Chapter 4-4 of Healing Foods by Walter Last
Have a closer look at meat and fat. They can be beneficial but as commonly used they tend to create a lot of problems for our health
Health problems associated with meat fall into three categories: those common to all meat, those with cooked meat, and those with factory farming. Common to all meat is a high phosphorus content with an unfavourable phosphorus to calcium ratio. The main problem with cooked meat is the destruction of food enzymes in the meat, and the formation of carcinogenic chemicals at higher temperatures. Factory farming introduces unbiological chemicals, makes the fat more saturated, and the animals more stressed and unhealthy.
Those who eat a lot of red meat tend to develop the opposite characteristics and health problems to those on a sweet diet. Red meat has a stimulating effect on the sympathetic nervous system and on the adrenal hormones. This improves the ability to 'push through' and provides 'drive'; heavy meat eaters may become powerfully assertive and even aggressive.
Another important effect of eating red meat is a tendency for the blood pressure to rise because of its effects on the adrenal hormones and the nervous system. Eating beef has the strongest influence on blood pressure. All this can be beneficial for hypoglycemics with low blood pressure, lack of drive, and weak adrenal glands but for others, especially stressed males, it may mean hypertension and kidney problems.
The high phosphorus content of meat stimulates the parathyroid glands and raises the calcium blood level, in some cases by activating calcium from the bones. In combination with a prevailing over-alkalinity, this leads to stone formation, such as kidney stones, kidney damage, arteriosclerosis, stiff joints, ankylosis and arthritic bone deformations.
Carnivorous animals in the wild do not have the problem of an excessive intake of phosphorus, because they also eat the calcium-rich bones. We, too, can avoid this problem by using bone broth or other foods and supplements high in calcium.
Heavy meat eaters have been found to excrete up to four times more calcium than normal with the urine; this is the cause of kidney stones and other kidney damage. It is even worse when high meat consumption is combined with a high sugar intake. This can increase the loss of calcium and corresponding kidney damage up to tenfold above normal, while at the same time greatly accelerating osteoporosis and tissue calcifications, such as arteriosclerosis. The probability of forming kidney stones is 700% higher in habitual meat eaters than in vegetarians.
Meat, because of its high phosphoric acid content, is regarded as an acid-forming food. However, in habitual heavy meat eaters or in those with a weak digestive system the metabolic and hormonal stimulation resulting from red meat consumption gradually declines and eventually leads to a sluggish metabolism. These individuals are called 'slow oxidizers'. With a slow metabolism, a deficiency in metabolic acids develops and this makes the whole body too alkaline.
Furthermore, because of the over-alkalinity, histamine remains tightly bound to tissue proteins, and the skin, as well as the whole body, becomes rather insensitive. This insensitivity is also a sign of the typical schizophrenic (low-histamine type). For such people, even the emotions are sluggish and the individual appears unresponsive with little outward expression.
With low histamine levels, inflammatory responses, required for many self-healing actions of the body, are suppressed. Allergens entering the bloodstream will not cause a warning allergic reaction; instead, autoimmune diseases may develop from a continued invasion of allergens. Histamine dilates the blood vessels, causing the blood pressure to drop. This is a problem of hypoglycemics. However, lack of histamine in slow oxidizers greatly contributes to the development of high blood pressure.
In one study 98 vegetarians were compared to a matched group of non-vegetarians. The average blood pressure of the vegetarians was 126/77 as compared to 147/88 for the non-vegetarians. Only 2% of the vegetarians had hypertension compared to 26% of the non-vegetarians.
A diet high in meat, together with weak kidneys, often leads to the accumulation of uric acid in the muscles, causing gout and rheumatism. General over-alkalinity leads to a lack of gastric acid in later life, resulting in poor absorption of minerals and an incomplete digestion of proteins. Intestinal putrefaction and eventually cancer may follow, aided by chronic constipation and a depletion of pancreas enzymes.
One main problem of a diet high in meat and actually of all high-protein diets is the accumulation of protein fragments in the spaces between tissue cells that causes or contributes to water retention or edema. In addition, the basement membrane becomes clogged, preventing efficient nutrient supply to the tissues, and lymph glands congested with protein fragments are breeding grounds for bacteria and weaken the immune system. All these complications aid the development of degenerative diseases and cancer.
Heavy meat eating is the more harmful, the more sedentary the life-style and the older the individual. Carnivores not only have stronger protein-digesting enzymes, they also eat their meat raw, except for domesticated animals who have no choice. There is a significant amount of protein-digesting cathepsin in raw meat, which greatly aids its digestion.
With cooked food generally, and especially with meat eating, the weight of the pancreas has been shown to increase with a permanently raised requirement for digestive enzymes. The pancreas of animals on cooked diets is about 300% heavier than it is for those on a raw-meat diet. While animals on raw meat remained healthy, those on cooked diets developed a variety of degenerative diseases typical of human conditions. Permanently raised enzyme requirements appear to be responsible for early enzyme depletion and, with this, to early aging and its related diseases.
This shows the folly of feeding pets the glowingly advertised tinned and dried foods that are not only lacking in enzymes but also contain a high degree of starches that carnivores cannot digest well. The results are arthritis and other degenerative diseases. To remain healthy, dogs and cats need a raw-meat diet that includes offal and bones.
Formerly Eskimos remained healthy on partly predigested raw meat and fish; with the introduction of Western cooked food their health has now deteriorated. In our society the enzyme-depleting effect of cooked meat is accompanied by an accumulation of toxic chemicals and hormones. Chemical contamination is much worse in grain-fed feedlot beef than in grazing animals. Nevertheless, even chemical-free meat produces vastly more metabolic waste than any other food; this can be an important factor in the development and treatment of kidney failure.
Beside Eskimos, several other cultural groups eat predigested meat by hanging it for long periods before consumption or wrapping it in papaw leaves. If one cannot obtain the meat of healthy, chemical-free animals and eat it raw - for instance minced or marinated - or add digestive enzymes from other sources, then it is better for our health to eat meat only sparingly. Furthermore, free-living carnivores not only eat their meat raw, they also eat the bones and they have a very active lifestyle and efficient elimination of metabolic residues. If we want to remain healthy on a diet high in meat, then we have to adopt the same principles.
Another major problem often associated with the consumption of red meat is the excessive intake of saturated fats. Fat is an important source of energy and some of its components - the polyunsaturated fatty acids and lipotrophic factors - are essential for our health.
While in a classical sense all fats and oils are often grouped together as 'fats' or 'lipids', commonly we speak of fats when they are solid at room temperature and of oils when they are liquid at that temperature. Fats and oils are composed of fatty acids, chemically linked with glycerol.
Fatty acids with one free binding capacity are called 'unsaturated' and with several free binding capacities, 'polyunsaturated'. Animal fats consist mainly of long-chain saturated fatty acids with a high melting point. Beef and mutton have the hardest animal fats; butter is only marginally softer.
A high consumption of these hard fats poses two basic problems. If no special attempt is made to use sufficient polyunsaturated oils that provide the necessary essential fatty acids (EFA) and lipotrophic factors (for example, lecithin, vitamin E), then a deficiency of these is likely to develop. The other basic problem is that the liver may not be able to metabolize an oversupply of long-chain saturated fatty acids.
The EFA and lipotrophic factors are important in forming cell walls, for the immune system, for platelet aggregation in blood clotting to prevent bleeding but also unnecessary clotting. They also form tissue hormones, called prostaglandins and other important bio-chemicals.
Deficiencies in these nutrients cause the following: a weak immune system; blood vessel and cardiovascular diseases; blood clots causing heart infarcts, paralysis and strokes; skin problems, often starting with scaliness and including eczema, acne and psoriasis; poor growth; impaired reproduction; and bronchial diseases.
Many degenerative diseases have been linked with an oversupply of saturated fats and a subsequent deficiency in EFA, such as atherosclerosis, nerve and brain disorders, schizophrenia, psychoses and neuroses, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. However, an oversupply of polyunsaturated oils may have its dangers as well, especially if it contains chemical anti-oxidants or if ample vitamin E is not available. Polyunsaturated oils easily oxidize in contact with air to form oxides and peroxides that have a high potential for causing cancer and liver damage. This danger is greatest when these oils are heated as in frying.
Poultry cause less of a problem in its fat composition than butter or beef. Chicken, for instance, has 14% linoleic acid (with two reactive double bonds), while beef has only 2% and butter 1%. Fish and seafood are even better in that they provide the fatty acids of the 'omega-3 series' with three unsaturated bonds. However, even beef can be quite high in omega-3 fatty acids, provided that it is from grass-fed animals that have not been in feedlots.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
There are two groups of essential fatty acids. The common oils from warm-climate seeds (for example, sunflower, safflower) contain mainly the omega-6 series of EFA, based on linoleic acid with two unsaturated or double bonds. Cold-climate plants and fish oils, on the other hand, contain mainly omega-3 fatty acids. Linolenic acid in linseed with three double bonds has the shortest carbon chain in this group. In fish oils the longer DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) predominate.
Except if eating much seafood, the omega-3 fatty acids have generally been neglected in modern nutrition. This has led to widespread deficiency symptoms, often as part of a chronic disease. Their fundamental importance can be seen in the fact that DHA is the main unsaturated fatty acid in the retina and the brain and is exceptionally high in the thymus and the reproductive glands, especially the testes. DHA is obviously most needed during pregnancy and early infancy for brain and gland development. It is up to 30 times higher in breast milk than in cow's milk or formula. This may bear some relation to epilepsy and eye weakness in infants and has also been linked to colic, inflammation of the lungs, digestive tract, joints and kidneys; also to crib death (SIDS), skin diseases and a predisposition to frequent infections. A recent scientific study reported an eight-point higher intelligence quotient in pre-term babies fed breast milk as compared to those on cow's milk formula. As explanation the deficiency of DHA in cow's milk was cited.
Fish oils are now commonly used to prevent heart disease, while linseed oil with its 45% alpha-linolenic acid has been successfully used with various mental diseases. Even severe cases of schizophrenia and manic depressive illness have reportedly been overcome or controlled with linseed oil. However, often it can only be used within a narrow range for in these diseases: One or two tablespoons of linseed oil daily may overcome depression but twice that amount may cause a manic episode with racing thoughts.
Generally, however, this dosage can be increased about tenfold before negative symptoms develop. Not only mood swings, irritability and anxiety are relieved but premenstrual tension and other menstrual problems, and vaginal lubrication after menopause are improved; prostate enlargement, arthritis, eye problems, immune deficiency, hair loss (alopecia areata), obesity and skin problems are all relieved.
The EFA and especially the omega-3 fatty acids regulate the fluidity or softness of the cell membranes. A deficiency is noticeable in a hardening of the skin, as with dry, scaling and flaking skin, patchy eczema, acne and skin sensitive to the sun. Most common is phrynoderma with rough, hard skin on buttocks, thighs and arms. The colder the climate the more omega-3 fatty acids are needed for membrane fluidity.
The omega-6 series predominantly forms prostaglandins that increase inflammation and with this pain in many diseases, while the omega-3 series forms anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. Thus omega-6 fatty acids aggravate allergic reactions, including asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, while omega-3 fatty acids reduce these. Another important function of both groups of EFA is their production of oxidative energy. This can be seen in the normalizing effect that linseed oil reportedly has on the energy production of cancer cells. Also the 'brown fat' that produces and regulates our body heat is mainly stimulated by omega-3 fatty acids. This is especially important for overweight individuals who want to convert body fat into body heat and for those who habitually have cold hands and feet.
While individuals with deficiency symptoms related to omega-3 require a higher intake for some time, it is generally estimated that a normal diet should provide 2-3% of calories from omega-3 and 5-10% from omega-6 fatty acids. The average modern diet provides about 0.4% of calories from omega-3 and 10% from omega-6 fatty acids.
While using polyunsaturated oils instead of saturated fats has been found to reduce the cholesterol level and cardiovascular diseases, the rate of cancer has risen. Besides the damage due to peroxides and free radicals (highly reactive molecule fragments) formed from polyunsaturated fatty acids, the common seed oils also have a strong inflammatory influence as they tend to form pro-inflammatory tissue hormones.
This not only increases allergic reactions and arthritic inflammations but potentates the growth of tumors. In addition, it has been reported that melanoma sufferers had a higher rate of polyunsaturated fatty acids in their skin than non-affected individuals. A high intake of polyunsaturated oils also requires a greatly increased intake of antioxidants, especially of vitamin E. However, refined oils as well as our normal diet are very low in vitamin E. Therefore ultraviolet rays striking the skin can easily peroxidize its polyunsaturated fatty acids. This, in addition to a low intake of bioflavonoids and carotenoids, is probably the main factor in the present high incidence of skin cancer.
More health problems are caused because of the unbiological production of polyunsaturated oils. These oils are very delicate substances that should be produced and stored at cool temperatures and excluding oxygen and strong light. Instead, they are either extracted with chemical solvents or cooked and pressed hot and then refined with bleaching and deodorizing at very high temperatures. Even many cold-pressed oils are refined in this way. This causes not only oxidative damage to the oils, but also a structural change by which a high percentage of the natural cis-fatty acids form unnatural trans-fatty acids. Finally, oils are sold in clear plastic bottles instead of in brown glass bottles; they are thus exposed to light and dissolve chemicals out of the plastic.
However, there is one oil reasonably high in omega-3 fatty acids that should be avoided. This is canola or rape seed oil. There are warnings that an ingredient, erucic acid, apparently can agglutinate (clump together) red blood cells and reportedly contribute to loss of vision or blindness, emphysema and other respiratory problems, anemia, also problems with the central and peripheral nervous system. While this may no longer be much of a problem with modern canola oil low in erucic acid, I would not use it, except if it were certified organic, cold-pressed and definitely not genetically engineered.
The liver has only a limited potential for handling fat. When the liver is flooded with a consistently high supply of saturated fats, it cannot metabolize it all. And fats do not come only from fatty food - any surplus of sugars, too, can be converted into saturated fat.
Normally fats are broken down into keto-acids in the liver and transported by the bloodstream to other cells where they combine with products from the sugar metabolism to create energy. When fats are oversupplied, there may not be enough glucose to efficiently produce energy, either because the glucose intake is insufficient or because the effectiveness of insulin is reduced with the high epinephrine levels induced by meat eating. A surplus of keto-acids may then be resynthesized to saturated fatty acids and cholesterol.
Another difficulty is that not all the fat may be able to be converted into keto-acids and a high percentage of fatty acids and fat molecules are then released directly into the bloodstream. The body may reduce these surplus fats by storing them in adipose tissue, forming fat deposits. This happens especially with heavy meat eaters who have become slow oxidizers. However, to keep this in perspective, I have no doubt that most excess weight is due to a diet high in sugars and starches.
Some of the fatty acids and cholesterol may react with the usually elevated calcium levels of slow oxidizers to form fatty plaques, also called 'sludge', in the blood vessels. Technically speaking, fatty deposits are called 'atheromas' and consist mainly of smooth muscle cells filled with sludge, similar to fatty tumors. Such deposits cause arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases.
Not only animal fats, even peanuts and peanut oil have properties that cause atherosclerosis: peanut oil contains some saturated fatty acids with unusually long chains - arachidic and behemic acid. However, it is just these fatty acids that seem to be beneficial for arthritic joints. Again, keeping clogging of the ateries in perspective, atheromas usually contain more polyunsaturated than saturated fatty acids.
In those with a sensitive skin, especially during adolescence, the body tries to cleanse itself by removing fatty sludge through the sebaceous glands, causing acne and an unclean skin. Eating sweet food is as much to blame for this as is fat intake.
Fats in the feet, for instance, have a melting point of 330 F, while fats of the inner organs melt at 1140 F. If the diet contains too much saturated fat and sweet food, then the melting point of the outer fats will be raised. In cold parts of the skin, those that are exposed or with poor blood circulation, the fats will harden within the sebaceous glands and block the outflow of sludge or normal skin oils. This causes inflammation of these glands such as with acne and other skin problems.
Even worse than natural hard fats are those that are chemically hardened, such as margarine. During the hydrogenation process unbiological fatty acids are formed - trans-fatty acids - which the body cannot properly metabolize and which also interfere with the utilization of essential fatty acids.
Besides cardiovascular diseases and an increased incidence of cancer, fatty degeneration of the liver is also a frequent outcome of a diet habitually high in red meat and saturated fats. It has been reported that the blood becomes more viscous or sluggish after a fatty meal. This causes a reduction in tissue oxygenation and increased susceptibility to arthritic pain, heart pain or shortness of breath. In addition, the blood flow to the brain is reduced, producing tiredness and decreased mental alertness.
Some of the adverse effects of fatty foods result from a deficiency of lecithin, which is a natural emulsifier of fats. Lecithin can be synthesized in the liver but often a deficiency develops because naturally occurring lecithin or choline are lacking in refined food. This is a main cause of fatty degeneration of the liver, which can be reversed, however, with cleansing and lecithin supplements.
Another problem on a high-fat diet is the destruction of naturally occurring lipase in cooked food. Lipase is important as our main fat-digesting enzyme and we rely to a significant degree on natural food lipase to supplement our pancreas lipase. With the destruction of food lipase by heating we gradually develop a lipase deficiency on high-fat diets, which leads to the development of fat-related diseases.
Formerly various cultural groups such as inhabitants of Bulgaria and the Caucasus lived on high-fat diets without developing fat-related diseases, even on an abundance of full-fat milk products. They were famous for their health and longevity; they generally used unheated fats. Also the Masaii traditionally live on high-fat diets while maintaining excellent health. Again, their health secret is that the fats largely remain unheated.
Here is another example of the significance of natural lipase in our diet. The skin disease psoriasis is generally aggravated by fatty foods, and fats must be avoided to cure it. However, earlier this century an American doctor reported to cure psoriasis routinely with an intake of two pounds of raw butter per week for six weeks and with reduced amounts afterwards. Modern pasteurized butter definitely aggravates psoriasis but raw butter cures it - what is the key difference? Raw butter from free-ranging cows is very high in lipase and pasteurized butter is devoid of it.
The healthiest saturated fat may actually be coconut oil. This is due to its high content of short-chain fatty acids that can easily move into cells to be converted to energy. The long fatty acids of other fats, in contrast, require L-carnitine for this process. Individuals who have added coconut oil to their diet generally seem to have more energy without putting on extra weight.
There is research evidence that diets high in saturated fats cause less cardiovascular disease than those high in polyunsaturated oils. However, I see the healthiest option in a diet that provides a variety of fats and oils predominantly in an unrefined and unheated form.
To sum up the main problems with fats and oils that may lead to diseases:
· Heating and refining destroys enzymes, changes the chemical structure, removes antioxidants and increases rancidity
· Imbalances from using too many saturated fats or omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3 fatty acids lead to deficiencies, inflammations and fatty degeneration of arteries and organs
· Problems can be avoided and health deterioration reversed by using mainly unheated fats and oils, plenty of antioxidants and sufficient omega-3 fatty acids
You may read about HDL and LDL in connection with cholesterol and heart disease. HDL is short for high-density lipoproteins and LDL for low-density lipoproteins. Lipoproteins are biomolecules composed of proteins and lipids; they can be used to transport cholesterol between the liver and tissue cells. Those that carry cholesterol from the cells to the liver, are the high-density lipoproteins, and regarded as beneficial. The cholesterol in them is called HDL cholesterol. Low-density lipoproteins carry LDL cholesterol from the liver to tissue cells, a low level of these is regarded as good.
The aim of medical intervention is to increase the value of HDL cholesterol, and lower the value of LDL cholesterol in the blood. However, I am not aware of evidence that these medical strategies are successful. Therefore, I tend to disregard measurements of HDL, LDL and cholesterol, and specific interventions to normalize values; instead I focus on a natural lifestyle to improve health in every way.
Cholesterol is now portrayed as the great villain in causing cardiovascular disease and heart attacks by clogging the arteries and especially the coronary arteries of the heart muscle with fatty sludge. However, cholesterol is an extremely valuable biochemical. It forms, for instance, the base of steroid hormones and vitamin D and is especially highly concentrated in the brain as well as in the liver, adrenal glands and nerves. Hypoglycemics or fast oxidizers usually have low levels of this important nutrient.
Recent studies link low cholesterol levels with an increased risk of cancer. Excess cholesterol is normally excreted with the bile but may form gallstones if there is a lack of lecithin and taurine needed to form bile salts. The cholesterol content of food is not normally a problem in itself. Most cholesterol in the body is formed in the liver from breakdown products of saturated fats, and the more cholesterol that is ingested with food, the less is it synthesized. Thus the overall cholesterol level normally remains stable.
Cholesterol overproduction arises partly from the stimulating effect of high epinephrine levels but mainly from an oversupply of saturated fats and a deficiency of chromium. The body tries desperately to lower the keto-acid and fatty levels in blood and liver, and cholesterol overproduction provides a temporary solution. Even elevated glucose and fructose levels may be reduced by conversion into cholesterol. In this way sweet foods, too, contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases Sugar ingestion raises the insulin level and a key enzyme that synthesizes cholesterol is actually regulated by insulin. The higher the sugar intake, the higher is the insulin level, and the more cholesterol is synthesized in the liver.
A higher intake of polyunsaturated oils in males has led to some decrease in cholesterol levels, however in women it has led to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. In animal experiments it was found that high-sugar diets were less damaging in the presence of saturated fats such as beef tallow or coconut oil. Despite huge efforts, medical research so far has not conclusively shown that a high-cholesterol diet or high-cholesterol blood levels cause heart disease. As we can see from the following published scientific facts and observations, it is often to the contrary.
· Medically supervised trials with low-cholesterol diets were unsuccessful in significantly lowering blood-cholesterol levels or reducing the risk of heart disease.
· Low blood cholesterol does not mean freedom from heart disease. Some drug treatments to lower cholesterol have resulted in increased rates of heart disease.
· About 50% of men under the age of 55 who die of heart attack do not have elevated cholesterol levels or any of the other risk factors such as hypertension, smoking, obesity or diabetes.
· Some other cultural groups have a low risk of heart disease despite a high intake of cholesterol and so had Western populations before the compulsory pasteurization of milk products and chlorination of water supplies.
Recently an evaluation was published of six major trials entailing the lowering of cholesterol in the blood and involving tens of thousands of individuals over many years. The result was surprising. There was on average a cholesterol reduction of about 10% and indeed a small reduction of 14% from death of coronary heart disease. However, the total number of deaths was significantly higher in those patients who had their cholesterol lowered compared to the control group. This included not only higher mortality from cancer but on average a 67% higher mortality rate from violent death, such as accidents, homicides and suicides. This high rate of death from violent causes was found in every one of these trials.
In looking for an explanation for this increased violence, researchers found that monkeys on a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat became more aggressive. Studies on humans found lower cholesterol levels among criminals, individuals with aggressive or violent behavior or limited self-control and those involved with homicide and suicide. This is probably due to a more erratic sugar metabolism that results if cholesterol and fats are curtailed in an inappropriate way. Erratic blood-sugar fluctuations tend to induce uncontrollable mood swings, including aggressive behavior. Criminal and aggressive individuals have been shown to frequently have an erratic or hypoglycemic-type sugar metabolism.
After decades of habitual sugar and meat consumption, the insulin level rises permanently because of a reduced efficiency in controlling glucose levels. Then cholesterol levels also remain chronically high. Reducing cholesterol in this situation, as with drugs, means that less sugar is converted into cholesterol. Therefore blood-sugar levels become more erratic and behavior is more aggressive. Thus low-cholesterol diets are only appropriate if they are also low in sweet food.
There is, however, a connection between cholesterol intake and atherosclerosis and heart disease. If cholesterol in food is heated, especially with access to air, then cholesterol is oxidized to oxy-cholesterol and this damages the blood vessels to cause atherosclerotic lesions. Once such lesions exist, normal cholesterol in combination with high calcium levels may also contribute to a further build-up of plaques. In experiments using animals it was found that with high intakes of either cholesterol or oxy-cholesterol, atherosclerotic degeneration occurred only with oxy-cholesterol, not with cholesterol.
Oxy-cholesterol is also carcinogenic. This means that the high disease rate from cardiovascular disease and atherosclerotic aging processes are mainly due to the heating - especially frying - of meat, eggs and milk products. Avoiding chlorinated water and using high levels of antioxidants would also insure that cholesterol does not become oxidized inside the body.
In conclusion, to avoid cholesterol-related health problems:
· Minimize the use of sweetened food, heated fats, oils and chlorinated water
· Maximize the intake of unheated fats, oils, antioxidants, and fresh raw foods
· Lower high cholesterol levels with cleansing periods and plenty of lemon juice