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    The Masai and Atherosclerosis
    Louise_WebMD_Staff posted:
    Whole Health Source review and of course
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    engineerguy responded:
    Hi Louise,

    Chris Masterjohn, the author of the post, provided some interesting information and tried to make a balanced report. Unfortunately, he couldn't. For example, even a pedestrian like myself can find some big holes.

    Dr. Mann's report found the Masai had much more, not equal, intimal wall thickening (a beginning stage of atherosclerosis) than the average American. "Measurements of the aorta showed extensive atherosclerosis with lipid infiltration and fibrous changes but very few complicated lesions. The coronary arteries showed intimal thickening by atherosclerosis which equaled that of old U.S. men."(1)

    Another Masterjohn quote (one sentence): "Mann found the size of the lumen to increase rather than decrease with age because the size of the vessels more than compensated for intimal thickening, and found the degree of atherosclerosis to actually reverse itself during the ages of 12-30, when the Masai eat a strictly pure meat, blood and milk diet and are active warriors, which is also when their always-low cholesterol levels are at their lowest."

    Masterjohn said that the atherosclerosis reversed itself, ages 12-30. But children aren't supposed to have atherosclerosis to reverse. A significant percentage of Masai children autopsies showed fibrosis, an advanced form of atherosclerosis. (Recall that Korean soldiers autopsied in the Korean war, were almost all clean of any atherosclerosis. The US soldiers typically had significant atherosclerosis.) Notice that Masterjohn's reasoning misses the very essential point, that Masai children already often have serious atherosclerosis. The "reverse" of atherosclerosis from age 12-30 is probably statistical variation, due to the luck of the draw, for who ended up on the autopsy table.

    Masterjohn speculates the worse results that Dr. Mann reported (compared to Bruce Taylor's earlier study), might be due to "The old and the young Masai do have some access to such processed staples as flour, sugar, confections and shortenings through the Indian dukas scattered about Masailand." This leads to a rediculous conclusion. Note that we Americans, on the SAD (Standard American Diet), have many many times more white flour, sugar, etc, than the Masai. But we have less atheroslcerosis than the Masai. That suggests that the SAD is protective for atherosclerosis, compared to the Masai diet. If someone wants to emulate the Masai for the artery health first reported by Bruce Taylor, you must NEVER break the diet with any carbs, especially flour or sugar. Also, be very lean (rippled abs) and very fit. Any failure or deviation from this, and your arteries will be worse than the average Americans.

    What in this discussion make anyone want to emulate the Masai diet? Whatever the Masai do, we do not want to do the same.

    Chris Masterjohn has obviously taken a lot of time to very carefully prepare this discussion. Unfortunately, his goal is obviously to defend a high fat diet, not to see where the data leads. Chris' severe bias clouds his vision.

    Best regards, EngineerGuy

    heretk replied to engineerguy's response:
    It may or may not be correct. In all those theories about harmfulness of high fat and meat diet, ever since Ancel Keyes, nobody has yet proven that it was fat or meat that caused the health problems. Authopsies do not tell us what the patient ate over the years and what other factors he/she was exposed to. Please take into account that no amount of positive evidence constitutes the proof while only one contradictory fact fails a theory!

    In this logic even one healthy Masai or Inuit without a trace of atherosclerosis would be such a contradition, that normally would require a theory to be revised. Just as one vegan with a hert attack raises the same kind of questions! Did you ever wonder how come that no more studies like Mann's were published on Masai since 1970-ties?

    Don't you think that my survival in good health alone is a sore in the eyes of the established medicine? Not a proof just a hint! Just like your reversal on Fuhrman diet is an hint (not a proof either) that a diet with more fat and less carbs may actually be healthier for some people. It all rises more questions - and that is VERY GOOD! And, the questions need to be addresed not suppressed, which is what we do.

    How come that low fat vegans with heart attacks or developing diabetes are brushed aside and not taken as a hint that something may be wrong, where as some cases of 50 sick Masai or one diseased Alaskan Inuit skeleton from 400 years ago are considered a proof that fat causes heart disease?

    Vegetarians have the same (if not a harder) problems in proving that their way is unequivocally healthy, since there are more data showing what actually happens to them, good or bad, and the amount of documentation is much higher than for Masai or Inuit.

    DoloresTeresa replied to heretk's response:
    RE: no one has proven that it was fat or meat that caused health problems. I seem to remember that Campbell says somewhere in his books (with the graphs to illustrate) that with heart disease (or cancer) the points are all over the graph with respect to fat and incidence of (heart disease or cancer, I forget which now) but there is a nice straight line with meat showing correlation. Of course if you live in this country and eat lots of meat you are also getting lots of fat.

    Re: one contradictory proof fails a theory. I seem to remember reading about hypolipoprotein b (if I got that name correct) which would prevent you from getting clogged arteries and heart disease no matter what amount of fat and meat you eat. So one person not dropping dead from a diet of fat and meat does not disprove the theory for the rest of us. Just for people with that lucky lipoprotein. And unless you have been tested, you might be doing great on your diet not because of the diet but because you do or do not have some perhaps as yet undiscovered enzyme that the rest of us do (or don't). People have gone over Niagara Falls in barrels and died. The one person who survives does not disprove the theory that it is not safe to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

    I remember also reading your opinion on the dangers of fruit. About one in 10,000 people lacks an enzyme that prevents them from metabolizing fruit. If you are one of those people (and don't know you lack that enzyme) it is hardly beneficial to most others to decry the dangers of fruit.

    Re: More data about vegans. People are looking for it. As doctor Esselstyn has pointed out in one video, there is always a huge scare when a newspaper comes out with the news that someone in their town died from West Nile virus. People are not however, running around frantic because hundreds or maybe thousands of their number are dropping dead from heart disease. But the strange and much less deadly (at least locally) virus gets the big headlines.

    While I can't speak for vegans, I do know that there is such a broad spectrum of people who call themselves vegans or vegetarians that it is almost obligatory to present your daily menus so people know exactly what you mean when you say that term. For me, (except for lapses when the devil makes me do it) I do not use oils or fats or dairy or sugary processed food, only rarely meat if I am eating out and a small amount of seafood and lots and lots of vegetables,beans, potatoes and sweetpotatoes, fruit and some whole grains.. I am not on a macrobiotic diet, nor a raw food diet nor a fruitarian diet or on whatever faddish diet that is similar.

    We always see large headlines when a vegetarian or vegan dies but heart disease is the number one killer of our population and I would be willing to bet that of the thousands who die, a tiny number are vegans and the vast majority eat meat, fats and oils and dairy. Yet, when a celebrity dies who is not a vegan, you don't see the headlines saying--famous star of stage and screen dies--he ate meat.

    DoloresTeresa replied to heretk's response:
    And I forgot. "How come that low fat vegans---with developing diabetes are brushed aside and not taken as a hint that something may be wrong?" How come people with t2 diabetes who are low carbing brush aside the fact that they are mostly on meds or insulin? One woman on a support group says that she has been doing great with her blood sugars and her low carb diet for 15 years. She has been on insulin for the past 9 years. This is good? When many of the low carbers post their sugar numbers they often post what meds they are on. And they all consider that they are doing well. But I have been diabetic for 20 years and definitely do not low carb and do not take meds and my sugars run between 75 and 85 as an average. Yet I am brushed aside when I report this on the support group--as though it were an anomaly.

    heretk replied to DoloresTeresa's response:
    I agree, we should be looking critical at all evidence regardless whether it supports one theory or another. Not all low carbers do that and not all vegans do either. I will look closely at that diabetes support forum on the webmd, when I have more time. I am curious too, and will ask some questions. I know that a low carb diet might not work for everyone except that I only found one clear cut case, so far. I suspect that the problem is in the details. Best regards,

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