Sunday, January 24, 2010

Butter now in the gun

I have been expecting this for ages. Apparently overlooked is the fact that butter is an important source of many nutrients. The case for that is made here. It is probably a bit overstated but does show that butter should not lightly be demonized

Butter should be banned to protect the nation's health, according to a leading heart surgeon. Shyam Kolvekar says only radical action can save growing numbers of young adults from heart attacks and clogged arteries. Warning of the dangers of other foods high in saturated fat, he advises people to eat less red meat, take low-fat milk and switch to olive and sunflower oil. Saturated fat is blamed for a third of the 200,000 premature deaths from heart disease a year. [But that is an unsubstantiated theory]

Adults are eating an average of 800 grams of it a month - 20 per cent more than the recommended limit. Hitting the recommended level could save 3,500 lives a year.

Mr Kolvekar, a consultant at University College London Hospitals, said: 'By banning butter and replacing it with a healthy spread the average daily sat-fat intake would be reduced by eight grams. 'This would save thousands of lives each year and help to protect them from cardiovascular disease - the UK's biggest killer. 'When a patient comes to me, they have established coronary heart disease. We are the last resort. 'The frustrating thing is that often the need for heart surgery could have been prevented by following a healthier, lower sat-fat diet.'

Historically, heart bypass operations were needed by patients near retirement age, but those in their thirties now appear regularly on operating lists, Mr Kolvekar said. However, his views sparked a fierce backlash from the farming industry and TV chefs.

A spokesman for Jamie Oliver, who has championed improved nutrition in schools, said: 'He is completely against a ban on butter. He uses butter in his recipes, for example for roasting potatoes in his Christmas programme. 'He doesn't like the whole kind of food police, we must ban everything, point of view. Butter can be eaten in moderation.' David Halhead, who has a dairy farm in Lancashire, said: 'There is far more evidence out there that dairy products are good for you. Milk and butter are full of important minerals.

'The public get fed up with various people firing off theories that have no facts behind them. We are going back to the nanny state. 'There are a hell of a lot of things that are likely to kill you before butter. I eat butter and milk every day and I am still here.'

Mr Kolvekar's comments were issued by KTB, a public relations company that works for Unilever, the maker of Flora margarine. However, a KTB spokesman said there were no financial ties between the consultant and Unilever and he was not receiving any payment. 'These are his views,' added the spokesman.

The surgeon timed his comments to coincide with the Food Standards Agency's campaign to promote the virtues of low-fat milk. Dr Clair Baynton, the FSA's head of nutrition, said: 'One per cent fat milk still gives us all the nutritional benefits, including calcium, protein, minerals and vitamins but with half the fat of semi. 'Something that simple but beneficial has got to be worth trying.' ˜

Mars UK announced yesterday it is to cut saturated fat levels in Mars bars, Snickers, Topic, Milky Way and Flyte products by the use of sunflower oil.


High-Fat Diet Ends Epileptic Seizures For Boy

A lot of people don't realize that we need cholesterol for brain function. It is a scandal that such a well-documented diet is not tried more quickly more often. The fat phobia has a lot to answer for. Note that the high fat diet did NOT elevate serum cholesterol, contrary to the usual superstition

A trip to the doctor is all good news these days for 4-year-old Max Irvine. Just a year ago, however, Max was enduring more than 100 seizures a day. Even a barrage of tests at the famed Mayo Clinic's Epilepsy Laboratory revealed no clear medical explanation. Epilepsy was consuming every waking hour of Max's life. "It got to the point where he couldn't walk or talk or function, or even eat hardly," said Max's father Troy Irvine.

Medications control epilepsy for 75 percent of children, but not for Max. His family watched helplessly as the light disappeared from his eyes. Max's playful nature vanished. Priceless intellectual developmental time was being lost.

Finally, Mayo Clinic Pediatric Neurologist Elaine Wirrell, an epilepsy specialist, proposed trading all of Max's meds for a radical change in diet. The Ketogenic Diet is very low in carbohydrates and super high in fats. Max's initial diet meal plan contained 80 percent fat. "I just remember having tears and thinking how can I be giving my child so much fat," said Max's mother, Kristine Irvine. "The majority of his meal was bacon and butter, or oil and maybe one strawberry. It was very hard to adjust to that." Butter as an entree. Bacon as a main course. Flavored Canola oil as a beverage. Dr. Wirrell said the strict diet is worth a try for nearly any child who does not respond to medication. "Over half of them have a meaningful reduction of seizures and nearly a third of them become seizure free on the diet," she said.

Exactly why the diet works is unknown. Wirrell said research suggests it stabilizes brain cells and alters neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that allow cells to signal each other. The Ketogenic Diet has actually been around since the 1920s. It was first described at the Mayo Clinic, in fact.

An obvious question the Irvines had was whether the cholesterol would create a new problem for Max's health. "We monitor the children very carefully," Wirrell said. "We monitor their blood for cholesterol problems. And in truth very few children actually end up with cholesterol or lipid problems on the diet."

Max's remarkable improvement is documented on his EEG, an electroencephalogram. The previous lightning storm of misfiring electrical activity has now calmed. Max is taking no epilepsy medications and is seizure-free.

Wirrell said many children are able to come off the diet after getting better and their epilepsy does not necessarily return. Max's brain is thought to have recovered enough that he is being gradually transitioned to normal meals.


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