Disease Proof

Low-carb, high-protein diet increases risk of death from all causes

The low-carb fad has had its peak, and although it is declining in popularity, the myth persists that eating lots of meat and little or no ‘carbs’ is a great way to lose weight.

Meat

Plenty of studies have established that low-carb diets are moderately effective for weight loss over periods of 6 months to 2 years[1-3], though much of the weight lost initially is typically regained. This may be a better option than the processed food-soda diet many other Americans consume, so of course they are moderately effective – the number of calories consumed decreases as refined carbohydrates are eliminated from the diet. Low-carbohydrate diets cause people to lose some weight but at what cost? The short durations of these studies meant that they could not determine whether the diets are sustainable for long-term health. The current state of the medical literature would suggest that they are not – there is abundant data associating high meat consumption with adverse outcomes: weight gain, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and all-cause mortality, just to name a few.[4-10] I have been warning for years that the long-term outcome of meat-based diets would not be favorable.

A long-term observational study of low-carbohydrate diets has finally been published this Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and the results are intriguing. This study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health is the nail in the coffin of the low-carb, high-protein myth. The article details data from a prospective study in which 130,000 total participants provided information about their eating habits and were followed for a minimum of twenty years – this is true long-term data. At baseline, none of the participants had heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. The researchers classified the participants’ diets according to degree of adherence to the following dietary patterns: overall low-carbohydrate, animal-based low-carbohydrate, and high-vegetable low carbohydrate. They then compared death rates between the highest and lowest adherence groups for each pattern.

The authors’ conclusions: A low-carbohydrate diet rich in animal foods was associated with a 23% increased risk of death from all causes (14% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease). In contrast, a low-carbohydrate diet rich in vegetables was associated with a 20% decreased risk of death from all causes (23% decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease).[11]

The low-carb proponents had one thing right: the avoidance of refined carbohydrates – white flour, white rice, white pasta, added sugars, etc. are disease-promoting foods. However, the protein sources emphasized in most low-carb diets are micronutrient-poor animal products rather than micronutrient-packed plant products. The current study suggests that plant sources of protein (for example vegetables, nuts, beans, and seeds) promote longevity, whereas high protein animal foods have the opposite effect. This data supports the essential nutritional concept I illustrate with my health equation: Health = Nutrients / Calories. Micronutrient density determines the quality of one’s diet, and since animal products are deficient in micronutrients, they should be minimized. The authors agree that their results likely reflect the lack of protective fiber, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals in animal products. [12]

Many proponents of meat-based diets argue that the refined carbohydrate rather than the meat content of the American diet is to blame for our skyrocketing rates of chronic disease. However, too many studies contradict this opinion – and this study clearly demonstrates that choosing plant foods instead of animal foods, even within the context of minimal refined carbohydrate, promotes longevity.

There really should not be any controversy anymore about the health effects of low-carb, high-protein diets. This study (among others) confirms that the current amount of animal-source foods within the American diet should be reduced, not increased, and that meat-centered diets promote premature death; and that diets based predominantly on whole plant foods are lifespan-enhancing.

The “nutritarian” diet I recommend is unique because it focuses on consuming more of the highest micronutrient containing vegetation, as it reduces animal products to a condiment or minimal role held to less than 10 percent of total calories. Vegetables rule!

References:

1. Foster, G.D., et al., Weight and metabolic outcomes after 2 years on a low-carbohydrate versus low-fat diet: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med, 2010. 153(3): p. 147-57.
2. Brinkworth, G.D., et al., Long-term effects of a very-low-carbohydrate weight loss diet compared with an isocaloric low-fat diet after 12 mo. Am J Clin Nutr, 2009. 90(1): p. 23-32.
3. Sacks, F.M., et al., Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med, 2009. 360(9): p. 859-73.
4. Sinha, R., et al., Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people. Arch Intern Med, 2009. 169(6): p. 562-71.
5. Vergnaud, A.C., et al., Meat consumption and prospective weight change in participants of the EPIC-PANACEA study. Am J Clin Nutr, 2010. 92(2): p. 398-407.
6. Zheng, W. and S.-A. Lee, Well-Done Meat Intake, Heterocyclic Amine Exposure, and Cancer Risk. Nutrition and Cancer, 2009. 61(4): p. 437-446.
7. Key, T.J., et al., Mortality in vegetarians and nonvegetarians: detailed findings from a collaborative analysis of 5 prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr, 1999. 70(3 Suppl): p. 516S-524S.
8. Ashaye, A., J. Gaziano, and L. Djousse, Red meat consumption and risk of heart failure in male physicians. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis, 2010.
9. Snowdon, D.A., R.L. Phillips, and G.E. Fraser, Meat consumption and fatal ischemic heart disease. Prev Med, 1984. 13(5): p. 490-500.
10. Aune, D., G. Ursin, and M.B. Veierod, Meat consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Diabetologia, 2009. 52(11): p. 2277-87.
11. Fung TT, v.D.R., Hankinson SE,Stampfer M, Willett WC, Hu FB, Low-Carbohydrate Diets and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality: Two Cohort Studies. Ann Intern Med, 2010. 153(5): p. 289-298.
12. Fiore, K. Low-Carb Diet is Better When Rich in Veggies. 2010 September 7, 2010]; Available from: http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/DietNutrition/22035.

 

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Comments (33) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Steven Andreca - September 8, 2010 5:52 PM

Your diet rich in nuts, seeds, avocados and fruits goes against what I learned from authorities in heart disease reversal like Ornish and Esselstyn, who advocate for limiting these types of foods in favour of potatoes and grains to compensate for the missing calories that you can possibly get from vegetables (unless you munch all day long).

You also claim that your diet is better at reversing Diabetes, unlike Neal Barnard who asserts that avoiding fat (even if it comes from nuts, seeds or avocados) is crucial and avoiding sugar (even if it comes from fruits) is very helpful.

In regards to weight loss, my own story proves that limiting nuts, seeds, avocados and fruits has led to accelerate the weight loss (which has not returned so far, after almost 2 years).

Can you please clarify all that?

Thank you.
Steven

Broseph - September 8, 2010 7:05 PM

I have just as many studies that say the opposite, however my references aren't "OBSERVATIONAL, AND SELF REPORTED" studies. This is a joke, you really think it "put the nail in the coffin?" 130,000 self reported subjects sounds like a mountain of errors to me.

http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/09/08/brand-spankin-new-study-are-low-carb-meat-eaters-in-trouble/

Matt Stone - September 8, 2010 10:19 PM

A fair assessment and one I would agree with. While I maintain that refined carbohydrates are far more sinister - and the root cause of most metabolic problems, sugar in particular, it does get tiresome hearing that low-carb is the be-all dietary prescription for someone with insulin resistance. Yeah sure, if you wanna continue being insulin resistant, then you better avoid carbohydrates - but that isn't a life sentence and is frustratingly misunderstood... summarized most poignantly as - "carbohydrates don't cause insulin resistance... stupid."

Marilyn Ashour RN BSN BA CCH - September 8, 2010 11:20 PM

My daughter is 14 and chose to become vegetarian for humanitarian reasons four years ago. Many children, such as my daughter,are still on the fence about vegetables. I am concerned because she gravitates to soup and pasta and some fruit. She is so picky that she even removes the skin of a tomatoe and then the seeds so that only the flesh is left. I supplement her with Nordic Berry vitamins/antioxidants. She however keeps gravitating to bread and pasta. Are there any vegetarian cookbooks for teenagers that you could recommend? Thanks for your comments and the wonderful work you are doing. Marilyn

Ed - September 8, 2010 11:42 PM

How does one get a low carbohydrate vegetable based diet.
I guess you can't eat kale since it is 85% carbohydrate. For
low carbohydrate plants, you need to find something with high fat and/or high protein. There are only 3 macro-nutrients.
It sounds like this study compared high protein (therefore low carbohydrate) with high carbohydrate diets, but
that is not what your email says. I am confused.
"In contrast, a low-carbohydrate diet rich in vegetables"
(can't be very rich if it is low)

Ryan Craig - September 8, 2010 11:48 PM

YES vegetables DO RULE however the detail of these results may reveal other mitigating issues surely this type of study is impacted by two synergistic factors:

1. EXERCISE: The amount of exercise undertaken for the balance % of protein required/consumed as part of the calories required for any given 'diet' ie; the less exercise the less protein required to offset the lower carbo component

If the participants were consuming large quantities of protein (as opposed to carbo) however still remaining relatively sedentary this would produce similar results to a high carbo diet in a sedentary situation.

2. QUALITY of PROTEIN SOURCE Obviously the amount of protein regulated by exercise above should be balanced from good sources of protein ie: be from lean and possibly 'wild' or organic sources rather than grain fed low nutrient (higher fat) mass supermarket product.

Like the quality of carbohydrate veges (& other low GI sources) vs. grains(sugars ad other high GI sources would impact a persons health (and Blood Glucose) whether active or sedentary

What % of participants were sedentary as opposed to active?
What % of their protein sources were lean and 'wild' or organic (grassfed) as opposed to mass production grain fed?

If the protein is sourced from high carbo grain-based food supply chain this compromises the quality of protein. and if a large number of the participants are also sedentary eating high (inferior quality) protein this require clarification in the results of the study.

Jack Robinson - September 9, 2010 12:06 AM

Dr Fuhrman, your comment re "...nuts, beans, and seeds" .... points up a h huge gap in vegetarian lore and possibly your own knowledge (?). Namely, the health effects of too much "phytate" ingestion. Phytates, as you undoubtedly know, are chelating agents in the hulls/bran of grains, seeds (beans) and nuts. Chelating agents which bind with micronutrients such as zinc, copper, iron, and calcium and carry them right out of the body with no chance of entering tissues where needed --- thus causing deficiencies. Deficiences which, if phytate foods are too abundant in the diet, can be very severe. BOTTOM LINE: There's an urgent, widespread need for info on the phytate problem and best ways to deal with it short of eliminating such foods entirely -- because phytates do have significant plus qualities.

Phil Caines - September 9, 2010 1:21 AM

While you agree that processed carbs are bad, you try and bring all meats down with this sinking ship. The fact is, your vegetarian bias is a little too evident in this article. Nice photo of the fattiest piece of a cow.

The truth is that human beings are millions of years old, and we have evolved and grown from eating a variety of foods, mainly fruits, vegetables and meats. To say that all meats are bad and are lacking all nutrients is a ridiculous statement. How many anemic vegetarians do I know, too many is the answer.

The truth is, as with most things, that balance and variety rules.

I try to eat a diet of fish, chicken and beef for my proteins, and I am sure to exceed my daily recommended intake of fruits vegetables and nuts. I have about 2.5% body fat, and I am healthier than any vegetarian that I know of.

Sure a smaller case study than Harvard's 20 year study, but the fact is, as long as you respect your body and feed it what it needs, you can be very healthy with a meat rich diet.

I may be biased as I love my BBQ'd meat, but I think this article is unbalanced and not fare regardless of all it's citations.

Philip Caines

John Cather - September 9, 2010 2:06 AM

Don't ever judge a book by it's cover. Or the opening statement of what it shows.

This supposed study didn't actually do an Atkins type diet even though people keep using the words Atkins along with this study. This activist that published "study" didn't tell you that the subjects who ate the animal proteins and fats were also smokers 3 to 1 over the other group!. Also they exercised 50% less than the other group! But he got the result he wanted didn't he?

Animal fats and proteins are not associated with cancers or the other causes of illness. This is clearly an animal activist sponsored attack on those that choose to eat meat.

John

Brod - September 9, 2010 6:27 AM

This is just another study to add to wider and growing body of good research on nutrition and its relationship to disease.

The evidence is more than strong, yet many people still resist to take a proper look and investigate this matter further. I find people who are sick are very teachable and very compliant.... However, there are many people who believe that just because they eat food they are an expert in nutrition and even when presented with such comprehensive information they look for any excuse not to take the information on board.

One of the most unique and comprehensive studies on this topic is The China Project.

When The China Project began it was well documented that at the time in China the Chinese were not were not eating re�ned carbohydrates or excess fat, because China had been a closed society for decades and there were no American
or Westernized influences.

It was observed that the Chinese people were all eating authentic plant based diets and the only variation in the diet was the amount of animal foods consumed. This was a very important fact, because it allowed the researchers to measure differences in health outcomes based on very small
variations in the amount of animal foods consumed. The results were astonishing, the more animal protein consumed the higher the disease rates, and in particular
cancer and heart disease.

Many people question could the quality of the animal foods be the difference?

It was also documented that Westernized farming methods had also not yet been introduced at this time in China and the Chinese people were consuming very pristine animal products,
probably would be labeled organic by today's standards and still the relationship held, the more animal protein consumed the higher the disease rates.

Credit to you Dr. Fuhrman for your continued efforts in disseminating factual and unbiased information on this topic.

I look forward to your next post!

BK (Australia)

mrfreddy - September 9, 2010 7:34 AM

"and this study clearly demonstrates that choosing plant foods instead of animal foods, even within the context of minimal refined carbohydrate, promotes longevity"

No, actually, the authors of the study may suggest that this is the case, however, a clear headed and unbiased examination of the actual data reveals otherwise:

http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/09/08/brand-spankin-new-study-are-low-carb-meat-eaters-in-trouble/

Key points:

Nobody in the study was actually on a low carb diet.

Nobody in the study was actually on a plant based diet.

As usual with all of these types of studies, people who are meat eaters tend to also engage in high risk behaviors, like smoking, drinking, etc People who eat more vegetables tend to also be people who take other measures to care for their health.

Key quote from the above link: "In this study, when you look closer at the data, differences in mortality appear to be unrelated to animal product consumption."

It'd be nice to see a study that compared a group of people who actually eat a true low carb diet, better yet, one based on pasture fed, naturally raised animal protein, versus a Furhman or Ornish style diet.

PaleoDoc - September 9, 2010 10:10 AM

We need more of such studies to keep the demand and price of meat relatively low.

Should be a case study in bad science, though I do not believe that observational studies are always inferior to RCTs.

And I still belive that some people would fare better on a predominantly vaegetarian (though grain-free) diet, while others are "doomed" to eat more meat (though keeping away from precessed meat).

Deana Ferreri, Ph.D. - September 9, 2010 10:41 AM

Marilyn,
Dr. Fuhrman's book 'Disease Proof Your Child' has a lot of (kid-friendly) recipes for vegetable dishes that your daughter might like.

Ed,
In this study, low carbohydrate was around 30-40% of calories (i.e. not as low as Atkins), and vegetable rich low carbohydrate in general meant more vegetables less pasta, bread, rice, etc.

Joel Fuhrman, M.D. - September 9, 2010 2:56 PM

It is almost funny to see commenters try to rationalize why it is still okay to eat a diet rich in animal products.
No amount of good science will ever convince everybody. However the excuses and rationalizations do not hold up to scrutiny, especially since this is only one of a thousand studies that show diets rich in animal products increase risk of cancer and heart disease and shorten lifespan.
This topic has attracted these guys like flies, but amazing to see the futile arguments they can come up with.
Just for the record, I have no vegan agenda to push and I am not claiming that a vegan diet is more lifespan promoting than one that has a small amount of animal products.
I am claiming that a careful review of the world’s body of nutritional science is conclusive that we have to significantly reduce our consumption of animal products as we increase the consumption of vegetable, beans, seeds, fruits and nuts to maximize lifespan. Greens, mushrooms and onions show the most powerful protection against cancer (and heart disease), not meat. I have also developed recommendations for a carefully and scientifically constructed diet-style to maximize disease-reversal, disease-protection, weight loss and longevity with the recommendation to restrict animal-sourced foods to less than 10 percent of total calories. The successful results, including dramatic enhanced lifespan in my patients speak for themselves, and more scientific studies documenting the effects are in the works.
There are lots of false claims in some comments above, including extrapolating incorrect information about smoking and exercise from the study, but the bottom line here is more vegetables in the diet and less meat were the most significant and consistent variable accounting for the differences and that was the conclusion of these careful (non-biased) researchers who had no agenda and were not vegans and were not even testing a vegan diet.

Tiffany Kopacz Johnson - September 9, 2010 4:06 PM

I shouldn't be surprised by the absurdities people will rely on in defense of their poor lifestyle choices in spite of credible evidence demonstrating that those choices may be harmful to their health... I mean, it was only years ago that smoking still wasn't thought to be cancer-causing. I shouldn't be surprised and yet, here I am again. Surprise.

If you want to continue to eat meat and dairy as part of your diet, fine. That is your choice. But trying to argue that animal products promote health is laughable and utterly unsupportable. You don't even need a formal study.... just look at us here in America. In the US, we are among the world's largest meat and dairy consumers - and we are also among the world's leaders for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Now, I ask all of you proponents of high animal protein diets... are our nation's diseased people all vegetarians? If meat and dairy = health, then why aren't we all more healthy? I mean, this is not rocket science. The average American diet disproportionately focuses on meat and dairy, with some veggies on the side. If this is a "healthy" diet, if this is perfectly acceptable, then why can't we control the growing numbers of cancer, heart-disease, obesity, etc???

The truth is... people were raised on meat and dairy and people don't want to change. No one wants to be accountable for their own health and God forbid we not get to eat exactly what we have become accustomed to eating (and enjoying) our entire lives.

So out roll some creative, but ultimately nonsensical attempts at debate... Sorry Phil Caines: "I have about 2.5% body fat, and I am healthier than any vegetarian that I know of." Um, what are you using to measure HEALTH? Your body fat percentage? And do the vegetarians that you know give you their body fat percentage? (as if body fat percentage alone was any kind of measure of true health)

In any event, it's all nonsense. Dr. Fuhrman never said that meat is lacking in all nutrients. If I may, it's all about the packaging people. Sure beef has protein and iron. But if you can get those same nutrients with plant-based foods (i.e., kale, chard, quinoa, lentils, etc.), you're going to get a slew of other benefits. Plant-based foods have shown to promote healing and cancer-fighting properties. The same cannot be said for animal proteins.

Dr. Fuhrman is talking about getting the most bang for your nutrient buck. People need to be more self-aware. Are you sure that you're not critical of the study and/or Dr.Fuhrman simply because you don't like what the results say about the way you choose to eat?

Way to go Dr. Fuhrman! Please keep the information coming!

Mary E - September 9, 2010 4:22 PM

There is a big difference between the original Atkins low-carb diet and the current rewrite (2010). It is now largely plant-based. I am a vegan and have found that a low-carb vegan diet is not that difficult. An excellent reference book is one by Rose Elliot (vegetarian low-carb diet). My diet is NOT high protein, just adequate protein. Because I use "net carbs" and the grains and vegetables I consume have such large amounts of fiber, it is entirely possible to enjoy a healthful, low-carb, vegan lifestyle. I am doing it for weight loss and when I carefully plan my menus and adhere to them, it works very well and I feel fantastic. It's okay to bash low-carb/high-protein, as long as you make it clear you are criticizing the very early, animal product-based versions of the LC diets.

Ed Terry - September 10, 2010 1:39 PM

Did any of you actually read the study? Most of the comments hear clearly demonstrate one thing. The lack of critical analysis.

Matt Stone, you keep throwing out your opinions. Don't waste your breath, nobody with a functional brain is listening to you.

Brod - September 10, 2010 9:28 PM

Well said Tiffany!

We can all knit pick at the finer details, but the fact is that there is SO much good data on this topic in the literature, it's just whether or not people want to take the time to research it and join dots...... to do that you need to have a personal interest in optimal health and disease prevention.

Dr. Fuhrman once said "science is not perfect, but evidence builds on prior studies and ongoing research attempts to test each hypothesis and check validity in an unbiased manner."

The question has never been whether or not animal foods have a place in a healthy diet, because they do. Some of the healthiest and long lived cultures eat some animal foods and always have. However, they are consumed sparingly (once or twice a week), whilst the remaining calories consist of a variety of unrefined plant foods.

If you follow and examine the scientific literature it is quiet clear that when animal based protein (of any description) exceeds 10% of total weekly calories, you significantly increase your risk of developing not one, but many illness associated with dietary excess.

Grass fed beef may be better from the stand point that it is free from drugs, antibiotics and being fed grains. However, there are a whole host of other concerns with a meat dominate diet, no matter what the state of the animal source.

One example would be dietary iron. You will absorb just about all the iron from steak whether it's a health benefit or not. Iron is essential to health, though, too much iron is toxic and produces free radicals that cause premature aging. In fact, iron is the most powerful free radical generator in biological system!

Whereas, broccoli has more iron than a steak does, yet you won't absorb all the iron from broccoli because plant foods contain regulators such as bioflavonoids that give you enough iron for your nutrition, but not too much so you become toxic. Additionally, plants contain antioxidants that neutralise free radicals before they cause too much damage (disease).

POINT: There are 'thousands' of tiny nutrients in whole natural plant foods working in an efficient relationship to maximize health and minimize disease. Humans do not use one large amount of any particular nutrient daily, we use a little bit of all of them. If you study the mechanisms that cause aging and disease, you will have a better respect of a comparison of the two food groups. Animal foods are very lopsided compared to whole unrefined fruits and vegetables and do not deliver balanced nutrition in sink with our bodies energy needs.

Using body composition and physical appearance as your only measure of health is very short sighted. Just because you are thin doesn't mean you are healthy, nor does it mean you are going to live a long healthy life. The right diet should positively effect all aspects of physiology, not just the waist line!

Shouldn't a healthy diet not only promote ideal weight, but also the right environment in your blood and tissue for health and healing?

I am going to stick with the diet that is proven most to protect me against all diseases.

"Healthy eating involves no sacrifices, only different choices" Dr. Fuhrman

Keep learning!

BK

LeeAnn - September 11, 2010 4:36 AM

What about lectins [anti-nutrients] in beans? I've read that they increase intestinal permeability along with other toxins in legumes and grains.

I'm also starting to question Soymilk, it seems so unnatural, highly processed.

LeeAnn - September 13, 2010 3:48 AM

I'm really wondering about the legumes issue. It puzzles me that some say they're the best thing in the world to eat and some say that they are toxic. I don't know what to believe. If they are really healthy are the people talking about the intestinal permeability wrong? Are lectins good or bad?

Tiffany Kopacz Johnson - September 15, 2010 4:22 PM

LeeAnn - not all lectins are toxic, but toxicity is a very real concern with some types of raw beans, and in particular, raw or undercooked kidney beans... for a pretty concise and quick discussion on this, you can go to: http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/2385/
Although I am certainly no expert (and am not suggesting to you that I am any kind of authority -- just trying to help in response to your post), everything that I've read on this issue so far seems to suggest that not all lectins are bad or toxic, and that even when a lectin could be toxic (as it is in a raw kidney bean), it is neutralized with adequate cooking = the rule still holds true, legumes are a great, nutrient-rich, healthy food.
In my opinion, based upon the individual sensitivities we may have, some people may experience increased digestive upset, but that does not mean that we shouldn't be eating legumes or that they're toxic...again, that is only based on my understanding of the literature on this issue (for whatever that's worth)

LeeAnn - September 16, 2010 12:17 AM

Tiffany - Thanks so much for the information! Looking at this from that point of view it seems unnecessary to avoid this delicious and nutrient rich food if you don't have a noticeable problem with them. If we have invented a way to neutralized them, then we can't really live by the same rule as, let's say, thousands of years ago when we hadn't. It is after all a wholesome, natural food.

MIke Rubino - September 17, 2010 6:33 PM

Not surprising to see the names of some Atkins proponents here as they pop up here and there from site to site promoting the wonders of an Atkins type diet and attacking its detractors. My retort is to go ahead and eat your meat , we'll see who's obituary we read about first.

Thinker - October 24, 2010 1:28 PM

Some fallacies of the study, & it's conclusion have already been pointed out, so let me add just a few:

1. Asking people to recall what their diets have been, whether for the past week, or years, is highly unreliable;

2. No mention of the types of meats: franks, bacon with nitrates, etc., are meats, but as a patient of Atkins years ago, definitely not part of his diet; (Often ignored when referencing the Atkins diet is that he also required patients to take 25-50 supplements daily.)

3. Meats, today, are hardly pure. Antibiotics, hormones, crap feed, are standard for all but the most organic meats. Nor do current meats (except some organic,) contain the proper omega 3-6 ratios, that supported mankind for centuries;

4. Mankind goes back a few hundred thousand years; grains about 10,000. To think that meats cause all kinds of degenerative disease, means the species would have been wiped out long ago. Quite the contrary, heart disease circa 1900 was almost totally unknown. Replacing lard & butter with margarine, & certain oils greatly helped to spread heart disease;

That Harvard produces such a study is not a surprise; that Dr. Fuhrman would accept such nonsense without critical analysis places anything he might say under suspicion. Needless to say I'll stop my e-mails from him.

Fred Hahn - October 27, 2010 2:01 PM

Denise Minger gives a nice retort to this meaningless observational study:

http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/09/08/brand-spankin-new-study-are-low-carb-meat-eaters-in-trouble/

In short, this ob study did NOT look at low carb anything. The lowest % carb group ate 35% of their total calories as carbs. That ain't a low carb diet.

Fred Hahn - October 27, 2010 2:26 PM

Dr. Fuhrman,

You made quite a few statements that are absolutely false. As a physician you should be much more careful.

This paper is an observational study. Ob studies can only suggest an association. They cannot prove cause and effect. Using this paper as proof that eating meat is hazardous to one's health is disingenuous.

And the no one who eats a low carb diet eats 35% - 60% of their calories from carbs. At best it is 10%.

This paper also does not separate corn syrup ridden processed meats from grass fed, hormone free meats.

You do indeed have an agenda to spread. It is so very obvious from your books and your comment above.

You said:

"It is almost funny to see commenters try to rationalize why it is still okay to eat a diet rich in animal products. No amount of good science will ever convince everybody. However the excuses and rationalizations do not hold up to scrutiny, especially since this is only one of a thousand studies that show diets rich in animal products increase risk of cancer and heart disease and shorten lifespan."

A thousand? Really? I'm afraid you grossly exaggerate. Please list for us all even 20 of the thousand studies you claim exist that proves that eating animal products increases risk of cancer and heart disease. And again, the paper cited in this blog is an observational study only. Ob studies suggest an association. They do not prove cause and effect. You do know this right?

"This topic has attracted these guys like flies, but amazing to see the futile arguments they can come up with."

Please tell me how my argument that an observational study cannot prove cause and effect is futile.

"Just for the record, I have no vegan agenda to push and I am not claiming that a vegan diet is more lifespan promoting than one that has a small amount of animal products. I am claiming that a careful review of the world’s body of nutritional science is conclusive that we have to significantly reduce our consumption of animal products as we increase the consumption of vegetable, beans, seeds, fruits and nuts to maximize lifespan."

Please list for us all just one study that supports your claim. Remember, the burden of proof lies upon the claimant. Observational and EPI surveys do not count as reliable studies that prove cause and effect. I wonder how the Inuit survived. How do lions and tigers survive? Dolphins? Frogs? Spiders? And the many otther animals that live on this Earth that eat only cancer causing animal products?

"Greens, mushrooms and onions show the most powerful protection against cancer (and heart disease), not meat."

Again, please provide your evidence.

"I have also developed recommendations for a carefully and scientifically constructed diet-style to maximize disease-reversal, disease-protection, weight loss and longevity with the recommendation to restrict animal-sourced foods to less than 10 percent of total calories. The successful results, including dramatic enhanced lifespan in my patients speak for themselves, and more scientific studies documenting the effects are in the works."

Question - how do you know that the lifespan of your patients increased? You'd have to know how long they were going to live - when they were going to die IOW - in order to know that their lifespan increased. And that is not possible unless you talk to God.

"There are lots of false claims in some comments above, including extrapolating incorrect information about smoking and exercise from the study, but the bottom line here is more vegetables in the diet and less meat were the most significant and consistent variable accounting for the differences and that was the conclusion of these careful (non-biased) researchers who had no agenda and were not vegans and were not even testing a vegan diet."

How do you know the researchers were non-biased? And again, the study did not differentiate between the types of meats nor did it look at an actual low carbohydrate diet. Now will you be professional enough to admit this or not?

Angela - October 31, 2010 6:02 PM

Why is everyone quoting Denise Minger? She is not a doctor, a scientist or a nutritionist! She's just someone with a blog writing on the internet for fun! Will you meat lovers just find anyone or anything to confirm your own biases?!

I think I'll stick to listening to Dr. Fuhrman, who has treated thousands of patients successfully! The man knows his stuff!

John - January 6, 2011 9:59 AM

I have followed many hundreds of low carbing diabetics anecdotally online. My own observational study confirms that low carbing is the only way to reverse and prevent type 2 diabetes and become healthy. It's working for me too, a type 1. The science clearly points to sugars as the deadly food. Even the good doctor knows that sugars rust us from the inside, and the good doctor also knows that sugar is sugar regardless of what it's packaged in. White, brown, pink, fiber packed, or green-leafed, sugar is sugar and sugar is deadly. The only remotely demonstrated negative mechanism I can find for meat is when you feed it to vegan animals in familial quantities; they develop atherosclerosis more. I can find absolutely no evidence meats are bad and no logical reason why it should be. Animals accumulate nutrients, humans have consumed animals from the get-go, our current form of heart disease is a very very recent problem. A simple review of nutrients in any food database clearly shows that meats outperform veggies in everything. It's not even close. MI was first discovered in 1878 and was rare early in the 20th. Of course we survived ice ages, streamlined out intestinal tracts, and developed big brains because we ate mega-amounts of vegetable matter. Yah, right. Those historical veggie-based societies should offer you people lots of hope for the survival or humanity ... NOT. You can't find any!Taubes clearly shows that insulin controls fat, atherosclerosis is obviously tied to grain and fructose inflammation. Gluten induced vitamin K and general nutrient deficiences, low cholesterol induced vitamin D dificiencies, sugar induces hyper-triglycerides, low HDL, and small dangerous LDLs, 80% PUFs in plaque, omega imbalances, and on and on and on. Cling to your bad science, and please keep publishing it. I do so want my grass-fed meats to drop in price too!

Donal - April 6, 2011 7:57 PM

Oh for the day all this nonsense back and forth of opinion is ended on blogs and sites all over the place with evidence based research.

This is a science. Not an opinion. And weak studies which do not control for confounding factors do not add strength to any side (which is itself an folly of a position as science should be evidence based)

Nutrition needs a lot of work and debunking.

Donal - April 6, 2011 8:09 PM

Another comment to add to previous

The amount of experts on comment sections giving out "Advice" on nutritional intake is disconcerting.

If one does have an expert opinion why waste it on a short blog and not on the frontline as it were. My reckoning is its a few people who have read this and this and this and parrot it back over and over again. Its a futile practice. That for whatever amount is solid reliable evidence which is actually followed the rest which isnt can equally taken up by a reader as gospel and cause the opposite effect.

Image how ludicrous it would be for a bunch of lay men to be discussing Dentistry practices, M Theory , Nuclear fission etc Yet giving advice on personal accounts of diet loss is swallowed up (sorry for the pun)as gospel.

The primary objective on blog such as this is not advice on nutritional intake but as guardians of the information provided by the author - well done the likes of Broseph , John canter & Thinker etc for doing this job very well.

Robert - September 3, 2011 10:48 AM

The diet associated with health AND longevity is a highly plant-based one such as those followed by Okinawans, Sardinians, Loma Linda SDA vegetarians, etc. The New England Centenarian Study as well as other such studies found that centenarians had several things in common one of which was a diet low in animals foods and high in plants. My bugaboo with low carb/high fat diets is that there really aren't any long-term controlled studies to see the effects of such a diet over time.

Mark - January 1, 2012 5:29 AM

We did not "evolve" to live on meat. Most humans living in "primitive" societies only get about 15-20% of their protein from flesh consumption. What's more, most of the diseases that result from flesh consumption do not factor into our evolution because they tend to occur at a later age than the typical "cave man" lifespan which was between 20 and 30 years old. Now that we live longer, due to reduced risk of being eaten by a predator and higher availability of medical care, we're seeing how poorly our systems handle decades of flesh digestion.

Sigrney - February 29, 2012 12:35 PM

Meat eaters need to calm down. We are not attacking you personally, why do you get so darn defensive about your meat? The notion that heart stopping animal fat and cancer causing casein protein intake is somehow healthy is just plain absurd. Regarding the picture used, it doesn't matter which cut of beef is shown. The majority of damaging fat is woven into the muscle tissue and not the kind you can cut off. If milk is healthy, then why do we have rampant osteoporosis? I will tell you why, and it's been well documented....animal protein is acidic and your body strips calcium from your bones to neutralize it. Plant protein is ideal and the main concern with protein should be getting TOO MUCH. In addition, the iron found in plants is much more bioavailable than animal iron. I understand, I was raised meat and dairy as well. But the logical and scientific mind can entertain the notion that its initial assumptions were wrong, thus allowing new ideas to enter. Those of us who have returned to our natural plant based diet have done that, changed our belief system as the old one no longer makes any sense. I have been advised to eat and plethora of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds etc. and don't worry about the exact percentage of carbs to protein. This is our natural diet and meat is not.

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