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Have You Ever Seen a Fat Amish Person?

Posted Nov 13 2009 10:02pm

Have you ever seen a fat Amish person?

When I was in my early teens, my mother took my brother and me on a road trip up the East Coast of the United States. One of our stops was in Lancaster, Pennsylvania – the heart of Amish country.

I still remember the gently rolling fields, the agrarian lifestyle, and the juxtaposition of cars whizzing by on the highway as the Amish trotted into town in their horse-drawn wagons.

I was reminded of my experiences there when I read the responses to this week’s issue of Total Health Breakthroughs – Undercover. In this issue, I exposed the myth that a low-fat diet is the key to weight loss and the prevention of heart disease.

In recent years, numerous health researchers and authors have examined the dietary habits and the health record of the Amish. The results are quite telling. The Amish consume a high fat diet. They often cook their food in lard or bacon grease. And they consume a fair amount of meat and dairy.

Yet, the rates of obesity and heart disease in the Amish community are very low, compared to the general population.

Of course, the Amish are also quite active, working the land and traveling without cars. They eat many freshly grown vegetables too. These factors obviously improve their health and fitness. But it is clear that their high-fat diet is not packing on the pounds or clogging their arteries.

And it is not hurting their longevity either…

Total Health Breakthroughs subscriber Jim, who was raised in the Pennsylvania farm country, made this point in a comment on the website:

“I am 80 years old and grew up in NW Pennsylvania. We grew most of our own meat and vegetables. Lard was a staple since we butchered a pig and a cow each fall. We also had venison and our own chickens and eggs. Everyone was healthy and no one was overweight. One year, Father raised turkeys and I raised rabbits. I also raised goats one year so Father could have goat’s milk for his ulcers. Father lived to 94 and one uncle lived to 113.”

Two readers contributed similar stories from other parts of the world…

Penelope A. grew up in England in the 1950’s. Now she lives in a very rural part of Northwest Spain, called Galicia. “In this area, we have the oldest population in the whole of Spain,” she writes.

“Regularly, people live to 90 – and often well over 100. The diet is based on good food, naturally grown with (until recently) no thought to the amount of fat. The pig is king here, home grown and butchered at home, with homegrown fruits and vegetables, and hens for eggs and meat. I have been here nearly five years and my health is better than ever in my life.”

Elaine B. grew up on a dairy farm in Minnesota. She says, “It was obvious that high fat, even saturated fat as in fatty meats and dairy products, was contrary to the no-high-fat philosophy of the health industry.”

Yet, the healthiest people she has ever known “were these Minnesota farmers who ate large quantities of fat.” Of course, “they also ate lots of organically grown fruit and vegetables,” she writes.

“I am 73 and slightly overweight, but extremely healthy, and I follow the examples of those Minnesotans by eating as much fat as I choose, but making sure it is clean, unpolluted and a combination of dairy, meat, olive, flax, and fish oils.”

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And how’s this for an endorsement?

THB reader Dave credits his low-glycemic, high-protein, healthy-fat diet with curing his “blood sugar issue.”

“All I eat now is lots of fresh vegetables, good grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish and nuts. I go moderate on the fruit, almost exclusively sticking to berries.” And get this. Dave says that he is pretty close to his high school weight, except with more lean muscle.

“I’m almost 50 now and I sometimes get some shocked looks when I get asked my age. I had a cardiac workup done and the nurse kept telling me ‘you sure don’t look almost 50.’ We dig our graves with our spoon.”

Thanks to everyone who commented. Your personal stories add to the considerable clinical and anecdotal proof that the amount of fat we eat is inconsequential, compared to the type of fats we eat.

But my article did lead several people to ask a very important question… Why is it important to avoid vegetable and seed oils?

Most vegetable and seed oils are very high in omega-6 fatty acids (as are most conventionally raised meats). These fats are “essential,” meaning we cannot make them on our own. We must get them from our food.

However, while essential in small amounts, they actually promote disease when consumed in unnaturally large amounts. A hundred years ago, the average American ate less than one pound of vegetable oil per year. It is difficult to consume these fats in large quantities in their native form.

But thanks to the modern food-processing industry and the unnatural diet we feed our livestock, Americans today eat more than 75 pounds of polyunsaturated omega-6 fats each year.

These fats are very unstable in the body. When we consume too much of them – as more than 95% of us do – they lead to free-radical damage and strongly promote chronic inflammation. This is a prescription for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cataracts, infertility, skin wrinkles, and much more.

That’s why you should strictly limit vegetable and seed oils in your diet (corn, soybean, safflower, sunflower oils and the like). You should also avoid fried and processed foods. Potato chips, baked goods, salad dressings, margarine, shortening, etc. all contain vegetable oils and high levels of omega-6 fats.

Replace any vegetable oils you currently use with extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, organic grass-fed butter, and organic unrefined coconut oil. All of these, except for the extra virgin olive oil, also have a high flash point. So they can also be used for cooking and sautéing.

To Your Health

Jon Herring
Editorial Director
Total Health Breakthroughs

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