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What Not to Eat

WHEN YOU FOLLOW the Smart Fat Solution, you will never run out of appealing and healthful options to eat. You don’t have to be rigid about combining fat, fiber, pro- tein, and flavor for every meal or snack, though in time, you’ll naturally find your- self including all four in every meal because they taste so great together. In no time at all, you’ll get the hang of putting together sensible meals and snacks without having to think twice about how to give your food a smart fat makeover. Nor will you have to worry about portion sizes or measuring grams or counting calories. The variety, and ease, of delicious foods available to you will free you once and for all from the dreaded cycle of dieting and then gaining again and having to diet again. But before we get to the how-to (and the all-important how-much), let’s look at the what-not, as in what you shouldn’t put on your plate or in your mouth. Some foods on our “don’t eat” list, such as artificial trans fats, won’t surprise you. But we’ll bet some of the others will. Both of us have always believed that information is power. That’s why we think it’s important that you understand the reasons why we want you to avoid certain foods. We believe that if you understand why these changes are important—why, in fact, your life depends on making them—then you’ll be much more willing to make the health changes at the heart of the Smart Fat Solution. Fats: Not Always Okay Despite what you may have heard, saturated fat, on its own, isn’t going to kill you, though it won’t necessarily improve your health. However, there’s one big excep- tion: the toxic fat found in commercially produced animal products, which, sadly, make up most of what you’ll find in the meat and dairy sections of most super- markets and in restaurants.

How Fat Moves from Being “Neutral” to Being “Bad” The use of pesticides, hormones, and other chemicals in our food supply is rampant, and animals being raised on grains filled with these substances aren’t the only ones who suffer from such an unnatural diet. All those toxic compounds are stored in the fatty tissues of the factory-farmed cow, pig, lamb, chicken, or other animal, and these toxins enter our systems when we eat such animals. And it’s not just the chemicals that are a problem. It’s the grain itself, too. As you’ll see, a steady diet of grain, not grass, results in meat and dairy that’s full of inflammatory omega-6 fats, adding to the imbalance between inflammatory omega-6s and anti- inflammatory omega-3s—an imbalance that makes us sick and keeps us from los- ing weight. Here are two reasons to stop eating meat and dairy products that come from grain-fed animals. 1. Toxins in Our Food Supply (and in Our Bodies) Our food chain is simple and straightforward. As the saying goes, “We are what we eat.” But sadly, that’s not always a good thing. Take grains, for instance. Even before specific grains are fed to animals, they are treated with pesticides like Round-Up as part of the process of making feed. Compounds known as dioxins are chemical by-products of industrial processes. They are among the most potent car- cinogens on earth, and they’re in our food supply. Beef, for instance, contains the highest concentration of these deadly dioxins, but they’re also found in poultry and dairy products, as well as in farmed fish.

In addition, commercial farmers add growth hormones to the feed, largely genetically modified corn and soy (all soaked through with pesticides), loaded with antibiotics in order to yield more pounds of meat for the market. Hormones also increase milk production in dairy cows. But certain growth hormones, and pesti- cides, have been shown to cause cancer in lab animals. These carcinogenic sub- stances, many of which are banned in the European Union, Japan, and other devel- oped nations, are routinely used in the United States. Do these additives cause cancer in humans? Let’s look at one example. There are no lab studies examining the relationship between rBGH, the bovine growth hormone used to increase milk production, and cancer cell growth in humans. But we do know that lab animals exposed to rBGH display elevated levels of the hor- mone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1). In humans, high IGF-1 is often linked to breast and colon cancers. Fortunately, there has been a public push-back against rBGH—enough to cause some U.S. milk producers to reduce, and in many cases eliminate, this hormone from their production processes. But many other poten- tially harmful hormones, pesticides, and chemicals that aren’t as well-known as rBGH continue to find their way into our food. Antibiotics are also part of the toxic mix. Added to the food supply of livestock, antibiotics ensure that animals stay “healthy” and gain weight faster in a crowded feedlot or chicken coop, where some level of disease is inevitable. Because of the massive numbers of animals involved in commercial operations, sick or at-risk ani- mals are not singled out for treatment with antibiotic drugs. They are given to all animals. The overuse of antibiotics, in animals and in humans, results in the devel- opment of drug-resistant strains of dangerous bacteria. Imagine being seriously ill with a bacterial infection, but no effective treatment is available because the “superbug” that is making you supersick is resistant to antibiotics. This isn’t a plot from a science fiction movie—it’s reality. Note that the toxic residue in fat is not limited to meat. Dairy products are simi- larly polluted with pesticides and chemicals. The easiest way to protect against harmful toxins is to go organic, purchasing meat and dairy products that come from pasture-raised animals. 2. Grain-Fed Animals = Inflammatory Fats in Humans Grain-fed animals in industrial meat and dairy operations generally eat a diet of corn- and soy-based feed, which is packed with omega-6 fats. Grain makes for a cheap diet that fattens up confined animals quickly. But this diet is completely at odds with nature, which would have cows, pigs, sheep, and other animals grazing naturally on grass. When we consume meat, milk, eggs, butter, yogurt, cheese, and other products from grain-fed animals, we’re adding inflammatory omega-6s to our plate. According to one study, grain-fed beef on average contains a ratio of omega- 6s to omega-3s of 7.7:1.

Conversely, free-ranging chickens, turkeys, and other birds eat anything they come across in their yards—seeds, bugs, slugs, grass, scraps, nuts, and worms. (Yes, even some grain, but it’s only a tiny part of a healthy and varied diet.) Like their four-legged barnyard neighbors, they aren’t meant to be penned or caged in- doors, nor raised on feed made from corn and soy. Unlike grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef has an almost perfect ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s of 1.5:1. To reduce our risk of inflammation and countless health and weight problems, choose meat and dairy products from grass-fed cows. Certainly, organic beef is better than nonorganic because at least you won’t be consuming the toxins from the pesticide-sprayed grains the cows were fed. But the unhealthy ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s is the same. Only with grass-fed meat do you get both the absence of toxins and a much less inflammatory fatty acid ratio. This book is not about the ethics of the industrial production of meat and dairy products, nor the environmental impact of factory-farm operations that are spread- ing across the globe. (Meat consumption in China has risen dramatically as wages have increased, resulting in the creation of massive factory-farm operations for pork and chicken, with red meat becoming more popular.) It’s not about the mis- treatment of animals in our food chain, though we both firmly believe that much more can and should be done to improve the conditions under which animals are raised before they’re taken to market. This book is about eating smarter and eating better. So it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the demand for cheap, available meat and dairy products drives the quick-and-dirty processing of grain-fed land animals, not to mention the dumbing down of smart fats. When fat slides from being neutral to being bad, we pay the price with our health (even if the prices at the supermarket or the fast-food drive- through are lower). That’s the bad news, but the good news is that you do have op- tions.

Smart Move: Eat Clean, Not Mean If you want to avoid ingesting hormones, pesticides, and other toxins, as well as high levels of inflammatory omega-6 fats, opt for meat and dairy produced from or- ganic pasture-raised animals. Switch from eating mean—dirty fats—and choose clean. It’s that simple. Don’t let these common excuses complicate this important choice. “It’s Hard to Find” It’s less and less true that healthful choices are hard to find. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere (and thanks to the Internet, no one lives there anymore), you probably are close to a grocery store that has a selection of grass-fed beef and other land animal protein, as well as organic, pasture-raised dairy. If your local store doesn’t have any options, talk to the store manager; chances are that you aren’t the only shopper in search of healthier choices. You can also research when and where the nearest farmer’s market sets up shop and order from online sources.

. . . And If You Can’t Eat Clean, Eat Lean We’re realistic. You will encounter situations when you can’t eat clean—maybe you’re traveling and relying on restaurants or your local supplier isn’t available. But you need to eat. That’s the time to choose lean animal protein, such as chicken or turkey breast, pork loin, or beef sirloin. By eating lean you’ll avoid most of the stored animal fat, which is the safety deposit box for toxins. Avoid cuts of red meat with lots of fat and avoid all ground beef, which is typically just ground carcass. Or you could avoid meat altogether and have a vegetarian meal—or just go fishing for dinner by choosing some seafood. Our focus has been on land animals, but seafood is an excellent source of mighty omega-3s. As with protein, always choose clean seafood, which is most likely to be wild-caught. THE DOS AND DON’TS OF SMART FAT EGGS AND DAIRY Finding clearly labeled “grass-fed” and “pasture-raised” meat and poultry is becoming easier, but what about eggs? What about butter, milk, yogurt, and

Eggs: As of this writing, the availability of eggs from genuinely free-range chickens is not as widespread as that of pasture-raised meat. Unless you are pur- chasing farm-fresh eggs directly from a local source or raising your own chick- ens, you may have trouble finding true pastured eggs. Real free-range chickens on small farms are allowed to live and roam outside, in fresh air, foraging for their food as opposed to being caged and fed. (Industrial egg producers can actually use the “free-range” or “cage-free” label, but this may simply mean that the chickens are not caged; they may still live indoors, in crowded conditions, eating a diet of grain under artificial light. Unlike the label “USDA Certified Organic,” no equivalent USDA guidelines for “free-range” are in place to regulate and guarantee consistency.) Eggs from cage-free, organic-fed chickens are much healthier than conven- tional eggs, where hens live in tiny cages under filthy conditions and are often sprayed with chemicals just to keep them alive. If you can’t find pasture-raised, organic-fed chicken eggs, the cage-free, organic-fed variety in your supermarket are probably an acceptable compromise. Why not just eat conventional eggs? Because chemicals and hormones are concentrated in the yolk, where the fat is concentrated—in the same way that hormones, pesticides, and other toxins wind up in the fat of conventionally raised meat. At the very minimum, we recommend you buy organic, cage-free, omega-3– en-riched eggs. If you can’t get them, then you should avoid eating the yolks, which contain the chemicals concentrated in the fat. You will still get the benefit of the protein, which is concentrated in the egg whites, while you avoid the tox- ins. Farm-fresh, pasture-raised eggs are the best, in terms of both nutrition and taste. With these kinds of nontoxic eggs, you can eat the yolks to your heart’s content.

Butter, Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese: It’s increasingly common to find these items from pastured (grass-fed) animals. If you are trying to lose weight through the Smart Fat Solution, you’ll see that we don’t routinely steer you to reduced-fat or nonfat versions of dairy. We don’t recommend nonfat or reduced-fat cheese if it’s full of artificial additives to make up for fat that has been removed, but you should look for pastured animal products. At the very minimum, choose organic only. Once again, as with meat, poultry, and eggs, the toxins concentrate in the fat; to avoid toxins, avoid nonorganic products. Bad Fats That Will Never Be Neutral or Good We’ve talked about good, neutral, and bad fats. We want to be clear that bad fats should always be on your “do not eat” list. Trans Fats Artery-clogging trans fat, which we have likened to embalming fluid that turns our tissues to plastic, is a killer, pure and simple. It’s made by combining regular oil with chemicals and harmful metals; then hydrogen is pumped in to solidify the fat—hence the term hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. This process also cre- ates a fat that is shelf-stable, a desirable quality for manufacturers of packaged,processed foods. Great for shelf life, but not for your life. The invention of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats revolutionized the food industry, specifically, the junk food industry, and gave us aisles and aisles of packaged cookies, bread products, cake mixes (and spreadable canned frosting to go with them), crackers, chips, “instant” convenience foods like soups and side dishes, frozen foods, nondairy creamers, microwaveable foods, and much more. Fast-food chains and restaurants loved using trans fats, particularly for frying, be- cause they were cheap and lasted forever. There was a time when we blamed saturated fats for high levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. But now we know that trans fats actually raise LDL cholesterol levels, while simultaneously lowering levels of healthy HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol! Trans fats also elevate your blood sugar and insulin levels and cause a stiffening of the arteries associated with high blood pressure and arterial plaque formation, which leads to deadly cardiovascular disease. In other words: Trans fats will stop your heart. The safe amount of man-made trans fats in the human diet is zero. Don’t eat them—ever! Omega-6 Fats As we’ve seen, lowering levels of inflammatory omega-6 fats in relation to omega-3 fats is crucial to your health. Products from grain-fed animals are a huge source of omega-6s, but many plant-based oils are also exceedingly high in omega- 6. These are the same oils that have long been marketed to consumers as “heart-healthy” alternatives to animal fats. Corn oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sun- flower oil, safflower oil—they literally dominate the cooking oil shelves at the gro- cery store. Others, like cottonseed and soybean oil, show up in many processed foods. And for decades, we’ve been told that these are the “good” fats, the ones we should be consuming, while staying away from the “bad” fats, like saturated fat. It was bad advice. In 2012, C. E. Ramsden and colleagues analyzed data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study, which divided 458 men with a recent heart attack into two groups. The control group got no specific dietary instruction, but the “intervention” group re- placed saturated fat in their diets with vegetable oils. Reanalysis of the data plus analysis of additional previously missing data caused the researchers to come to the unexpected conclusion that substituting these so-called vegetable oils for satu- rated fat actually increased the risk of death from all causes, including coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. “These findings,” the researchers wrote, “could have important implications for worldwide dietary advice to substitute omega 6 linoleic acid, or polyunsaturated fats in general, for saturated fats.” There are better alternatives to inflammatory, disease-causing industrial (veg- etable) oils. Ignore the “heart-healthy” marketing slogans on the packaging of these generic, processed omega-6–laden oils, because they are anything but heart- healthy.