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Dietary Guidelines Are Failing Us

Mixed vege salad
Is salad healthy?

For many years I had drunk the Kool-aide.  I ate a low fat diet with plenty of vegetables, I used margarine, I minimized my meat, I avoided egg yolks to reduce cholesterol, I used vegetable oils in order to avoid saturated fat, and I actively reduced sugar.  I was faithfully trying to follow a healthy heart diet.  I also exercised quite a lot running 5 marathons plus plenty of shorter events.

Despite these actions, I was overweight, I was taking two blood pressure medications, my cholesterol level was high enough for medication, my eyesight was deteriorating, my triglycerides were high, my HDL was low, my doctor was ordering 6 monthly lipid tests and my belly although not huge, had stretched all my tee shirts. 

What did I discover that was so startling to me?  I discovered that low fat diets were not healthy, that excess carbohydrates drove up body fat, that exercise was unlikely to reduce my weight, that meat was the most nutritious food available and that refined flour rapidly drove up blood sugar levels followed by insulin.  But this was only the start.

As I reviewed research, followed up many leads and eventually reading over 200 books (yes that’s right and I have recorded every single one of them),  I came to understand that almost all of the commonly accepted dietary recommendations, I had been following faithfully for many years, were just plain wrong.  Many were based on poor quality research, corrupt research or had no research behind them at all.  When I thought about how I had come to believe these wrong ideas, I realized that the knowledge, which I had gained, was from a multitude of sources, most of which seemed to have reasons for their existence that had nothing to do with my health. I came to understand that dietary guidelines are failing us.

It was quite jarring to discover that institutions, agencies, groups, businesses, or individuals that I assumed would act in the best interests of humanity, are driven by completely different objectives.  They can be driven by profit, by ego, by greed, or by other even less positive motives.  How else can a scientist falsify information, fail to report a negative outcome, or collude on publishing research that does not support the actual research outcomes.  As a result of what I have learned, I will forever have a critical view of any information I come across.  My past “very naive thinking” was shattered.

One of the most fascinating discoveries was that doctors do not receive much, if any, nutrition learning at medical school.  The doctors who understand nutrition do so because they have made the effort to learn this independently.  Many of the books I have read are written by doctors who became sick, often overweight and diabetic, despite following their own learned advice, to reduce calories, avoid fat, exercise more and eat more carbohydrates.  A revelation to them was that the advice they had been giving their patients did not actually work.  After their own research and discovering the truth, they wrote a book outlining their new understanding of good health and nutrition.  If you want to follow a doctor on his learning journey check out UK Doctor David Unwin, winner of the 2016 UK NHS award for innovation.  Another is Dr. Philip Ovadia, a US heart surgeon, with his book, “Stay Off My Operating Table”.

Another worrying discovery was that the Seventh Day Adventist Church, with an advertised objective of teaching everyone the evils of eating meat, wrote the text books still used to train dietitians and then formed the American Dietetics Association. This church runs hundreds of education centers and universities world-wide spreading their beliefs.  In Australia and NZ, they own the Sanitarium Health-food Company, makers of many cereals including Weet-Bix. 

What follows is a story of research that astonished me.  A research project set out to prove that heart health would improve if dietary saturated fat (predominantly animal fats) was replaced by unsaturated fat (mainly vegetable oils), but it failed dismally.  The Sydney Diet Heart study (look on Google) proved that unsaturated fat lowered cholesterol however, the mortality of the unsaturated fat, low cholesterol group exceeded the mortality of the higher cholesterol group eating saturated fat.  The study concluded in 1973, but because it did not show what the sponsors wanted, the results were not published.  It took 40 years before another team of researchers found the original data and published it.  Unsaturated fats such as vegetable oils might lower cholesterol but they caused higher mortality than animal based saturated fats.  This reverses conventional nutrition advice.

I began to link up information that I had not ever connected.  I knew that wild animals didn’t get fat and that zoo animals must eat their correct species diet to thrive.  I knew that to make foie gras (or duck fatty liver pate) ducks were force feed grains to fatten their livers.  I know grains are fed to pigs and cattle to fatten them up and their intestinal tract is often severely stressed by this but hadn’t thought about grains in human diets. I discovered that Egyptian mummies often show evidence of the same diseases that are rampant today.  Grain based food was the major staple for their diet.

With so much conflicting dietary advice I enrolled and completed a diploma in nutrition and a certificate in sports nutrition.  I wanted to add yet another source to my learning and raise my credibility.  As I learned more, I began making notes.  I have several hand-written notebooks now and have used the information to follow up on research papers, cross reference books, re-read conflicted studies and bolster my learning.

Applying my new knowledge to myself, I was delighted to find my weight going down.  I lost 11 kg’s in the first 12 months. My belly, which I had had for 40 years, gradually disappeared and I gained more muscle definition.  My blood lipids improved and the doctor informed me that I no longer needed to be on any blood pressure medications.  I increased my energy and reduced cholesterol.  Much to my delight, and despite being over 70 years old, I now frequently wake in the morning feeling as energetic as I had in my 20’s and 30’s.  I definitely do not need a GLP-1 agonist with it’s uncertain side effects and possible longer term problems.

You may ask, “how do you know your new knowledge is true?”.  An excellent question which I have worked very hard to answer.  Firstly it works.  Secondly I have cross referenced it repeatedly and have looked carefully at multiple sources to eliminate conflicts of interest and poor research.  I have learned about relative-risk vs absolute-risk and how statistics, including research results, are often manipulated. Finally, if we look about us it is clear that the standard dietary advice that people live by these days is failing badly.  Humans have never before been so sick with non-communicable diseases.  Fertility is declining, diabetes is on the rise, autoimmune diseases are rampant, Alzheimer’s is on the rise, people are getting sick at younger and younger ages.  Heart attacks, which were never documented in medical literature until about 1910, are the leading cause of death and cancer is affecting one in three people.

The impact from the application of my learning was so amazing and so startling that I felt I had to shout it to the world.  During the COVID lock down, using my notebooks, I wrote a book “Take Back Your Health” and due to my limited resources, I self-published it.  The book is on Amazon in both an e-book and paperback form, has sold in many countries, and is also available in some libraries in New Zealand.  It is now in the fourth edition because when self-publishing I can keep updating as my knowledge grows.  I have kept the price low because I don’t want price to be a barrier, I want people to know about this.  I have distilled my learning from over 200 books, plus research papers, podcasts, YouTube videos, into this book.  People who have read this and applied it are achieving similar results to myself. 

To get the benefit of all my work and improve your health, go to my website at where there are links to my book.  My website also contains many free and helpful resources including blogs, getting started guides, downloadable meal plans, a cooking oil chart, a staples list and a fasting/hormone guide for women.  I present to groups including Lions, Rotary and U3A.  By buying my book you can learn how to improve your health.

From   One-on-one or small group consulting available. Seek professional medical advice before making dietary changes, particularly if on medication.  Questions are welcome.  Good health,  George Elder, Diet Research Reviewer, Diploma in Nutrition.

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