Towards a Healthier Future
Something is wrong. People around the world are trying to live healthily, according to the media advice and commercial health messages. But they gradually gain weight. Many suffer digestive problems and their health deteriorates. Amongst our family and friends there are often diseases like diabetes, heart disease and perhaps even dementia or cancer.
We view this as normal. And we continue to do as we are told: eat fewer calories (ignoring our hunger) and run more, eat fruits five times a day, eat low-fat and whole grains, eat more fiber (sawdust) for the digestion and low fat margarine (cheap industrial fat) to lower cholesterol. We’re taught to fear real food.
Many keep struggling, year after year. But it seems hopeless. More and more people experience worsening weight control and health. Perhaps the solution is a doctor’s appointment for prescription drugs to reduce the symptoms. Or weight-loss surgery, where healthy stomach organs are cut out to prevent you from eating.
Or perhaps the solution is something completely different.
Table of Contents:
- The Diet Doctor
- The Food Revolution
- What Are You Designed to Eat?
- The Disaster Begins
- The Obesity Epidemic
- Obesity and Western Diseases
- The fall of our Fat-Phobia and the Food Revolution
- Natural Weight Regulation Without Hunger
- What is Extreme?
- The Diabetes Revolution
- Fat-Phobia’s Last Stand
- The Fall of Western Disease
- Towards a Healthier Future
- What You Can Do
About The Diet Doctor
There’s a healthful, natural solution to today’s problems with obesity and Western diseases. More and more people are realizing this, and more and more experience and research show that it works. The website DietDoctor.com – the English version of the most widely read Swedish health blog – provides a guide on the subject (more on the background).
Briefly about me: My name is Andreas Eenfeldt and I’m a Swedish medical doctor specializing in family medicine. I’m 41 years old and have worked as a physician for twelve years. I live with my spouse and my young daughter in Karlstad, Sweden, where I work as a family physician in a primary care center and coach patients suffering from overweight and Western lifestyle diseases.
My main interest is how we should eat and live to achieve long-term health, a normal weight and physical well-being. This is what I try to help my patients achieve. The goal is a return to normal health and a minimal need for medications. The goal of this blog is to reach the same goal for more and more people:
A return to normal health.
About the Food Revolution
There’s a big change in the air. It can revolutionize your future health and weight. It can do the same for your family and your friends. And this isn’t about anything odd, it’s just about eating real food. The food your body is designed to eat.
Even more importantly: The revolution depends on you. The success of this will depend on people like you. This is for you who have the courage to question old, incorrect fear-mongering propaganda. You who want to learn the truth behind the advertisements that we are constantly fed. You who want to improve your own health and become an inspiration for others.
In order to be able to do this you first need to question two big misunderstandings that many still take for granted as true. First, the misconception that artificial low-fat products full of additives are good for your health, while real food is dangerous (for example eggs, butter and meat). Then, the misconception that calorie counting is the only way to maintain your weight. This despite the fact that all other animals keep thin in their natural habitat, regardless of access to food, without ever knowing what a calorie is.
The truth is that low-fat products are unnecessary. At worst they are dangerous, obesity-causing, and the factories where they are manufactured are probably dirtier than you can imagine. This is not real food. More recent research has revealed the mistakes behind the fear of fat, which is on its way out.
Calorie counting, on the other hand, is an eating disorder that becomes unnecessary when your natural appetite regulation is no longer disrupted by modern junk food. The only ones profiting from a mindless fixation on calories are companies like Coca Cola.
But let’s start from the beginning.
What Are You Designed to Eat?
Mankind’s development, our evolution, took millions of years. This is how long it takes to fundamentally change our genes, the blueprint for our bodies.
During this long period of time genes that made us fit for the life we led and the food that we ate, were selected. Hence our bodies were adapted to eating the foods that our ancestors ate.
So what did your ancestors eat? Almost throughout the entire human evolution they were hunter-gatherers. This means that they ate whole foods from nature. There were no food-processing factories, and we didn’t even grow our own food. We had to make do with what Mother Nature provided.
Which foods are found in nature? You can hunt and catch meat and fish, and you can gather edible things, such as roots, nuts, wild fruits and berries, eggs and edible plant parts. This constituted our diet for millions of years. It’s rich in fat and protein. It usually contains only moderate amounts of coarse and fibrous carbohydrates. This is known as the Paleo diet, and is a good starting point for healthy eating.
What did our ancestor’s diet not contain? Among other things, they did not eat a lot of simple sugars or easily digested carbohydrates, such as refined white flour. Such foods came much later, when we had acquired both agriculture and factories. We’re genetically unprepared for such foods, and they can create unexpected side effects.
The Disaster Begins
The modern obesity epidemic has happened very fast. It began 29 years ago, in 1984. How is this possible?
Such a rapidly developing epidemic has to be caused by something in the environment. Something that for example makes sensitive people hungrier, eat more and gain weight.
So what happened in 1984? Of course many things have changed since then. But what I think has had the greatest impact was a major campaign, launched to teach the American people to fear fat.
The theory that fatty foods raise cholesterol levels and will lead to heart disease had (without hard evidence) begun to be seen as dogmatic truth. The idea was that less fat in the diet would be protective against heart disease. But there were scientists who warned that the entire campaign was a risky experiment.
Never before in the history of the world has advice been given to an entire population to avoid eating real food. Familiar old foods such as meat, butter and eggs. What happens if you eat a lot less of such foods? You get hungrier. If you get hungrier you will eat more of other things to be satisfied.
The other energy rich nutrient you can eat instead of fat is… carbohydrates. Foods like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, as well as sodas, candy, cookies, chips and french fries. New foods. Foods that we have not had time to adapt to genetically.
All carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars as soon as they reach the stomach. They are taken up into the blood stream and raise blood sugar, and the fat-storing hormone insulin.
High levels of insulin in the blood tell the body to burn sugar now and store fat for later. But what if “later” never comes? What if you will soon be eating more carbohydrates and raise your insulin levels again? Ironically then, less fat in the diet could lead to obesity (through more carbohydrates and more insulin).
Let’s see what happened.
The Obesity Epidemic
Here’s the crazy trend in the proportion of obesity in the U.S. population since the 1980’s, when the fear of fat was spread:
Whatever the cause for the trend it has gone incredibly fast. In just one single generation the proportion of obese people has tripled, from a little more than 10 percent to more than 30 percent. Another 30 percent are overweight. Only a minority are still of normal weight. It’s starting to become abnormal to be of “normal weight” in the U.S.
The obesity affects adults and it also affects a growing number of children:
This crazy obesity epidemic, that first took off in the U.S., has since been observed in all other countries that have introduced similar fat-fearing dietary guidelines. The prevalence of obesity has tripled in Sweden too, from around 5 to 14 percent.
In Sweden the epidemic took off in 1989, right at the time when the low-fat Keyhole labeling was introduced (the town where the labeling had been tested now holds the Swedish record in obesity).
Obesity is usually blamed on people’s gluttony and sloth. They eat more than they burn. The latter is of course theoretically true, but it completely misses the point.
Why are people eating more than they should? Why are they so hungry? What is it that makes them abnormally hungry?
The obesity epidemic took off when low-fat products filled the grocery shelves. Products where natural fats had been removed from the food and replaced by more sugar – more rapidly digested starches. Foods that don’t satiate. Foods that raise our blood sugar and increase levels of our fat-storing hormone insulin.
This hormonal signal to store fat is the reason why so many people get hungrier, eat more and gain weight.
Obesity and Western Diseases
This obesity epidemic would have been bad enough in itself. But everywhere where obesity becomes a problem other diseases show up and become more and more common. We can call them Western diseases, and they are guaranteed to be found in your family.
The usual explanation is that obesity is caused by eating too much and running to little. Then obesity may increase the risk for these diseases long-term. But there may be a much more correct explanation.
Perhaps the same thing in our food that causes an increase in hunger and obesity can also lead to these diseases in the long run. The foods that our bodies are not designed to eat could lead to all kinds of problems in our bodies.
This is a frightening vision of the future. Obesity continues to spread all over the world and some decade later these diseases cause enormous amounts of suffering and death. With every year the trend continues in the wrong direction.
The good news is that we can reverse the trend. Why wouldn’t it work? We just need to see through and correct the mistakes that led us into the dead end in the first place.
Fat-Phobia’s Fall and the Food Revolution
The change is already underway. More and more people see through the mistakes behind the unnecessary fear of natural fats. More and more people eat real food until satisfied, while feeling good about it.
In Sweden, the change has come far. People are deserting the old low-fat labels. Fewer and fewer people buy low-fat products like skim milk, low-fat plastic cheese or low-fat margarine. For the artificial margarine the decline is particularly dramatic, in just a few years sales have plummeted by more than half. Instead more and more people are buying butter, so much so that periodically there have been shortages of butter in grocery stores.
The reason is that there’s no reason to be afraid of natural fats. More and more reviews of the science literature show that the fear of natural saturated fat has been a mistake [1 2 3 4 5 ]. Saturated fat, such as butter, is safe and more and more people realize this.
The only ones holding on to the low-fat dietary guidelines will soon be the dietary guideline authorities. Could they be afraid to lose face if they admit to having dispensed bad dietary advice for decades?
In later years low-fat diets have been shown not only to be unnecessary, but also hazardous to health. A low-fat diet causes worse weight outcome, worsening health markers, more diabetes and in two large studies it has been show to cause MORE heart disease than fattier foods.
It is now clear that there are no health reasons to eat artificial margarine instead of natural fats. The fear of natural saturated fat was a mistake.
This was the first misconception. Let’s look at the other: to compulsively count calories to control our weight.
Natural Weight Regulation Without Hunger
Are all diets equally good? Is it just about calories in and calories out? Are there only two things you have to consider to lose weight? Eat less and run more?
Like a Swedish “expert” used to say for a long time: You can lose weight just as well with chewy candy. Just eat less candy. Is it this easy to lose weight?
Then how come this oversimplified advice works so poorly in reality?
In study after study this advice has been proven the worst. And I’ve asked thousands of people at my lectures: Do they know someone who has been able to maintain their weight long-term by eating candy? No one has yet answered “yes”. No one.
The problem is that the advice to just eat fewer calories and burn more is drawing-board dieting. The advice works well in theory for the person speculating with a calculator, but the advice is lousy in reality.
Why? The answer is simple. Only one word is needed. Hunger.
You don’t get satisfied from a few gummy bears for lunch. This is the problem, and it’s an enormous problem. You see, people don’t like being hungry. But still the advice to “eat less, run more” assumes that people can go hungry forever.
Many people can do this for a week or a few months. But almost no one can go hungry for years or for life. Sooner or later one would want to eat until satisfied again and will then gain weight.
There we are: yoyo-dieting.
The secret behind long-term weight control is not self-discipline, compulsive calorie counting or to manage to suppress the body’s normal signals. The secret is to live in a way that you’ll become moderately hungry, so that you eat just enough and don’t want to eat more than enough. So that the body’s innate weight regulation works properly.
How do you decrease your hunger so that you can eat until satisfied and still lose weight? Simple, it turns out. You avoid the foods that we humans are not designed to tolerate: larger amounts of sugar and easily digested starches. You eat a low-carbohydrate diet or an LCHF diet.
Time after time the effect has been shown. Here’s the result from a study where one group ate a low-fat and low-calorie diet, while the other group ate a strict low-carb diet, eating until satisfied.
Those who practiced calorie and fat restriction lost on average 3.9 kg (8 1/2 lbs) after a hungry six months. The group on a low-carbohydrate diet, who were allowed to eat until satisfied, lost on average more than twice as much, 8.5 kg (almost 19 lbs)!
This superiority of a low-carbohydrate diet has been demonstrated in at least 18 high quality randomized control trials (RCT). A low-carbohydrate diet is simply more effective for weight loss than today’s old low-fat advice. As an extra bonus you may eat until satisfied, which makes it possible to eat an LCHF diet as a lifestyle for long-term weight control.
You don’t get fat from eating fat anymore than you turn green from eating green vegetables.
– Christer Enkvist, M.D.
Why do LCHF-like foods produce weight loss without hunger? Probably because they very efficiently decrease levels of the fat-storing hormone insulin in the body. The result will be that the body will burn more fat and that the fat cells will begin to release their contents.
If you get moderately hungry, if you want to eat just enough, then you no longer need to compulsively count calories, and escape this eating disorder.
More on weight loss:
Which Is Extreme?
Which picture represents something extreme? The one to the left or to the right?
- In the picture to the left healthy organs are being cut out. A so called Gastric Bypass surgery, where the stomach and part of the intestines of an overweight person are tied off to prevent the patient from eating.
- To the right we have LCHF food, best in scientific studies for weight loss at least 18 times. Food similar to what people always used to eat. Real food.
I’m guessing that you too think that the picture to the left shows the extreme. But this is not how the healthcare professionals look at it. LCHF foods are still often seen as something extreme by healthcare workers who are stuck in old fat-fearing and calorie-obsessed trains of thought. Surgery for obesity is seen as normal, something we should do more of, even though there are already hundreds of thousands such surgeries performed yearly.
We’re trying to reconstruct the bodies we are given to endure Western industrial food, instead of adapting the food we eat to what our bodies are designed for.
When obese people seek medical care they are given the dietary advice that has been proven to be the worst. When they fail in using this bad advice the conclusion is that they are hopeless cases – too lazy and too gluttonous – and so we offer to cut out their healthy stomachs.
This is sick and it has to change. If not, the risk is that the future will be even worse. Gastric-bypass surgery does not always work well in the long run – after one year most start to gain weight back. Then what will we do? There are already experimental perverted surgery methods, like brain surgery or implanted stomach-pumping tubes for weight loss.
Are you wondering what you can do about this self-inflicted disaster? There are many possibilities. For example let your friends know about this website.
The Diabetes Revolution
Diabetes is one of our most common diseases – global average prevalence of diabetes is 10%. I’m sure there are several affected in your family or among your friends.
Diabetes constitutes a tremendous epidemic all over the world. More and more people get the disease and typically they never recover their health. Instead they suffer a worsening of disease for every year that passes. They need more and more medications and will, as time goes by, suffer complications: blindness, dialysis due to damaged kidneys, heart disease, early onset dementia, amputations. This misery is seen as normal. But why?
Imagine that healthcare professionals routinely give people with diabetes advice that’s harmful to their health! Advice that raises their blood sugar and makes them need more medications. Advice that in the long run makes them fatter and sicker. Advice that kills them prematurely.
It sounds incredible. But it’s true.
Nobody is harder hit by the outdated fear of natural fats than diabetics. Diabetes (both type 1 and 2) is a disease where the body has difficulty controlling blood sugar. Blood sugar easily rises too high.
So where does the sugar in the blood come from?
Blood sugar comes from the food that we eat. It comes from the carbohydrates we eat. The starch in bread, pasta, rice and potatoes converts rapidly to glucose in the stomach. When it reaches the blood steam it’s called blood sugar.
Why do you advise diabetics to avoid fat and instead eat a lot of blood-sugar-raising carbohydrates? Foods that make them sicker? Simple. It’s the old disproven theory that fat causes heart disease that is still haunting us. As diabetics have an elevated risk for heart disease the thought has been that they need to take extra care to avoid fat. And then they need to eat blood-sugar-raising carbohydrates instead to get satiated. The very foods that make them sicker.
As soon as we realize that natural fats are harmless the whole reason to give crazy dietary advice to diabetics goes away. Instead, they can eat food that will make them healthier. And the health effects are often dramatic.
The common dietary advice to diabetics is the greatest health scandal in modern history because it exacerbates the disease. It has to stop. Thankfully the change is slowly underway – the new advice from the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare now warmly recommends a low-carbohydrate diet for diabetics.
We thought that all cholesterol was harmful. That a low cholesterol was always good, and that a high cholesterol was always bad. This was wrong. The truth is – as usual – more complicated.
More important than having a low cholesterol is to have a good cholesterol profile. To have a lot of the good protecting HDL-cholesterol, for example. And how do you get that? Well, the easiest way is to avoid sugar and flour, and instead eat fattier foods until satisfied.
Instead, unnecessarily avoiding fat and eating a lot of easily digestible carbohydrates might cause bad cholesterol: small, nasty, dense LDL particles and a shortage of protective HDL-cholesterol. This is why low-fat foods on the contrary seem to cause more heart disease.
Fat-Phobia’s Last Stand
The remaining fat-fearing Stalinists lose contact with reality more and more. Still, despite the fact that natural fats have been proved harmless, many children in schools and daycare facilities are only offered low-fat products (such as low-fat milk, low-fat margarine and plastic cheese). This is doing the children a disservice. Low-fat products don’t satiate well. Either the kids get hungry and tired – or they will eat more of worse things. Older kids will buy sodas and energy drinks themselves, when the school lunch doesn’t keep them satisfied.
It’s easy to see how wrong the authorities for dietary advice are. They recommend breast feeding, then low-fat milk only. Breast milk has a fat content of 4.5% (a major part is saturated fat). Low-fat milk? 0.5%.
Who is wrong, Mother Nature or the 80’s era dietary doctrines from the dietary advice authorities? It’s not hard to guess.
Fortunately many schools in Sweden are now abandoning the dictate for low-fat products and are letting in real butter again.
The Fall of Western Diseases?
What would happen if more and more people started to avoid modern foods, the sugar, the white flour, the processed rapidly digested carbohydrates? Nobody knows for sure but the possibilities are mind-boggling.
Scores of the diseases we take for granted today were more or less unknown among peoples that did not eat such foods. Obesity. Diabetes. Heart disease. Common cancer forms as breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer. Dental cavities. And many more diseases.
In many Western diseases we know that a low-carbohydrate diet can quickly produce dramatic positive effects. As with obesity, diabetes, sugar cravings/addiction, difficulty getting pregnant due to PCOS, epilepsy and common digestive problems like abdominal bloating, gas, diarrhea and tummy aches. Here the recommendation is simple:
Try it for a few weeks and you will know what the effect it has on you. Read, by all means, and be inspired by those who have already gone before:
Towards a Healthier Future
The revolution is underway and we are heading towards a healthier future. In Sweden, more and more people understand. In 2008 the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare approved LCHF-dietary advice within the health care system, and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) approved low-carbohydrate dietary advice. They now recommend a low-carbohydrate diet for diabetics. The new Nordic nutrition recommendations dropped the advice for a high-carbohydrate and low-fat diet – such advice lacks scientific support and was a mistake from the beginning.
Yesterday’s mistakes are revealed: Natural fat is harmless. Weight regulation is not about calorie-counting but about eating good food that produces moderate hunger (regardless of what Coca Cola wants you to believe). Besides, weight is just a start – this is about health.
The trend is clearly going in the right direction, and Sweden is ahead compared to other countries. Perhaps they’ll be the first in the world to reverse the obesity epidemic and dramatically improve public health. But the opposition will be ruthless.
You can count on many desperate health alerts from the tabloids along the way. The opposition comes from poorly updated experts, who are stuck in the past, and from the junk food industry and the pharmaceutical industry that profit from the status quo. They make money on cheap industrial food that can be sold expensively, on people who need daily pills and on expensive weight-loss surgery (on average $22,000 each in the U.S.) instead of real food.
Against this there are common people, like you and me. But this is not bad. This is the way all revolutions have begun, and this one is in full swing: Examples of people who have gone before.
This is important. All over the world countless people could revolutionize their health, by just eating real food. The good news is that this can happen. And many may be inspired by you. Of course not through nagging people who are not ready for change, this is obviously meaningless. What you instead can do is to be an inspiration.
Did you see the pictures of people from “Hall of Fame” in the right margin on this website? They were all themselves once inspired by someone who tried an LCHF diet. Someone inspired them and this changed their lives. They are now doing the same thing for many more people.
Go ahead and make the same journey. Try it yourself and change your own health. Learn more. See through today’s myths and advertisements. And when you meet someone who is curious, someone who has questions for you, then you may be the one to change a life.
In this way, starting with one person and soon more and more people, by just eating real food, we are heading towards a healthier future.
One person can’t change the world. But a million people can.
What You Can Do
Do you want to join in changing the world? There are a lot of things you can do. Start by keeping yourself updated:
Through the Diet Doctor’s newsletter you get updates every month and alerts about bigger events, completely free:
Are you on Facebook? Like Diet Doctor and you’ll get quick updates on popular new posts. You can also easily spread news that your friends may benefit from. Many people have already found their way to Diet Doctor on Facebook.
Start the Journey
For more knowledge, please follow the links in the text above to areas that interest you. Or get a more extensive course below.
The Food Revolution Presentation
Here is a 45-minute long video of my presentation from the AHS conference in Los Angeles, #AHS11. Free!
- Be a positive example and help curious people who ask. This can be the most important thing.
- Tell your physician or diabetes nurse about your diet. Especially when your changed health markers (such as blood sugar and weight) make their jaws drop. This may have an impact.
- Start a Meetup Group with other interested people [1 2 3 4].
Vote With Your Wallet
- Buy high quality food at the grocery store. At best even grass-fed beef.
Change the World Through the Internet
- You’re most welcome to answer questions in the comment sections here too. By doing so you help others, and it saves time for me. Thank you!
- Visit other fora on the subject, or comment on articles on the subject online. In a nice way, of course – this usually produces the best effect.
- Start your own blog/website/forum.
- Do you already have a website? Want to make it easier for more people to find me through searches? Please link to DietDoctor.com – preferably to LCHF for Beginners.
Help the Next Generation
- Our school-aged children should of course not be forced to eat low-fat products. Do something about it.
Come up With the Idea
- Got a great idea? Please tell others in the comment section below. Or go ahead and change the world on your own.
Improve This Page
Do you have any suggestions on how to improve this page? Is there anything you think is missing? Please let me know in the comment section.