also had a big twinge of anxiety noting that my favorite meat on the bird is dark (not to mention crispy chicken skin), that I love love love avocados, and of course walnuts are my favorite nut. Yikes!

    Still I believe that if I have eliminated sugar, industrial seed oils and processed foods; If I soak and sprout the nuts I eat, and get plenty of pastured eggs, milk and meat and wild seafood, then I can still enjoy my favorite foods despite that they contain high omega-6.

    It seems to me that eating all healthy foods (in the pyramid above) in moderation is a good path, so better not to stress too much about minute calculations of omega-6 and 3 ratios.

  32. Chris Kresser says

    Glenn et al: the idea that something “natural” can’t be toxic is preposterous. Water is toxic at high doses, as is just about everything we can put in our mouth and thousands of plants like castor bean and rosary pea. “Natural (i.e. unprocessed) omega-6 fat is indeed toxic at high doses, especially when long-chain omega-3 intake is insufficient.

    I’m sorry that this seems to upset people, but that doesn’t make it less true. Our ancestors ate omega-6 and omega-3 in a 1:1 ratio. No, they didn’t have to calculate or think about it. They didn’t have to because they didn’t have access to foods high in omega-6 like we do today.

    While I agree it’s good not to stress too much about food (as I’ve written before, and I’ll write about again in this series), eating too much omega-6 can and does lead to significant health problems. What you choose to do with that information is of course your prerogative, but please don’t mislead people by telling them that omega-6 is not potentially toxic as long as its natural.

    Certainly eating the way Claire describes is going to get people most of the way there, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to limit their n-6 intake – even from “natural” n-6.

  33. says

    I knew “Glenn” was regurgitating Brian Peskin’s nonsense (or is he a Peskin proxy?) before I got the link at the end of his post.

    You can listen to Peskin’s hucksterish interview with Jimmy Moore and decide for yourself. I have never heard a more irresponsible and dangerous bunch of nonsense in my life.

    He is neither a “professor” nor a health care professional. He is an engineer.

    Peskin wants you to “supplement” with his own special linoliec acid, pouring gasoline on the fire, as it were. Of course, you have to buy it from him. Legal action has been taken against him for fraud. See the links below.

    http://www.quackwatch.com/11Ind/Peskin/peskin.html

    http://scepticalletterwriter.blogspot.com/2010/06/professor-brian-peskin-cancer-expert.html

    Self-promoting frauds like Peskin really irritate me, confusing the hell out of people trying to figure all this stuff out.

    If you are skeptical of Chris’ advice, then eat all the tasteless factory chicken you want. It’s your body, but I am pretty sure we did not evolve eating grain-fed albino fryers from Tyson.

  34. Barbara says

    Chris,
    You said that the Kitavans in Melanesia get 70% of their calories from carbs but in your video from May 31,2010 you say that high carb diet causes LDL (small, dense) go up, HDL go down and triglycerides go up. Shouldn’t they be unhealthy? I am confused.
    Regarding chicken: I assume that you talk about the pastured chicken as being high in omega 6? Is it correct? What is the recommended amount to eat per week then?
    Thank you.

  35. Chris Kresser says

    Barbara: as I mentioned in the article, there’s a wide range of carbohydrate tolerance which is determined by a number of factors. A high glucose intake absent metabolic dysfunction seems to be safe for most people. However, the carbohydrates that saturated fat is replaced with in modern societies like the U.S. tend to be from processed and refined wheat flour and fructose, which have an entirely different effect on the body. Also, many people (if not most) who’ve been eating a Standard American Diet have damaged metabolisms, so their carbohydrate tolerance will be compromised. In those cases I recommend limiting carbohydrate to 400 – 600 calories (100 – 150g) per day, and primarily in the form of glucose from starch instead of fructose.

  36. says

    Wow. I had absolutely no idea how much Omega-6 was in chicken! No wonder the PaNu blog recently listed all chicken (even organic, pasture raised chicken) as worse than meat from grain fed ruminants.

    Unfortunately, due to lack of freezer space and a few other factors, my family has not made the switch yet to grass fed beef/bison/etc. It was good to see from the PaNu blog that grain fed commercial beef is worse than grain fed meat, no doubt, but really not overly bad as the PUFA levels aren’t that high.

    However what I didn’t get from that PaNu post, but discovered in the links on this post, were just how high and imbalanced the PUFAs are in chicken. Oh my gosh I’m just flabbergasted and, to be honest, a little frustrated (as I love chicken).

    I guess sticking with the 80/20 principle, my family doesn’t need to give up chicken completely. We just need to be a little smarter about how often we have it now that I know about it.

  37. Chris Kresser says

    That’s right. If you’re going to eat chicken, probably best to eat pasture-raised boneless/skinless and cook in butter, coconut oil, lard or other safe saturated/monounsaturated fat. Like Indian food? Butter chicken is a great recipe. But yes, emphasize meat from ruminants and pork, rather than poultry.

    • Cathryn says

      Chris,

      Why boneless? I save all the bones from a roasted chicken (yes, pastured) and make a broth out of them. I eat all the cartilage and suck on the ends of the bones which get so soft I can actually eat them. I’m sure I look quite barbaric as I do this, but It seems so nourishing, along with the gelatinous broth that results. Isn’t this a Chinese medicine thing, as well? I only eat chicken every 4 days, but I try to have some kind of bone broth every day. I have RA, but am getting better and am titrating off the methotrexate.

  38. says

    ahhhh this post is awesome, and portrays exactly how i eat. i love beef cheese and eggs and seafood from the gulf!!!!! my downfall is the money i spend on cheese, but thats my own doing. i think if you stick to wha was written, the omega crap should fsall into place and maybe people should stop trying to justify ways to eat more chicken thighs….eat beef haha. you broke this down very easy to read and understand, i hope the general public gets word on this!!

    • Lauren says

      Mallory, I am also in the same boat as you. I am a lean, mean egg/bacon/cheese/meat machine. Recently I seem to have found I crave thickened cream and cheese omelettes and cheesy sauces with my meats heaps. I have reduced my carb intake (which is primarily green and red veggies) because I have increased my fat intake to answer my cravings. Do you find that eating cheese/cream/avocado regularly as your main fats stalls your lean body appearance? I have been feeling a bit more ‘flabby’ lately even though I know I’ve been eating a 80% fat 15% protein 5% carb ratio.

      Does anyone else eat lots of fat and get the feeling they need to change up their ratios now and again? I just love meat and cheese :-D

  39. says

    Wow, thanks for the post. It definitely set me thinking. There are so many questions swimming in my mind that I hope you can bear with me.

    Firstly, does that mean that what we’ve been told in the past about taking too much calories than what we can expend can lead to overweight is flawed too? If it isn’t, wouldn’t taking fats, regardless of saturated or not, without limitation will lead to unwanted weight gain?

    Secondly, considering the way factory meats are being raised today (antibiotics, growth hormones, unnatural fed, poor living conditions), do you think the benefits of taking such meats will outweigh the risks involved, if one has no access or can’t afford to buy grass-fed organic meats?

    Thanks so much for your thoughts. Cheers!

  40. Chris Kresser says

    WP:

    1. Most people that don’t restrict fat tend to eat less than those that do, because the latter eat more carbohydrates which actually stimulate appetite and promote overeating when eaten in excess. This is borne out in clinical studies.

    2. While grass-fed meat is certainly far superior to conventional meat, some of the dangers/risks of eating CAFO meat have been overstated. Read Don Matesz’s excellent series on CAFO meat at his blog. This is part 3: http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2011/01/practically-primal-guide-to_21.html Work back from there.

    • says

      With regards to your first point, I have found this to be true in my own life. Having reduced carbohydrate intake and increased saturated fat intake, I have lost weight without even needing to count calories, which is seemingly due to the fact that a) my metabolism is functioning better than on a low-fat/high-carb diet and b) I have no desire to overeat. Conversely, on a low-fat/high-carb diet constantly craved more carbs and sugar, even when full.

    • Jane says

      It seems to me that if you want to avoid toxins, you really really want to avoid conventional, mass-produced meat. And as Matesz himself says, the meat industry takes a terrible, inexcusable toll on our environment. And the industrial pig farms are some of the most toxic, horrible places that exist, polluting the ground and air and making people sick.

      Eat organic and free-range and wild. I know many in the inner city don’t have easy access to these, I really hope that is changing.

      • Australanarchist says

        There is a lot of evidence of high levels of synthetic antibiotics in industrially produced meat, and these same antibiotics have endocrine disruptor effects in our bodies and specifically disrupt

        protein synthesis our cells.

    • Karen says

      Not only has this blog entry been removed, but Matesz has done a 180 and eats very differently from what he was previously promoting. He doesn’t believe in Paleo at all now, as far as I can tell.

  41. Vic says

    Just for the record, regarding a comment above. To refer anybody for any reason to quackwatch is like taking the word of J Edgar Hoover to decide who had communist ties in the 50s. The quackwatch site is nothing short of a poorly justified attack on people and companies without regard to fact or due diligence. I would imagine one day Stephen Barret will be sued for libel by some wronged individual who is moved to do so.

  42. Barbara says

    Chris,
    I have just noticed your comment recommending boneless/skinless chicken breast. I understand the skinless part but why boneless? Is it still healthy to make chicken broth? I make my broth with some skin/fat in addition to the bones. I guess I better use just “clean”bones?
    Thank you.

  43. chuck says

    Can you recommend an affordable lab to get a complete blood test report? My doctor usually orders the usual suspects, so I’d like to just buy it myself rather than have to convince him why I want these tested!

    This is what I’d ideally get measured, in order of importance:

    1.
    Non-esterified fatty acids (NERA)

    2.
    Omega-3, Omega-6

    3.
    Vitamin D3 (25-OH)

    4.
    Measured LDL Cholesterol (Pattern A/B), HLD, Trig

    5.
    Ubiquinol (CoQ10)

    7.
    Choline, Glutathione, CLA

    8.
    Vitamin K2 (MK-4/MK-7),

    9.
    Trans-Resveratrol, Fisetin

    Possibly a few others… mainly regarding the Thyroid. There is SO much info on Thyroid, that it’s a bit overwhelming. I found these program, but haven’t found any reviews…

    https://www.drbrownstein.com/bookstore_Thyroid.php

    http://store.renegadehealth.com/Books-amp-DVDs/The-Complete-Thyroid-Health-Program-with-Dr-J-E-Williams-eCouse-Digital-p308.html ,

    Any suggestions?

  44. remo says

    great post! i’m just confused about one part..you say “However, the amount of omega-6 that is needed is exceedingly small: less than 0.5 percent of calories when supplied by most animal fats and less than 0.12 percent of calories when supplied by liver”..

    do you mean to say that our omega 6 needs are lower if we get them from eating liver as opposed to animal fat? Isn’t fat in liver the same as animal fat?

  45. Chris Kresser says

    Barbara: bones are fine.

    Chuck: directlabs.com

    Remo: this comes from Chris Masterjohn’s excellent research on essential fatty acids. Liver supplies a substantial amount or arachidonate in addition to B6, both of which help in the production of arachidonate from linoleate released from fat stores. This is why the requirement is lower when obtaining n-6 from liver than it is from animal fat.

  46. Lena says

    Regarding: “Carbohydrates are broken down into either indigestible fiber, glucose or fructose.”

    How about galactose? I know that lactose is broken down into the simple sugars glucose and galactose by the enzyme lactase (which is missing or insufficient in those who are lactose intolerant). But what happens with the galactose? Does the comment I sited above mean that it is broken down to glucose too? Please clarify!

    By the way, I want to thank you for the excellent work you are doing!

  47. Ross says

    Chris,

    How many avocados can I safely consume per day without without consuming excessive omega-6 ? How much fish can I include in my diet regularly while using saturated oils for cooking?

  48. Mia says

    Excellent article Chris. I really like how you structure and organize the information in your new series. Very clear, easy to understand and refer back to it when needed. Love the new food pyramids. You should write a book.

    I am just a bit confused about Omega 3 and Omega 6 in meat.
    In the data that you provided did they measure Omega 3 in raw or cooked meat (sorry, I didn’t have time to read the actual studies yet)?

    Also, since we are usually told that Omega 3 are fragile and we shouldn’t cook with oils containing it, I was wondering what happens to Omega 3 in cooked meat, don’t they get damaged, oxidized etc?

  49. Chris Kresser says

    Ross: totally depends on what other sources of n-6 you’re eating. An avocado is 2.3g of n-6. Considering that in an ideal world we limit n-6 to 4.5g/d, you could have one avocado a day if you’re eating very little n-6 elsewhere in your diet. Adjust accordingly.

  50. Jack Kronk says

    Chris,

    What is a good source to reference n-6 amounts in any given food? Is there a website that has a pretty reliable database?

    Thanks,
    Jack

  51. PeggySu says

    Excellent article. I noticed that you didn’t mention sucrose which I assume is not healthy because it is metabolized to half fructose. So isn’t it almost as bad as high-fructose corn syrup?

  52. Chris Kresser says

    Sucrose is 50/50, HFCS is 55/45, so HFCS is worse than sucrose in that regard. But sucrose is still concentrated sugar, and is best avoided entirely.

  53. Jay says

    Chris,

    What should guy like me do who wants to follow a low carb – high fat diet but doesn’t have access to organic and pasture raised fats including eggs, butter, ghee, cheese etc. How can I increase and safely consume fats in large amounts?

  54. fredt says

    “We need to shift away from the idea of macronutrients – as Dr. Kurt Harris of PaleoNu recently suggested – and move towards the idea of nourishment or fuel. This means we classify foods not based on their macronutrient ratios, but on their ability to provide the energy and nutrition the body needs to function optimally.”

    Oh really.

    What about those of us who are never satisfied? We need to control or intake and some system of measurement. Eating to satiety is a meaningless concept to someone who never feels satiety. I need to measure and calculate each meal not be wildly over in calories. Under is more of a problem, as when I am under, I get uncontrollably hunger.

    To that end, too much carbohydrate, too much fat, too much protein each cause me different issues, as does too little of anything. Without measuring and computing I would be as fat or fatter than I once was.

    Understanding the the amounts that I need was also difficult until I can across
    Phil Maffetone’s two week carbohydrate intolerance test. After setting the carbohydrate, I was able to use the process to set my fat requirements, and protein requirements to control weight.

    For me, I found that I needed to follow Dr. Bernstein’s concept. According to Dr. R Bernstein (diebetic) you need to hold your carb level steady (at some low level), move your protein level up or down to gain or lose weight, and eat enough fat to not be hungry.

    Note that in Canada we have a Dr. S Bernstein (weight) that runs weight loss clinics. Good for weight loss, but short on education.

    My diet does not contain much sugar, grains (except ground flax), lubricant (omega 666) and manufactured eatable products (anything with labels).

    But what do I know.

  55. Laura R says

    Hi Chris, thank you very much for your article.
    I’d love of you could expand a bit more on the process of detoxing some grains through soaking and sprouting. I’ve been sprouting organic lentils, alfalfa, chick peas, aduki and mung beans for years. Of course I always thought they were a very healthy and tasty thing to eat.
    Would you recommend to avoid all of them, a few or would you approve of their intake in moderate quantities? (i.e. something like half a cup of sprouts per day and not every day).
    Many thanks!
    Laura

  56. Daniel says

    Hey Chris,
    Great article and series, can’t wait to read the rest of it. I’ve got a quick question and would love your thoughts- we obviously know cholesterol in the diet is harmless and in fact beneficial, but I was wondering if one should place an upper limit on dietary cholesterol intake (too much of a good thing?). Seeing as how the body makes ~1000 mg per day, should that be the ceiling limit? Or can you really not get too much? Thanks!

  57. says

    Great advice. I have been on a raw paleo diet for five months and the results have been amazing. Lots raw (or very rare) meat, raw fish (tuna, salmon, and other sashimi), lots of fresh coconut, organic raw duck eggs, limited avocado, vegetables and one fruit a day! My total cholesterol and triglycerides have been cut in half. My heart rate has dropped from 85 to 60 and my blood pressure is down to 100/60. In fact during my recent stress test, the doctor was amazed and told me that I have a heart of a 28 year old (not a 48 year old). It really is interesting that a natural organic raw diet high in saturated fat, meat and fish with no salt, sugar or additives would have such an impact. I have also lost 20 lbs. and lost two inches in my waistline! Keep up the good work and advice!

    • says

      Chris:

      One more question, what do you feel about eating raw as opposed to cooked protein, especially grass-fed beef, deep ocean fish and pasture raised organic duck or chicken eggs? So far, I have seen a much more dramatic affect on my overall health and blood indicators eating a very raw diet.

  58. Matt Kerry says

    Great work on the site Chris, it’s very informative and organized.

    Is it true that some protein is lost when a food is cooked? Like with baked salmon or chicken for example.

  59. Teresa Liddell says

    This is the clearest information I have read after many hours of intense study. Grateful thanks! My brain is befuddled still though. Is there a menu plan anywhere which would guide choices/amounts needed to eat a balanced diet please? I would be so grateful. My thyroid gland is malfunctioning [slightly too much free thyroxine and slightly too little TSH] and I would like to eat the healthiest diet possible.

    I do think it a tragedy that for all the progress seen in the last 100 years we are so confused and so limited in the choice and availability of food which is truly healthy. And I am aghast at the dawning realisation that governments must be suppressing their knowledge of unhealthy practises in the farming and food industries. It is appallingly, criminally bad management which future generations as well as ours will have to pay for with their physical, emotional and financial health, I think.

  60. Raechel says

    Hi Chris,

    I love this post – very informative and really resonates with me. I have two quick questions regarding cooking oils and fructose, f you can spare the time:

    1. I would love some guidance regarding best oil to use for high heat (i.e., above 450F) cooking. I am currently using using 100% mechanically (expeller) pressed naturally refined organic coconut oil for med-high heat (up to ~365F) and 100% expeller pressed naturally refined avocado oil for high heat (up to 510F). I try to avoid high heating, but sometimes it is necessary. More recently I have been reading that refined oils are not recommended, although I cannot clarify if this mainly pertains to chemically refined and maybe the expeller pressed is ok? Some say Palm oil or macadamia nut… I would love to hear your opinion on best oil to use for high heat cooking.

    2. I don’t really eat sugar or sweets or add sugar to foods, and so in my quest to become informed about healthy foods I hadn’t been paying much attention to posts about fructose, etc. However, the dangers of fructose have recently been brought to my attention, and I have begun scrutinizing the sugar content of our foods more closely. We don’t buy much processed foods (other than Clif Builder’s Bars and Syntrax Protein Powders), never anything with HFCS, and white sugar does not have a home in our pantry. We do consume maple syrup, honey, evaporated cane juice and molasses (organic, raw when possible…), as a substitute in recipes that call for white sugar (e.g., dough), put maple syrup (1 Tbsp) on our whole wheat flaxseed french toast and pancakes, when I cook spicy food I add honey or maple syrup to add some sweet, and my husband switched from putting raw sugar in his coffee to honey. I understand that the main sugar in these products is sucrose (eg., glucose and fructose). You have recommended everyone avoid high concentrated sources of fructose like agave nectar. Do you consider these sources of sucrose (honey, maple syrup) in low/moderate consumption, typically with fiber (except for my hubby in his coffee) a health risk? Would you recommend a different sweetener (e.g., brown rice syrup)? Again, I would be thrilled to hear your opinion.

    Thank you very much for sharing your expertise.

    Rae

  61. Mariano says

    If I understand this correctly, you’re saying oatmeal is bad ? I’m having a hard time believing that, since every single article on healthy diet I’ve read so far (and I read a lot) suggested oatmeal as a stable part of a healthy diet (which I have been doing for 3 years now with very positive effects). Can you please explain ?

  62. says

    Dear Chris,
    Thanks for the great site. Whats really needed here is a section of daily meal examples for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Because after reading your site I am in information overload. Giving us specific meal examples for breakfast, lunch and dinner will solve the problem.
    I hope you will add this.
    Thanks
    David

  63. rowlin says

    Why is fish in the top small part of the pyramid with chicken and almonds which are both high in omega 6, suggesting you should eat small amounts of fish? Then you say in the article you should eat omega 3 regularly, but omega 6 should be reduced. This seems misleading when the chart shows equal amounts of both. Seriously do you think we should be eating more things like coconut, olives and butter than fish? I would think fish could be consumed at least as much if not more than the other foods on the chart.

    • Jane says

      I thought that was odd as well. As much fish as possible i would think! (except the mercury containing kind, especially if pregnant)

  64. Corvus says

    Again, a hint from you that vegans and vegetarians are all nutrient deficient with no evidence of that and no comparison to how many many many more people who eat animals are nutrient deficient, in many more nutrients. You lose so much credibility with stuff like that.

      • Corvus says

        Very selective evidence. You chose one nutrient and one group of people, left out comparisons with all other dietary groups, to make it look like vegans are unhealthy, whenin reality, a well rounded presentation of the evidence would show that even if SOME vegans sometimes have low b12 levels, the amount of health problems and multiple nutrient deficiencies in MOST animal eaters far outweighs that. But that wouldn’t fit your thesis.

        • Chris Kresser says

          It doesn’t fit because it’s a nonsensical statement. “Animal eaters”? What the heck does that mean? People who follow a Paleo diet have virtually no chance of nutrient deficiencies. Meat, organ meat (especially liver), egg yolks, fish, shellfish, vegetables and fruits and nuts and seeds are the most nutrient-dense foods available. You can’t compare that to someone on a standard American diet eating processed and refined food and McDonald’s. That’s an absurd generalization. However, what all vegans do share in common is that they’re not getting any true B12 in their diet. That is why research consistently shows they are deficient in B12 unless they supplement.

          You’d be more likely to find a community of people that share your views elsewhere. If you’re here to try to convince us that eating meat is unhealthy, and eating vegan is, you’re barking up the wrong tree. I’ve been there, done that, and I’ve researched this stuff in depth for a decade.

  65. Jane says

    This does not go along with what Dr. Wahls (below) found as food that protects the brain which, as you pointed out, is the most important thing to do to prevent the worst aspects of aging. She found that eating dark leafy greens as well as berries kept the neurons myelinated. She also remarked that casein in milk products causes many problems for many people. I myself have an allergy to dairy, more severe with a glass of milk versus cheese or butter. Perhaps this is a matter of “raw milk” versus pasteurized/industrial milk?
    Anyway I would be interested to see your reply especially about the importance of eating 9 cups a day of leafy greens with some berries included.
    Here is her TED talk:

  66. says

    Thank you for all of the great information, Chris. I am a recent follower (6 months or so), and am on week 3 of the Personal Paleo code. So far, (mostly) really good.

    I went to acupuncture school in California. Diet recommendations based on constitutional tendencies and (Traditional Chinese Medicine) TCM patterns were a big focus of my studies and a current passion. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the paleo diet as it relates to some common patterns. For example, do you think that a spleen deficient/phlegm-damp person is less likely to tolerate dairy? Might a yin-deficient person want to seek out extra liver?

    I have sent several of my patients to your site, and look forward to learning more.

    Thanks again,

    Molly
    http://www.MBSAcupuncture.com
    Bethesda, Maryland

    • Christian says

      Great article Chris . I always look forward to your articles and podcasts as I always do to Paul Jaminet´s realeasings. One question I get around after reading this article is if that you agree with Jaminet´s allowance for protein in a “safe range” with an 150 gr upper limit after which toxicity is reached. I hesitate if you agree or not with that limit. Thank you very much . Great work!

  67. Pam Robinson says

    Thank you Chris for the ‘detail’ you provide in this article on what to eat. I have been told by a dermatoligist that the ridges and splitting of my nails is a result of aging. Two weeks ago I met a young 22 year old girl whose nails were worse than mine and I’m 40 years her senior. I think that the impact of age is possible, but more so I think this problem could be a result of the inability of our body to process the nutrients we need to keep our nails healthy. Do you have any insight to share regarding this condition?

  68. Dan M says

    Chris, firstly, I’d like to say thanks for the incredible patience you exhibit. You’re one of the most well informed and fair minded educators I have come across, and believe me when I tell you I did a lot of research and read many books, and experimented on myself with many different dietary guidelines before I stumbled upon what I now consider to be the truth, about a year and a half ago. For that I consider myself to be very lucky, as it has completely changed my life in regard to both my physical and mental well being.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer the genuine questions relating to a myriad of possible causes and symptoms that can baffle so many people and create a lifetime of suffering, no matter how many mainstream doctors and specialists one sees, or diet books one reads.

    I was going to make a comment about the people who’s questions just waste our time and lead to unnecessary confusion, however I decided to just let it go.

    Thanks again.

  69. Vanessa says

    Hi,

    What do you think about using freshly juiced vegetable juice. Would say a glass or a glass every other freshly juiced beetroot, apple and ginger juice be OK, or should fruits only be eaten whole?

    Thanks,
    Vanessa

  70. Amanda says

    Hi Chris,

    Has anyone come to you about having serious gas issues after starting a paleo diet? Me and my boyfriend have just started eating only grass fed beef and sweet potatoes, and really nothing else (to get started for the first month) and yet we have serious gas. Any comment is appreciated.

    Amanda

  71. George D. says

    Two things:
    1) you don’t mention sugar as a source of fructose (or honey)
    2) sweet roots and tubers deliver fructose too, sometimes significant amounts
    make that three:
    3) galactose from dairy is also worth investigating

  72. Liz B. says

    Chris, can you please speak on your views about chicken bone broth. I have UC and both the gaps diet as well as the SCD diet suggests drinking it on a daily basis and even with every meal. Is this too much chicken for an already sensitive inflamed digestive system? I eat very little of the meat but I do ingest the bones and marrow. Should I be making beef broth instead?

    • Chris Kresser says

      Broth has a lot of glycine, which helps repair a leaky gut. So I do recommend 1-2 cups of bone broth per day.

  73. jake3_14 says

    Your statement “However, the amount of omega-6 that is needed is exceedingly small: less than 0.5 percent of calories when supplied by most animal fats and less than 0.12 percent of calories when supplied by liver.” is a misinterpretation of the the paper you linked to, written by Chris Masterjohn. I thought the figure seemed rather low, I wrote Masterjohn directly about this quote in July, 2012, and he said the 0.5% figure is a **minimum required to prevent deficiency. Further, he said, “I’m planning on coming out with a second report as a sequel that addresses potential harms and benefits of consuming higher amounts, whether omega-3 or omega-6. I am far from sold on the idea that more is harmless or beneficial, but I’m not done with my research yet, so God willing I will be able to put it together later in the year.”

    In addition, Dr. Bill Harris presents what seems to be credible evidence (http://www.lecturepad.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1048:n-6-fatty-acids-harmful-or-helpful-n6n3-rations-useful-or-not&catid=47:prevention&Itemid=423) that disputes the advice to eat a very low percentage of PUFA (1–4% of calories). Since American ate about 15 g of omega-6/day until the 1930′s (http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/precious-yet-perilous), before eating vegetable oils became entrenched, I figure that’s a reasonable goal to aim for.

    • Chris Kresser says

      My views on this have changed since I wrote this article, and I think Chris’s have as well (I’ve corresponded with him about it). I’ve watched Dr. Harris’s presentation, and there are several issues with it. He selected evidence that supports his view, and neglected evidence that doesn’t. Both sides are guilty of that. I think the bulk of the evidence now suggests that long-chain n-3 consumption is by far the most crucial factor, and everything else is secondary. That said, if an individual isn’t consuming adequate n-3 LCFA, then a high background intake of n-6 will inhibit conversion of ALA to DHA, and to a lesser extent, EPA. I think eating n-6 in foods like avocados, nuts and poultry is unlikely to be problematic in the context of sufficient n-3 LCFA intake, but industrial seed oils (which is how most Americans get n-6) are highly processed and devoid of nutrients and not a good idea.

      • jake3_14 says

        Thanks for sharing your current thinking on this issue. I hope you find the time to revise the article along the lines you’ve mentioned, so that everyone has the benefit of your current ideas. I’ve mentioned your older stance about dark meat chicken in several places in the LC virtual world, and I’ll have to go revise those posts.

  74. says

    One confounder might be that PUFAs such as arachadonic acid are conserved in membranes on a low-carb diet, with fewer prostaglandin-type conversions (Voleck et al.). So deficiency would then be prevented by a lower rate of degradation.

    I prefer to follow the Nanji-French experiments with PUFA vs SFA in liver disease. These appear to show that 5% of FATS (not calories) as PUFA is consistent with good health (at 35% total calories as fat; high fat intakes would probably support lower PUFA).
    A 50/50 mix of beef dripping or coconut oil with olive oil or lard meets this prescription. And is practicable and not unduly restrictive.

  75. says

    Chris,

    I have been studying and experimenting with paleo nutrition for a few months, and this relatively brief article is the best summary of facts I have read – including those of the most well known paleo experts.

  76. Russell W Loomis says

    Hi Chris,

    Just introduced to your website and podcast. I have been moving towards a low carb diet (also have been doing a lot of fasting and juicing). I have mainly been eating turkey, avocados, sunflower seed butter. I’m starting to see that is way off base. Sounds like grass feed beef and lamb should make up the bulk of your diet (along with their dairy products)? So Turkey and I need to part ways? The Sunflower seed butter is no good as well? Where to eggs fit in? It blows my mind that I am 42 and just starting to get a clue on what to eat. Thanks, any information would be very appreciated.

  77. LK says

    Chris- I have just started to read your website as well and I am becoming more confused. Mostly everything I read is exactly the opposite of what you indicate is healthy and appropriate. One of the biggest consternations for me is walnuts- I have always understood walnuts were high in omega 3 (and I see this everywhere) and good for heart. Your information indicates walnuts (and other nuts) are actually high in Omega 6 and not as good as thought. Can you clarify the omega 3 and omega 6 issue. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information.
    thanks

    • Chris Kresser says

      You’re right, and that’s partly because my views on certain issues have evolved over time. At this point I think that the omega-6:omega-3 ratio may be less important than I previously thought, and it’s more the overall intake of omega-3 that is paramount. I also think there’s a significant difference between obtaining omega-6 from whole foods vs. industrial seed oils, because the seed oils are completely devoid of nutrients and are highly processed.

        • LK says

          I would think this guy needs to go back to vegetarian eating!- it obviously works for him.
          I do not see such obvious and dramatic differences when I eat vegetarian vs eating a more paleo diet.
          I have eaten vegetarian, high carb and have not noted any significant changes in my weight and well being- but have felt slightly more tired. Recently I have switched to veggies and more animal protein in an effort to lose weight and have also nearly eliminated wheat with a slight reduction in weight- so far. I feel better with the elimination of wheat. I am less tired, have fewer aches and pains.. I am type O (blood type diet) and also pitta (ayurveda)- both of which suggest a reduction in wheat and a diet of quality protein.(you have to use every bit of info you can get!) I truly think each person has to determine for themselves what works best for them. I tend to think elliminating the toxic substances, increasing veggies, adding more raw foods are some of the basics for most without allergies or disease and what kind of protein and carbs they add depends on how it makes them feel and what can be sustained over time. The bottom line is that there is no one right answer for everyone.
          However, I am annoyed by basic conflicting information on the facts. It makes it more difficult to make a good decision.
          The discussion over fats is one such example. IS saturated fat good or bad????!!!
          Drives me nuts!

  78. Anna says

    Dear Chris,
    Hello, I’m from Hungary.
    I love you for all of your posts :), but seriously.

    “nuts should not constitute a significant source of protein. Walnuts are especially high. Just 100g of walnuts a day amounts to a whopping 266g of omega-6 per week. Keeping in mind that we want a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, you’d have to eat 34 pounds of salmon a week to achieve a balance. Good luck with that. ”
    Well, we have a lot of walnuts, from our own garden, and I eat walnuts every day – I soak them -, sometimes even almonds or poppy-seeds, sesame seeds, etc. I worry about my omega 6 intake. I cannot eat a lot of meat.
    What is your opinion about this article?
    http://donmatesz.blogspot.hu/2010/03/paleo-diet-basics-why-i-eat-walnuts.html

    What will I do with that lot of walnuts? :)
    My other question: I always have constipation and I can not solve this problem, what should I do?
    Where can I find the further 7 Steps to Perfect Health?

  79. Kris says

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you for the inspiriting and clarifying article! Since I have been taking veg omega 3 supplements (made from sage oil), I only now realized that they have only the ALA. However, as I did some researches, there are many claims that we convert the ALA just fine. http://www.azchia.com/ala_conversion_epa_dpa_dha.htm

    “There is sufficient evidence that supplementation of the diet with ALA will lead to increased amounts of EPA and DHA in the plasma. The confounding factor that must be taken into account is the amount of LA in the diet, since this does affect conversion. As further evidence of this a study by Cleland et al. (1992) showed that LA even inhibits incorporation of EPA into cell membranes of humans. Thus if it does affect EPA incorporation, it would seem most logical that it would also affect ALA conversion.”:

    There is also an interesting, (and rather objective) vegan link speaking of this matter. It all seems rather complicated: http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/omega3

    Is it true that eggs also have some good omega 3?

    thanks

    • Chris Kresser says

      The majority of the studies indicate that conversion is poor with the average background intake of n-6 in the diet. Even mainstream, conventional health authorities are urging fish consumption for this reason. It is possible to get enough EPA with ALA consumption, but rarely enough DHA.

  80. Kris says

    Chris,

    I was wondering about the Paleo concept that in that ‘ideal’ world before agriculture we all had diet with 1 to 1 ration of Omegas 3 and 6. In all the food charts that I have seen, except of fish and couple of some other stuff (that one rarely eats) omega 6 is always higher than omega 3. How our ancestors actually managed to find enough omega 3? I mean those who did not fish in the sea. And is this ratio another myth that everyone accepts but it is a product of imagination, a way to sell more of that horrible fish oil?

    According to Peat, omega 3 is simply toxic and we don’t need it. It is in fact not ‘essential’ at all:
    http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/fats-degeneration3.shtml

  81. says

    Omega 3 is preferred by enzymes over omega 6, so omega 6:3 of 2:1 or 3:1 can come out as 1:1.
    Omega 3 is in vegetables, greens, fruit etc, while 6 is in seeds.
    Peat is wrong, he”s playing the hard skeptical position there, not the sensible one. His thoughts on PUFA are interesting and educational but his conclusions aren’t right. This is one area of nutrition where it pays to keep up to date and you can’t rest on old research.

  82. Hemming says

    Hi Chris,

    VERY good article that is really useful in trying to pick better foods.

    I was thinking if there’s a difference to eating Brie vs. Gruyere/Parmesan/Cheddar for instance because of the shorter aging process of Brie? Or doesn’t it matter as long as the cheese is made with raw milk from cows fed with grass?
    I’ve seen other mention that the more mature cheeses should be preferred.

    Thank you.

    Best regards,

    Hemming

  83. Kris says

    Chris,

    Thank you. I understand. However, the amount of omega 3 in fruits and vegetables is very small so it could not constitute the ‘proper’ ratio for the past humans. Additionally, as you say, the veg omega 3 is hardly convertible, so useless mostly anyway.

    What is your opinion of this?
    “Mothers whose breast milk contains more long-chain n-3 fatty acids are more likely to have allergic children (Stoney, et al., 2004). (And children whose mothers are allergic have higher levels of DHA and EPA in their tissues.) ”

    http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/unsaturatedfats.shtml

  84. says

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085074/

    Low breast milk levels of long-chain n-3 fatty acids in allergic women, despite frequent fish intake.
    Women with a combination of eczema and respiratory allergy had lower breast milk levels of several PUFAs (arachidonic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA, docosahexaenoic acid, DHA, and docosapentaenoic acid, DPA), and a lower ratio of long-chain n-3 PUFAs/n-6 PUFAs. Their PUFA levels differed not only from that of healthy women, but also from that of women with only respiratory allergy. The latter had a fatty acid pattern similar to that of healthy women. Despite low EPA, DHA and DPA levels women with eczema and respiratory allergy consumed no less fish than did healthy women.

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/08/28/peds.2011-3104.abstract

    Postnatal Fish Oil Supplementation in High-Risk Infants to Prevent Allergy: Randomized Controlled Trial

    6 months of age, infant docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid levels were significantly higher (both P < .05) and erythrocyte arachidonic acid levels were lower (P = .003) in the fish oil group. Although n-3 PUFA levels at 6 months were associated with lower risk of eczema (P = .033) and recurrent wheeze (P = .027), the association with eczema was not significant after multiple comparisons and there was no effect of the intervention per se on the primary study outcomes. Specifically, between-group comparisons revealed no differences in the occurrence of allergic outcomes including sensitization, eczema, asthma, or food allergy.

    http://www.gnldcontent.com/omega3/us/pdf/Omega-3-and-pregancy-scientific-review.pdf

    Studies show that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation during the last trimester
    dampen certain immune responses (e.g. PGE2 secretion) involved in allergic inflammation. xxii In
    a recent study of 150 pregnant women, who suffered from allergies themselves or had a husband or
    previous child with allergies, supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids lowered risk of allergic disorders
    in their infants. In this randomized placebo-controlled trial, mothers received an EPA/DHA supplement
    from the 25th week of pregnancy through the 3rd or 4th month of lactation. Maternal omega-3 fatty
    acid supplementation decreased the risk of food allergies and eczema in infants with a family history
    of allergic disease. xxiii This study follows a large cross-sectional study in Japan showing that DHA
    intake is associated with a lower prevalence of atopic eczema in pregnant women. xxiv
    Finally, a long term population-based study showed that children from mothers that received an omega-3 fatty acid supplement during gestation had 63% lower risk of developing asthma and 87% lower risk of allergic asthma. xxv

  85. Liv says

    This article is contrary to what MANY nutritionists and naturopathic practitioners advise. Youre advising that people eat animal fats? What about vegans?

  86. jake3_14 says

    Just because 10,000 people spout inaccurate information doesn’t make it accurate. Have you read any of the literature on (a) how humans evolved to eat and (b) the risks of veganism? Demonstrate that you’ve done your homework before you challenge the views Kresser writes about.

    Veganism is, at best, a misguided attempt to be ethical. The ecosystem destruction required to support a vegan way of eating with industrial agriculture is just as great as that required for the industrial livestock paradigm and more so than the damage done by traditional animal husbandry practices.

  87. Chris Redmond says

    When trying to calculate what is the most healthy diet for modern man to eat, we should be evaluating the nutritional qualities of foods and their beneficial or detrimental effects on our health.

    What we shouldn’t do is discount certain foodstuffs for ethical reasons. Sure, once we have a good idea what the ideal diet should be, it is up to individuals to decide if there are ethical reasons not to follow such a diet, but vegetarians for instance should not ignore the science and the evidence just because it does not support their ethical stance.

    Yes, factory farming is cruel which is why I myself only eat grass fed beef, locally bred lamb/ham/bacon and free range eggs.

    Vegans/vegetarians can make the perfectly valid argument that they don’t eat meat because they think factory farming is cruel or whatever, but when they then try to claim their diet is healthier than those who eat meat it is nothing more than propaganda.

    We have canine teeth for a reason, and it’s not to chew on broccoli.

  88. Polina says

    Dear Chris,

    I am exploring your work. It is a broad and interesting universe. Application is challenging, though, as it is not an exact science. There are too many variables and some of them unknown :-)
    I have a question about fiber. You are saying that half pound vegetables per day supply enough fiber. Does that include the starchy tubers? I assume not. According to the pyramid, the tubers should be less than the other vegetables. That means they should be less than half pound. If the latter is true, then how are we getting enough carbs? half pound veggies plus less than half pound tubers supplies less than 100 gr carbohydrates (in most cases 50 – 60 grams). If we do not indulge in fruit, we end up with less than 1000 gr carbs. Where did my math go wrong? I am trying to figure out a diet that is healing both for the gut and the thyroid and am stuck at the carbs part. Your message is kind of clear. If one does not have problems with carb metabolism, one should not go ketotic (get in ketosis) and eat plenty of carbs. Please help on the carb part. Thanks.

  89. Merle says

    I don’t understand how you can make blanket nutritional recommendations. Every individual has different nutritional needs and requirements at different points in their lives. Yet this assumes one “diet” is good for all. I’d love to understand why…….?

  90. David A says

    Chris,
    I just want to say thank you for providing such a wealth of (free) information through your blog and podcast. I love encountering new (to me) and practical information regarding the optimization of the human experience, and somehow the content you provide always seems to lead me toward a more complete understanding of human health. I am currently using some of this info to get my girlfriend’s Dad off of statins, and helping to prevent her mother from beginning them. Keep up the very good work!

  91. Karen says

    Thanks Chris for your information.
    I have been looking for something like this and have been doing a lot of research. Which has led to some confusion but I think I’m getting to some conclusions that suit me.
    I have been trying to follow a healthy diet within my budget from the research I have found. I have found that wild caught mullet is a reasonably cheap fish that doesn’t absorb the nasty stuff from the sea and kangaroo (I live in Australia) is a cheap game meat. I also eat alot of eggs. If I want to get some organic happy animal meat I like using bones and offal (especially kidney but I plan to branch out to liver etc).
    My question is about olive oil. When you mentioned it as a good Monounsaturated Fat does this need to be cold pressed? Can it be heated? And if so is cold pressed still the option? I hear cold pressed olive oil is great for salads. I have also been using hemp oil for cold applications too. I have been replacing my oils with coconut and butter but it would be great to have a oil like olive oil for frying and roasting. What would you suggest?

  92. Karen says

    Me again… I have some more questions.
    Although I eat meat, I’m looking for some vegetarian protein and fat sources. I noticed on your pyramid you have olives so I have included them more in my diet. I eat butter, soaked raw almonds, eat locally made organic tempeh (which is the only soy I eat), soaked chia seeds and coconut. I’m happy to do the soaking, sprouting and fermenting.
    You mentioned macadamia nuts, do they need soaking?
    Would you agree that the protein/fat ones I have listed are suitable considering your research, Chris?
    Do you have any suggestions of the better vegetarian protein and fats sources?
    And how would I find out which require soaking, sprouting and fermenting?

  93. Kris says

    The problem with advocates for a high-carb diet is that they cannot dispute the fact that human body can live without ingesting carbs but not fat and protein, carbs might be “less risky” if you don’t have metabolic issues or at risk for diabetes, or if you engage if high amounts of physical activity which many ancient cultures and Indian tribes did.

    I don’t believe there is a such thing for the most part as good and bad carbs, the issue came up because manufacturers were trying to save face by having “whole grain stamps” on their products.

    While it may seem that slow acting, complex carbs, are good and refined or white potatoes are bad, research does not prove this, ancestors have eat potatoes for years, and higher carb foods may give you more energy initially rather than have the body spend hours breaking down carbs. In addition our ancestors probably ate fructose whether through fruit or simple sugars such as honey for fat storage and energy storage for longer periods of time or during the wilderness.

    I think fiber is over promoted in the media, first it can cause GI problems, and second there is a more greater access to insoluble fiber than soluble fiber in many foods, both may have importance but soluble fiber rich foods are not as common. Lastly, since many fiber rich foods are in “whole grain” products, folks will end up consuming more carbohydrates than they should and fruits and vegetables are better sources of fiber and probably easier on the bowels although certain veggies are not.

  94. Debbie says

    Chris, could you be a little explicit about how much protein we need daily? Some of us have eating disorders histories, and eating to satiety and leaving it at that just doesn’t work. We can end up over or under doing it.

    How does one “count” the protein in kefir? If one drinks 2 cups per day and 6 ounces or so of meat or fish, is that sufficient?

    Some of us need a little more guidance. Thanks so much. Love your e-books and podcasts. This is the go-to site for me at this point. (I lost 80 pounds many years ago, but only now am learning how to truly eat and supplement for optimal health, so thanks.

  95. bashar says

    Hi Chris;

    This is the first time for me since years where I read an article Which I feel its talking exactly about my body.

    But if I can eat fructose and grains, Which type of carbs I can eat to gain weight, I m very thin because of my IBS and ulcer and stress, and already playing body building but not gaining weght

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