The Food Revolution – AHS 2011 – By Andreas Eenfeldt (Transcript)

September 14, 2013 3:51 pm | By More

Okay. Thank you. So Andreas Eenfeldt is my name. I am a medical doctor from Sweden. So that explains the accent if you (inaudible). And I am going to talk about the Food Revolution happening in Sweden right now, people eating real food and improving their health and how perhaps the same thing might be happening in America soon.

But let’s start with David here, the famous statue by Michelangelo. It’s a masterpiece from the Renaissance, 16th century, Italy. But this is when David was living in Italy. Then he moved to the United States and he started watching the Dr. Oz show on TV. And this is what happened. It’s not pretty and of course, David is not alone because obesity has quite recently become a huge problem in the entire Western world, including so many of my patients. And the question is why and what can we do about it? I am trying to do what I can. So I started a blog in Swedish three years ago, it’s called Diet Doctor in English and it’s going to be interesting journey because when this blog was just getting started there were like 500 visits every day. So obviously there is a big interest in the subject of food and health.

Now a year later there were about 5000 visits every day and this year it’s up to 19,000 per day which is quite a lot for a small country. So something big is happening in Sweden. And to understand what, we have to go back in time few million years. So this is a basic view of human evolution and there is only one point I want to make. This took millions of years. So it takes a long time to change our genes. But other than obesity epidemic, they didn’t take millions of years, as you know, may have started slowly long time ago but the main part of it, most of it has taken place in the last 27 years.

And how is this basically even possible? Something must have changed in the environment. And what happened 27 years ago in 1984? Well, for example, a big campaign was launched to teach the American people to fear fats and cholesterol. And the idea was that food like eggs and bacon raised the cholesterol in your blood and thus it could give you a disease. Now this was largely an unproven theory back in the ‘80s. So this campaign I might say was an experiment. And there were scientists back then who issued warning saying that there may be unforeseen consequences for this. Things we haven’t thought of. And perhaps one such consequence we should have anticipated and that is, if you eat just one kind of food, you’re going to have to eat more of something else and thus you want to be hungry all the time. And if you eat less carbohydrate, if you eat just fat, you are going to have to eat more carbohydrates such as bread and pasta and sugar.

Now all carbohydrates are digested into simple sugars in the gut and when they are absorbed in the blood raising the blood sugar, the body produces the hormone insulin as you know, which is also the body’s main fast growing hormone. So ironically this could happen, eating less fats could give us more problems with obesity. Of course, some people are thinking, hold on, it’s not quite this simple because what about [Ricky Gervais], that professor in Dubai was speaking about, eat a lot of fruits, vegetables which is carbohydrates and they weren’t fat. In fact, they were fit and healthy. And what about all the Asian people eating all the rice? There were no obesity epidemic traditionally in those countries.

So obviously if you get away with this you can eat a large proportion of carbohydrates and not get fat. But when these populations were eating unrefined starch, not white flour and they weren’t eating any purified sugar or fructose mostly either. In the Western world, we didn’t replace the fat only with fruit, vegetables or brown rice. We replaced it with sugar frosted donuts, French fries, ice cream, white bread, soda and juice for example. So this is rapidly digested carbs that quickly raise the blood sugar, insulin goes up and if you are sensitive, you can make it gain weight. Now this is of course still only theoretical. But now we know what happened when we tested this low fat advice. In an uncontrolled experiment, perhaps unethical experiment, this is official statistics over the obesity rates in the US like in 1985. How many have seen these statistics? Perhaps, half the group. It’s pretty spectacular, right?

And this is the year after the campaign to fear fat was launched and if you take a look at the states, the blue states have around 10% obesity and in the white states, there is not even good data because obesity wasn’t a massive problem like that. But let’s take a look by moving ahead two years at a time. In 1987, ’89, ’91, ’93, and ’95 you see something is happening rapidly in the dark blue states that weren’t on the map at all, just 10 years before. Now it covers half the country and what was that? That’s 15% obesity, that’s a massive increase already. ’97, ’99, 2001, ’03, ’05, ’07, and last year, so this is crazy, right? The data states that’s over 20% obesity, that’s doubled just a few short time ago. And the orange states, that’s over 25% obesity and the rest states over 30%. So the obesity epidemic is spreading like a cancer across the country and obese Americans have become common in just a few decades, just the one generation and kids are affected too as well.

So obviously this isn’t the genetic problem. This is something in the environment and it started when we began to eat refined carbohydrates and sugars instead of fat. And [they get in a voice] because obesity is not just a cosmetic problem, this is strongly associated with all kinds of Western diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and even cancer and the traditional view is that obesity leads to these other conditions but that’s not necessarily true. It could just as well be true that the same thing that makes us fat makes us sick.

Anyway, there is not even any sign of this obesity epidemic slowing down, it’s just advancing every year in America. And you might wonder [where is it from now on] and according to some researchers, if nothing happens, if the trends continue every American would be obese or overweight by the year 2048. Nobody would be normal anymore. And obviously this is crazy, it’s not okay. We have to do something about it, and perhaps we can learn something from where I come from which is Sweden, a small country in Northern Europe and there is about 9 million Swedes and they are known for at least three different things: the [corporate dada], the Nobel prize and finally, fad diets. This is the journal the Lancet, it’s a very prestigious journal and recently they published a paper called fad diets in Sweden, of all places because they were horrified by the popularity of the diets called LCHF standing for low-carb high fat. And it’s basically low carb diet where you remove all sugar and starch such as bread and the goal is just to lose weight and improve your health and the focus is on real food diet, meat, fish, and eggs and vegetables and the difference between this and traditional paleo diets is allows for high-fat dairy products as well such as butter, cheese and some heavy cream but are no [sugar] in it because that’s too much carbs.

And perhaps the big protein is a bad thing to eat in big amounts but the question is first of all, there is no restriction at all on saturated fat which faced some people quite nervous and we will get to that but you might also wonder is this a fat or not? We will get to that too after some perspective because this is the sales of butter in Sweden from 925 up to few years ago and you can see it’s come down to less than half because probably we have been getting the same advice in Sweden to avoid fat, avoid saturated fat, mostly perhaps to avoid cardiovascular disease. But also the thinking has been that if you remove this calorie dense food you’re going to lose weight. That’s one problem we need to work like that in America and in Sweden, if you add the statistics for overweight and obesity, you can see that it didn’t quite work in Sweden either because in the same time period, we’ve been getting more problems with obesity.

Now if you look at on the right hand of the butter sales, you can see it’s actually increasing again now. And this has been going on even more in the last year. So interestingly obesity epidemic seems to have at least slowed down and I believe it will be possible to reverse it. So what happened in the last few years here? Well, lot of things but there is one event that kind of made the media really interested in low carb diets. And it started with this woman, a doctor called Annika Dahlqvist, general practitioner and she had problems with her weight herself, tried unsuccessfully to lose weight in different kinds of ways until she found the low-carb diet and she lost her excess weight. And she improved her health. So she started giving the same kind of advice to her patients. And they lost weight and felt good. So she started a blog and got (inaudible) ended up in the papers and on TV. And then of course, everybody was happy about this. So through dieticians actually notified the highest medical authorities in Sweden, the National Board of Health and Welfare because they felt that recommending obese patients and diabetics to eat fat was unacceptable. Of course, they thought that they were going to die.

Now the National Board of Health and Welfare, they quickly discovered that this was not quite easy to answer. Should they reprimand this doctor? Should they take away her medical license or not? They had to do an investigation, and it took two years and back in 2008 in January, they came with their conclusion and they said that this is okay. The doctor can give advice to her patients to eat low-carb diet with a lot of fat because like they said in their conclusions, low-carb diets can today be seen as compatible with scientific evidence and best practice for losing weight, as the number of studies have shown an effect in the short term and no evidence of harm has emerged. And as you could imagine, this really affected the debate because this ended up in all the papers and all the Television channels and that low-carb had been called the dangerous fat diet. But now the highest medical authority in Sweden said the opposite that has proven to work and there is no dangers. So this was a revolution in the debate and it’s been gaining popularity this kind of eating ever since and now according to new survey, 23% of Swedes are trying to lower their carb in diet which is quite a lot I would say.

So the question is, is it a fat or I would like to ask, is rich in fat the diets (inaudible) multi-million dollar design my plate, which is all based on this old idea that fat raises the cholesterol in the blood and gets you heart disease. Now that’s it. After half a century of research, we now have an answer from reviews of all the evidence. The answer is no, it doesn’t work. Avoiding saturated fat doesn’t make you live any longer or say from dying of a heart attack. In fact, if you look at all the observational data, there is not even an association giving that people who defy the advice, I mean eating a lot of saturated fat, they don’t get sicker than people who followed the advice and avoided. So it doesn’t work.

And if you want to take a look at these reviews, you can find these studies which links to them at my English site DietDoctor.com/science. Some might be wondering what about the cholesterol because it’s true that avoiding fat and avoiding butter is going to lower your cholesterol but the thing is it turned out to be not quite so easy because it’s the HDL that’s mostly good cholesterol and that’s a bad thing. Also, (inaudible) the LDL particles which is also a bad thing. So it’s not really good for your cholesterol and in Sweden, lot of authorities are starting to acknowledge this in public in the papers such as a professor called [John Burgler] said this in Sweden’s biggest paper, “Two generations of Swedes have been given bad dietary advice and they have avoided fat for no reason. It’s time to rewrite the dietary guidelines and base them on modern science”. That’s also give to everyone a guideline, professor Burgler says it’s because he has been doing this kind of research.

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