Average Reading Time: 3 minutes and 13 seconds
In a powerful exposé published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers from the University of California dug up old sugar industry documents that revealed payments from the sugar industry to scientists to minimize the role sugar had in disease. (1)
In 1967, the Sugar Research Foundation (known today as the Sugar Association) paid Harvard scientists the equivalent of $50,000 to publish a manipulated review of the research on sugar, fat and their connection to heart disease. The review was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, where studies were cherry-picked by the sugar industry to downplay the role of sugar in heart disease… while pointing the finger at saturated fats.
One of the paid Harvard researchers went on to become the Head of Nutrition at the United States Department of Agriculture, where his job was to regulate the federal government’s current dietary guidelines. (4) For over five decades, the public was misled to fear cholesterol and embrace sugar as harmless empty calories. The low-fat, high-sugar, refined carb diets are now linked to both heart disease and obesity. (5)
In the 1960’s, heart disease was on the rise and new studies were pointing the finger at sugar as the prime suspect. The sugar industry embraced the research of Ancel Keys – who is now famous for linking cholesterol with heart disease and spawning the “no cholesterol era.”
So desperate they were to link saturated fats to cholesterol that much of the evidence used to sway the medical community was from Dr. Key’s studies on rabbits. He fed them a high cholesterol, saturated fat diet and the rabbits developed heart disease. At the time, no one picked up on the glaring flaw in his science: that rabbits are vegetarians, and when you feed them saturated fats which predominately come from animals, they would predictively have trouble digesting it.
Almost impossible to believe, but in the same study, rats were fed the same high cholesterol diet as the rabbits and they did not get heart disease – likely because they are meat eaters and rabbits are not. In the past few years, as the cholesterol lie has been exposed, no one could understand how this lie was perpetrated. Now we know that there was a powerful industry driving, funding and even manipulating the science that was shared with the public.
Sadly, this kind of scenario continues to take place today. In a recent New York Times article, Coca-Cola had provided millions of dollars in funding to researchers to play down the link between sugar and obesity, and point the finger at a lack of exercise. (2) Then, in June, The Associated Press reported that candy-makers were funding studies that claimed that kids who ate candy weighed less than kids who did not. (3)
In the last few years, more research has emerged indicating the link between sugar, obesity and heart disease, and articles like the famous “Butter is Back” piece in Time Magazine helped mobilize public opinion. In January of this year, cholesterol was officially taken off the nutrient concern list, but after almost 60 years of brainwashing, most Americans and doctors alike still consider cholesterol bad.
Saturated fat warnings are still the mainstay of the FDA’s guidelines even though they took it off the nutrient concern list, and precaution is still advised by the American Heart Association regarding cholesterol.
The Cholesterol Lie Casualty Report
While taking cholesterol out of the diet is not harmful, the replacement fats and the permission to eat more sugar was devastating. The result is what we now call processed foods. Vegetable oils were highly processed in order to extend shelf life and found their way into just about every packaged food. These processed oils are simply indigestible, and in my book, Eat Wheat, I make the case that much of the food intolerances and gluten sensitivities today are due to what I call “The Great Digestive Breakdown,” which is primarily triggered by a few decades of a processed foods diet.
Grains like corn and wheat were subsidized to be grown for pennies on the dollar, and they were highly refined and processed. Corn-based sweeteners quietly gave the public permission to eat more problematic sweets – which are linked to both heart disease and obesity. (6)
Learn more about how to recover from 5 decades of a processed foods diet, how to navigate around the dangerous ingredients in the foods we eat and, in the end, protect yourself from blood sugar, weight and heart health concerns, all while enjoying an occasional treat of old-fashioned bread and butter in my new book, Eat Wheat – A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back into Your Diet.