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Nutrition Past and Future

Harriet Hall, Caldwell Esselstyn, and avocados

This one was addressed in the body of one of my videos. Here’s the original transcript with the error. And here is the correction.

Meat from feces?


In this video I said that attempts have been made to synthesize meat from feces. This story had been in the news but it was an apparent hoax.

Uffe Ravnskov's nationality 

In this transcript I asserted that Dr. Uffe Ravnskov is Swedish. In fact he is Danish.


No decrease in saturated fat

In this video while discussing this study I said, “Even if you are still eating a high proportion of saturated fat, reducing the total amount you eat will still give your body a chance to heal itself at least a little bit.” Although I was referring generally to calorie restriction in low carb studies (“Look at calorie restriction in low-carb this way”) immediately before this line, the implication was that the participants in this particular study consumed less saturated fat than they had at baseline. Another paper from these authors which came out of this trial details nutrient intake. Here you will see that the low-carb group did not actually consume less saturated fat. Instead, they consumed 0.56 grams per day more saturated fat at 24 months – a trivial amount, but more nonetheless. They also consumed 6.51 milligrams per day more dietary cholesterol. This value is roughly 3% of the cholesterol in one egg yolk – again, trivial. The larger point here was that the more important effect being examined in their trial despite their title was calorie restriction, not diet composition. As I showed you in the video, the low carb group only was eating 1281 calories per day. For some context, the Mayo Clinic’s estimate is that someone meeting the physical characteristics of the typical low carb participant in this trial (male, 52 years old, 202 pounds, 30.8 BMI, assuming a sedentary lifestyle and a height of 5’9”) needs 2250 calories daily to maintain body weight. Thus, they consumed 43% fewer calories than we should expect. This is what it takes to make low carb look good in a study. Other points to bear in mind: Recall that many of the participants were on cholesterol- and blood-pressure-lowering drugs. You’ll also see in their weight loss paper that the low-carbers experienced a lowering of LDL as their plaque regressed a bit. Consider this further confirmation of the lipid hypothesis. I imagine the famous cholesterol skeptic George V. Mann, were he still around, would say that their weight loss accounted for this change in lipids rather than their particular diet.

For comparison, have a look at this study. The participants weren’t obese. They weren’t on statins. Their diets were not unusual. They just restricted calories and their cholesterol dropped far more dramatically than what we saw in any group in the Shai study, even their oddly named “low fat” group. That’s probably because junk food wasn’t allowed in this one, which was not funded by the Atkins Foundation. Go figure.

If you find a study demonstrating a lowering of LDL while calories remain constant and saturated fat increases, please send it along.

Evans County, GA


For this transcript, “only 26 in all” should read “only 26 pairs in all.”

Israel, Fats, and Cholesterol

I said, “They said they wanted to emphasize that they were not studying the relationships between their groups' diets and their cholesterol levels. Taubes is not using this study the way they wanted it to be used …” But this isn’t true. The paper reads, “Our finding of essentially no relationship between dietary elements and cholesterol has been previously reported in population studies.” Taubes did represent the authors’ view accurately. However, their claim that diet doesn’t not affect serum cholesterol is wrong. Taubes understands this. See Why We Get Fat, page 186. He correctly wrote: “Saturated fat raises total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.”

Stefansson in Ketosis

I said, “Even after his famous year-long meat diet experiment, everyone's favorite low-carber Vilhjalmur Stefansson did not experience ketosis.” Stefansson was mostly in a state of “mild ketosis” but for a period of higher protein consumption.

Western Electric

My discussion of this study in Anomaly Hunter 2 was lacking. Corrected accounts can be found here and here. What was missing previously was the explanation of how the low- and high-fat groups were determined and the key observation that the information given about them in Table 11 was insufficient.

Misquoting Jarvis.

In the Anti-Veg video, I misattibuted a quote to Jarvis. I said, "Next, this scientist decides to argue based on his reading of the Bible. Vegetarianism is called a 'devil-inspired idea.' Look, no offense to anyone watching this, but this is a religious belief. There is no way for me to deal with it using reason. Enough said." However, his point was that a Biblical argument for vegetarianism faced an inconvenient quote in the Bible. This error was inadvertent.