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Bacon is Back!

Hallelujah, bacon is back. Okay, that’s not accurate: bacon never left many breakfast plates, and the American Heart Association is still advising against.
Nevertheless, a landmark study came out in The Lancet this month, dubbed the PURE study, an acronym for the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study, carried out over ten years in 18 countries, with a median follow-up over seven years. Thank you, Lancet, the summary  is freely available for all to read: you’ll have to rely on your own craftiness to see the whole article.

The study design is observational: people were observed in their routine lives, not divvied into research groups and controlled to compare research outcomes. If the study group were mere hundreds of people, you’d have to discount it, but since the study size was over 135,000 people throughout Europe and North America, it’s definitely worth serious consideration. Particularly significant because, if it’s findings are true, the current dietary guidelines (federal and medical) are completely wrong.

Participants’ dietary patterns were assessed, based only on questionnaires: not likely to be perfectly accurate, but… the great size of the study suggests that the participants were not confined to a single group likely to be more or less healthy, more or less obedient to conventional guidelines. 
So what’s the big deal: in this study, the people who ate the most fat, the most fat overall and the most of each kind of fat (including saturated) was associated with a reduced rate of total mortality. Saturated fat appeared to confer an additional benefit with reduced rate of stroke. There was no consistent correlation between amount of total, saturated, or unsaturated fat and cardiovascular disease or death.

More fat, more longevity 

Equally stunning was that a higher carbohydrate intake (more calories from fruit, vegetables, bread, and sweet sources of course) was associated with an increased risk of total mortality. Carbohydrate overload was not linked to a particular effect on cardiovascular disease or death. 

Now, there are many, including myself, but perhaps best expressed by Zoe Harcombe, et al, here  who point out that the existing research has never supported the anti-fat phobias of current dietary guidelines.

The American Heart Association still thinks that fat is the problem, and perhaps it is their imagination that is the problem. When AHA spokesman Dr. Lloyd-Jones  even considers sources of fat, he is thinking only of highly processed foods. Too bad that he doesn’t know about butter, cheese, eggs, and bacon! (If you submit to listening to Dr. L-J, please know that lean meat and lean fat are highly problematic: the natural fats enhance digestion as well as all the physiology that is dependent on the food we eat. Ick, plus his patronizing smile makes it hard for me to watch him, but… on a more serious note…)

Lead investigator, Dr. Salim Yusuf, breaks down the details of the study in a video available on Dr. Michael Eades’ Protein Power website here.

What have you found in your own food explorations? In my practice, and in my own personal life, the foods that optimize strength, weight, metabolic numbers are healthy proteins and fats. Carbohydrates can add some vitamins and healthy forms of dietary fiber if you stick to colorful vegetables, maybe a few fruits. Grains and sugars are… unnecessary at best, and addictive at their worst.

The PURE study is getting a lot of attention: watch for ongoing controversy and discussion and maybe—in the next decade—a change to the conventional medical dietary guidelines!


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