Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cleave and Yudkin on Fats

Drs. T. L. Cleave (1906-1983) and John Yudkin (1910-1995) were two diet-health researchers who believed that refined carbohydrate-- and particularly refined sugar-- are behind many modern health problems. They made their case in the scientific journals, as well as in books aimed at the general public. They were also witheringly dismissive of the idea that animal fats could be behind the coronary heart disease epidemic of the 20th century. I'm going to post a few quotes of theirs that I'm particularly fond of, relating to this. I'll start off with a few oldies but goodies from T. L. Cleave's The Saccharine Disease, page 100:
Those who incriminate animal fats in raising the blood lipids and causing coronary disease would have us stop eating the fats that we have been eating from immemorial time, such as the fat found in meat and in the butter and cream derived from milk, and eat instead a whole lot of new oils, mainly expressed from vegetable seeds, many of which oils are alien to us.
From pages 100-101:
The keeping of flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, and other domestic animals, in order to provide a continuity of meat and milk, started with neolithic man many thousands of years before the Christian era... To these fats we are therefore well adapted, quite apart from man, as a hunter, being well acquainted with the fat of animals in evolutionary times far more remote than the neolithic ones.
From page 101:
Contrast with these ancient fats the new oils, mainly expressed from vegetable seeds. Not only are many of these seeds not a natural food for man (e.g., cotton seed and sunflower seed-- and incidentally the sunflower does not even come from the Old World, as we do in the British isles, but from the New), but also the oils expressed from many of them never existed in any quantity before the invention of the modern hydraulic press or the new solvent procedures, and consequently were scarcely eaten in this country before the introduction of margarine, circa 1916, during the First World War. Evolutionarily these oils make us not so much men as the equivalent of a flock of greenfinches, and the evolutionary incongruity is heightened by the fact that the coronary explosion amongst us, as will be seen later, came in since the introduction of just these oils at the period stated, though in margarine they are often saturated by a stream of hydrogen.
Now for a little John Yudkin. From "Dietary Factors in Arteriosclerosis: Sucrose" (Lipids 13(5):370. 1978):
In principle, it is very doubtful that one can in any way profoundly modify the diet of any species, including Homo sapiens, without introducing some hazard. The consumption of large quantities of PUFA [polyunsaturated fat] has been made possible only by the very recent development of sophisticated techniques of cultivating oilseeds, and extracting and refining vegetable oils. Before such techniques were available, these oils made only a small contribution to our diets, as they still do in the poorer countries. We cannot ignore the evidence that the large amounts widely recommended nowadays as a preventive of CHD can produce undesirable effects, such as increasing the risk of gallstones and possibly of carcinomatous changes in the skin. On the other hand, the reduction of the high amounts of sugar that we now consume is not known to be accompanied by any hazard.
Drs. T. L. Cleave and John Yudkin: making sense since 1936.


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