Macronutrients: Myths and Facts

Macronutrients are those nutrients which are required and consumed in large amounts every day. The five main macronutrients are Oxygen, water, protein, fat and carbohydrate, with the last three being those with which we will concern ourselves.

So, for some definitions first and then some Myths and Facts;

 PROTEIN

PROTEIN is the main component of every cell and body fluid except bile and urine. In other words we are protein.  Our muscles, hair, skin, nails, eyes, blood, enzymes, and many hormones and nerve chemicals are mostly protein. Bones are protein hardened by calcium and other minerals. In addition, protein is required for the formation of infection-fighting antibodies as well as for the growth and maintenance of all tissues. Protein also plays a key role in the regulation of the fluid and salt balance between compartments of the body and acts as  buffers in the maintenance of acid-base balance. Thus, protein functions as hormones, hemoglobin, enzymes and antibodies.

Protein is made up of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen – and unlike plant foods or carbohydrates – protein contains nitrogen. Nitrogen is what gives protein the capacity to help build and repair body tissues, something that carbohydrates cannot do.

We all require daily infusions of top quality proteins just to sustain life because our bodies cannot store them – or their building blocks - in the same way they do fats. Because plant proteins in general have a lower biological value than animal proteins and often are missing one or more key amino acids or protein building blocks, vegetarians must be especially careful in choosing their proteins. Incomplete protein will keep you alive but it cannot promote growth or even cellular repair and rebuilding.

FAT

“GOOD” FATS are absolutely essential to health. In addition to being the body’s most efficient source of energy, “good” fats are critical for a wide variety of metabolic processes.

Fats (or lipids) perform life-supporting functions in every human cell, including cell membrane structure, enzyme reactions,  blood and tissue structure, in memory and nervous system operations, and in the manufacture and utilization of the sterol hormones and the hormone-like prostaglandins. Fats are also required for healthy skin, the transport and absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and the regulation of cholesterol metabolism. Fats, even stored fats, are in a constant, dynamic state of metabolism. So essential to body function are fats that even after stavation, fats are still found in tissues.

Good fats do NOT include chemically alterred, hydrogentated or partially hydrogenated oils or vegetable shortening or most vegetable oils. And because the fats from commercial animals are highly contaminated with a variety of chemicals and hormones, are nutrient deficient, and have a seriously alterred fatty acid profile, fat from pastured animals is by far more preferable.  This is why butter from pastured animals, especially raw butter, is an exceptionally "good" fat and organic butter is the next best  - but not optimal choice. Commercial butter is a better choice than vegetable oils. If you depend on commercial animal protein, use lean and add in extra good fat.

 CARBOHYDRATE

CARBOHYDRATES, to be succinct, are sugars and starches, and they serve primarily as a source of energy – or body fuel. For most people they do provide much needed digestive assistance.  Nevertheless, carbohydrates are unessential to human health!  (Michael R. Eades, M.D., Mary Dan Eades, M.D.,  Wolfgang Lutz, M.D., Christian B. Allen, PhD. and others)

 
Sources for all definitions: The Nutrition Bible by Jean Anderson, M.S. and Barbara Deskins, Ph.D., R.D. And The Nutrition Desk Reference, third edition by Robert H. Garrison, Jr., R.Ph. and Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R. D

MYTHS AND FACTS

CARBOHYDRATES AND VITAMINS:

You do NOT need to eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables to get your daily supply of vitamins. While we do get some vitamins from fruits and vegetables, we can get most of them from animal foods. Even more importantly, there are many vitamins and cofactors that we ONLY get from animal foods. This means that if you don’t eat any animal foods you will probably develop a deficiency in some vitamin. . . and except for chromium, animal foods supply more of each mineral. . .The truth is, vitamins and minerals are abundantly available in animal foods, and generally animal foods supply more of them per individual serving than does any single serving of a fruit, vegetable, or grain.

[Since excess carbs reduce the body’s ability to metabolize fatty acids due to the anabolic effects of insulin, l-carnitine is suggested to supplement for the first few weeks of  reducing carbs if you experience  any muscle fatigue or leg cramping.] From Life Without Bread: How a Low Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life by Christian B. Alan, PhD and Wolfgang Lutz, M.D., p 147

Also, please see Top 14 Best Foods.

CARBOHYDRATES AND ENERGY

You do not have to eat carbohydrates to have them available for energy. Your body can make carbohydrates as needed, if the protein supply is adequate. Reducing your daily intake of carbs to 72 grams or less . . . will result in more energy at your disposal, as long as you eat plenty of fat and protein. [Further] many organs prefer fat for energy. . .We have all been led to believe that low-fat diets are heart-healthy. But did you know that your heart primarily uses fat for energy? That’s right. Carbs contributes very little to the energy necessary to keep your heart beating, and the preferred fat is saturated fat.  From Life Without Bread: How a Low Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life by Christian B. Alan, PhD and Wolfgang Lutz, M.D., p 56

Mitochondria are the power plants of the cell. Because they produce most of the energy in the body, the amount of energy available is based on how well the mitochondria are working. . . Mitochondria were specifically designed to use fat for energy. . . Fatty acids [unlike glucose] are transported into the mitochondria completely intact. L-Carnitine is the compound necessary to transport medium- and large-sized fatty acids inside the mitochondria from the cell soup (called cytosol) . . .L-carnitine is chiefly found in animal products [and] is one of many important substances that are only found in appreciable quantities in animal foods . . Ibid, p 64-65

CARBOHYDRATES AND HEALTH

Evidence that carbohydrates contributed to poor health can be found from fossils obtained both before and after Paleolithic times. During the last forty thousand years, skeletal remains have provided important clues. At the beginning of this preagricultural period, the anthropologist Lawrence Angel found that adult males averaged 5 feet 11 inches in height and adult females about 5 feet 6 inches. Twenty thousand years later, after agriculture and carbohydrate consumption were abundant, the males averaged 5 feet, six inches and the females averaged 5 feet. . .  Tooth loss at death shows a similar trend. In 30,000 B.C. adults died with 2.2 teeth missing; in 6,500 B.C. they averaged 3.5 missing; during Roman times there were 6.6 teeth missing. These trends suggest that health was compromised by the introduction of large amounts of carbs into the diet, and that the negative effects were experienced from the beginning. . . From Life Without Bread: How a Low Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life by Christian B. Alan, PhD and Wolfgang Lutz, M.D., p 190

Government-sponsored guides to healthy eating, such as the USDA’s food pyramid, which advocates six to eleven servings of grains daily for everyone, lag far behind current research and continue to preach dangerously old-fashioned ideas. Because the USDA’s function is largely the promotion of agriculture and agricultural products, there is clear conflict of interest inherent in any USDA claim of healthful benefits arising from any agricultural product. Popular beliefs and politically motivated promotion, not science, continue to dictate dietary recommendations, leading to debilitating and deadly diseases that are wholly or partly preventable. . . (p7) This is the extremely complex problem we face. Many people eat grains daily because they are cheap and abundant, yet science is reporting that these very same grains are bringing us to the brink of an enormous health crisis. From Dangerous Grains by James Braly, M.D., and Ron Hoggan M.A.  Pp 6-7

There is a persuasive convergence of evidence against grains from several fields, including medicine, genetics, and archeology. From Dangerous Grains by James Braly, M.D., and Ron Hoggan M.A p19

We know that throughout most of recorded history humans usually lived short, difficult lives replete with famine, pestilence, and a high infant-mortality rate. We sometimes assume that this was also the case for their preagricultural, prehistoric hunter-gatherer ancestors, yet this is probably not the case. In fact, the available evidence from studies of modern hunter-gatherers suggest just the opposite. . . Several isolated groups of hunter-gatherers were still in existence during the twentieth century. They had maintained their traditional lifestyle and were carefully observed by scientists like Vilhjalmur Stefansson [and Weston A. Price, Sir Robert McCarrison and others]. In addition to enjoying more leisure time than many people living in industrialized nations, such hunter-gatherers often lived long, healthy lives [healthy being an operative word here]. . . From Dangerous Grains by James Braly, M.D., and Ron Hoggan M.A p22

[Conversely and as a consequence of grain-based agriculture] Our  agricultural ancestors became smaller, their bones became weaker and more diseased, and the size of their brains diminished. Human brain size, based on head circumference, has diminished approximately 11 percent since the advent of agricultural societies. Modern European hunter-gatherer men and women stood five to six inches taller than farmers of a few generations later. Only recently, as a result of DNA analysis,  has it become evident that the shorter farmers were actually descendants of the taller hunter-gatherers. There are many archeological excavations throughout the world that indicate this cereal-associated dynamic, regardless of where agriculture was begun. Clearly, the nutrient-rich hunter-gatherer lifestyle is most likely the factor that decreed the five to six inches difference in stature. From Dangerous Grains by James Braly, M.D., and Ron Hoggan M.A p24
 

And excerpts from The Milk of Human Kindness Is Not Pasteurized by Wm. Campbell Douglass, M.D.

P211:   Archeological studies have shown that Cro-Magnon man ate bear, lion, hyenas, wild horse, and the wooly rhinoceros. In America the Paleolithic Homo sapiens ate the wolf, beaver, and the American camel. . . In China, Peking Man was found to have lunched on camel, deer, elephant and ostrich. . . [In fact] there is no society in the world that is entirely vegetarian. The Hindus of India come closest. Dr. Leon Abrams [in a 1967 article in Natural History Magazine] reports on India, “. . . the greater percentage of the population, who subsist almost entirely on vegetable foods, suffer from kwashiorkor, other forms of malnutrition, and have the shortest life span in the world.”

P215:  The Director of theNational Museum in Iceland says that it is definitely established that during 600 years, 1200 to 1800 in Iceland, there were no dental cavities.  The foods they ate were milk and milk products, mutton, beef and fish. They ate no carbohydrate. The only exception to this was a little moss soup in summer, but this was a rare “fun food” of little nutritional importance. .  .Two Indian tribes reveal the same thing. The prehistoric Indians of California were Vegetarians, unlike most folks of that period, and they had tooth decay. In contrast, the Sioux Indians lived on buffalo meat and were devoid of cavities. The Pueblos worshipped the Corn God, but he was not grateful. They have the most wretched teeth  of  all the American Indian tribes...  They lived on corn, squash and beans. The Laplanders, who ate mostly reindeer meat during the 18th century, rarely had cavities. Modern Laplanders have a decay rate of 85% of their teeth.

Pp217-218: Quoting from a book title The Fat of The Land published in 1956 and written by an inveterate explorer (and doctor) by the name of Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Douglass describes Stephansson's dietary findings as "totally opposite to modern nutritional thinking." Here's what Stephansson said, "In 1906 I went to the Arctic with the food tastes and beliefs of the average American. By 1918, after eleven years as an Eskimo among Eskimos, I had learned things which caused me to shed most of those beliefs.” . . 

Douglass continues with a description of dietary “truths” which are still believed to be true today by practically all schools of nutrition [and which Stefansson proved to be incorrect]: 1) To be healthy you need a varied diet composed of elements from both the animal and vegetable kingdom. 2) Eating the same thing daily for prolonged periods causes a revulsion against food; 3) One must eat fruit for a “balanced” diet; 4) One must eat vegetables for a “balanced” diet; 5) Nuts and coarse grains are necessary; 6) Certain harmful bacteria will flourish in the intestines if you eat too much meat; 7) The less meat you eat the better. It will cause arthritis, hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, and a calcium deficiency; 8) You should in fact be a vegetarian; 9) Without fruits and vegetables, especially fruits, you will get scurvy; 10) Man cannot live on meat alone. Your kidneys will stop working. [With one important caveat; meat without fat is an incomplete food and you can become ill if you try to eliminate fat.] 

 
CARBOHYDRATES AND SATURATED FATS:

SATURATED FATTY ACIDS IN THE BLOOD ARE NOT AN APPROPRIATE MARKER OF DIETARY FAT INTAKE BUT ARE RATHER A MARKER OF CARBOHYDRATE INTAKE.  And, according to one recent study, those with the highest blood levels of saturated fats were twice as likely to develop diabetes as those with the lowest.

To wit: A study out of the University of Minnesota (Am J Clin Nutr 2003 July:78(1):91-8), and reported in the December, 2003 issue of Prevention Magazine, found that “among 3000 people tested, those with the highest blood levels of saturated fats were twice as likely to develop diabetes as those with the lowest.” According to Aaron Folsom, MD, one author of the study, “Saturated fats in the blood appear to affect your body’s ability to effectively use insulin, the hallmark of type-2 diabetes.” Naturally this report was followed by warnings not to eat saturated fats like butter, cream and the fat on meat. But Dr. Folsom makes an error common to those not trained in fatty acid metabolism. A high level of saturated fatty acids in the blood is reflective of high carohydrate intake and subsequent synthesis of fatty acids from excess carbohydrates. SATURATED FATTY ACIDS ARE NOT AN APPRORIATE MARKER OF DIETARY FAT INTAKE BUT ARE RATHER A MARKER OF CARBOHYDRATE INTAKE. [emphasis mine].What the researchers at the University of Minnesota actually discovered (or rather, reaffirmed) was that people who eat a lot of carbohydrates are more likely to develop diabetes. Cited from page 11 of the Spring 2004 issue of Wise Traditions, a magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

 
ANIMAL FATS, Saturated Fats AND HEART DISEASE;

Doctors and other health professionals claim there is ample proof that animal fats cause heart disease while they confidently advise us to adopt a lowfat diet; actually the literature contains only two studies involving humans that compared the outcome (not markers like cholesterol levels) of a diet high in animal fat with a diet based on vegetable oils, and both showed that animal fats are protective.

The Anti-Coronary Club project, launched in 1957 and published in 1966 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, compared two groups of New York businessmen, aged 49 to 59 years. One group followed the so-called “Prudent Diet” consisting of corn oil and margarine instead of butter, cold breakfast cereals instead of eggs and chicken and fish instead of beef; a control group ate eggs for breakfast and meat three times per day. The final report noted that the Prudent Dieters had average serum cholesterol of 222mg/l, compared to 250 mg/l in the eggs-and-meat group. But there were EIGHT deaths from heart disease among the Prudent Dieter group, and NONE among those who ate meat three times a day.

In a study published in the British Medical Journal, 1965, patients who had already had a heart attack were divided into three groups: one group got polyunsaturated corn oil, the second got monounsaturated olive oil and the third group was told to eat animal fat. After two years, the corn oil group had 30 percent lower cholesterol, but only 52 percent of them were still alive. The olive oil groups fared little better – only 57 percent were alive after two years. But of the group that ate mostly animal fat, 75 percent were still alive after two years. Cited in Wise Traditions, Spring 2004

And a word about CHOLESTEROL: “Our bodies cannot function without cholesterol. This waxy lipid (fat) is used to manufacture estrogen and testosterone, vitamin D, bile, skin oils, nerve- and brain-cell sheaths (indeed, the body’s richest concentration of cholesterol is in the brain). Our livers make all the cholesterol we need [whether or not we eat it] . .  .Under optimum conditions, cholesterol constantly shuttles back and forth between the liver and body cells, where it’s needed aboard lipoproteins (these too are synthesized in the liver).. . . What about too little blood cholesterol? Is that dangerous? Researchers now believe that people with cholesterol levels below 160 are at greater risk of liver cancer, non-malignant lung disease, brain hemorrhage, even alcoholism and suicide, although they can’t say why. Nor can they explain why some people have basement blood cholesterol levels although they suspect it has more to do with heredity than diet.”  The Nutrition Bible by Jean Anderson, M.S. and Barbara Deskins, Ph.D., R.D.

CARBOHYDRATES AND DISEASE:

Many studies show high carbohydrate diets are correlated with hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and hypercholesterolemia. These are all medical terms for too much glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and cholesterol, respectively. From Life Without Bread: How a Low Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life by Christian B. Alan, PhD and Wolfgang Lutz, M.D., p 52

Type 2 diabetes is a disease of carbohydrate overload. . . Don’t be fooled by those who insist that reducing carbohydrate intake will not help diabetes. . . In our experience, almost everyone benefits from carbohydrate reduction, even if they have had  type 2 diabetes for years and are taking drugs to lower their glucose levels. From Life Without Bread: How a Low Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life by Christian B. Alan, PhD and Wolfgang Lutz, M.D., p 46

Cancer cells prefer glucose for their energy source .  . . Perhaps nutritionally induced cancer is simply a way to remove all this glucose. . . Other connections exist between insulin levels in the blood and cancer formation. Insulin is related to other hormones called growth factors (such as IGF-1), which in turn are responsible for many aspects of regulation, including tissue repair and cell division. There is increasing evidence that an imbalance of certain growth factors that are related to insulin can give rise to cancer formation. From Life Without Bread: How a Low Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life by Christian B. Alan, PhD and Wolfgang Lutz, M.D., pp 170-171

Cardiopathy (the term given to enlarged heart, insufficient energy to maintain a steady beat, or heart valve problem) all respond favorably to low-carb nutrition, although some conditions got worse BEFORE they got better. From Life Without Bread: How a Low Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life by Christian B. Alan, PhD and Wolfgang Lutz, M.D., p 105

[The] effects of gluten [from grain consumption] on the immune system, along with profound nutritional deficiencies that so often accompany gluten sensitivity, contribute to many modern diseases. . . Today these abnormal immune reactions can easily be identified by appropriate laboratory and clinical testing. The test results can be used to help identify your risk of developing full-blown gluten-related diseases. Testing also identifies causal connections between diseases, symptoms, and gluten consumption; disease prevention and reversal often follow a strict gluten-free diet. From Dangerous Grains by James Braly, M.D., and Ron Hoggan M.A p3