Excessive Faith in Theories
After my last blog post, I was taken to task somewhat by a well-meaning individual who sent me an article letting me know that Dr. Sandler’s 50-year old “How to Prevent Heart Attacks” has grown weak with the passage of time, since we’re so much smarter now. Has it?
Since we obviously cannot cure or prevent death by heart attack, I would say that the jury is still out on that one. Oh we’re good at providing bandaid solutions such as stents and angioplasty but we can’t really prevent the big one yet. I’m reminded of the quote by Claude Bernard, who said:
“Men who have excessive faith in their theories or ideas are not only ill prepared for making discoveries; they also make very poor observations. Of
necessity, they observe with a preconceived idea, and when they devise an experiment, they can see, in its results, only a confirmation of their theory.
In this way they distort observation and often neglect very important facts because they do not further their aim…. But it happens further quite naturally
that men who believe too firmly in their theories, do not believe enough in the theories of others. So the dominant idea of these despisers of their
fellows is to find others’ theories faulty and to try to contradict them. The difficulty, for science, is still the same.”
Dr. Sandler argued that the heart has an absolute requirement for a steady supply of glucose. The author, LynnMarie, argues that perhaps this is incorrect since it is known that the requirement can be met by fatty acid oxidation and ketones, which is what ZC would certainly argue. In her own words, “First and foremost, Dr. Sandler’s theory relies heavily on his belief that the heart, like the brain*, utilizes only glucose for energy production. It is now well-established that the heart also utilizes fatty acids, oftentimes as its main fuel source. In fact, glucose is considered a secondary fuel source for the heart after the fetal and neonatal periods. So the idea that the heart has an absolute requirement for an unwavering supply of glucose is likely incorrect. A drop in glucose availability can be met by an increase in fatty acid oxidation if need be.”
I agree! However, the person suffering the heart attack likely has the wild swings of glucose brought about by the standard American diet. Fatty acid metabolism would be compromised during periods of hypoglycemia as there might be too much lag time between ketone production and utilization and the absence of glucose. Anyone who has attempted ZC or VLC is very much aware of the adaptation period necessary for the body to begin using ketones in place of glucose. I don’t know how long it takes for the heart but surely there is a small window where a heart attack could occur.
The article goes on to argue that while it’s possible that hypo and hyperglycemia can cause a heart attack in an individual with a fragile metabolic state, this is merely an association and not cause. That being said, in her opinion, a carbohydrate-restricted diet would not be used primarily to cure the condition.
Again, in her own words, “The fact of the matter is, all atherosclerosis is not the same. Some is relatively stable, meaning it builds up slowly over many years and is not prone to the rupturing which leads to thrombus formation. This general category of atherosclerosis can lead to heart problems like stable angina or even MI but oftentimes it’s essentially benign. The atherosclerotic coronary arteries seen in the Masai of Africa are a good example of this. However, a second general type of atherosclerosis, called vulnerable plaque because of its tendency to rupture, can cause the waxing and waning chest pain Dr. Sandler attributed to unstable blood glucose. When thrombosis is triggered by vulnerable plaque rupture, the blood clot that forms can be broken down by “endogenous lysis” and then form again. This transient lysis and formation of a coronary thrombus is responsible for the waxing and waning pain of unstable angina. If the balance between the two states favors clot formation, then the resulting total occlusion will lead to MI if the lack of blood flow persists for a sufficient amount of time. When Dr. Sandler suggested that unstable blood sugar provides a better explanation for the intermittent, “labile” pain of angina pectoris than the condition of the coronary arteries themselves, this information about the waxing and waning nature of coronary thrombi was not known.”
So basically her concern is that a person will read my site and conclude that they do not need to see a doctor and just eat like Charles and everything will be fine. My answer to that would be to see a doctor AND eat like Charles. The fact of the matter remains that the Masai of Kenya, despite their copious atherosclerosis, do not have heart attacks due to vulnerable plaque, unstable angina, or myocardial infaction. They remain protected from all of this by eating a proper diet. There is reason to believe that you, dear reader, will also increase your chances against one of these maladies if you eat like Charles. The sooner the better!!!
Should you go to the doctor if you have chest pain? Absolutely you should. Should you change your diet and perhaps you can prevent the chest pain? Absolutely.
Let me be clear: I don’t know the exact mechanism for many of these diseases of civilization. All I know is that those who severely restrict carbohydrates do not suffer from chronic disease. I don’t really care too much about how or why it happens. I just know that it happens and the change is very simple to make.
Here is a portion from Taubes’s book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, talking about President Eisenhower:
“Eisenhower was assuredly among the best-chronicled heart-attack survivors in history. We know that he had no family history of heart disease, and no obvious risk factors after he quit smoking in 1949. He exercised regularly; his weight remainedclose to the 172 pounds considered optimal for his height. His blood pressure was only occasionally elevated. His cholesterol was below normal: his last measurement before the attack, according to George Mann, who worked with White at Harvard, was 165 mg/dl (milligrams/deciliter), a level that heart-disease specialists today consider safe.
After his heart attack, Eisenhower dieted religiously and had his cholesterol measured ten times a year. He ate little fat and less cholesterol; his meals were cooked in either soybean oil or a newly developed polyunsaturated margarine, which appeared on the market in 1958 as a nutritional palliative for high cholesterol.
The more Eisenhower dieted, however, the greater his frustration (meticulously documented by Dr. Snyder). In November 1958, when the president’s weight had floated upward to 176, he renounced his breakfast of oatmeal and skimmed milk and switched to melba toast and fruit. When his weight remained high, he renounced breakfast altogether. Snyder was mystified how a man could eat so little, exercise regularly, and not lose weight. In March 1959, Eisenhower read about a group of middle-aged New Yorkers attempting to lower their cholesterol by renouncing butter, margarine, lard, and cream and replacing them with corn oil. Eisenhower did the same. His cholesterol continued to rise. Eisenhower managed to stabilize his weight, but not happily.
“He eats nothing for breakfast, nothing for lunch, and therefore is irritable during the noon hour,” Snyder wrote in February 1960.”
Does this sound familiar? The prescription given to Eisenhower is the same one provided to Michael Clark Duncan, Presdient Bill Clinton and my own mother (among untold many others). It did not work back then and it doesn’t work today. That is the message I am trying to get out. As the old saying goes, “Those who don’t know their history are destined to repeat it.”Share on Twitter
In: Cholesterol, Diet, Exercise, Heart Disease, Hypoglycemia, Sugar