Monday, August 3, 2009

Physiology of Fat: Fat, Food, Facts and Fiction

Crime Necessary?" or "Is it Necessary to be Fat?" The implication alone is bad, like asking "How Often Do You Beat Your Wife?" Of course, the answer to all of these questions is "no."

Is fat essential in a healthy diet? Some nutritionists and scientists believe that a small amount of fatty acids or components of certain fats are essential to human nutrition. This has never been demonstrated for humans, although apparently it is true in rats. There is the incontrovertible fact that countless millions of human beings in Asia, Africa, South America and elsewhere do not consume fat in their diet. And yet they live to a health-normal or beyond-normal life span; their physical or nutritional development is not infrequently far superior to the people on a high-fat or average American fat dietary intake.
Most certainly it is known now that these same people on a low-fat or fat-free diet are virtually free from heart attacks and strokes, which are so common among people on a fat diet.

Many have wondered whether the Eskimos have a high rate of heart attacks and strokes as a result of their high fat diet. First it should be remembered that the Eskimo days of existing on blubber and whale alone are mostly over. Several years ago physicians working with the National Geographic Society found that the Eskimos who lived in the more modern settlements and ate and lived like other Canadians or Americans in country villages, were subject to the same degree of atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and heart conditions.

On the other hand, in those Eskimo cases where fish and whale fats constituted the basis of the diet, blood tests revealed that cholesterol and fats in the blood were very low. This surprising fact was later found to be due to the high concentrations of un-saturated fatty acids in the large amount of fish and whale oils consumed by these Eskimos. As will be shown later, these un-saturated fatty acids have the unique power to lower the blood levels of cholesterol and other fats, thus protecting the Eskimos from the complications of atherosclerosis in the heart, brain, kidneys, and other organs.

What is fat? First let us look at food in general. As long as we are alive, breathing, with our hearts pumping, our bodies are at work burning up energy—which is supplied by food.

Food or foodstuffs consist of six groups, all of which are basic necessities essential for normal health. These are proteins, carbohydrates, fats (which are also manufactured by the body), vitamins, minerals, and water.

Protein is the keystone of human nutrition. It is essential for every form of life for growth, pregnancy, formation of blood, bone, and every vital tissue. It is essential for the healing of wounds, the warding off of infection, the maintenance of body weight, and the conduct of vital organs and glands in the body.

Meat is the greatest source of animal protein for human consumption and man can live in good health on virtually an exclusive fresh meat diet. Animal sources of proteins are meat, fish, poultry, milk, eggs and cheese. These foods contain high sources of protein, as well as carbohydrates and fats. Vegetable sources of protein are wheat, beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, nuts, corn, rye and yeast, although these also contain elements of carbohydrate and fat.

Normal adults and growing children require one gram of protein for every 2.2 lbs. of body weight. This means that the average man or woman weighing 125 to 175 lbs. needs from 60 to 80 grams of protein daily for normal nutrition. This would be contained in the equivalent of 1/2 pound of steak, one chicken, a pound of fish or a pound of cottage cheese. Each gram of protein supplies four calories of energy.

Carbohydrates are a main source of energy. Carbohydrates include the two main classes: starches and sugars. They are one of the primary sources of energy of our diet. One gram of carbohydrate yields 4 calories of energy. The amount of carbohydrates necessary in the daily diet is very variable and also depends on the amount of it eaten with the protein in meals. The average American adult consumes anywhere from 150 to 400 grams of carbohydrate daily. It takes about 500 grams to make a pound. Usually more than half the calories in the diet (from 50 to 70 per cent) are supplied by carbohydrate.

Unfortunately, these carbohydrates are usually refined to excess, as in the case of flours and sugars. Essential vitamins and proteins are lost in this way and certain nutritional deficiencies may result. If excessive carbohydrate is eaten in the diet, many individuals will experience symptoms of gassy distress, flatulence, belching, or bloating. Bread, flour, milk, cereals, potatoes, cornstarch, cakes, rice, and puddings are examples of dietary starch as are moat vegetables, although these contain lesser amounts of both carbohydrates and protein. Sugars are represented by cane sugar, corn syrup, honey, maple sugar and syrup, milk sugar, malt sugar, jams, jellies, and most fruits.

Two of the most common symptoms or sensations that humans feel daily are dependent on carbohydrate metabolism: that is, hunger and fatigue. Certain endocrine glands in the body control the level of blood sugar in the body and are linked to the feelings of hunger, fatigue, and exhaustion. When the blood sugar falls abnormally low, one feels headaches, nervousness, dizziness, or weakness.

Many of my patients combat these tendencies to hypoglycemia or low-blood sugar in the following simple ways: in between meals take fresh fruits, preferably bananas or apples, or canned fruit juices or fruits; English "tea" with whole wheat cookies or crackers, graham crackers, arrowroot cookies and if needed, some lean meat or fish in sandwich form; skim milk thickened and fortified with generous servings of skimmed milk powder; bread and jam; fat-free sherbet or ices; dietetic or low-fat ice cream; fruit jellos are refreshing; hard candies or chocolate bars are often very handy but not as desirable as the natural, healthful in-between meal "snacks," suggested above, as they often damage the teeth and may have too short-lived action on the blood sugar. Not infrequently sugar itself will cause a "rebound" reaction resulting in an even lower blood sugar fall one-half to one hour after the sugar has been eaten.

Countless business people and factory workers find their efficiency and capacity for work greatly increased by following the above dietary aids. It is not necessary to wait until the symptoms of low-blood sugar already signal the breakdown of bodily health.

The habit of drinking coffee alone at the coffee-break is like whipping the tired old horse harder to get it to climb up the hill. The artificial stimulant, caffeine, can never possibly substitute its artificial stimulant drug action for the flow of energy that comes from healthful, natural foods.

Vitamins and minerals are discussed later. The necessity of water for the maintenance of life is known to all. This brings us to fats.

Fats—What they are and what they do to you. The outstanding fats eaten daily in the United States and Europe are butter, eggs, whole milk, cream, meat, fish and poultry fats, and cheese in various combinations. These fats, at 9 calories per gram, contain more than twice the amount of calories than protein or carbohydrate does at four calories each per gram.

Fats (or lipids) contain the elements of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in various combinations of animal and vegetable fats. Examples of animal fats are butter, lard, cream, milk, eggs, and the fat in meats. Vegetable fats are soyabean oil, olive oil, cottonseed and corn oils, and peanut oils; these are found in nuts, coconuts, avocados, margarines and other vegetable fats used in cooking.

Fats do not dissolve in water, and when pure they are odorless and tasteless. They are found in most bodily tissues, particularly in combination with other elements, proteins, or minerals. Fats or lipids act as vehicles for the absorption of the natural fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, and E.

In order for fats to be utilized by the body, they must first be digested and broken down into constituent parts before being absorbed. They are absorbed in the following manner: After the food is masticated and enters the stomach, the digestive system supplies its first fat enzyme called lipase, to begin the digestion of the fat. Enzymes or ferments are unique chemical compounds manufactured by the cells of the tissues. In the digestive tract they are vital for the chemical breakdown of all foods before they can be absorbed.

How are fats digested? The fat enzyme of the stomach, lipase, begins its job on the fats eaten. However, it is a rather weak enzyme, leaving most of its work to be carried out by steapsin, the fat enzyme manufactured by the pancreas, and by bile manufactured by the liver. In the bile are found bile acids and salts which, together with steapsin, split the fats ingested into the smallest molecules and particles possible. These can then be absorbed through the lining of the small intestine and pass either into the liver or directly into the blood stream as chyle, a milky or creamy serum.

How fats are absorbed. When the fat particles are brought to the liver, they undergo further chemical breakdown and metabolic changes before they enter the blood stream in the form of cholesterol, phospholipids, fatty acids, neutral fats (which are neither acid nor alkaline), lecithin, and other fat derivatives. Much of the fat is broken down by the liver cells into cholesterol, which is excreted into the bile and goes back again into the intestine in various chemical forms. Once in the intestine, some of the cholesterol is reabsorbed again along with other fats and some is excreted from the body in the bowel movement. If the proportion of the cholesterol in the bile becomes too high, then it precipitates out of the bile and forms gallstones, which can produce attacks of pain and indigestion, and so often keep the surgeon busy.

Now that the fats or lipids have entered the blood stream, they circulate and are deposited in the various bodily tissues and in the great body storehouses called fat depots. These are located in the abdomen, on the hips, the chest, around muscles, under the skin, in the liver, and elsewhere. The fats consumed in the diet are called exogenous fats. The liver and other tissues, however, manufacture equally important quantities of fats or lipids normally found in the blood stream. These are called endogenous lipids.

These lipids are manufactured from proteins and carbohydrates through certain remarkable processes inherent in vital bodily tissues and glands such as the liver or the adrenal glands. Energy and vital cellular constituents for the body result from these lipids. When present to excess, their effects become devastating to humans.

We now come to the fats circulating freely in the blood stream. Let's see how they get into the artery walls to actually damage or destroy the artery with atherosclerosis.

Fat may be your "poison". Many individuals have now developed an intolerance to fat. Some of my patients can't seem to handle any fat at all. As an example, one plump 40-year old mother of three develops severe gas and bloating after eggs or any other fatty food. Mrs. R. is often embarrassed to dine out for fear of overflowing right out of her girdle if friends supply her with a fatty food at their homes. At other times she has been embarrassed by solicitious friends who have delightedly congratulated her upon her "unexpected" and "surprise" pregnancy after eating some fat food!

Other patients of mine develop actual attacks of gallstone colic following a meal containing fat. Some 20 years ago, I studied the causes and effects of gallstones in humans by passing rubber tubes through the mouth and down into the digestive tract and then draining off the bile or gall manufactured by the liver and stored in the gall bladder. At that time I examined and found the cholesterol and fat content of the bile abnormally high in most patients who suffered from gallstones, liver, and gall bladder diseases. A fat-free diet was able to eventually reduce and restore the bile to its normal cholesterol and fat content, not to mention the well established fact that most patients felt vastly improved and often free of pain or distress.
Of especial interest to me is the case of a 46-year old automobile dealer, Mr. C, who used to have disabling and terrifying attacks of pain over his heart. (We call such pain angina pec-toris.) The pains began only after he had eaten breakfast and was preparing to leave for his business. His breakfast was a hearty one. It consisted of bacon and two scrambled eggs, fruit juice, some delicious coffee cake with two pats of butter, plus two cups of coffee containing generous portions of cream. He was a husky, strapping ex-athlete and burned up a great deal of energy in business activities.

When Mr. C. changed his breakfast habits and ate a good breakfast on the low-fat diet his anginal pain stopped as if by magic. Clearly he was one of the many individuals whose circulation could not tolerate fats.

This was again just recently shown in most convincing and dramatic ways by Doctors Peter Kuo and H. Joyner of the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and Medical School. These investigators studied the effects of fat meals in a series of heart cases and others afflicted with atherosclerosis over a several year period. One group of their patients suffered severe heart attacks every time a fat meal was administered to them. Studies of the heart and the blood were made during actual heart attacks by Electrocardiographs and other scientific instruments. It was found that when the blood stream contained its peak load of fat content, the heart attacks were most severe and threatened the very life of the patients. Such striking studies and findings were also the experience of other research physicians.

Take a lesson from the pig. Finally, let us look at the startling new discoveries made in swine. The hog or pig has always been associated in every mind as the epitome of fatness. The expression "to be fat as a pig" or as a hog is one of the most common expressions in our language. Fat and food from swine is one of the most frequent sources of nourishment used by humans, i.e. ham, bacon, pork, lard and so on. Yet only very recently has it been discovered that pigs are virtually the only animals subject to the natural or spontaneous development of atherosclerosis.

Several teams of researchers have published numerous convincing photographs of the development of atherosclerosis in many vital arteries of swine. This startling news was provided by Doctors J. H. Bragdon, J. H. Zeller, and J. W. Stevenson of the National Heart Institute of Bethesda, Maryland, who confirmed the original findings made in this research by a team of Wisconsin scientists headed by Doctors H. Gottlieb and J. J. Lalich.

The amazing facts were that about 50 per cent of the swine examined carefully showed the natural development of atherosclerosis in the main arteries of the body. This disease in the arteries was virtually the same as atherosclerosis seen in humans!
In addition, still other investigators such as Doctors Irving Page and Lena Lewis of the Cleveland Clinic found that hogs had unusually high levels of blood cholesterol and fats. There was a special increase in the swine studied of the atherogenic portion of the lipoproteins, so important in the development of atherosclerotic heart disease in humans.

It has always been thought that fat on the hog was natural and did not harm the animal, but just those humans who made "hogs" of themselves. Now all these extraordinary discoveries show us that even the pig is victim to fatty deposits in the arteries; to eat high on the hog even damages the hog. Let us "eat to live, not live to eat."

By following the instructions contained in the following pages on what to eat and what to weigh, you can learn to enjoy your food, and most important, enjoy better health and increased vitality and reap a harvest of added years to your life.

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