Why we need to eat real food

By | Books, Cookbook, Sugar, Vegetable Oils | 8 Comments

It turns out that avoiding Type II Diabetes, Obesity and Fatty Liver is the easy bit.

Sugar is very bad news. It destroys (in this order), our teeth, our gut, our liver, our ligaments, our pancreas, our kidneys our blood vessels, our heart and eventually our brain. The science on all of this is now so uncontroversial, that many countries (including the UK) are implementing sugar taxes to help pay for the accelerating damage. But sugar is the lesser of the two dietary evils that have infiltrated our food supply. The other is vegetable oil. And it makes the consequences of sugar consumption look like a mild case of the sniffles. This stuff doesn’t just destroy our lives, it takes out the next generation as well.

Twelve years ago I removed sugar from my diet. I didn’t change anything else. Yep, I still ate meat pies (just without sauce). I still drank beer. And I still didn’t exercise anywhere near enough. I did it because I was obese and the evidence told me that the reason was my sugar consumption. So I stopped eating sugar. It changed my life permanently. I lost 40 kilograms and regained a passion for participating in the lives of my six kids, something that up until then was fading as fast as my weight grew.

Then, a few years into my sugar free life, I discovered something that made it immeasurably harder. Sugar isn’t the only thing that’s been added to our diet in large quantities by the food industry. The other is oils extracted from seeds (usually described as ‘healthy’ vegetable oil).  It isn’t the occasional splash of oil you add to your salad or fry your steak in.  It’s the industrial quantities of the stuff added to your bread, your biscuits, your frozen meals, your sauces and dressings and everything you buy in a restaurant or your favourite take-away.

Cheap vegetable oil made from seeds (canola, sunflower, corn, safflower, grapeseed, rice bran and soybean oils) is a new addition to the human diet. Unlike animal fats and oils made from fruit (olive, avocado and coconut oils), they’re very high in polyunsaturated fats and in particular something called an omega-6 fat.

When omega-6 fats are heated (in a deep fryer or in the human body) they produce highly toxic molecules. Those end-products are dangerous because they are incorporated into every cell in our body and interact destructively with our DNA. This significantly increases the chances that cancer will develop.  But that’s by no means the least of it. Because of their neurotoxic capabilities, these molecules are likely to be heavily involved in motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. They’re also implicated in chronic inflammation, the massive recent increase in allergies, stroke and heart disease. And, less predictably, they probably lie behind the sudden mass decline in male fertility and the massive increases in childhood cancers, Down syndrome and Autism.

Australians are sicker now than at any time in our history and it is getting worse unbelievably quickly.  We are almost four times as likely to have thyroid cancer than just three short decades ago.  We are more than three times as likely to have Liver Cancer.  We are twice as likely to have Melanoma, Motor Neuron Disease, Kidney or Anal cancer.

Men are more than twice as likely to have prostate cancer and 60% more likely to have testicular cancer.  Women are 43% more likely to have breast cancer.  And children are paying even more dearly.  A child is 6 times as likely to suffer from leukemia than at the start of the 20th century. And they more than four times as likely to suffer from a life threatening allergic reaction than they were just 20 years ago.  Sperm counts halved in the 50 years (to 1990). Pregnancies are three times as likely to be affected by Down syndrome over the same period and a child is twice as likely to be autistic.  The chronic disease tsunami is upon us.

These unbelievably cheap sources of fat are even more deadly than sugar and have now infiltrated everything on the supermarket shelves. If I avoided the 99% fat free but high sugar mayo, I was jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. The full fat version had no sugar but was made using sunflower oil.

A century ago, exactly none of these fats were added to our food supply. Now unless you made it yourself, it is reasonably safe to assume all the fat in your food comes from a seed. Avoiding these fats is several orders of magnitude harder than avoiding sugar. Our food supply is stuffed with two ingredients that are more likely than not to cause a slow, lingering and painful death. The good news is that this only applies to food made by others (and usually shoved into a packet with a picture of real food on the front). Nobody can stop you making and eating real food. All you need is a little know-how. And that’s what the Eat Real Food Cookbook is all about.

It’s an odd sort of a cookbook. It explains the science and gives you an easy guide to navigating the supermarket and your local eatery. It’s not the kind of cookbook you’d give to your best friend for her to put on her coffee table (and that neither of you having any intention of reading). It doesn’t show you how to cook flash cakes that look like Darth Vader. And it most certainly doesn’t show you how to make a salad in a jar.

My wife, Lizzie, and our six kids have been living off the recipes and tips in the book for the better part of the last decade. Don’t let the beautiful photography fool you. This is an intensely practical book designed to solve an intensely practical problem. How to create high quality food – simply, inexpensively quickly and every day – that’s completely free of the twin evils of fructose (the dangerous part of sugar) and seed oils (the man-made fats recently added to our food supply).

Eat Real Food Cookbook Launch Offer

Cookbook bundle540Get the new Eat Real Food Cookbook OR the Sweet Poison Quit Plan Cookbook OR BOTH for 25% OFF.

Just Enter the discount code ERFCB25 at checkout

Both books are of course signed by David

Buy Now

The Rise and Rise of Assisted Reproduction – Stealing our Future – Part 5

By | Vegetable Oils | One Comment

Assisted Reproduction

40 is the new 21.  Half a century ago, the average kid was done with school by 15, married and settled into their first house by their early twenties and producing their own kids shortly thereafter.  Now if you have had your first child by 30 you are doing well.  But when it comes to fertility we are constrained by biology.  21 is still the new 21.  And it’s a pretty good age to have kids (from a purely biochemical perspective).

Human reproductive systems work best when they are young.


A woman is born with the last egg she will release before menopause.  This makes that egg one of the oldest lived cells in the human body (at the time it is released) and as such, one of the cells most likely to accumulate damage to its DNA.  Two of the body’s defense mechanisms against this sort of damage are infertility and miscarriage.  As a woman’s age increases, her chances of becoming pregnant decline rapidly and her chances of having a miscarriage increase dramatically.

A similar defence mechanism is at work in men.  As a man ages the quality of the sperm he produces drops significantly.  Men over 40 have three times the DNA damage and consequently are less than half as likely to conceive (when compared to younger men).

We can accelerate the rates of DNA damage with oxidative stress.  And vegetable oil consumption is a powerful driver of that.  Vegetable oils made from seeds and legumes (Sunflower, Canola, Rice Bran, Grapeseed, Soybean, Peanut and Cottonseed) are very high in a type of fat (omega-6 polyunsaturated fat) which drives oxidation in the human body.

That oxidation destroys sperm quality and causes massive damage to sperm DNA. But our defences will normally kick in and the defective sperm are killed off.  If those defenses fail (or are circumvented), sperm with damaged DNA can get through.

As parental age and vegetable oil consumption increases and fertility decreases, couples are increasingly seeking help with conception.  This involves the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART).  In particular, the use of ICSI, the method used to address male infertility, has exploded.


ICSI injects one sperm directly into an egg and so overcomes low sperm count and poor motility (movement and speed) problems.  In other words, it works around the very things which the body is using to eliminate sperm which are less likely to produce healthy babies.

Of course ICSI doctors only select sperm which look healthy but at the moment there are no reliable tests for the type of damage to sperm DNA caused by oxidative stress. So when we deliberately circumvent our failsafe systems, the chances of childhood diseases (attributable to DNA damage) increase considerably.

One recent large study in Sweden demonstrated that the risk of Autism in ICSI births was up to 4.6 times as high (and mental retardation 2.3 times as high) as with an unassisted pregnancy.  Similarly, a large Norwegian study published in February 2016 revealed there is a 67% increased risk for childhood leukemia in ART children. And a 2014 study showed there was 33% increase in schizophrenia in ART conceived children.

These studies are all from Scandinavia, because, unlike Australia, Northern Europeans keep high quality long term statistics on birth outcomes from ART.  The exception here is Western Australia, the only state with a statutory register of ART treatments and outcomes.  And even accounting for the relatively small size of their datasets, the same patterns are emerging.  The risk of serious birth defects in ART children is approximately double that in unassisted conceptions.

Horrifically, in treating the obvious symptom of oxidation – declining fertility – with technology, we are end-running our body’s attempts to stop the suffering that sperm oxidation can cause.

Unfortunately, there are strong financial incentives to keep doing so.  The Australian ART market is worth $400 million dollars a year and is generating strong and growing profits.  Which is surprising given ART doesn’t work that well for most of its customers.  More than 72% of fresh cycles for women under 30 (and 98.8% for women over 44) will not result in a live birth.  Combine the accelerating profits from ‘treatment’ with the profits to be had from using cheap vegetable oils in our food and we are caught in a pincer movement of market forces working against a solution to the disease epidemics we now face.

The ART industry’s response to those statistics, and the increasing risks our children face, is that schoolgirls should be told to freeze their eggs when they are young.  But I reckon if we’re going to be telling schoolchildren (of both genders) how to manage their fertility then how about we start with – Don’t Smoke, Don’t Eat Vegetable Oil and don’t delay having children (once you decide you want them).


Photo by Ⅿeagan. Distributed under the Creative Commons License.

This is the final part of a five part series.  To see Part One click here.

Get all the studies mentioned in this series here


Down Syndrome and Autism – Stealing our Future – Part 4

By | Vegetable Oils | 7 Comments

Part 4 – The Male Biological Clock

In Part Three of this series I showed how the rapid increase in our consumption of vegetable oils lies behind the explosive growth in childhood cancers during the last century.  In this part I look at the other genetic diseases of childhood which research indicates are caused by eating foods containing those oils.

Sperm membranes need to be made from polyunsaturated fats to do their job well.  This means they are also highly susceptible to damage from oxidation.  The solution is to make them in huge numbers and kill off any that are damaged. Normally that works well enough, but occasionally a sperm with damaged DNA will escape the cleanup process and go on to fertilize an egg.

There are three known ways we can significantly increase the risk of damaged sperm getting through.  We can use the sperm production system beyond its best-before date, we can significantly increase oxidative stress on the system and we can bypass the defences using reproductive technology.

Sperm from blokes that are too old

DNA damage accumulates with time.  The older a man is, the more damage to his reproductive DNA will have accumulated.  He can continue to produce semen until his last gasp, but the quality of the sperm contained in it declines dramatically after his 35th birthday.

The amount of DNA damage in sperm of men aged 36–57 is three times that of men under 35.  A man more than 40 years of age is much less than half as likely to conceive as a man under 40.

Childhood diseases related to DNA damage are significantly increased in line with the age of the father.  These diseases include childhood cancers, Down Syndrome, Schizophrenia and Autism.  This is the reason why the age of sperm donors is limited to 40 years in in both the UK and the US and 45 in Australia.

There is now a strong trend towards older fathers.  By 2010 the median married Australian father was 34 years old (30 for an unmarried father) and had increased by 3 years since 1990 alone.

That trend is undoubtedly driving part of the growth in the diseases, but it alone cannot account for the rapid recent acceleration.

Sperm damaged by Oxidative Stress

We can significantly increase DNA damage by ramping up oxidation in the body.  Smoking is a well-studied source of increased oxidation. But the research is now telling us that oxidation of the polyunsaturated fats we eat (in the form of Vegetable Oils) are a much more significant concern.   When these fats inevitably become part of the cell membrane of sperm, they provoke a state of oxidative stress at least as bad as that observed in smokers.

Only 13% of Adult Australians smoke but all of us eat Vegetable oils (whether we know it or not). Vegetable oils are the cheap oils extracted from seeds and legumes which now make up almost all of the fat in processed food.  They include Canola (Rapeseed), Sunflower, Cottonseed, Grapeseed, Rice Bran, Peanut and Soybean oils.  We are consuming more of them now than we have ever consumed before in the entire history of humans on this planet.


The oxidative damage caused by consuming vegetable oils is random in its effect.  It is not just the genes involved in childhood cancers which suffer harm.  Damage can, and does, occur throughout the entire DNA carried by the sperm.

The most common genetic abnormality in infants is Down Syndrome. And the occurrence of Down Syndrome have been steadily rising in line with our consumption of vegetable oils. In just the two decades between 1985 and 2004, the percentage of Down Syndrome affected pregnancies doubled in the UK.  In Western Australia (the only Australian state which keeps reliable data) the rate over a similar period almost tripled.


Down syndrome births, stillbirths, and terminations of pregnancy (TOP) per 1000 births in Western Australia 1980–2004.

The next most common genetic abnormality in infants is Autism (a group of developmental diseases associated with damage to over 100 genes).  Autism rates in the UK have increased ten-fold since the 1950s and similar increases have occurred in the US.  In the US the rate of autism spectrum disorders more than doubled between 2000 and 2010 alone.  There is no reliable Australian data on this, but researchers estimate that Australian rates are similar.


While it is likely that changes in the definition of autistic disorders are partly responsible for some of this growth, detailed analysis of the data has revealed that the increase is, regardless, very real and very large.  We aren’t just getting better at diagnosing autism, there is a lot more of it to diagnose.

Childhood cancers, Down Syndrome and Autism are the diseases which affect the most children (and therefore the ones for which we have the best data), but the trends are starting to become visible for all similar genetic diseases (and there are very many of them).

We are in the midst of a massive acceleration of diseases driven by oxidative DNA damage (and to a lesser extent by age-related mutations).  It is getting worse day by day and it has truly appalling consequences for everybody who is affected.

But there is a glimmer of hope.  We can turn these horrible trends around.  We just need to do three things, don’t smoke, don’t eat vegetable oils and don’t delay childbearing.

There is just one other thing we need to do.  Be very careful about circumventing our body’s attempt to destroy defective sperm.  That is the subject of the next part in this series.


Get all the studies mentioned in this series here

Childhood Cancer – Stealing our Future – Part 3

By | Vegetable Oils | 3 Comments

Part Three – Childhood cancer

We are massively overconsuming Omega-6 fats. This is largely because we eat too much ‘vegetable oil.’  The dangerous varieties of vegetable oil don’t come from vegetables.  They are the oils extracted from seeds like Canola, Rice-Bran, Grapeseed, Sunflower and Almonds or legumes like peanuts and soybeans.  And we are eating too much of them (usually without even being aware of it) because these incredibly cheap oils dominate the 21st century food supply.

If you purchase anything to eat outside the home, almost all the fat components will be these oils. The mayo on your takeaway sandwich will be made from sunflower oil (as will the margarine).  Anything fried will have been cooked in cottonseed or canola oil (no matter how flash the joint you purchased it from).  All the breads and pastries will have been made using seed oils and so will all the dressings, dips and sauces.

In Part One of this series I showed how rampant oxidation caused by the omega-6 fats in these oils destroys male fertility by lowering sperm count and quality.  And in Part Two I showed how the same process also significantly increases risk of testicular cancer.

Make no mistake, we are in the midst of an unprecedented decline in our ability to reproduce and that decline is driven by the profits from cheap vegetable oil laced foods.


The oxidative stress caused by the Omega-6 fats doesn’t simply disrupt the fertilizing capabilities of sperm, it also attacks the integrity of the DNA carried by the sperm.  Normally a cell which is so damaged that its DNA is fragmented by oxidation will not function at all.  Unfortunately, this is not the case with sperm.  Human sperm retain the capacity for fertilization even when their DNA are severely damaged.

We know this for certain because of studies done in men who smoke. And even though those studies have shown smokers are much less fertile than non-smokers, they are not always infertile.

The sperm of those smokers who remain fertile have DNA that has been damaged by oxidative stress (caused by the inhalation of chemicals which promote oxidation).  And because DNA-damaged sperm are still able to create viable embryos, the consequences can be cataclysmic.  We have known since at least 1997 that the children of fathers who smoke heavily are four to five times as likely to develop childhood cancers.

The studies also clearly show that omega-6 fat consumption is at least as powerful a source of oxidation as smoking.  Given that, we should expect childhood cancer to be increasing in societies (like Australia) where vegetable oil consumption is at its highest level ever (and increasing).

Childhood cancers are defined as those diagnosed before the child turns 15.  Together, leukaemia (blood cell cancers), brain tumours and lymphomas account for more than two thirds of all childhood cancers, but leukaemia is by far the most common.

One in 500 Australian children will develop cancer.  That’s 2 new cases every day.  Two children every day!  Three Australian kids die from cancer every week.  It is a devastating blight upon our community and it is getting much worse very quickly.

With most cancers we only have reliable statistics on incidence (new cases every year) going back to the early eighties in Australia and only slightly earlier in the UK and the US.  But sadly, because until the early 1960s, leukaemia was a certain death sentence, mortality statistics are a reasonable proxy.  And those go all the way back to 1911.  It is not a pretty picture.

leuk graphsm

Children in the UK are now 6 times more likely to suffer from leukaemia as children just one hundred years ago.  Modern Australian statistics show identical trends.  And while smoking undoubtedly played its part in pushing that rate up in the middle of the century, the rapid reduction in smoking rates has done little to slow the rapid growth.

The genetic damage that lies behind most childhood cancer is caused by oxidation of sperm DNA.  As oxidation fuel increases (in the form of vegetable oil in our food), then so too will the rate of childhood cancers. For as long as that oxidation fuel supply increases, we can expect to see the rate of those cancers continue to climb dramatically.

The good news is that at an individual level the science suggests it is very easy to change these outcomes.  Men produce a completely new set of mature sperm every 90 days.  This means that we can massively reduce the chances of genetic damage in our children by simply abstaining from vegetable oils (and smoking) for 3 months before we get anyone pregnant.

Unfortunately, it is not just genes implicated in cancer which are being affected.  In the next part I will be looking other types of oxidation induced genetic damage in offspring.


Infographic from The Kids’ Cancer Project

Testicular Cancer – Stealing our Future – Part 2

By | Vegetable Oils | 2 Comments

Part Two – Testicular cancer is exploding

In Part One of this series I looked at male fertility.  Men exposed to Western diets are becoming dramatically less fertile.  And the cause is the rapid increases in our consumption of vegetable oils made from seeds.

Vegetable oil made from seeds (Canola, Rapeseed, Sunflower, Corn, Safflower, Grapeseed, Rice Bran and Soybean for example) – seed oils – are a relatively new addition to the human diet.  Unlike oils made from fruit (Olive, Avocado and Coconut) and animal fats, they are very high in something called an Omega-6 fat.

They are also incredibly cheap to make, which is why you will find them in just about every food on the supermarket shelf and in every deep fryer in the land. Because of this, we are currently consuming 10 times as much as we actually need.


Consuming up to 10 times too much of a substance that plays a critical role in the construction of sperm is having a massive and continuing effect on our ability to produce them.  But that is just the beginning of the damage being wrought by these substances.

The fats in vegetable oils are highly volatile.  They react quickly with oxygen and they do so even more rapidly when the temperature is high (in a human body for example). When that happens our body enters a state called oxidative stress.  And oxidative stress is a known cause of damage to our DNA that results in cancer.

We can massively increase our risk of cancer by introducing any substance which damages DNA.  Smokers for example, have 10 times the rate of lung cancer because they inhale a cloud of compounds which can produce DNA damage in the lining of the lung.   And the compounds produced by oxidised vegetable oils damage cellular DNA in a similar fashion.  Eating those fats is like smoking but the damage is transmitted to every part of the body, not just the lung.

Healthy sperm need to be flexible (for speedy tail flicking) and so have much higher levels of the ‘bendy’ polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils than the average human cell membrane.  So sperm cells (and the cells that make them, called germ cells) are awash with fats from the vegetable oils we consume.

If any organ in the body were to be affected most dramatically by the massive increases in our consumption of vegetable oil, it is likely to be the Testes.   Given that you would expect to see the rates of testicular cancer rising just as fast as male fertility has been falling.  And you would not be disappointed.

Testicular cancer1sm

Oversupply of omega-6 from vegetable oil in the Testes causes a cascading chain of oxidative stress which ultimately ends in random destruction of our sperm and germ cell DNA.  In most cases this results in the death of the sperm and germ cells (hence the massive declines in sperm counts discussed in part One).  But every now and then just the wrong mutation happens and cancer develops (usually in the germ cells).

The Australian incidence (number of new cases per year) of testicular cancer (the most common cancer in men under 50) has quintupled since 1952.   A man alive in Australia today is 5 times (!!) as likely to have testicular cancer as that same man in 1952.  Similar rates of increase hold in the US and the UK.  If genetics was the only cause of testicular cancer, we would expect the rate to be exactly the same.  The fact that it isn’t, tells us an environmental factor is at work and the science set out above, tells us that environmental factor is vegetable oils from seeds.

Because of a decided preference for non-animal fat sources, Israeli Jews have close to one of the highest rates consumption of vegetable oil in the world (about 12% of calories).  The science says this is why they are at the bleeding edge of the decline in male fertility.  It is also likely to be why the incidence of testicular cancer among Israeli Jews is climbing as fast as it is in health conscious (and equally infertile), vegetable oil soaked Australia.

Because it is often diagnosed early and the treatment (usually removal of a testicle) is highly effective, testicular cancer is one of the most survivable cancers (98% of men are free from it 5 years after diagnosis).  And if sperm never left the male body, that would be the end of this series.  But they don’t so this isn’t.

Vegetable oils are destroying male fertility and driving supercharged increases in testicular cancer but sadly the trail of destruction does not end there.  Some damaged sperm do make it all the way and they are capable of creating an embryo.  In the next instalment I look at the disease cascades from those damaged sperm.

Photo courtesy of 2006 advertisement of the British Heart Foundation

How vegetable oils are stealing our future – Part 1 – Male Fertility

By | Vegetable Oils | 6 Comments

Part One – Male fertility is plummeting

Around one in six Australian couples meet the World Health Organisation definition of infertility (unable to conceive after 12 months of unprotected sex).  And in about half of those cases it is because the male is infertile. This is the first in a series of articles examining how seed oils affect our reproductive organs (and the disastrous potential consequences for our children).

A sperm count is an old fashioned, but still highly reliable way of measuring a man’s ability to produce children.  Anything over 100 million sperm cells per ml is considered a premium vintage and anything under 15 million means the man is very unlikely to reproduce.  The only trouble is that men with high octane semen are getting harder and harder to find.

In 1992 researchers from the University of Copenhagen published a study of sperm quality trends over the preceding half century.  After reviewing 61 trials, the scientists came to the shocking conclusion that average sperm count had halved in just 50 years (from 113 million in 1940 to 66 million in 1990).

An even more comprehensive analysis of almost 27,000 French men published in 2005 confirmed the trend is continuing.  In that study average sperm counts dropped from 74 million in 1989 to 50 million in 2005 (a rate of 1.9% a year).  If that rate of decline continues, there will be no French men capable of making babies by 2072.

French sperm count sm


Similar numbers and rates of decline are now being reported in all Western countries (although alarmingly at a decline of 3% a year, Australia is at the high end).   But in one country, the sperm count disaster makes the French look pretty damn virile.

Sperm banks in Israel are reporting that there is an alarming drop in sperm quality amongst Jewish inhabitants. Those that would have rejected about a third of applicants in the 1990s (because of low sperm count) are now turning away 80 to 90%.  With a measured rate of sperm count decline approximately twice that of any other Western country, experts are predicting that by 2030, average Jewish Israeli sperm counts will drop to a level where reproduction is likely to be impossible.

There are as many theories about why this is happening as there are scientists researching the problem.  Perhaps it is the increased levels of oestrogen in the diet, perhaps it is exposure to pesticides or perhaps it is the use of BPA plastics.  But only one has produced convincing evidence of causation – dietary omega-6 fat consumption.  And that evidence goes a lot further than noticing that Israel is the highest consumer of omega-6 fats in the world.

Omega-6 fat is the dominant fat in the ‘vegetable oils’ used in every processed food.  These oils are not made from vegetables at all.  Rather they come from seeds (like Canola or Rapeseed, Soybean, Sunflower, Safflower, Rice Bran and Grape).

Unlike other kinds of fat, humans cannot make Omega-6 oils.  We need them to properly run our immune system and (just like Omega-3 fats) must get them from plants that we eat.  Fortunately, we don’t need much and we are more than capable of getting everything we need from normal unprocessed food.

Less fortunately (a lot less fortunately), Omega-6 based seed oils are the fat of choice for the processed food industry (because they are a lot cheaper than fats from animals and exotic fruits like olives, avocados and coconuts), so Western consumption of Omega-6 fats has at least tripled in the last century.  And as a consequence, the ratio of Omega-6 fats to Omega-3 fats has soared from about 3:1 to 26:1.


We’ve known for some time that in experimental animals, high omega-6 fat consumption lowers sperm count and significantly impairs the quality of those that remain.  But a 2009 study in humans has taken that research one step further.

In that study, 82 infertile men were compared with 78 (proven) fertile men.  Detailed profiles of the fatty acid makeup of each man’s semen were prepared.  The results were unequivocal.  Infertile men had a significantly higher ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3  (15 to 1 versus 6 to 1 in fertile men).  And critically, the higher the omega-6, the lower the sperm count.   The amount and ratio of Omega-6 also dramatically and negatively affected the other two primary measures of sperm quality, the motility (ability to move) and morphology (the shape).

It is likely that the reason for the sperm cell destruction relates to rampant oxidation caused by the overconsumption of omega-6 fats.  Unfortunately, that kind of oxidation damage leads to the wholesale DNA destruction that can result in cancer.  That direct effect on testicular cancer rates is the subject of the next instalment in this series.


Get all the studies and articles mentioned in this series here.


Photo by Mobilus In Mobili. Distributed under the Creative Commons License.

How to get lung cancer from a frypan

By | Vegetable Oils | 10 Comments

Vegetable oils are highly unstable. When they interact with oxygen, they release neurotoxic, DNA mutating chemicals which are known to cause cancer (at least). Recent improvements in measurement technology have now thrown a spotlight on the quantity of these chemicals released by normal use. And the results are truly terrifying.

Vegetable oil made from seeds (Canola, Sunflower, Corn, Safflower, Grapeseed, Rice Bran and Soybean for example) -seed oils – are a relatively new addition to the human diet.  Unlike oils made from fruit (Olive, Avocado and Coconut) and animal fats, they are very high in something called an Omega-6 fat.

They are also incredibly cheap to make, which is why you will find them in just about every food on the supermarket shelf and in every deep fryer in the land.

These Omega-6 fats are known to cause oxidative stress in humans.  Oxidative stress occurs when the reactions between these fats and oxygen overwhelm our anti-oxidant defences and a chain reaction gets under way.

That chain reaction results in the production of some highly toxic chemicals which include MDA (Malondialdehyde) and 4-HNE (4-hydroxy-2-nonenal).  They are dangerous because they interact destructively with our DNA and cause cancer.

But that is, by no means the least of it. Because of their neurotoxic capabilities, they are likely to be heavily involved in Alzheimer’s disease, MND, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.  They are also implicated in chronic inflammation, stroke and heart disease.

While the MDA and 4-HNE we make ourselves (from consuming too much Omega-6) is devastating enough, it is now becoming abundantly clear that we can make them even more dangerous than they already are.  All we need to do is heat them before we eat them.

A study released late last year found that when oils containing Omega-6 fats are heated at a normal cooking temperature (of 180⁰C), they create significant quantities of MDA and 4-HNE (amongst other highly toxic chemicals).  And each time the oil was re-used the concentration increased massively.  The study showed that by the fifth day of oil re-use it had 5 times the concentration of these chemicals that it had on the first (which was already alarmingly high).

These premade cancer bombs are directly ingested every time we eat a food which was cooked in those oils (for example, anything fried in seed oils) or which used heated seed oils in the recipe (for example baked goods).   They are even lurking in products which are sold cold but were made using heated seed oils (like margarines).

But worse than that, the researchers also made the point that all they could measure was the amount of these chemicals left in the oil. Since they are highly volatile, they are constantly escaping into the air around us when the food is being cooked and even when it is being eaten.  It is likely that this explains the stubbornly high rates of lung cancer among women in Asian countries (where smoking is rare among women, but wok frying with Canola oil is a daily task).

According to a 2014 report from the WHO (World Health Organisation), more than forty three thousand Australians died from cancer in 2012. And despite huge advances in treatment, it is now the single biggest cause of death in Australia.

The report reveals that in the nine years the report covers, cancer diagnosis in Australia increased by an alarming 14 per cent. In 2003, 274 Australians per day were diagnosed. In 2012, it was 312 people. Per Day! Worse than that, the authors of the report expect that number to almost double in the next twenty years.

In countries exposed to the Western Diet for most of the last five decades (such as Australia), the number of new cases of Multiple Sclerosis recorded per year (after adjusting for population increases) has quadrupled and the numbers of people with the other diseases associated with these lethal chemicals has also been pushing steadily higher.

Prevention is clearly the key to changing a future full of untimely death from horrible chronic disease. Unfortunately those charged with advising us are blind to the real cause of these lethal epidemics.

Worse that that they are frequently the people responsible for us consuming the oils in the first place. McDonald’s for example switched from frying in Beef Fat to Canola oil in 2004 after incessant pressure from the Heart Foundation. And KFC followed suit in 2012

Every day there are thousands of teenagers standing over vats of frying canola oil for 8 hour shifts at every fast food restaurant in this country.  Every day, there are people cooking with high temperature seed oils in woks (seasoned with seed oil). And every day there are industrial quantities of heated seed oil being poured into commercial baked and frozen foods.

And that is set against background of terrifying increases in cancer incidence in this country.  Today’s 312 new cancer sufferers are not theoretical.  They are your neighbour, your sister, the kid next door.

That this is allowed to continue when the science is so clear, is not merely a shame or an embarrassment.  It is an outrage and a tragedy.

You can’t stop the food processors putting these carcinogens in your food and you can’t stop the Heart Foundation and the Cancer Council encouraging them to do so, but you sure can stop that food being put in you.  Isn’t it time you did?


Photo courtesy of 2006 advertisement of the British Heart Foundation

How much Imitation Food did you eat today?

By | Big Fat Lies, Sugar, Vegetable Oils | 9 Comments

In these days of regulated, well, everything, it is easy to forget that we are not far down the track from a time when food was regularly adulterated in search of profit.  Milk (and beer) was watered down.  Bread was padded out with Plaster of Paris and sawdust.  And jam was stretched with sugar and pectin to save on costly fruit.

Some of these changes were just plain dangerous.  Some were not likely to be immediately harmful, but did mean the consumer wasn’t getting what they paid for.  To deal with the grey area between adulteration (with, say, sawdust) and cheating (with, say, water or sugar), in 1938 US legislators introduced laws that required that ‘Imitation Foods’ be clearly labelled.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) was authorised to create legally binding ‘standards of identity’ based on “the time-honored standards employed by housewives and reputable manufacturers”.  These were recipes which specified what well recognised foods such as cheese, or milk or bread or jam (for example) must contain and in what quantities.  The FDA attacked the task with gusto and by 1950 about half of all food sold in the US had a standardised description.

This meant that if you wanted to make a jam with less fruit than the standard you could do so but it had to be clearly labelled as Imitation Jam.

It also meant that if you wanted to sell low fat milk it had to be labelled Imitation Milk.  If you wanted to sell cheese slices made with milk solids and vegetable fats, it was Imitation Cheese. Or if you wanted to sweeten yoghurt with fruit juice instead of sugar it had to be called Imitation Sweetened Yoghurt.

You don’t have to be a marketing genius to understand that your product might not fly off the shelves with ‘Imitation’ stamped on the front.

The food industry wasn’t a fan in the 1950s but they became even less of a fan by the 1970s as the market for low-fat food really took off.  And they weren’t alone.  The American Heart Foundation was keen to get Americans to switch from animal fats to vegetable oils (to avoid cholesterol) and generally lower the fat in their diet.  But vegetable oils were rarely part of the traditional descriptions of these foods and the amount of fat was specified by law anyway.

Sustained lobbying by the food industry and the Heart Foundation resulted in the laws being changed in 1973.  From then on a food did not have to use the word “Imitation” as long as it had the same level of nutrients as the original.  Calories and fat were excluded from the requirement.  So as long as your Cheese like substance wrapped in plastic had the same vitamins and minerals as the real deal, it could be labelled as Cheese.

One of the most obvious results of that twisted logic is now available in your local supermarket.  There you can purchase a substance which describes itself as having “The protein, energy and fibre of 2 Weet-Bix and milk”.  The actual ingredients of Up&Go are (in descending order by weight):

  • water,
  • skim milk powder,
  • cane sugar,
  • wheat maltodextrin,
  • soy protein,
  • vegetable oils (sunflower, canola),
  • inulin,
  • starch,
  • corn syrup solids,
  • fructose,
  • cocoa (0.5%),
  • oat flour,
  • mineral (calcium), food acid (332), flavours, vegetable gums (460, 466, 407), stabiliser (452), salt, vitamins (C, niacin, A, B12, B6, B2, B1, folate)

You might be tempted to call that ‘Imitation Weetbix and Milk’ but as no Weet-bix appear to be involved, ‘Imitation Sweetened Milk’ is probably closer to the mark.

I’m sure that does add up to the same amount of protein, energy and fibre as Weet-bix and milk but I suspect that an appropriate amount of sawdust and offal would too.

I say bring back the Imitation label.  If your Mayonnaise is made with sugar, emulsifier and water rather than eggs and olive oil, it should be labelled Imitation Mayonnaise.  If your chocolate is made with sugar and vegetable oil rather than sugar and cocoa butter, it should be labelled imitation chocolate.  If your bread has added Fructooligosaccharides, then it’s Imitation Bread.  And if your Weetbix and Milk is made from skim milk powder and sugar, it should be called Imitation Sweetened Milk.

Assuming anyone still wanted to sell food labelled that way, it would make the shopper’s task significantly easier.  There would be no chance you would accidentally buy food containing vegetable oils as they would all be labelled as Imitations.  It wouldn’t eliminate sugar but at least the foods which contained sugar would clearly list sugar as an ingredient (rather than things like juice concentrate or pear extract).  In fact all the ingredients would be recognisable and the list would be much shorter.

This kind of change would result in almost all the contents of a modern supermarket being labelled as Imitation Food.  Yes, I know there is no chance of this happening.  Industry would fight it tooth and nail.  Very real and very large amounts of money would be on the line.  And that just shows how much we have lost control of our food supply – in the space of less than one human lifetime.

The 20th century will go down as the century when mankind surrendered the ability to prepare their own food (or at least know the person who did).  We surrendered that right to corporations motivated by nothing other than profit.  And the result is mass epidemics of chronic disease, the likes of which humankind has never before experienced.  This is not a coincidence, it is a consequence.  And it will end badly for us and our kids.

Removing imitation labelling requirements did not cause the disaster but it certainly and massively accelerated it.  Don’t be a victim of the corporatisation of our food supply.  Eat Real Food, that is, food that is assembled from recognisable ingredients.  Oh, and ditch the sugar. It’ll kill you whether it’s labelled properly or not.

Also published on The Juice Daily

Oops, sorry ‘bout that – 5 Big Things Nutrition science got horribly wrong

By | Big Fat Lies, Sugar, Vegetable Oils | 10 Comments

Australia is in the midst of a chronic disease epidemic.  Kidney cancer, Melanoma, Prostate cancer and Anal cancer have all doubled since 1982, as has Chronic Kidney Disease since 1991. Type II Diabetes has tripled since 1989.  Multiple Sclerosis has done the same since 1961. Thyroid and Liver cancer has almost quadrupled since 1982.  And life threatening childhood allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) have almost quintupled since 1994.

In the same timeframe, we have become more health conscious than ever.  The science of Nutrition has moved from a back-room study of malnutrition to daily media coverage of what to eat.

The problem is most of what the nutrition profession has told us about food and its effect on disease has been horribly wrong.  So horribly wrong that, in many cases, we’d have been better off if we had done the opposite of what they said.

Here are 5 Big Things they’ve stuffed up.

  1. Fibre prevents bowel cancer

In 2002 the Cochrane Collaboration reviewed all high quality controlled trials (involving almost 5,000 patients).  They concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that increased dietary fibre would reduce Bowel Cancer.

That review was followed up in 2005 by a major evidence review by the Harvard School of Public Health.  The paper covered 13 studies which involved 725,628 people.  And again fibre drew a blank.  The authors concluded that high dietary fibre intake did not reduce the risk of Bowel Cancer.

Other recent research has also demolished many of the other claims around fibre.  It doesn’t prevent heart disease.  It doesn’t improve constipation (in fact it may be part of the cause).  And it likely increases our chances of getting diverticular disease.

  1. Cutting salt is good for the heart

When we consume salt, we retain more water.  More water means higher blood pressure.  A large Cochrane review conducted in 2004 showed that reducing salt intake does reduce blood pressure – but only slightly.

And while that’s nice, the real question is, does it prevent heart disease.  Unfortunately for the low salt brigade the answer (revealed in a 2011 Cochrane review) is a definite no.

There is no evidence that reducing salt reduces heart disease outcomes.  And worryingly one of the reviewed trials showed that reducing salt increase the risk of death in heart failure patients.

  1. Animal fat and Cholesterol are bad for the heart

Over the last five years a series of major reviews have all arrived at the same conclusion – Saturated Fat (the type which dominates fats from animals) does not cause heart disease.  The most recent review, published in August 2015, also adds that those fats are not associated with stroke, type II Diabetes or death from any other cause.

We’ve also been told for decades to avoid cholesterol.  It has been a major part of dietary warnings in the US (and eventually Australia) since 1961.  But this year the US government’s top nutrition advisory body released a review of the evidence which concludes dietary cholesterol is no longer a ‘nutrient of concern’.

No, we didn’t suddenly become immune to its evilness, the advice had been wrong all along.  And that dreadfully wrong advice stopped us consuming one of the most nutritionally perfect foods available – eggs (also vilified for their saturated fat content) – and had us falling victim to every marketer who wanted to plaster ‘low cholesterol’ on the front of a pack.

  1. ‘Vegetable Oil’ is good for the heart

One of the more recent demolitions of the ‘saturated fat’ is bad for the heart, myth also looked at whether vegetable is good for the heart.  We have, after all been told to replace butter with margarine for exactly that reason.

The study, sponsored by the British Heart Foundation, looked at trials involving over half a million people and concluded “Current evidence does not clearly support [heart health] guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated [fats – the ones found in vegetable oils].”

But these vegetable fats are not benign additions to the diet.  Increasingly the science is demonstrating  that the fats contained in vegetable oils (like Canola, Sunflower, Soybean, Cottonseed, Grapeseed, Rice Bran and Safflower oil) are a significant part of the disease process for Motor Neuron DiseaseParkinson’s DiseaseMacular DegenerationMultiple Sclerosis (and other auto-immune diseases) all cancers and lethal allergic reactions.

  1. Sugar doesn’t cause Type II Diabetes

Most nutrition authorities still maintain that nothing about sugar (other than the calories) is associated with Type II Diabetes.  And perhaps that is why the Heart Foundation is happy to endorse high sugar foods like Milo and a low-fat Mayo that lists sugar as its primary ingredient.

In June 2015, the latest in a long line of research once again concluded that sugary drink consumption (yes, even juice) was associated with Type II Diabetes even after adjusting for the weight of the people involved.  In other words the calories weren’t the problem.  Something else about the sugar was causing the diabetes.

It turns out that ‘something else’ is the fructose half of sugar and it is not merely responsible for Type II Diabetes but for many of the other chronic diseases that now plague us, including Fatty Liver Disease and Chronic Kidney Disease.

When nutrition science was in its infancy (in the 1960s and 1970s) it made some bad guesses about what makes us sick.  It guessed that eggs and animal fat gave us heart disease.  It guessed that salt caused heart disease and stroke.  It guessed that sugar was harmless.  And it guessed fibre was good.

These guesses were not illogical.  They were just naïve.  And, as it turns out, wrong.  But science has moved a long way since then and guessing is no longer required.

We now know that Heart Disease is caused by chronic inflammation and cancer risk is significantly elevated by oxidative stress.  And we know that loading our diets with man-made fats (labelled vegetable oil) and sugar will ensure we have both.

We no longer need to speculate.  Science has provided the answers.  The sooner those in charge of our dietary recommendations put their pride behind them and admit that, the healthier we will all be. 

But don’t wait for the apology.  Take control of your own health and (at the very least) ignore the nonsense they tell you about Fibre, Animal Fat, Salt and Sugar.  Good Health.

Health Star or Death Star?

By | Conflicts of Interest, Sugar, Vegetable Oils | 13 Comments

The Federal Government’s Health Star Rating system (HSR to its friends) is being heavily promoted as a solution the nation’s out-of-control obesity and chronic disease problem.  But it has turned into a food industry marketing stunt that is part of the problem not part of the solution.

This week HSR turned 1.  And as any one year old might expect, it got some lovely presents.  The government committed to spending $2.1 million telling everybody what a jolly good idea it is.  And they also cut a cheque to the Heart Foundation to look after the little fella for the next 2-5 years.

It seems everybody has been celebrating.  Sanitarium has been spending up big telling us that Up&Go (20% sugar) has 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Uncle Toby’s have also had the ad makers working round the clock, reminding us that you don’t have to drink your breakfast or have boring old oats.  Your kids can have their terrific 4 star sugar-loaded (25% sugar) oats instead.

The new multi-million dollar ad campaign helpfully tells us the more stars there are (to a maximum of 5) the healthier the food.

The government must be using a different definition of healthy to the World Health Organisation, the Canadian Heart Association and the British Medical Association, (to name just a few), because I doubt any of them would be likely to describe a ‘food’ that is 25% added sugar as healthy.  And yet that is exactly the type of ‘food’ getting the 4 and 5 star ratings in Australia.

Meanwhile, food that has sustained humans for millennia, like butter, coconut oil or yoghurt is flat out breaking the one star barrier.  Even strawberry liquorice (42% sugar) does better than that (2.5 stars).

They all score badly because they contain saturated fat.  For decades that kind of fat has been painted by nutritionists as the dietary villain.  But recent reviews of the science conducted by the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends dropping saturated fat (and cholesterol) from its list of nutrients of concern because there is no evidence connecting it with heart disease.

The HSR is a marketing program developed by and for the processed food industry (but paid for by the taxpayer).  Its development panel includes the Australian Beverages Council (whose members include Coca-cola and Pepsi) and the Australian Food and Grocery Council (whose membership list is the phone directory for the processed food industry).

It, like the Heart Foundation tick (which coincidentally appears on all the ‘healthy’ products I mention above) should be used as a guide to what foods to completely ignore.  The less stars a product has the less likely it is to do you harm.

But this isn’t an amusing little sideshow.  People are being actively told by their government to consume products that will unequivocally harm them.  They are being told that high sugar, high seed oil products like Up&Go are the best thing they can eat when the evidence says the exact opposite.

We wouldn’t tolerate a Government sponsored program that actively encouraged children to smoke (for their health) so let’s not tolerate our money being used to market sugar laced, seed oil as health food.

Don’t tolerate you and your family being treated like processed food dump sites.  Write to Sussan Ley (the Minister responsible for this abomination) and tell her you don’t want your money spent on a labelling system designed by Big Food’s marketing department.  And tell her you want your government to base its dietary advice on evidence, not what Big Food needs to sell this week.