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A Dietary House of Cards

What if people followed the dietary guidelines?

2022 Frontiers in Nutrition…United States Dietary Trends Since 1800: Lack of Association Between Saturated Fatty Acid Consumption and Non-communicable Diseases(1)…I think you can tell by the title that this is a complex and current review of dietary patterns in humans.

As I always say, correlation is not causation but lack of correlation tells us quite a bit about the potential relationship between two things.

The American diet has changed radically in the past two centuries, with the most marked changes including increased consumption of processed and ultra-processed food (sugar, white flour, white rice, and industrial seed oils) and poultry and reduced consumption of unprocessed foods (fresh fruits and vegetables) and animal fats (whole milk, butter, and lard).

Changes in food availability over the past two centuries included (1) increased processed and ultra-processed foods, sugar, industrial seed oils, and poultry; and (2) decreased butter/lard/shortening, dairy (mainly whole fat), fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and red meat (beef/pork).

Ultra-processed foods were rare before 1900 but increased to more than 50% of the current American diet. 2018 NHANES data shows 57% of what adults in the US consume are ultra-processed products. The unprocessed elements of our nineteenth century diet–animal fats, whole fat dairy, fresh vegetables, and fresh fruits—were progressively replaced with more processed elements, including industrial seed oils, HFCS, and ready-to-eat snacks and meals.

We are told that our obsession with saturated fats and particularly red meat are what is killing us and driving disease.

But what does that data say?

The data do not support this widely publicized “changing American diet” of increasing animal-derived SFAs over the first 60 years of the twentieth century. This is the core argument of all the mainstream dietary dogma crowd and it is objectively FALSE! I cannot stress this point enough, the entire food industry is built on the lie that natural animal products are dangerous to human health and manmade foods are the cure.

Estimated red meat availability decreased over the past two centuries. Red meat (beef, pork, lamb, veal, venison) availability per capita declined 44% from 1800 to 2019.

From 1970 to 2019, after adjusting for food loss, annual per capita red meat consumption declined 21% (96.8–76.0 lbs.).

None of that makes sense when looking at public health messaging that states red meat intake causes disease.

From 1970 and 2014, adjusting for food loss, total dairy products decreased by 34%. Whole milk and cream availability decreased 56% from 1800 to 2019 (323–142 lbs.). After adjusting for food loss, between 1970 and 2017, milk and cream availability decreased 49% from 188 to 96.6 lbs.

So perhaps real dairy isn’t the universal problem it was made out to be? How about eggs?

After adjusting for food loss, between 1970 and 2019, egg availability decreased 5% (24.9–23.7 lbs.).

Meat, dairy and eggs…the cornerstone of my diet and I believe the most nutrient dense foods on the planet from a biochemical and bioavailability perspective. Interesting how that works isn’t it? Anything natural is “dangerous” but manmade products get a free pass.

So what has increased over this same time period?

Estimated total added fat and oil availability increased 118% from 1909 to 2010 (38.5–83.8 lbs.), with a striking decline in animal fat and increase in industrial seed oil and vegetable shortening from 1909 to 1970.

From 1909 to 2010, total availability per capita for animal-based fats (including butter, lard, edible tallow) decreased 58% (21.2–8.8 lbs.) and vegetable-based fats and oils (margarine, shortening, salad, and cooking oils (included only after 1965), and edible fats and oils found in confectionery products and non-dairy creamers) increased 159% (31.7–82.2 lbs.)

After adjusting for food loss from 1970 to 2010, total grain availability (including rice) per capita increased 41% (94.8–134 lbs.).

Total non-nutritive sweetener consumption per capita increased 1,227% from 1965 to 2004 (11–146 g).

Are we seeing the bigger picture here? The unique trifecta of refined sugar, flour and seed oils that are the backbone of processed foods have all increased in consumption while the most historic and natural foods on the planet have all decreased(under strict advice from your helpful governments).

“Large increases in sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption and more modest increases in total calories make refined carbohydrates and total calories more likely factors than SFA in the pathogenesis of chronic disease.”

The conclusion of the authors…”As observed from the food availability data, processed and ultra-processed foods dramatically increased over the past two centuries, especially sugar, white flour, white rice, vegetable oils, and ready-to-eat meals. These changes paralleled the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases, while animal fat consumption was inversely correlated.”

This paper is as fresh as it gets and clearly points us in the direction of interest for those truly interested in public health. As I’ve said before, the system is not in place to protect you and it will not change to save you from poor public health policy and industry influence. It is incumbent on us to change the system by force. The pressure of your dollars spent will force a ground up change. Get to know your local food producers and reject government dietary guidelines. It is your duty to yourself and your family…only this will create the change we are all searching for.

As always, if you are looking for practical ways to implement these types of changes into your life, please check out the Ancestral Wellness Retreat coming this Oct 2022 on Martha’s Vineyard!

We will see you there!


1. Lee JH, Duster M, Roberts T, Devinsky O. United States Dietary Trends Since 1800: Lack of Association Between Saturated Fatty Acid Consumption and Non-communicable Diseases. Front Nutr. 2022;8:748847. Published 2022 Jan 13. doi:10.3389/fnut.2021.748847

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