Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality

Yes, it’s a joke. Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality was an article published in the Journal of Polymorphous Perversity, which was sort of like Mad Magazine for mental health professionals. Here’s an excerpt from the article, supposedly a direct (but badly mistranslated) quotation from some German-speaking authority:

The man who kills animals for meat gives the pursued animal a chance to escape. How more and more sadistically cruel is the non-meat eating man. The keen theoretician must himself this question deeply ask—What is the likelihood that the tranquil carrot from its vicious predator successfully outrun can?

The article points out that in paranoid personality disorder, there is, by definition, pervasive and systematic distrust of people, while vegetarian personality disorder involves mistrust specifically related to the content of the dinner plate:

Individual thinks that there are pieces of dead animals on his plate…. In advanced stages of the disorder, individual suspects that there are minuscule animal by-products mixed with his food.

Some of the greatest hits from the journal have been published in two books: Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality and More Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality. Enjoy!

Oil Your Hair, Not Your Food

If you put oil in your dog’s food, it supposedly makes his coat glossy. If we eat too much fat, we can end up with a coat that is too glossy, with too much oil on our skin and hair. But what if your hair is dry? Does that mean that you should eat more fat? Definitely not. To find cases of people with a genuine dietary deficiency of fat, you have to look at people who were being fed nothing but sugar intravenously. If your hair is dry, add oil directly to the hair, not to your food!

One effective way to add oil to your hair is with a hot oil treatment. I tried this yesterday and am thrilled with the results. My hair is curly and very thick, and it tends to misbehave, especially in the summer. So I heated up a few tablespoons of olive oil in the microwave for a few seconds (not too hot!) and applied it directly to my hair. I couldn’t believe how much oil my hair absorbed! So I heated up more oil and added that. I let the oil soak in for about 15 minutes, then I shampooed my hair: lather and rinse, no repeat.

My hair turned out soft and manageable. I think that next time I’ll try a mixture of olive and coconut oil, to see how that works!

Photo by Internet Archive Book Images

Potatoes Provide Plenty of Protein!


Most diet-conscious people today think of potatoes as “a starch.” They think that if you are having potatoes for dinner, you still have to add “a protein” to your meal. Yet potatoes are an excellent source of protein. Scientists have known that since the 1920s because of an interesting experiment that was done in Poland in 1925 and published in 1928 in Biochemical Journal.  Thanks to the Internet, you can read the original article for yourself.

The researchers knew that populations that subsisted on a diet based heavily on potatoes seemed to be healthy and remarkably free of scurvy, beriberi, and pellagra—diseases that were known to result from vitamin deficiency. Some earlier work had suggested that potatoes can provide enough protein for human nutrition, and this study was intended to confirm those results.

For 167 days, the researchers fed a healthy young man and a healthy young woman a diet whose only significant source of protein was potatoes. Besides potatoes, the subjects ate fat and salt and a few apples and pears. They could also have the occasional cup of black coffee or tea with sugar.

The subjects thrived on this limited diet. Their health remained good and their weight remained stable, except that the man started losing weight toward the end of the study as he got more serious with his athletic training. Nitrogen balance studies confirmed that they weren’t having any trouble with protein deficiency. Most surprisingly, they didn’t get bored with their monotonous diet! To show that these results weren’t some sort of fluke, look at what happened when someone from the Washington State Potato Commission ate nothing but potatoes for 60 days.

At the end of the article, the authors thanked Dr. Casimir Funk, who directed the experiment. Funk was a superstar in the history of nutrition. In 1912, he published a landmark article describing how he had isolated thiamine, the chemical that is responsible for preventing and curing the deficiency disease called beriberi. That same year, he wrote another landmark article, which suggested that several epidemic diseases were actually the result of a deficiency of some vital chemical that was needed in only tiny amounts. He guessed that, like thiamine, the other chemicals would be amines, so he coined the term “vitamines.” After it turned out that some of these vital chemicals aren’t amines, the “e” was dropped, and they became vitamins.

As this study showed, potatoes contain plenty of protein. So the next time that you think you need to add “a protein” to your meal, eat a potato!

Bill Clinton Eats Plants!

A few years ago, Dr. John McDougall wrote a controversial essay explaining that Bill Clinton was probably suffering from the side effects of his coronary bypass operation.

Fortunately, Bill Clinton eventually got the message about a healthy diet. To lose weight for his daughter’s wedding, Clinton joined the growing list of powerful people who have adopted a healthy, low-fat, plant-based diet.  Evidently, he’s still sticking to his healthy diet. Good for him!

Photo by marctasman

Why I Don’t Worry About Sugar

Most of the people I talk to about nutrition are convinced that carbohydrates are their enemy. They think that “sugar spikes” cause diabetes. (They have it backwards. Sugar spikes are the result, not the cause of diabetes!) People seem to be particularly worried about the effects of a sugar called fructose. Personally, I’m not worried about carbohydrates, even fructose, as long as it’s found in an unrefined plant source. I even think that adding a spoonful of sugar or perhaps some maple syrup every now and then could help a lot of people stick to a healthy low-fat, plant-based diet.

Genetically, human beings are almost identical to chimpanzees. Our DNA is almost exactly the same as theirs, which means that our body chemistry is also almost exactly the same as theirs. Since chimpanzees, like many other apes, are mainly fruit-eaters (frugivores), it stands to reason that they probably thrive on a diet that contains a lot of fructose, which is a sugar that is common in fruit. However, the fructose that wild chimpanzees eat is diluted with water and fiber and packaged along with plenty of other nutrients, along with antioxidants and other good things.

Yes, you can make yourself sick by eating too much sugar. However, it would be difficult for most people to get that much sugar from eating fruit! One study found that eating way too much added sugar (at least 25% of total calories!) is associated with only a relatively small increase in the amount of fat (triglycerides) in the blood and a small decrease in the level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Of course, if you are having a problem with triglycerides, you should probably cut way back on your consumption of table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.

Sugar does rot your teeth, at least if you don’t brush carefully after meals. As a result, chimpanzees are prone to dental caries (cavities), just as humans are. However, wild chimpanzees don’t seem to be fat and diabetic and they don’t get heart disease. So why should I imagine that I would get fat and diabetic and suffer from heart disease if I ate a lot of fruit?

Eating lots of sugar does not cause diabetes. Instead, cow’s milk seems to be the culprit in causing type 1 diabetes. A diet that is high in fats and animal protein seems to be the underlying cause in type 2 diabetes.

Eating too many calories from any kind of diet tends to make people gain weight. However, you gain a lot more weight from extra calories from a fatty diet than from extra calories from a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. Converting sugar to fat wastes calories. That’s why it’s hard to fatten on carbs but easy to fatten on fats.

Of course, there are a few people with genetic disorders that make it hard for them to tolerate fructose. One of them is hereditary fructose intolerance. Another is fructose malabsorption.

Hereditary fructose intolerance is a potentially fatal genetic disorder that occurs in about 1 out of 20,000 people in European countries. The disorder results from the lack of an enzyme called aldolase B. In people with this disorder, eating anything containing fructose, including sucrose (table sugar), sets off a series of complicated metabolic problems that can ultimately cause liver damage. The only solution is for these people to avoid any foods that contain sucrose or fructose.

Fructose malabsorption is an unrelated problem that is far more common but much less serious than hereditary fructose intolerance. Fructose malabsorption results from the absence of fructose transporters in the cells that line the small intestine. Without fructose transporters, the person cannot absorb fructose from his or her food. Even people who have some fructose transporters might be able to absorb only a limited amount of fructose. The remaining fructose will then remain inside the intestines, where it will be fermented by bacteria. The result is syndrome that looks a lot like lactose intolerance: gas and diarrhea. Fructose malabsorption is a common but often undetected cause of recurrent abdominal pain in children.

Fortunately, I don’t have hereditary fructose intolerance or fructose malabsorption. This means that I can eat as much fruit as I like!

Note: For a clear explanation of how the body handles sugar, see my book Thin Diabetes, Fat Diabetes: Prevent Type 1, Cure Type 2.

Behind Barbed Wire_Print

How Congress Could Help Us Eat Better

Why do the people of the United States keep getting fatter and sicker?  One reason is that our federal government is using our tax dollars to make bad food cheap, instead of making good food affordable. It doesn’t have to be that way. Congress could decide to stop subsidizing the production of meat, dairy products, and refined sugars and instead subsidize the production and distribution of healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables. On July 28, 2011, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine issued a report explaining how Congress could go about doing that.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I saw the effects of our current agricultural subsidies personally. I saw field after field of corn and soybeans and alfalfa that were being grown to feed farm animals. I saw hardly any agricultural land dedicated to growing plant-based food for human beings to eat. I saw hundreds of fast food outlets, but only the occasional produce stand. So it should come as no surprise that more than a quarter of the adults in Ohio are obese.

Why I Don’t Take Fish Oil

I have never liked seafood. It smells bad to me. I’m so sensitive to that smell that I don’t even like sitting next to someone who is eating seafood. Even the idea of taking a fish oil capsule makes me queasy because I don’t want to end up tasting or smelling fish if I belch. So I was greatly relieved to discover that human beings don’t need to eat fish or take fish oil! The diseases that fish oil is supposed to help prevent are rare to nonexistent among people who eat a low-fat, plant-based diet. Also, a recent study showed that vegans (people who don’t eat any animal foods) had plenty of the long-chain omega 3 fatty acids in their bloodstream, even though they weren’t eating any of the long-chain omega 3 fatty acids and were eating relatively little of their precursor, alpha-linolenic acid. (For an explanation of the essential fatty acids, click here.)

Fish oil is fat from a fish. An oil is just a fat that is liquid at room temperature. The fat from fish tends to stay liquid at room temperature because it is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. (For an explanation of the different kinds of fats, click here. Fish oil contains a lot of omega 3 fatty acids, which are much less plentiful than omega 6 fatty acids in the standard American diet. Like humans, however, fish CANNOT make their own supply of omega 3 fatty acids. The omega 3 fatty acids in fish came from the plants at the bottom of their food chain.

Your body can make all the saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids that it needs. However, it can’t make omega 6 or omega 3 fatty acids. The only two fatty acids that are considered essential (which means that they have to be found ready-made in your food) in human nutrition are an omega 6 fatty acid called linoleic acid and an omega 3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. However, it’s extremely rare to find anyone with a real dietary deficiency of either one. It’s the sort of thing that happens only in tube-fed patients who are being fed fat fat-free solutions or being given an unbalanced fat supplement. Their needs for these essential fatty acids can be met by rubbing a small amount of vegetable oil on their skin.

Your body uses the omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids as raw materials to make eicosanoids and leukotrienes, which are signaling molecules that play important roles in inflammation and immunity. These molecules also serve as messengers in the nervous system. Because the eicosanoids that are made from omega 6 fatty acids interact with the ones made from omega 3 fatty acids, it’s probably important to get a reasonable balance between these two kinds of fatty acid in the diet. The most sensible way to do this is to cut way back on fat consumption and eat lots of fresh vegetables. For an extra margin of safety, you can add a spoonful of ground flaxseed to your cereal in the morning. Flaxseed is a good source of alpha-linolenic acid.

The omega 3 fatty acid that is found in plants is alpha-linolenic acid. Like fish, human beings can lengthen the carbon chain of alpha-linolenic acid to produce other fatty acids that the human body needs: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA is found in the cell membranes in the nervous system, including the retina of the eye. EPA is used to make some important eicosanoids that help to moderate the effects of the eicosanoids that are made from omega 6 fatty acids.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences does not consider DHA or EPA to be essential nutrients, which means that those fatty acids don’t have to be found in your food. For a technical discussion of which fatty acids are essential and how much of each you need, see this report from the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences: https://www.nap.edu/read/10490/chapter/10

Because of the complicated roles that the essential fatty acids and DHA and EPA play in the immune and nervous system, there’s been a lot of interest in using supplements of these fatty acids as drugs. As with any drug treatment, the decision of how and when to use these supplements should be based on clinical trials, whenever possible. Since most of the diseases that fish oil is being used to treat are rare in populations that eat a low-fat, plant-based diet, it makes sense to try correcting the diet before using fish oil supplements.

It is theoretically possible that some people, especially those who have trouble absorbing fat from their food or who have a rare metabolic disorder, might benefit from taking some form of fat supplement. However, many people refuse for various reasons to use fish products. Fortunately for those people, DHA and EPA supplements made from marine algae are available.

High-Fat Diet and Cigarette Smoking Cause Low Back Pain

Most people think that chronic low back pain is simply due to wear and tear on the muscles and cartilage of the spinal column. In reality, one of the major causes of low back pain is poor circulation to the structures of the intervertebral disks, as a result of atherosclerosis and/or cigarette smoking. That’s why low back pain is most common in the populations that also have high rates of heart attack!

Check out the review article I wrote about this subject for chiropractors. If you want to keep your back in good shape, start by keeping your arteries clean! If your total cholesterol is below 150 mg/dL, which is easy if you eat a low-fat, purely plant-based diet, your arteries become self-cleaning!

Cigarette smoking makes the problem worse because the nicotine causes the arteries to tighten up. It’s like putting your thumb over the end of a garden hose. It raises the pressure but decreases the flow.

Photo by sandiegopersonalinjuryattorney

Olive Oil Is Junk Food!

Lately, many people have been touting olive oil as some sort of “health food.” Sadly, olive oil is junk food, one of the worst junk foods there is. It’s empty calories that provide practically no essential nutrients.

At roughly 9 calories per gram, olive oil is packed with calories, all of them from fat. Most of the fatty acids in olive oil are a monounsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid. You don’t need to get any monounsaturated fat whatsoever from your diet, and monounsaturated fats have no known role in preventing chronic disease. About 14% of the fatty acids in olive oil are saturated. You don’t need to get any saturated fat whatsoever from your diet, and a high intake of saturated fat has long been known to contribute to coronary artery disease.

There are only two kinds of fatty acid that are essential in human nutrition, which means that you have to get them from the diet. One is an omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid, which accounts for somewhere between 3.5% and 21% of the fatty acids in olive oil. Since linoleic acid is commonly found in nuts, seeds, and grains, most people get far more of it than they need. Olive oil contains vanishingly small amounts of alpha-linoleic acid, the essential omega-3 fatty acid that is in relatively short supply in most people’s diets.

Too much fat of any kind will make you fat. Excess fats of all kinds also tend to build up in your arteries, thus leading to heart attack and stroke. Fats of all kinds also tend to promote insulin resistance, thus leading to type 2 diabetes in some people. 

Olive oil has been getting good press because it is considered to be part of the “Mediterranean diet.” Population studies had shown that rates of heart disease were much lower in some of the countries that bordered the Mediterranean Sea than they were in Scandinavia and the United States. However, most people ignore the fact that the people in the Mediterranean countries were eating a more heavily plant-based diet than the people in the United States and Scandinavia. Plants have no cholesterol, and the fiber they contain helps to carry cholesterol out of your system. Instead, people have been focusing on the fact that people in the Mediterranean countries eat some olive oil.

Fat people in Mediterranean countries tend to eat a low-carb, high-fat diet, with olive oil being the predominant fat.  One study found that fat people in Spain had been getting 35% of their calories from carbohydrate and 43% from fats, 55% of which were from monounsaturated fatty acids. So much for the theory that eating fats instead of carbs makes people lose weight, or that olive oil has some sort of belly flattening magic!