January 2013
Volume 12 Issue 1

Plant Positive Video Series Speaks Out Against Low-Carb Diet Advocates

In June of 2010 a friend told me about the Paleo diet. What she said felt like a revelation. The idea that I was meant to eat like my ancient ancestors seemed to make perfect sense and the timing of our conversation was perfect. The preceding months had felt like the beginning of some sort of decline for me. Through Paleo I believed I could realize a fresh new version of myself that was fitter, stronger, and more “primal.”

But then I began to read about the “science” of Paleo and my personal Paleo dream started to fade. It became apparent that the Paleo gurus don’t really understand evolution, heart disease, or nutrition. They represent their ad hoc conjectures as facts while ignoring or contradicting well-established science. There was no denying it; Paleo is a fad.

My flirtation with caveman dieting introduced me to a strange hypermasculine subculture built upon science denialism and a misguided sense of nostalgia. The Paleo gurus had reimagined and rebranded the Atkins diet, targeting it directly at the male ego. Their sales pitch was so brilliant that even medical doctors and academics were being seduced. Paleo was on the verge of respectability. It was all too dangerous, too dishonest, and frankly, too obnoxious for me to simply stand idly by as the fad spread. I began the Primitive Nutrition project early in 2011.

My current circumstances dictate that I remain anonymous. Don’t let that deter you from learning from my videos. By providing you this project for free I have tried to distinguish myself from the fad diet promoters whom I criticize. For every claim I make you’ll see a direct image of a scientific reference to support it. Many of the sources you’ll see were selected by the low carb promoters themselves and are quite hard to find. Indeed, I believe many of them were chosen primarily for their obscurity. Perhaps they thought, “Who would ever go to the trouble to verify all those old references?” Well, I did, and therein lies one of the unique assets of this project – many of the old studies that prop up the version of history told by low-carb apologists like Gary Taubes at last see the light of day. Nutrition Past and Future starts by correcting that history. Their false narrative must now dissolve.

Plant Positive

Nutrition Past and Future Summary

1 The Journalist Gary Taubes 1: Controlling History

In this opening video of Nutrition Past and Future, you'll see why Gary Taubes is such a serious threat to public health. This “relentless researcher” argues that nutrition science is but a mere house of cards. To make his case, he appears quite willing to sacrifice the truth, as you will directly witness in this video.


2 The Journalist Gary Taubes 2: A Parajournalism Paradox

In the first chapter of Good Calories, Bad Calories, Gary Taubes represents the medical history of Dwight Eisenhower as a paradox. Eisenhower succumbed to heart disease despite his earnest attempts to control his cholesterol after his first heart attack. Taubes says his case “raises important questions” about diet-heart. Instead, this section of his book raises important questions about his willingness to adhere to minimal standards of journalistic professionalism.


3 The Journalist Gary Taubes 3: Ancel Keys Was Very Bad 1

Ancel Keys was one of the most influential scientists in the history of diet-heart. Robert Lustig tells us that Keys, a man "who made us fat," targeted saturated fat as the nutrient responsible for heart disease before he'd done any research on the matter. Gary Taubes says two researchers exposed Keys for the faulty methods he applied in a 1953 paper about diet-heart. In this first video about Keys, you'll see that he actually developed his ideas in response to contemporary research findings, and you’ll see that a fair reading of his paper reveals a far different scientist than the bumbling and biased one his critics portray.


4 The Journalist Gary Taubes 4: Ancel Keys Was Very Bad 2

All the cholesterol deniers know the story. Ancel Keys cherry picked data to convince the world that dietary fat contributes to heart disease, and two researchers named Yerushalmy and Hilleboe exposed his biased and amateurish methods. But were their criticisms valid? And what did those two think the data suggested instead? The low carb myth of the 22 countries is deflated in this video. I’ll also explore the so-called French Paradox in this one, and I’ll assesses Gary Taubes’ charge that Keys’ Seven Countries Study was rigged.


5 The Journalist Gary Taubes 5: John Yudkin Was Very Good

Low carb defenders like Gary Taubes and Robert Lustig think John Yudkin unfairly suffered ridicule for being the first to argue that sugar causes heart disease. Yudkin lost his public argument with Ancel Keys about diet-heart even though it was always clear that sugar was at least as problematic as saturated fat. This video recounts the research of Yudkin’s day about sugar's role in heart disease. You’ll learn the real reason Yudkin lost his debate with Keys – he simply failed to make his case.


6 The Journalist Gary Taubes 6: Lessons from the Dead

Gary Taubes thinks it's been known since 1936 that autopsy studies have indicated that serum cholesterol levels do not relate to the extent of heart disease. Weston Price Foundation founders Sally Fallon and Mary Enig say that vegetarians were known to have as much arterial plaque as even the biggest meat eaters, also thanks to autopsy studies. They are all wrong. This video reveals the true lessons the world learned through autopsies about heart disease.


7 The Journalist Gary Taubes 7: Anomaly Hunter 1

Gary Taubes says the pioneers of diet-heart only cared about the studies that affirmed their convictions about saturated fat and cholesterol. He thinks they ignored other studies that called diet-heart into question, and he provides the reader with several examples of such studies. But were any of those studies compelling? Or were their findings only superficial anomalies that could be easily explained? Even so, some of them should have helped Taubes recognize that carbohydrates protect heart health.


8 The Journalist Gary Taubes 8: Anomaly Hunter 2

More of the studies Taubes believes undermine diet-heart are presented in this video. At the end, we’ll also look at examples of populations Taubes says were obese even though they didn’t overeat. Upon closer examination, it becomes clear that some of the research Taubes likes actually contradicts his beliefs.


9 The Journalist Gary Taubes 9: Anomaly Hunter 3

More quirky studies are cited by Taubes in his floundering attempts to discredit Ancel Keys. Once again we’ll see that Taubes hasn’t done his due diligence as a journalist, and that he has withheld key observations made by the authors of these studies. Also, in a preview of the Ancestral Cholesterol videos, we’ll consider his claims about African nomads like the Masai and the Samburu.


10 The Journalist Gary Taubes 10: Anomaly Hunter 4

In the last of the Anomaly Hunter videos, we’ll focus on a town called Roseto, whose inhabitants Taubes says enjoyed good heart health despite their fatty diets. One of the authors of the study he cites to make this claim explicitly rejected the conclusion Taubes makes about Roseto. Next, we’ll look at an example of an important study that Taubes has chosen to ignore, revealing his hypocrisy as a critic of the diet-heart leaders.


11 The Journalist Gary Taubes 11: Oil-Based Nutrition 1

The early metabolic ward experiments investigating the effects of fats on cholesterol led many researchers down an ill-chosen path as they attempted to prevent heart disease events by feeding patients low-quality diets soaked in refined oils. Gary Taubes interprets these diet trials as significant blows against diet-heart. I’ll show you what really happened in these oily trials. In this video, the Minnesota Coronary Survey is discussed. We’ll also learn about one inadequate effort to test a less oily low-fat diet, which despite its faults, did provide a useful test of the Yudkin sugar hypothesis.


12 The Journalist Gary Taubes 12: Oil-Based Nutrition 2

This second Oil-Based Nutrition video looks at one big trial Taubes describes in his book and one he does not. The LA Veterans Study supported diet-heart, but it had flaws which Taubes uses to create unnecessary confusion. But he ignores the Oslo trial, which didn’t take the oil-based route and therefore came up with results that unequivocally support diet-heart. This video also informs you about the Anti-Coronary Club trial, about which Taubes tells one of the biggest whoppers in his book. His willingness to distort and conceal is once again laid bare.


13 The Journalist Gary Taubes 13: The Taubes Filter

As you saw in the previous video, Gary Taubes is remarkably willing to misrepresent the statements and views of the people he references. In this video, you’ll see multiple examples of how an individual who accepts the science of diet-heart can be made to seem to oppose it once that person’s words have passed through the Taubes Filter. You’ll see one deliberate misquote that is especially astounding.


14 The Journalist Gary Taubes 14: Those Scientists Are So Dumb

Despite the extreme improbability of Taubes’ arguments and his long-established difficulty with truth-telling, even a prominent intellectual might turn out to be an easy sell for him. Why would someone with specialized knowledge in his field – in this case the economist Russ Roberts – find it so easy to believe that the specialists in nutrition and heart disease do not understand their areas of expertise? That, I can’t answer, but I can supply you with the facts you need to resist the con that sucked in Roberts.


15 The Journalist Gary Taubes 15: Pesky Facts

You may have noticed that Gary Taubes has a certain fondness for very weak old studies that are so obscure, they are unlikely to be accessed by those who might wish to fact-check him. Those couldn't have been easy to find. Yet he is far less determined to bring attention to the evidence that makes the clearest case for diet-heart. In this video, I’ll offer you a small sampling of the research that made it clear that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat promote heart disease, including evidence from China that predates the China Study research.


16 The Journalist Gary Taubes 16: A Case Against Fiber (Barely Strung Together)

Denis Burkitt believed that many common diseases in industrialized societies are the result of low-fiber diets. Gary Taubes disagrees. He calls the mainstream belief that dietary fiber is protective against the diseases of civilization “wishful science.” To convince his readers of that he offers numerous references that he thinks call into question the benefits of fiber. Here, too, Taubes has made his case using only very shaky evidence. In this video you’ll see just how hard it is to obscure the benefits of high-fiber diets.


17 Thomas Dayspring, Lipidologist Lost

In video 14 you saw that even the highly educated can fall for the fictions Gary Taubes has concocted. Now I will show you that even a specialist in lipids can be persuaded to believe his nonsensical views about meat and saturated fat. Once again, I can’t explain how someone so well-informed can remain so gullible. All I can do is show you the real facts about fat.


18 Cholesterol Confusion 1 Primordial Prevention

This video series now reviews some of the common misunderstandings that have repeatedly created confusion about cholesterol. First, I’ll show you that high cholesterol needs many years to do its worst damage. Despite this obvious fact, some people only relate cholesterol levels to adverse events quite late in the natural history of heart disease. I’ll try to help top Atkins-funded researcher Dr. Stephen Phinney understand how age influences cholesterol levels and heart disease risk in this video.


19 Cholesterol Confusion 2 The Cause of Heart Disease

There are multiple risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, and a family history of heart disease. It’s the way those risk factors combine that determines your risk of having a heart attack. This makes heart disease quite different in character from infectious diseases, which have single causes called pathogens. I’ll bet I didn’t need to tell you that. Yet Uffe Ravnskov, the founder of The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics and a man who has an MD and a Ph.D., doesn’t appear to understand this distinction. Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it to you in this video.


20 Cholesterol Confusion 3 A Poverty of Animal Fat

The inhabitants of poor countries tend to eat less animal fat and have lower cholesterol than those who live in rich countries. They also tend not to live as long. We can conclude, therefore, that higher cholesterol and greater saturated fat consumption promote longer life spans. Do you buy that one? No? I didn’t think you would. But nevertheless, that’s the poverty ploy of the cholesterol confusionists. Malcolm Kendrick and the “Perfect Health Diet”  couple are among those who are willing to stoop low enough to use this tactic. Their mendacity is confronted in this video.


21 Cholesterol Confusion 4 The Map Is Not the Territory

The biomarkers for heart disease are imperfect. We shouldn’t let them confuse us about what we know to be the true causes of heart disease.


22 Cholesterol Confusion 5 Cholesterol Is Necessary for Life

Cholesterol confusionist and Weston Price Foundation blogger Chris Masterjohn wants you to believe that if you don’t eat fatty animal foods you’ll be cholesterol-deficient and suffer serious health problems as a result. This is nonsense. Your body can easily make whatever cholesterol it needs. But Masterjohn’s disingenuous argument does raise an interesting question: How low can cholesterol go before problems arise? In this video, you’ll see that the people whose genes give them extraordinarily low cholesterol levels mostly manage just fine. Your cells are very good at regulating how much cholesterol they take in. They need to be. Too much cholesterol would be toxic for them.


23 Cholesterol Confusion 6 Dietary Cholesterol (And the Magic Egg)

Respectable researchers like Dr. David Katz of Yale believe that eggs and dietary cholesterol won’t raise your blood cholesterol. He’s done research that he says proves this. Look at that research, however, and you’ll see it proves no such thing. There is good evidence that indicates that for those of us who have cholesterol levels like our ancient ancestors, dietary cholesterol will raise our cholesterol. You’ll see that evidence in this video.


24 Cholesterol Confusion 7 The Measurement Problem

The study of cholesterol in populations can be a tricky business. The researchers behind some of the studies Gary Taubes selected in the Anomaly Hunter videos didn’t know what they needed to know to produce useful findings. For example, cholesterol levels can vary naturally, and a researcher must take that into consideration. Taubes knows that, and in this video you’ll see that he’ll acknowledge this fact if doing so will help him wriggle out of a cholesterol test on camera.


25 Cholesterol Confusion 8 A Large and Fluffy Distraction

Robert Lustig says that large LDLs have nothing to do with heart disease. This is a commonly held yet totally wrong belief among low-carb and Paleo diet promoters. I’ll explain in this video.


26 Cholesterol Confusion 9 "Brown and Goldstein Were Wrong"

Michael Brown and Joseph Goldstein won a Nobel Prize in 1985 for their research into the causes of a dangerous form of inherited high cholesterol. They have been leaders in the science of cholesterol for decades. And yet there are cholesterol deniers who claim they have been in some way wrong about cholesterol for all these years. In this video, I’ll assess the merits of the denialist criticisms made against these great scientists.


27 Ancestral Cholesterol 1

The central argument of the Primitive Nutrition project is presented in this chapter. Yes, ancestral and modern hunter gatherers have all consumed animal products. But they also had low cholesterol. Until now, the explanations for why this was so have mostly eluded nutrition researchers and diet book authors. In this video, you’ll see that ever-present parasite burdens, infectious disease, and low food availability throughout prehistory would have resulted in very low cholesterol concentrations in the blood of our ancestors.


28 Ancestral Cholesterol 2

Now that you know why hunter gatherers tended to have very low cholesterol, I’ll show you just how low their numbers got in this video. I’ll also discuss the Masai again so that I can show you that Gary Taubes, Sally Fallon, Mary Enig, and Uffe Ravnskov all make false claims about them. And near the end I’ll offer a challenge to the Perfect Health Diet couple that I don’t expect them to accept.


29 Point of Origin

We share a common ancestor with plant-eating higher primates. Even the Paleo dieters must accept that fact. However, they think that after the homo lineage branched off, tool use, bipedalism, and the conditions of the Ice Age turned our ancestors into low carbers. Are they right? This video investigates the place in the world where we humans got our start and the conditions that existed there long ago.


30 Meat, Brains, and Bugs

The Paleo gurus reason that because our ancestors’ brains gradually got bigger when they added more meat to their diets, we should eat a lot of meat now. Not only is this argument a non sequitur, like practically every other Paleo claim, it is based on half-truths, misunderstandings, and vanity. This video will give you just a general idea of its many flaws.


31 Second-Guessing the First Farmers

The Paleo crowd believes that when ancient hunter gatherers put down roots and became farmers, their health suffered. They abandoned the ideal human diet in favor of an inadequate diet of grains, beans, and tubers that made them shorter and sicker. For a movement that pretends to apply evolutionary theory to nutrition, this is not a very Darwinian interpretation of the Neolithic. More holes are poked in Paleo dogma in this video.


32 The Eskimos Again

Meat-eating circumpolar peoples are the model cultures for the low carbers and I’ve discussed them already in my Primitive Nutrition Series. I return to them once more in this video and show you some of the obscure references that are used by Paleo Diet author Loren Cordain to argue that they did not suffer from cardiovascular disease despite their fatty diets. You’ll see that like Gary Taubes, Cordain uses references to support his message that don’t quite say what he wants you to think they say. Lazy low-carb research is exposed again.


33 An Evolved Fuel System 1

Paleo guru Robb Wolf wants his readers to believe that carbs are the dangerous macronutrient. Eat too many and your insides will be bathed in damaging fatty acids. With this video, I’ll show you why his concerns are unjustified. Healthy whole-food carbohydrates are what your body needs to keep its fuel system working at its best.


34 An Evolved Fuel System 2

All the way back in 1926, some doctors realized that higher-carbohydrate diets could be used successfully to manage the symptoms of diabetics and reduce their insulin requirements. I’ll take a look at some of the forward-looking doctors of the past century whose work long preceded the high-carb diabetes trial of Neil Barnard.


35 How To Become Insulin Resistant (The Paleo Way) 1

Do you want to be insulin resistant? According to the low-carb leaders, you shouldn’t. Gary Taubes says, "When you're insulin-resistant, you secrete more insulin and you store more fat" (p.124, WWGF). Mark Sisson wrote, “Here’s a quick summary of some of the unpleasant consequences of becoming insulin resistant … Fat cells get bigger (and fatter), so you gain weight” (p.74, The Primal Blueprint). Loren Cordain informs us that, “It’s only recently that scientists have begun expanding the scope of insulin resistance. In research worldwide, this condition is being linked to many other chronic diseases and health problems” (p.78. The Paleo Diet). Insulin resistance is associated with obesity, cancer, and heart disease. But what was the evolutionary purpose of insulin resistance? And what sort of diets promote it? In this video, I argue that high-protein diets could predispose you to insulin resistance. How authentically Paleo do you really want to be? And what sort of body shape was the true Paleolithic ideal?


36 How To Become Insulin Resistant (The Paleo Way) 2

My examination of the effects of meat-laden diets on insulin sensitivity continues.
Ketogenic diets, starvation, and diabetes are considered in light of the “Carnivore Connection” hypothesis. You’ll see that the problems with meat go beyond its excessive protein content. I’ll show you evidence of impaired carbohydrate metabolism after low-carb dieting.


37 Cherry-Picked Research (by Andreas Eenfeldt) 1

A Swedish physician named Andreas Eenfeldt is now calling himself “The Diet Doctor” as he promotes dangerous low-carb diets. On his website he offers a page with a slew of studies that he says support the science of low carb and Paleo. In the four videos of this chapter of Nutrition Past and Future, I will take you through each and every study he had on this page of his site as of the summer of 2012. This video starts by looking at some reviews of the effects of saturated fat which he selected himself.


38 Cherry-Picked Research (by Andreas Eenfeldt) 2

My critique of the best low-carb research in the eyes of Dr. Eenfeldt continues, here shifting to low-carb diet trials. Before we look at them, I’ll show you how to tell whether a low-carb trial was intended to be fair and informative or if it was just meant to prop up the animal food industry. You’ll see what sort of low standards and dishonest tactics must be exploited to make low carb seem healthy.


39 Cherry-Picked Research (by Andreas Eenfeldt) 3

I continue my review of the very best low-carb diet trials in this video. See if you notice a pattern emerge in the sponsorship of these trials.


40 Cherry-Picked Research (by Andreas Eenfeldt) 4

My tour of Eenfeldt’s favorite low-carb trials concludes in this video. Along the way I’ll show you a low-carb trial that happens to be my favorite, too. It reveals with jarring clarity the bizarre beliefs the low-carb leaders espouse about the natural human diet. I’ll show you that sometimes even their own research doesn’t support their views. You’ll also see that Eenfeldt apparently believes that a diet that causes a loss of lean body mass is “Paleo.”


41 PUFAs Oxidize!

Refined fats offer little more than empty calories, whether they originate from plants or animals. No further reason to avoid them is needed. But the Paleo promoters have fabricated an additional claim against oils to bolster their nutritional myths. They say the fats that caused heart disease all along were never the saturated fats from animals but rather the toxic vegetable oils of the modern world. This is yet another Paleo belief that clashes with reality. Saturated fat can’t get off the hook so easily.


42 You Win, Anthony Colpo

Few have attempted to dispute the content of my Primitive Nutrition project. But one Paleo-fad opportunist named Anthony Colpo has foolishly decided to engage me in a vicious and personal fashion. In this video I’ll show you how this prominent cholesterol denier, fueled by anger and pride, has abandoned any pretense of honesty in his desperate attempts to score points against me.


43 Anti-Veg

There are just a handful of interesting topics of concern raised by the opponents of vegetarian diets. In this video I investigate two that I haven’t addressed already: the 2009 finding from EPIC-Oxford that vegetarians have an increased risk of colorectal cancer and a couple studies suggesting that vegetarians have higher circulating levels of harmful compounds called AGEs. I look into both of these subjects in this video. After that, I take you through an absurd essay attacking vegetarian diets which provides me with a convenient opportunity to deconstruct some of the myths of meat.


44 Humanity Past and Future

Nutrition Past and Future concludes by placing our choices today about diet within the larger framework of our history as a species. Why do some insist on romanticizing our primitive past? How have we progressed since the Paleolithic? What are the challenges we face today that demand new and intelligent adaptations from us? Why do the arguments in favor of meat in the face of these challenges amount to little more than greenwashing? This video will clarify the choices we face today.


2013 John McDougall All Rights Reserved
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