107. Deep Nutrition with Dr Cate Shanahan
March 9th 2022.
Saifedean hosts Dr Cate Shanahan to discuss her remarkable work on nutrition and the long term consequences of traditional foods and modern fiat foods. Cate’s experience at medical school was powerless to stop her own health deteriorating, causing her to look at nutrition as a deeper cause of health problems, sending her down a rabbit hole to discover the horrors of modern seed oils, and the devastating damage caused by mainstream theories of health and nutrition, particularly the work of “the Keynes of Nutrition” Ancel Keys, who has arguably killed more humans than anyone in history. Cate contrasts his work to that of Weston Price, “the Mises of Nutrition”, whose study of traditional diets worldwide remains enormously informative and useful, in spite of the medical and nutrition establishment ignoring it. Cate also explains how your food determines the health, fitness, and beauty of your children, and the warped financial incentives of modern fiat medicine.
- Cate on Twitter
- Cate’s books Deep Nutrition, The Fat Burn Fix and Food Rules on her official website
- PhD thesis that influenced Cate’s early ideas on nutrition: Lipid peroxidation in Vivo by Eva Södergren
- Book criticised by Cate for manipulation of statistics: The Seven Countries Study: A Scientific Adventure in Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology
- The Future of Fat Summit
- The Weston Price Foundation’s official website
- Dentist and beauty theorist Stephen R. Marquardt on Wikipedia
- Regional Eats documentary series on Amazon
- Flavorful Origins on Netflix
- Weston Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
- The Bitcoin Standard Podcast episode with Dr. Shawn Baker on Meat, Fiat Foods, and Bitcoin
- Cate’s lecture “Feed the Masses” about Harvard’s 70-year public health experiment
- Dr Nadir Ali’s official website
- Saifedean’s first book, The Bitcoin Standard
- Saifedean’s second book, The Fiat Standard
- Saifedean’s guide to eating meat & defeating fiat foods: academy.saifedean.com/meat
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Visit academy.saifedean.com/meat to find out more about Saifedean’s experience following the carnivore diet.
Saifedean Ammous: [00:03:01] Hello and welcome to another episode of The Bitcoin Standard Podcast. Our guest today is Dr. Cate Shanahan, a family medicine MD, and a New York Times best-selling author, a speaker, and a consultant. She’s well known for her revolutionary approach to nutrition and her exposure to flaws in scientific studies used in support of government dietary guidelines.
Dr. Shanahan is the author of Food Rules 2021, Deep Nutrition from 2017 and A Doctor’s Guide to Healthy Eating from 2010. She joins us today for a discussion on nutrition, traditional diets and the impact of seed oils on human health. On a personal note, Dr. Shanahan’s second book, Deep Nutrition was enormously influential for me.
My wife and I read it when my wife was pregnant with our first child, and it really shaped the way that I think about nutrition very significantly. And it’s helped me, I think, and my [00:04:01] wife make a much better healthy choices. And I think the very interesting thing that my listeners will find in her work is the approach to nutrition as a long-term thing. Nutrition is not just about eating something that gets you through the day.
Nutrition, the way Dr. Shanahan explains it, is something that shapes your future, and not just your own future, but also the future of your progeny and your children. As Bitcoiners and as people who listened to this podcast are usually fond of thinking of the long-term, I thought it would be very valuable for us to listen to Dr. Shanahan. So thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Shanahan!
Cate Shanahan: Thanks so much. It’s exciting to be on your show!
Saifedean Ammous: Why don’t you please begin with telling us a little bit about your personal background, how you got into nutrition science, and what brought you to that as a doctor? Most doctors don’t really care about food.
Why are you one of the weird [00:05:01] ones that cares?
Cate Shanahan: I was born weird, I’ll tell you that. But when I was a kid, I wanted to go to medical school just because I thought it was really powerful to be able to alleviate people’s fear. My dad was a doctor and I was the oldest, my younger brother was sick frequently and my mom would be so worried.
And I would just see that my dad wanted to, my dad was able to just alleviate her fear. So I always wanted to be a doctor, but I also for some reason always wanted to get to the underlying problem of whatever was causing somebody’s condition. I thought that medical school would teach you that, and it didn’t.
So once I had graduated from medical school, I had already been jaded because I had to let go of that dream of getting to the root cause of what was making my patients sick. And myself, like [00:06:01] the driving factor for me with my own health was I had really, a major health setback in my early thirties.
And I couldn’t walk. It was a mystery condition, so it was a medical mystery. Even my boss was like giving me a hard time about not walking and literally making fun of me, it was horrible. And so I tried everything. I had surgery, no answers. So my husband who likes to cook, and I mentioned that because I feel like a lot of people who really like to cook think this way, they think food matters more than people who just don’t on average. If you don’t like to cook, you don’t always maybe think food matters quite as much, but it seems like there’s a correlation.
So he loves cooking, and he told me that my diet of basically a lot of sugar was probably not good for me. And then when I got so sick I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t exercise, I was bored out of my [00:07:01] mind. So I actually read some of the books that he was telling me I should have read a long time ago. And it opened my eyes to this concept of essential fatty acids, which really blew my mind because essential fatty acids are things like the omega-3 and the omega-6 that everyone now knows about, but this was 2001.
And it was something that I had not heard of in medical school. So that was where it started for me, was trying to like understand what are these essential fatty acids healthy or not? Because I was reading opposite things about them, right? The standard medical literature was saying that omega-3 and omega-6 that are like the polyunsaturated fatty acids are these essential things, and then we just need to eat more of them than saturated fat.
And then I had run into scientists who were saying wait a second, really? There was never any evidence against saturated fat. And so that for [00:08:01] me was the question I needed to answer. I needed to resolve that argument in my mind. What is really, what is the type of fat that is causing heart attacks?
Is there a type, does fat even have anything to do with heart attacks? Because the whole argument against saturated fat rested on the idea that saturated fat clogs your arteries like hot grease in a cold pipe. And that is the whole foundation of modern nutrition science.
And so when I got to the answer to the question of actually no, saturated fat was never proven to cause heart attacks, and these polyunsaturates that we are now consuming in so large quantities, they seem to be the actual thing that is causing heart attacks these days.
And so it was a complete paradigm shift. [00:09:01] So that was like, okay everything I learned in medical school was wrong. And I was starting to find that the, not just the issue of fats were wrong. And this was all just for me to try to figure out, okay what is a healthy diet? What should I myself be eating? And then of course, the tantalizing revival of my original dream, going to medical school to be able to understand what people’s root causes were.
So I was like, maybe this is it, maybe this is what I’ve been looking for my whole life. And that’s why I was so driven to just keep researching and reading and willing to explode everything I had learned about nutrition in medical school. It turned out the other principals were also wrong, right?
There’s four things that doctors learn that are wrong. We learn cholesterol causes heart attacks, saturated fat clogs your arteries, salt causes [00:10:01] hypertension, and fat makes you fat in general. Oh, there’s a fifth thing, that your brain needs sugar, right? If you don’t get sugar in your diet, your brain is gonna run out of energy.
So all of those things are wrong. And so that kind of blew everything up. And then, so from there I was like, okay the obvious question, what should we be eating? And so then that’s the other part of it. That’s the other side of the story.
Saifedean Ammous: So tell us a little bit, first of all, about what are the things that you read that it’s changed your mind? What are the books that changed your mind on this?
Cate Shanahan: What changed my mind is different than what opened my mind. I’ll answer the question first. What changed my mind was actually a PhD thesis that, it was hard to find online because this was really before Google was very efficient, it was by an author who [00:11:01] had studied something called lipid peroxidation in vivo. That means what type of fatty acids spontaneously react with oxygen in living systems and turn into toxins? And because I had a biochemistry background, I went to Cornell for biochemistry, I was able to understand the diagrams of the molecules that are in her PhD thesis.
And so that convinced me. Once I saw that I was like, oh seed oils are bad, they’re the reason everyone is sick, they’re the thing that’s destroying our brains when we get Alzheimer’s. The thing that most likely causes cancer. They’re the thing that causes inflammation there, the seed oils are what suppresses your immune system, seed oils drive inflammation and every disease, every chronic disease people struggle with is related to [00:12:01] inflammation.
But it’s a kind of inflammation that is associated with just cellular complete mayhem, complete, like not it’s different than omega-3 and omega-6. And so there’s a lot in that article that taught me because a lot of people in the space of yeah saturated fats not bad, it’s seed oils that are bad, they focus on the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
And that is like probably a non-issue or a minimal, very minimal issue. It’s really about this essential chemistry of the polyunsaturated fatty acids that makes them toxic in a way that, like our body fat, they build up in our body fat and our body fat then becomes this source of additional toxins.
So it’s a [00:13:01] deterioration in our body of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which is just a disaster. We shouldn’t eat molecules that deteriorate inside us, and they deteriorate into toxins. The deterioration process is itself toxic the way that radiation is toxic, because it involves free radicals, these high energy particles that fly around and damage our DNA and just damage so many things inside ourselves.
So that one paper changed my life. It was a PhD thesis, 60 pages.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I think once you start, once you figure this out, you look back and you think, let’s see, all throughout human history, all of these modern diseases, they were basically a non-issue for most of the humans that have ever existed.
And then we start eating this industrial waste and suddenly these things become an issue. And the level of really [00:14:01] brainwashing, which is what the education in most universities today is, that is required for you to ignore this fact that humans had always eaten animal fats for all of their lives, and now they’re eating industrial waste and now they’re getting sick.
But it’s the animal fat that’s making them sick, it’s not the industrial waste. It’s so obvious once you figure it out, but really the amount of effort that goes into making this appear to be scientific. Then oh no saturated fats, they’re bad and they’re correlated with heart disease.
And the science has settled on this and we already know, and all of these government agencies and the American Heart Association and all of these organizations are just so set on it, and it’s truly astounding. And I think my listeners will see a lot of familiarities with that with economics.
I think nutrition and economics are two fields I’ve studied closely enough to know that basically what you learn [00:15:01] in a university is a load of nonsense. It’s very similar in economics, like we moved to this world where governments get to print unlimited amounts of money, and in that world we have unlimited inflation, and somehow you have to go to university to figure out, to be taught that these things are not related. And that inflation is just, it happens because of all kinds of crazy things taking place. Okay, the seed oils, that is basically like the the entrance of the rabbit hole.
And then you start questioning the rest of this stuff. So it turns out saturated fats themselves are not bad. What makes you think that? The science is settled. Saturated fats are bad for you. Why won’t you just listen to the science?
Cate Shanahan: What you said about university education is very true sadly, for a whole lot of stuff, but the one thing that they can’t take away from us [00:16:01] is math, right?
Two plus two equals four and algebra and calculus, and related to that kind of like hard science, chemistry and biochemistry. Nutrition science is a soft science, but biochemistry is a hard science and the biochemistry says that saturated fat is stable to free radical cascades, it does not get attacked by oxygen.
And that chemical fact about saturated fat means that it is essentially anti-inflammatory and it should be the bulk of what’s in our body fat, should be saturated or other stable fats like monounsaturated, which is relatively stable compared to polyunsaturated. The stuff that’s the most common, the highest concentration type of fatty acid in the seed oils, the hateful eight seed oils that I talk about.
Because it rhymes with [00:17:01] Dr. Cate, Dr. Cate’s Hateful Eight seed oils. So that’s the chemistry. The chemical fact is that oxygen will attack polyunsaturated fatty acids. And if you have too much polyunsaturated fatty acid in your body fat, then your body fat becomes a source of inflammation when your cells try and burn it. In other words, your body fat becomes this thing that when you try to burn it, makes you feel sick and tired. Then of course, when you try to burn your body fat to lose weight, you’re going to feel bad. When you try to burn your body fat between meals even, you might feel bad.
So it makes people overeat. It makes them feel bad in a specific way that makes you insanely hungry. But saturated fat is stable, and it’s like the antidote to all of [00:18:01] those problems with oxygen. It’s really oxygen that causes the problem with toxicity because oxygen, as much as we need it to breathe, we have to be able to control it when we breathe it in our bodies. And we have all these things, all these systems in place to make sure that oxygen stays under control.
It’s like if you have a stove in a kitchen, you don’t just want the entire kitchen to be flames. You want the stove top to be flamed, and you want to be able to turn that thing on and off and up and down exactly when you need it.
But when you have so much pufa in your body fat, little fires can start anywhere. And it is very similar to an explosion, a miniature explosion, oxygen reacting with polyunsaturated fatty acid, oxidizing. Oxygen is what causes fires, right? So we need to be able to control oxygen in our kitchen, in the stoves, we need to be able to [00:19:01] control oxygen in our bodies, in our bloodstream, in our body fat.
And we have systems in place for that. And the name of these systems is antioxidant enzyme systems. So if you’ve heard of antioxidants, then that’s part of the system. But when you have so much pufa in your body fat, you actually deplete your body.
Saifedean Ammous: Sorry, when you say pufa for just sorry to interrupt, but when you say poofy mean polyunsaturated fatty acids, right?
Cate Shanahan: Pufa is polyunsaturated fatty acid and yes, it comes from seed oils. Exactly, thank you. So yeah, when you have so much polyunsaturated fatty acid in your body fat you end up depleting your body’s ability to control oxygen, you lose control of oxygen.
And when that happens, your tissues will be subject to inflammation, seemingly randomly from time to time. And that is disease, that is chronic disease. That’s how [00:20:01] we get cancer, that’s how we get degenerative brain diseases.
That’s how we get auto-immune disease. So that’s how we get all of the modern chronic diseases, is oxygen getting out of control. And the fastest route to that sickly state is eating seed oils. There are other routes, right? If you’re extremely malnourished, if you don’t get anywhere near enough protein, anywhere near enough vitamins and minerals and all sorts of things like that.
So that’s how there have been some of these diseases throughout history, right? People have always occasionally been malnourished and developed similar diseases. But the reason we have this epidemic now is because the fastest route to chronic diseases is through seed oils. And they’ve taken over as the dominant fat in our food supply now, over the past 70 years.
Since Harvard and the American Heart Association started telling us to avoid saturated fat. [00:21:01] So whether you know it or not.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I traveled a lot all over the world and it’s truly astonishing for me when I find just how how pervasive this belief that you have to eat these industrial waste products and that the fats that all of your ancestors have been eating for thousands of years are bad for you.
It’s astonishing. You’d go to people in the wilds of the most isolated places where you would think, they wouldn’t be up to date on the latest science, but nope, the science of seed oils is good for you has penetrated everywhere. Grandma’s today, people think eat like your grandma, most people unfortunately, your grandma’s been psy opped, and you shouldn’t eat like your grandma.
You should eat likely like her grandma, if she’s around and if seed oils haven’t fried her brains yet, ask her what her grandma ate. Because if your [00:22:01] grandma’s around today, most likely she grew up eating seed oils as well. It’s astonishing. And you’d think, maybe it would be just in the U. S. that this is the case, but no it’s all over the world. These things continue to spread.
And yeah, you mentioned Harvard and of course, Harvard’s really probably the biggest villain when it comes to fake fiat science in the 20th century. So how did this elaborate prank of seed oils make its way into the human diet over the 20th century? Can you tell us a little bit about the story of how this stuff has been normalized?
Cate Shanahan: There’s a man who was notorious in the real nutrition world. His name is Ancel Keys and what he did, he worked back in the 1930s and 1940s and he was by all accounts and an egomaniac, and he just wanted his [00:23:01] name to get out there. And he wanted his name to get out there as the man who solved the mystery of heart attacks.
Because at this time in the late thirties and early forties, heart attacks were really exceedingly rare. And doctors could go their entire careers without seeing one, without seeing a single one. And so the problem was that doctors had already figured out that it was cigarette smoking, but Ancel Keys wanted everybody to forget that and listen to him instead.
And his idea was more captivating because he was like a great marketer. He created this image of, when I said earlier, hot grease in a cold pipe like congealing, that’s a quote from Ancel Keys. So what he says is saturated fat [00:24:01] congeals in your arteries like hot grease in a cold pipe.
And it just creates this image that sticks with you and is unfortunately a very effective meme that has infected everybody’s nutrition perception these days. But it was all just made up. And he actually knew, he had to know it was a lie because he was collecting data.
So he was a very influential person, he was an extremely good social engineer. He became friends with President Eisenhower’s personal cardiologist named Paul Dudley White and convinced this physician that saturated fat was the cause of heart attacks, not cigarettes. And Paul Dudley White never really let go of the cigarette thing because he did continue to [00:25:01] nag Eisenhower, he did continue to nag him about not smoking, but he was a four pack per day smoker, by the way.
And he had a heart attack in the 1940s. And his heart attack was what brought the fear of heart attacks to national attention. Nobody really had heard of one until, but the President had one and he was like in a hospital and basically inaccessible for six weeks, it was terrifying. He was a beloved President, people feared for his life. And so people just became terrified of heart attacks. And so this is why Ancel Keys wanted to be the white knight on the horse rushing to the rescue with his – saturated fat was a problem.
So he influenced Paul Dudley White, who was at Harvard, which is basically the pinnacle of medical education. If you’re at Harvard, and you say [00:26:01] anything about diet or nutrition, people are very likely to believe you because you’re at Harvard.
Saifedean Ammous: And economics, unfortunately.
Cate Shanahan: Yeah, and so that’s how he got Harvard on board. And then the other thing that he did was he was really good at raising money, and so he got Procter & Gamble to donate $1.7 million or $1.8 million, this is 1948, to the American Heart Association. Procter & Gamble, they sold seed oil. They sold cotton seed oil in the form of Crisco mostly.
Keys also had some relationship to the cigarette industry. In this man Keys, you have all the problems with nutrition because he didn’t want to just admit that cigarette smoking was what was causing heart attacks, had [00:27:01] nothing to do with diet, end of story. He wanted to make it a lot more complicated and make us all afraid of saturated fat, because he wanted to be the father of the diet heart hypothesis.
And he had his way because he is still lauded as this genius by Harvard and by TUFS and all of our most respected educational institutions that doctors blindly follow because it seems to make sense. And besides we all grew up hearing it, it has to be true.
Saifedean Ammous: Yes. In my book, The Fiat Standard, my latest book, I draw an analogy between the Ancel Keys and John Maynard Keynes.
Their names sound the same, and I think they they played a very similar role in economics in the respect of pseudosciences, I should say. They both popularized these ideas and they’re both treated as geniuses today. And I think this world isn’t going to be fixed until people come to terms with the fact that both of those people are [00:28:01] crooks, to put it mildly, you could also say criminals, I think. I think you could argue Ancel Keys has killed more people than anybody else.
Cate Shanahan: Oh, yes. I absolutely argue that all the time because he has. There’s nobody who could possibly have killed as many people as him, because for generations he’s been giving people heart attacks.
Saifedean Ammous: I think Karl Marx comes close, but I think Ancel Keys probably tips him to that title.
Cate Shanahan: He’s got a transgenerational effect. So it depends on how you count, like he did it, right? If you count like all the wars that maybe were started because of his Karl Marx’s way of thinking, yeah.
Maybe you could get close, but Ancel Keys, the numbers are in the billions, he’s still killing people today, billions, and this has been since 1950. Not to mention the fact that for 30 years he hid the data that he had. I didn’t bring this up yet, but Ancel Keys actually had [00:29:01] data linking cigarette smoking to heart attacks that he hid, and the American Heart Association never published anything negative about cigarettes until 1988, which was 30 years after he had the data collected.
So all of that, you can lay on Keys’ feet too.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, absolutely. And this is one of those things, whether it’s Keys or Keynes or I think in climate science, there’s a very large number of people that believe in the official story because they think of themselves as being scientific.
And yet it only takes very minimal digging. Once you just go beyond the press releases in the New York Times and the Harvard press releases that tell you what you should know, all of these summarizing science for the public, once you scratch under the surface of that immediately you see, hang on a second we can’t even look at the data.
It’s true in economics in many cases, it’s true in in nutrition, and it’s [00:30:01] definitely true in climate in many cases. And in Keys’ case of he did this thing called The Seven Countries Study, which is seven countries and he just drew a graph with seven countries, he picked the seven countries that he wanted, he eliminated I think he had another 10 countries, what was it, that he just didn’t include in the graph.
Cate Shanahan: Yeah, so there’s two studies with similar names and it’s very hard to sort them out. The first study where he handpicks, it was six, the first study that he did was much smaller.
It was called The Six Country Study. That was a preliminary study, laying the groundwork for the next huge study, which was then called The Seven Countries Study. That one was huge, had a lot of data points. But with the six country study, he visited 22 countries and plotted the data for 6 of the 22, because those were the six that sat nicely on the line of more saturated fat – more [00:31:01] heart attacks.
He had already hand-picked, he already kinda knew what countries to go to. And then he went to these seven countries and he still couldn’t actually prove that there was a link between, even though he hand picked the seven countries and spent 30 years trying to massage the data.
There’s a book called The Seven Country Study, when that was published and you read that, you see all over the place that it was more cigarettes than anything else. And cholesterol and saturated fat didn’t really seem to play a role all over the place, but in the intro and the very end where people are more likely to skim and read, you will see the hand of Ancel Keys.
There were multiple authors on this thing, so that’s how you can have one book disagreeing with itself. In some places that book does say, oh yeah, it’s of [00:32:01] course saturated fat, but they never cite any data. They never show any tables. Like you would think that either side would be showing tables, but there’s no tables in that book.
It’s all just statistical mumbo-jumbo that is extremely confusing for even, I’m not a statistician, but I’m a doctor and these statistical type of studies are created for doctors benefits. So we know what’s more “true” about nutrition. Statistics is the worst way to try and figure out nutrition.
But anyway, so the reason I’m bringing it up is because they could make it really simple. They could just show graphs because if it’s something that is really true, generally you don’t need sophisticated statistics, you could just use a simple graph. But they didn’t do that, they didn’t show any of that, they just do all this, controlling for this variable [00:33:01] and age adjusted and everything else where you just cannot possibly figure out what the real truth is. You just need to see the raw data, which they never show you.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. And I think today most sciences essentially are just statistics. A lot of a subject experts in nutrition or all kinds of fields, they like to pretend that there’s this secret esoteric knowledge that you need to get when you go and you spend five years in grad school, but really it’s just a bunch of statistics.
Most of these sciences, it’s all the same. They do statistics, and then once you actually study statistics you realize it’s optimized as a method of knowledge for being misrepresented.
It’s optimized for being able to basically lie with numbers. And the way that I see it is that, and what I mentioned in my book, The Fiat Standard is that with the [00:34:01] fiat scientific method, whoever gets to define the null hypothesis gets the answer that they want.
And so you start with a null hypothesis that saturated fats are bad for you, it’s basically impossible to make a statistical study that will disprove this in nutrition, almost. Because you can always make the data say what you want, just eliminate numbers or introduce confounding variables, or take out things that you call confounding variables, and then you’ll get the result that you want.
But then of course, the people who pay the scientists, the people who decide who gets funded are the ones who call the shots.
And so that’s why you can’t be a nutrition scientist, it’s astonishing when you think about it today, we’re in 2022, this stuff has been going on for 70 years, you’d think some nutritionist would get a clue. One of all of these tens of thousands of nutrition PhDs all over the planet [00:35:01] that are out there telling their poor patients to eat more industrial waste. You’d think one of them would look at the data and figure out maybe industrial waste is not good.
I’m sure many of them have, but they don’t get financed, they don’t get funded, they don’t get published, they don’t get promoted, they don’t get into the universities that get to have their press releases featured in the New York Times. And it’s astonishing when you look at where it’s gone.
And of course, it leads to this cultish behavior where people think, no this is what the science says, you can’t be right. Okay you’re an MD, what do you know about nutrition? You should stick to just talking to your patients and listening to what the nutrition scientists say, and that’s it.
As long as you get to call the shots of who gets to be an authority, then you can make anything sound scientific, even eating [00:36:01] industrial waste.
Cate Shanahan: And doctors have more knowledge than they’re generally given credit for about nutrition science. And I just want to point this out because a lot of dieticians say that doctors don’t learn anything about nutrition and they say, oh yeah at most you have a one hour course on nutrition.
But the reality is that everything that a dietician learns about nutrition, you can learn in a weekend. Most of what they are learning is just some basic physiology, and then whatever else they need to do, like which calculation they’re going to do to calculate exactly how many calories and a lot of stuff that now we have apps for, so you don’t really need it anyway.
And I’m not saying that dieticians aren’t intelligent people, I’m saying that doctors should not accept this premise that they didn’t learn anything about nutrition. [00:37:01] Because here’s what we do learn, and let me just lay this out, nutrition includes the physiology involved in converting the food that you eat into your body, and that we learn a great deal of.
That’s all the basic science like cell physiology and organ physiology, and we do learn a great deal of how protein is metabolized, how carbohydrates are metabolized, even how fats are metabolized and distributed throughout the body. And what organs need fat or how we fuel. We do learn a lot.
And yet we still allow ourselves to be led by the nose by the statisticians who run the diet studies. So we know we don’t really understand statistics, we also have a course on statistics, but you can take a lot of statistics and you still can be confused on purpose by [00:38:01] statistical based papers, because like you said, statistics is almost a science that seems to be created to hide reality.
Saifedean Ammous: I agree entirely.
Cate Shanahan: So that’s why I just like saying, hey if something seems like, you can’t figure out, that it’s not that obvious that you really need statistics to figure it out, it’s probably not true. And that’s why in the Fat Burn Fix, I show the one piece of statistics that I think all of us need to pay attention to, which is a graph of how much seed oil we used to eat a hundred years ago and how much seed oil we eat now, it correlates completely with our rates of type two diabetes and pre-diabetes.
There’s a perfect correlation and there is no such correlation with any other nutrition variable, [00:39:01] including carbohydrates and sugars, including red meat, including saturated fat, it all comes down to the seed oils, which is to say polyunsaturated fatty acids, because that’s mostly what they are.
That’s the one piece of data that we need, and it’s not sophisticated statistics. You can be five and you can understand that something’s going on there with those parallel lines.
Saifedean Ammous: But this is the thing. If you study statistics, if you study nutrition, if you go to graduate school, it’s essentially an indoctrination camp where they make you look at this and say, oh no, correlation is not causation.
And it can’t be that simple. And here’s a whole bunch of other data and a whole bunch of other graphs for why actually it’s really the butter and the saturated fat that’s making you sick and you should continue to buy industrial waste from our sponsors.
Cate Shanahan: I wanted to get a degree in public health, a master’s in public health, but at least half of all the courses [00:40:01] that I would have had to take was statistics.
And I just, I couldn’t do that because you don’t need statistics to know what you should be eating. You just need to open your eyes and really you just need to open your mind, right? There’s a thing from the new Pope, I love that saying God is a mind that opens because that’s where all possibility begins.
And if you don’t have an open mind, nothing can be done, you can’t learn anything. We already know everything we need to know about nutrition. We have the science, we have boatloads of scientific books that tell us exactly what to eat, except that we don’t call them science books, we call them cookbooks.
And if you look at cookbooks from before Ancel Keys, you are finding everything you need to know. You’re finding the [00:41:01] instructions for building a healthy human body. Chefs naturally, people who like to cook, we have tastes for fat and salt and protein and bitterness and sour and sweet for a reason. Because when you’re working with real food, you will want a balance of all of those things.
And that will guide you to food that tastes good. When you’re working with real food, it will guide you to nutrition. The more flavor a food has, the more nutrition it has. And we are so used to not having nutrition in this country, that we are disgusted by flavor and nutrition in the form of liver, right?
If you grew up eating liver, you developed a more sophisticated palette, your brain [00:42:01] is more able to recognize nutrition than if you didn’t grow up eating liver. And if you grew up eating liver and it was introduced to you in a nice way, a proper way, you crave liver. If it was forced fed down, just like anything, you probably don’t have such a great relationship with it.
But my point is we are creatures of nature and we need to know that nature is science. Nature is science, when we are doing science, we are investigating nature. Only the real sciences do this, statistics doesn’t count, but botany and ecology and meteorology, yeah one of your favorites probably.
And certainly physiology and [00:43:01] chemistry. Those are all investigations of the workings of nature and attempt to better understand nature, which is our parent.
And when we do something like say food that tastes good is never a good for you, we need to realize that we are saying nature made a big mistake in making us like salty, buttery steak and with bone stock gravy or caramelized onions, which are salty and buttery. We are saying that we are smarter than nature, which is to say we are smarter than actual science.
It is a statement that should never be made. You should blow up if you ever say it.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I think if you look at most of these sciences, so it’s definitely true in economics and in [00:44:01] nutrition, there was a long human tradition for thousands of years where people had studied this question and tried to come at answers of what is it that we need to do in order to make this thing better.
And then the 20th century comes along and we throw all of that away and we replace it with a bunch of statistics. Statistics that are financed by corporate sponsors who want specific answers. And it’s true in economics, it’s true in nutrition, it’s true in all kinds of things. It doesn’t matter, all of the thousands of years of wisdom that had been accumulated, they all get thrown out the window because some severely malnourished statisticians usually, they have the data and they run the numbers and they do all kinds of wizardry.
And then they conclude that yeah, all of the ancestors that had to be healthy enough to have each other and then bring you into existence, they were all wrong and you need [00:45:01] to eat our corporate sponsors industrial waste in order for you to be healthy.
Cate Shanahan: Right, and ignore all those thousands of cookbooks that people have been publishing that each recipe actually is an instruction, a little piece of the instruction manual for building a healthy human.
And if you don’t want to read thousands of cookbooks, I compiled like the base recipe of what does a healthy diet look like in Deep Nutrition and came up with four foundational principles which are the strategies that people all around the world used to convert the resources of nature, the nutrition from their environment into food that they can eat to inform their DNA how to build a healthy human.
So we have the science of why cookbooks from before 1948 [00:46:01] are actually a wonderful resource of nutrition. These are nutrition textbooks. This is what nutritionist should be studying. Or forget that, they should just be chefs, right? Nutritionists were chefs. Chefs were the original nutritionists, the people who could cook, because the foods that they made tasted good, our DNA came to expect that same combination of chemicals, the same combination of nutrients, our DNA came to expect that.
And so that informs the DNA inside each one of ourselves and how to run the cell properly. And if that you don’t get that blend of chemical instructions on how to run a cell properly, that’s when you get disease, that’s the deficiency angle of disease.
There’s two ways to get disease, nutritional deficiency and toxicity. And so seed oils are a convenient handy pack containing both. They have [00:47:01] almost no nutrition, most of the vitamins have been stripped out, all of the minerals have been stripped out, and when they come out of the factory they have toxins in the bottle.
And then when you cook with them, the toxins multiply because of those interactions with oxygen that I was talking about earlier. And I do explain all this in both of my books, if you’re curious about how, this is like the math of the body, right?
Understanding the polyunsaturated fatty acids and how oxygen destroys them and turns them into an enemy of the state when they’re in your body is the mathematics that you need to understand nutrition science. That right there is so important. So that’s the toxicity part of it, and then the nutrient deficiency part of it, we get that too because we’re told to eat so much processed food, of course, but [00:48:01] starchy stuff, we’re told to eat a lot of fruit. They always say fruit and vegetables, right?
What’s easier, peeling a banana or taking kale and de stemming it and giving it a nice little massage they do in restaurants, that’s how they make kale salads in restaurants. They actually massage it and it releases some enzymes and softens it, it’s kinda cool.
But anyway, it’s a lot harder than peeling a banana. So my point, people eat a lot more fruit, which is way less nutritious than vegetables. So there’s all kinds of ways in which our nutritional paradigm turns us towards toxins and away from nutrition. And all we need to do is open our minds to the possibility that that is wrong.
Throw that out, and then where do you go from there? You know what I mean? That can be a difficult journey for a lot of people because, I tell you, I get letters every day from [00:49:01] people who are like okay I buy it that seed oils are bad, but then this guy over here says we should never eat fruit or that we need to eat a lot of honey, or we need to avoid lectins.
And then you have all the noise and the chatter about, okay so if saturated fat isn’t bad, and everything that my doctor tells me is wrong, then what’s true? Now we have no foundational principle.
Saifedean Ammous: And that’s where Weston Price comes in. We draw the analogy between Ancel Keys and John Maynard Keynes, and I also make the analogy in my Fiat Standard book, between Weston Price and the Ludwig von Mises. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Ludwig von Mises, but he’s like the Weston Price of economics. So you go to university, you never hear about Weston Price in your nutrition department or in your medical school.
Similarly, you never hear about Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian school and what they [00:50:01] have is just, it’s almost like a parallel reality. These books that exist out there with an enormous amount of sense, where you read them and it just blows your mind and you understand how the world actually works. And everybody at the university is just snickering at the, ah this guy’s already, he’s too old and it’s already been discredited.
Tell us a little bit more about Weston Price. I’m personally a big Weston Price fanboy.
Cate Shanahan: I am too. I borrowed his book from the library, it was a 1948 copy of his book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. And I fell in love with him as soon as I saw the line in the book where he said health in its fullness is nature obeyed.
What that sentence does, health in its [00:51:01] fullness is nature obeyed, is it tells you what is his core value. And his core value is exactly my core value, which is nature is science, science is nature. You can’t separate the two.
And so to obey nature is to eat what’s good for us. And that means to obey your human nature and to trust it when something tastes good, that it’s probably good for you if it came from nature, right? Problem now is we have so much food that does not come from nature.
Everything in the middle aisles of your grocery store does not come from nature. And even the stuff on the edges isn’t so great anymore. But Weston Price, the reason I love him is because he made that statement and that clear foundational principle, which I think is the basis for the rest of nutrition science.
If you can’t agree with that, you shouldn’t be talking about nutrition. You should go away. Blow up, I’m going to blow up a lot of [00:52:01] people! So Weston Price was actually a dentist, and back in the day, dentists were surgeons. They did massive orofacial surgery and it was a big deal to get a tooth pulled because when he was working, there was really no anesthesia except for chloroform and ether, which would kill people sometimes.
Just simply getting a tooth pulled was an extremely painful or dangerous process. And he took it seriously, he was distraught about how crooked people’s teeth were. And he had this super important thought, which is wait a second, I’ve been hunting and I’ve seen other animals teeth, he was hunting in the Backwoods of Canada for an extended period of time, and he saw the teeth of a lot of different animals, everything that he killed that had teeth.
And he observed that they were [00:53:01] all straight and didn’t see any cavities either. And he was like, why would people be prone to these problems when no other animal in nature, eating its preferred natural diet, gets crooked teeth and serious cavities.
His null hypothesis was this stuff that I’m seeing as a dentist and all this suffering that I’m putting people through with pulling teeth and doing surgery to deal with bone infections and stuff that would happen from small, they didn’t have antibiotics either, so there was a lot of infectious disease in dentistry and all of the suffering that he was putting people through and death and losses.
His null hypothesis was, this can all be prevented and all I need to do is figure out what is, I need a control [00:54:01] group. So what he was saying is that the same exact thing that I say in my talk at The Future of Fat Summit, which I hope that you can link to that because I think it’s a great summit and there’s a lot of great information there, but my talks about it are I think important to understand. Because I’m saying the same thing in that talk, that right now we are in the midst of a massive experiment.
And that’s essentially what Weston Price was saying is that all this stuff and what he called the foods of modern commerce, I love his like fuddy-duddy way of talking, meaning the refined flours and sugars and canned meats and stuff like that, those foods of modern commerce were bringing us disease somehow.
And his hypothesis was if I find a group of healthy humans somewhere, then I can start to understand. What a healthy diet really looks like. And [00:55:01] so he set out, like in his middle age, like hefty not in super shape person, set out to take a global world tour, before airplanes were really much of a thing.
This was in the thirties and forties to all the most remote places of the world to find people who had not been, their diets had not been disturbed by the foods of modern commerce, that were still living the way people had lived for thousands of years. And what he found was, he basically proved his hypothesis correct.
When you go to these places, so he actually went to Hawaii where I was living when I heard about him, he went to Alaska, he went to the Maasai in Africa, he went to somewhere in Europe, Switzerland. He went to a total of 11 places. And in all of these places, in Peru yes, [00:56:01] in all of these places he found that the people had straight teeth and that’s what he was looking for.
And oh by the way, so here’s where it gets really cool, one of the chapters that I’m the most proud of in Deep Nutrition is that having straight teeth isn’t just a convenience, it means that you grew in harmony with the physics of the universe. Isn’t that cool? And how does it mean that?
It has to do with the Fibonacci sequence and this constant unit of the universe called Phi spelled Phi, that helps growth occur in a way that enables, maybe you probably understand this better than I do, because it helps like people create fractals and stuff. It’s recursive growth and it’s essential to [00:57:01] normal growth because we don’t think about this as being so complicated, but your hand has to be the same proportion at your every size, right?
So when you’re a baby, you have to be able to create a fist like this so that your fingers are all just about equal. So you don’t have one that’s 10 times longer, and you create an inefficient fist. You won’t have any strength.
So just the growth of a hand is a miracle and it’s not entirely directed by your DNA. In fact, very little of it is directed by your DNA. Most of it is the physics of the universe, the fabric of spacetime and all that cool stuff, that creates ripples in the water and sand dunes and all these patterns that we see in nature over and over again, spirals and stuff like this.
[00:58:01] When Price was looking at these folks who had straight teeth, he also, and he made note of this, was looking at people with beautiful faces that had high cheek bones and broad foreheads, and oh, by the way, they also had perfect vision.
And oh by the way, they didn’t get sinus infections or ear infections, cause there are passages on these little things that drain your sinuses and drain your ears, grew properly and they drain properly. So they weren’t prone to infections and they were physically strong and physically attractive. And this is one of the most controversial things I talk about in deep nutrition, about beauty.
It isn’t just in the eye of the beholder. Sure, we have tastes. Gentlemen apparently prefer blondes, but actual real beauty is the same in every culture, [00:59:01] because whether you’re African-American or Native American or Caucasian American or Eskimo or wherever, your face has this same geometry when you are healthy, when you have straight teeth, you didn’t need any teeth pulled to be straight and you don’t need glasses and your ear canals are straight and everything.
You have the same facial geometry, your skin color might be different, there might be like slight different size of your nose, but you’re just tweaking the formula. You’re tweaking the same formula. And this formula was discovered by, the formula for a perfect face is what I’m talking about, was discovered by another maxillofacial surgeon dentist, just like Price, who created a formula for the perfect face based on Fibonacci.
And you can look him up. His name is Stephen Marquardt, and his work as [01:00:01] fascinating. But to me that’s where a healthy diet borders on the miraculous. Sure, we’re just talking about butter is good for you, and you should save the bone scraps and make soup. That’s where we’re turning, we’re creating the building blocks for life.
And I think it’s really an amazing thing. So just beyond that it’s good for you, it makes you live longer, it’s somehow more important, it seems more important than all that to me.
Saifedean Ammous: I agree. I just want to add a couple of interesting notes about Weston Price, which is I think it was, what he did is probably a unique and unrepeatable experiment that’s never going to be done again.
Because he did this at the time when the airplane was first invented and at a time where there were still places in the world that were still isolated, where the airplane had [01:01:01] not invaded significantly. And so people in those parts of the world were extremely isolated from the rest of the world.
But the amazing thing about it, and this is why it’s really proper science, not like the current number molesters that call themselves scientists. He would go to say Eskimo populations or Inuit with populations in the north of Canada, and he would visit an Inuit population that is completely isolated or almost entirely isolated, they’d be very genetically similar to a population that lives a few hundred kilometers away from them, but the other population is integrated into modern trade.
And so you have two very genetically similar populations. One of them is isolated and still eating the things that they’ve been eating for thousands of years. And the other one is trading with Europeans and therefore they’ve for the last 20 or 30 or 50 years, they’d been eating flour, sugar and grains that are prepared [01:02:01] in the modern industrial way.
And he would show you pictures of it too, and he took a camera with him and he took samples of their food and he sent it to his lab back in, I think it was in Ohio, and he analyzed the content of the food, the nutrient content in the food, and he would analyze the differences in the picture.
He’d count, he’d go to the population, he’d count how many rotten teeth are there in the entire population. And it’s just astounding. Like you look at the pictures in the book and the book is amazing and you can find the whole book online for free if you Google it. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, it’s an incredible book, I highly recommend it.
And you can see the pictures and they’re just mind blowing. Immediately you tell the difference, Inuit populations you’d think you wouldn’t be able to see much of a difference between two similar tribes that are living in the north of Canada. And yet you look at the pictures and one of them is just, they look like they’re from a magazine photo shoot.
They look glamorous almost. Their face is [01:03:01] shiny, their teeth are nice, their smiles are big, their jaws are wide. And the other population, they’ve been invaded with all of this food, and so they have all these health problems, their teeth are bad and labor is bad for their women and all kinds of things that you think of as just a normal part of life only appear in the population that was eating all this bad food.
Cate Shanahan: Well we’ve lowered the bar on health, right? Now we’ve normalized wearing glasses and kids needing braces and teeth pulled, I need a teeth pulled. And we’ve normalized caesarean sections, which, somewhere around 25% to 30% of all births now are by, unnatural births are by caesarean section because the woman’s body does not properly respond to hormones or her pelvis isn’t wide enough. That would’ve killed [01:04:01] a species, right? That’s how species go extinct.
So we’re kind of in that phase right now, where we’re watching ourselves go extinct. This is what happens. That’s what these chronic diseases are, and these fundamental changes to our physiology that interfere with basic functions like vision. I need glasses.
Without glasses. I wouldn’t be able to function. Just because we have created an accommodation for a health problem doesn’t mean we should be accepting that health problem as unpreventable. And what I’m saying, and I say this in Deep Nutrition is we should think of a healthy [01:05:01] baby as a lot more than just 10 fingers and 10 toes.
We want that child to be able to excel in life and at sports and you need good connective tissue, you need to have everything built right. And we don’t even know what built right means anymore, because just the very idea of suggesting that it is going to change the way you look is controversial and politically incorrect.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. And this is a fascinating part of your book, which I had not even considered before reading your book, Deep Nutrition. You look at essentially nutrition as a multi-generational thing and you see that when people eat well, their kids look attractive. It’s an extremely controversial thing to say in this world where everybody is beautiful and gets a participation trophy.
The reality is no, we’re not all equally beautiful. Some people are more beautiful than others, and it does seem food [01:06:01] plays a big part in it. So give us your low down on how to make your kids beautiful.
Cate Shanahan: We’ll start with the four pillars of the human diet. These are strategies that people use to extract nutrition from their edible resources in their environment.
So the first is fresh food. So when people eat fish, a lot of times they don’t even cook it. When people, dairy cultures drink milk, it’s definitely not pasteurized. These days we think of fresh food only in the vegetable world. But of course, we should also be thinking of it in the animal world too.
And then if you have too much fresh food, you gotta preserve it. So you, what do you do? You ferment it, and fermented foods are a way of preserving the fresh. So that’s what cheese is. So you want have fermented foods that are basically [01:07:01] fast foods, right? That is your healthy fast food, cheese, pastrami, and all those salted, cured meats. Those are the original fast foods.
And all you have to do is take a slice or two, and that’s a meal. And that’s so easy. If you can get stuff that you like that tastes good. So that’s one aspect of fermentation, there’s another that benefits, the living aspect of it, like yogurt where you have the live bacteria in there that help support your microbiome.
And then fermented also comes along with the second pillar, is sprouts. Both of those are things that work with nature, so you’ll sprout beans before you cook them. And sprouting doesn’t mean turning them into a sprout, it means soaking them for long enough for a little root lit to start to form and the germination process begins, and that enables you to cook it faster.
And you lose less vitamins that way, and it also enhances the nutrition of [01:08:01] it. So that’s the second one. The third is meat on the bone. So you want to have you want to save the bones and you want to use the skin and all the joint material after you eat say a turkey dinner, or chicken. Anything with bones in it. Save those bones in your freezer and make stock out of them because you extract nutrients when you make stock, that don’t exist anywhere else in the animal world.
And that are good for your connective tissue in your joints. And if you don’t want to feel your age when you’re 75, you need good connective tissue. These things are essential for that. And then the last pillar is, everybody goes, ugh this one, which is organ meats. So liver and everything.
If you look at the original Joy of Cooking, she’s got recipes in there that include like lung and [01:09:01] thymus gland and brain, tripe, stomach, things that people don’t even know what they are anymore. And each individual animal organ is a little repository of a sliver of the rainbow of nutrition that we need to eat.
One little color on the spectrum, it is packed into each organ. It’s just got a whole different blend of nutrients that we need, that muscle meat which is what we mostly eat now, doesn’t have. Muscle meats good for you, but it’s just mostly protein and some minerals and a few vitamins, but we need all these other organs.
So that’s like the big picture of it, and how do you get that? Well look at some either old cookbooks or just go to Tik Tok, and you can type in old Chinese lady and you’ll see this lady that [01:10:01] is basically squatting in front of a stream making this gourmet dinner.
So cultures around the world, everywhere but America basically, you will find little ladies mostly now who are upholding this like sacred flame of nutritional knowledge, of culinary knowledge and how to use the whole animal. So just watch cooking shows, watch cooking shows like Regional Eats, that’s a really good one. That’s all over Europe. And then there’s one in China called Flavorful Origins, and it’s amazing. It’ll blow your mind what people eat in different regions of
Saifedean Ammous: I’m a big fan of organ meat. I eat a lot of organ meat and I used to eat this even when I used to eat garbage food, I used to enjoy organ meat. My favorite dish has always been raw lamb liver. It’s absolutely delicious.
Cate Shanahan: Did [01:11:01] you grow up eating that stuff, or how did that happen?
Saifedean Ammous: Not quite grow up, but around the time when I got into college, I did my college in Lebanon and it’s a huge thing in Lebanon. They eat a lot of raw organ meats in Lebanon. And this is why on top of the tips that you gave, the Lebanese are spread out all over the world.
And so wherever you are, you probably have a Lebanese butcher within driving distance from you. So look him up and go to him, become his friend and tell him, I want you to teach me the dark arts of Lebanese organ meats. Because I think the Lebanese butchers have an incredible talent for preparing it. And not just the Lebanese, like from all over the middle east, Syrian, Palestinian, Jordanian they have an excellent talent for preparing those organs really well.
So liver is great raw. One problem with it is that it comes wrapped in that membrane and many people when they try and eat it raw, they eat the membrane and the membrane is not ideal to eat, but you have to know how to peel it. And your [01:12:01] Lebanese butcher will peel it for you perfectly and then cut it into small pieces and then put in some chunks of tiny fat with it, which is just something else, very highly recommended.
The thymus gland as well is an incredible delicacy. I think it’s the most expensive part of the lamb I think here I was talking to a butcher the other day, they told me it would cost about $70 to get a kilogram of that. It’s the most expensive part of the sheep because there’s only tiny bits of it and you have to collect them from many sheep in order to make a kilogram.
And it’s something that, it’s always been they call it royal food. It’s something that the Kings would eat.
Cate Shanahan: It’s like the saffron of organ meats I guess.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, exactly. Most people get disgusted by this. And I think generally this is not going to be very popular thing for me to say, but I think if you find yourself disgusted from the idea of [01:13:01] eating organ meats, you’re probably malnourished.
Cate Shanahan: Yeah, no doubt really. But the thing is that, the seed oils play so many roles in making us unhealthy, one of them is that they numb our taste a little bit and they drive us towards sugar. They make us metabolically dependent on sugar, which has a devastating impact on your relationship with food.
I’m talking about not just taste, but like your emotional relationship with food, you become metabolically addicted to sugar. And that is what the fat burn fix is really all about, is how do we fix that metabolic addiction to sugar? Because it’s very hard to lose weight without being able to, you can’t lose weight without burning your body fat.
But when you’ve been on a seed oil diet, your body fat makes you feel sick and tired when you try to burn it. So you’re stuck, right? And so you need to know where’s the escape button here. And so that’s what Fat Burn [01:14:01] Fix does, it gives you that escape button.
But part of it is you realizing that you are addicted to sugar. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, you probably have are a carboholic. If you have a major weight problem, probably one of those two apply. And it’s not your natural taste, it’s not your natural inclination. You’re not destined to always be struggling to not eat the sugar that you crave all the time.
That was me, I was a terrible sugar holic. I would eat an entire bag of those pound bags of peanut M&M’s, I would go on a 10 mile run just so I could do that, and I was a major sugar holic.
Saifedean Ammous: You can’t outrun a bad diet. That’s a very important thing.
Cate Shanahan: No, you cannot. I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know that it wasn’t just about the calories. I had a [01:15:01] skinny roommate from the Philippines interestingly, who grew up eating very differently than me. She didn’t crave, she said, I had a conversation where she said, I would much rather have another serving of steak than have chocolate. And to me that was like, you’re not even human, I’m sorry. I cannot relate.
Saifedean Ammous: My kind of gal,
Nathan: But now I I understand, I can not eat every piece of chocolate in the house now and I never thought I would be that way. And that’s because I got myself unaddicted to carbs, by getting seed oils out of my diet and healthy fats in, and a few other things that really help you recover from your from what the seed oil does to you and your metabolism.
Saifedean Ammous: I really think it is the most impactful food change that you could do. I’ve had my mother-in-law come stay with us once and she didn’t change [01:16:01] anything in her diet, it’s just that when she came here we didn’t have seed oils, so she had to cook with our ghee and she just felt like a totally different human being.
And she lost weight and she started feeling great. Only thing that she changed was that she just started cooking with ghee instead of seed oils. She changed that, yeah. Now one very important point, going back to Weston Price, I think when he first went on this, his hypothesis was that he thought that ideal health, he’s going to find these kind of noble savages who are eating the ideal Garden of Eden diet. And in his mind, because he was raised on early 20th century American propaganda, that ideal diet would be vegetarian or vegan.
And then his own experience showed him the opposite. He found, the most important conclusion I take from that book, which I think people like the Weston Price [01:17:01] Foundation don’t emphasize this enough I find, is meat. Is all of those cultures everywhere in the world, all of their diet was based around meat.
And to the extent that they ate plants, they ate plants as primarily a mechanism for ingesting animal fats. What are your thoughts on this? How important is meat and how harmful is absence of meat?
Cate Shanahan: Meat is essential. We need a lot of protein, and it’s very difficult to get enough protein without meat.
And there’s also nutrients in animals that just don’t exist in plants. Like actual real vitamin A, vitamin B12, long chain omega-3 fatty acids. But it’s just, it’s the intensity of nutrition that is easily digested by our digestive system. It’s just our digestive system was designed to be like [01:18:01] minimal.
That’s why carnivores have slim waists. Gorillas have potbelly waists, where they sit around eating vegetables all the time. You need a massive digestive tract to extract nutrition from plants. You have to be eating all the time and you need a very sophisticated digestive process.
Cows have six stomachs with different types of organisms in every single one, each one doing a different job. I like to say this, that we all are, really all of us, even herbivores are carnivores because your digestive system is taking plants as the raw material and fermenting it. Fermenting plants into more nutritious byproducts of tiny animals, bacteria.
[01:19:01] When the cow eats grass, all the nutrition that it’s getting is coming from basically dead bacterial bodies, right? Because the grass and the cud that the cows chewed is the slurry that bacteria live on.
And the bacteria is what’s really nourishing the cow. The bacteria have the capacity to create a lot more different types of nutrients and vitamins and everything they need. And so biology’s smart, we don’t have the capacity to make a lot of vitamins because we eat bacteria, or we eat foods that did.
Or cows, if you’re an herbivore, you just are basically eating the bacteria that know how to make all these important vitamins. So there really is no such thing as an herbivore. [01:20:01]
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I agree. What are your thoughts on the carnivore diet? I’ve been eating meat only for six and a half years. And this is a growing trend. I presume you’re not a carnivore, you still eat plants. What do you think of that?
Cate Shanahan: It’s just that I like taste of, I got like garlic and I like even oils. Like sesame oil. Carnivore is a little boring for me. I just love food. I like all different kinds of foods. I like carrots, I like crunchy things. And I do though, I think of vegetables as a thing to make your meat more interesting, really. That’s really how I think of it. And that includes spices, I love all the Indian spices and Asian spices and stuff like that.
To me, that’s a logical way for other people to think of like, your diet [01:21:01] could really honestly be mostly animal products. I have a lot of dairy too. So I don’t know, some carnivores include dairy, some carnivore doesn’t, but I love cheese, don’t take away my cheese. And so I need that, but cheese, dairy products, eggs and meat are the foundation of what I eat every day.
And then for variety, I use different plants because they have different flavors and different cooking techniques too. But I actually read, I have a copy of the Oxford World Encyclopedia of Food, and it occurred to me one day to look up what are the origin of spices? Like where did that originate from, what was the first spice?
And basically I was a little disillusioned, but this makes sense, to find that [01:22:01] spices were really, they think originally created to make meat that didn’t taste good, that sat around too long, palatable. So I’m still using it the same way, to make meat taste better. But I thought there would be a more like exotic beginning of spices, but it was really just so we could eat garbage.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I’ll make the case for carnivore, I think putting vegetables with the meat is an insult to meat. I get the idea of boring, but here’s the thing, here’s the trap, if you try and do carnivore for one month, initially it might feel a little bit weird, but after a month or two months or so then you completely shift your mentality around food, from food being entertainment and food being about flavor and about enjoyment and you just relish and enjoy the idea that you can get your food [01:23:01] done, prepared and cooked.
You do your shopping very quickly, you do your cooking very quickly, you eat and you get full and then the entertainment and the fun is what you can do with your body because you are healthy enough to be constantly on meat. And I think feeling like you need your entertainment from your food is probably an indication that you’re not getting good enough food and you’re not getting good enough entertainment.
Cate Shanahan: That’s definitely one way to look at it. There’s definitely a lot of validity to that, but I think you’re, the carnivore diet, you’re doing a disservice, but I’m sure it can be very delicious.
It’s just that you have to grow up with, you have to have more variety. Honestly where I live in Florida, I just cannot get the variety and it’s just easier to get plants. And I would love to be able to try it, it’s just I can’t get it. I can’t get the good quality grass fed [01:24:01] stuff.
And then I also can’t really get recipes. I wanted to get like traditional recipes on, that’s why I’ve been watching some of these shows like Flavorful Origins and with all the weird stuff that they eat in China and how they basically just use a cleaver and chop anything up and put it in like a wok with some oil and then stir fry for a few seconds and add water.
That’s basically most of the cooking in one entire region of China. Take a cleaver to anything. You’ll be eating the whole animal, and then they put in peppers, is one of the most commonly used things, some red pepper, some salt and maybe a little bit of panko. And they’ll put any kind of animal product into that, and then all the kids will gather around it, eat with chopsticks and everybody smiles.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I’ve had Dr. Shawn Baker on the show and I’m good friends with Shawn for a very long time. His [01:25:01] brand of carnivores consists of eating steaks only all the time. And really ribeye is the best food that you can have.
And it almost feels like you’re really cheating in life when somebody tells you, you can have ribeye all the time, whenever you want, as much as you want, and you don’t have to have anything else. And it really is like cheating, and it’s the healthiest thing that you can do.
And a lot of people, a lot of carnivores really swear by it. And that’s when you snap out of the idea that you need the variety and the entertainment and all that stuff. No, you don’t. Once you’ve tried the best thing, you don’t need to supplement it with inferior things.
Cate Shanahan: See, my natural inclination is well, nobody in history did just limit it that much. So it could be a little bit dangerous, that you could be missing something and it might be, you have to go like two generations before you find out what. So that’s just where I just, based on the science of it, but we don’t have anything to prove it wrong. Could be correct, it could be just [01:26:01] fine.
Saifedean Ammous: We have thousands of people on Facebook groups that are doing it and have been thriving for many years. We’ve got people who’ve been doing it for decades, whole families. So it’s, I think the idea that there’s something missing is something that I’ve asked a lot of people over the years. All right, people tell me you’re crazy, how can you not eat plants? All right, what am I missing? Carrots, kale, nobody’s ever had a kale deficiency.
Cate Shanahan: It’s important to point out, and this is like a yes and, it’s important to point out that our RDA, like the recommended daily allowance of all vitamins, it was just created by statisticians. It was just, they did a survey of what are people eating and on average. So it was just like, they just said okay let’s take the two standard deviations and let’s just call that the requirement.
We really don’t know if you, you’re not going to get a lot of vitamin C, if you just eat ribeye, but we really don’t know if you [01:27:01] need vitamin C, if maybe you only need it if you’re eating a lot of fruit. We don’t know, so yeah. So I’m not against it, I just don’t strongly recommend it, just because I have that hesitation of, well vegans make the same argument.
I’ve been on vegan and I have some kind of unusual metabolism, that enables me to feel great on a vegan diet for 40 years or 70 years or whatever. But I’ll believe it when it’s been going on for three generations and your children are getting healthier as they go. So that’s for me, what I’m going to need.
Saifedean Ammous: But I think the key difference here is that there’s never been a record of a third generation vegan anywhere. We don’t have any record of any person being third generation vegan, but we have many records of hundreds of generations of carnivores, the healthiest people that Weston Price ran into where the Inuits who were [01:28:01] living on only meat, they live in the north of Canada. They have a growing season of about 15 minutes.
And so they don’t get any plants and the Maasai.
Cate Shanahan: I’m sorry. Yeah, I wasn’t talking about the carnivore diet where you’re inclusive of all the organs, totally that makes perfect sense. If people can do that, that’s great. But don’t forget to use, make some bone stock, save the bones and stuff like that.
I was only talking about the part of it where it’s just eat steak. That part makes me worry, but I am not at all worried about just like a full-on nose to tail bone marrow included, multi floriferous, multiorgan version of carnivores, sorry to cut you off.
I just wanted to make sure that that’s what I was talking about when I was saying I’m a little cautious was just the steak only version.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, I want to shift gears [01:29:01] now. We were enjoying talking about all the fun meat and bones stuff, but let’s get back to the darker side of nutrition and modern 20th century statistics based stuff.
What are your thoughts on money in medicine and how this is organized?
Cate Shanahan: Yeah. There are no checks and balances in the medical system and there should be. We routinely sell people on the idea of getting coronary bypasses when there’s very little evidence for that practice. A coronary bypass involves cracking open your chest, diverting your blood through a machine, a machine pumps your blood instead of your heart, putting your heart on ice.
Literally it put ice cubes in there so it’ll stop beating and stripping out veins from your legs or the memory of vein from your chest and [01:30:01] sewing it into your heart. Like a plumbing bypass or some sort of bad HVAC job, to just bypass the artery that is clogged. And the only people that we have evidence that actually saves lives in is people who have heart failure, who are very unhealthy, their heart is failing.
The heart doesn’t squeeze properly, but yet every day around the world now probably on tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of these procedures are performed on people who don’t need it, because how are you going to know if that little shadow there really is what your doctor is saying?
And you don’t know all the requirements, or you don’t know all the literature on who really benefits from a bypass. If you have any kind of anything wrong with your body, like anything scary, like you’re feeling heart palpitations or getting chest pain, [01:31:01] you can be in a state of terror because we all know nowadays what heart attacks are.
And we’re worried we’re going to have one and drop dead any minute now, especially if we’ve been eating steaks. So there’s a lot of fear. And if some doctor adds to your fear by saying, oh, you have a blockage, oh I see a blockage on this mush here, this shadow, this two dimensional representation of a three dimensional artery. I’m seeing a little kink here. That alone is, you can see a kink there and you can have plenty of blood, especially if you have collateral flow. So they add to your fear by saying you’re a ticking time bomb.
They have another way of adding to your fear, they use this phrase all the time. We call this a widow maker. That one works really well on guys. It’s a [01:32:01] 90% blockage of one of the arteries in your heart called the left anterior descending. They’ve branded that to sell their bypasses to people.
And that is a high risk blockage, but if your heart is otherwise healthy, we don’t have any evidence that major surgery is going to save your life, which is what you’re supposedly having it for. You might be thinking, if you’re listening to this, you might be thinking how could having a blockage in your artery, how could that not be a problem?
Here’s how one word it’s called collaterals. Collateral blood flow. What that means is your body basically bypasses itself. It creates new ways for blood to get to the area of your heart that the artery that’s partly blocked or completely blocked is going to. The other arteries step [01:33:01] up and widen. It’s just if you have a traffic flow through a city and there’s one road is blocked, more cars are going to go through the other roads, but unlike a city, your heart can grow new roads. And it does all the time.
And here’s how we know that the practice of cardiology is really corrupt. There is a way that they could test for collaterals. But that test is very complicated to do, costs a lot of resources, costs a lot of time, and the reimbursement is like $20, and this is $20 out of an angiogram that can cost $5,000.
They would get an extra 20 bucks for doing this test for collaterals, which is really how you would know if a bypass has any chance whatsoever of helping [01:34:01] you. If it’s really indicated, if you actually have a blockage. Because if you have collateral flow, even though one artery might be blocked or, look kinked on a angiogram, you have blood going to every part of your heart, so you don’t have a problem.
And so you’re doing a bypass on a non-problem. It’s only giving you risk, the intervention is only giving you risk. And that is just one of many examples of because there are no checks and balances.
Saifedean Ammous: The cardiologist needs to pay off his debt and you’re helping contribute to that problem.
Yes. You’re taking on massive risk that you might die during the bypass, but his medical school loan and yacht aren’t going to pay for themselves, are they?
Cate Shanahan: Yeah, I’m not going to let him off the hook that easily. I paid off my debt and I didn’t do it by doing unnecessary surgeries. Cardiologists make more than a million dollars a year on average, they don’t have that much debt, I’m sorry. You don’t need to do that, but yes I understand, yeah, [01:35:01] no really, it’s because they can. And most cardiologists, it’s because everyone else does it. They’re not thinking about it, it’s easy. And cardiologists don’t only do bypasses, they also do other things.
They’re not all bad. They also do other things that actually will save your life. But this practice of bypassing is corrupt and it should be questioned. There should be like a VICE on it, or a 60 Minutes or something, it needs to be exposed as a way that the hospitals depend on it.
The best source of income for most hospitals is their cardiologists and all the bypassing and stents that they do. That is usually what keeps hospitals afloat. They need that, they need those cardiologists to do all those unnecessary surgeries.
That’s very reinforcing. The cardiologists really feel like they are heroes, right? Because they’re saving the hospitals. They may not be saving [01:36:01] lives, but they’re saving the hospital system.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. The the more you learn about this and the more you learn about diet, you realize modern medicine is just in many cases, an extremely elaborate exercise in doing extremely insane bullshit to avoid telling people to just eat like goddamn human beings. It’s incredible.
Cate Shanahan: Are you thinking of bypass surgery, like a gastric bypass surgery. That’s an example of some of the most ridiculous surgeries there is.
Saifedean Ammous: Yes. I remember there was somebody posted a couple of years ago on Twitter, somebody posted this new machine where you eat the stuff and then you pump it out of your stomach immediately after you eat it.
It’s incredible, like why don’t you just not eat shit instead of actually pumping shit out of your stomach all day? It’s incredible that doctors don’t mention this. Not only do they not mention it, [01:37:01] they encourage you to eat the shit that makes you want to get this stuff.
Cate Shanahan: Yeah. It’s hard to, I had to go down a big rabbit hole to get comfortable with even just saying the word lard. One of the first times I did a presentation on this for other doctors, somebody asked me like okay, so if we shouldn’t eat the seed oils and we can eat butter, what about lard? And I remember, I was like I can’t quite go there yet because I was so indoctrinated, right? You really have to go down the rabbit hole.
And then here’s the other thing. Your life is miserable as a doctor in the regular medical system when you know what real nutrition can do. Because you will always be behind schedule, you will always have the nurses telling you, oh, there’s 10 people in the waiting room, you’re two hours behind, because once people understand that you know how to help them with nutrition, they won’t leave your office.
And you’re still supposed to be seeing them every 15 minutes. So you can’t possibly, it’s such an [01:38:01] inconvenience to your career. It made my life miserable, it was really hard. I wanted to do it, but that’s why I wrote books. I was like, please just read the book, it’s in the book.
I tried to make the book as comprehensive as possible. That’s why it’s 600 pages.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. The model of a doctor is much more profitable because you just go there for 15 minutes, essentially most doctors are prescription bots. They can be replaced with a few lines of code.
They learn a whole bunch of symptoms in a college, and then you walk in, you give them the symptoms and they need to try and remember which one, this was before the internet came about and computer apps, you need to just match those symptoms with the prescription and then give them the drug. And of course the more drugs you give, the more money you’re making for the pharmaceutical companies, the more money you make, the more money your hospital makes, the more everybody’s happy.
So you want that industrial assembly line production where the patient comes in, you don’t even look them in the eye, you hear their symptoms, and [01:39:01] then because you’ve studied so hard in medical school, you immediately know which drug to give them, and then they leave in 15 minutes and you’re churning them out.
But if you try and explain to them all of the things that we’re talking about here, you’re going to need a lot more time. And pharmaceutical companies can’t make any money from you. Not only will they not make money, also food companies can’t make money. So this is why this message is so unpopular unfortunately.
Cate Shanahan: Absolutely. I think one of the big reasons that the hospital systems get away with all the corruption is because nobody’s actually paying for it. No one actually sees themselves as paying for it. Like they don’t know that their taxes, most of their Medicare, so much of their Medicare, all of their Medicare, how much they’re paying in Medicare taxes.
That’s like money that they just say the government has that, someone else is paying for all this corruption. And a lot of it is the government, right? Half of all births now in this country, or nearly [01:40:01] half are paid for by the government in Medicaid, because there’s so many people who just don’t afford health insurance in that age group, and that are young and having babies.
And then the babies, all their problems are covered by the government. So we’re not paying for the consequences of our unhealthy diets, someone else is and employers for many years have been required to pay health insurance for their employees and employers aren’t specialists in the business of health insurance.
But yet they pack it into their budget and they act just like it’s any other budgetary line item, even when they have no idea what is going on and what they’re actually paying for, unlike every other line item of their budget, they know [01:41:01] exactly what they’re paying for in every other realm.
They have no idea what they’re getting with health insurance and nobody has the knowledge to question it. And so it’s because we have this weird insurance system where other people are paying for, someone else is always paying for your problem.
If you had to pay for your own bypass, I guarantee you’d think twice about it, like you might say I don’t have any chest pain right now, so at least I know I have a few minutes, can I just get a second opinion? Can I look it up? Can I Google it? If you had to pay that upwards of $20,000 bill yourself, you might, but when you have health insurance, you’re just like that’s what I’m paying all this money for my health insurance for.
So that’s part of why there are no checks and balances. Because it’s not your own personal finances that are hit with [01:42:01] this.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah this leads very nicely into the main topic of this podcast, money and Bitcoin, because the reality is that you are paying for everybody’s bypass surgery through inflation.
All of this is because of Fiat money. All of this is essentially a once the government is able to take charge of the money supply. Once the government can inflate the money supply and print it, then government is essentially destroying the concept of opportunity cost. And so you don’t think of the cost of the bypass.
You don’t think of anything, people don’t think of the costs of policies. People want to vote for politicians that want to give them hospitals and bridges and roads and democracy in Iraq and all kinds of insane bullshit. Nobody thinks that there’s any trade-off. Nobody’s ever said, we can’t have a hospital if we want to give Iraqis democracy, we’re going to have to choose.
There’s never a trade off [01:43:01] because the government can just keep printing more and more money. And so the rational strategy in this kind of world is to try and get your share of it by trying to get as much of that printed money.
And so the medical industry has turned all of these things into issues. And again, it’s all fear and it’s manipulation and we saw all of this insanity with, with the coronavirus. But of course it’s been going on in the medical system for decades. Once you get people to be afraid, oh no, President Eisenhower has a heart attack and now heart attacks are becoming a serious problem.
Then you want to get into office, you run on a platform of where you’re going to give everybody a free bypass basically, or we’re going to include this in healthcare reform. We’re going to have Medicare cover it. And of course you can do that because money is fake bullshit. There’s no cost to making more dollars.
Anybody can make it, so we’re constantly devaluing the dollar and that’s on the one hand financing all of this enormous growth without accountability. You said there’s no checks and balances, [01:44:01] the real check and balance in a market is money. If you were in a free market and you’re just making all of your customers spend enormous amounts of money on heart bypass surgeries, you’re just going to end up with all of the people who go to you to your hospital being broke eventually.
Whereas the people who go to other hospitals that don’t do this insanity, they keep their money and they stay healthy. So that’s the check and balance. But if all the hospitals are subject to policy by one government with a magic money printer, then there’s no sense of thinking about, hang on a second, maybe those people don’t really need this?
Have we tried not eating shit first, before we start putting their hearts on ice and pumping their blood through a machine? Like maybe just give it a couple of months of not eating industrial waste before you try this? There’s no incentive to think about that.
And we see this in all manner of things in science, in medicine, in all kinds of facets of [01:45:01] modern life and this is how I try and basically end every one of the podcasts with this, this is really why Bitcoin fixes this. Bitcoin fixes everything. I don’t know how familiar you are with Bitcoin, but Bitcoin is the solution to all of the world’s problems, approximately.
And it’s because, it brings back the concept of opportunity costs in a world in which government can print money and money is real. Money has a cost to make, and nobody has a magic printer to make money. People are going to be a lot smarter about their decisions. And I think we’re going to have a completely different medical system from the insane one that we have right now.
Cate Shanahan: Yeah. It can’t come too soon, cause the medical system is unfortunately, hurting people just with so many prescriptions that like one of the worst offenders is the statin drugs, because everybody believes having a high blood cholesterol level is harmful. And so they get terrorized into, it is terrorism, it’s medical [01:46:01] terrorism telling people that your high LDL level is gonna hurt you.
We got to get that down. We got to do something about that and oh, and here’s this pill, it’s the cholesterol pills. How many of our presidents have we seen their like mental health decline as they were in the presidency after they had a heart attack? Well I know Bill Clinton is one, I don’t know what’s going on with Biden.
What happened with him or when it happened, but most adults over the age of 60 are now on statins, and statin drugs block your brain’s ability to manufacture cholesterol. Your brain needs to manufacture cholesterol or you can’t build new memories, new synapses, you can’t build the physical structures you need to be able to learn.
And statin drugs, they bring you down like a few IQ points. Statin drugs combined with vegetable oils is a recipe for dementia. [01:47:01] I’ve seen it over and over, it’s so common that it’s rare for me to run into a 70 something year old that really is cognitively intact anymore.
We’ve got an epidemic of mild cognitive impairment and and nobody’s really talking about that. It’s really sad because our older generations, we’re supposed to have some wisdom to help us out. We’re supposed to have people who have seen this all before to tell us, oh, this is all happened before it’ll all happen again and be smart and wise and have the answer, but our older generations aren’t there for us anymore because we’ve damaged, they’ve damaged their brains unknowingly.
And that may be a completely politically incorrect thing to say, but I’m sorry, I have just seen so many people over age 70, just they can’t [01:48:01] learn the way I know people used to be able to learn in that age group because I’ve been in medicine for almost 30 years now.
Aging and memory loss are not synonymous. What happens is our brain changes. Our brain is constantly changing throughout our entire lifespan. And so there are some little details of things that maybe we don’t remember so well, we can’t recall certain things so quickly, but we have longer connections throughout our brain.
So it’s not supposed to be dementia. It’s not supposed to be that, oh, I just, my brain just doesn’t work anymore. We are truly supposed to be fonts of wisdom as we age because we make longer connections across areas of our brain that are not interconnected when we are younger. So just imagine what that means.
Our brain is amazing, it’s an amazing computer. And as we get older, it’s supposed to become interconnected across different realms of cognition. That means that we should really be like [01:49:01] able to come up with different ideas and different thoughts we have a whole different way of thinking as we age, and that’s normal.
That’s like what we really, that’s where we’re supposed to be. And we don’t see that. Our generation has been deprived of the wisdom of our elders. And of course they’ve been deprived too, but that’s a whole other aspect of this, the seed oil diet. But you combine that with the statins and it’s just devastating.
Saifedean Ammous: Absolutely. And one of the sad things is president Biden, like it’s treated as this cute thing about old people that he likes his ice cream. And sorry, but Alzheimer’s is type 3 diabetes. It’s just a form of diabetes, it’s your brain being fried by all of the sugar and vegetable oils that you’re eating.
And it’s so devastating to see this man being fed all of this stuff instead of having people [01:50:01] around him to tell him this, and to watch this being normalized, that a man in his seventies should be eating ice cream in all of these enormous quantities. It’s really sad, but worth remarking here that statins are the biggest grossing drug in the history of the pharmaceutical industry.
Maybe though, maybe I think they might’ve been overtaken in the last couple of years by some of these products related to the recent pandemic, which I will not name because that’ll probably get our podcast canceled. But there’s an enormous amount of money to be made from statins.
And it all comes from the insane hysteria around the saturated fats and cholesterol and all of this pseudoscience. But as a good counter example, we have one of our regular attendees wants to ask you a question right now, Nathan. He is, I think 70 years old, and he’s lost a lot of weight and fixed his health by [01:51:01] switching to a sane human diet. And he has a question for you, Nathan.
Nathan: Yeah. I actually have about 10,000 questions. You’ve been an interesting guest, thank you very much. But I’ll limit it to this. I grew up on a wheat and cattle farm in the central U.S. and now in retirement, just culturally I love growing plants.
It’s something my like doing, and it’s what I do in retirement. And I work with a lot of local farmers. They grow mainly vegetables, but some poultry and pork, that type of thing. So I’ve been exposed to all of that stuff. And I’ve heard you comment that raising beef is actually easier than growing vegetables and that most people don’t understand or realize that, [01:52:01] and the difference is actually extremely high.
I think there’s a big misconception about that and about the storage of meat. Beef really isn’t that difficult to handle. People aren’t falling over dead from rotten meat. But they’ve jammed that notion into our head and I, from just an economic perspective I’m really anxious to spend some time personally digging into that.
And I wonder if you can comment on any resources about that.
Cate Shanahan: So about that, I don’t know much about the economics of it, but I wasn’t sure the questions for me or for Saif?
Nathan: Well I’m thinking about, [01:53:01] if you walk past the produce section, people don’t understand the chemical bath that’s sitting there.
The problem isn’t necessarily that the producer wants a chemical bath. It’s not a desire, but to ship a cabbage from California to Kansas requires a chemical bath, forgetting all the ideology.
Cate Shanahan: Yes, absolutely. It’s a lot more expensive to avoid meat and nourish your body than it is to get nutrition from meat.
Per unit nutrition or per unit protein, meat is a bargain economically, at the grocery store level absolutely. If you are willing to to cook meat, you can do so much better for your family on the same budget [01:54:01] compared to if you avoid meat, I think.
People say meat is expensive, but it’s less expensive than vegetables. Vegetables are quite expensive and they’re not good once you freeze them, they lose a lot of their nutrition in the freezing process where meat doesn’t. So you can store meat.
So vegetables are perishable. So if you don’t eat every vegetable that you buy, you’ve wasted your money. And vegetables now, the nutrition tables overestimate how much nutrition is in vegetables anyway, because our soil has changed and the nutrition of our vegetables has changed and the data has not been recollected.
So a lot of the nutrition tables that we were relying on are from vegetables that were grown on soil from 1970 and 1980, and some even going farther back than that. So there’s a lot less nutrition now in vegetables than there used to be.
Nathan: That’s the other part of it, [01:55:01] is people go to the store and expect a pepper with no worms, with no blemishes. That’s not a pepper. If you see for vegetables with no blemishes, it’s inedible.
Cate Shanahan: Yeah, because they’ve been bred for endurance. They’re not grown for nutritional value or flavor at all. They’re grown so that they look like vegetables.
And guess what?
When you grow vegetables to look like vegetables, that is exactly what you get. Something that looks like a vegetable and isn’t exactly a vegetable because it doesn’t have all the things that it’s supposed to have in there, and it really doesn’t taste good. I gripe to my husband all the time about how I can’t even get cashews, cashew nuts that taste like real cashews.
When I was a kid, my mom took me to this co-op in the basement of a church. It was dirty down there, but the food [01:56:01] was so good, you would bite into a raw cashew and it would explode with flavor in your mouth. And now cashews are starchy. They mostly have starch and they’ve got like a small cashew flavor, and the same with almonds and it’s just food just does not taste right anymore, and that’s horrible.
So yeah, you can grow it yourself and yada and all that hard work and stuff that, yes I think that we really should do, I should have a garden, more of a garden myself. But this is a big problem, that our vegetables don’t taste like vegetables. Nobody’s doing anything about it because why, because nobody, Nathan, wants to wear a farmer’s hat anymore. Have you heard of any of your neighbors who are farmers who are raising their kids and they’re like, you need to be a farmer or are they saying you got to go to college and get out of this business? And I’m [01:57:01] really asking, because I don’t see a lot of young people even talking about agriculture.
Nathan: Yeah. I’m kind of unique in that I’m seeking them out and I’m around them. So I probably would have a bad perspective.
Saifedean Ammous: He knows all the ones that are left!
Nathan: One last comment. My wife overheard you earlier, and you said something about old cookbooks. When we were first married back in the seventies, we attempted to make pie crust like her grandmother.
And we tried and tried and threw buckets of pie crust away. And also my mother we tried to emulate, so I asked my mother what I was doing wrong and she said you’re trying to make it like I used to? And I said, yeah, she goes you gotta use organ lard and fresh butter.[01:58:01]
And I said why don’t you do that anymore? And she goes, well it’s unhealthy!
Cate Shanahan: Exactly. I know it’s so sad. It’s really a dangerous idea that Ancel Keys came up with back in the 1950s, because that was a, that idea was like an atom bomb exploding in our DNA because it’s severed us from all culinary traditions. There is no truly traditional cuisine that you can follow without animal fat, without some kind of butter, tallow, lard, some kind of animal fat, there isn’t one.
Nathan: So what happens then is that piece of pie, you only eat one. Because of the taste of, the sugar load doesn’t overcome you.
Cate Shanahan: Exactly. Yeah, I know there’s a [01:59:01] lot to be gained by just going back a hundred years, your show is about money but we don’t value our connection with nature. We don’t have even a word for that. And that’s really wealth. That’s what the message of Deep Nutrition is, that real wealth is your connection to nature. And so even though children aren’t raised anymore to be farmers like the way they used to, I don’t know, maybe it would help to talk about it that way.
That is a job where you are studying nature and you’re working with nature. And I think children are suffering from a nature deficit these days, and it’s changing our psychology and just going outside and being in nature and looking at it and studying it and learning from it.
What’s going on there and looking at the dirt, [02:00:01] that’s an experience. That is an experience that you get to have every day when you work in nature. But we don’t raise our children to do that. We raise them to go to college and get degrees that then they can’t get jobs to use the degrees.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. Fake degrees to get fake jobs, to eat fake food. That’s the Fiat world.
Cate Shanahan: Yeah, we want the Deep Nutrition world, the antidote is the Deep Nutrition world, bring that back.
Stefano: Thank you Saif and thank you Dr. Shanahan, it’s a pleasure to listen to you live. I loved your book and it’s probably the only book I recommend for nutrition to whoever asks me for that. So my question is the following, one of the common pushback from the medical profession about the idea of eating a higher protein diet, particularly animal protein seems to be that high [02:01:01] protein promotes IGF-1 hormone, which in turns promotes growth and therefore may actually promote cancer. In addition to being not very beneficial for kidney function.
Is there any truth to that? What is your opinion on this?
Cate Shanahan: That is a baseless medical belief. There’s no foundation in reality. If there are any studies that support the idea that eating more protein is unhealthy in any biological measure, it’s not whole food protein that’s being used in the studies.
And let me give you an example. So the China Study, we’ve all probably heard of that. It’s a very pro vegan anti meat, the whole thing is against animal protein, the whole thing, their claim that soy protein is healthier [02:02:01] than animal protein all comes down to one study.
Now, let me tell you this study, it was not on animal protein. It was on casein, which is a dehydrated fraction of milk protein, and it was dehydrated and processed. Of course, during that process, you damage the amino acids and it wasn’t in humans, it was in animals, and it wasn’t in healthy animals, it was in animals that were sick with liver failure.
So your liver is required to process protein properly, and yes, if you’re missing a liver, you have all kinds of dietary restrictions. That is eight degrees of separation away from the claim that he makes, and he’s got to know that it’s not true.
So I really have a beef, pun intended, with those kinds of [02:03:01] medical doctors that spew that misinformation and scare people away from normal food.
Stefano: But how do they get, how does it become so widespread without any real scientific studies that support it?
Cate Shanahan: You’ll like my talk, I did a talk on that explains a lot of this for the Future of Fat Summit, on their YouTube channel.
I did a talk called feed the masses vegetable oil, the results of the 70 year experiment that Harvard has been perpetrating on almost the entire human race, long title. Anyway, so in there I talk about how I grew up believing the magazine ad propaganda that butter was unhealthy, because I saw a picture that showed a happy family and the words Mrs. Wilson is polyunsaturing her family, [02:04:01] Fleischmann’s margarine.
And I remember picking up that picking up that magazine, seeing that picture on one of my dad’s medical journals so it had to be true, and then putting it down and going to the fridge and going oh, thank goodness, we don’t have butter, we have margarine.
It’s a generation, we’ve grown up, we were indoctrinated, it is propaganda. Doctors have all been indoctrinated with this propaganda, it’s very powerful, but the American Heart Association, and this is the point, this is like one of the things that I say in that lecture, is the American Heart Association should not be seen as anything other than a propaganda machine for the processed food industry.
Doctors don’t of course know that, but hopefully now they will. So if you go to the channel and like it and share it and all that sort of thing hopefully your doctor will watch it and hopefully we’ll have a tiny sliver of an open mind that will allow him to consider, gee maybe if everything I [02:05:01] learned about nutrition in school is wrong, and maybe that’s why, there’s a cardiologist right now who’s a really conscientious cardiologist, his name is Nadir Ali, he’s a really great cardiologist because he is an interventional cardiologist, meaning he puts in stents, he does the bypasses and he tells a story about how he gave up giving dietary advice because they never worked.
And then when he learned about the keto diet, which cuts carbs, and I don’t know that’s super important, what the keto diet really does is it gets you off seed oils and onto healthy fats, so when you learned about that, he became very fanatical about how much that helps people not have heart attacks.
And so my point with that was that it’s Dr. Nadeer Ali, yes somebody corrected me, thank you. [02:06:01] My point with that was that doctors can learn, but it will change our practice. It will radically change the number of doctors needed in this country. So don’t tell your children to go to medical school because they won’t be needed if you tell your children to go to agronomy school or something like that.
Stefano: Good advice. Thank you Dr. Shanahan, really helpful!
Saifedean Ammous: Thank you so much Dr. Shanahan, this has been absolutely amazing. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I think this has been one of the best, most informative discussions that we’ve had in this podcast. I really enjoyed it, and thank you again for writing your amazing books, and on behalf of my children and all of the amazing food that they’ve had, thanks to you.
And I hope everybody else listens to this because I think this stuff works folks. Stop listening to your statisticians and stop listening to [02:07:01] your malnourished nutritionists and stop listening to your overweight doctors and listen to people who have looked at what history shows us and what humanity has always done.
And the answers are very clear. You should not be eating industrial waste and you should be eating a lot of meat. And if you do those things, you’re going to be a very different human being. So thank you again.
Nathan: Thank you very much for inviting me on to your show, it’s been fun.
Saifedean Ammous: Cheers, thanks a lot!