Thursday, March 17, 2011

Evolutionary Health, It's Still A Rarefied Wold

I've found myself pretty surprised lately at how many intelligent, well-read people I've come across who blindly accept the fat-makes-you-fat-and-clogs-your-arteries dogma. Since all the health blogs I read take for granted that the diet-heart hypothesis is false, it is easy to forget that most people have never even thought to question it, even if they are the type to question many other commonly held beliefs. It's also easy to forget that the paleo/primal/etc-osphere is still on the fringe of things. The funny thing about all this conventional dogma is that there are actually several false hypotheses at work, stting with the diet-heart hypothesis (that SFAs cause heart disease) and the fat-makes-you-fat-hypothesis (eating fat makes you fat).

Unlike the diet-heart hypothesis or the lipid hypothesis (high blood cholesterol leads to heart disease), the fat-makes-you-fat hypothesis has never even been a serious consideration in the quagmire that has been nutrition research for the last 40 years, at least as far as I know. And then there's the eating-cholesterol-causes-high-blood-cholesterol hypothesis (also fairly easily disproved).

So what we are really looking at with the conventional are four different hypotheses, listed here from most to least plausible:
  • Lipid hypothesis - High blood cholesterol leads to CHD
  • Diet-heart hypothesis - Dietary saturated fat leads to CHD (probably by raising blood cholesterol)
  • Eating cholesterol causes high blood cholesterol hypothesis
  • Eating fat makes you fat hypothesis (especially animal fat)
Combine all these together and you get the conventionally accepted conglomerate "truth" that fat-makes-you-fat-and-clogs-your-arteries-and-so-does-cholesterol-cause-they-are-the-same-thing-so-go-eat-a-carrot-damnit.

What's strange about all of this, for me at least, is:
-how prevalent it is among intelligent people
-what a jumbled mix-up of misguided hypotheses the conventional "wisdom" really is.

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