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Today, I'm Jennifer Palmieri, host of a new podcast from the recount on Just Something about her. After working on five presidential campaigns, I thought women could achieve the same success as men if they played by the rules. Then 2016 happened in my podcast. Just something about her. I'll talk with women, CEOs, athletes, politicians and more so together we can create our own girls. Listen to just something about her I heart radio app, Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts.
Everybody, it's Josh and Chuck, your friends. And we are here to tell you about our upcoming book that's coming out this fall. The first ever stuff you should know book, Chuck. That's right. What's the cool, super cool title we came up with? It's stuff you should know. Colen an incomplete compendium of mostly interesting things. That's right. And it's coming along so great. We're super excited, you guys. The illustrations are amazing. And there's the look at the book.
It's all just it's exactly what we hoped it would be. And we cannot wait for you to get your hands on it. Yes, we can't. And you don't have to wait, actually. Well, you do have to wait, but you don't have to wait to order. You can go preorder the book right now, everywhere you get books and you will eventually get a special gift for preordering, which we're working on right now. That's right.
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Coming this fall, welcome to Stuff You Should Know, a production of NPR Radio's HowStuffWorks. Hey, welcome to the podcast, I'm Josh Clark, and there's Charles W. Chuck Bright over there, and Jerry's here somewhere. And this makes it stuff you should know the heart healthy additions that I've been wanting to do for a very long time, Chuck.
Yeah, and this was one that was put together by our buddy Dave Rusbuldt.
But back in February and I lost it. And thankfully, you said, hey, by the way, you know, we got that seven countries thing just sitting there gathering dust.
Yeah. I said, Chuck, don't lose it here.
I lost it. And then I found it. I was lost, but now am found. All right. And fat is good for your body in the end.
I know, but that's like a revolutionary statement these days. Radical even basically to say fat is good for your body.
The and especially our a well, not even our age, but anyone in America in the 80s and 90s. Somebody in our cohort, you mean.
Yeah, I love that word. I do too. So the reason why it's kind of radical to say that. Good for you because. Yeah, everybody Orridge Chuck knows that fat is horrible for you.
And even if you kind of know that Fats not as bad as we used to think, you probably still don't realize how much better it is for you than it actually is. There's still some part of you that demonizes that. And during like the 80s and the 90s, you couldn't get fat if you shook it out of a pig like it was nowhere to be found in the United States. We had low fat everything. Remember, we had like potato chips where they took out the fat and replaced it with, like a diarrhea creating agent.
Yeah, right. What were those called the lean? Oh, yeah, we did those. But I think they were like like au lait weren't they called au lait chips.
They should have been called Auvers. So yeah. Well like we were doing all sorts of things.
And one of the worst things we did to even worse than adding Olean or replacing fat with Olean was to take out fat and replace it with high fructose corn syrup. Because one of the things that fat does is give food flavor. We take fat out of food. You still want it to have flavor. And if you're a food processor, one cheap, easy way to put flavor back into it is to put high fructose corn syrup into it. And so they think that like all of this war on fat that took place in the 80s and 90s is actually at least partially, if not fully responsible for the outbreak of chronic diseases that we're seeing now, including obesity and diabetes.
That is just epidemic right now in the United States.
Yeah, it was so ingrained in us that. Even after doing this podcast episode and knowing what we now know, it's still like you say things like, you know, boy, that stake, you just feel it like clogging up your arteries. As you know, that fat just gets wedged in there.
You just get these mental images of fat just like breaking off of food and sticking to your blood vessels, right? Yeah.
Like this is really unhealthy or this is super indulgent or something like that. And it just may not necessarily be the case. But yeah, we had a number done on us basically, and we're still crawling out from under it.
And what's the most magnificently amazing thing is that basically all of this, the war on fat, the low fat and the possibly the diabetes and obesity that resulted from taking out fat and replacing it with sugar, all of this stuff came from one study that was conducted back starting back in the 50s, that some people are like the study isn't even legitimate methodologically.
Yeah. So that is the seven countries study. Mm hmm. And the creator of the seven countries study was someone named Dr. Ansel Kei's who was married and published.
And this is I'm not going to just let this speak for itself. They published a number of high volume selling books about the Mediterranean diet. These cookbooks, and sometimes, like the very first one, was only, what, like two years after they started doing this study?
Mm hmm. So they have been accused of cherry picking their data and promoting correlation as causation. And as a result of all this, the United States very famously came out with a food pyramid that was drilled into our heads in school and said fat is cholesterol and that is heart disease.
And eating fatty things will kill you.
Yes, like ipso facto, the problem is, is that it was all based on those recommendations that food pyramid was all based on the study and not any kind of like clinical data. It was just basically a study that was set up and designed to support a hypothesis, not really test the hypothesis so much as support this hypothesis by doctoring until ki's that saturated fats rose cholesterol levels in your blood and that increased cholesterol levels in your blood would kill you through heart disease.
And so Dr. Keyser's been very much demonized over the years as people have figured out, like, no, fats aren't bad for you and actually you need them. But there's also been an effort to reform him, too. And in his defense, he wasn't just some some psycho narcissist doctor. Sure. From what I could tell, he is he invented K rations K Russians are called that after him keys. Oh, no. Yeah. That they kept a lot of guys alive in World War Two.
He was a major part of the Minnesota Starvation Experiment where volunteers, conscientious objectors in World War Two volunteered to be starved so that the scientists could figure out how to refeed people without killing them, which became very useful when we liberated the camps in Germany and some of the occupied areas. So he was like a good idea. OK, I don't know enough about him to say he was a good person, but I don't think he was like an evil person by any stretch of the imagination.
And also the reason that he started conducting the study in the first place was because there was an epidemic of middle aged men, in particular in America, who were just dying left and right of heart disease. And he wanted to figure out what the problem was.
He also started the keep up phenomenon, which is so catchy and great.
Oh, I don't know any he up. I know the kids love it, though.
They do. They're nuts for it. That one B 52 band or something like that. I can't I can't remember their name, no idea.
But if they're called the B 52 is then they should be sued because that's been taken. That's right. So Dr. Ansel Keyes is an American from Minnesota, a physiologist. And in the forties, when you know the Don Draper's, although that a little later but the Don Draper's of the world, we're falling over dead from smoking cigarettes all the time and eating steak for lunch and martinis for lunch. He said, you know what, I'm going to figure this out and see what's going on.
And I'm going to identify some risk factors.
Why men in this country are developing heart disease and men around the world is what ended up being. But it started in Minnesota, where he did a little pilot study. And while he was doing that, he got a message from a colleague in Italy who said. In southern Italy, we got to know heart disease. Everybody's healthy and he said really? And he also said southern Italy is really nice, you should come visit. And so he went there in the 1950s and a bit I mean, southern Italy is still great, but a bit in the early 1950s, it was just idyllic.
Yeah. And he went down there and he started these informal studies comparing business business executives with the working class men of southern Italy, measuring serum cholesterol levels, talking about what you're eating, getting the data on heart disease and heart attacks.
They're from the hospitals. And he started to form this hypothesis that, you know what, dudes, Middle-Age, dudes that have higher serum cholesterol levels are more likely to die or at least suffer from a heart attack.
Yes. Yes. And that was like the beginning. That was it. Yeah. And that was his hypothesis. And it's pretty sound hypothesis, especially based on some of the data that he'd seen because he around this time after his he was intrigued by his friend in southern Italy and his trip to southern Italy, which, by the way, he fell in love with southern Italy so much he sure shop there. Yeah. I believe lived out his life till age 101.
And that proves it. It basically does, because I believe he did adhere pretty strictly to the Mediterranean diet he espoused.
He was no hypocrite, but he he started poking around and getting his hands on whatever data he could for things like fat intake in the diet and incidences of heart disease and heart attacks wherever he could get it in the world. And he compiled data from 22 different countries and he said, wow, this is really kind of all over the place. I'll just select six of these countries that really prove my point. And he created what's known as the six country graph, which a lot of people confuse with the seven countries study.
But it pre it predated the seven countries study. But it was this thing that was kind of like the transition period between first forming this hypothesis and beginning the seven countries study. The six country graph was kind of like the connective tissue between the two, and it also told him where to look to really find the biggest disparities that might support or undermine his hypothesis. And so we got to work looking around and contacting people around the world and said, hey, I have zero funding to for you.
I know that World War Two just ended and everybody is basically trying to rebuild their economy and their nation. And Europe is kind of war torn and shattered and Japan has had bombs dropped on it. But do you want to start studying whether eating steak is bad for you and going to kill you? And actually, astoundingly, some countries said yes, yes.
So the countries ended up being Italy, Spain, South Africa, Japan, Finland, the US. And I guess was it Greece was the last one. Did that count?
Yeah, Greece. You Greece counts. Well, I mean, I knew. Yeah, I know.
Greece counts. Greece is the word. Yeah.
So it was time in the in the mid nineteen fifties he had the interested countries in the interested parties. So in nineteen fifty eight he developed these select populations and you kind of tease it earlier, calling his cohorts these populations of men they referred to as cohorts in the study. So when you hear, say, cohort, it's not like one guy, it's a population of guys.
Right. So the seven countries they would monitor for twenty five years and ideally lead to what risk factors would lead to heart disease. And that was his goal, was I'm going to find out what these risk factors are, provide some evidence and then say here's what you should be eating. Basically.
Yes. So, I mean, that's that's exactly what he did. Like you said, within two years of starting this study, which was supposed to last twenty five and actually did last twenty five, and some of the people who were the original participants were studied for more than forty, forty years. But within two years he, he, he turned around and published that cookbook. That's how certain he was of his hypothesis being correct.
Yeah. And I don't you know, we don't want to put up with the Mediterranean diet. No, I think the idea I'm sure the Mediterranean diet is can be quite healthy. The idea, though, is, is you shouldn't just be like I'm going to eat low fat because that's what happened in America. Everyone didn't say, hey, we'll just eat Mediterranean. They said we'll just hit junk food full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, but doesn't have fat.
And that was the other thing, too, is he is very frequently unfairly accused of demonizing fat. He didn't do that. He said you need to be eating olive oil by the gallon fault just injected. Daily, basically, he didn't say that it's kind of paraphrasing, sure, but he he he didn't leave out things like, you know, fats from fish or from all of it was saturated fat.
And particularly that he was convinced was the culprit for heart disease and deaths from heart disease. Right.
And eat a lot of grains, a lot of pasta, eat a lot of fruit, eat a lot of bread, a lot of vegetables. Sure. Vegetables are good for you.
Yeah, that's true, right? Yeah.
And also I think one of the other things that was so radical about the Mediterranean diet, like even now you're like, oh, it sounds kind of exotic. This is the 50s that this guy first. Yes. The Mediterranean diet. But one of the other things that was radical about it, and I should say I didn't I didn't give credit to his wife, Margaret, who co-wrote the first book with at least the first one, if not more.
Yeah, they wrote it together.
But the the the thing that was radical about it was that he said, hey, those fruits and vegetables and all that make those the main like make the meat your side dish, like, flip it over and you're going to like live a lot longer than you are just by eating a big steak and some creamed spinach on the side.
Hey, I got no problem with the man. There is definitely a case to be made about eating what you like and living shorter. It's tough to argue with in some cases.
Hey, what do we do when we occasionally on the road we'll go to a steak house together. We split it cream, spinach every time. Sure.
I mean, how can you go to a steakhouse and not creamed spinach? It's the best. It makes you strong, right? Yeah. My forearm is just a freakishly bulging. Should we take a break? Yes.
All right. Go work out those forearms and we'll talk about the cohort's right after this. Her with the Meana Brown is a weekly podcast brought to you by Cynical Women Podcast Network and I Heart Radio. I'm your host, Amina Brown.
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If you want to know you're in luck, just listen to Sanjak stuff you should know. OK, so we're going to say it again, cohort's, cohort's, it's a study population that bear some sort of similarity to one another, sort of. There were 16 in the seven countries study and all 16 cohorts totaled twelve thousand seven hundred and sixty three participants. So it's a pretty good study, 16 different groups of people, more than 12000 total in seven different countries.
It's fairly impressive. An ambitious study for the time for sure.
It was. And I think there were at least two in every country except for the US, which had one cohort. And he never said, we have to be fair. He never said, you know what, this represents all men in these countries and sort of all men around the world. They never pretended like that was the case, but they had to start somewhere. And and we're not pooh poohing the whole study like that. It was very robust.
And if you carry out a study in seven countries with all of these men over twenty five years, it's you know, they weren't slouches or anything like that. No.
But the very fact that he went around and said, oh, these people eat a Mediterranean diet, I'm going to include them. These people eat what I consider the opposite. A Mediterranean diet. Include them. Yeah. Rather than saying, like, we'll just pick these countries at random and start studying them and see if the their cholesterol intake is low and then if so, if that correlates with the lower heart disease. He didn't do that. And that is definitely worth criticizing for.
So let's I guess, talk about some of these cohorts and what they who they were, former Yugoslavia.
He studied a couple of small towns, one that had the Western European diet and one that was on the Mediterranean diet. Largely Finland was really interesting, I think, out of all these, because he compared to villages in eastern and western Finland, because east Finland was where recording a lot more heart attacks, in fact, supposedly like the highest record on planet Earth at the time.
Yes. And for good reason to you would think because they would eat things like so great. It makes me hungry. Yeah, it kind of does, actually. They would eat a fish soup that was just loaded with butter for breakfast. Yeah, they would. He was called the Logger's Lunch, which was described by one of the researchers as. You ready. Yeah. Large chunks of meat suspended and congealed fat enveloped in dark bread loaf fully permeated by fat.
I'm so sorry to our vegan and vegetarian listeners because you're probably turning it off right about now. Yeah, we should have spoiled or trigger warning this one. Yeah, too late.
Which, by the way, I have to say, I have been really doing my best to eat far less meat, not for health purposes, for ethical reasons, really. But I got to say, that does sound kind of good to me. It's like if you put this in front of me and say, here's your chance to eat Eastern Finland logger's lunch, I would I would take you up on it, I think.
Yeah, I cut down on me too. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, a lot of red meat don't eat a ton of pork anymore. Kind of.
Yeah. Especially bottleful, especially pork.
For me, I don't always eat meat, but when I do I try not to.
So then so you've got your high fat diets in Finland and then he said, all right, I need to like you kind of mentioned earlier, I need to choose some some opposite, in my view, opposite countries of what they eat. So where do you go? You go to Japan, of course, where they eat a lot of fish. And he went to a even a tiny little fishing village where they ate almost all fish. And then again in Greece, in the Greek islands and in southern Italy, also where they were obviously eating the Mediterranean diet.
So he takes all these different cohorts, takes all of their different diets and starts just kind of looking at all sorts of factors. That was one of the other reasons you said it was a very robust study. One of the other reasons that it was robust is because they looked at all sorts of stuff. It wasn't just their diet. They looked at things like what they drank and what they smoked and how much they smoked and all of this kind of stuff.
It was a big, long study. And again, they followed these guys for at least twenty five years. And some of the stuff that they found were basically this. And this is this is the two points that the seven countries study told the world. And they just so happen to be the two points there. ANSO so fully expected the seven countries to tell the studies, to tell the world. And it was that if you have a high serum cholesterol, like a high concentration of cholesterol in your blood, then there there's a greater chance that you are going to die from cardiovascular disease.
Right, and eastern Finland, where those loggers were eating fat breads. That's a great name for a restaurant.
That bread. Sure. Oh, yeah. Wow.
If restaurants are still around in a few months, we should open one called fat breads.
So those fat bread eating lagers, they had average serum cholesterol levels of more than 260. And there were more than four heart attacks, four heart attack deaths for every 100 middle aged men five years after the study started. Right.
OK, so Chuck, I looked it up. They had an average of 60. The window of normal or acceptable or your your you don't have like viscous blood is one 25 to two hundred.
These guys were averaging to 60. That's a lot. It is a lot.
So the opposite of that was the the former Yugoslavian place, Dalmatia, where they had the Mediterranean diet and their men had an average serum cholesterol level of 185 and had one death per one hundred men over that same period.
And Dalmatians where the Dalmatian dog they think is from. I kind of assume that, but you never know, did you? It was worth saying anyway. Sure. This is a show about facts and trivia. That's right. Did you have you ever been to Croatia?
No. It is spectacular or it's on the Adriatic and it is incredibly gorgeous. You mean I went on a cruise once that went through there. And it is I've just wanted to go back ever since I was one of those river cruises. No, it was again, it's on the Adriatic. It was a cruise all the way around Italy on one side of the down, past the boot and then up the other. That was quite lovely. Yeah.
We're not like cruise people or anything like that, but we went with Shandon, the champagne maker had a cruise that we're like, well, OK, this is the one we're going to take. And it turned out to be really great because we're not like Italy fans. We have nothing against Italy. But we were never like, we got to go to Italy. Right. We were never cruise fans. And then after we got off of those were like, I want to go on another cruise and I want to go back to Italy.
And would it kill you to give me some more? Shandon, did you just drink tons of champagne?
Yes, that's wonderful. So the other thing that it said was the other conclusion was diet is higher in saturated fats will correlate to more heart attacks. And the data did show a big correlation between saturated fat and the regular traditional diet and the heart attacks. And I think Crete, where saturated fats equaled between eight and nine percent of daily calories, the average number of heart attack deaths per 100 was basically zero over that five years. And in the US, where we only had the one cohort, I don't think we said they were railroad workers, right?
Yeah. In Minnesota, Minnesota railroad workers, they had seventeen percent saturated fats in their diet and they had more than three deaths per 100 during that five year period.
Right. So all of this stuff just totally backs up what what Antheil Keyes was saying. Right. And later, studies that basically took the seven countries study cohorts and drilled down into them a little more. There were two particular ones, the Zadran study from the Netherlands and the Hale Project, both of them looked at just continued following people beyond the twenty five years. So like the health study was dedicated to looking at healthy aging, that kind of thing.
And they turned up some other stuff that you now basically take as gospel as well. Like if you follow a Mediterranean diet, your risk of heart attack drops precipitously, I think. Thirty nine percent lower risk. If you eat fish, it lowers your risk of dying from a heart attack. Like even just eating fish once or twice a week can drop your risk of a fatal heart attack by 50 percent. Like these were things that came along not not from the seven countries study, but from that thing being continued on by supplementary studies.
Yeah, into the big ones that people like myself and my wife like to spout is that you drink the two glasses of wine a day, you're actually healthier than not drinking at all.
And if you eat that one square of dark chocolate a day, you're actually healthier as well.
If you eat more than that, drink more than that, then it goes the opposite way.
Yeah, but that two glasses of wine in one square of chocolate is people really like to tout that one who like to drink wine and eat chocolate.
It's what they call a sweet spot. Yeah. So like seriously, think about it though. If you drink less than two wine, two glasses of wine a day, you're. You're likelier to die of heart disease than if you drink to that, I mean, that's what they're saying in the study at least. Right. And I mean, like, I haven't seen anything that says, nope, that's not true. That's B.S. But they everybody makes that case that you said to you that makes that point that like, once you go beyond to not only does it have the opposite effect, it gets really bad, really, really fast.
And what you can't do also is be like, well, I haven't had any drinks for three nights, so I'll have five glasses of wine tonight. And that averages out to super healthy. Yeah.
Yeah. They say binge drinking is way worse for you, but then they also say that binge drinking is way better for you. We have no handle on what drinking does to you. I just know that drinking makes me feel like a guest the next day.
Yeah. I mean, the older you get you definitely have to pick and choose. Dude, like two beers can. I don't want to say wreck me the next day, but I am not loving life the next day necessarily.
Two beers dude. Yeah. My whole deal is sleep like I haven't had anything to drink for four nights and that was after a pretty big couple of nights in a row for various reasons. And I just, I sleep so much better. I wake up feeling so much better.
I mean, it's irrefutable. You know, what I do try to do now, though, in my old age is is really drink a ton of water while I'm drinking all this and I use it.
Now, take these. I don't know if I should, but market the brand, but I take a little supplement Advil. That is that is you know, it's basically like a super vitamin that supposedly will help curb a hangover.
And like have you noticed that it actually has an effect? And if it does have an effect, do you think it's just power suggestion or does it really work? No, I think so.
But it's not gobbledygook. I mean, it's V12 and like things that we know can probably help with a hangover.
Yeah. Yeah. Have you ever gotten a beautiful shot?
I haven't. Oh, man. A lot of times they miss or it doesn't work or it's watered down or something like that. It's really hard to get a good B 12 shot really when it works. Brother, you can tell the difference and you feel like a million bucks really.
You're not high, but you're like high on life. Kind of.
But you're not not high. Yeah, I guess actually it's a really fair way to put it. You tell you how long does that last? Like basically all day.
You just feel great. You want to talk to strangers. You you're like totally large and in charge of getting stuff done. Wow. Or feel overwhelmed. Like you're like having you have a sense of humor. It's just it just takes like all the best parts of your personality and like bulks them up. Not any kind of speedy. Sure. Manic way, but just you just feel like you're running on all cylinders and you just wish to God that like you were always like that.
But and that's what you got to you.
So that's why you're not that's why you are that's what you get at one of those hangover next day places. Right. Like an IV and a B 12 shot.
Yeah. Yeah. You could go to like a medical clinic or, you know, a med spa or something like that. And they usually have it. Some chiropractors have to do that. Yeah, I think you have to have some sort of medical degree to inject it or whatever. But I've always kind of been on the hunt to have V12 prescribe to me so I can inject it myself. Oh, yeah, sure. So I guess if there's any doctor listeners out there hit me up because I need a prescription to be twelve, please.
Oh, man. Where were we? I think we were about to take a break.
Yeah. Let's take a break and we'll talk a little bit about the criticisms right after this.
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If you want to know you're in luck, just listen to sanjak stuff you should know. OK, so I think we kind of made it clear that there are some people out there, communists, pinkos, who hate the seven countries study, can't stand it, and they have a lot of very valid points.
Yeah, I think one of the biggest criticisms is that it was a very correlative relationship. Right. And not a causal relationship. Yes. I mean, that's kind of the biggest one. That and the fact that it's a study it's a it's called an ecological study, which is it's a study that at the time it was, you know, who was this? Dr. Henry Blackburn. He was one of the original officers, said it was state of the art for the time, but he's like an ecologic study.
And correlation is pretty weak if you're talking about trying to find a causal, uh, I guess a causal inference.
Yeah, because the thing is, is you're taking all of these people from all around the world and you're examining them to see you're trying to find out what's the underlying cause of their common affliction, heart attacks or what accounts for the absence of that affliction against heart attacks. But the problem is, is there's so many differences between somebody who is on a Mediterranean diet and lives in Crete and somebody who eats the logger's lunch in Finland besides just what they eat.
Yes. So many other factors, so many different things involved that even if you can find a correlation like you like like ANSO keys to between saturated fats and heart attacks, it doesn't mean that there's actually not something else at play. And that's the biggest the biggest criticism of the study that most people widely leveled against it.
Yeah, and it's also an epidemiological study which follows the population to something, you know, not so good for you over a length of time, but. If you want to do that right, you can't, like you said, just they have to be the same age, the same sex, they have to do the same job, they have to be the same ethnicity. They have to be in the same place. And the only difference can be what they're eating, basically.
And like, I guess what he was doing, he was trying to, you know, compare this type of diet to that type of diet in different places around the world. But it was just that's that's flawed. That's a flaw. That's an adventure. That's not a study. Right, exactly. That's that's that's a travel eating show, basically. Sort of is.
But it was almost like he was trying to cram a dozen studies into one rather than break it out inappropriately into each different study, like I'm going to study these people and use this is the control his study lacked a control group or a control variable. Yeah, right. And that's that's another big thing that's leveled against it as a big flaw and makes you wonder, you know, OK, is, is that correlation between saturated fat and heart disease even real?
I mean, even when they tried to kind of drill down to an apples to apples, like in Finland, that was one place where they had. All right. At least we're all in the same country. So that's a good place to start. Let's see here the two Finnish cohorts. I still love saying that they consumed relatively similar similar levels of saturated fat. So in the West, they had 19 percent and the USA had 22 percent. Not a huge difference.
That's so much, though, what, three percent? Yeah.
The railroad workers in 1950s Minnesota were eating 13 percent of their diet with saturated fat.
Oh, so much fat. Yeah, 22 percent was not finished yet.
Close to a quarter of your diet was saturated. That's crazy. But the average number of heart attack deaths in the east was twice as high werd versus I think four deaths per 100 men versus two in the West.
Yeah. So that means there's something else going on. Yeah, exactly. Because their fat intake was similar. But, you know, that shouldn't be what would account for double the increase. So who knows. And they, they just the answer is they don't know. We don't know, we don't know what would account for that. And there's, there's a lot of other people who've looked at this and said, OK, there's still like a lot to be said of this data.
There's a lot you can extract from it. And some people have come along the way and said, hey, you know, like you can you can run this stuff through statistical analysis. Apparently they did another and they did when they originally looked at the data back in the 50s or 60s or 70s. And they did it again for the 25th anniversary of this study. And one of the things that turned up was that sugar actually seemed to correlate more strongly.
Sugar intake in the diet seemed to correlate more strongly with heart disease. Even saturated fats did. It was almost roughly the same. But the thing is, the sugar bump, when you factor it in saturated fats, the sugar bump disappeared. And so they said, oh, well, it's just an anomaly. It's really the saturated fats. From what I could tell, if you had a saturated fat bob and you factored in sugar, that would disappear as well.
So some people have come to think like if it's not sugar, maybe it's a combination of sugar and saturated fats. That's actually the real problem, that saturated fats on its own, but that it's not even necessarily sugar on its own. But this combination of the two. Yeah, and that's led a lot of people, including one big critic of the seven countries study to say like it's processed food, that's what kills people, is processed food, this combination of bad fats and sugar that is really proving to be deadly.
Yeah, and I think that's. I think that's just so clear now that real food is far and away better for you than processed food, right? Like, you can't you just can't refute that.
No, you can't. I mean, even if you just base it in, you know, we always make fun of anecdotal data, but if you just base it on how your body feels. Yeah.
After you eat certain kinds of food and then after you eat processed food, the problem is, is we don't know how to feed seven billion people on this planet without processing food, you know, where's Norman Borlaug?
Yeah, no, no, he's dead, dead in the cold ground. God doesn't care about anything now. So has it been refuted? Not necessarily. It hasn't been completely refuted to where they say just throw this thing in the trash.
But I think the and hopefully we've gotten this point across is the damage that it did in the United States was we went all in on it. Right. And they said if that is is the killer and if you just avoid fat and eat these processed low fat foods, you're going to be just fine. Yes. So like that.
And you can't really say that. Ancel Keys feet. That was the Department of Health and Human Services for sure. Yeah, they just took these findings and ran with them.
They were like, well, we don't have any clinical data yet. And they're like, I can't hear you. I can't hear you. I'm already at the printers getting these posters of the food pyramid guide printed up. And that was definitely a huge problem that that created this larger problem because it led to this demonization of all fats. That food pyramid that showed the little bit at the top was like fats and sweets and stuff like that. Like you didn't say, you know, just this kind of fat or keep away from that kind of fat.
It was fats. You Americans are too fat. And to understand that there's different kinds of fat. So just stay away from fats altogether. And that that's really what led to this, because there are plenty of fats that are actually good for your heart, like things like fats found in fish fats found in olive oil, avocados, and then even even potentially, yeah, avocados are about as good as it gets.
And then potentially, Chuck, like the kinds of saturated fat that people tend to associate, like with a steak as being bad for you. That's not necessarily true either. And again, it seems to be like we talked about in that the peanut butter episode, those chemically processed or industrially processed fats that change things, that make peanut butter shelf stable and way more delicious, like those are the facts that are actually really bad for you. Those are the ones that you should avoid or eat in moderation.
And that that kind of nuance is needed to actually have a healthy diet, because we learned from this experiment that you can't just cut fats out altogether. We need a lot of those fats to survive and be healthy. Yeah.
And the evidence as far as because you would think, you know, this started in the 1980s in America. So surely we all got a lot healthier. Right, because of the food pyramid and all the low fat food. Yeah, we cut fat any way you can slice it. We cut fat over two decades. Plus people still think fat is the demon in a lot of circles and America is as sick as we've ever been. Type two diabetes has increased.
Oh, man, this is crazy. One hundred and sixty six percent from 1980 to 2012. I don't know about twenty twelve till now. Why?
I would guess more of the same. Yeah. I doubt if it reversed course. Yeah, we have beaten down heart disease, but we've also stopped smoking a lot more and we've got better emergency room care and better drugs like statins and stuff like that. Right. But it's still, you know, cardiovascular disease still kills people more than anything else in the US. Yeah.
Despite those advances in medical treatment, it's still killing people more than anything else.
And like even exercising hasn't helped. Like, we exercise basically more than ever. Yeah, but still, a third of the country is obese. A third of the United States is obese. And all of this like think about this, all of those things are happened while we cut fat essentially out of our diet. So that just goes to show you like that that didn't work. That's not going to help that. We have to rethink this whole thing for sure.
Yeah. And again, we're not pooh poohing the Mediterranean diet. There's also the flip side to this stuff with keto, the Atkins diet, paleo, stuff like that. You know, I think we've tried to you know, we're trying to tell anyone how to eat and we're not dietitians, but we've tried to preach over the past couple of years, you know, eat real foods, eat balanced diets, try moderation as best you can, moderation in, you know, calorie reasonable calorie restriction.
And exercise, yeah, and I mean, portion control, too, is it sucks when you first do it. It sucks to get used to, but once you get used to it, it's it's it's easier to maintain it.
It's also easy to go back on when you're like, I'm going to eat this whole box of Hamburger Helper tonight.
I know, but how does that make you feel? It makes you feel like garbage. Yeah. Ultimately, emotionally. And even if it's hitting a reward center and trust me, there are so many reasons that people don't eat the right things and eat too much of the wrong things. Sure. Emotional reasons and psychological reasons. And we're not all that stuff is valid. But even if it's hitting that reward center, it will probably also make you feel awful emotionally and physically.
It's true. And like and also just to say, like, we're definitely on our high horse right now, but we're no better than anybody else. Like, we know I'm still 60 pounds overweight. I mean, we had you, me and I split a whole roll of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. Yes. Yeah, I know. Tough to turn those down.
I can't even get that stuff. But it's just the it's the. Well, no chuckin. You're right.
Having it in your house is problem one. I'm not having it in your house actually is helpful. It's crazy.
It's weird, but it actually works, especially during a quarantine when you can't just pop up or you don't feel like you should pop up to the store and get that Ben Jerry's right. Exactly like. Yeah, yeah. For sure. Because then you just your pace around your kitchen till it's time to go to bed. But you didn't need anything. You get that. You know what I tried the other night, but that that peanut butter and whipped cream.
Oh would you think it's delicious. I'm sorry. I still haven't eaten a peanut butter and mayo sandwich yet.
No, it's really good. Emily made she makes good homemade whipped cream and it was. Oh yeah. It was delish. Yeah. It's it's it's hard to to turn down now. I want some but you know, have a little bit of that one night then I won't have any for a little while. Yeah.
And even I think what I was going to say earlier is walking around with this information is good and helpful and like you're never going to always adhere to it probably wouldn't be that fun of a life to always adhere to it. But they're just knowing it and kind of using it is like a general compass or guide to make you healthier. And we'll make you feel better. And maybe at some point along the line, if you already have this info, you're going to get a kick in the pants by something.
You're going to hit like a period of growth and that might be part of it. You might like lose some weight. You might get over a chronic disease. You might all sorts of things might happen because you know what to eat or how to start thinking about your food. This is good to keep in your back pocket.
At least it is. And in the end, it doesn't matter anyway, because it all has to do with the health of your grandfather, right?
Yep. Hey, one other thing I want to say is that critic Zoe, Dr. Zoe Hachem, she pointed out that actually the strongest correlation that the seven countries study turned up was that where the latitude of where the person lived. Yes. Sunshine, right? Yeah. And which is really strange until she points out and I'm not sure how much she was pointing this out to basically undermine the survey countries partially that.
But it does make sense in a way, too, is she's saying, well, we synthesize vitamin D in our skin from cholesterol in the skin when it's exposed to sunshine. And Vitamin D has a lot of protective qualities for the immune system. So maybe that has to do with it. Yeah, I'm glad you pointed that out.
Yeah, well, that's it for nutrition. We'll probably never talk about it again. That's not true at all. And since I said that, it's time for listener mail.
All right. I'm going to call this, uh, jackhammers.
Why did you do that? I don't know. Why not. People ask me on Twitter. They were like, why? I thought you guys hated this? And I said, yeah, I think Chuck's got some weird self-loathing going on trolling. And I just got caught up unfairly. Yeah.
So we we have often and long made fun of our Jackhammers episode and rereleased it as a stuff he should not select just to be cheeky.
And this is about that because Chris from Massachusetts really appreciated it. Hey guys, just finished listening to stuff, you know, select on jackhammers.
And I know you call it the most, most boring worst one, but I actually enjoyed it. I'm a mechanical engineer, and in college I took a class on vibrations which led to conducting research on noise, on the noise of a jackhammer makes this is we did that show for this guy.
The noise or the ring that you hear when a jackhammer strikes is a resonant frequency of the jackhammer. Oil point after being struck by the inner piledriver, I don't think we said any of that stuff.
No, I was working with my professor on developing an inner damper to reduce that noise produced for the man God bless you body for the same reasons that you named in your podcast. Some of the concepts he developed were quite amazing. You could take one of the models he designed and drop it on a concrete floor. And instead of a loud ringing, you would expect to hear it with land, with a soft thud. Unfortunately, the concepts never quite panned out, but we call them Moyles, right?
But your podcast reminded me of the many nights spent in the lab collecting piles of data and the painful ringing that you mentioned in the show. Thanks for the countless amazing episodes. My girlfriend and I have gotten many hours of entertainment from your show and truly appreciate all the great content and laughs. Chris from Massachusetts.
Chris, thank you for getting in touch and thank you for your attempted contribution to the world. Had it paid off, that really would've been something. But thank you for even trying. And if you want to be like Chris and let us know that you're an unsung hero, we want to hear about that. And if you know an unsung hero, let us know about that person, too. You can send it in an email to Stuff podcast that I heart radio dot com.
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